Heidi Murkoff has made millions from telling women what to expect when we’re expecting, but what can new mums like the Duchess of Cambridge expect from the first few days with their babies? It’s not easy caring for a newborn while recovering from a draining labour (or, if you’ve had a C-section, from major surgery), never mind the other children if it's not your first, so having the right kit can really help. Our advice to K Middy: print this off and send Wills out shopping while you go back to bed.
1. The hospital bag essential: Boots maternity pads
Naively, I bought myself a pack of Always Ultra Heavy Flow to take to the hospital. Fortunately, my best friend knew better and gave me an assortment of thick, cushioned maternity pads to take with me – her favourites are the organic cotton Natracare ones but I found Boots own brand perfectly good. The hospital will give you some but theirs aren’t sticky (why, Jeremy Hunt, why?). £1.29 for a pack of 10, Boots
2. The baby wipes: Water Wipes
Newborn skin doesn’t have the same resistance to chemicals, so you’re not meant to use any soap, bubble bath or baby wipes in the first six weeks. Changing a nappy using cotton wool and water, however, is a bit of a palaver – which is where Water Wipes come in. Made with 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract, they’re portable and effective – so that even meconium will come easily off the royal bum. You can get them in the NCT online shop but I got mine from Ocado and made the order up to the £40 minimum with wine. Sorry, but it was a tough week. £2.70 for a pack of 60 or £20 for 9 packs, Boots
3. The rehumaniser: L’Occitane Bonne Mère gift set
A beauty regime? What’s that? A shower or bath at either end of the day is essential during recovery, but anything more is unthinkable. I swear, it was two weeks after I’d given birth before I remembered the existence of moisturiser. So the L’Occitane Bonne Mère gift set a friend gave me was an incredible luxury: lathering up in the luscious-smelling foam made me feel like a woman again rather than a piece of meat. From £5.50 for a soap, uk.loccitane.com
4. The sleep aid: Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind
Trying to convince the fifth in line to the throne to go the hell to sleep? Flimsy palace curtains letting in too much light? The Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind is for you – it sticks on the window with suckers and convinces your little sucker that it’s night-time. Mwah-ha-ha. £34.99 by the Gro Store, www.gro-store.co.uk
5. The nipple cream: Lansinoh
Made from lanolin (which is made from, er, sheep?), this is the Touche Eclat of nipple creams: everyone agrees it’s the best. The texture is weird – less like a cream than lard in a tube – but it does relieve some of the soreness if your cherished offspring has decided to chew you. You don’t need to remove it before feeding, either, although I always try because I can’t imagine it tastes terribly nice. £10.49, www.boots.com
6. The bottles: Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Easivent
These stubby bottles are meant to minimise wind and colic by mimicking the shape of the breast. It’s very, very different from a breast feed but the milk flow does seem to be a bit slower than with Avent bottles, which I also tried. £29.99 for six from www.mothercare.com
7. The baby chair: Mamas & Papas Wave Rocker
So the future king or queen has slept, fed and changed… oh God, what do we do with it now, Kate will no doubt be asking Wills. Well, probably she’ll be asking one of several nannies but something like the Mamas & Papas Wave Rocking Chair is a really good answer. It keeps a newborn baby happy for ten or fifteen minutes while you make your breakfast, do the dishes etc, and being relatively upright I think it encourages wind to come out. This is recommended because it will look nice in your palace; the Fisher-Price ones are great value and probably more fun for babies. £89, www.mamasandpapas.com
8. The stitch-soother: Dead Sea Spa Magik Bath Salts
Without going into unnecessary detail, it’s important to remember to look after any stitches you may have. Old-school midwives recommend bathing in salt water to soothe and heal. £5.99 for 1kg, www.hollandandbarrett.com
9. The baby towel: Cuddledry
Not an essential as such, but this is a really useful gift to give anyone who has had a baby. First seen on Dragon’s Den, what it is is a large apron-shaped towel that you wear to keep you dry during the bath. At the other end is a little hood to put on baby as you take them out and cuddle them dry. Aw. £29.99, www.cuddledry.com
10. The medicated cream: Sudocrem
The paediatrician who discharged my baby told me to put Sudocrem on her bits, and each time I do I’ve been amazed by how any slight redness has gone down by the next time I change her nappy. Not that this is news to generations of mothers, of course – even the most beauty-conscious adults will often use it on their own dry skin and cold sores. £3.50 for 250g, but you should find a tiny tester pot in your Bounty pack, Kate. See sudocrem.co.uk for stockists
11. The toy: Freddie the Firefly by Lamaze
Even royal babies can’t see much in their first few weeks, but sit them in front of the black-and-white patterns on the back of Freddie’s wings and they’ll be entertained for hours. Well, OK, for five minutes, which is the infant equivalent of hours. As they grow there are lots more noises, textures and activities to explore. £14.99, www.mothercare.com
12. The clothing saver: John Lewis muslin squares
Otherwise you’ll end up wiping off on one of your lovely Reiss dresses, which will be terribly sad. Any kind will do, but a six-pack is useful because you’ll leave them all over the place and faffing about trying to find one when your baby is hungry is hopeless. £8.50 for six, www.johnlewis.com
13. The baby monitor: Motorola MBP160
This has a range of up to 300m, so it’s perfect if your baby is in another wing. Be warned, though: every snuffle from the speaker will have you holding your breath in fear that they’re about to wake up. This is why you don’t get one of the video ones. Insanity can be the only end result. £39.99, www.mothercare.com
14. The baby guide: Safe Baby Handling Tips
The Baby Whisperer is too annoying for words; Gina Ford pushed me to the brink. If I had my time again, I’d stick to this helpful illustrated book of simple dos and don’ts. My favourite shows a woman breastfeeding – YES, says the caption – and a man breastfeeding – NO. Obviously it’s not serious, but you need a laugh more than a guru. £7.99, Running Press, www.amazon.co.uk
It’s also really nice to have…
A nappy-changing table or dresser to stop you putting your back out.
A large water bottle to have within arm’s reach at all times: you have no idea how thirsty you’ll get when breastfeeding.
Swaddle blankets (any will do but our light jersey one was £10 from John Lewis, or if you want a bigger one go to adenandanais.com
A Swiss ball to bounce them to sleep on.
Vitamin D supplements are recommended for nursing mothers.
A DVD box set to fall asleep in front of when the baby is in bed.