My Baby Stack
In tech-speak, a stack represents the tools that a person uses to do their job. When I was pregnant, I had lots of questions around what “stuff” I’d need, and since then, I’ve had a few friends ask for opinions on things I used, so I thought it would be easiest to put everything I used in one place and share my “baby stack”.
I very incorrectly thought that since my wardrobe was largely comprised of jeans and loose-fitting shirts, I’d be okay to buy maternity jeans and wear my regular tops through most of my pregnancy. Sometime around four months, I realized this was not going to work out, and started buying maternity clothes.
My maternity capsule wardrobe (doesn’t that sound fancier?) came mostly from Target, Macy’s, and Pea in the Pod. It consisted of:
- Two pairs of Jessica Simpson brand jeans – one blue, one black – which I wore almost daily right up until the bitter end. When you start shopping for maternity, you’ll find two-ish types of jeans – some that have a stretchy panel which goes over the belly, and some that go under the belly and have stretchy side panels. I vastly preferred the over-the-belly kind, and the specific cut of the Jessica Simpson brand, but YMMV.
- Two pairs of maternity leggings, which are the most comfortable pants under the sun and I still wear sometimes at almost four months post-partum.
- Four of this Isabel Maternity tank in black, grey, and striped. Super comfortable and perfect for layering.
- Shirts: some maternity, some nursing-friendly. The nursing shirts have been great post-partum for both nursing and pumping.
- Comfortable shoes! I ended up buying a pair of well-padded ballet flats and comfy slip-ons for work and running errands. Towards the end, the only shoes that fit were my trusty flip-flops (and at the end of the day, my feet were so puffy that you could clearly make out the lines!). I have no idea what people do who deliver in Winter. Uggs?
Other Pregnancy Items
I loved my c-shaped body pillow so much that I brought it on our babymoon. There are a bunch of similar ones out there so I’m not sure the brand matters, but this one was well-reviewed, $40, and I’d buy it again in a heartbeat.
I had some trouble sleeping during my first trimester because I got a case of restless leg (pregnancy, amirite?), and rather than taking melatonin, a friend recommended Calm magnesium, which seemed to help. Note: I’m not a doctor, so take with a giant grain of salt.
My OBGYN told us to pack like we were going away for the weekend (which I loved as a very funny way to describe the trip the hospital to deliver a baby), so that’s what we did.
Things I was glad I brought:
- My own hospital gown, to maintain a charade of privacy.
- A nursing bra. In general, I use (and love) these for daytime and these for at night.
- A giant reusable water cup with straw. I got mine from Starbucks, but you can find plenty online – and actually, they gave us one at the hospital, but I’d still bring one just in case.
- A couple of of going-home outfits in different sizes. My baby fit in newborn clothes for a while (despite weighing about a pound more than predicted!), but some don’t, and it’s good to be covered either way.
- Comfy pants
- Socks and flip flops for walking around
- Snacks! I delivered in the middle of the night and by the time I was able to eat the hospital kitchen was closed, so it was really nice to have snacks on-hand. Also great for support person.
Things I brought and did not use:
- Maternity jeans as part of “going home” outfit – these were overly optimistic
- Peri bottle and perineal spray – our hospital supplied both of these
- My Brest Friend (nursing support pillow) – while this was useful for getting used to nursing at home, I ended up just using the pillows on my hospital bed to support my arms when I was there.
- Extra layers – it ended up being very warm in our room due to a possibly broken thermostat, so we didn’t experience any of the chilliness that is often associated with hospitals and I was very glad to have packed light layers in addition to warm ones.
Newborn Stage + Maternity Leave
It’s hard to overstate how much time I spent on the couch during the newborn stage, and the things that were most helpful either made me more comfortable or made my life easier. Things that helped:
My #1 new mom life hack is to get yourself a tray which you can use to corral your things on the couch. Some things I put on my tray: giant water bottle, hand sanitizer, whatever meal/snack I happened to be eating at the time, chapstick, my phone, and whatever else I needed to have within reach.
We also have a small organizer that we put on the back of our couch which held back-ups for many of these things. I can’t emphasize enough how much better it is to have your essentials within reach, especially if you’re nursing.
I’m not an anxious person by nature, but the first couple of weeks with a new baby were a doozy. I learned pretty quickly that Googling made things worse and was happy when my mother-of-two friend confirmed this and recommended I consult a single source before Googling anything: Baby 411. She gave us her copy, and looking there first when we had one of our “is this normal?” questions proved to be very helpful and majorly cut down on the number of late-night Google searches.
Make sure you have comfy clothing (that is easy to nurse in, if you’re going that route). I “upgraded” my lounging wardrobe while on maternity leave (thanks, Aerie!) and was so grateful to have comfy clothes that fit well.
We use two apps daily that I highly recommend:
- Glow Baby, which tracks feeds, sleeps, diapers, and pumping in an easy-to-use, straightforward UI. (That last part is very important when you’re navigating one-handed!) You can track which side you used if you’re breastfeeding or pumping, plus time since last feed. Having this data is also great for doctor’s visits.
- We upload one photo per day to Tinybeans, which is a secure shared photo app where you can invite friends and family to view baby photos. I could spend 20 minutes telling y’all why I love this app so much, but here are a few high points:
- We’re still working through how to handle baby photos in the age of social media but Tinybeans feels like a good solution for us (for now) so that we can share (often!) with family and friends but don’t have to worry about those images being shared widely or potentially used by people we don’t know or for purposes we aren’t aware of.
- Users can decide how often they’d like to get updates (and I can’t see their preferences, so my feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t want to see daily photos of our baby) emailed to them.
- The calendar aspect of Tinybeans is also really fun – it’s easy to scroll back to previous days or months to see what baby looked like at various ages.
Diaper Bag Essentials
Before baby, I had no idea what to put in a diaper bag (besides, well, diapers?), so in case it’s helpful, we have this diaper backpack and it’s worked great for us. Here’s what we keep in it:
- Diapers + wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Multiple changes of clothes (onesies) for spitup, blowouts, etc.
- Extra socks + a baby sweater in case it gets cold
- This portable changing pad which has come in handy in restaurants, breweries, and the hatchback trunk of my car.
- Extra pacifier
- Disposable diaper bags (think dog waste bags), which we use both for containing dirty clothes and disposing of diapers
Stroller + Carseat
We went with the Uppababy (Cruz) stroller and carseat. It’s super convenient that the car seat just clicks into the stroller so that we don’t have to take baby out to transfer her from stroller to carseat.
There are definitely other stroller systems that do this too – if you live close to a store like Buy Buy Baby, you can “test drive” a few and decide what you like. They’ll even put a sand bag in to simulate the weight of a baby, which cracked me up but was helpful to get a feel for how heavy everything gets once a baby is in there!
A couple of notes on Uppababy and strollers/carseats in general:
- If you do go with Uppababy system, you’ll likely need to choose between the Vista and Cruz. I (wrongly) thought that we’d need the Vista’s included bassinet if we wanted to use the stroller when baby was really little. Then I discovered that they sell a $40-ish Infant SnugSeat which is basically an insert that makes the stroller newborn-friendly (and is way cheaper than the bassinet). The carseat comes with a head insert for newborns, so all set there.
- Many carseats have optional bases, which remain strapped into the car and make it easy to secure the carseat with just a click. We ended up buying two carseat bases, one for each car, because we share daycare pick-up and drop-off duties and wanted it to be equally easy for baby to ride in either vehicle.
- Our baby was born during the summer in Texas (read: it was HOT outside), so we bought a stroller fan to help make small trips tolerable, which I’d definitely recommend if you find yourself in a similar situation.
A few things we use around the house:
- Because we are maybe-a-little-neurotic first-time parents, we decided on a video monitor which we’ve mounted over baby’s bassinet. It’s not connected to Wifi for security reasons. The model we chose has good night vision and a monitor we can use for sound or video, and we like it so far.
- We chose (and loved) the Snoo smart bassinet. It’s pricy, but sleep is a top priority for both of us, especially since we both planned to return to work full-time after baby. That said, we scooped it while it was on sale, which happens several times each year, and also considered their rentals which come to less than $4/night. We’ve only got n=1, but our daughter slept through the night from four weeks, and we think it’s helped.
- We use the Ikea Hemnes dresser to store most of baby’s things, and we added a topper so that it doubles as a changing table. The four smaller drawers on top have been very helpful for holding extra supplies like bathtime stuff, burp cloths, etc.
- We use the Ikea Gulliver crib. It’s simple, $99, and gets the job done.
Breastfeeding + Pumping
Here’s the gear that I used for breastfeeding and pumping:
- I used a Haaka, which uses suction to “catch” milk, when nursing first thing in the morning. This milk gets bagged and helped me to build a freezer stash.
- My insurance-provided Ameda Finesse pump. (Keep in mind that if you have health insurance, your insurer must cover the cost of a breast pump!)
- I tried a couple of pumping bras, a strapless one that worked great, and one that clips into any nursing bra, which I found more comfortable and ended up preferring for pumping at work.
- A pumping bag, which I loved because it’s professional looking, easy to clean, and roomy enough to fit my pump, storage bottles, extra parts, chapstick, a granola bar, and a water bottle. Some pumps come with totes, but in my case, that bag was too small to be functional for daily use in the office. It held up so well that I ended up buying another one of these for travel.
- Milk storage system bottles and cooler – these bottles are the same as the ones that came with my pump, and the cooler is the perfect size for six of them. The cooler also came in handy during a recent trip where I flew with breastmilk for a week away.