**I wrote this article a year ago and never posted- but everything in here still holds true! Davie is now almost 14 months and I still absolutely swear by these! I highlighted in blue all of the things we are still using!**
We’re 3 months in and sweet little Davie and I are starting to figure things out. Being a new mom is hard, and being a new mom with a chronic illness can be even harder. Here are the top things that have saved my joints and helped to take care of myself and my beautiful baby so far:
10. Diaper Backpack
I’ll kick off the list with something simple- the diaper bag. I think a lot of moms are trending away from the traditional shoulder bag full of baby stuff, but for someone with back issues having a backpack that evenly distributes the weight of a million diapers, wipes, and outfit changes is super important! Get yourself a backpack diaper bag that a little larger and you can fit your own stuff as well as baby’s!
9. Bath time knee pad
I honestly thought this was silly at first, but having a pad on the floor – something thicker than the regular bath mat – is so necessary when you are kneeling down next to the tub! We have a little foam mat shaped like a whale, but any thick pillow or cushion would work, and your knees will absolutely thank you!
8. Nursery Cart
Pick up a 3-tiered cart on Amazon or at Ikea and stick it next to where you sit to feed baby. Stock it up with snacks, water, tissues, burp cloths, diapers, wipes, books…whatever you need when you are sitting in the nursery! Getting up and down a million times to get things (especially while holding a baby) is super hard on my joints. Having a place to keep everything close by has made it so much easier!
7. Oxiclean bucket
This was actually a recommendation from a friend, but its absolutely a game changer! Babies are messy- and go though LOTS of outfits/burp cloths/swaddles/anything made of cloth. Scrubbing stains out of clothing 10 times a day is honestly just not sustainable between fatigue and joint pain — enter the Oxiclean bucket. Keep a bucket with 1 scoop of Oxiclean and half full of water next to the changing table and toss messy clothes straight in to soak. I’ve had some MESSES so far, and no stains (and honestly waiting to feel well and have enough energy to do laundry sometimes means the bucket sits for a few days)!
6. A good Swing
Get yourself a good swing! As much as I want to hold my little girl 24/7, my back just won’t tolerate it. We’ve been using our swing since day 1 and baby girl is happy to hang out in there when I need a break! I put mine facing an arm chair so I can sit down and talk to her while she’s sitting in there- a break for my body but I still get to spend time interacting with Davie!
5. Side-lying breastfeeding
Let me start by saying that fed is best, no matter how you are nourishing your little one…but if you are a new mom who is breastfeeding- don’t forget about side-lying! Feeding a new baby every few hours is A LOT of work. I’ve had many breakdowns when its time for Davie to eat and my back is spasming or my joints are screaming. Toss a swaddle down on the bed to save your sheets from drips or spits, and lay down and relax while your little one eats!
4. Play yard + pack and play
Stick your baby play yard inside your pack and play to save yourself from all of the bending and straining to get baby onto the floor! I also have my pack and play set up right next to the arm of the couch so I can lean over and engage with Davie while she’s playing. I still get to enjoy watching her play but don’t have to kill my back to do it!
3. Infinite places to put baby down
Have a safe place to put baby down in every single room of your house. Literally. Even if it’s just a blanket on the floor. I have one set up in my laundry room. Carrying a little one around is really taxing on your body, especially if you have a chronic illness. If I hold/carry Davie for too long I’m in pain for the rest of the day- so having a place to lay/sit her down always in close proximity is super important!
2. Comfortable chair + heating pad
Make sure you have a comfortable chair to sit in with baby!!! You are going to spend A LOT of time sitting down and a bad chair can do some damage. For extra comfort or relief, set up a heating pad on the chair so every time you sit down you can quickly turn it on and work on relaxing some of your already sore muscles and joints.
1. Baby Bouncer
Get something lightweight, portable, and easy to get baby in and out of! I have the Baby Bjorn bouncer and absolutely swear by it! I bring it into the bathroom while I shower, plop it up on the kitchen island while I cook, and even brought it out on the deck to get some fresh air and sunshine. Davie has been able to sit in it since we brought her home from the hospital and is super happy there! This might be my most used of the “infinite places to put baby down,” and works just as well as her swing when my body really needs a break.
**Update: Davie is now almost 25 lbs and STILL will sit in this bouncer for a bit while I shower…although I do usually need to bribe her to sit still by putting on a TV show 😅
BONUS: Snoo Bassinet
This is a definite splurge item and I was super skeptical of it at first- but I can’t honestly give my list of essentials for new moms with chronic illnesses without mentioning our bassinet. When dealing with chronic illness and fatigue a good nights sleep is so important…but unfortunately not usually possible with a new baby. How many newborns do you know that sleep through the night? I HAVE ONE. The first two weeks home Davie was getting up every 2-3 hours at night to eat (sometimes she woke me up, sometimes I woke her up). Once we got the clear from her pediatrician to let her sleep longer and stop waking her up it was only a few more weeks before she was sleeping through the night. I can’t say 100% if its the Snoo, if she’s just a great sleeper, or if its some combination of both, but I know there is NO WAY I’d be managing new motherhood and chronic illness as well as I am without good sleep.