Updated: Apr 6, 2020
This blog is a little different and you may find there are things you use and things you don't. I am definitely no expert, but these are a few of the things we found helpful in our first 2 months as a whanau with a new pēpi. All of these were purchased, handed down, or gifted at wānanga. Feel free to skip ahead to the next item at any point. I am a huge believer that there is always something new to learn and ways to improve so leave a comment with your favourites too so I can check them out.
Let me know if you like this type of post and I will do an update for favourites after the first 2 months.
Number Tahi: Natures Touch Relief Spray
I finished my bottle of this at the 6 week mark and threw it so no pikitia sorry but this stuff is so good! I had some stitches and it helped to feel clean in between showers (because despite not wanting to because everywhere is leaking, you do actually have to leave the shower), soothed the area (lord knows I needed that after a 9lb baby), and it also helps with that dreaded first poop after birth (TMI but we all have to do it). I have already recommended this to all of my pregnant friends because it was that good. The bottle is a spray so you don't need to touch anything or even see it - I know I didn't even want to know about any of that I just wanted it to not be sore! One bottle got me through 6 weeks and I used it fairly generously. The formula is created by a midwife and has witchhazel among other healing goodies in it.
Tip: Use it all over and do a couple sprays each time you use the toilet or shower.
Number Rua: Burp cloths/muslin cloths
You could use a towel or any kind of cloth but we had these handed down to us. They are just like the ones you use to wrap your pēpi for a moe but a little smaller. My favourite use of them was to fold in half long ways and to tuck one end under your boob while feeding. This technique was great in the first 6 weeks before my milk settled because it meant I could quickly catch any drips in the cloth and flick it up over my boob after a kai to burp my son. Lord knows for those first few weeks wrestling a wriggly baby and pulling your bra back up are impossible to do simultaneously and baby comes first. They double as spew clean up cloths too.
Tip: They also leave you enough length when tucked in that you can wipe the milk sprays from your partners leg without him noticing.
Number Toru: Boobie pads - the reusable kind
These ones from Love Bubs are my favourites. I got the pack of 4 pairs but pictured were my favourite designed ones (not that it really matters what they look like but it can brighten your day if they look cute when you feel a bit off while adjusting to your new leaky floppy body). They soaked up all the extra milk so much better than disposables - I was doubling up disposables and still leaking through at night. I did still get some occasional leakage in the first 6 weeks with these but nowhere near as much as disposables and once I figured out how to place them properly, and once my milk settled a little they were the best. The best part? You just throw them in the wash inside the free wash bag with the rest of your washing! It took me a while to figure that out and I was pre-rinsing, you don't need to, straight in the machine does the job.
Tip: Any reusables will do just fine to protect Papatūānuku and soak up the extra miraka. If you find cheaper ones go for it! Bamboo and hemp are good absorbant fabrics.
Number Wha: Sarong/Lavalava
This is not for all the beach trips you'll be taking or because "maternity leave is like a holiday" - I have something to show anyone that believes that *insert washing pile and poo explosions*.
I remember my sister in law wearing her sarong in labour which inspired me to use mine too, mainly because I didn't fit anything else. Mine doubled for the last few weeks of pregnancy right up until about 6 weeks postpartum when I could finally fit something other than trackpants - at least for long enough to get to the shop and figure out my new size and buy something else. I remember everybody telling me you will live in your dressing gown after birth but that must only apply for winter babies because you know the bad thing about dressing gowns? When you open it up to get your boob out to feed your pēpi the entire thing comes uncrossed and in the summer there is no way I was wearing another layer of clothes underneath my dressing gown to cover my new mum bod that I wasn't yet entirely comfortable with and probably was a bit inappropriate to have on full display to the inlaws. In comes sarong to save the day. Just tie it right under the nursing bra and you are cool and covered.
Tip: Any milk sprays/spew that your tucked in cloth doesn't reach, the sarong will. If you think that's gross you'll get used to a little spew on your clothes and start only changing for the big ones. The amount of washing will convince you of that if I can't.
Number Rima: Nursing bras
These ones from Kmart come in a 2 pack and stretch with your boobs as they get engorged. They clip open just like any other nursing bra but they're the cheapest I've found which is great because you need twice as many as you think. Gone are the days of wearing the same bra all week. You have to wear one 24/7 and in the first 6 weeks do this awkward manouvre of holding your boobie pads in place with your forearm and quickly placing the bra straight after the shower to avoid being covered in milk before you even leave the bathroom. If you can make a bra last 2 days with no leaks you're doing well.
Tip: Take the padding out and go 2 sizes up from your normal size. You need at least 6 so you aren't doing too many extra loads of washing between any leaks. Click&collect to take the guesswork out for your partner if you're like me and didn't quite get enough.
Number Ono: Cloth wipes
You don't need anything special they're just to wipe a baby butt afterall. You can cut up an old towel or use baby facecloths or muslin cloths. We only got these because they were on special $10 for 12 at the time and it made for easy distinction between face vs. butt cloth. They're nice and soft and you just wet them with a little water in the morning and use throughout the day. Good for baby's butt because its just water so no nasties and you just warm wash with your cloth nappies or if you're not using cloth nappies yet (we didn't start until 3 months once they fit better) just give them a rinse and warm wash with the towels if you're only feeding breastmilk because the poop is water soluble (dissolves right up in the water).
Tip: Use an old wipes container and about 3/4 cup of warm water to roughly 10 wipes, you can always add more if they are still dry. Flip a few times until all wipes are damp. Squeeze out excess of wipe as you use. The water will stay room temperature. Put a bucket with a lid next to the change table and they just go straight in there after use.
Number Whitu: Haakaa breastpump
I am sure you have heard of this. There are a couple of different versions. We have this one. In the first 6 weeks it is helpful for a few reasons; you can use it to pump out a little excess right before a feed so your boob is softer to latch; you can use it when you feel a blocked duct coming on to help clear the blockage (or use it on the other side while baby sucks to clear the blockage). Along with a hot shower on all fours I believe it saved me a few times from blocked ducts turning to mastitis. Now my milk has settled I still use it once a day with the first feed. I miss a few days (like Christmas day because who wants to pump instead of opening presents). It is so easy you just suction it on and you're away. It can take a few goes to figure out a good position so your baby can't knock it off. Rugby hold would be awesome but my son isn't the biggest fan of that position so we cradle hold but have his body flat and head turned to the boob instead of puku to puku. That way the Haakaa fits right on top of him and a good suction stops him from being able to kick it off. The once in the morning means I have time to wash and dry it for the next day and empties out any leftover from the night if/when he is sleeping well to avoid blocked ducts or mastitis.
Tip: Because it is only breastmilk it can be washed with dishwashing liquid and hot water and then rinsed under cold running water instead of sterilising every time.
Number Waru: Breastmilk bags
Sometimes you have to leave your baby with whanau to get a break or do the groceries (Yes my son literally thinks he's starving if I go to the supermarket for 30 mins) but your pēpi will still need kai so having a stash on hand for these times. These are not the most eco-friendly solution but you can't add multiple batches of milk together and with such a porky puku pēpi containers weren't sustainable so for now these are our go-to. They are the cheapest we have found at $10 for 100. Some brands will have you pay $20 for 25 bags which is insane. Measure before you store as the bag isn't accurate and freeze flat for easy storage. Fill out the date and amount.
Tip: Not all stores have these in stock but click&collect is free so you can still get them without paying delivery.
Number Iwa: Wahakura/Pēpi pod
You probably already know all about safe sleep and this is a must have in the first few weeks - or until your pēpi outgrows it. Make your own, get it for free at a wānanga, have it handed down through whanau or purchase one. These are the best! We were lucky enough to get 2! Our Pēpi pod was gifted at Whirihia which is an antenatal class run through Plunket and the wonderful Kelly and her team of wonderful people. Our Wahakura was gifted from Hapu Wānanga which is a similar antenatal class run through Waikato DHB. They have classes where they teach you how to make your own here in Hamilton too at Hui Te Rangiora Marae some weekends. These help your pēpi to feel safe and secure in a smaller space than the big cot and means you can have him closer. We mostly just used ours throughout the day for naps in the lounge. We moved it all around the room depending on who was there. It was very reassuring that he had a safe place to sleep in any room of the house as we could just move it about with us and with 2 we had one in each of the main rooms.
Tip: Put the wahakura inside the cot the first few times so they get used to the environment. Once they outgrow it put a tri-pillow in it and use it in the kitchen as your safe space to seat your baby while you do the dishes or get yourself a kai.
Thanks for reading, I hope you have got something out of this. Don't forget to let me know your tips!