The A-Z of Motherhood! What to Expect and How Best to Prepare
Pregnant? First off, I just want to say Congratulations to you! Motherhood is the best thing ever, the hardest thing ever, but so rewarding and I know you are going to love it.
In this blog, you will get the lay of the land in all the different categories of things, the things people don’t tell you that I feel are most useful, and the things I did to set myself up which I feel like helped so much.
Most importantly, let’s start with your village for post-birth.
NUMBER 1 – YOUR VILLAGE
These are the people that are going to take care of you postpartum. This is EXTREMELY important for your well-being - emotionally, physically, and mentally. The money spent here will be more important than any baby item you may want to buy.
1. Pelvic Floor Therapist
In an ideal world (meaning insurance pays for it), you would start meeting with one at 20 weeks pregnant and they would help you avoid all the issues postpartum like fecal and urinary incontinence, back pain, pelvic pain.
However, in today’s world, it’s out of pocket. Meeting with one at around 35 weeks or thereabout will be beneficial, as you will be taught in which positions to labor so that you do not risk tearing.
The Pelvic Floor Therapist will also assess your pelvic floor and will teach you the exercises to do both before and after birth to prevent pain and tearing.
A good postnatal pelvic floor check will help in reducing any risks associated with urinary incontinence, painful intercourse, abdominal muscle separation, hernias, as well as pelvic organ prolapse – this is when the pelvic organ(s) move into the vagina because of weakness.
2. Lactation consultant
If you plan to breastfeed, get yourself one of these at 32 weeks. Make sure you see them one time before giving birth and that they can come see you at your house the day after you get home from the hospital.
Many new mothers are not able to breastfeed without the help of a lactation consultant. Also, hand expressing in the first hour after birth will help prevent any milk supply issues going forward.
This is CRITICAL as it is your insurance to have a good milk supply and a lot of moms have milk supply issues. You can’t really ensure that the baby latches correctly in the first hour after birth, so hand expressing tells your body to start producing.
You can have your partner learn how to do it, so that he can help you in the hospital if you are out of it, for any reason (like drugs, c- section, etc.)
A lactation consultant will address issues like
- Poor milk supply
- Sore nipples and breast pain
- Trouble in baby latching
- How to find the most comfortable nursing position
- Refusal of your baby to feed
- Poor weight gain in your baby
- Baby falling asleep while feeding therefore not getting enough milk
- Any problems associated with pumping breast milk
3. Newborn Care Specialist
A Newborn Care Specialist is specifically trained to care for newborn babies and assist new parents in the first several weeks postpartum, which can be a nightmare if not properly planned for.
Having a Newborn Care Specialist may just turn out to be THE BEST THING EVER. Sleep is so important to healing and to milk production (if you are planning to breastfeed).
A NCS can provide their support anywhere from 3 nights a week to 7 nights a week and can be available from 10pm - 7am for the first 12 weeks. Besides providing their invaluable support at nighttime, they will also teach you everything that you need to know, e.g.,
- How to swaddle the baby
- How to give by baby a bath and change him
- How to care a circumcision
- How to sooth the baby and encourage regular sleep patterns
- How to best organize the nursery for efficiency – literally everything!
Benefits of getting yourself a Newborn Care Specialist
i. Getting Settled at home will be made easier – Transitioning from being pregnant to taking care of a little person needing your 100% support all day every day is not easy, both physically and emotionally.
ii. Creating a good routing –
iii. Fewer Bedtime Struggles – This is because the NCS will help put your baby to sleep most of the nights in the first weeks, giving you more time to learn how to do it.
iv. More Uninterrupted Sleep for both you and baby – The NCS will help create a good sleeping routine for the baby quickly. She can help shape baby’s sleep, so that they are sleeping through the night as soon as they are 10 weeks old.
v. A lot of support – The NCS will also be there with you during those middle of the night feedings, so it doesn’t get too lonely.
You may experience the four-month sleep regression with your little one, so he may no longer sleep through the night at this age, but he will be better than a lot of other babies out there because of the proper sleep routing introduced from birth. .
It is important to book a Newborn Care Specialist early enough, as soon as at 17 weeks pregnant! Every mom who said oh I want to figure it out first then later wanted help at night couldn’t find it once they wanted it. Don’t make this mistake!
Also, if you agree that your partner sleeps during the night because you have a Newborn Care Specialist, he can take care of you both during the day, handling all the bills, any house matters, making your every meal, and giving you some time to nap during the day.
4. Meal Train
Sadly, not many people are open to the idea of a meal train, but it can be a lifesaver if planned out well! Let some of your family members (and even friends) band together to prepare and deliver meals to you. This can be done for a week or so, depending on how much help you will be needing during this time.
Some people avoid the meal train idea where people might just deliver some fast food! It is therefore important that the people on your meal train understand your preference. You can also take the option of a food delivery service, making sure to eat healing food postpartum.
NUMBER 2 – BREASTFEEDING
Breastfeeding is a skill, take your time to learn it, have patience with yourself and grace and keep going, don’t give up even when it gets tough because it’s so rewarding once you both figure it out. Nursing your baby will probably be the favorite part of your days with him – especially during the rougher days.
Breastfeeding is also a science experiment - every baby is different, every person’s set of nipples, boobs, bodies are different. Be your own scientist... You can set out to experiment every day until you find that rhythm that works for you and your baby!
Before you give birth, you will probably buy a bunch of things, but immediately after, you will realize there are so many other things that you need. So here is the full list.
Also, the first thing you should do is buy one of these and measure your nipples at like 37 weeks. Sizing correctly is SO IMPORTANT for pumping and everything else and prevents nipple pain. You might also change sizes post birth so good to have this on hand to resize yourself.
1. Nipple Shields - These help the baby learn how to latch in the beginning if they are struggling. Our nipples are not always symmetrical. It is possible to even have one nipple that is displaced (which means it goes inverted when you hand express it). Your baby may have trouble latching on that one, so using these shields will be important. Carry these in your hospital bag because you will be able to latch your baby sooner.
2. Haakaa – This is a hands-free breast pump that gently draws milk out of your boob. It helps you collect milk when you are engorged from the other side that the baby is not feeding on. This also is the most pain free way to collect milk in the beginning if the pump is hurting you.
3. 2 pumps – It is better to get one stationary pump and one mobile pump. The stationary one is usually covered by insurance. The Medela Pump in style with Max Flow is a good pump, but the Spectra is equally good. Do some research and ask your lactation consultant which one they would recommend. In terms of mobile pumps, the willows is good and loved my many moms! So great for pumping on the go. The mobile pumps are expensive, so you can look out for offers.
4. Nursing Bra/Pumping bra – You need a bunch of these! There are two kinds of bras with different functions, and some brands make both functions in one. So, a nursing bra unclips at the top to expose your whole breast to nurse the baby. A pumping bra has a hole in it for the flange of the pump and it holds the pump in place. If you don’t have a pumping bra you have to hold the flanges yourself onto your chest and that’s exhausting and hard. Many new moms totally love Ingrid and Isabel as it is combined. The camis also come in as invaluable since they have the combined nursing/pumping functions and can be worn under the shirts all the time.
5. Nursing Pillow – The Brest Friend is a good one to start with. Don’t waste money on any others until you nail nursing. The Brest Friend is for the beginner and that’s what will be needed and used in the beginning. Bring this to the hospital as well!
6. Nursing pads – you will need these for leakage in the beginning, but it goes away eventually. As the muscles around your nipples get stronger, you stop leaking. The reusable ones may be the best option because they are soft and absorb more than the disposable ones.
7. Nursing Covers - Okay so Instagram targets everyone for this one but this is not useful in the beginning until you get good at nursing. You want something like this so you can see the baby while you nurse and latch them.
8. Silverettes - they heal your nipples in between feeds to the point where they don’t hurt at all for the next feed, and they are antifungal and antibacterial.
9. Colostrum collectors - Bring these to the hospital to hand express into.
10.- Nipple cream - This one is a must have. Try different kinds and stick with that which works best for you.
11. - Formula - you might need some in the beginning before your milk comes in depending on how delivery goes, pregnancy complications, etc. Make sure to choose those formulas that do not have corn syrup in them or cruddy oils. The best two in the market include Bobbie and By Heart. You can get just one can or two, because you will not be sure of when your milk will come in. You might end up using just about half a can or you end up using more, or not us
12. Elvie Catch - Great for catching milk to save when you are leaking, which happens a lot the first 2-3 months.
13. Need sharpies, freezer bags and storage containers to store and freeze milk – There are lots of different options on the market, so you will choose depending on your preference and freezer space. If you plan on freezing milk, you will want to get a treasure chest freezer as milk lasts longer in those than a typical standing freezer (6 months vs 1 year).
14. Lactation massager - This is SO useful for helping during pumping, getting a clog out, helping with engorgement – basically any issue.
15. Electrolytes and Lactation boosting snacks - Linked my favorites.
16. Breast Therapy pack – This is great for engorgement and clogs.
NUMBER 3 – BABY STUFF
In this section, there are a lot of things that must be bought, and most moms know what they want. So, what is listed here are those things that you do not think to buy but ended up needing.
1. Electric nail file
2. Electric nose sucker and Saline Spray to clean their nose.
3. Baby Booger picker
4. Muslin blankets – These are used as sheets for a lot of things (cover the changing table, cover the sheet in the crib, etc.). You can get any brand that you like.
5. Baby Tylenol (a brand that makes baby Tylenol without weird ingredients called Genexa) – These might be needed for fevers from vaccines.
6. Gripe Water - helps ease digestion and get rid of their hiccups. It will be a life saver in the beginning, no matter whether they are breastfed or formula fed.
7. Otteroo - You can start giving your baby a full bath once their belly button heals.
8. Baby Ointment - This is great for cuts, scratches, wounds (and even circumcision if it’s a boy).
9. Diapers – Just adding this one to this list just because it is always controversial. The coterie, is a clean product with no toxins or blow outs.
The motherhood experience will make you stronger, give you a sense of purpose, and totally shift your priorities. The reward will be that your heart bursts with a kind of love that you have never experienced before!
*Credit given to Nicky Stone for the extraordinary information she compiled from her personal experiences! Thank you.