Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From One Mom to a New Mom: Tips for Before You Deliver

I have said it a million times, I feel, but really - I have learned more from parenting Baby B than I did with both of my boys combined.  Age and maturity have helped me get a better grasp on what I should be doing as a mom.  It is fun watching friends get ready for their first babies and raise their first babies and I find myself giving tidbits of advice when asked.  Occasionally I become "that woman" who gives the unsolicited advice when I feel like the parent really should know something - and it is almost always that bit of advice I wish someone would have shared with me.

The more I sit and ponder how amazing it is to be a parent in 2014, the more I thought about what I really want to say to mom and dad-to-be's before they welcome their new baby into their lives and home.  So here are my tips you should read BEFORE you get to the end of your pregnancy.

1.  Don't plan on drugs at the hospital.  I was induced with my first son (at age 20) due to medical issues with him, which ultimately led to pitocin which lead to the epidural to ease the pain.  I was still scared of the pain when I had my second son, so again I had the pitocin and the epidural.  During my third pregnancy, I was blessed to have watched several friends show me the strength I could unleash from inside of me.  Friends of mine had successful homebirths, drug free -  if they could do it, so could I.  I did my research; I watched videos and read books and talked with my doctor.  At age 31 I was going to show how strong women really are and do this birth thing all natural.  Thanks to the support of my husband, an amazing doula, and encouraging nurses and my doctor - I had Baby B WITHOUT DRUGS.  It hurt.  Honestly, I think the pain helped me get her out faster.  I was in such a state of euphoria during my labor that never happened with my previous two children, that I felt like She-rah.  The rush of endorphin's after I had my daughter was amazing and I felt so at peace afterwards.  So I am here to say, "You can do it!  You can do it without drugs!"  Believe in yourself and the power you DO have inside of you.  You can get more information on the relationship between drugs and labor complications here.  Watch the video - it is so informative!  

Seconds after birth.

"Hmmm...real life is not what I imagined."

2. Have a Birth Plan. Going on from no-drugs, make sure you know what you want during your labor, delivery, and hours after birth.  It is harder to make decisions while you are going through all of that.  Having a plan in place and people that know your plan will make everything smoother.  With my first child, I wanted certain people in the room with me during delivery, but in the heat of the moment - other people came in and photos were taken and things did not go the way I wanted them to.  And I was in no position to say anything about it as I was pushing a baby out.  By the time I had Baby B, I knew what I wanted.  My husband and I did our research.  We decided to only have ourselves, my doula (best decision ever!!!) and my mom in the room.  We opted for delayed cord clamping to give my baby extra nutrients.  Measurements and wiping down the baby were delayed to give me an hour of skin-to-skin time to encourage bonding.  We had measurements taken after that golden hour and then my husband had an hour of skin-to-skin time before we allowed anyone else to hold Baby B.  We delayed bath time so she could stay under the protection of her vernix.  We knew what measures we wanted taken if a complication arose with either the baby or I.  The amazing thing was that I hardly knew about any of this stuff!  I am so glad I was told about all of these natural processes ahead of time so that my baby could start life out with a positive start.  The template I used for my birth plan can be found here.

3. Take belly photos.  This is something I did not do with either of my sons and it was sad to not have them to compare my belly with each week.  It is fun to look back and see how my baby girl was growing and I wish I had the same memories from my first two pregnancies.  

4. Babywear!  I was introduced to the world of babywearing by my Doula and was invited to a local babywearing group through an old friend from college who had started up a group.  Babywearing has made life easier - I can get chores done, dinner cooked, and go shopping without struggling with a handful of baby.  I prefer my Ergo, but also highly recommend Tula's and Kinderpacks.  On occasions we use ring slings.  Many women prefer woven wraps; there are so many beautiful options out there.  Check your area for local groups.  They are everywhere! 

5. Look into cloth diapering.  It is easier than you think!  While there are tons of cloth diapering options out there for all lifestyles and budgets, we found All-in-Ones worked best for our family.  They are all one piece, hence the name, and function similar to a disposable.  My husband loves that they are so easy and we are saving money.  We have spent around $500 on diapers and we will never have to purchase another diaper again.  Disposables will run the average family close to, if not over, $2000.  We are also not contributing to landfill pileups which is a huge perk for this mom who wants a beautiful world for her children.  Last fall a friend turned her nose up at my cloth diaper and stated,"I won't cloth diaper because I don't want to touch poop."  Another perk to cloth diapering?  NO BLOWOUTS!  All the time I hear about how friends who have used disposables had to clean poop off of car seats, clothes, floors, and high chairs because the 'sposie couldn't contain it all.  After 11 months of cloth diapering and many large messes - we have yet to have a blowout thanks to the genius design of cloth diapers.  And I have not had to touch any poop. ;)

I also make my own wipes and wipes solution.

6. Don't waste your money. There are so many things out there for babies that you just do not need.  I hear the same items making this "list" all of the time.  They include: bottle warmers, wipe warmers, fancy baby bathtubs, cribs (if you co-sleep or bed share), and baby shoes.  Really think about each item you purchase and register for.  Is it worth the cost?  How long will it realistically be used for?  Can I find it second-hand?  So many items like jumperoo's and walkers are not used for long and can be found for less money through online yard sales and friends.

7. Make sure you have breastfeeding support. Breastfeeding isn't always a cake walk.  Sometimes it can be a real struggle for weeks or months.  However, it is highly rewarding, providing essential nutrients to baby that formula just cannot replicate and providing countless benefits to the mama.  The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until age 2, worldwide average is 3-7 years old.  When you do not have a support team in place for breastfeeding, you tend to give up sooner.  I am constantly around breastfeeding moms, so it always surprises me that we are not in the majority.  So few moms continue to breastfeed after 6 months of age even when breast milk is the best source of nutrition and is easier to prepare than formula.  *I am not anti-formula - there are few cases where parents must use formula, I am not attacking those families.  One of the best things you can do is to surround yourself with women who are breastfeeding and will offer support when you need it most.

Breastfeeding Baby B just a few hours after birth.

8. Skip the bucket seat.  Car seats are expensive.  There are also so many options out there that making a choice can be confusing.  Many parents feel they need the bucket seat; then after the first year when their baby has outgrown the bucket seat, they spend more money on a convertible car seat.  THEN, once the baby becomes a small child, they spend MORE money purchasing a booster seat.  Here is some fantastic news: they make seats that will grow with your child from birth until they are out of car seats!  Hooray!!!  We actually purchased the Graco SnugRide 35 and ended up using it for 4 months before we switched Baby B to a Diono Radian RXT.  I wish I had just started with this seat.  It is the only seat she will ever need.  Instead of spending $150 for a bucket seat, and then $200+ for a convertible; we could have just purchased the convertible!  
Trying out the seat before it is installed!

While I have your attention about car seats, here are a few important tips:
1. Check out Car Seats for the Littles to get updated safety information on carseats.
2. The LAW in every state in the U.S. states that children must be a year old AND 20lbs to rear face.  That is not either or, it is both.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear facing until AT LEAST age 2.  Here are some informative (and scientific!) links to help you learn more.  Rear Facing Myths Busted & Science Behind Rear Facing.  The video below shows the crash test dummies in rear facing and forward facing accidents.  

9.  RESEARCH EVERYTHING.  The last bit of advice I have is to do your research.  While you are pregnant, before baby arrives.  Decide how you want to handle vaccinations.  Learn about giving solids and why so many parents are opting to skip cereals which are often pushed by doctors (who are often not trained in infant nutrition.)  Read your car seat manual through and through - make sure you know proper use and have correct installation - this device can save your baby's life!  Read about Baby Led Weaning (I think it is awesome) and why so many parents are starting solids this way.  Learn about the different theories behind sleep training and decide what you want to do (or none at all!)  Read about the different baby carriers and why some are not recommended.  Just know your stuff and follow the law!

No matter what, make the best decisions for your baby and your family.  No one way is right for every mom, baby and family.  You will make mistakes.  You will learn new ways and find what works best for you.  Welcome to the journey of parenthood with all of it's ups & downs.  Good luck!  

Natural Hospital Birth: An excellent book teaching you about getting through labor without the drugs.
Kelly Mom offers fantastic support and advice for breastfeeding and parenting. 
La Leche Leauge: Breastfeeding support. 
Aha! Parenting: Tons of advice for parenting all ages.
Money Saving Moms: Helping you with meal plans, couponing, and saving money.

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