My favorite gear and tips for surviving and loving your fourth trimester

Revel is now officially a month old and I am well into my 4th trimester. I feel like the two of us have hit a nice rhythm.  I am getting better at reading his subtle (and not so subtle!) cues and he is more and more alert and aware, which makes everything more fun.  Physically, every day that passes, I get more energy, my range of motion increases and my distances whether it be walking or riding increases.  

This time around, a few things are different. For one I am not grieving and trying to keep a newborn alive at the same time.  And second, it is not the dead of winter. While I loved the coziness that winter brought with cuddles next to the fire, and putting Max in my shirt for our daily bundled up walks. I do love the ease of going outside with a naked Revel all the time and not having to think much about what I am wearing either. 

However no matter what the season is, below is a list of my essentials along with some general tips for what has made this fourth trimester so easeful. 

The Snoo:

When looking into bassinets for Revel, I ran across the Snoo. After reading on the website that it a) improves sleep for both babies and parents  b) reduces crying c) is the safest bed for newborns and d) was developed by the master of sweet baby dreams himself, Dr. Harvey Karp, I had to give it a shot. 

Fast forward one month and we are ALL loving it, as in we are all getting sleep and are much happier humans because of it. 

For those of you who are not on the baby train yet, if Apple made a crib, this would be it. The Snoo is a sleek, beautifully designed bassinet that is based off of three of Dr. Karps 5 S’s for calming a baby: Shhing, Swinging and Swaddling. The space like bassinet comes with a velcroed swaddle that attaches to the inside of the crib, once the baby is in the swaddle and the swaddle is attached to the sides of crib, you press a button on an app on a device of your choice- and it starts shhing and gently swaying side to side.  If your baby starts to cry, the Snoo senses this and ups its level of swaying and white noise. It has 4 levels it runs through, and stops after 1-3 minutes (depending on the age and weight of your baby) of constant crying, because while the Snoo is pretty magical, it can’t burp your baby for you. 

Revel takes 1 to 2 of his naps in it during the day and sleeps all of the night except the morning session, because that is our cuddle time.  At first I felt guilty putting him in there, and honestly sometimes I still do, but he seems to really love it and I get some much needed sleep. With Jason being gone for the past few weeks, and me on both Max and Revel, it has been beyond amazing for not only letting me sleep but also give me some me time. 

The price tag of $1295 is a little much for our household. If you can afford it, awesome, however if you are like me and can not wrap your head around buying a crib for that price you are in luck. They rent the Snoo out for $100 a month! This I believe is fully worth it because you can try it out and if it works, awesome, you can keep renting it and if it doesn’t you can send it right back!

Willow Pump: 

If you are an on the go person like myself and think you will need/want to pump, I highly recommend the Willow. It is a portable pump that fits inside your bra and can go wherever you go. Since I have a toddler and a newborn at home, life has been a bit busier than when it was just Max. Now, if Revel is sleeping and Max is up and wants me to play outside, I can do all the things and pump.  Also, for me, my right breast had a hard time getting up to speed with my left breast, and so while Revel was feeding off the left, I was able to pump on the right at the same time. It’s because of the Willow that I was able to get the right up and running so smoothly. Now both breasts are producing almost the same amount! 

While the Willow does have a hard learning curve, it does come with a whole team of people ready to help. I contacted these “pumping guides” almost everyday for the first week of me using it via text and phone calls. They were always available, easy to talk to and helped me through some hiccups. Now, I am very efficient and fast at the whole process. 

A few drawbacks are that it only comes in two flange sizes and that you need to use Willow’s specific bags for it to work. If using bags upsets you, I would forgo this pump and look elsewhere and for sizing purposes, I would highly recommend seeing if anyone in your community has one so you can try on different sizes. 

Haakaa Ultra light silicone breast pump: 

Why do all the raddest things come from New Zealand?  This thing is the coolest, lightest most compact pump and what I call “milk catcher” out there.  Even if you don’t need to/ plan on pumping, the Haakaa catches milk while your babe is feeding on your other boob.  For example, I use it while Revel is feeding off my right boob to catch the let down off my left. It has prevented mastitis and has easily filled many bags of milk for my future solo mama adventures without needing to take any time out of my day to pump. 

I also plan on taking it on my longer mountain missions in a few weeks when I am away from Revel to prevent engorgement and keep my milk supply up. 

Vija skin to skin shirt: 

I wore this shirt every day with Max for his first two months earth side, and so far, Revel loves it as well. Unlike many baby wearing shirts out there that claim to be “skin to skin” but are in fact not, this one is actually.  The stretchy soft material feels good on both Mama and babies skin and holds your baby close and snug to you without you having to worry about holding his or her head up all the time. Revel loves to be super snug and close to me and I love that we can get our skin to skin time while I can also be up and on the move.  

Rasa Tea: 

I love this tea, it tastes good, it’s good for you and the baby and gives me a smooth afternoon pick up without the crash like coffee gives me. 

Take your pick between zero, a tiny amount or a little caffeine and go from there. All of the choices taste great! 

The Ant Stroller:  

When our family travels we try to go as lightweight as possible. For the past two years we have traveled without a stroller and have opted instead for a backpack to carry Max around in. Now that we have two kids and are planning some upcoming overseas trips, we are excited to try out the new Ant Stroller. So far, on our first few test outings with it around town, it has performed amazingly well and both boys seem to enjoy it.  The car seat clicks in nice and easy, it can be pushed and turned with one hand and Max can even catch a ride on the attached wheeled board. The stroller is light (only 7.2 kg), easy to fold up, and is so compact that it can fit in an overhead bin. While I do still love our Thule Chariot for running, biking and skiing, this one is our new go to for travel and city walking! 

Tranquilo Mat: 

This little baby sized lightweight mat has been awesome for soothing Revel during tummy time and while we have been away from home. It is a mat with five vibrational settings that claims to mimic the womb and soothe babies to sleep. Since we have the Snoo, I have not yet needed it to help put Revel down, however when that time comes, I will have it with us. So far it has helped with soothing him in the car seat and during his awake hours when I want to put him down on the ground for some wiggle time!

Guava crib/bassinet: 

This one is another piece for those traveling families! We have been using the Guava crib for the past year with Max and he loves it. He calls it “his home away from home”.  The Guava crib packs down to the size of a small backpack. It is easy to set up, easy to break down and is the lightest most compact crib we have tested. The bassinet conversion kit is just as easy and even lighter for when we travel with Revel. Even though we have not yet traveled with him yet, we do have it set up as a second bed for him to nap in at the grandparents house next door. So far Revel loves it, he lays down, stretches out and then promptly falls asleep. I love the look, simplicity and functionality of it. It is airy, wide, and can be rocked.  It doesn’t take up much room and can be easily moved around the house, which is awesome because we use it for both play time and nap time.  Wether you are looking for a travel bassinet/crib or a second one to have around the house or at a grandparents house, I highly recommend this one. Infact, I like it so much that I would even recommend it for your one only bassinet! 

Mama Strut:

After Max and Spirit B, I used a basic belly binder for a few weeks, just to  keep everything in and to help feel stable again during some of my first big adventures.  This time around, I needed a little bit more, as I knew I would have to pick Max (a 30 pound toddler!)  up sooner than I would want. The Mama Strut works to quicken the recovery for both vaginal birth and c-section mamas. It comes with a built in pair of shorts that have compartments in all the right places for gel packs that you can heat or freeze depending on your preference. Even though I didn’t have a vaginal birth, the gel pack holder that is perfectly placed in front of my incision felt so good for my first week of recovery.

Now at a month post, I still wear it from time to time when I know I will be holding and picking Max up a lot. 

The first forty days book:

I think I have cooked or have made people cook me everything out of this cookbook. All of the recipes are easy, nutritious and so yummy.  The whole first part of the cookbook talks all about how important it is to heal and be relaxed during your first forty days (which was a good reminder for me!) and then it gives you a great easy to follow to do list and grocery/ pantry list of which helped me feel ready and good about my fourth trimester. The teas, soups and mothers bowls are recipes I used well after I was done with my recovery period with Max! 

Tips for the new Mama: 

1) Take it slower than you think: 

This one is hard, but it is a must. Even if you feel like you can run a marathon or bike 100 miles, try to pace yourself. Not only did you just grow a human, but you also birthed him or her, lost a ton of blood and are still pumped full of hormones! Not to mention, if you are breastfeeding, then you are also STILL feeding and growing a human. Relish in yourself and your baby for a while. Your new self will reveal itself in good time. 

2) Stare at your baby and snuggle them as much as you can. 

This one is easy, especially if it’s your first. This time is for you and your baby, take it all in. Lap up all that oxytocin and love up on your baby. Before you know it he or she will be walking and talking. I didn’t believe it, but seeing how fast Max has grown up, I am trying to be fully present with Revel. 

3) Let other people do things for you:

I learned this tip from the First Forty Days book. The author says to not be afraid to ask your visitors to make you some tea, or whip up a quick recipe from her book. Yes they may be there to see the baby, let them see your baby, but first make sure you are being taken care of. 

4) Have your best girl, Mother or Mother in law put a meal train together

After Max and Spirit B were born, our worlds were turned upside down. Our good friends came together and put out a meal train to the masses. For three months our fridge was stocked and we could focus on feeding and loving on Max as well as  processing our grief around Spirit B. It was the greatest gift anyone had ever given us. The gift of warm meals is just what you and your family will need after birthing your baby or babies, as the last thing you want to think about is “what’s for dinner?”

5) Don’t get everything you “think you need” 

It’s so hard to look away from all the cute baby gear ads these days, especially when facebook and google finds out that you are pregnant. But my humble advice is to RESIST the temptation.  Add a few things that you absolutely love on your wish/shower list but after that all you really need is diapers, a place for them to sleep, a blanket or two, maybe some clothes (Revel and Max were naked for their first month of life) and most importantly: LOVE. After that, Amazon Prime is amazing and can show up at your doorstep in a day or two. 

6) Set up a 6 week post physical therapy and chiropractic appointment

Your body goes through so many changes throughout pregnancy. Many of us develop walking and sitting patterns that are hard to knock even after our body changes back to a more normal size.  Not to mention the whole birth process leaves many women out of whack, then throw in holding and feeding a baby 10-12 times a day and our bodies are a mess! Physical therapy, chiropractor visits, acupuncture and massage have been my saving grace for feeling healthy and whole again.  I urge all new mamas to always at least go see a physical therapist to help them get their bodies “online” again!

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