I had first-time-mom tunnel vision. I’m not afraid to admit it. I thought pregnancy was the hard part and that the intensity of taking care of a baby wouldn’t surprise me. I needed to brace for impact.
While pregnant, I spent a wild amount of time thinking about and preparing for labor, like most first-time pregnant ladies do. I insisted on finding one midwife or doctor to get comfortable with. After all, that person would be getting very up-close with me. I did pre-natal yoga in hopes that the stretching, breathing, and visualization of waves washing up gracefully on a shore would subconsciously prepare me to cope with the pain better. I was so wrapped-up thinking about what birthing a baby would feel like that I forgot to think about what being a new mother would feel like.
I was obsessed with getting every baby basic. I was even concerned that baby’s bassinet mattress wasn’t cushy enough, so I bought a new, thicker oval one and had it tailored to fit perfectly. I was busy washing and organizing baby hand-me-downs, socks, blankets, and setting up my nifty plug-in wipe heater. Everything was ready for my offspring: the nipple cream, breast pads, diapers, wipes, breast pumps, formula, bottles, clothes and crib sheets… all important… but what about the things mommy would need?
What was going to perk mommy up after many long, half-awake nights of breastfeeding?
How would I go out in public with a normal shirt or sweater on, ever again?
Who would pep talk me when I was crying and ready to give up feeding with the boob after three weeks?
Who would I call if I was alone at home, and had questions about my new baby I needed immediate help with?
What items would make getting out of the house even a remote possibility?
When I felt heavy, disheveled, frumpy, frizzy and droopy-eyed, what would I do to freshen up and feel human?
Would I ever feel sexy again? Or only loose-hipped and jelly-bellied for eternity?
Could I watch a movie in an actual theater? In the rain? On a train? On the bus? Without a fuss? In a car? Near or far?
Now I know the answers to these questions…
15 Essentials for New Edmonton Moms
1. Coffee or Tea
There is nothing more satisfying than having a mug of strong coffee at your fingertips after a rough night. Having smooth, brew-at-home coffee is first on my list. If your morning poison comes from a french press, try Credo Intelligentsia blends ground fresh. Matcha green tea is also a good healthy, potent choice. If you are a mom that is choosing to avoid caffeine, try decaf, herbal tea, or just hot water with honey and lemon. It’s a comforting ritual that helps start the day on a positive note. Looking for local? Get great matcha, black, green, and other teas for home from The Tea Girl on 124th Street.
2. A Nursing Pillow
Breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or both? Your arms and back will thank you for using some sort of good, sturdy pillow. We won’t know our own strength until we have a 9-month-old and hold our friend’s lightweight newborn. My amazing sister-in-law gifted me her comfy, half-moon nursing pillow. Pre-motherhood, I used it as a back prop while sitting up in bed. Little did I know, that pillow would be my anchor on the day I gave birth. I hugged that pillow fiercely and angrily, screaming into it, throughout the entire 4-5 hours I labored. Each day thereafter, it was a soft place to rest my arms, a prop for practicing the breastfeeding ‘football’ hold, and a squishy back rest for baby, too.
They can be expensive, though. Don’t want to fork out the coin? Make one of your own or ask your Gran Gran for a favor.
3. The Right Undergarments
Never underestimate the comfort of black, full-bum underwear. They can even make you feel sexy after having a baby, with all the coverage you need for those massive pads. (Hey, that’s life.) I only made do with the ginch I had in my dresser and I wish I had gone to Victoria’s Secret and invested in 6-8 black, grey, and polka-dot pairs of cute boy-shorts. For bras, I only bought two for nursing and quickly found out that four would have been better. In different styles, even sexy bras. Because puke, milk, sweat, and tears will be in abundance. And there is nothing worse than feeling frumpy while dealing with said bodily fluids.
I loved having a bunch of spaghetti strap nursing tanks, too, for layering under my regular shirts. When Alex was two months old, I took a shopping trip to load up on them. To avoid upset baby, I hastily grabbed three more nursing bras, nursing shirts, sweaters and tank tops, and stretchy black leggings off the rack. I piled my new wardrobe on the check out counter, confidently proceeding to purchase $300 of new mommy gear without having tried on one single item. I’ve since worn out everything I bought.
4. An Easy-to-Use Stroller
A decent stroller is a lifesaving tool for new moms. And not just any stroller, but one that’s simple and lightweight. Take your time. Go to a few stores and try a bunch of strollers out in person.
Pre-baby, I pictured myself packing up my infant in a jogging stroller and rolling effortlessly down the road to the well-manicured legislature pathways, sunglasses on, spunky and smiling. I made the mistake of buying a heavy-duty jogger in the early months and ended up selling it. The long hallways in my building required a stroller to carry the heavy car seat and from the vehicle. For an older baby, a jogging stroller can be key, but most new moms take walks with their new babies. They aren’t in need of an intense, all-terrain buggy. And often, parents opt to use a baby carrier.
Which brings me to my next item…
5. A Baby Carrier or Wrap
The practice of wearing baby is popular for a reason. It’s oh, sooooo convenient, and wonderful for bonding with your wee bug.
I started out babywearing with a long, stretchy black fabric wrap. I tried out a Mei Tai lent to me by my midwife. After using both of these, I invested in a sturdy Ergo carrier with shoulder straps and clips. If I had been more patient as a new mom, I would have used the stretchy wrap longer. With baby wearing, the possibilities are endless and there is sure to be a perfect carrier or wrap for each personality. See my post on baby wraps and carriers.
6. Toiletry & Makeup Favourites
Whether you’re a High Maintenance Mavis or a Simple Sally, having a line-up of your favourite face wash, toner, lotion, lip balm, and makeup essentials will do wonders for your self-esteem. Stock up on these items. New moms, especially first-time ones, tend to stay at home a lot with baby in the first month, being home-bound is almost necessary. A great way to perk up is to have a nice, hot shower or bath and put your face on. Go buck wild — buy Epsom salts, lavender essential oil, bath bombs, face masks — prepare to pamper yourself. You will have earned it.
7. A Black-Out Blind
I remember my midwives suggesting a black-out blind for more quality sleep. At the time, I didn’t think it was that important, but now the word night has lost all meaning to me. The night before Alex was born was the last one that I have had more than six hours of consecutive sleep. I have a tough time falling asleep on queue, especially with light streaming in the window, even a little bit. We’ve recently bought a thick, inexpensive roll-down blind from IKEA and installed it in our master bedroom, now Alex’s room. And guess what? It definitely would have helped me from the start.
8. New Mom’s Network
The very first new moms group that I joined was New Mom’s Network, facilitated by nurses at my local Public Health Centre, for babies 6 weeks to 6 months old. Sure, it took me three hours to just get ready, get baby fed, changed, settled, in the car, and arrive bright and early at 9:30 in the morning, but it was well worth it. I met five other new moms there that I still talk to regularly. One mom actually had almost the exact same birth experience as I did. The nurses covered great topics, like adjusting to parenthood, depression, safety, healthy eating, and self-care.
9. A Good Family Doctor
New moms need a kind, warm family doctor for all of those questions. All those dozens of questions you will inevitably have. If you do not have a family doctor, look for one right away. Use the College of Physicans & Surgeons of Alberta website to help you. Ask your friends or family. Call a few local clinics. They may ask you to fill out a quick questionnaire and e-mail it to their office, or simply come in person for a face-to-face meeting to assess your needs.
10. Easy Transportation
Using your own vehicle or taking Edmonton’s transit can be a lifesaver for new moms. After some time, you will be ready to get out of the house. It feels empowering and exciting going on an outing with a fresh baby. Challenging yourself to do this, more and more often, will get you back on your feet. Stella will be jealous of your groove. And strangers will compliment you on your baby all the time. Wonderful!
A great first outing might be your local public library…
11. An EPL Card
The Welcome Baby Program facilitated by the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) is phenomenal for little ones and all caregivers, not just moms and dads. Take your baby to your local library for a drop-in program: Baby Laptime, Sing Sign Laugh & Learn, and Family Storytime. The EPL encourages starting babies early by getting them a free library card. Very cute. At your two month immunization appointment, you will receive a welcome baby bag with goodies inside. If you choose not to immunize, ask for the bag at your local Public Health Centre.
12. Stars & Strollers at Cineplex
At 2 months old, I took Alex to Stars & Strollers at WEM’s Scotiabank Cineplex to see his very first movie, Magic Mike XXL. Edmonton’s Cineplex locations invite parents to bring babies and toddlers (under 2) to the theatre, usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays, around 1 o’clock. There is nothing more therapeutic than a massive, cold, carbonated drink and a bag of buttered popcorn, and a theatre filled with mums nursing their tiny ones. The theatres usually set up a couple of change tables right outside the doors with free diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, and garbage cans. So accommodating and such a satisfying outing.
P.S. Did you know that children under 2 years can go on rides with mom at Galaxy Land for free? Keep this in mind for when baby is a bit older.
13. A List of Movies
One regret that I have is not watching enough Netflix. Seriously. I wish that I had vegged-out more and turned on the tube, relaxing into a pillow with new little Alex snuggled in.
14. Knowledge of Social & Support Groups
Once you are ready, you may feel like sacrificing precious nap time to socialize with other new moms. Go ahead, be brave — pull on a clean pair of stretchy leggings, a comfy hoodie, pack up baby, and get out of the house. You’ll be glad you did. And if you forget diapers, that’s ok, you’re in good company. It’s important to get acquainted with the larger community of new moms in Edmonton. You will make close friends, guaranteed, whether you are an introvert or extrovert.
Below, I’ve listed non-profit groups, social media communities, by-membership mom groups and events, and online communities. Be sure to “like” Edmomton on Facebook — I am doing the legwork for us new moms by adding events, posts, and updates from the groups below. My goal with this blog is to collect the information all in one place, just for new moms in Edmonton, and post it to social media regularly.
La Leche League: La Leche League Canada hosts free community support groups for moms. It’s an opportunity to get together with others in your area, swap stories, and feel comfortable breastfeeding in front of a crowd. It’s positive and informal. You’ll find breastfeeding enthusiasts and make lifelong connections.
Hike it Baby hosts in-person hikes for parents. The group was a grassroots start up and does not require a paid membership — you just have to show up. What a great way to get outside, breathe fresh air, encourage blood flow, and meet new moms, dads, and caregivers! Join the Facebook group: Hike it Baby (Edmonton)
New Moms Network was #8 on my list. Enroll through your local Public Health Centre, for when baby is between 6 weeks and 6 months of age.
Parent Link Centres: Created by Alberta Human Services, these centres provide opportunities for play, music, reading, and encourage positive parenting and healthy family activities. New parents can access check-ups, ask questions, meet up with other parents, drop-in for playgroups and feel supported in their journey.
Community Leagues: These leagues are unique to Edmonton. Look for your local community league and start going to meet-ups and events. Although these leagues are not specifically for moms, they are an excellent resource for the entire community, which means you will likely meet other mommies and new parents there.
Social Media Communities
As a new mom (or parent), you need a place to ask the raw, honest, and sometimes humorous questions about poop, puke, crying, feeding, and anything else that’s on your mind. There is no lack of enthusiasm on social media. Thousands of new moms have connected on Facebook, like:
Many new parents start their own groups, like my friends and I did for moms in the downtown area: YEG Downtown Moms
Not feeling like venturing outside yet, but have questions? If you aren’t into Facebook, try out Momstown Edmonton. Find discussions on pregnancy, babies, parenting, and family life.
Mom Group Membership & Paid Events
There are mom-centric businesses that host events, meet-ups and educational sessions. These groups have Facebook pages, so you can like them and follow what’s going on in your neck of the Edmonton woods. Each area usually has a representative mom who spearheads events, advertises, and even blogs about the local goings-on.
Mommy Connections: Edmonton South, West, North & St. Albert, Leduc & Beaumont, Sherwood Park & Ft. Saskatchewan, Spruce Grove & Stony Plain
Modern Mama: Edmonton, Spruce Grove, St. Albert
The Sweet Mama: Edmonton
Mom & Baby Fitness Classes
Search for local Mom & Baby yoga classes, swimming lessons, baby wearing exercise classes like “Baby Barre” and other fun paid activities. There are plenty all over Edmonton. If you have a network of mommies already, suggest getting together informally to walk, swim, dance, sing and hang out.
Nourish Yoga (offers Prenatal and Mom & Baby classes)
… and many more!
Health Concerns for You & Baby
Healthy Beginnings Hotline: 780-413-7990. This service offers support for parents with babies under two months of age. Use it!
Health Link (811): As always, Health Link Alberta is only a quick 8-1-1 dial away. I have used Health Link many, many, many times, especially through infant fevers and other scary situations.
15. Your Village
The most important essential on my list: friends, family, and friends that become family. Put them on speed dial. Take their hugs. Devour the meals they leave as gifts. Tell them you appreciate them. Let them cuddle your wee one while you take a break. Don’t be afraid to let them know what you need.
And if you are weary about germs, they will not be offended if you ask them to wash their hands before holding your new addition.
In the tidal wave of information that comes after a positive pregnancy test, it is easy to loose sight of self-care.
Looking back, I was able to gather all of items above and learn about the different groups and resources, even with baby in tow. But there is nothing wrong with doing it beforehand.
Do you have any suggestions to add? Please share!