Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cloth Diapering

Interested in giving cloth diapering? Read this guest post from Claire, a FuzziBunz distributor.

Getting started using cloth diapers can be a bit daunting — there is definitely a learning curve! Here is some glossary-style info that will hopefully clue you in to the new world of cloth — no pins and plastic pants. These are not our mother's cloth diapers!

Cost: I don't know the cost if you have to use a laundromat to wash, but if you have your own washer and dryer, the cost is WAY less than disposables. The difference is in the thousands of dollars, so even using a laundromat you would save lots and lots of money using cloth. It is completely ridiculous how much money we throw away on disposables. Literally. They are about 25 cents a piece!

Here's how the yearly cost breaks down, using the new "perfect size" FuzziBunz as an example:

Cloth 0-6 months: $359 (20 @ $17.95/each)

Disposable 0-6 months: ~$250

Cloth 6 mth - 2 1/2 years: $287 (16 @ $17.95/each)

Disposable 6 mth - 2 1/2 years: ~$813


Cloth: $646 (20 @ $18.95/each)

Disposable: $1,063

Cloth x 3 kids: $646

Disposable x 3 kids: $3,189 (assuming prices don't go up)

Another great way to go is one-size, again, using FuzziBunz as the example:

Cloth 0-3 years: $379 (for 20 at $18.95 each)

Disposable 0-2 1/2 years: $1,063

Even factoring in washing and drying, you are still coming out way ahead. The initial upfront cost is the part that can be a little daunting, but save up — it is worth it! Or get fewer at the beginning, and as you would like more, or budget for more, get them then. I sell FuzziBunz, and can get a good deal for you.

Accessories: You'll need a diaper pail with a liner. I put baking soda in the bottom of my pail, a lovely citrus-colored circle at the top and use a mesh bag to hold the diapers/inserts. This is the diaper pail that I have. I just got it at Target (or for a baby shower gift ... hmm ... I should remember). I also had this one for a little while, but it was for my disposables (yes, I had two diaper pails). FuzziBunz has a great diaper bag that you can hang wherever, and soon I'll be replacing my pail with it!

When I first started I used prefold diapers, but now I only use them for changing pads. They are perfect. For poopy diapers, I take the diaper in the prefold to the toilet, swish a little and put it back in the prefold to take to the pail.

Changing: Depending on the type of diaper you use, you'll be need to change a diaper about every 2 to 4 hours — very similar to a disposable. The hemp/microfiber inserts can hold a lot.

Diaper Rashes: You can use cloth with diaper rashes, but you have to use a liner because you don't want to stain the diapers or inhibit the diapers absorbency. When my babies got bad rashes I used disposables ...or nothing at all. I'd just sit them on a soft cotton prefold with their bums covered in all sorts of stuff, because I could care less if my prefolds aren't absorbent!

Laundry: Do you have your own washer and dryer? If not, CDing could be kind of a pain. Again, depending on how many you get determines how often you do laundry. 24 is a good number for newborns, and that puts you doing laundry every 2nd or 3rd day. 18 is good for mediums, again, doing laundry every 3rd day.

Newborns: I wouldn't start using cloth until your baby is a couple of weeks old. The meconium just isn't fun with any diaper! And give yourself time to adjust to a new baby in the house!

Nighttime Diapering: If your kids are anything like mine, they are super-pee-ers at night time! Even double-stuffing the diapers didn't hold everything, which meant that the moisture-wicking advantage of micro-fleece didn't work and there would be red bums in the morning. Disposables can hold SO much liquid! Have you ever forgotten a swim diaper and left them in a normal one in the pool? Crazy.

Also, I use disposables on trips. It's just not so fun toting the diaper pail around, or doing laundry at your in-law's house.

The Poop: I swish dirty diapers a little in the toilet before putting them in the pail. It really isn't bad. :o) Prefolds are handy to have so you don't drip on the way from the toilet to the pail. Eew! Blowouts are no more common in good cloth diapers than in disposables.

And now, some types of diapers and their accessories for you to choose from:

All-in-one (AIO) Diapers: These are just what they sound like — it's all there. No stuffing or anything. But they are more apt to hold smells and take longer to dry. {BumGenius, Swaddlebees}

Contour & fitted diapers: Shaped diapers made to fit under a cover. Contours don't have leg elastic or snaps, fitteds do. A less expensive option. {Kissaluvs}

One-size: A diaper meant to last from birth to potty training. {BumGenius, FuzziBunz, Happy Heinys}

Pocket diaper: You put an insert into a shell - usually with PUL (waterproof material) on the outside and microfleece that touches baby's skin. They clean very well and dry fast. {FuzziBunz, Swaddlebees, Happy Heinys}

Prefolds with covers: Definitely the least expensive, but the cotton against the baby's skin has to be changed as soon as it gets wet to avoid irritation and rashes. Ouch. This is what our mom's used — only no pins this time around. There are great little contraptions called Snappis that hold the prefold in place.

Sized diapers: Specifically sized for weight/height/etc. {FuzziBunz, Swaddlebees}

Covers: Necessary for contoured, fitted and prefold diapers. {Bummis, Swaddlebees}

Diaper Doubler: Basically another insert that you put in your diaper when you want some extra absorbency. Usually a little smaller than a regular insert.

Inserts: What you put into a pocket diaper. Made of microfiber, hemp or cotton. The first two are the least bulky, and are super absorbent. Most come with a microfiber insert.

Liners: These go between the baby's bum and the diaper. They can be made of anything, but the best ones are made of microfleece because of the wicking capability. They make for easy poop changes. They also have flushable liners so there is never any swishing. I've tried them though, and they tend to just give wedgies because they don't stay in place very well.

Microfleece: A super-thin fleece that causes the moisture to wick away from baby's skin, so when you change your baby their little bum is dry.

I hope that answers some questions ... and probably brings up more — so feel free to email me!


Monday, March 29, 2010

For all you pregos out there ...

Listen to this little ditty. Call me emotional, but it makes me cry every time I listen to it because it reminds me of the magical moments of pregnancy.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gotta See this.

The Belly Mamas can't wait for this documentary about all-things baby. Click here for the preview.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Baby Sleep Training: What I Found to be True

Alright, peeps. Its the post you've all been waiting for. The one that's going to magically make your baby sleep through the night starting at day one.

We certainly wish so, right?

I would bet money that most moms would say the #1 challenge of having a newborn baby is the lack of sleep (unless they have the perfect child that sleeps through the night at day one). There are not many things worse than being woken up several times in the night over and over and over again. Who likes to function on a few hours nights of rest? Not me. And I am pretty sure not you either. Knowing this about myself, I was set on teaching my baby sleeping skills fresh out of the womb. Of course every mom has their own theory as to what's the best way to get babies to sleep through the night. You may find that what works for me may not necessarily work for you. It's up to you to decide what is best for you and your baby. With that said, let me share with you some things that I found to be true in helping babies sleep at an early age.

Now let me get up on my soap box.

For some, there is this notion that babies shouldn't be put on a schedule until they are older. I don't know where people get this idea. My theory is this:
they are going to have to learn good sleep habits sooner or later. Why not sooner, rather than later? It will be so much harder for them to learn them when they are older and already have their patterns and habits fixed, and may even cause some serious stress for both of you. Start good habits early on! Babies thrive on schedules. They will trust you and feel more secure when they have a consistent and good sleeping routine. I also believe that babies are happier and less fussy when they are on good sleeping schedules and getting the sleep they very much need (much like adults). There is nothing more secure and comforting for a baby than a predictable schedule. Scheduled naps and scheduled bedtimes are all important for a new baby. They know what to expect. Also, it gets them into predictable routines and habits that will make them better sleepers for the rest of their lives.

Of course, each baby will vary on when they begin to sleep through the night. However, I feel that sticking to these following suggestions will help your child be a better sleeper, getting you the nighttime sleep you have been eagerly waiting for.

(With that said I want you to keep in mind that simply because you are following a schedule does not guarantee a sleeping baby through the night. Especially in the first few months, your baby may be getting up several times to eat. That is ok. Doctors say that by four months your child can safely sleep through the night without needing to get up to eat. By this time you can be training your child to sleep through the night if you want to get a full night's sleep yourself. Some babies may even start sleeping through the night earlier without needing to get up to eat, and some may even take a little longer, but keep in mind the 4-month mark.)

ROUTINE: Babies love routines. Routines help your baby know what to expect at bedtime so they learn that its time to sleep. As part of bedtime routine I try to remember the 6 Bs. Here they are:
Body lotion
Bottle (or boob)

You can obviously add to or change this list and make it your own. Its not so important what you do, but that you do the same thing each night. You can also modify your routine for naps so babies can distinguish the difference.

*Keep in mind: Later to bed does not mean later to rise! Babies actually sleep much better when they go to bed earlier. Doctors say the prime time is anywhere from 7:30 to 8pm.

- Swaddling seems to work best for most babies. Babies like to feel secure and safe and swaddling seems to do just that. It is also said to be a safety precaution against SIDS. As they get older and swaddling becomes less optimal, you can begin training your baby to fall asleep without being swaddled (we will save that for another post down the road).

- Some mothers find that putting on some soft music before bed helps their baby sleep better. I actually felt the opposite. I found that little to no stimulation was the best type of atmosphere (the only exception being a white noise- a fan, for example). A very dark, quiet room is best to reduce the amount of stimulation they get while sleeping. The reason being- babies are constantly being stimulated throughout the day and it's important for them to not be overstimulated. Overstimulation will make it harder for them to sleep. Nap time and bedtime should be a time where stimulation is almost nonexistent.
- Doctors say that babies sleep better in a comfortably cool room with more layers (versus a warm room with less layers). This also stands true in preventing SIDS.
- For naps in the day, purchasing some blinds or drapes to cover the windows is a great way to block out the light. "Night lights" are not very necessary for young babies. In fact, I would not recommend them until your baby is starting to be potty-trained and will need to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

SLEEP TRAINING METHODS: There are several sleep training methods that are used. Everyone likes their own for their own reasons. Here I have shared a few with my personal feelings about each one.

1. Crying it Out: Some moms are against this method with the idea that crying is harmful for the baby, or unkind and a betrayal of the trust your baby is developing about the world around him.  Some mothers simply find it difficult themselves to hear their little one crying (and if you find you are that way then maybe this is a method you do not want to choose). Sleep experts who support the CIO method say it isn't traumatic for babies to cry alone for short periods of time with frequent check-ins by Mom or Dad — and the end result is a well-rested, happier child. They say no-tears sleep strategies may cause babies to be overly dependent on comfort from a parent at bedtime, making it harder for them to learn to soothe themselves to sleep. You'd be surprised that as hard as it is to let them cry out it out- they quickly learn how to go to sleep without crying at all, making it much easier for you and for whoever may be watching your baby. It is also a great way to help your little one learn to sleep on his/her own, creating great sleep habits for the long run.  There are many great books on the market that give more information supporting each side. Ultimately, it is up to you to make a decision that is best for you and your baby.

2. Feeding to Sleep: I believe this to be one of the worst ways to train your baby to go to sleep. Not only does it make your baby dependent on feeding to sleep (making it hard on you) but it teaches them poor eating habits as well. 

3. Rocking to Sleep: if you are going to rock your baby to sleep, then you will most likely need to rock your baby to sleep every night. They will learn that to be their routine and they will need it. If you don't want to have to be dependendent on rocking your child in order for them to fall asleep at night, then I'd recommend you do not do it. 

4. Binky for Bed: Binky or no binky. Here are the pros and cons with regards to bedtime- the binky will help them fall asleep and can be a good source for getting the couple extra hours you might want in the morning. Downside- you'll have to get out of bed to put it in their mouth. You can really go either way with this and still have a great sleeping baby. 

5. A lil bit of everything: This makes the least sense to me. Inconsistency will only confuse your baby making it harder for him to sleep. 

CONSISTENCY: With whatever method you choose, consistency is vital. If you are going to teach your baby to go to sleep on his own with the crying out method, then you have to let him cry it out. You can't let him cry it out one night, and the next night go get him out and rock him to sleep. This will only throw him off and interrupt what you are trying to teach him. When your baby is in bed, he needs to stay in bed. The second you take him out of the crib you are teaching him that in order to go back to sleep mom has to come get me and rock me back to sleep (otherwise i will cry and cry until she does so). If he gets up in the middle of the night, give him a minute to see if he can soothe himself back to sleep. This is so important for a baby to learn in order to have good sleep habits as he gets older. If he is really having trouble going back to sleep, then it may be a good opportunity to go in and give him his binky (if you are using one).

*Keep in mind, however, that situations may warrant a change in method for a short time being (ex. if your baby is ill, a new atmosphere, as your baby gets older, etc.).

NAPS: I can not stress enough how important naps are throughout the day. When babies get their scheduled naps throughout the day they will sleep so much better at night. They will be less fussy and happier. Make sure your baby is having consistent naps and getting the recommended sleep he/she needs. Here is a good link to give you a general idea of the amount of sleep your little one should be getting.

CONFIDENCE: Being the confident capable mother that you are is so important. Babies can sense stress, anxiety, and worry and it can make them irritable. Remember, you can do this! You are a great mom! Just because your baby is crying or is not sleeping does not mean you are a bad or an incompetent mother. Part of confidence also entails sticking to something you are going to do. You need to follow through with your decisions. Be confident with your teaching and habit forming.

Lastly, remember that each baby is unique and may vary in sleep training. What may work for one baby may not work for another. Ultimately it's up to you to make the best decision for you and your baby.

I know that's a load of information all at once about a somewhat controversial topic. I hope some of my personal insight helps.

Stay tuned for my upcoming post on helping Mom sleep too.

In the meantime, sweet dreams!

- Dayna

Friday, March 19, 2010

How to Look Awake when You're Tired

So, I was running outside on a sunny, beautiful day (yesterday). I loved feeling the sun on my face and the impact of my feet slamming the sidewalk. I saw a couple approaching, and when they passed me, the girl turned to the boy and said, "Oh, she needs more sleep! She has bags under her eyes."


But I can't blame her. I do need more sleep. And I do have bags under my eyes. Next time I go for a morning run, I'll think twice before skipping the under-eye cover-up — especially after a night of waking up every couple of hours.

As I was making my way home from that bittersweet run, I thought I'd share some tips with you tired mamas and mamas-to-be on how to look more awake than you really are. You better believe I'm going to follow these a little more closely now.

Cover up those bags. It's called concealer for a reason, ladies. I like Mary Kay concealer because for $10, you get a tube that can last you a couple of years. I also like Maybelline's Mineral Power concealer because it's light and not cakey at all. If you have a concealer you love, please share.

Red is dead. When it comes to eyeshadow, avoid colors with red or dark pink tones — they'll highlight the red in and around your eyes. Light pink, on the other hand, is great for awake-looking eyes and glowing cheeks. Green (the 80s are back!) and white and creme are good eyeshadow colors too.

Rub it in. A gentle eye cream is a must for tired eyes. I currently use and like Neutrogena Radiance Boost, 
and I've heard good things about Aveda Tourmaline Charged and Garnier Anti-Puff. I'd love to hear what you gals use.

Ice, Ice Baby. Place a cube of ice or the corner of an ice pack under your eyes before applying makeup. It will constrict your blood vessels and reduce puffiness. 

Getting your blood pumping. Exercising for even for 20 minutes a day will do wonders for your energy level, your ability to sleep better and your circulation, which means looking (and feeling) less tired. Even if you can't go for a jog outside or fit in a session at the gym, just do some Pilates hundreds at home or a workout video to get some great benefits. I'm loving Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred — it's only 20 minutes long!

Catch some Zs. Maybe chasing them down, tackling them to the ground and  tying them up is a more accurate idiom for us, right? But the truth is, sleep (even a 15-minute catnap) is obviously the best way to look and feel less tired. Stay tuned for a post from Dayna on how to sleep better.

Until then, I wish you many days in this beautiful Spring (almost) weather without any comments on the bags under your eyes.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Discount: Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic

The Belly Mamas love baby clothes from Gap and Old Navy. So soft and so cute.

Click here to get 30% off your purchase (online or in-store) now through this Saturday. A lot of items are already on sale, so you could get some serious steals with this discount.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sleeping Like a Baby: Newborn Sleep Tips

There isn't anything quite like slipping peacefully into dreamland ... and staying there for a full eight hours. I lovvvve my sleep and before I got pregnant would sleep deeply, long, and wouldn't wake until those precious eight hours had ticked away. I would usually wake up slowly, taking in those beautiful morning hours, and then find my way to the bathroom to get ready for the day. My, how times have changed.

The first few months of pregnancy weren't too bad at all {sleep wise}. The little baby inside me was still small enough that I could sleep on my stomach with ease. Then the second trimester set in. Tossing and turning all night got really old, really fast. I longed for the nights when I got eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Eventually, though, at some point during the night I found the perfect spot and got enough sleep to hold me over until my afternoon nap. That was when I was pregnant.

Fast forward with me now to the first day of my son's life. I was exhausted, but also in awe at this brand new baby! Words couldn't describe how proud, happy and amazed I was. It was a great day. He slept like a champ in the hospital and the nurses would wake me when it was time to feed him. I loved it. Life was good.

Then, we went home. I don't know what happened, but our baby did NOT want to sleep. At all. Those first few nights were rough and all I wanted was two hours of sleep. Two! But there seemed to be something wrong all night and he just wanted to be held and cuddled ... How could I say no to that?!

After weeks of waking every couple of hours I thought I was going to die {ok ... it wasn't that bad. But it was pretty bad.} I was not used to this whole lack of sleep thing, and I was definitely not a fan. I started talking to everyone I knew and got their advice on teaching your baby to sleep. And oh my goodness am I glad I did! If only I had known this before our baby was born ...

The moral of the story? Don't lose hope! Though it may feel like you will never get another restful night again, you will!

Here are my top three tips to helping your baby {and you} fall fast asleep:

Establish a ROUTINE. I can't stress this enough. Babies love being on a schedule! Try to put your babe down at {relatively} the same time every night. And before wrapping them up burrito-style, have a few set activities that you do every night. {Example: Every night we give our son a bath, lotion rub down, put on jammies, read, sing, pray and say good night} This seems to clue babies in and lets them know that this is different than just nap time.

Watch the ATMOSPHERE. Who likes going to bed with the lights on and lots of noise?? Not me. Setting the mood for sleep may help out more than you think. Dim the lights and talk softly.

Try to let them FALL ASLEEP on their own. This will help out big time in the long run.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Giveaway Winner

The {randomly picked} winner of our first giveaway is Brittany!
Congratulations, Brittany. You have 48 hours from now to e-mail us with your shipping address to claim your free copy of Mommy's Little Breastfeeding Book. 

Our next giveaway is coming soon, and you're gonna love it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Breastfeeding Basics & a Giveaway

It's true — breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for your rapidly growing baby. It wards off infection and sickness for your baby. Breastfeeding helps you lose weight and it guards against postpartum depression and cancer. And it's free.

But even with all the incentives, breastfeeding can be difficult. I heard that a lot before I had my baby, and always wondered what could be so hard about something so natural. And honestly, it was not as hard or painful for me as some people made it sound. But here are some difficulties I did have:

Soreness, but it wasn't unbearable and it didn't last too long — maybe a week or two. I remember my mom telling me it gets to the point where you feel no soreness at all and I was so excited for that day to come. It did! Also, I felt like I was a milk factory because of how often I was feeding my baby (about every hour and a half in the beginning). I remember thinking "Is this all I'm going to be doing for the next year?" but the feedings get much less frequent and less time-consuming. Overall, it just takes some time and practice to get the hang of it, but in my opinion, it is well worth any inconvenience it may bring. Here are some things that will help:

Get Support. If your husband knows how beneficial breastfeeding is and how important it is to you, you are much more likely to stick with it.

Get a Boppy pillow. This magical donut-shaped pillow will become your breast friend.

Love your Lanolin. It will help you avoid sore, cracked nipples. I recommend Lansinoh Lanolin. All you need is one tube. I didn't even get through half of mine.

Feed your baby right after birth. Your newborn's suckling instincts are at their highest right when they exit the womb and are placed on your belly. Let your baby bob his/her head around and find his/her way to the nipple.

Get all the help you can. Every hospital has a lactation consultant — a one-on-one breastfeeding expert to show you the ropes. She will help your baby latch like a pro from the start, and that is invaluable. Also, take advantage of workshops your hospital offers. Nurses are always right at your fingertips and can help you as many times as you need.

Pump it up. Get an electric or manual breast pump (depending on how often you are planning on pumping) and learn how to use it before baby comes. Pumping can relieve engorged breasts, and it's nice to have some breastmilk stocked up once you introduce a bottle. That way, your husband can feed the baby while you get some rest. Also, it comes in handy when you have a babysitter, you're driving, or you're out and about and don't feel like whippin' it out in public.

Go Under Cover. Get a nursing cover. That way, you can nurse comfortably when people are around and not have to leave the party. Check out this post too see my favorite (and free!) nursing covers.

Don't Give Up. There is always help. Find your local La Leche League group for hotlines, classes and other resources to help make breastfeeding a positive experience for you.

Read all about it. There are plenty of breastfeeding web sites and books out there. Speaking of which ...

It's time for the first (of many) Belly Mamas Giveaway! One lucky reader will win a free copy of Mommy's Little Breastfeeding Book by Michele Carnesecca, a nurse and lactation consultant at American Fork Hospital in Utah.

This little book is a quick, easy read and will get you off to a great start with breastfeeding. The giveaway ends March 15th and the winner will be notified by e-mail, with 24 hours to claim the prize.

For all entries, leave a comment with your name and e-mail address and how many entries you are earning with each comment.

For one entry (required) become a follower of Belly Mamas by clicking on the right. Tell us your name and e-mail address in a comment and tell us you follow.

Extra entries:

(4 entries) Add the Belly Mamas button to your own blog and leave a comment here with a link to your blog. (If your blog is private, you'll have to invite us to view it :) )

(3 entries) Send an e-mail to 10 of your friends with a link to Belly Mamas, and copy

(2 entries) Become a fan of Belly Mamas on Facebook and leave a comment on the wall.

(1 entry) Blog about Belly Mamas on your own blog, and leave us a comment with the link to your post.
Good luck!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pregnancy and Exercise

Excuse me ladies, while I take away your pregnancy card for a minute.

While there have been (and will continue to be) many completely justifiable situations that have merited the pregnancy card, exercise isn’t one of those — despite what you may have heard.

I’m just going to lay it out — exercise during pregnancy is good. Very good. In all reality, there are very few circumstances where it isn’t. I know how much you would love to use pregnancy as your ticket to take a nine-month break from anything that involves physical activity, but trust me, you’ll be sorry later. Nine months later to be exact. Here’s why:

  • Exercise can help alleviate some of the common pregnancy woes — back pain (by strengthening the muscles that support the back) and increased circulation (which means less varicose veins, leg cramps, swollen ankles, and a couple other things that I don’t really want to delve into on a public blog — feel free to look them up).
  • Exercise can help lull you into a more peaceful, deeper slumber — which will continue to get more difficult as the pregnancy goes on. Believe me, you will want all the help you can get when it comes to sleep.
  • Exercising throughout pregnancy will help decrease unnecessary weight gain, making it easier to lose the pounds post-baby.
  • Exercise has been shown to make you feel good. Something to help balance the crazy hormones? Sign me up! This was one of the best benefits for me. I felt like it was the one thing that made me feel like myself, and I craved that.
  • Exercise can help prepare your body (and mind) for childbirth. It increases the strength of your muscles and your cardiovascular system, both of which you will use extensively during labor and delivery. I have no doubt that my weekly strength and spinning classes contributed to my awesome delivery and recovery. Both the physical and mental endurance you develop through exercise can help you go through labor like a champ.
  • Exercise will give you more energy throughout the day. Sure, during your sweat fest at the gym, you may not be feeling energetic. However, increasing your endurance and strengthening your muscles will make it easier to do everyday tasks that will become increasingly more difficult as your belly expands (rolling over in bed, anyone?).
Have I convinced you yet? In case you don’t believe me, go here and here to read more.

That being said, there are things you need to be careful of.
  • Always consult your doctor to get the OK before you start any exercise program.
  • Avoid exercising to the extent of being breathless. Also avoid contact sports, exercising in hot weather, and lying flat on your back (once you get into your 2nd trimester).
  • Above all, listen to your body.
Alright, I’ll get off my pro-exercise soap box. I guess that’s what a degree in Exercise Science has done to me. See ya at the gym, ladies.


Stay tuned this week for the first Belly Mamas giveaway!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Packing for the Hospital

I have a feeling that most first-time moms are like me when it came to packing the hospital bag. Secretly hoping my little bean would come early, I had the bag packed (ok, and my husband’s too . . . ) and in the trunk of our car way before necessary. But erring on the side of too early never hurts. It sure beat trying to get everything together while timing contractions. As for the bag itself, however, in hindsight I could have made things easier on myself. So, here are my recommendations when it comes to THE BAG:

• In all honesty, the only things you really need for baby are the car seat (install this a couple weeks beforehand too, to avoid stress) and a cute going-home outfit (Don’t worry though, your baby won’t go home naked if you don’t bring an outfit. The hospital will provide little cotton t-shirt things for your baby to wear during his or her stay, and you’re free to take baby home in this if you’d like). The hospital will provide you with diapers, wipes, and really anything else baby needs while he/she’s there. Live it up.
• Socks were the only clothing item I wanted during my hospital stay. If you feel more comfortable in a nightgown than the hospital gown, you can bring one, but it’s probably going to get nasty. So my advice? Just simplify. Wear the gown, but bring socks to keep your toes toasty. That said, you will want to bring an outfit you can go home in. It’ll probably have to be maternity clothes (sad, I know, but have hope: your pants will fit again soon.) Since you’ll still look 4-6 months preggo.
• Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste for you and your husband and a hair brush. Don’t worry about other toiletry items, since the hospital will have shampoo (it’s not Pantene, but it worked great), soap, and sanitary pads (essential). If you have to have make-up, bring it too.
• The people at a certain mother-related store basically told me that if I did not buy five nursing bras and nursing pads the hospital would kick me out. This was not true. In all likelihood, your milk won’t come in until after you leave the hospital, and even if it does, one or two bras will suffice, and the hospital will provide nursing pads.
• Bring a camera/video camera, and bring your charged cell phones. You’ll be bursting to tell everyone you just had a real live baby.

In the end, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s not what you take with you, but what you take away.  As you leave the hospital you won’t be upset that you forgot to upload your “birthing playlist” to your iPod. You’ll be focused on your new beautiful bald, diapered roommate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What to Expect (and What not to Expect) on your Labor Day

"Hee, hee, hoo" are the gentle sounds of my breathing, the lights are dimmed with soft music playing in the background. My epidural kicked in hours ago and I am sleeping through contractions while my husband holds my hand. The Dr. arrives, and with just a few pushes, my precious baby is out and placed in my arms.

Oh wait, that was just a dream.

Although for many, labor has been known to be just as dreamy — for many, it has not.

After all, it is called "labor" for a reason.

So, what I'm going to tell you is to expect the unexpected, while remembering through it all that the reward is great.

When I went to the hospital to give birth to my little boy, I had planned on an epidural.

For various reasons, no epidural was received.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

Before I went in to give birth I expected the nurses would treat me and my baby like just another patient coming through, but instead they were especially kind, going out of their way to hold my baby and visit with me.

And although my labor was completely different than what I had expected, it was beautiful all the same.

If you ask me, nothing makes you feel stronger than giving birth to a sweet new baby.

So, here are some things I think you can expect:

You might have some Braxton Hicks contractions well before your baby is ready to come. While these can be annoying and even sleep-depriving, know they are preparing your mind and body for the real thing.

When the real thing has begun, your contractions will get increasingly more intense and closer together. The best thing you can do in early labor is try your best to get some sleep. Your body is about to run the marathon of labor.

The majority of hospitals won't admit you until you are dilated to four centimeters.

You will most likely have a support team (nurses, doctor, significant other) there to cheer you on.

If you are prepared, your experience will be more pleasant (study up on natural birthing techniques even if you are planning on receiving an epidural. Epidural or not, approach labor with a strong, positive mind, believing you are strong and that your body was made to do this.

The pain of labor will end, whether by epidural or by the actual arrival of your baby.

If you deliver in a hospital, you will most likely be moved into a separate recovery room after your baby is born. Most woman stay in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours after delivery.

One thing is certain — your life will be changed forever, for good :)
happy laboring.


stay tuned for tomorrow's post on what to pack for the hospital!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues

A couple caveats to begin this post: first, postpartum depression and the baby blues aren’t the same thing. They differ in duration, severity, and treatment. Secondly, since I don’t have firsthand experience with postpartum depression, the main focus of this post will be the baby blues. However, I would like to mention post-partum depression, since it affects a significant number of woman who have babies. In fact, some women go through pre-partum depression as well, experiencing medical depression before the baby arrives. I’ve had several friends who have experienced post-partum depression, and once on the other side they’ve stressed the importance of 1.) acknowledging the problem, 2.) opening up to people you trust about what’s going on,  3.) and getting help in the form of counseling, medication, or both. Post-partum depression isn’t in your head, it isn’t a result of you being weak or not loving your baby enough, and it isn’t likely to just go away on its own, You deserve help, and so does your baby.

And what about the baby blues? Before I had my little boy, I steeled myself for my hormones to be out of whack, having read everywhere that I’d probably be a little bit down a few days after the baby arrived. I figured that since I was prepared, it’d be easier to handle the “blues.” And  I guess in a way it was helpful to know what I was feeling was normal, but it didn’t help tame those hormones one iota. 

The best way I can describe my experience with the baby blues was “unbalanced” (which I guess makes sense, given the hormonal situation). One minute I felt so lucky that my baby was healthy and that he was finally here, and the next minute I felt suddenly overcome by sadness and worry. Extreme worry was a BIG part of my experience with the blues. A couple days after I had my baby, I heard about a woman who had dropped her baby in the hospital my sister worked at (the baby was fine) and I nearly came unglued, just knowing the same thing was going to happen to me, I couldn’t stand watching the news because anything bad that had happened in the world had happened to somebody’s baby, and what if that happened to my baby someday? I know all mothers worry about their babies in this way to a degree, but it’s the degree that made it the blues. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the terrible things that could befall my little boy, topped off with feeling cruddy and just plain not like myself a lot of the time.

The good news? It felt like I’d never feel “normal” again, but after a couple of weeks, that’s what happened. It really helped to share my feelings and worries with my husband, who, knowing I wasn’t quite myself, listened patiently and let me get it all out. It also helped to write what I was thinking and feeling down in a journal—another way to get it out of my system. So hold on, find someone you can trust, and have hope. However, remember that if your worry and feelings of sadness persist, worsen, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, there is help.