The Ultimate Shopping List for You, a First Time Mom
I am a First Time Mom/Mum/Mam/Mammy/Mother to a beautiful little boy called Smith. He was born on March 10th 2015, which makes him 13 months old as I write this. Smith is my first baby (will he be my only baby? who knows) and as he grows and learns every day, so too do I.
The reason I’m writing this post today is to share my experience as a First Time Mom and be an honest voice. My hope is that this list will be of use to you, a future ‘First Time Mom’ and if you have any questions or would like to start a discussion here or on any of my social media accounts, I’d be happy to answer and be involved.
This list is based on my personal experience as a mother and my opinion, so it’s important to note that. Please also note that I kept my specific maternity shopping affordable as I preferred to spend my money on things I could use after baby came along, on experiences and of course on baby himself. I was lucky not to have any big do’s like weddings etc to go to but if you do, there are options out there for fabulous maternity wear, especially online. I’ve added my tips beside each item listed, and I’ve included some of the products I used and stores I shopped in. From one First Time Mom to one Future First Time Mom, best wishes, you’ll be fabulous!
Maternity / Nursing Bra – There’s no evidence to suggest wearing a wired bra will damage your boobs when you’re pregnant. However it is advised that you wear non-wired bras for the simple fact that they are meant to be more comfortable, especially as your boobs and bump gets bigger. My advice is to get measured correctly and buy at least two, one white and one black. You won’t need to do this at the beginning, only when your breasts begin to grow, swell or get uncomfortable in your usual bras. This transition was hard for me. I’m big busted and always wear underwired bras so to move to those with no underwiring was strange. I got used to it though and although my new bras lacked the lace and perking up abilities my older bras guaranteed, my boobs (which funnily enough didn’t grow much bigger with pregnancy) were comfortable. The mistake I made was that I splashed out and made the transition to regular non-wired bras months before baby arrived and then had to buy maternity/nursing bras just before baby came along. My advice is to buy maternity/nursing bras from the get go, you might need to get a larger size if your breasts grow larger but you might also save yourself time and money if they don’t grow too much. I also found out later that there are soft-wired maternity bras on the market so if like me you only wear under-wired bras, these could be the answer for you. I got measured and bought my bras in Marks and Spencer’s, first time round was a disaster, second time round was more successful.
Underwear – Good luck to you if you still find those dental floss bikini thong brief things comfortable during pregnancy. For me the only answers were boxer style briefs and Bridget Jones style knickers, both before and after the birth of Smith. I also went for cotton because its breathable and less ‘sweaty’, (there’s probably a polite way of putting it but we’re all friends here) and you will want anything that allows for less perspiration. Forget that hospital list that tells you to buy plastic or throw away underwear, YOU WILL NOT WEAR THEM and that pack from Mothercare will still be sitting unopened forever. Buy a five pack of big knickers, be comfortable and throw them away when needs be. A few months after the birth of your baba, you’ll be dying to get back into your lacy see-throughs, or maybe you won’t. I bought my knickers in Penneys and Dunnes Stores.
Nightwear – Loungewear and Nightwear start to become one when you become a mother, well it did for me anyway. When it came to buying new nightwear to fit my bump, I looked ahead to what I would be wearing on the maternity ward and then post-baby. The best option for me were nightdresses. I planned on breastfeeding so I bought ones that had easy boob access, so that meant specially designed nursing nightdresses and those with button down fronts. For a dressing gown, I just used the large fluffy one I already owned but I also bought a very light cotton one too. This light one was used for the maternity ward. Maternity wards tend to get very warm, whether you have a room to yourself or whether you are sharing, and I experienced both on my five-day stay. My light dressing gown was a great purchase because it kept me covered but not too hot. I bought my nightwear in Penneys and Mothercare.
Loungewear – I worked full-time throughout my pregnancy up until the week I was allowed to, which is 36 weeks here in Ireland. My bump was pretty big at this stage and the hassle of getting a packed Luas and train most evenings home was a pain in the rear end. The first thing I did when I got home every evening was ‘slip into something more comfortable’ and that meant loungewear, fluffy socks and slippers. You don’t need to splash out on special maternity loungewear, I wore a mixture of regular clothing in baggy styles and specific loungewear. What I will say though, is that although you will be lounging about before baby arrives, you won’t be afterwards so think ahead on the loungewear tops you purchase if you plan on breastfeeding, because those with easy boob access will be the best. I bought loungewear in Penneys and Mothercare.
Pregnancy Leggings and Tights – Even if you never wore leggings before, they are a great purchase for when you’re pregnant. Worn with dresses or long shirts, sweaters and boots, you can look stylish and feel comfortable at the same time. Yes, you could buy a larger size in the leggings and tights you usually buy and to be honest you will get away with that for a number of months, but believe me, as your baby bump grows it will be all about comfort and for me that snug fit of leggings and tights that went over my bump was great. I bought leggings in H&M and tights in Mothercare.
Pregnancy Jeans / Dresses – If you’re humming and hawing over whether to go down the specialised maternity clothing route – Just do it when it comes to jeans and dresses, plain and simple. The special band that is normally built into pregnancy jeans is a god send when you can’t see your feet any longer (when standing up). When it came to work/office wear, I lived in my pregnancy dresses, worn with cardigans and jackets that weren’t always maternity wear, maternity tights and brogues or boots. Not only was I able to keep some of my fashion sense but I was comfortable, and that’s what’s important. I found New Look to be great for affordable maternity dresses and bought my maternity jeans from Topshop.
Shoes and Boots – Being pregnant during summer months allows for sandals which can be great if you suffer from swollen feet and/or ankles. The shoes I went for during my pregnancy were brogues, and I didn’t hold back. I bought about three or four pairs in different styles and colours because not only were they versatile enough to wear to the office with dresses but they looked great with jeans too. As I was pregnant during the winter months, I bought a pair of wide calved knee boots, buying this style not only meant I could wear them with my aforementioned dresses and jeans, it also meant that if my legs swelled they’d still fit. Remember that you can never have too many shoes and they should still fit well after baby has been born. I shopped for shoes in TK Maxx and bought my boots in Clarks.
Health & Beauty:
Vitamins – Taking folic acid when you’re pregnant is really important because it helps prevent the development of Spina Bifida in your unborn baby. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I bought and religiously took a supplement with folic acid. I used Pregnacare but I’m sure there are other supplements available. I ate as healthily as I could, drank lots of water and stayed away from alcohol completely. After Smith was born, I was advised my Iron levels were low so I took an Iron supplement for a month afterwards to get me back on track. I took Spatone which is a liquid supplement and 100% natural. It was suitable to take while breastfeeding and the daily dose is individually packed so it was really handy. You can buy it in Health Shops and Boots. During the third or so month of breastfeeding I became concerned about my milk flow, as I’m sure most first time mothers are at some stage so I tried the herb Fenugreek. It came in tablet form and I bought it from the local Health Shop. It smelt and tasted disgusting and I don’t know if it helped at all.
Body Butters/Oils– It’s important to rub that gorgeous growing belly of yours every morning and night to help keep the skin soft and decrease your chances of stretch marks. I used a number of different products on my bump and was really fond of them all. I used The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter or Almond Milk & Honey Body Butter (for sensitive skin), BON Liquid Gold Pure Tissue Oil, available from your local Health Shop and Bio Oil, available from most Pharmacies. Did any of them work? Well my skin was gorgeous and soft and I suppose it did keep the stretch marks at bay. However my pregnancy went over 10 days before I was induced and I really believe those extra two weeks made a difference on my belly. Yes I have stretch marks but sure what the hey!
Sanitary Towels – Stock up on them! You will need them after the birth, lots of them for weeks.
Deodorant – You’ll need lots because even in the cold of winter, you’ll most likely perspire more, I know I did anyway. You could stock up on your favourite brand and scent but I’d advise to give it a little time before you do because sometimes scents you loved pre-pregnancy are the last thing you want to smell when you are pregnant.
Nipple Balm – If you intend on breastfeeding, buy at least two tubes of nipple balm. I was given Multi-Mam Balm and I could have swam in it for the first few weeks. Breastfeeding isn’t easy but its worth the persistence if you can. The most important advice I can give is get the ‘latch’ right from the beginning. I didn’t the first day and it was torture. I soon learnt. If you can’t breastfeed, don’t worry about it, and if you decide not to, you won’t need nipple balm.
Tea Tree Oil – If you are having a ‘natural’ birth then be prepared and get some tea tree oil. Tea Tree Oil is very soothing for your vajayjay after you’ve given birth. You can add a few drops to a warm bath and bathe in it, or you can create a douche by adding a few drops to a clean empty sports water bottle filled with warm water. You then spray yourself with it, when in the shower. I had an episiotomy and tore as well so I bathed in this every morning and night for the first two weeks after I had Smith and it helped soothe and heal me. You can buy it in Health Shops and Pharmacies, I used Organic Tea Tree Oil.
Skincare & Haircare – I can not complain about my skin or hair while I was pregnant. I was very lucky and pregnancy really suited both. My skin was glowing and my hair was the longest and fullest it had been in years. I just kept with my usual routine. I used my regular cleanser, toner and moisturiser on my face and neck, and my usual shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner on my hair. There are numerous products available for mothers to be who are suffering with skin problems. I did use some Mama Mio products as they were a gift, but didn’t use them every day. My glowing skin and flowing locks lasted all of my pregnancy and until Smith was about four months old. Then the good run ended. My skin was still clear but tiredness had taken over. The best thing to do in this situation is get as much sleep as you can (much easily said than done) and if possible book yourself in / or be booked in for a refreshing facial and pamper. At the same time my skin was becoming dull, my hair began to fall out, thankfully not in clumps which my hairdresser advised can happen but more like a thinning. It was as if I lost all the length and volume I’d gained. It was a pity but that’s life. The best thing I did for myself was get my hair done which gave me the pep I needed and this is something I highly recommend all new mothers do.
Massage – A pregnancy massage can be the most relaxing and refreshing experience you can experience when the bump has taken over. I reviewed my experience here on The Life of Stuff so it’s worth a read if you are thinking about it. What I want to emphasis though is that it is extremely important that you go to a Therapist who is specifically trained in pregnancy massage. The Health and Beauty Clinic I went to was Zenergy on Fade Street in Dublin.
Pedicures – Every woman is built differently and every woman carries their baby bump differently. Some of you will still be doing your yoga poses and will see your twinkle toes right through your pregnancy. For me and many others we get to say goodbye to our feet once our bump pops at about five or six months. I went on holiday without getting a pedicure, thinking I’d manage it myself some way. Ha, was I wrong. Make yourself feel good and get your feet pampered. Not only will your nails look lovely polished but your swollen and sometimes aching feet will thank you. If you have any doubts about getting the likes of shellac or gel nails because of the toxins etc then go with your gut and stay away from them.
Cosmetics – If you’ve always worn makeup then continue to do so. Actually it’s the perfect opportunity to treat yourself a little more by spending a little of what you’re saving on all those coffee’s and weekend drinks. I brought my full makeup bag into the maternity ward with me and it felt great doing my face every morning, for the first few mornings … the novelty wore off in the end and I checked out with my newborn baby makeup free in the end, but such is life. What I will say though, is you need to remember that although your social life has already begun to change and will change forever once baby comes along, it doesn’t mean you can’t look the part when you do go out and about, even if it’s just to the local coffee shop … Yummy Mummy in the making!
R&R (Rest & Relaxation) – If you can at all, at all … try get away on holiday or even on a weekend break before baby comes along. Whether it’s with your partner, your mother or your best friend, book the hotel, use the spa, sleep in (if your bump allows it) and enjoy that time doing nothing. Patrick and I went away on holidays to Portugal when I was about six months pregnant and then enjoyed a weekend in Cork a few weeks before baby arrived and they were great experiences. The time away from all the hustle and bustle of work commitments, the daily grind and labour worries (because all mothers to be worry about the labour, whether you’re a first time mom or fifth time mom) was just what we both needed, not just me. Taking time out for R&R and spending quality time with your loved ones is really important because once baby is born, the following six months or more will go like a whirlwind.
Pregnancy Pillow – If you are soon to be a mother, reading this and don’t own a pregnancy pillow – take heed and buy one. As your bump grows you will most likely find sleeping a little more awkward and uncomfortable so this is where the pillow comes to the rescue. You can prop it under your bump, between your legs, around your back or simply hug it if you so wish. Most pillows also double as feeding pillows for when you are feeding your baby so it’s a win win situation. You don’t need to spend a fortune on one, so shop around.
Nursing / Rocking Chair and Footstool – One of the best purchases to be made for both baby and me, was the rocking chair/glider we kept in our room for the duration Smith slept in our room. During night feeds and cluster feeds, getting out of bed, taking Smith up in my arms and rocking gently on the chair while feeding him was both relaxing for him and me. Patrick got great use out of it too when bottles were introduced and he could feed Smith his last bottle of the night. They say you shouldn’t let your child rely on rocking to get them to sleep so as he got older we stopped with the rocking but still used the chair. It is also used for story time and makes a great addition sitting in his own room now. We bought ours in Smyths, it was a competitive price and still looks great one year later.