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20 Products That Helped Me Survive Maternity Leave

Because figuring out how to power through your fourth trimester is almost as hard as labor.

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To kick off with a cliché: Having a baby is life-changing. In a matter of seconds (or, in my case, about 48 hours and 39 minutes) you're suddenly responsible for keeping a tiny human fed, clean, warm, adored, well-rested, and entertained. All the while, your body is a wreck, your hormones are raging, and your boobs ache. And then, suddenly, you're sent home from the hospital, baby-in-car-seat and discharge papers in-hand as you wave good-bye to your doctor and the incredible nurses who snuck you extra mesh underwear and taught you the art of swaddling a fragile baby. You love your little one more than you thought was even possible. But still, it's all pretty chaotic—and it's a relief to return to a house stocked with essentials (crib, stroller, baby monitor, etc.), as well as a handful of products that make your life easier.

Every kid is different, and so is every mama. But these 20 products helped me stay comfortable and sane while on maternity leave this past summer—and I hope they do the same for you.

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1
For making the fourth trimester a little less painful
Lab and Delivery + Postpartum Recovery Kit
Courtesy
fridababy.com
$99.99

As one friend described her nether regions postpartum: It's a war zone. I had a relatively straightforward birth experience and still found myself waddling for a solid three weeks (and sending my husband to buy cold packs at CVS at 10 p.m.). Frida Mom's postpartum recovery kit launched shortly after I had my son, but damn do I plan to gift it to all the moms-to-be I know. 

A few additional items to add to your medicine cabinet: more specialty postpartum underwear (because you can only steal so many pairs), pain relief spray, and a heating pad

2
For those late night (and early morning) feedings
Bassinest® Premiere Series Swivel Sleeper
HALO® buybuybaby.com
$249.99

We originally bought a soft-base basinet that had amazing reviews but, on our first night home from the hospital, seemed like a massive SIDS threat. (To be fair, everything felt like it might cause SIDS in those early days.) So a friend lent us her Halo. I set it up next to our bed, keeping a close eye on our son as he slept and using the swivel function to simplify those round-the-clock feedings. Other friends swear by the Snoo, which now offers a rental option. 

3
For peace of mind after bedtime
Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor
Owlet target.com
$299.99

Speaking of SIDS: We used the Owlet—a smart sock that monitors baby's heart rate and oxygen levels—every night for the first four months of our son's life. It helped me rest easy, especially once our son started snoozing in a separate room for six-plus hours at a time. Plus, the app's history graphs provided a fascinating look at his quality of sleep. 

4
For keeping up with your ever-changing cup size
True Body V Neck Bra
trueandco.com
$49.00

I delivered at a "baby-friendly" hospital and quickly learned all about the breast-is-best philosophy. Nursing was described as this beautiful bonding experience. And it is. But I really wish someone had told me about the less picturesque aspects of the early weeks: the engorgement, the rawness, the scabbing, the terrible latching. Until my little guy got a handle on nursing, Medela Hydrogel patches were my best friend. As was True & Co's V-neck bra, with its smooth design and lack of restricting wires. It was basically like being braless, and my boobs were very thankful. 

5
For staying dry when you’re on-the-go
Disposable Nursing Pads
Lansinoh target.com
$6.99

Leaks happen. A lot. And these disposable pads, which I stuck inside my bra daily, saved me many times from soaking my shirt due to a surprise let-down. (Blast you, crying child on the subway!) 

6
For those unexpected moments of much-needed relief
Manual Breast Pump
Lansinoh amazon.com
$34.99
$23.91 (32% off)

Though my son or my electric pump were the only two ways to really get to empty, I still stuck a portable pump in my handbag at all times. I tried the Haaka, which has many worshipers, but preferred this good ol' fashioned hand pump in moments of serious desperation. 

7
For keeping cool when your babe’s hungry
Ice Pack for Breast Milk Storage
Medela target.com
$9.49

This ice pack may seem ridiculous, but it slid right into the diaper bag and allowed room for more bottles than a traditional rectangular pack. 

8
For hair that can't handle another pull
Everyday & Active No Damage Large Interlock Twister Scrunchies
scunci target.com
$5.99

It took seven weeks until I gave in and got a mom bob. And still, I found myself constantly reaching for a hair tie. Scrunchies are the best since they snag less (and, considering the excessive shedding you're already experiencing, it feels like a small victory to save a few hairs). 

9
For looking chic while lugging all the essentials
City Backpack Diaper Bag
The Honest Company amazon.com
$149.99
$101.99 (32% off)

I'm a backpack gal, and this one has become my go-to when leaving the house with my son. Wallet in the lower front pocket, bottles in the insulated top front pocket, and diapers, wipes, changing pad, and 200 pacifiers (because you can never find one when you actually need it) in the main compartment. 

10
For date nights when you still have separation anxiety
Vue Soft Pram for Strollers
Baby Jogger amazon.com
$49.99

We call this genius product the pizza carrier. When we wanted to have a date night, but we weren't quite ready for a babysitter, we snuggled our son in this contraption, asked for a table for four, and plopped the whole thing on the empty side of the table. He snoozed soundly as we toasted a little pseudo-alone time. 

11
For giving you a much-needed extra hand
360 All Positions Baby Carrier
ergobaby.com
$140.00

Yes, a baby carrier is helpful when running errands or going for walks. It also comes in handy when you need to get stuff done around the house but your babe won't stop fussing. I vacuumed, did laundry, read books, and made dinner all while bouncing around with our little man snug against my chest.  

12
For lounging in style
Maternity Robe
INGRID & ISABEL nordstrom.com
$78.00

Robes became a staple in my wardrobe while I was on leave. This one was particularly soft and the length was perfect: long enough to keep me covered by not so long that I might trip on the fabric while holding my son. 

13
For your overly swollen feet
Ansley Water Resistant Slipper
UGG nordstrom.com
$99.95

These slippers are cozy and practical, and aren't that uncouth to wear in public. 

14
For a comfortable look when you're not feeling like yourself
Secret Fit Belly French Terry Maternity Leggings
Splendid apeainthepod.com
$95.00

Is it bad that I'm almost 6-months postpartum and still wear these pants? Pair with a stylishly roomy top (I've been loving Grayson) and you're good to go. 

15
For diaper duty gone wrong
Peanut Changer
Keekaroo bedbathandbeyond.com
$129.99

Remember when a blow-out meant a relaxing visit to Drybar that resulted in a sleekly styled mane? Ah, those were the days. The Keekaroo has made disastrous diaper changes so much more sanitary—the polyurethane pad limits bacteria growth and can simply be wiped clean—and my laundry loads all the lighter. 

16
For perfectly mixed baby cocktails
Pro Advanced Formula Dispenser Machine
Baby Brezza amazon.com
$199.99

When I added this Keurig-for-formula to my registry, I thought it was a nice-to-have. But it has since become my absolute favorite feeding product. We quickly ascribed to the fed-is-best mentality when our little monster baby was six weeks old and crying for food every 90 minutes, all day (and night), every day. Supplementing was a game-changer and, at first, I hand-shook bottles of formula when needed—until I finally unpacked the Brezza. As long as you closely follow the directions during set-up, the Brezza makes a smooth, just-right bottle of formula every single time. 

17
For bathroom breaks (because you need them, too)
Newborn Lounger
Boppy boppy.com
$33.00

Keep your boppy on the floor, plop your little one in its center, and enjoy a few hands-free moments while you have them.

18
For the days when rolling is just around the corner
Bouncer
Fisher-Price target.com
$18.99

Rolling over is a milestone—and a huge reminder that you can't take your eyes off your little one no matter how badly you need to shower. Enter the Bouncer, buckle included. It took him three months to finally get the monkey in the middle to do a full flip, but our son loved this one. And I loved showering without having to poke my head out every five seconds to check on him. 

19
For mindless clean-ups
Roomba® 675 App-Controlled Robot Vacuum
iRobot bestbuy.com
$249.99

Our pup started shedding like crazy when we brought our son home from the hospital. She was overwhelmed by his arrival, no matter how much we prepped her. I was overwhelmed by the layer of dog hair that seemed to cover our living room. So we splurged on a Roomba and our floors (and lint rollers) are grateful.

20 The Peloton Bike
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Peloton

onepeloton.com

$2,245

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They say nine months on, nine months off. I'm pretty sure my body will never revert to the shape it once was, but who cares? I brought a human into the world and he is worth far more than washboard abs. Nowadays, working out is much more about my mental health than the way I look, and at-home workouts (like Peloton) have been a great way to amp up my endorphins during naptime.

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