I went to my old boss and his wife's house for dinner last night. They are pregnant with their first baby. She asked me 'What are the top 5 things I need before the baby comes'. I've gotten this question before from friends that are pregnant and it is one I asked too.
I find this question really hard to answer. I really want to tell them about co-sleeping, baby wearing, and all the attachment/continuum concept/natural parenting stuff I feel so strongly about but I don't want to scare them. I don't want to be so strong with my opinions that it turns them off from these wonderful things. Sometimes, maybe I don't give my real opinion though. So here goes. Here's what I think people should know and need before having a baby.
breastfeed. This is probably the single most important thing you can do. Even if you don't do any of the rest of anything, breastfeeding is such a gift. Here is a short list of breastfeeding benefits from the immune system to kidneys to the brain by Dr Sears.
I had a lot of problems nursing in the beginning. I had to get help from a lactation consultant and I highly recommend doing that if you have problems. Also, make sure you read about breastfeeding from good sources... Dr. Sears, KellyMom, etc. You can also go to La Leche League in person or online. Get advice from people who are pro breastfeeding. Don't use schedules, feed your baby when they are hungry. So there's my first item on the baby check list. Breasts.
a big bed. I wish we would have gotten a king bed. I plan on getting one next baby. It makes co-sleeping better. We pushed a full bed next to our queen bed and that works great for now. But next time I want a co-sleeper and a king bed. We didn't have Luke in our room for the first week. I will never do that again. I want my baby right to me. There are so many good things that come out of co-sleeping. Here's more from Dr. Sears and Cosleeping.org. I've read a lot of other great articles on co-sleeping but I'm only on my first cup of coffee and I can't remember them. So anyone reading this knows any, please put them in the comments.
a good carrier. I used a moby wrap (but I made it myself) when Luke was an infant. It worked well. As he got older we invested in an Ergo but got it used on craigs list. There are many different types of carriers that work for different people. You might live close to a baby wearing group. If you go to the group they let you check out carriers to try out. In the book The Continuum Concept they talk about the importance of the in-arms phase. Where a baby should be held until they start creeping and crawling. This creates an attachement and a confidence between mom and baby. There are more benefits of baby wearing here.
diapers. I always suggest using disposable diapers for the first week at least until people get parenting figured out. No need to clean and wash diapers when you are recovering from birth. But as soon as you feel comfortable I would go with cloth diapers. There are so many different kinds. We use g-diaper covers and prefold inside. I don't know much about other types of covers because we use Elimination Communication which has been one of the greatest things we've done. We've had to wash less diapers, Luke pees and poos in the toilet almost every time. So I suggest trying this out along with cloth diapers. Really, cloth diapering is an experiment and you have to see what types work best for you.
t-shirts NOT onesies. I hate the button onesis. It's so hard to button and unbutton those snaps when you are trying to EC. Next time I'd want regular t-shirts for around the house. I do see the onesis being useful when it's cold out though.
a few blankets. They might come in handy ;) and this was my husband's suggestion because he used to do the swaddling. Babies like to be swaddled.
That's it. The rest of it is just fluff. While a lot of the stuff is good and helpful you don't need it. I think people over-do things they need for a baby. Probably has to do with our consumer type lifestyles.
(I could be missing some stuff, I'll comment on this post once I let it sink in)