By: Rachel (Rae Lynn Minke) Drews
Dear Mamas, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases…commissions may be earned through some of the links provided in this blog post, either from Amazon or other companies.
It’s coming up on the one-year anniversary of the Raise Your Hand Motherhood Podcast, and I wanted to pull together all of the valuable (and tangible) motherhood ‘must-haves’ that have been shared by my guests and collaborators in the first two seasons of the show!
I’ve grouped them all into categories, so that you can jump around to the stages of motherhood that you are currently navigating. Each of these ‘must-haves’ either solved a problem or got a fellow mom through a particularly challenging time in their motherhood journey…and they wanted to pay it forward to YOU by sharing about how much it helped them!
The very best part of this list?
You get to pick and choose what looks/sounds good to you, Mama. Think of this blog post as free advice from a mom who made it through to the other side of your current reality…and you can 100% take it or leave it - no feelings hurt, no questions asked!
But just think...
Wouldn’t it be WONDERFUL if something on this list turned out to be EXACTLY what you need in this stage of motherhood?
- Baby/toddler not sleeping?
- Need help choosing the ‘big purchases’ as a new parent?
- Is your va-jay-jay in need of some serious TLC after birthing that 9-pound babe?
- Looking for a book on motherhood that makes you both laugh AND feel seen at the same time?
Keep reading and you might find some of the answers you’ve been looking for. Let’s get right into it!
Scroll down for each category:
- Postpartum Recovery & Healing
- Pelvic Floor Health
- Books for every mom’s bookshelf
- Solutions for sleepy struggles
- Changes in your relationships
- Choosing the BIG-TICKET items
- Motherhood Comfort
POSTPARTUM RECOVERY & HEALING:
Let’s start off with all the new mamas out there (or the women about to become new mamas)! It’s often repeated by guests and moms on the Pod that they were all set-up and ready for the baby to come home - but were completely unprepared for the postpartum recovery and healing process that they would experience themselves!
Episode 3: Postpartum Recovery - Padsicles, Pelvic Floors, & What NOT to Forget walked through the Top 10 things every new mom NEEDS or NEEDS TO KNOW about postpartum healing. Here are a few items to (strongly!) consider if you or somebody you know is about to become a mom:
- Frida Padsicles - It’s exactly what it sounds like…a frozen pad that acts like an ice pack for your vagina! I personally LOVED these ones from Frida - a company that sells a number of postpartum recovery essentials. You could snap them open and feel the coolness rush through immediately. 5 stars. Highly recommend for all new mamas!
- Mesh Underwear - Picture the biggest underwear you can imagine, that goes all the way from your belly button down to your mid thigh. They are a game changer in the first few days and weeks of motherhood, and should be (in my humble opinion) part of every new mom’s ‘starter kit’. Ask your doctor or midwife to grab you a few extra pairs after delivery, or grab some ahead of time at the link here!
- Silver Cups - I never had to use these, personally, but know SO MANY MOMS who have sworn by silver cups to help soothe their sore or cracked nipples from breastfeeding. (Check out Silverette - you can send your cups back when your breastfeeding journey is over, and have them turned into a small necklace with your child’s initial on it!)
- Haakaa - For any breastfeeding mamas, this incredible little manual breast pump is SO convenient, inexpensive, and easy to use/clean. Just squeeze it, stick it on the breast you aren’t nursing with and let suction do its job. The Haakaa is an award-winning, best-selling design that ‘collects all let-down and milk which would otherwise have been lost in a breast pad’. I absolutely loved mine.
PELVIC FLOOR HEALTH:
Anybody who listens regularly to the podcast knows that I speak often about the importance of having a Pelvic Floor Therapist. I’ve already done two episodes on the pelvic floor; Episode 3, in which I interviewed my first ever Pelvic Floor Therapist about postpartum recovery, and Episode 18: Getting Confident about our Pelvic Floors with the @VaginaCoach.
If you haven’t already, go back and have a listen to both episodes - they are FULL of important information that every single mama needs to educate herself on. In the meantime, here are two things that can help you out - whether you struggle with pelvic floor issues (such as incontinence or organ prolapse), or just have an interest in being a more effective and healthy bathroom-goer (think #2)...
- Buff Muff App - This app was created by Kim Vopni, most commonly known in the Pelvic Health space as the @vaginacoach. I recommend starting off with the 28-day Buff Muff Challenge, which begins on the 1st of every month. It costs $27, and can help with your incontinence and prolapse symptoms! And BONUS…signing up through the challenge unlocks 50% off an ongoing monthly membership to the contents of the entire app, which is LOADED with valuable education, trainings, and pelvic floor-friendly workouts!
- Squatty Potty - My Pelvic Floor Therapist here in Germany said that EVERYBODY should be using something like this when they go to the bathroom. Moms, men, and children alike! It’s anatomically beneficial to the elimination process, and seriously helps reduce strain and pushing (which can be especially important to avoid if you have pelvic health issues or are recovering from birth/delivery)!
BOOKS FOR EVERY MOM’S BOOKSHELF:
BOOK #1: ‘Send Me Into The Woods Alone - Essays on Motherhood’ by Erin Pepler.
- This book was SO GOOD…and easy to find time to read as a mom, as it’s broken down into bite-sized, easy-to-consume essays/chapters! Erin is a Canadian freelance writer and mother of 2, and her writing has been featured in a number of prominent magazines and online blogs and websites. Erin just has such an incredible way with words. She’s funny, she’s truthful, and she doesn’t shy away from the difficult moments of motherhood. This book is motherhood gold, Mama. Have a listen to our interview in Episode 7: Coping Strategies and Truth-Telling Essays on Motherhood, and then get your hands on a copy RIGHT AWAY.
BOOK #2: ‘Reclaiming Postpartum Wellness: A Holistic Guide to Returning to the Roots of Health in Motherhood)’ by Maranda Bower
- Maranda was my guest in Episode 22: Postpartum Depression & Reclaiming Postpartum Wellness. She’s the Founder/CEO of Postpartum University, an online education facility that has been recognized as the “leading postpartum resource” for Professionals and Experts in the field, as well as for thousands of mothers around the globe. She recently wrote this book as an extension of the offerings in Postpartum University, pulling from her own experiences with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, mom rage, and a postpartum auto-immune disorder diagnosis.
BOOK #3: ‘The Wonder Weeks: A Stress-Free Guide to Your Baby's Behavior’
- This book recommendation came from Kim Davis, my guest in Episode 20: Sleep Tips from a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. Kim (who is based out of Ottawa, Canada, and runs the online business ‘Babes & Beyond - Pediatric Sleep Consulting’) has helped countless mothers and families discover sleep strategies that work for them. In our interview, Kim spoke VERY HIGHLY of this book and said, “I would NOT recommend it if I didn’t think it was beneficial for ANY sleep-deprived parent out there!”
BOOK #4: ‘Giving Birth to Motherhood: Embrace Being a Mom Through the Powerful Healing Process of Writing Your Birth Story’ by Amie McCracken & Katie Rössler
- I spoke with Amie and Katie in Episode 14: How to Share, Own, & Process Your Birth Story. They’re two expat moms who went from being members of the same motherhood Facebook group, to park-date friends with their kids, to co-authors! Amie is an editor and book designer, and Katie is a licensed counsellor and transformative grief guide. They’ve pooled their professional expertise, as well as their personal motherhood experiences to create this wonderful book and methodology for writing about and processing our birth experiences.
SOLUTIONS FOR SLEEP STRUGGLES
OK, Mama…here are a few simple suggestions for creating a nice sleep-conducive environment, according to Kim Davis, Pediatric Sleep Consultant and guest on Episode 20.
Kim says that, starting on Day 1 of baby being at home, “You want to make sure the baby’s room is dark enough - that you are not able to read a book when your eyes adjust…and you want to have a sound machine to block out any household noises, so you don’t have to walk around on eggshells.”
Here are a few motherhood ‘must-haves’ from the Raise Your Hand Motherhood community (as well as a few personal favourites that we’ve loved in our family!):
- White Noise Sound Machine - This option is affordable, and has multiple sounds and settings! Instagram account @takingcarababies recommends setting your sound machine at the volume of a shower running.
- Dimming Night Light - Add this light to your ‘Buy Now’ basket, or to a list of awesome gift ideas for new parents…it’s SO convenient and easy to use. Just tap twice to turn the light on or off, and hold a finger on the top to adjust the brightness. Use it for anything from midnight diaper changes, to ‘mood lighting’ for a romantic dinner when your kids finally go to sleep!
- Sleep Trainer clock - If your toddler/child is a seriously early riser (4-6am), you might want to consider using an OK to wake clock. Adjust the colour settings with your child, and take some time to explain what they mean (i.e. red light means ‘stay in bed’, green light means ‘it’s OK to get up now!’).
- Taking Cara Babies - This website offers online courses to help with sleep from birth to age 4. My family has purchased and used 2 programs to date, and can not promote them enough. Cara’s courses teach you about newborn sleep, help you navigate the many leaps and sleep regressions between 5-24 months, and set you and your toddler up with some healthy sleep habits!
And now for one very important motherhood ‘must-have’ for that new mom who is so UNBELIEVABLY exhausted…but having a difficult time falling asleep when she finally finds a moment to try! In Episode 1: Pandemic Pregnancy & Postpartum Experiences, & A Birth Doula to the Rescue, I spoke with my Birth Doula, Liza, who shared that she got “severe bloodshot eyes…like ZOMBIE-looking eyes” purely from exhaustion and over-fatigue, from, “literally not closing my eyes enough in a day.”
- Liza’s Tip: Get yourself a lavender weighted eye pillow to help relax your eyes…it’s like a weighted blanket for your face!
CHANGES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Worried that you’re the only couple struggling after the birth of your baby? Is your relationship just not the same since starting a family (...or trying to start one)? Trust me…you are not alone, Mama.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Katie Rössler in Episode 13: How to Navigate Relationship Change After Becoming Parents. She’s a Licensed Counselor and Transformative Grief Guide, who has spent the past 15 years helping individuals, couples, and mothers live healthier and happier lives.
Katie offers a number of online courses for couples, including ‘How to Kid-Proof Your Marriage’, and ‘Healthy Arguing’, as well as the ‘Revive Your Relationship Bundle’. Take a moment to check each course out, and think about how you and your partner can take action today to slowly start making your way back to each other.
CHOOSING THE BIG-TICKET ITEMS
One thing I can NOT say enough to new parents - secondhand and hand-me-downs items are FANTASTIC! Take them graciously…and then pass them on when your child outgrows them in a week or two!
Now, that being said…it can get a little bit overwhelming when it comes to deciding on a few of the bigger-ticket items you need or want for your little one. I’m talking strollers, baby beds, etc.
Obviously, you can 100% opt for secondhand or hand-me-down purchases here as well…but if you feel like you want to splurge on an item or two, check out the following motherhood ‘must-haves’, shared by myself and fellow mamas on the podcast:
- Ergobaby Carrier - My guest Kate from Episode 4: Motherhood Anxiety & Managing Expectations (both societal and our own) shared that this carrier was her “saving grace…our daughter was a little bump on a log - her daycare called her ‘the little Chanel purse’…she was not interested in doing any crawling, any walking, any pulling up AT ALL for the first 18 months of her life.”
- Baby Brezza - A number of the mothers who contributed in Episode 11: Helpful Tips, Tools, & Support for Mothers (& Parents) of Multiples, shared about how this helped them through survival mode while parenting multiple newborns and babies at the same time. Twin-mama and episode guest, Amber, called this “A Keurig machine but for baby bottles - it’s a life saver! It’s a luxury for SURE…but literally, at 3am, you put the bottle underneath, you push a button and in 2 seconds you have a perfect bottle and can pop it in the baby’s mouth!”
- Travel Crib - Our baby boy was BIG, and outgrew his bassinet quite quickly. We were moving overseas right around this time, so we decided to transition him into a Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib, that we found in barely used condition on Facebook Marketplace! Our son slept soundly and solidly in this crib for the next MANY months, as we moved halfway around the world. It was easy to set-up, easy to collapse, and we felt confident that our little man was safe and secure.
- UppaBaby Cruz - OK, I admit it. This is the one item I pushed REALLY hard for when discussing and planning for baby purchases with my partner. I just loved the look, the feel, and the ease of it…and knew I was going to be clocking hundreds, if not a few thousand kilometres of pushing this thing! We lucked out and found an almost new one on Facebook Marketplace, but still paid a pretty hefty price for it. Any regrets, though? Not a single one.
To round out this list of motherhood ‘must-haves’, I present to you my postpartum ‘clothing staple’. I pretty much wore these around the clock - morning, noon, and night:
- SMASH+TESS Romperalls - This was MY original motherhood ‘must-have’, waaaay back in Episode 1 of the podcast! Not sure what a SmashTESS romper is? Well, it’s only the most comfortable thing you can slide your body into, especially postpartum. And they’re cute. And can be styled up or styled down. As mentioned, my personal favourite are the Romperalls, a super soft overall-type experience that just makes me feel all the warm fuzzies when I wear them. So, if you’re in search of a new mom-uniform, make your way over to www.smashtess.ca and select your version - comfy mom, sexy mom, squirrel-pant mom (yep, that’s a thing)! Oh….and while you’re at it? Tell them Rae Lynn Minke sent you….maybe they’ll send me a new pair of romperalls in the mail!!
Alright Mama, I hope you found something in this post that resonates, solves a problem you’re currently experiencing, or just made you a little curious! And if you feel like paying it forward, hit that share button and send this post to all your mom friends. Remember - sharing is caring!
If you don’t already listen to or follow the Raise Your Hand Motherhood Podcast, I hope you check out a few of the episodes linked in this post!
Let me know in the comments below - what’s YOUR motherhood ‘must-have’?
Until next time, Mama…
-Rae Lynn Minke
(Host of the Raise Your Hand Motherhood Podcast)