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Precautions taken by medical staff left new mum, Jess Bowen, feeling traumatised, “diseased” and excluded during her first birthing experience.

 “I felt like I was diseased. The doctor would whisper to the nurse that I should have my mask on like I had the Corona Virus. It felt awful.”

Credit: Jess Bowen

Melbourne mum and hairdresser, Jess Bowen, gave birth to her first baby on the 28th of March this year, when the pandemic was beginning.

“My pregnancy was wonderful. I didn’t have any complications and I was excited to give birth,” shares Jess.

At Jess’s final appointment with her midwife, protein was found in the urine indicating pre-eclampsia, whereupon she was admitted into the hospital and immediately induced.

Jess laughs about not having enough time to gather her things, pack a bag or worst of all, “put on fake tan”.

Being a new mum is stressful without the added pressures of a global crisis. Jess describes her experience at the hospital as “traumatic”. She says the nurses were cold and “on edge with Covid happening. This made them short and abrupt.”

Once admitted, Jess was induced using a Foley Bulb induction, commonly known as the “Balloon Method”, where a Foley catheter is inserted into the cervix and is inflated, with sterilised water or air, over a period of time to help the cervix dilate for birth.

The nurses monitored her during the process by checking her dilation using their fingers. “It felt awful,” Jess recalls. “There’d be no warning. Just enter the room, stick their fingers in and would be disappointed because I wasn’t dilating fast enough. They weren’t reassuring me so it would just make me feel anxious.”

Credit: danielledobson_photographer

Eventually, the doctor arrived to examine her.

“He was really quite abrupt and rude. He basically told me that I had a disease (referencing her pre-eclampsia). I’m a new mum and it’s not really something that I want to hear. He just said I have a disease and we have to get this baby out.”

Jess says at one point she coughed to clear her throat, and the doctor immediately pulled the nurse aside and whispered, “she should have a mask on”.

“It was horrible to hear that. I felt so excluded and was already feeling disgusting from when the doctor called me diseased earlier.”

Jess can’t help but think how her experience may have differed if she wasn’t giving birth during these unprecedented times.

Jess rarely saw the doctor after this. Any interactions from the medical staff were limited until she was ready to deliver. After a day of the Balloon, she had only dilated one centimetre and needed to try another method.

Credit: danielledobson_photographer

 

Jess speaks highly of her head midwife, Jenny, throughout this process saying, “She was out of this world amazing, overall an experience from having that doctor, she made it so much better.”

She was then induced through the use of Oxytocin, which is a synthetic hormone that is administered through a drip in the arm to start the contractions.

Jess describes these contractions to be the most painful thing she’s ever experienced before.

 

“Immediately I felt anxious. I felt really depressed. They basically said to me that I needed to try, because at this point, I was feeling deflated and wanted to have a C-section.”

A few hours after starting the Oxytocin, Jess felt a sharp pain to the right of her stomach and had the urge to go to the toilet. The head midwife checked her and told her that she was three centimetres dilated. Jess immediately asked for an epidural, which was a 15-minute wait. During that time, Jess says she dilated 10 centimetres and was ready to deliver.

Jess went into shock and was crying through “the worst pain of her life”.

“Throughout the pushing process, I didn’t opt for any gas or pain relief because I was in such shock. It was a traumatic experience for me with everything that was going on and the treatment of the staff with Covid-19. It was frightening.”

Jess finally gave birth to her beautiful girl, Isla. Fortunately, she had her partner with her through this process.

Credit: danielledobson_photographer

“No one else was allowed to visit me in the hospital and my partner was only allowed during a small time-frame in the day, so during the inducing process and after giving birth, I didn’t have support from my family to get me through this. I just wanted my mum there.”

Hours after Jess gave birth, the nurses continued to monitor her bleeding through a weighing process to ensure there weren’t any further complications. Jess explains being “on a high with adrenaline” throughout this and wasn’t paying attention to the rising concern from the nurses as she surpassed a litre of blood.

After 20 minutes from her last check-up, Jess had sat up and explained the sensation of her “water breaking”. Jess lost 1.8 litres of blood and the head midwife called the surgeon. She recalled nurses accidentally dropping blood on the ground and described her room to be a “murder scene”.

During emergency surgery, Jess says they put a plastic box over her head. “It made me feel really small. The surgeon felt bad about it and was trying to reassure me that it was just protocol with Covid-19.”

After this, Jess was relatively okay. She had spent the last remaining hours after surgery with her partner and her new baby girl, but at 5 AM, her partner was told to leave.

“My partner was annoyed but I was still running on adrenaline, so I was less upset. I was happy and messaging my family about the good news and it was just one of those situations where ‘it is what it is’.”

Credit: Jess Bowen

When Jess was finally able to go home, Victoria’s first round of lockdown’s was in full effect and she spent her first weeks as a mother trapped in her home alone with her partner. Jess was suffering from the baby blues and wasn’t able to lean on her family for help.

“It felt like everything I was doing was wrong. I was barely sleeping, could barely walk because of the blood loss. I just didn’t know what to do. There wasn’t a single day during the six-week lockdown where I didn’t cry.”

Jess speaks about the importance of seeking help. The moment lockdown ended, she went to her psychiatrist and was put on anti-depressant medication.

“No one ever warns you about the way you feel after you give birth. I felt like it was unusual to be experiencing this level of sadness and anxiety when I have the most perfectly healthy baby girl who was gaining weight. Everyone else seemed so happy after their birth that it was hard not to compare myself to them.”

Isla is now five months old and Jess is feeling tremendously better. The lockdown had lifted so that gave her time to introduce her new baby to her family and friends.

“The medication is really helping. I’m starting to feel like myself again and my partner is seeing the improvements too.”

Even though Melbourne has gone back into lockdown again, she’s sad that her family don’t get to see Isla during some significant milestones, she feels much more prepared and stable to tackle what comes next.

Christmas can be a stressful time of year when trying to find the perfect presents! These crowd-pleasing gifts are sure to put a smile on the faces of your nearest and dearest. From your tiny tot to your partner, our Christmas Gift Guide has you covered this festive season.

Baby

Buying for bub is lots of fun, but there are so many options out there. This year, get them something that will keep them entertained and stimulate their growing brains.

Fisher-Price Zebra Walker – $54.99

The Fisher-Price Learn with Me Zebra is a designed to encourage those exciting first steps. The zebra is also full of hands-on activities for sitting babies. It has everything from the alphabet to songs and phrases to help with language development. Available at Kmart, Big W, Target, Myer, TRU and fisher-price.com

Fisher-Price Beat Bo Junior – $14.99.

With bright lights, playful tunes and silly dance moves, this cute product is perfect for keeping the little ones entertained, and will help them boost fine motor and thinking skills. It’s great entertainment for on the go and for making tummy-time fun. Available at Target, Kmart, Big W, Myer, TRU and fisher-price.com

Best Christmas Present Ever 2017. $32.95.

A beautiful bub is the best gift of all, so deck your gorgeous new bundle in this cute-as-pie little number. Available at Unique Baby Boutique. uniquebabyboutique.com.au

Musical Clacker Keys. $10.

Every parent knows kids are mesmerised by jingly, jangly keys. These three bright and colourful keys allow your baby to satisfy their curiosity, but also can help to provide some relief once their first teeth come through. One key is a teether;  one is fun to clack and the third has a button for sounds and music. Available at Target.

Toddler

Little Belle night lights -$149.95

These beautiful night lights will provide a comforting glow for little ones at night – and will be a gorgeous feature in your child’s room. Made with hand-painted brush strokes, each of the night lights are inspired by the imagination of young children. Available at little-belle.com

 

Beginner Jigsaw Puzzle – $23

These cute and personalised 6-piece jigsaws are the perfect first puzzles for your little one. These are made from quality material, high resolution colour, and have clear-gloss coating so these puzzles will last. This bright and fun collection of jigsaw puzzles is a great treat for your toddler this Christmas. Available at tinyme.com.au

 

Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Servin’ Up Food Truck – $149.99

Playing shop and restaurant is something kids have loved doing for generations. Keep your little one busy with customers and prepping orders in this play food truck. This helps to introduce toddlers to things like sizing and sequencing, advanced vocabulary, manners, taking turns, but makes it fun with lively songs, sounds and phrases. Available at Target, Big W, Myer, TRU and fisher-price.com.

 

Fisher-Price Zoom ‘n Crawl Monster – $49.99

This is a fun toy for sit-and-play. This toy also help with language with 15 phrases and fun songs. This is a fantastic toy to encourage your little one to get up and get moving. Available at Target, Big W, Myer, TRU and fisher-price.com.

BRIO – My First Take Along Set – $149.95

This brightly coloured play bag is filled with the first tracks in an expandable magnetic train set. It’s perfect to take along when you’re travelling or visiting. It’s fun to use and easy to store, which we all know is very important with a toddler. Both are available at Childsmart.

 

Crocodile Creek Play Ball – $12.95

Balls are a great way to have fun with your toddler and help them learn motor skills.

 

Kids Aged 3-5

Perfect gifts for the fun, energetic 3-5-year-old that will come in handy during the Summer holidays.

Star of the Unicorn Bike – $69

A bike is a timeless gift your child can grow with. Give your child a bike to remember with this cute unicorn inspired bike that makes it easy for you to follow behind with a convenient handle. Available at Kmart.

 

Cotton On Kids

There is always a good excuse to get dressed up during the festive season, and your kids are no exception! We love the sparkly Iris Tulle Dress ($39.95) matched with the Amalfi Jelly Sandal ($16.95). And imagine how dapper your little boy will look in the Kenny Polo ($16.95) and Jerry Loop Back Short ($34.95). A range of adorable party wear is available from Cotton On Kids.

Crocodile Creek Tritan Drink Bottle in Jungle Jamboree, Backyard Friends and Hedgehog- $14.95

A fun gift and something that you can take into the new school year! These coordinate with other Crocodile Creek products such as the Crocodile Creek Backyard Friends Backpack – $29.95

 

The Elf on the Shelf 

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a magical story, explains how Santa’s scout elves help him manage his naughty or nice list. Each beautifully-illustrated children’s hardback book comes as a part of a keepsake boxed set including one of Santa’s scout elves, whose job is to watch the kids during the day and report to Santa every night. Available from booksellers including Myer, Dymocks and independent stores.

Glimmies – $7.99

Glimmies are collectable star fairies that magically light up in the dark. They make a cute little stocking gift for the little ones. Available at shop.funtastic.com.au

 

Crocodile Creek Bear and Friends Floor Puzzle – $24.95

All the Crocodile Creek floor puzzles have a slightly-recessed lid that makes the storage box easy for little fingers to open.  Available at childsmart.com.au

 

Kids Aged 6-9+

Young kids can sometimes be difficult to buy for because their favourites can change so suddenly. Thankfully, so many items these days come with colour options or are customisable. Just pick your child’s current favourite craze and there’s sure to be something to match. This is also a great way to get your kids useful gifts. If you know something they love, finding necessities like clothes and school supplies that they will get excited about will be easy.

Mokuru 

The latest wooden toy from Japan, designed to test your balance and concentration skills. It’s as simple as tipping the wooden piece over gently letting it flip and catching it between your fingers. Available at Kmart

Kmart so slime DIY slime factory kit – $29

Keep your child occupied for hours by helping them create their own toys.

 

Globber My TOO FIX UP- $120 

A scooter is a fantastic gift choice to get the kids out into the fresh air and sunshine. The kids will love the choices of the cool colour combos of this scooter and how comfortable it is to ride (featuring three adjustable height positions). Parents will love that this scooter has a reinforced fixed structure and can handle up to 100kg – finally, something that is built to be as tough as your kids!  Available at globber.com.au

 

Spin to Sing – $39.95

If your child is a fan of The Voice or The X Factor, they will love this fun sing-along game. An app uses music from your smart phone, and there is a 5 star judging system and jeopardy cards to add a hilarious twist. Available from childsmart.com.au

 

JBL Headphones

If you have a music enthusiast, they will love these wireless headphones, which can carry a wireless connection up to 15 metres away and have easy-to-operate controls. They have a long battery life and quick re-charge time. JR300 Junior Headphones -$39.95; JR300BT Bluetooth Wireless Junior Headphones – RRP 69.95; Junior Headphone – $49.95. Available at jbl.com

 

Springfree Trampoline

Designed with your child’s safety in mind, this trampoline will provide hours of bouncy outdoor fun. Boasting over 15 years of research and development, Springfree advances and exceeds safety standards, while also encouraging kids to get outside and get active.

This is suitable for a range of ages and both girls and boys. It is a perfect gift if you have more than one child, or for your child and their friends, because the kids can all enjoy it together. Available at springfreetrampoline.com.au

 

Simon & Schuster Dork Diaries Box Set, 10 books -$49

Encourage your child to develop their reading skills with this hilariously entertaining series. This is a popular book series that your child will devour. Available at Kmart

 

Smiggle

Smiggle products are great gifts because they are cute and customisable, so the kids will love them. They might even get kids excited about school with their range of learning supplies. Some great picks this season are:

DIY Hardtop Pencil Case – $22.95

Smiggle’s hardtop pencil case is a classic favourite. It has all the classic hardtop trimmings including internal mesh pockets and pen holders. Let your child’s imagination go as they create a unique design. It comes with markers for your child to use. They will love taking this to school.

Smiggle Studio Art – $34.95

A great gift for creative kids – this gift includes heaps of markers pencils and paint pallets and brushes.

Smiggle Gift Pack – $16.95

This cute set of glam products, including lip glosses and hair chalks, is a perfect stocking stuffer. All available at Smiggle retail stores.

 

Mums and Dad

The focus of Christmas is often on the kids, but it’s a fun family holiday for mum and dad too. Here’s some thoughtful gift ideas for the grown-ups!

Personalised Ladies Watch and Ring Stand by MijMoj Design – $84.44

This beautifully handcrafted solid oak ladies ring and watch stand, can be personalised with a special message to your Mum. This is a gift she is sure to adore this Christmas. Avaliable at MijMoj.

 

Duchess Necklace by Merci Maman – $175.86

The Duchess of Cambridge was spotted wearing the Merci Maman necklace. Since then, mothers all around the world are copying her look! This gorgeous necklace makes the perfect personalised gift for Mum this Christmas. Avaliable at Merci Maman.

 

Personalised Soft Leather Travel Gift Set by STOW – $810.75

Stow’s best-selling jewellery case is combined with two charming trinket boxes. Make it even more special with beautiful monogramming; creating a beautiful bespoke gift. Available at Stow.

 

The Finest Facial Mask Duo – $60

Let your loved one get stuck into the multi-masking trend with this beautifully presented Expert Facial Mask gift set. Available at The Bodyshop.

 

White Musk Small Gift Set – $30

Introduce your mum to the fragrance sweetened with notes of pear, for a deliciously fruity layer that fits effortlessly with the iconic floral blend with this gorgeously presented gift set. Purchasing these gifts from thebodyshop.com.au helps support the Peace Play Project.

 

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Key and Phone Holder

This stylish personalised phone holder, with an adjoining change dish or key bowl, is a lovely wooden gift for keeping everything together when Dad walks through the front door. All available at giftslessordinary.com.au

 

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Preparing for a baby is so exciting, but it can also be mind-boggling when faced with so many options. Offspring to the rescue! Here’s the only guide you’ll need to be ready for your new arrival…

Before baby arrives:

  • Maternity clothes are a must have. It won’t be long before undoing that top button just won’t cut it!
  • Invest in good quality maternity bras — mastitis (blocked milk ducts) can be caused by ill-fitting ones.
  • Take care of yourself using skincare products specially designed for mums and bubs.
  • Book a maternity and newborn photo shoot. This is a great way to commemorate this special time in your life.
  • Consider taking a plaster cast of your pregnant belly! It can be decorated and hung on the wall of the nursery.

Start thinking about the birth:

How you choose to give birth is a personal decision. If this is your first baby, it’s natural to feel apprehensive. If you’ve had a baby before, you may feel upset and anxious if your previous birth didn’t go to plan, or you may even be looking forward to the birth! Many women say birth is a natural and enjoyable experience.

However you are feeling, it’s normal. Take some time to research your options:

  • Will you give birth in hospital or at home? Home birth is legal in Australia with a registered midwife or obstetrician.

 

  • What pain relief options have you considered? No doubt you’ll have heard about an epidural which is a spinal injection to make your lower half numb, but there are other options like gas and air (laughing gas), pethidine injection (related to morphine) or using a TENS machine (to stimulate nerves in the lower back).

 

  • Who would you like to be present? Most women choose to have their partner present, but some also choose to have another support person such as their mum, sister or close friend.

 

  • How about a water birth? Many claim water birthing is relaxing and eases pain.

 

  • Have you thought about hiring a doula? A doula is a (non-medical) trained professional who offers support throughout labour and birth.

 

If you plan to go to hospital, get your bag ready early.

“Everyone has a different experience of birth.

Try not to get stressed if things don’t go to plan”

What to pack for hospital:

  • Paperwork – maternity notes, medicare card and birth plan.
  • Old nightie or T-shirt – and maybe a dressing gown.
  • Socks – feet get cold during labour.
  • Lip balm – particularly if you plan to use gas and air.
  • Your toiletries, toothbrush and glasses/contact lenses.
  • Hair ties.
  • Snacks and drinks to keep your energy levels up.
  • Something to distract you and help pass the time  – maybe an iPad loaded with your favourite shows.
  • Maternity and breast pads.
  • Old underwear.
  • Newborn nappies – disposable are best for hospital.
  • Baby onesies.

 

Travelling with baby:

 You will want to show your baby off to the world at the first opportunity, but it is sensible to limit visitors and outings for a little while. You will be exhausted after the birth, and those first few days getting to know each other are precious – enjoy your little baby bubble!

  • Car restraint

Newborns must be in a rear-facing seat which conforms to Australian standards. Consider having it professionally fitted and buy new for safety. You might like to hire a baby capsule since newborns grow so fast although some seats can accommodate newborns to four year olds. There are also capsules that lift out of the car and click straight onto your pram which can be very helpful when baby is asleep!

  • Pram

Take your time choosing the right pram. Test drive them! Practice putting the pram up and down and don’t forget to check it will fit in your car boot. If you plan on having more children, consider a pram that can take a second seat.

  • Baby carrier

Babies love to be held and a baby carrier means they can be close whilst you still have your hands free.

  • Nappy Bag

There are so many stylish options available. It’s a good idea to choose a purpose made nappy bag as they often come with a portable change mat, bottle insulator and a zip-close pouch for storing your valuables.

Setting up the nursery:

  • Bassinet and Cot

Many babies spend the first few months in a bassinet close to mum. This makes those night feeds a lot easier! Another option is co-sleeping and there are cots that attach to the side of your bed if this suits your family. Make sure you buy a new mattress if you opt for a second hand cot.

 

  • Changing space

Set up an area with a mat, fresh nappies and wipes, plus a nappy disposal bin for convenience.

  • Nappies

There are lots of great re-useable nappies out there. They save money in the long run and are better for our planet – Win! Win!

  • Feeding chair and pillow

A reclining glider chair can be your saviour if you are struggling through night feeds or to settle a distressed baby. A nursing pillow will save your neck and back too.

  • A baby monitor

Put your mind at ease and invest in a monitor. Some have video option so you can see as well as hear your sleeping bub. There is also a heart rate monitor option which can help decrease the risk of SIDS.

Helping older siblings adjust:

It can be challenging for existing children to accept a new arrival. Choose how to break the news carefully. They may not be as delighted as you are. Depending on the age of the child, sharing a book about a new baby is a nice way to introduce the idea.

Let children be involved in preparing for the baby. Maybe they could help paint the nursery, help wash their old baby clothes ready to give their new brother or sister, or even be involved with choosing a name!

Once baby makes an appearance, consider getting a gift from the new baby to their sibling as a way to encourage a bond. Also, try to ask visitors to acknowledge the new big brother or sister before they fuss over the baby.

Baby clothes:

Lots of people gift baby clothes so it’s up to you how many outfits you buy, but looking at baby clothes for the first time is particularly exciting. Enjoy!

  • Onesies

Size 0000 and 000 fit newborns. Buy more than you think you will need and get a variety of styles such as long sleeved and short sleeved. Some also have scratch mitts incorporated.

  • Cute outfits

It’s nice to have one or two little outfits – but be aware babies grow quickly

Feeding time:

Breastfeeding gives your baby the best nutrition, boosts the immune system and is sterile and convenient. However, if breastfeeding is not possible for you, don’t beat yourself up! There are lots of different formula options available so accept the situation and enjoy time with your beautiful bub.

  • Formula and bottles

Buy a couple of different formulas, bottles and teats – your baby may not like the first one you try. It’s sensible to have some on hand even if you plan to breastfeed. Babies are unpredictable and you will be more relaxed (and probably more successful) knowing you always have a back-up available.

  • Steriliser

This is the best way to keep your bottles germ-free.

“Feeding time is a great time to bond with your baby

– whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed”

  • Breastfeeding cover

If you plan to breastfeed, you might like to buy a cover (a bit like an apron) for when you’re out and about. That way you can breastfeed anywhere without compromising your modesty.

  • Breast pump

It’s a good idea to have a breast pump too – electric ones are the easiest. This way you can pump and have spare milk to use if you get sick and need to go on medication, or if you need to be away from your baby for a while.

Bath time:

  • Baby bath

Buying a small tub to put inside your bath or shower saves water and makes bath time quick and easy, but you can also use your sink!

 

  • Toiletries

Invest in good quality nappy rash cream, shampoo and body wash specifically designed for babies. There are a lot of harsh chemicals in some products.

Other essentials:

  • Muslin cloths

There are many beautiful designs out there for this multi-use item. These can be used to swaddle baby, drape over a pram for shade or even to mop up baby vomit – it’ll happen!

  • Baby thermometer

There’s nothing worse than being up in the middle of the night trying to decide if your baby has a fever.

Top Tips

You can often borrow baby items from friends or family – don’t be afraid to ask around.

Search for second hand items online – you can save a lot on your big ticket items that way!

Your baby will grow faster than you think, consider preserving those tiny fingers and toes by creating a plaster model from a kit. When they grow up, they won’t believe how little they used to be!

A baby’s cry is their only way of communicating with their parent so knowing their reason for crying is essential! Here is your guide to decoding the five most common baby cries.

HUNGER:
❥ Typically, a low-pitched, rhythmic, repetitive cry.
❥ It’s best to respond quickly so the baby doesn’t get too worked up and swallow air which can trap gas or cause them to spit up.

Look out for…
❥ Your baby’s sucking reflex will kick in here
so babies may also put their fingers in their
mouth or try gnawing at their hand.

UNCOMFORTABLE:
❥ A whiny, nasal, continuous cry usually means your baby is uncomfortable. They’re itchy, wet, cold, or want to be in a different position.
❥ It may also be discomfort so check for a dirty nappy!

GAS:
❥ This cry will come from the lower abdomen and will often see it accompanied by your child pulling their knees up or pushing out with their legs. His body will be uncomfortable because he’s experiencing
lower gas and looking for a way to manoeuvre it out.
❥ When your baby is feeling gas in the upper part of his digestive tract, he’ll push his breath out like he’s trying to burp.

HOT TIP!
Try comforting positions such as laying her on her tummy on your forearm or across
your knees, supporting her head and rubbing her back.

SICK/COLIC:
❥ Colic often occurs in the late afternoon or evening, and the episodes can last for hours. It typically peaks around six weeks after birth and goes away by the time the baby is three to four months old.
❥ Intense wails or screams accompanied by fidgeting movements can signal the baby is feeling unwell.

❥ A sick baby will typically let out soft whimpers that are weak and nasal
sounding.
❥ If you suspect your baby is sick, be on the lookout for additional symptoms that warrant a doctor’s visit such as fever, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and rashes.

The sound of a baby’s pained cries can break any parent’s heart. Using our tips and tricks for identifying the reason for your baby’s tears can put a
smile on everyone’s faces.

Women have always been pioneers in the gender equality debate… until now. Parent change rooms are legally open to any caregiver of a young child, regardless of sex. Now, fathers like Ben find themselves on the receiving end of parental discrimination.

Men across Australia have begun expressing a sense of fear and unwelcomeness as a result of incidents of discrimination against fathers in parent change rooms.

Awareness of the issue gained public knowledge after a Queensland father recounted his experience on a Sunshine Coast-based Facebook page which cannot be named.

“She said ‘It’s only for mothers in here! Get out of here, you sicko!’ and said she would call security and say I was staring at her naked kids if I didn’t leave the room”, the father said.

Men have taken to social media to communicate their disaffection with the continuing problem.

“I’ve had security called on me for taking my daughter into a parents’ room to change her nappy. Security basically told her to pull her head in as I was clearly changing a baby.” – Ben

“A lady asked me why I couldn’t be changing my son’s nappy in the men’s restrooms. My response to her was that I would if she went and fed her baby in the women’s restrooms.” – Mark

“My hubby’s been given death stares while in the parent’s room changing our daughters’ nappies with me. He changes nappies at home and wherever they need to be changed. He’ll change them in the parents’ room too…” – Sandra

“Dads, granddads, uncles … any caregiver who is looking after a child and needs to take care of a child and use those facilities that are offered in a public setting have access to these types of facilities”, says William Barsby, Shine Lawyers discrimination law expert.

An immense amount of support for fathers and male caregivers has surfaced in light of these events. Dads need support just as much as mums do and excluding fathers from parent change room, which are intended for use by a caregiver of any sex, is against anti-discrimination law.

How much does one little baby actually need? Your baby shopping list might seem overwhelming, but you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Offspring has created a guide to help you work out the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.

Before you hit the shops it is important to do some research. Look for product reviews online and talk to other mums about what they found most useful. Going to the shops unprepared can be overwhelming (just how many additional features can a pram have?) and it can be very easy to overspend when you are surrounded cute baby clothes.

Out and about

The first trips outside of the home with a newborn can seem scary, but you don’t need to pack like you are going away on a holiday.

The must-haves

Car restraint

You must have a rear-ward facing car-restraint that meets Australian Standards sorted before you bring your baby home from hospital. Many car seats will be suitable for your child from birth up to four years old, so as well as being an important piece of safety equipment, it is something you will be using every day for years.

Your decision will be determined by:
The space you have available (if you have more than one child you might need a slimline car seat to fit all the car seats across your car’s backseat).
You might decide on a travel system with a capsule that attaches to a pram frame. Some parents love this option, as it is easier to get baby out of the car without disturbing them, however, babies do outgrow this option quickly.

TIP: It’s a good idea to add to your to-do list to get your car restraint professionally installed by a local fitter to help ensure it is correctly fitted and safe to bring your newborn home in.

Pram/stroller

There are so many options when it comes to purchasing a pram, it can seem like you are purchasing a car. Features and prices can vary considerably.

Consider:
The intended use of the pram. Do you want a pram that you can exercise with (to put your baby in when you go running or for long walks) or will it mainly be used to go to the shops or short trips?
How big the pram is. It is important to check that the pram will fit in the boot of your car.

Check how easy the pram is to fold. If it is too complicated or heavy it will make it difficult for you to get the pram in and out of the car’s boot.
A big consideration is if you also have a toddler, are expecting twins or are planning on having babies close in age. Twin or double prams are available (but be sure to check the width is practical to go shopping to fit through the aisles, for example) or configurations are available with toddler skateboards at the back of the pram, for example.

Second hand gems!
Purchasing or being gifted second hand baby items are a great way to save some money – and as many baby products are used for such a short time, you might find they are in brand new condition! However, it is important to carefully check the condition of things like cots, mattresses and car seats if you are considering hand-me-down options. Ensure any product is safe and meets relevant Australian Standards.

Nice to have

A nappy bag

Some sort of bag is definitely important so you have some nappies and spare clothes on-hand, as well as bottles if bottle feeding, and toys etc. Some nappy bags revival designer handbags with stylish designs and multiple storage compartments (including in-build change mat and insulated bottle carrier) but for the budget conscious, you can also get away with any practical bag or backpack.

Baby carrier

This is a personal choice and for some parents, a good baby carrier will supersede a pram. It is certainly useful to be able to carry your baby and keep your hands free to do the shopping, for example, and is a great option for using in the outdoors when going for a walk. A supportive baby carrier can also be handy to use at home to settle your baby.

Portable cot

A portable cot is definitely not on the must-have list, but can be very handy, especially if you are planning on going on holidays or to be used at a babysitter or grandparent’s home for naps or sleepovers.

Other travel products to consider: pram liner, trolley cover, rain cover/sunshade for pram, ‘Baby on Board’ car sign, car window shades.

Going to sleep

It is important to create a comfortable and most importantly safe environment for your baby to sleep in.

Must haves

Cot

A cot is an expensive investment, but if you are considering using a family heirloom or second-hand find, it is important to ensure it meets current Australian safety guidelines. There are many cots to suit your needs, including cots that convert to a toddler bed at a later stage. A good quality, clean mattress that properly fits in the cot is also a necessity.

A good quality, waterproof mattress protector is essential to ensure your baby’s cot mattress stays in good condition. Purchase two or three so you have spares for when you are doing the washing.

There are many options when it comes to wraps, swaddles, sleeping bags and baby blankets. Again, ensure you have a few options, so you have spares for when you are doing the washing. Some babies love to be swaddled, while some love to be able to have their little arms out in a sleeping bag, so test out what option is going to be best suited to your baby.

Nice to have

A bassinet

This will only be used for the first couple of months, so it isn’t a necessity. However, a bassinet can be very handy during those first few weeks, as a bassinet is easy to move around the house.

A baby monitor

If your baby is in their own room, it can be comforting to be able to easily hear them if they wake during the night. Some monitors are quite sophisticated, with options including video monitoring. Some monitors are also available that doubles as a night light, and some monitors also monitor a baby’s movement, to provide additional peace-of-mind.

Other sleep products to consider: White noise machine, room thermometer, night light.

Feeding time

Your feeding essentials will differ depending on whether you choose to breast or formula-feed.

Must-haves

Breast pads are essential if breastfeeding to prevent embarrassing leaks. Disposable pads are available, or reusable pads can be washed and used again and again.

Bottles and teats are essential if you are formula feeding or if you want to express breastmilk. There are many styles of bottles and teats available and sometimes it can take a while to work out which ones will suit your baby, so don’t buy too much until you try them out for yourself.

High chair

When your baby starts solids, a high chair will be used regularly. High chairs range from very basic options to deluxe designs with padded seating and adjustable backs. Whatever you choose, remember that this is where your child will be eating (which often means mess!), so it is very important to ensure it can easily be cleaned.

Nice to have

Breast pump

This might be an essential item if you are breastfeeding (especially if you want to express some feeds) but you don’t have to buy one as they can often be hired at your local chemist.

A steriliser

A steriliser isn’t optional (you can always sterilise by boil bottles, teats and feeding gear in a large pot), but a steriliser can certainly be handy.

Mess Mat

This is useful to put under the highchair to catch any food that falls from the highchair.

Other feeding products to consider: Mess Mat, bibs, suction bowls, bottle warmer, bottle drying rack.
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Nappy changes

You will be changing many nappies over the next couple of years! Here’s what to get:

Must haves

Nappies and wipes

Whether you choose disposable or cloth options, you will need a good supply of nappies and wipes. However, it is advisable not to go overboard and buy too many nappies before you have bub. Firstly, babies grow very quickly so if you buy boxes and boxes of newborn disposable nappies, chances are your baby will outgrow them before you use them all. For cloth nappies, it might best to try different brands to find the best fit for your baby.

Change mat

Whether for out-and-about or to use at home, a good quality and easy-to-clean change mat is a must to keep nappy changing mess contained.

Nice to have

Change table

For some parents, a change table is essential as a dedicated nappy changing space. Other parents might use a change mat on top of a dresser or might change their baby on a bed. Do whatever works for you!

Barrier creams

Your baby might never get nappy rash, but if they do there are many nappy rash creams on the market. Some parents like to use a barrier cream as nappy rash preventative after each nappy change (talk to your pharmacist or health care professional about the best option for your baby).

Other nappy change products to consider: Wipes warmer, nappy bin, soaking bucket

TIP: Nappy changes can be tough on your hands, so get a good quality hand moisturiser to help keep your skin in good shape after all that hand washing. Hand sanitiser is also a good idea to have on-hand in your nappy bag for nappy changes on-the-go.

First aid
For peace of mind, some first aid items are a good idea to have on-hand when you bring baby home. Saline solution, baby paracetamol (ensuring it is only used according to directions) and a baby thermometer are good products to have handy in the early months.

Baby clothes

Of cute, tiny baby clothes! It is tempting to go overboard, but your baby will not need too much. Remember, baby clothes will be one of the most popular gifts or hand-me-downs you are likely to get from family friends, so to start off with, buy what you think you will need for the early weeks.

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Must haves

Several onesies

Remember, even in the warmer months, hospitals can be quite cool due to air-conditioning, so get some long sleeved, as well as short sleeved in the Summer months. 0000 is a common size for a newborn but get a couple of 000 if you are expecting a big baby.

Hats

Get a sun hat for the warmer months or beanie for the cooler months.

Socks

Tiny socks can double up as mittens in the early days to stop a baby from scratching themselves. Buy a few pairs – one sock can easily fall off and go missing.

Nice to have

Fancy outfit

Cute little outfits, such as tiny dresses, suits or little tracksuits look adorable on a new baby, but they are not necessary. However, you might like to buy a special outfit for taking baby home from the hospital.