Monday, September 9, 2013

Guide to postpartum living.

So, I think I know around 20 people that are pregnant.  No joke.  If this post helps anybody at all, then I feel that I have accomplished something.  Let me say that I am an information gatherer.  Most of the time, however, I don't do anything with this information.  I pinned so many things regarding pregnancy and hospital bags and how to prepare for a baby, but I honestly didn't read much of it.  I read a lot of blogs and how-to's, but didn't find any of them super helpful.  So, if you are an information gatherer like me, add this to your list of to-do's that probably won't get done.  Despite all of my attempts at preparation, honestly nothing matches the experience of just going through it.

Ok, first and foremost, if you are a first time mama, and it is really important to you to look cute in your going home outfit, I give you two claps for your effort.  Honestly, the thought never even crossed my mind.  I did, however, bring some really comfy, stretchy jersey-ish material pants, which I highly recommend.  Word to the wise: those first few days they will give you ginormous pads that may as well be diapers.  Here's a hint: if you wear pants home that are somewhat clingy, you will LOOK like you have a diaper on.  Don't say you haven't been warned.

For those first few days after delivery, I highly highly recommend witch hazel pads.  I was sent home with a big container, and I used these religiously.  I could tell a huge difference between the days that I used them and the days that I just plain forgot.  I was also sent home with a spray bottle of benzocaine numbing spray that was a life saver when I was hurting and didn't want to take a Motrin, and also helpful for that nagging itchy feeling you get when you're healing.

This is what I was given in the hospital.  If you buy witch hazel pads OTC, they will probably be labeled as hemorrhoid relief, but they are good for more than hemorrhoids, trust me.

One of the most exquisitely painful things is breastfeeding...only initially.  Once you reach the bottom of the pit where you think it is as bad as it can get, you are right, and it starts to get better.  The Little Engine That Could will be your new mantra..."I think I can, I think I can."  My best friend during this time was lanolin cream and some gel cold packs.  I am hopeful that the second time around, this might be easier...can I get some affirmation from second time mamas?

I went with Medela because that was the brand of my pump, and I am weird about things matching, but any brand is probably fine.

Invest in good nursing wear.  This list should include 3-4 nursing bras and lots of nursing tops.  FYI, there will be some leakage that occurs, so unless you want to do laundry every day, or smell like breast milk all the time, invest in 3-4 of every nursing clothing item.  I initially only bought a few nursing tops, because I honestly thought they were ridiculous, but when you nurse 8-10 times per day, you get tired of pulling your shirt down, and taking your shirt off or having various parts of your body exposed unnecessarily.  My go-to is a nursing camisole.  I usually wear this with Nike shorts on bottom and if I am expecting company or going out in public, I can just throw a t-shirt on over the cami.  I promised myself I would never be a mom that wore work-out clothes out in public unless I was on my way to the gym, or had worked out in some capacity that day.  Let's just say this is one of many promises I have broken to myself.

Sleeveless Clip Down Double Opening Nursing Cami
I bought several of these from Motherhood Maternity in various colors.  I managed to get a 3-for-1 sale, so watch for that!

Clean yourself.  To be perfectly honest, there were days I went without showering or washing my face.  Gross.  I felt gross, my mood was gross, I'm sure I smelled gross.  I discovered that even if I just jumped in the shower for a 2 minute rinse, I felt so much better.  Most days, I just washed my hair, maybe halfway blow-dried it and threw it back up in a pony-tail.  Shara, if you happen to read this, don't judge me.

Get out of the house.  Although I was restricted from exercising, I was allowed to take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood.  After Henry was 2 weeks old, I took him in his stroller for a 20-30 minute walk.  Just seeing the blue sky and getting my daily dose of sunlight did wonders.  It was so refreshing to get a change of scenery.

Go on a date night!  Hopefully you have great friends and family like us, who offer to watch your little one so you can re-connect.  I think the sooner, the better.  JP and I went on a date night between 1-2 weeks after Henry was born.  It was hard to leave Henry, but I think it would have been harder if we had waited longer.  Although we spent almost the whole time talking about Henry, it was so nice for JP and I to have a quiet moment and not worry about Henry might be needing.  These days, it is getting increasingly more rare to have an uninterrupted meal together.

I highly recommend BabyWise.  This is not a "cry it out" method, nor a strict schedule.  In fact, I find that there are a just a few golden rules to live by, and the rest comes naturally to your little one.  So far, we are 7 weeks in, and Henry is only feeding once at night and sleeps for 5 hour stretches.  I can't tell you how much stability this has given to our family.  Henry is thriving, gaining weight well, and sleeping well.  JP and I are rested and can plan our days around Henry's feeding schedule.

You don't have to read the whole thing, but I recommend skimming the parts that apply to you.

The only product I would absolutely recommend is the Graco Rock-n-play.  For the first 5 weeks of Henry's life, we put him flat on his back (Back is best!) when he was sleeping, either in his pack-n-play or in his cradle.  About 4-5 weeks, he developed a bad case of GERD, and became very fussy and restless in his sleep.  We have noticed a huge improvement in his sleep since investing in the Rock-n-play.  It is super lightweight, so we can easily lug it up and down the stairs if need be.  It is pretty well inclined, I would guess 20-30 degrees, so that he doesn't spit up or gag after feedings.

This is a life saver for babies with reflux.  

This pretty much sums up what I found to be the bare necessities during the first few weeks.  I keep marveling at the fact that one moment can change your life forever.  Thanks Henry, for giving me the previous gift of being your mama for the rest of our lives.    

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