The Road to Home Birth

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*I know that birth can be a controversial topic, as with any other controversial topic in parenting it comes down to your comfort level with the risks associated. I personally feel strongly about things like breastfeeding and natural birth and am not comfortable with the risks to the alternative; however, someone could talk to me about the importance of “extended rear-facing” until they are blue in the face and it will still not be THAT important to me. We are all different and will weigh risks differently and that’s OKAY, there is no judgement here. But I still feel it is important to share knowledge and perspective, you never know who may resonate with what you are saying.

Sometime in my daughter’s first year I watched the documentary “TheBusiness of Being Born”. It was Ricki Lake’s passion project after a hospital experience with her first son that led her to a homebirth with her second.

This documentary is a must see for all pregnant women in my opinion. It opened up my eyes to so many things regarding how we give birth in America. But even before that, I knew intuitively that my hospital birth experience just wasn’t right. I just felt in my soul that what I experienced was not supposed to be how we bring babies into the world.

Since watching that documentary a year or so ago, I threw myself into absorbing everything I could about birth. And I was more and more convinced that it had to be different the next time around.

When I thought about becoming pregnant again, I was most excited about the birth that would occur, and how I would try my damnest to have a different experience. Even though my hospital birth wasn’t ideal, I still left the experience knowing how profound, magical, transformative, and unwordly the experience of birth is (and I stand by the fact that every woman’s birth will ALWAYS be magical regardless of how they get there). It is something that cannot exactly be put into words. In a book I read, they touch on a good point, that when women are told what birth is “like”, it is usually only the anatomical/physiology part of what happens and a lot of medical terminology (and fear inducing stories). When really we should be explaining birth the way we would explain how chocolate tastes to someone who has never had the pleasure of enjoying it before, or how we would describe a sunset to the blind. I feel this would save so many more first time moms from having to go through an experience they didn’t want to realize what they could have had. In other cultures where birth is a normal occurrence and talked about positively, women are excited for it, not afraid. But regardless, it is a lot like parenthood, nothing will ever really prepare you until you are there. It is a rite of passage. One I do not want to be numb for, one I want to experience fully.

I knew I would hire a doula the second time around and knew there was a Birth Center close by. So when becoming pregnant, this is who I called first. Now by this time, I had absorbed a lot of information regarding birth. Ina May Gaskin (A world-renowned midwife and the recipient of many honorary Ph.D.’s) was basically my hero. I was no longer naive when going through the process.

I knew that birth was a natural process that went best when left alone and when women were free to move intuitively. I knew it was an incredibly important spiritual event in a woman’s life yet it is treated like a routine medical procedure. I knew that giving birth on your back was the least effective position but was the easiest for doctors to deliver babies. I knew that continuous fetal monitoring has not been shown to produce any better fetal outcomes yet lead to many unnecessary C-sections and kept women strapped to their hospital beds. I knew that our bodies were designed to shut down labor when we feel unsafe or afraid (imagine what an OB counting down the hours you’ve been in labor pressuring a cesarean actually does to labor). I knew that all a woman needs to do is eat a little something and relax to get her labor back on track (and that the risks to eating in labor were outdated and non-existent). I knew that all of the drugs that are given to you like candy during the course of a typical hospital birth are most likely the cause of the many complications that arise in labor but the risks are rarely explained beforehand. I knew that inductions and repeat planned c-sections have been on the rise the last twenty years and without any true medical reasoning. I knew that a lot of women pre-hospital era died from childbirth due to infections from unsanitary conditions prior to the emergence of antibiotics yet the use of maternity hospitals receives all of the credit for the decrease in maternal death. I knew the very scary and very real risks associated with cesarean sections. And I knew that the US has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in all of the developed world yet has the most resources (with >90% of women giving birth in hospitals) and that something was wrong with that picture.

All in all, I felt that the hospital institution worked against the natural flow of labor, and if anything perpetuated the problems they say they are there to fix. All while coming out as the hero who saved your baby. To me, the hospital was the enemy, albeit a well intentioned one. Yes, they have a place and that is for emergencies and high risk pregnancies. But a VAST MAJORITY of births are not emergencies and I am much more afraid of a C-Section happy Obstetrician than I am of giving birth naturally out of a hospital (not to mention assisted home birth has been shown time and time again to be just as safe if not safer than hospital birth for low risk women) And again, it is not entirely their fault. The hospital is an institution who has legal and financial responsibilities; they have to answer to insurance companies and have been sued over and over again for malpractice. Obstetricians have multiple patients and women in labor at a time and just simply cannot give you that one on one support (that women deserve and have always had). But this is why I wanted to get away from this setting. I do not want to be just a name on a chart being put through an assembly line. I want to be treated like an individual going through a life changing, powerfully emotional experience. And I just do not feel a hospital setting can give me all of this.

So…When I toured the first birth center and I heard things like “We have a 30% hospital transfer rate for “failure to progress”” (A term coined by ONE Doctor’s study in 1955 and the reason for many potentially unnecessary interventions), a red flag went off. This sounded like the same song and dance I heard from the “institution”. I also found the center to be very cramped and crowded. Now, you have to remember this isn’t my first rodeo. I remember the intense pain of labor very well. I knew the only way I was going to be able to do this was if I had freedom and space to move. I decided not to go back.

I don’t know what made me do it , but I googled “midwives” one day and a website came up of a homebirth midwife pair in the area. I instantly fell in love with their philosophy and the overall feel of what they did. I made an appointment to meet with them. I had played around with the idea of homebirth before becoming pregnant but I guess at the time it still seemed all a little too “hippy-esque” for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew this is what I was looking for. I wanted that gentle midwifery model of care, I wanted my care providers to believe in my body’s ability to birth. I want them to know me and I to know them when it comes time for the baby to come. I want to be comfortable to get through the hard work and intensity that labor brings without medication and when I thought about it, aren’t I the most comfortable when I’m at home? Upon meeting them, I knew that they would not put me in harms way, but more importantly I knew that they would not react out of fear and overly caution and allow interventions to happen unnecessarily. They believed in nurturing and supporting the expectant mother and that confidence was extremely important. It came down to this, and this is important because I think this is the MOST important thing when choosing a care provider: I trusted them. And the truth was,  I no longer trusted the medical institution when it came to birth and I didn’t think that was something that I could get back.

There was one major downfall however. Most insurance companies do not recognize homebirth and do not cover any of it.  So the cost is completely out of pocket. The cost is $4900 plus $250 for the birth pool rental, plus $800 for the doula. Now when you think about it, this is pretty cheap. The $4900 cost is the cost of my entire prenatal care by the midwives, their time and skills at the birth which could take a day or more, AND my postpartum care. A typical hospital birth alone costs anywhere from 17k – 37k depending on if you had a cesarean section. You would think insurance companies would be encouraging homebirth with how much cheaper it is, but instead they work against it. Of course this angers me, as a woman I should decide how I want to bring my child into the world, and the choice should not be an illusion. I also found out that my insurance company would cover all but $400 a night of a hospital or birth center birth making the financial decision even harder. Our family had only been on one income for less than six months. You see the dilemma we were in and how big of a decision it was.

I decided to give one more birth center a try. However, it was an hour away. During the initial tour, I really liked it. They showed a video that talked about the benefits of a natural birth and actually had a very anti-hospital feel. The rooms were cozy and spacious and they had their own birth pool you could set up. They had a low influx of women unlike the first who sometimes had overflow. I decided to make the compromise and did not sign the contract with the homebirth midwives.

I went to my first appointment excited to meet the midwives and talk about my goal for an unmedicated birth. Upon meeting the first midwife, she was not very warm and told me I may not meet all of the midwives before the birth and may have one I never met before deliver the baby. When I went on to tell her my goal for an unmedicated birth, she then said to me… “Well, we believe in safe birth.” Which, I know what you are thinking- what is wrong with that statement? Of course she believes in safe birth. But anyone who was passionate about birth would automatically see that this statement was a cop-out, a manipulative fear-tactic.  A true midwife who believes in the body’s ability to give birth would ultimately believe that birth IS safe and especially safe if allowed to progress naturally. I then went on to learn that most of the patients deliver in the hospital with medication and that is where they practice most. I left discouraged but decided to give it one more shot. At my next appointment, the midwife was much warmer yet very young. She told me she had only been a midwife for three weeks. I had an uncomfortable and not very gentle pelvic exam which left me crampy and worried afterwards. When I asked a few questions about their policy for transferring, I learned they transferred immediately for meconium in the amniotic fluid. I had meconium in my daughters birth and felt that the situation changed once it was observed. I learned afterwards that because she was full term, meconium is often harmless and a sign that the baby’s digestive system is mature. Meconium CAN be a sign of a problem, but when it is, it is almost always accompanied by other signs. This was one of my biggest fears, being transferred to a hospital in the thick of intense labor because of a “routine procedure” without being medically necessary.

I left distraught, and knew that I had to make the homebirth work. I called my husband and being the ever supportive man that he has always been, he assured me we would do what we had to do. That this is what we want.

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I called them that night and signed the contract and sent the deposit. Reading through the packet of materials to collect for the homebirth and what to expect, I was giddy with excitement. I had my first appointment with them which was very hands off, we mostly just talked. They believe pregnancy and birth are natural processes and they were there to step in if need be, but otherwise, trusted my body to know what to do as long as I ate well and stayed hydrated. (But don’t worry, my protein, blood pressure, belly, and fetal heart rate are checked at every appointment and I still have all of the routine prenatal tests and ultrasounds unless I decline [I did forego the genetic testing]).

The next appointment would be when the fee was due. The day I drove to our savings account to withdraw the $4,000 cash- our oven broke, we received our property taxes in the mail, and our account was -$400 due to me underestimating our monthly expenses because it was the first month we did not have unemployment benefits as a backup . Not to mention, we had 4 trips coming up in August and September that were planned pre-pregnancy. At the same time, I was having so much trouble scheduling the routine 20 week anatomy ultrasound (where they usually find out any major problems) because my insurance company didn’t recognize my midwives as medical professionals. I had been on the phone fighting it the last few days. Talk about overwhelmed. I started to panic. How could we do this? I was angry that I had no real options. I could have a homebirth if I was willing to drain our savings, forgo insurance coverage, and fight with them for every test I needed. It didn’t seem fair. For days, I went back and forth. My goal was an unmedicated birth and I could have that in a birth center and not have to worry and stress over ever penny spent the next few months. But birth is such a gamble, and I didn’t want to risk something minor happening in labor causing me to transfer to a hospital and end up with a slew of interventions I didn’t want. I would ALWAYS think, would that have happened if I had had the homebirth? And this was my biggest fear. If I had to transfer during my homebirth, at least I knew it would be for a legitimate reason. I didn’t want to be irresponsible, but this was incredibly important to me.

Discouraged, I emailed the homebirth midwives for the second time to tell them I just don’t think we could afford it. It was just such bad timing with this being our first year without my salary, and I wish we would have planned for it prior to becoming pregnant. I even set up an appointment with the birth center AGAIN.

Until the midwife called me, and said that she wanted me to have this experience and that we could work something out. And that she understood. I sat down with our finances and came up with a payment plan. It’s still going to be hard, money is going to be tight, but this is the birth of our child. One of the most important experiences in all of a woman’s life. I thought of how we pinched every penny for our wedding, and this was so much bigger than that. I will not think about that money that was spent years from now, but I will forever hold my birth experience in my heart and I have to believe this sacrifice will be worth it.

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Santa BABY…

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to post- but now you know why! Surprise!  Baby #2 is cooking!

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Holy whirlwind, where to begin.

(I want to warn you, I wrote most of this post in the first trimester when my spirits were at their lowest. I re-read it in the second trimester and edited it a bit but it still has a very “woe is me” undertone. I almost didn’t post this (it was almost embarrassing to read !) but decided that if I had/have these thoughts and feelings, someone else probably has too! Enjoy!)

Let’s see, I (we) are excited and extremely GRATEFUL to have another little bundle on the way and especially without the help of modern medicine this time around but also slightly apprehensive! Don’t get me wrong, we were actively “trying” and wanted another little one, but even though it was planned, I think a part of the magic about pregnancy is that all the planning in the world will not stop the news from knocking you off balance a little.

When we conceived our daughter, we were desperately waiting for a child  and wanted her so badly. We had been through 3 losses, a year of trying, and a slew of fertility tests when we finally had a pregnancy that stuck. I welcomed and wanted every bit of pregnancy. If someone would have said to me, “Tara, you just have to live in this 1 foot by 1 foot cell and eat nothing but oatmeal for 9 months and then you’ll have a baby” I would have happily obliged. And boy, did she change my life forever. But this time was completely different, I had just gained some freedom with nursing and the shackles of infancy had been unlocked now that my daughter was a toddler. It is kind of scary to think that I will enter the labor intensive “baby period” all over again. And although we always knew we wanted another baby, it just seemed so far off in the future for some reason. I did not feel that pressure to be pregnant right away like I did the first time. And instantly, things had changed. Things I didn’t foresee or think about when thinking of being pregnant again came into play. The morning sickness and lack of energy, but also the biggest one being the change in my nursing relationship.

Morning Sickness hit me with a vengeance this time around. From the positive pregnancy test on, it was like my body said “Oh Hey, I remember this” and slammed me with every pregnancy symptom imaginable. From about week 4-12, it was extreme fatigue and nausea and overall malaise, like could not get up from the couch to go to the kitchen kind of malaise. The second trimester welcomed daily headaches, a ravenous appetite, back aches, and grosser symptoms (I’ll spare you).  It is hard with having a little one and honestly, depressing at times. Feeling awful for weeks on end and not being able to do the things you normally do wears on you mentally. On the days I felt good in the first trimester, I was just so relieved to know that it wasn’t all in my head! But there was one positive- I was too sick to care about anything! Which included worrying about miscarrying. I remember thinking to myself… Oh, this is how normal pregnant women get through the uncertainty of the early weeks… they are too busy throwing up ha! But strangely, from the moment I took the test, I knew things would be okay. Unlike with my losses, where my intuition was already warning me.

In these last few weeks, I have thrown myself into preparing for the birth. If you remember, I wrote about Why I Want An All Natural Birth before I even had the return of my fertility!! That’s how strongly my daughter’s hospital birth left an impression. I have learned so much since her birth, and only wish I wasn’t so naive then. However, there is no sense in regret or beating ourselves up over what we did not know. We all learn and grow as we navigate through life. (PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If this is your first pregnancy PLEASE research what you want for your birth and how to minimize interventions, explore out of hospital options and HIRE A DOULA!). I plan on writing a post about this experience soon. We toured two birth centers and interviewed with midwives for a homebirth. We decided on a home/water birth with a doula, and we are not finding out the sex! We are so excited – look out for that experience soon!

And on to the biggest challenge; I am still nursing my daughter who is now 22 months (was 19 months when we conceived – yes, you CAN get pregnant while breastfeeding and trust me Masilyn was still nursing night and day) and everyone knows how important my nursing relationship/breastfeeding in general is to me. So I was a bit unprepared for the nursing aversion (negative feelings associated with nursing) and the sore nipples/nausea nursing while pregnant would cause even though I had heard of all of it before.  After doing some research, I learned that in a lot of other cultures and with other large mammals even, pregnancy is actually a biological thumbs up to wean which many follow through with, basically saying…your body can only handle so much and your instincts go along with mother nature.

Ever see a female dog wean her puppies? She will either stand up and run away completely or even nip at them if they try to nurse. Well, we as mammals are not all that different. Women experience the same impulses (which typically only happens during pregnancy or during the end of the nursing relationship if you continue to a more biological weaning age) You even can experience something titled “maternal aggression” towards your toddler -how nice. Your milk/breasts even go through the physical changes during pregnancy that it does during weaning. However, in other traditional cultures, sibling spacing is closer to 3 years so the children are more ready to wean- which I cannot figure out how births are spaced so much if average return of fertility is 15 months?! My theory is that nutrition plays a part. It is all fascinating to someone like me, but the bottom line is my basic primal maternal instincts are telling me to wean even though it goes against how I feel philosophically about extended breastfeeding. And as far as my daughter is concerned, she doesn’t always handle it well… she has always been my booby baby, and I really feel is not yet ready to wean. I am still her main source of comfort (which is totally normal and healthy). There are no pacifiers or bottles in my household- it is me, and me alone-like it would have been back in the jungle days. So let’s just say my sudden aversion to nursing has been a big wrench in our daily routine and stressful for us all. And then when there is a day when she doesn’t ask to nurse for a while, I start to get a little panicked thinking that this part of our relationship could be over soon. The Madness!

So what am I going to do? Am I going to wean? Stick it out? A lot of women push through the aversion and go on to tandem nurse (nurse more than one child at a time) because they feel the need to their older child is that crucial. However, I have always been about following my instincts as a mother and listening to nature when it comes to parenting and this leaves me at a crossroad. I always decided that if I felt the urge to wean, I would (although gently)..and if I did not, I would not let outside (oftentimes uneducated) opinions affect my decision. But for now, I am taking it day by day, trying to respect my own feelings and instincts as well as my daughter’s feelings and needs. I am not making any hard decisions at this point. And honestly, as time goes on… she seems to be adjusting well to the fewer nursing sessions and life has become more manageable. We will see how it goes!

Okay, getting deep here for a second.

You know, I have friends, friends who are either going through or went through infertility and I can’t help but wonder; Is there anything worse? I am in every sense heartbroken watching their journeys and feeling so helpless. The disappointment these women (and men) feel and have felt is deep and profound. I had a vivid dream of one friend in particular where we are on our knees, holding each other sobbing in grief. Her grief, turmoil, injustice, and disappointment is visceral. I felt it in my soul in that dream, I was connected to her there and felt her pain as my own. Yet, she perseveres, and somehow stays positive. And I admire her deeply for it. I would do anything for these women to have a child, even if that meant carrying it myself.

I am very aware of how lucky I am and I do not want to ever forget that.

A part of me feels pride that I am one of those who experiences “hard” pregnancies. Almost like I have to earn it. I get to experience fist hand pregnancy full-throttle and this hazing period will make me that much more grateful (Just let me think this at least). But even though I am extremely grateful, that does not mean it is easy. I make a miserable pregnant woman. The anxiety of all going well is always there in the background, keeping me from truly enjoying the pregnancy and bonding with it. I never truly relax. For someone with my history, 40+ weeks is the amount of time it takes to know everything will be okay. The lack of energy means idle time, which I have never been great with and I often feel like a bad mother for not stimulating my daughter and being a super stay at home mom who does crafts and other fun things all day. In truth, some days all I can muster is sticking her in front of the iPAD in hopes that she will be occupied long enough for me to rest. I went from eating healthy and exercising (which I am convinced contributed to the success of this pregnancy) to only wanting terrible, comfort food which leaves me feeling guilty, anxious and sluggish (Imagine pregnancy as an everyday hangover!). I find myself wondering that if I can’t handle being pregnant with a toddler, how in the world am I going to handle ANOTHER BABY with a toddler?! My daughter has always been the type of child who needs constant attention and the thought of having to balance her needs with another is overwhelming. I feel the distance from my mom and sister, and wonder how I am going to handle having two small children without them close by. I sometimes miss and yearn for my old social life.

But now that the first trimester has come to a close, the bad days are becoming fewer, and my mind is available to welcome all of the joys and wonders of pregnancy. At night while my sleeping family (dog and all) lay snoring beside me (thank you pregnancy insomnia), I can’t help but look at my daughter’s face in the moonlight and remember that she was once too a small beating life in my womb. I picture her there and it hits me that this soul I cannot see will be here one day sleeping peacefully beside me just as she is now. What will you look like? What will you be like at her age? I rub my belly and I fall asleep with a smile on my face as the joy of this moment follows me in to my dreams and I thank whoever is listening up there for this incredible, marvelous gift.

I remember what I am working for, however far away it seems. I remember that there is no greater gift on this earth, a gift that can only come from somewhere much larger than ourselves; that transcends all we know. I will get to experience love’s purest form physically, spiritually, and emotionally all over again, and my heart and soul will expand that much more.

 

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Instinctual Mothering’s New Baby Must Haves

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Here are the items that worked for me – but every baby is different. I encourage you to talk to other parents to establish a better idea of what makes sense to you and what doesn’t. And the baby might get here and everything you thought was going to work may not work at all! In my experience, this whole baby thing is basically one big game of trial-and-error.

Here are my “Must Haves” (Click Here to download a printable List!: registry print out)

Bassinet for your room for the first couple of months OR a side-car co-sleeper or a product called an infant sleeper. However, DO NOT be afraid to have your baby in bed with you- you will both most likely get more sleep- this is how women survived the sleep deprivation for generations! There’s a ton of scary stuff out there about suffocating your baby, etc. by co-sleeping. There are ways to co-sleep safely. In most instances of tragedy involving co-sleeping they involved parents who were under the influence of some substance while sleeping next to their baby or falling asleep on a couch with their baby (which is a no-no). A baby sleeping in the same room as it’s parents actually reduces the risk of SIDS by 50%. To read more, read my Anti-Cry-it-Out post. BUT, with all that said- I was still hesitant to co-sleep when she was teeny tiny and used this bassinet next to my bed until she was a little more “sturdy” and I felt comfortable co-sleeping (maybe around 2-3 months which the “risk” of co-sleeping is statistically not existent at 4 months). If you go the bassinet route, I recommend this one from target. It is light and easy to transport.bouncy-2Bseat

 A bouncy seat  – Good place to put them when they fall asleep during the day or say you need to actually take a shower (which is the equivalent to a spa oasis with a newborn). It is lightweight and easy to transport.

A PLAYMAT! (and it’s counterpart the bouncer when they turn around 4-5 months old) this is a life saver! It occupies them and gives you time to say; brush your teeth for the first time in 3 days! Ha. I prefer the Baby Einstein brand. And it’s guilt free! because they are designed to promote “development.

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Changing pad and changing pad cover. I also like changing pad liners so I am not constantly washing the cover.

BABY WEAR! It will save your life and your sanity! Read more about my Babywearing Epiphany and find out the Benefits to Babywearing.

Ideally, you would like to have a wrap or wrap-like carrier for when they are newborns/small baby (until ~3-4 months) and I like a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC for short), like the Ergo or a Tula after the small baby phase. I liked the Baby K’Tan as a “wrap” carrier when she was really little.it’s easy to put on but takes some practice. You can find these for ~$50 at Babies R Us (and sometimes on sale).The only negative is the ‘shelflife” for this carrier is only about 3-4 months. Most babies will outgrow it after that. The Moby is also a good starter carrier also. If you really love wrapping, you can graduate up to a woven.ergo

The ergo can be found at common stores and has good positioning but can be a little more expensive (~$120). The SSC type carriers tend to be a little too big for newborn babies and do not fit them comfortably until they are a little older (~2-3 months). However, an infant insert can be bought for the Ergo, and I have heard great things about it. Do some research on baby carriers and see which one you think is for you if that’s the route you want to go, or try on some friends’ carriers first (I am a Tula and Ring-Sling lover). Or find a local babywearing chapter in your area through Facebook and attend a meeting where you can try on all types of carriers! But trust me it is a must have and MUCH easier throwing a baby carrier in the car than lugging around a huge stroller/car-seat everywhere. I have only used my stroller a few times since my epiphany.

However, I feel a stroller will come in handy for long day trips (like the zoo) if even it’s only purpose is to hold bags. So in my opinion, it is still a big ticket item you should include on your registry. I registered for the jogging travel system and used the infant car seat for her entire first year. However, I will warn you the jogging travel system is large and bulky and cumbersome to transport. We typically only used it on all-day trips.

Invest in a good forehead thermometer. They can be expensive, but the convenience of knowing their temperature in one second (which you will check about 30x an hour when they are sick) will keep you from prematurely dialing 9-1-1 in the event of your child’s first cold.

Bath towels/wash clothes- at least 7 of each.

Receiving blankets. I prefer regular blankets over swaddlers. There is some evidence that swaddling can inhibit a baby’s hunger cues. Rather than swaddling I propose babywearing to keep the baby close to you- the mother’s baby is a baby’s natural habitat!

Clothes! You will need clothes…This is something I dropped the ball on. Because those 6 outfits your Aunt Mart mailed to you seems like enough stuff, right? Wrong. A lot of times, you get an abundance of one size and none in the other, and then some are completely the wrong season. Babies grow FAST, making a working wardrobe cumbersome. I did not have any newborn size clothing when she was born because didn’t 0-3 months technically include newborn?! Yeah, no. Average size babies will not fit into 0-3 months until around 1 month old. If your baby is born in a warmer season: they will probably wear only newborn onesies the first month. If they are born in the colder season; newborn sleepers. Or any outfits that are soft and cottony. Trust me, they are so fragile that you are afraid of changing their diaper, let alone squeezing them into that pink tutu. After one month old, go crazy on the cute 0-3 month outfits!

Repeat after me: You Can Never Have Too Many White Onesies and Socks.

nosefridaThe NoseFrida– A life saver when they have a cold!

 

 

 

 

A Baby “Grooming Kit”12873028

A baby bath tub– a cheap one is sufficient.

A car-seat (obvi). My car-seat was included in the deluxe travel system my mother sacrificed for months to buy (Kidding), but now only 7 months later, I am shopping for a convertible car seat because the infant car-seat only lasts until around 1 year. I recommend also registering/buying a convertible car-seat from the beginning that can hold a newborn – 65lbs because you are going to have to buy it eventually anyway. Britax is the safest brand and the best bang for your buck.164554-850x850-covers

I would also try to plan ahead for the cold weather season. Invest in an infant carseat cover, it is the safest to have the straps flush against their bodies, this is hard to achieve if they are wearing big fluffy coats or snow suits. This car seat cover allows you to have a safer car seat position and not have to fumble with jackets and snow suits in the winter.

Burp Clothes– You will use a lot of these so register for more than just a pack.

Bottles– You do not need a ton. If you are breastfeeding, you won’t use them often. If you are breastfeeding and will be returning to work and pumping- 6 bottles is still plenty. Try to stick with one type- baby’s have little minds of their own, and have preferences. It is important to pick a bottle that mimics the breast and to be sure the nipple is slow flow. If you are nursing, you will only need the 6oz bottles; as the volume of breastmilk you produce does not change all that much (about 3-4oz a feeding) even as your baby gets older. The content changes as your baby’s needs change, not the volume (Another fascinating fact about breastmilk!).

A bottle warmer– no need for a fancy one.

Drying rack for bottles and bottle brush.sterilizer

Microwave Sterilizer!! I use this a lot.. I sterilize everything in it; bottles, pump supplies, milk storage bottles, even toys. All it takes is some water and 6 minutes in the microwave.

I encourage Breastfeeding!!  If I had to wake up in the middle of the night to prepare formula/bottles I don’t think I would have survived post partum seriously.  I always have milk ready and available and never have to worry about bringing bottles with me, etc. I won’t get on a soapbox in this post but it’s been one of the most amazing/rewarding experiences of my life. Please read many of my posts on Breastfeeding for more information.

I felt self conscious registering for breastfeeding supplies during my pregnancy, but what a mistake. It is basically the only thing I did in the beginning and all I really needed. I had my husband running to the store everyday to buy more supplies.

If you’re breastfeeding, you will need:

Nursing clothes! Invest in some nursing camisoles, low cut t-shirts and nursing bras (at least one padded “leaving the house”  bra and a couple of “sleep” bra’s to wear to bed).

A nursing cover (a receiving blanket works just fine or you could not cover at all and still be discreet which is what I prefer).

A BIG bottle of an all natural nipple cream: Enough said.

Disposable nursing pads – breastfeeding is messy; You will leak A LOT in the beginning.

If you are returning to work you will need a decent breast pump– which most insurances cover now 100%, so it’s free! I am partial to the Medela Pump In Style Pump and accessories.

Breast storage kits (carry cooler, ice pack, and storage bottles) that fit your pump.

If you are staying at home, but would like to pump for times when you will be leaving the baby, you can get away with an inexpensive pump (~$150) and one set of accessories.pTRU1-16791197dt

Medela Starter Kit: Tubing plus breast flanges plus storage bag and bottles.

A Video Baby Monitor –  You won’t use this until they are in the crib which depending on your preference won’t be for a few months probably (or rarely like me!). I will say that being able to see her on the video monitor gives me great piece of mind when she is sleeping in her crib.

Highchair- I did not get the expensive “4 in 1” highchair, however I wish I did because it is very versatile and is easy to travel with.

Diaper Genie– A Must!

Baby Lotion & Body Wash – People are going to buy you gift set after gift set of bath supplies, you will end up not using most of it. Try to go for all natural brands. A lot of the mainstream brands are loaded with chemicals (Johnson & Johnson being one of the worsts). I use coconut oil as lotion and Babyganics Foaming Baby Shampoo and Wash. I am a big fan of the foaming wash. No more furiously trying to get suds on the wash cloth!

Baby nose saline spray/infant tylenol you will want to have on hand.

Pacifiers– I personally never pushed the pacifier because they can interfere with breastfeeding in the beginning, and then after that it just kind of seemed unnatural to me (she also never took one anyway!). Also, what could happen when they’re teeny tiny is they will use all of their energy sucking the pacifier that they will become too tired to eat and skip very important feedings. There has also been studies that show a baby’s sucking is related to their hunger mechanism, not necessarily their tummy’s being full- so they think they are eating when sucking on the pacifier, when in reality they are consuming no calories. BUT it’s a personal decision and for a lot of people the pacifier is a life saver, especially for older babies or babies who love to comfort nurse (and definitely in car rides!). The Soothie pacifiers are the type the hospital uses and what I recommend. Be sure to follow the age limits on the packages- they actually mean something!

Newborn mittens because they are too little to cut their nails at first and will scratch their tiny little faces.

Diaper Bag- can be any large tote bag really.

Diaper bag essentials – A travel wipe case, travel hand sanitizer, and if your diaper bag does not come with one, a travel “changing mat”. Trust me, you will NOT want to put your baby down on a bare public changing table.

A Boppy Pillow– This is the one item I have used since birth. You will use it for feeding/nursing the first few months, then tummy time, then for support when they are learning to sit unassisted. It is a great investment.

My highchair/grocery cart cover has become something that I cannot live without. You will not use this product until your baby is sitting up unassisted so around 6 months old. It has made going out to eat so much more enjoyable!

If you’re like me and like to  be overly-prepared, I would invest in at least 2 cases of size Newborn and size 1 diapers (I am a Pampers Swaddlers girl myself) as well as a case of wipes (I prefer the Huggies natural wipes). Also, invest in some big bottles of hand sanitizer to keep around the house and especially by the changing table.

We did not register for our nursery bedding decor and furniture, but many people do and our family did help us by buying our crib. This would include a crib, a changing area, a dresser (could also serve as the changing area), Crib bedding, and décor.

I personally found it easier to do my registry on-line where items were categorized and it was easy to find items/navigate. I was so overwhelmed with all of the options in the store that we left after only 30 minutes. Try not to get overwhelmed, you won’t really know what works for you until the baby get’s here and remember, all of this stuff is just fluff that makes life easier- a baby doesn’t NEED much except for you!

Good Luck!

Click Here for a printable List! : registry print out

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20 Tips to Thrive as a Stay At Home Mom

20 Tips to Thrive as a

 

If you noticed, I used the word  THRIVE as a Stay At Home Mom rather than “survive” like you so often see. Why you ask? Because I feel I am doing way more than just “surviving”! For someone who was extremely nervous about being home full time and was confident that it wouldn’t be “for me” or that I wouldn’t be happy doing it, I can honestly, genuinely say it has been one of the best decisions I have made for myself and for my family.  At this rate, I might never return to the workforce. Retired at 30…hmm has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? (Totally kidding… I think). But, in all seriousness, it has been a blessing and I feel very happy, fulfilled and LUCKY to be able to have the opportunity.

So, what does my life look like now? I get a lot of questions like this. What do I do all day? What does a normal day consist of? I thought I would put together a list of some things I have done in the last few months that I attribute to why I’m enjoying being home so much. These tips are an accumulation of advice I have received from other SAHM’s, some trial and error on my part, and some things I have read on other blog posts that have stuck with me – so hopefully I can pay it forward a little.

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