Top 5 Things Your Hospital Bag Needs

Packing a Hospital Bag

When it comes to packing your birth bag, plan early! Babies never seem to arrive on schedule, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. While there is no end to the list of possible items you may choose to bring, these are the top 5 survival needs no new mommy can live without.

1. Comfortable clothes

Depending on the circumstances of your child’s birth, and your insurance plan, you may likely remain in the postpartum ward for up to 4 days. During this time, you may not want to rely on someone else to choose your attire.

The day after giving birth, I asked my husband to bring me some comfortable clothes to wear around the hospital, grateful to no longer wander the Arctic halls like a nudist in a smock. He returned with a pair of oversized sweatpants and a knee-length Corona Extra t-shirt we had drunkenly purchased from a homeless man years ago. I still have no idea where he even found that shirt, bypassing dozens of cute and appropriate pajama options to leave me greeting friends and relatives dressed like a hungover fraternity boy spring breaking in Cabo.

2. Shampoo/Razors/Toothbrush/Toothpaste

After days of being chained to IVs and monitors, I literally begged the nurses to let me take a shower, just so I could shave my legs. Nothing makes you feel human again faster than a hot shower, so be sure and pack all the items you need to feel clean and refreshed.

3. Heavy flow pads and comfortable underwear

If I was in charge of postpartum care in hospitals, I would supply each room with a pack of Depends. The fact is, the mesh underwear and dish cloth sized maxi pads you’re given to work with only make a bad situation worse. Tampons are not allowed for at least a month after giving birth, so plan ahead and pack a box of your favorite brand of feminine pads and plenty of changes of underwear.

4. Phone charger

Nothing is worse than being out of communication with friends and family, especially during a stay in the hospital, so keeping your phone charged is a must.

5. Extra blankets/pillows

Hospitals are freezing, and the wafer of a pillow they give you is hardly enough to get comfortable on a rock-hard gurney/bed. My husband and I were absolutely miserable until I sent him home to bring back as many pillows and blankets as he could carry. Also, keep in mind that hospital beds are not meant to sleep two comfortably, so have your partner plan ahead to be spending the night in a recliner or cot.

 


Finding The Truth Behind “Baby Brain” During Pregnancy And Early Motherhood

Pregnancy Baby Brain - Mommy Makeover NetworkHave you ever felt a little loopy or seemed out of it while pregnant? Or found yourself forgetting things you normally wouldn’t? This isn’t uncommon, and many women have frequently reported that they struggle with their memory both during and shortly after pregnancy. But is this a pregnancy symptom? Studies have been inconclusive, showing that their may or may not be a correlation between the two.

A few research studies have shown that being pregnant can impair a woman’s memory because of the hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and added stress on their body. Some other reports have shown that there is no relation, and that pregnancy doesn’t harm a mother’s ability to think or remember. So what is the truth?

Well, one theory is that pregnant women are more aware that they are having slips in memory, either by being reminded by others or their own realization they forgot to do something. And, as a result, they are believing that this is related to their pregnancy because it is something that didn’t happen before. But since there is no real evidence that supports the relation between pregnancy and “baby brain,” it’s important for new mothers or mothers-to-be not to jump to the conclusion that their pregnancy has caused a decline in their cognitive abilities.

In reality, the real solution to dealing this mystery is much simpler: Just give yourself a break!

Your body is going through a rather complex transition, and your emotions are constantly going in every which direction. It’s understandable that you might not be as quick to come up with answers to questions you once knew, or that you don’t have an elephant-like memory at the moment. So, don’t concern yourself too much with any issues you’re experiencing, and try focusing on the more enjoyable things associated with pregnancy and motherhood. You’ll find that these minor lapses in your thinking and memory aren’t too much to worry about when you’re spending quality time with your little one anyway.


This is Harder Than I Thought: Lactation or the Art of Milking One’s Self in Public

 

That Awkward Boobs Moment - Mommy Makeover NetworkLadies, love them or hate them, we all have boobs. For most of your life, these constant companions are merely aesthetic. We strap them down for workouts, we push them up for dates, but mostly we treat them like any other normal body part. Until the baby comes. While pregnancy boobs are delightful—your C cups swell to DDs as your husband looks on in awe and respect—post-baby breasts are the worst. When your milk comes in, I was informed, your breasts will need to be “expressed” every two hours or so to prevent them from becoming “engorged.”

Engorgement is incredibly painful. Your breasts become hard and stiff due to blocked ducts, and shooting pains begin to radiate across your chest. This is the reason milk cows line up to be milked every morning. Every moo is really a cry for help. I know this now. The only way to relieve the pain is to somehow get the trapped milk out and relieve the pressure.

You can do this one of three ways: by nursing, with a pump, or by hand. My first experience with engorgement happened on a city bus. My husband had forgotten to pick me up from an appointment before work, so I was forced to take public transport to get my car. Waiting at the stop in the hot sun, I started to feel an uncomfortable tingling in my chest. Once on the bus, the milk continued to “let down,” and pressure began to build, becoming increasingly painful. Shamelessly, I started to grope myself, ignoring the stares of my fellow passengers in an attempt to massage away the pain.

It didn’t help.

As the pain began to shoot deeper into my chest, my eyes started to water. The injustice of it all crashed down around me. I was a nice girl! I didn’t deserve to be the crazy lady squeezing her own boobs and crying on a public bus! After an eternity elapsed over the next five blocks, I reached my stop, and ran frantically into the bathroom of the restaurant where my husband works. I took a moment to look at my face in the mirror, to contemplate the need for what had to be done. What I saw was that it definitely had to be done. I took off my shirt. I removed my bra. I began to milk myself in the sink of a public restroom. And I was unashamed.

 

This is the second of a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out the introduction to the “Harder Than I Thought” series. And keep your eyes peeled for Part 3.


Baby Registry Top 5 Must Haves

There are so many items that you can purchase for your new baby, it is easy to feel like you are drowning in the sea of onesies. But when it’s time to narrow down the choices, here is a list of the top five items I have found most useful in my experience.

1) DIAPERS!

Medically speaking, a healthy baby creates at least 3 dirty diapers a day. And by at least, I mean the amount of waste your infant is about to create will astound, amaze, and appall you. My baby, who came home at a mere 5 lbs., went through an entire pack of diapers in her first week. At 50 diapers in a pack, that is a lot of changing. That’s a lot of poop. No matter how small the budget, friends and family can save the day simply by purchasing a few packs of diapers or wipes.

2) Swaddlers

Many babies are nearly impossible to get to sleep without being swaddled. While a light blanket is the traditional tool for swaddling, this skill can be tricky for many new moms to master, and a particularly active baby can quickly undo even a seasoned veteran’s swaddle. For these situations, swaddling cloths or zip up pods can be a lifesaver. These cloths feature a handy pocket for the baby’s legs, and Velcro or snaps for a secure fit. Even more idiot-proof options (and my personal favorites), are the pods. Simply put your baby inside, and zip to the chin.

3) Glider

Though I was skeptical at first, my baby glider has become my most valued possession. Not surprisingly, doing chores or working from home can be nearly impossible when holding a baby, and it is frustrating and time consuming to have to constantly walk to your baby’s bed to soothe them throughout the day. The glider provides the perfect gap between the two—soft and secure, and yet mobile enough to stay close to you at all times. It also seems like a magical sleeping ride to my little one, who even in the fussiest moods will relax with the gentle rocking motion and soft, cradled bed.

4) Boppy Pillow

Simply put, the Boppy pillow is invaluable to any nursing mother. Even for bottle fed babies, seating them on the Boppy puts the baby in the perfect position for feeding and burping. It even comes with washable covers in a variety of materials and designs, and there’s an optional vibration unit for soothing comfort.

5) Baby Monitor

A baby monitor is a must have for any household. When you inevitably leave your baby’s room, having a monitor will assure you that they are safe, and alert you when your baby is awake or in distress. While monitors range in sophistication and price, a basic audio monitor is fine to cover most needs. However, I decided to splurge on a slightly more expensive camera monitor, and am glad I did. For a small increase in price, you can have the assurance of a clear picture, and night vision monitoring of your little one via a wireless camera. You can even stream the feed on your smartphone via a free app, if that is more convenient to your needs.


Motherhood: This Is Harder Than I Thought

This is basically a before and after photo.

I have always been a dog person.

Like dog people, there are also “cat people,” “baby people,” etc. I was never a baby person; babies cried all the time, they were ticking puke bombs, and the fresh ones kind of looked like dehydrated rats. Ok, I wasn’t quite that cynical, but I was just fine looking at your adorable bundle from a safe distance.

And then I got pregnant.

Bringing home my new baby was like the first day of high school, defending a dissertation, and starting a new job, all rolled into one. “Can I handle it?” “Have I done the research?” “Will the baby even like me?”

During my pregnancy, I never had time to take birthing or child care classes, and honestly, I really had no particular desire to do so. Up until B-Day, I worked six days a week at two jobs. Believe me, by the time my cherished day off rolled around, the last thing I wanted to do was sit on a birthing ball and watch three hours of ancient Lamaze videos. (Also, ew. The 70s were not kind.)

Pictured: Women Not Working Two Jobs

So when my water broke just before a shift one night, I calmly excused myself to the manager, saying, “I am so sorry, but I think I’m about to go into labor. I should probably leave for the hospital now.” And off I was on my journey to motherhood.

Therefore, all of my knowledge and observations are from on-the-job experience.

What I’ve learned is this: Being a mom is hard. Being a mom is gross. Being a mom can produce some of the most rewarding and emotional moments you will ever experience in a lifetime. But most of all, being a mom takes a sense of humor. This series is a look into my life as a new mommy, and a collection of the things I’ve learned on my ongoing odyssey of parenthood.

 

This is the first of a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out part two, “This is Harder Than I Thought: Lactation or the Art of Milking One’s Self in Public.” 


Preparing for Baby: 4 Items Your Nursery Needs

With all of the advice from your friends, family, and online message boards, it can be hard figure out exactly the best way to prepare for your new addition. Marketing campaigns tend to take advantage of the uncertainty that many new parents feel, but you might be surprised to know that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment.

Of course, we all know that basics like diapers, onesies, bottles, and wipes are necessary. But, what about beyond the basics? Which products make life easier and which are a waste of money?

A quality diaper pail

You really want to put them somewhere out of sight and out of mind. Enough said.

A humidifier

No matter what time of year, those little nasal passages can benefit from easier breathing. And it may be just the thing that helps you both get better sleep at night.

A nursing pillow

Whatever brand you choose, this is likely to be your very best friend for the next year. Invest in a quality product and buy a couple of covers to swap out when they need to be washed.

A sling or baby carrier

Once again, style and fit are based on your personal preference. It may be helpful to wear a few in the store to see whic


Cosmetics and Pregnancy

Women who have undergone cosmetic treatments prior to getting pregnant often wonder if it is safe for them to continue to do so throughout their pregnancy. The ultimate question is whether or not these procedures and ingredients will affect the development of your baby and at what stage in your pregnancy are they safe.

While research is mostly incomplete on a wide range of pregnancy side effects, many healthcare professionals will recommend that you avoid the following while you are pregnant.

  • Restylane and other cosmetic dermal fillers or injectables
  • Pulsed light technology and thread vein reduction
  • Any skincare products that contain tretinoin or hydroquinone
  • Lip enhancement fillers

After your first trimester is complete, however, there are a number of non-surgical cosmetic treatments that you can enjoy during your pregnancy, including:

  • Chemical peels
  • Non-prescription skin care products (except those with ingredients referenced above)
  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Hair coloring

Almost all of the organ development occurs during the first trimester. As such, many healthcare professionals will claim that most procedures and products are safe after that point.

If you are looking for a non-cosmetic way to treat yourself, consider scheduling a prenatal massage. Not only can it relax you, but also it can loosen up any muscle spasms that you have been experiencing and leave you feeling refreshed.

Ultimately, any decision to undergo cosmetic treatments during pregnancy should be discussed with your physician. Talk about all of the benefits and risks before going ahead with the procedure. If your doctor approves and you feel comfortable, go ahead and make that appointment.


Relief for Pregnancy Symptoms

We all know that pregnancy can be exhausting. Once you add in morning sickness, shortness of breath, and body aches, it can be especially rough. But, there are a few things that you can do along the way to alleviate your symptoms or at least make them more tolerable.

Fight gas, heartburn, and bloating by regularly eating smaller meals. Enjoy small, balanced meals, and avoid eating large amounts of foods that could lead to gas.

Constipation is another pregnancy symptom. You can reduce this unwanted side effect by increasing your water and fiber intake. If that doesn’t work, you might need to talk to your doctor about taking laxatives to provide some relief.

If you find that you are experiencing regular nausea, try keeping crackers on hand. Keeping a little something on your stomach can help combat this symptom. You can also try eating ginger. Use it in your cooking or drink it in your tea to help settle your stomach.

If you can’t fit into your shoes because your feet are so swollen, consider drinking more water and getting more rest. Elevate your feet above your head every night for at least 30 minutes, and drink a lot of fluids throughout the day.

Many women simply suffer through these symptoms, but you don’t have to. If these at-home remedies don’t help, schedule an appointment with your medical professional. Ask your doctor about unwanted pregnancy side effects that you may be experiencing. This is not an exhaustive list, and it is important to consider all of your treatment options.


Bonding with Your Baby in the Womb


After discovering that you’re pregnant, it can be easy to feel anxious about bonding with your baby. Sooner is always better than later, and the good news is that you don’t have to wait until your baby is born to begin the process.

After the 23rd week, your baby is developed enough to hear and respond to outside noises. Many researchers believe that they can actually respond to the sound of your voice even earlier than that. Talk to them often and be mindful of noises that might be too loud for your baby. Many prenatal yoga classes incorporate humming, and some moms-to-be who have participated in these classes have noted that humming has a soothing effect on their babies after being born as a result.

In addition to your baby responding to your voice, they can also respond to music. Play calming music for your baby. Classical tunes are always a good choice. It’s not necessary, but if you want to, you can even put headphones around your baby bump. Just be sure to keep the volume low since amniotic fluid can amplify the music.

Babies also react to your hormones. Research has shown that mothers with stressful pregnancies and anxious personalities are often linked to babies with emotional difficulties. While the direct cause-and-effect link is still a mystery, many experts suspect that it has something to do with the stress hormones that cross the placenta. Stay calm and surround yourself with positive people and positive influences throughout your pregnancy.

Spend time thinking about your baby, talking to him, singing to her, and putting healthy food in your body for both of you. By reducing stress and focusing on the positive aspects of your pregnancy and family, you will also likely have a more enjoyable pregnancy.


Deciding on a Birth Plan

While it can seem like 9 months is an awful long time, your due date can actually sneak up on you. You spend a lot of time preparing for the baby by readying the nursery, buying clothing, and stocking up on diapers. But, have you considered the details of your actual delivery?

It is so important to develop a birth plan ahead of time. It might seem overwhelming at first, but simply answering a few basic questions can be a good starting point.

What is your pain tolerance like?

Do you want pain medication?

Where do you want to give birth?

Who do you want present for the birth?

Discuss these factors with your doctor, and get his or her input. Your doctor should be able to fully inform you of all of your available options and answer any questions that you might have. Many hospitals and birthing centers even offer tours that can help you visualize your experience.

In the end, most physicians will tell you that the best birth plans are ones that are open and flexible to change. Your doctor will want to do what is best for you and the baby, so modifications to the plan may need to be made along the way. By staying flexible, you will avoid disappointment and free yourself to focus on bringing your baby into the world.

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