By Megan Powell
It’s hard to know what you really need as a first-time parent. Mega baby stores can be overwhelming and a quick Internet search will bring up a million different ideas of what you should have.
Once you’ve done it before though, you have a pretty good sense of what’s actually necessary.
So what’s different the second time around? Aside from a stronger sense of reality, you have more of an idea of the practical things that you actually truly need: Things like a perfectly matched nursery and 85 baby face cloths don’t seem as essential as a freezer stocked full of meals and a stash of overnight pads and witch hazel.
Here are the items on my list for the second baby:
1. Prepared Meals and Snacks
Knowing how difficult it was to prepare a half-decent meal after our first baby, I’ve been stocking up, making doubles of dishes that are easy to freeze, like hearty pasta sauces and casseroles. Being able to just defrost something or warm it up in the oven makes life much easier when you’re nursing non-stop and can barely make it off the couch.
I’ve also made and frozen a batch of protein muffins, and have a list of other things I hope to get done, including energy bars, soup and veggie burgers.
2. Comfortable underwear and lounge wear
With my first, I completely overestimated how often I would actually get dressed in real clothes those first couple of months. Having a stash of comfortable lounge pants and jammies is essential. Hey, you can even have a “good” pair of yoga pants to wear outside.
Also, comfortable underwear is key. Think full-bottoms and “granny panties” for those first couple of weeks.
3. A Good Post-partum Soak
Ahh, afterbirth. Once you’re able to get in the bath, a good postpartum soak is so wonderful to help heal your body.
Our midwife centre supplies a small bag of healing herbs for the bath. This really helped me the first time and I’m glad I listened to someone at the very last minute who assured me I would need it.
3b. One word: crotchiscles
Soaking heavy-duty overnight pads in a “tea” mixture of the herbs or even water and then freezing them can feel marvelous on the bottom, especially if there are any tears.
4. Lactation help number handy
I made the mistake of not preparing enough for potential breastfeeding woes the first time around, and I won’t let it happen again. I already know who I’m calling if I have problems and I’m going to do it right away this time.
5. Good nipple cream
Oh yes, this is a necessity. Whatever your preference, have it ready and handy. I personally was not a fan of the sticky Lansinoh, and instead used Earth Mama Angel Baby’s nipple cream. I don’t know what I would have done without it.
5b. And breast pads
Some women are leakers; some are not. But you never really know and that first month especially will mean pretty much every nursing mom needs some. I find the reusable cotton ones more comfortable, and they’re better for the environment.
Also by Megan Powell: 6 Things I wish I'd known about breastfeeding
6. A GOOD nursing bra
I was naïve my first time around and thought I could get away with regular bras, or cheap out on crummy ones. Silly me. I’m ready this time with a really good quality nighttime bra (how did I go without it the first time?) and a good daytime one (if I ever get out of the house again).
Obviously this isn’t on the radar the first time around, but with the second, I’ve decided my son will be happier spending a few days with his grandparents at first. Being stuck at home won’t be too much fun for him.
And it will allow me time for recovery, and my hubby and me time to rest with the baby.
Not to mention, 1+1 child might possibly feel like 1+4. If you’re fortunate enough to have family nearby, take up any babysitting offers.
8. Scheduled visitors
We tried to take our midwives’ advice the first time round and keep visitors to a complete minimum the first week. But of course, it didn’t go as planned. Everyone is excited to meet the baby and we were excited to introduce him.
This time round, I want to make sure that other than immediate family, we take the first week to just all get to know each other as a family before we start having people over.
Also, I will definitely be sleeping when the baby sleeps and no amount of knocking at the door will stop me this time!
9. A LOT of diapers and wipes
I’m going to guess this is numero uno when it comes to what parents first run out of. I’ve made sure we have more than enough newborn diapers, that our cloth stash is all ready, and we have a few boxes of wipes and homemade wipe solution set.
10. Baby Carrier
I did have one for the first baby, but oh boy, it will be much more of a necessity this time around. My son will need and want to get outside as much as possible and having a carrier will make it much easier for me to get out with him for walks or backyard play.
How to choose the best and safest baby carrier for you
11. Support Having a new baby is simultaneously amazing and tough. Having a good support system in place beforehand, whether it’s family members, close friends or even someone from the medical community, and knowing whom to call if you need help, is essential.
Some women have a really tough post-partum stage (physically or emotionally) and having trusted people to help can make all the difference. Don’t underestimate the power of both your hormones and a strong support system.
Armed with a freezer full of meals and crotchsicles, momstown pregnancy blogger Megan Powell is due to have her second baby any day now. When she's not chasing her energetic preschooler around or trying to steal a nap, she also blogs at henfamily.com