Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pregnancy & Post-Partum Helpful Tips!

With a new baby soon to be entering our lives I've been poking around online at different baby-related things. One thing I have come across a few times are "lists" or "things" to help you prepare for baby. I guess as a blogger I felt the urge to make my own. My list consists of stuff I found helpful with my daughter, things I wish I had done to prepare for her entry in to the world, or things I'm currently doing to help prepare for our son.

Speaking of which, here is a side view (profile) of his wittle face! About 7 more weeks to go :)

Before you have your baby

Kegel Exercises:
BabyCenter.com info on Kegel Exercises
"Kegels are exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles – the muscles that support your urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum. The exercises.... help women with urinary incontinence, or diminished bladder control, which can happen after childbirth."

Perineal Massage:
BabyCenter.com info on Perineal Massage 
"Starting around 34 weeks, try massaging your perineum (the area around your vagina). Daily perineal massage may increase the area's ability to stretch, leading to less need for an episiotomy and fewer natural tears."

Drink plenty of water. I admit, I'm not so good at this, but you'll notice less swelling and things will "move" through your system a whole lot better! Hydration can also help your skins elasticity and could reduce cellulite and stretch marks. Plus baby wants water, too!

Expect Swelling:
I haven't experienced swelling in my extremities until around 8 months (32 weeks or so). Most likely you will swell before the baby gets here. Be ready to take off your wedding ring and wear it around your neck! With my daughter I gained weight pretty quickly in the last 8 weeks probably due to the swelling. Prop your feet up whenever you sit! The good thing is it will all melt away after delivery :)

Prepare yourself with a list of items to get an RX for and provide it to your OB at one of your visits:
I have not done this particular step yet, but many OTC health items are no longer covered under the IRS with Flex Spending Accounts (FSAs) or tax deductions. For example: I can not buy Tylenol any longer with my Flex card unless I have a doctor's RX for it. You'll find that many of the items you need for baby and for yourself post-delivery fall under that category, so prepare yourself ahead of time! The hospital may provide you with an RX list upon discharge. Ours did, and it included many regular OTC items. That will cover it, but we were surprised by this massive list of needs. My husband had to rush to the store to go buy everything up so I could have it. I'm trying to make sure you buy it BEFORE you need it :)

After the baby shower for our daughter we took a trip to Walmart and bought a few needs. You'll probably get a lot of the little things (shampoo, rash cream, extra diapers) but you may still need to fill in some gaps. We bought band-aids, Neosporine, a thermometer.. things like that.
  •  Purchase necessities for YOU for after delivery:
Little did I know (as stated above), you will actually need some stuff for yourself once baby is delivered. The hospital will provide you with most of it while you're there, but you'll need it for at home as well. Buy it now so your husband doesn't have to!
    • Tucks/Witchazel Pads - Get lots. They'll help tremendously with healing. Whether you get a tear/episiotomy or not, it's going to be sore. I had an episiotomy and these came in super handy for the first couple weeks.
    • Feminine sanitary pads - Big ol' maxi pads! You're going to have bleeding and who knows how heavy or light it will be. Be prepared to change these frequently (especially if you have a tear or cut).
    • Stool Softeners - You don't want to strain any more than you already have. The hospital may start giving these to you along with any other medication you need after delivery. I personally try to take them daily throughout pregnancy since carrying a baby wreaks havoc on your digestive system.
    • Comfy panties - Buy some cute cotton "granny panties" (no laughing at that!) that will be comfortable and hold your pads. I remember preferring a boy short style. Don't get something that will fit you too tightly.
    • Breastfeeding must-haves for mom -You will need certain items on hand to help with breastfeeding after delivery. In the hospital you may only need a couple of these items on hand (a couple bras and some nursing pads) but when you get home there may be more you find you will need! Check out this great source: What breastfeeding supplies do I need?
Research birthing options (hospitals, birthing centers, home births):
Talk to your doctor/midwife about your specific options (may vary according to your health risks/needs). Be sure to take a tour of the location.

Research Breastfeeding:
I'm a big advocate for breastfeeding. Doesn't mean I disagree with formula-feeding moms, but often-times breastfeeding is given up on so quickly due to lack of education and proper resources to assist you through the problems. Don't give up so easily. I had a horrible time initially with my daughter because I just flat out knew nothing, only that I wanted to breastfeed! Eventually I learned she had reflux which could have saved me a lot of heartache early on if I had know the signs/symptoms and how to handle it!

Research Cloth diapering , homemade baby wipes, and other environmentally safe or natural options:


I did not cloth diaper my daughter. Instead we preferred Luvs & Pampers (hooray for coupons!), but this time around I did a lot of research and wanted to take the plunge. I'm loving it so far and I haven't even had the baby yet to stick them in!

Research postnatal procedures for your baby such as circumcision, vaccinations, testing etc:
As Mom/Dad you need to make the choices for your baby you believe are the best, so educate yourself now!

Take any classes you’d like that are offered by your local hospital or Mommy stores: 
Our local hospital offers several different class options ranging from breastfeeding, first aid, birthing techniques and classes for older siblings. We also have a "natural" Mommy store in town that offers classes (Lamaze, Cloth Diapering 101, Breastfeeding Essentials). The hospitals and stores both may charge for these classes. In my opinion the classes offered by the stores may be the best with better in-depth info although probably more expensive. Insurance may cover Lamaze classes.

Consider your birthing options and research the benefits/drawbacks of everything:
Epidural? Pain medication? Laboring at home before going to the hospital? There's a lot to think of. See the next point below for a list to get you thinking about it!

Create your own birth plan:
I used Earth Mama Angel Baby's birth plan form.
You can find tons of websites online that offer "birth plan" print-outs. I highly suggest you take advantage of this, if not for anybody but yourself and your spouse! I asked my OB if they wanted a copy but advised me it is nothing they would keep in my file. She said it's up to me at the time of labor & delivery to ask for/refuse certain options. I have printed out my birth plan anyway to have on hand when we get there. My husband can refer to it if need-be. Things may change and certain procedures may become necessary but my hope is to ward off anything unnecessary.

Organize your nursery:
 We started the nursery organization early due to minor home projects and room switches. We have the basic bit down but truthfully until you have a baby shower or have purchased everything this may be one of the last steps you take in preparation for baby. If you're cloth diapering look up different organizational tips from others who CD. Have the creams, ointments, wipes etc handy. Organize clothes in your closet/drawers by size. Get bottles and other items washed and ready if needed. Open and test your breast pump to make sure it works properly. Clean all of the accessories that come with so it will be ready for use if you need it soon after arriving home.

Wash baby clothes/linens:
Pick your preferred detergent for baby clothes and be sure everything (or at least everything you will need in the early months) is washed and ready. Do not use fabric softeners as these can compromise items that are meant to be fire retardant. Fabric softeners can also reduce absorption. If you have a baby with reflux you definitely don't want your burp rags to not absorb!

Here are some options:
  • Homemade laundry detergent (which is all we use now however not recommended for cloth diapers)
  • Dreft
  • All Free & Clear (safe for cloth diapering)
  • Seventh Generation
  • Soap Nuts (safe for cloth diapering)
  • Most anything without dyes or fragrances. At some point we did move on to washing baby clothes with our clothes, but in the first several months I feel it is safest to wash in a "baby friendly" detergent.
Plan meals ahead for after baby’s birth:
Take a few days in the weeks/month or two before your due date and prep or cook meals that you can freeze.You may have family or friends bring you meals but you'll want to be prepared for anything! There are so many sources online for plan-ahead meals I can't even begin to link just one. Pinterest is your friend here!

Consider newborn photos and schedule them now!
I have heard the best time for newborn photos is within the first couple of weeks. You have a baby that is easier to maneuver and slightly less active than one that has begun to discover their movements. Go ahead and set up an appointment or maybe a tentative date with someone, then be sure to notify them once you have the baby... or whatever it is you decide with the photographer.

Pack your hospital bag:
Here is a well-rounded list from BabyCenter.com
Undoubtedly the hospital bag will be your best friend. And you never know when you'll need it, so have it ready! I suggest that you have it packed or in an accessible place with everything you can by week 33/34. You may still be using some of the things you need up until the last minute (like hopefully your tooth brush) so consider buying travel-size goodies or extras, or make a check list and be familiar with where everything is so your husband can do a quick grab-n-go as you're contracting out the door!

Have your car seat installed:
Around the time you get your hospital bag together, install the carseat base in your vehicle(s). I personally recommend you do NOT keep the seat in the vehicle until you need it. In the event the vehicle is involved in an accident you are then supposed to replace the entire system. I'd rather replace a $30 base than an $80+ car seat.

Check the NHTSA website for a list of local Car Seat Inspection Stations. Typically your local police department and sometimes fire departments have people certified to do them. At this point my husband and I are comfortable installing them ourselves, but initially with our first kiddo, we opted to have them installed by an officer. They gave all kinds of helpful tidbits at the time.

Work out a “delivery” plan for older children: 
Will they be with you? Do you have a baby sitter on-call? I'm not sure yet exactly what I'd like to do but this isn't something I necessarily want to take as it comes. I'd like to be slightly prepared just in case, but ultimately plans with labor can fall through very quickly so we're trying to not over think it. Even just a list of 3-4 willing helpers (you never know who is doing what & when so have more than 1 option!) with phone numbers to go through whenever you need them should suffice I hope.

Just an idea... Have your spouse, significant other, or another family member/friend come over and help you clean the house thoroughly a couple weeks or so before your due date. Don’t overdo yourself even in the nesting phase, but the more you can get done now the less you have to worry about after! If you have children already you may understand how keeping a house clean at times can be hard. I have yet to experience it in the final days of pregnancy with baby #2, but I can only imagine how difficult it will be! Maybe even see if someone can go by your house while you’re at the hospital and do a little cleaning ;)

After Delivery & when you get home

Nurse your baby as soon as possible:
Breastfeeding your Newborn
Even though your milk has yet to come in, allow your baby to nurse as soon as possible after delivery. I think after about 30 minutes or so is when I first tried. Things had finally settled down in the room for us. The nurse offered some fantastic initial help with latch and a little advice to get me through until a Lactation Consultant was able to visit the next day.

Consider keeping your baby in the room with you:
I opted to have my daughter with me in our room. It wasn't something I ever really thought about but I couldn't bear the idea of not having her near me once she finally arrived! We were able to feed on-demand, and I didn't have to wait for a nurse to bring her to me or go get her myself. Take a break if you'd like and don't be afraid to have the nursery watch her for a while, but I believe you'll truly enjoy having your baby with you.

Take care of yourself:
Looking back I felt incredibly lazy after I delivered my daughter. I took a shower but just laid up in the bed the entire time. I stayed an extra day in the hospital due to her being jaundice. I wish I had pampered myself a little, did my make-up, changed in to something other than a hospital gown, got up and moved around... This time I hope to actually have the will and motivation to do more for myself. You're going to be flat out exhausted but sometimes if you do a little for yourself it'll brighten your day!
Have your meals & snacks easily accessible for when you’re home alone with your baby:
My husband had to go back to work just a couple of days after I got home with our daughter. As a manager he couldn't really leave work whenever I needed him so much of my day was spent alone with baby. There were few visitors and family wasn't very close. It was very frustrating at times that I had not prepared ahead of time to have meals and goodies right there where I needed them most. With a significant episiotomy, up and down movements were difficult at times. I'm looking forward to a basket of goodies at my fingertips this time (along with a very helpful 4yr old to go fridge digging for me heheh)!

Consider a note on your door for visitors!
This cute door sign idea from The Leaky B@@b (can't help but chuckle at that!) is perfect. It not only announces your bundle of joy, but also gives suggestions to visitors on what they can do to help! If you don't like this one, maybe it will give you some good ideas for how to word your own.

Don’t be afraid to accept any help that is offered:
If someone offers helps, let them! If there is ever a time that people want to help, it's after you have a baby, especially all the ladies. Most of them know what it's like and they only want to make life easier for you. Be grateful, thankful, and appreciative of course, but don't be afraid to say "yes!"

Sleep when baby sleeps:


Sleep is almost non-existent when your baby comes, or at least you feel it is. When your baby drifts off, you have to drift off (same goes for Daddy, if you didn't already notice hehe)! Use a bedside sleeper, cosleeper, travel crib or pack n' play (here is what I used/use) so that your baby is near you. If it weren't for cosleeping I may have never slept. I had an insane pillow set-up for those times I would drift off while nursing her. You'll figure out what works best for you, but be sure to take safe precautions in whatever you do!

Follow all of your physician’s orders:
The one big thing I was advised to do after delivery was avoid stairs and driving for 2 weeks due to my episiotomy. Unfortunately for me we lived in a little townhouse where the bedrooms and bathroom were upstairs. Avoiding steps was impossible but I still could have handled it better. If I had been more careful my recovery time would have probably been significantly less.

Take lots of pictures:
Don't worry about killing every battery in your house, just take ten tons of photos!! I took so many with my daughter but wish I had taken more... crazy huh?! But my husband and I thoroughly enjoy looking back on them now and again! And now that our daughter is 4 she enjoys looking at her baby pictures as well.

My hope is that this information and the links provided are helpful to you in some way as you prepare for your new baby! It's obviously not an exhaustive list but don't worry. Don't overwhelm yourself and panic about everything! Focus on the things that are important to you (maybe breastfeeding, laboring techniques etc..) and let everything else fall in to place. No matter what, it will be a new experience and later on down the road there will be thoughts of what could have been done differently and what you can focus on with your next baby! That's why I did this list.

Most of all, love your precious gifts from God! Love them and enjoy every single second you have with them!


1 comment:

  1. I thought jerm would have a permanent indentation on his chest from all his naps with Aaliyah! Green leafy veggies also help your skin stretch, my first OBGYN hit me up with that tip, three babies later and I only have maybe three stretch marks! One baby I gained 50lbs :)I love your helpful lists, wish I would have had some of these tips before even when you have already had some kids you forget things the next go round, especially the small stuff.


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