Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

How many weeks am I? If you told me during my first pregnancy that during my second keeping track of my weeks was going to be a challenge I wouldn’t have believed you. But, it has been hard to keep track. Caring for a toddler while being pregnant is definitely a game changer. Now that I am nearing the end and counting down the days it is a little easier. I’m 35 weeks today, I think. 🙂 

It hit me recently that I’m getting close to delivery. That made me panic a bit. Why am I panicing? I’ve done this before. I know what to do. Or do I? What if this one is different? What can I do to make it better? I need to start preparing for labor. Yikes! 

If you are reading this, I am sure you are feeling the same way I am. 

How will this labor and delivery be different and what do I need to do to prepare?

What gaps were there in my preparation last time and how do I fill them?

How do I know what I don’t know?

What should I be thinking about?

When you are expecting your second child there are many more considerations when the time comes to give birth. You also have enough experience to have an idea of how it will go (or how you want it to go), but every pregnancy and birth is different. 

Obviously, this will be different for each person, but keep reading below to see how I worked through this stage of pregnancy and what I learned from my first birth and how I am currently handling preparation for my second son’s delivery.

Step One: Make peace with your last birth. 

Think about it. Talk about it. Process it. 

For me, this meant researching what happened to me, and finding out that what I experienced was precipitous labor. Just having a name for it was very helpful to me. When I posted my birth story, I didn’t know there was a special term for it and I didn’t know what it would mean for subsequent births. 

I have been doing a ton of research to try to figure out what it could mean for my next birth. Mainly, listening to birth stories from other moms who experienced precipitous labor, particularly moms who had multiple children. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find many stories (only one I think) of precipitous labor where the mother was induced like me. 

Before my research, I experienced a lot of anxiety around giving birth this time. My biggest fear is not making it to the hospital and having my baby at home or in the car on the way. My other fear was dragging my husband to the hospital over and over for false alarms. 

We live 1 hour and 6 minutes from the hospital. Labor with my son lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes (water breaking) or 1 hour and 41 minutes (starting Pitocin) depending on when you start counting. And second labors usually go faster! Not to mention, this time we have a toddler to drop off on the way.

My first step was to share my fears with my midwives and my doctor. After talking through it multiple times with different midwives, I felt a little better about it. I finally made an appointment to talk to the doctor about it. I wanted her to help me make a plan to give my baby the best chance of being born at the hospital. She told me to just wrap my head around driving to the hospital a lot for false alarms. Any time I start having contractions, start driving, and turn around if they stop. 

This gave me a little bit of peace about the situation. I talked to my husband about it and he understands. It is not going to be fun driving to the hospital who knows how many times, but we both accept that we will have to do it. It is good to be on the same page. 

Next, I started listening to birth story podcasts. I listened to every precipitous labor story I could find, including several car births and unplanned home births. This may cause more anxiety for some people, but it gave me a lot of peace. 

Hearing these women tell their stories was empowering for me. They gave me a description of what to expect if it were to happen to me and what I could do to plan for it. While I still hope to make it to the hospital, I think I will be able to handle a car birth if it comes down to it. 

Having an unplanned home birth is another story. We live 35 minutes from any hospital and 45 minutes from a hospital with a labor and delivery department. If we lived closer to a hospital, I would probably just plan for a home birth because of my history. My husband is glad we live too far from a hospital for this to be wise.

Thankfully, my husband feels very confident in his ability to handle a homebirth if it were to happen. Knowing that he will remain calm and do what needs to be done is a comfort to me. One birth story I listened to was a woman who gave birth at home and her husband and sister were so flustered she had to take charge and tell them what to do while she was pushing out her baby, including calling 911. I know my husband will be able to keep his head and take care of me and our baby. 

Pro Tip: When preparing for my first son’s birth, my husband read (probably skimmed) the book The Birth Partner*, which includes a section on what to do if you give birth in a car or at home. I made sure he read this section and will probably read it again myself before too long. This book was also a great resource when I found out I was going to be induced. It had so much information about what to expect and what the different options were surrounding induction and medical interventions. I read it on the way to the doctor the day I was induced. 

We also live across the street from our family doctor (who is a cousin) and used to deliver babies 30 years ago. So, in a pinch, we will call him over.

Moral of this long rambling story: Process your last birth and work through anything you need to work through to be at peace going into your second birth. Fear is the worst thing for childbirth.

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Step 2: Apply the Lessons You Learned

What did you learn from your last birth that you want to remember for this one? The biggest thing I learned was that if I don’t like my nurse I can ask for a new one. Who knew? I am planning to request the nurse that saved the day with my last birth and pray she is there and available when the time comes. 

Another takeaway is that delayed cord clamping doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. I am going to be more clear in my birth plan that I want to wait longer than the 30-60 seconds the hospital calls delayed cord clamping. 

On a lighter note, my husband learned that he needs a few more things in his hospital bag. He barely packed anything last time and while he still doesn’t have much packed this time, he did make a few additions I’ll talk about in the packing the hospital bag section below.

So, think through what it is for you that you learned and want to do differently this time around and make a plan. 

Step 3: Brush up on your Childbirth education.

Were you prepared for your last labor? Were you able to cope through contractions? Were you scared? Was your partner prepared and supported through labor and delivery? If not, take the time to research the areas you need to improve.

Take another birth class, or if you didn’t the first time, take a birth class. Some options are the Evidence Based Birth Childbirth class or the Mama Natural Childbirth Class, both of which are online if you happen to be giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic like me or if its nearly impossible to get away for an inperson class. 

Reread your birth book of choice or find a new one. I read Ina Mae’s Guide to Childbirth* and it was extremely helpful. I wrote about it more thoroughly in my labor tips post. 

Step 4: Listen to Birth Stories

I have been binge listening to birth story podcasts lately and it has been so much fun! Immersing myself in the birth world again has been rewarding. Hearing other women’s stories has encouraged me and taught me a lot. It is a lot easier to listen to a podcast than to read a book these days. I have also been listening to the Evidence Based Birth Podcast to brush up on any new research out there. 

The birth story podcasts I have been listening to are The Birth Hour, Birthful, Evidence Based Birth, Australian Birth Stories, and Kiwi Birth Tales. I searched the Podcasts App for “precipitous labor” and listened to any episodes related. That is how I found all of these podcasts. I have since listened to many other birth stories on these podcasts, but that is where I started.  

Watch Call the Midwife on Netflix. I find it oddly soothing and empowering when preparing for birth. It may not have the same effect on everyone, but it made me much less fearful when I starting freaking out during my first pregnancy. Seeing birth normalized and women supported is beautiful. I started the series over recently in preparation for this baby’s birth. I am not freaking out this time, but it is still empowering. 

Step 5: Reevaluate the Birth Plan

Say what? Second-time moms know having a birth plan is a joke. I know where you are coming from and I agree. However, there is value in making a birth plan. Maybe it needs a better name? Birth Considerations? 

The value lies in thinking through different things that could happen during your birth and how you would like them handled, if possible. An extreme example would be if you needed an emergency c-section. Did you know there are options? 

Also, having a birth plan lets your providers know where you stand on certain issues. Like I mentioned before, we asked for delayed cord clamping. Now we know we need to be more specific in our birth plan and define what we mean by “delayed”. 

I am all for a minimalist birth plan. Even if you just jot down a couple of things that are most important to you. The rest can just be in your and your husband’s head. Just make sure you’ve educated yourselves on what options you might be presented with and know where you stand. During labor is not the time to try to discuss some of these issues. If the discussions have been had beforehand, your husband will be better equipped to advocate for you and your baby in the moment.

Step 6: Reevaluate the Hospital Bag

I’d be willing to bet there were a few things you wish you had at the hospital or birth center at your first birth and I am positive there were many many things that never came out of your bag at all! I was amazed at how much the hospital provided and how little of my own things I needed. I literally barely opened my bag. 

My toiletries bag, some clothes, phone charger, and baby’s coming home outfit were about all I used at the hospital and we were there Monday – Thursday. I am planning to keep track of everything I use this time and write a post for you all! Stay tuned.

I did have a two very useful items in my toiletries bag in addition to the usual items. 

  1. Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray*

This stuff was wonderful in the hospital those first few days after birth. I kept it in the mini-fridge in our room and it was so soothing after trips to the bathroom. I talk more about it and postpartum recovery in this post.

2. Coconut oil

I used coconut oil for nipple cream after nursing (it doesn’t stain your clothes like lanolin) and on the flanges for pumping (to help my milk come in since my son was born at 36 weeks).

It was also great to apply to baby’s bum after birth and every diaper change until the first poo. It keeps the meconium from sticking and makes that first dirty diaper change a little easier.

Things we didn’t pack last time, but are packing this time:

  1. “Real Clothes” for going home. 

    We live about an hour from our hospital and our peditrician. The last thing we wanted to do was to turn around the next day and go to the pediatrician, so we made an appointment for the day we were released from the hospital and went on our way home. This was great. Except I packed yoga pants for the way home and I’m not a yoga pants in public kind of person. So, I had to wear what I wore to the hospital. We plan to do the same thing this time, so I will definitely pack real clothes to go home. 

2. Clothes for visitors

We didn’t have a ton of visitors (other than my mom and sisters), but when we did, I was not prepared with clothes that made me feel comfortable and presentable. This time I am packing my nice robe, even though we won’t be having any visitors (thanks to COVID-19). 

3. A Blanket and Pillow for my Husband

My poor husband froze every night in the hospital. and all he had was a sheet. We probably could have asked for a blanket and pillow, but my husband would rather suffer than ask. So, this time, the blanket and pillow are all packed. 

*COVID-19 Addition* 

I also packed snacks and drinks for my husband, since we won’t have visitors. Last time, my mom and sisters brought us meals and snacks every day and it was wonderful. There is this great ice cream place within walking distance of the hospital that has this amazing ginger ice cream. My sisters brought some to me after having my son and it was the best thing ever. I was already planning for that to be a post-birth treat again and I am super bummed that won’t be possible.

 Obviously, your experience will be different. The key is to think it through your last birth and make adjustments as needed.

Earth Mama Organics - A Little Something for Mama-To-Be

Step 7: Talk it Out

Have a conversation with your spouse about what went well during your hospital stay and what, if anything, needs some work. I already told you the adjustments we made to the hospital bag, so now I am going to brag on my husband. 

He was completely amazing after birth. He went into “Captain mode” and took charge of everything. All I had to do was focus on bonding with my baby and recovering. He kept track of feedings and told me when it was time to feed again, he managed the breast pump and cleaned all the parts after each use, and kept me on track. It was wonderful. When we had to briefly supplement with formula for blood sugar he handled the bottle feedings while I pumped. He did skin to skin while I ate or whatever else. He even helped me use the bathroom for the first couple of times. I cannot say enough good things about how well he took care of both of us in the hospital. 

This was especially important because I had a really strong reaction to the oxytocin released during breastfeeding for the first few days. The room would spin and make me really dizzy. I was exhausted and in no condition to keep track of feeding and pumping schedules for a preemie. Thankfully, my husband was on top of it all. 

I told my husband I hoped he would do the same this time too. I know not all moms would want or need this from their husbands, but it was exactly what I needed. Whatever it is you need from your husband, make sure to have the conversation ahead of time and set expectations/make requests. 

On the flip side, be sure to ask your husband if there is anything he thinks should go differently or anything he thought worked well. He is in this too and should be considered. I think we moms can get caught up in our roles in the birth process and forget that our men are right there with us playing a critical role as well. They desrve some appreciation and consideration too. They also have a different perspective from you and may think of something that you haven’t.

Step 8: Make a Plan for Your First Child

This is a big consideration that was not a factor first go-round. Who is going to watch your first child while you’re in the hospital having your second? How will you get your child to them or how will they get to your child?

We plan to drop my son at my husband’s aunt and uncle’s on our way to the hospital (it’s on our way) and my mother will pick him up there. It is very rare that someone is not home and this saves us the 25 minutes that it will take my mom to get here, which as you read above could mean the difference in having my son at the hospital or on the side of the road.

Likely, your labors last longer than mine and you will have a reasonable amount of time to get your child settled, but you still need to have a plan in place. 

Pro Tip: A mom friend of mine said that when she brought her 4th child home, her mother offered to bring her other children for a visit and then take them back to her house for a few more days. At the time, she wanted them home and all together. She said looking back she wished she had taken her mom up on it. So, maybe think about this as an option if you feel like you will need a few days at home to get in the swing of things with the newborn before adding in the older children.

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Step 9: Consider How You Will Introduce Your Children

I had a vision of my mom bringing my son to visit in the hospital to meet his little brother. I have a special gift* (the larger version of the one I bought for the baby) for my son from the baby that I was going to give him at the hospital. I wanted a picture of our new family of four on the hospital bed (the boys with their matching rhinos). I can see the picture in my head. 

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this will not become reality. Now, I am trying to create a new mental image of how this meeting will look. Honestly, I am drawing a blank. Anyone have any suggestions for me?? Leave me a comment! 

I know that it will all be fine and however it happens will be fine. My son isn’t even two, so he won’t remember. I am not looking for some perfectly choreographed moment, but a nice mental image to replace the one that’s there would be niee. Missing out on this moment is going to be the hardest thing for me dealing with COVID-19 Restrictions. It would be really nice to replae that mental image with one equally as beautiful before the birth, but I haven’t been able to come up with one so far.  

All that to say, give it some thought. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic and serious moment, but it is a big deal and worth at least thinking through.

 

Step 10: Soak Up the Last Weeks with Your First Born

Adding to your family is an exciting time, but it can also be a little sad to think about having to divide your attention between two children. I am taking advantage of every moment to love on my little boy. Lots of hugs and kisses, playing outside, playing in the floor (which is getting harder and harder), reading books, and savoring bed times. It is so hard to keep up our good bedtime habits, because I just want to snuggle him and savor every moment. 

I see a lot of moms that are worried about having enough love to go around when they have subsequesnt children. It is hard to imagine how I will love another child as much as I love my first, but I know I will. I think your heart just doubles in size and grows to encompass the new little life. I remember the immediate flood of pure love the second they placed my son on my chest. At the time, my husband said “well, are you ready for your heart to live outside you’re body from now on?” How true is that? 

Snuggle your first child every chance you get and savor every moment! 


Well this has been quit the all emcompassing guide. I hope it helps you as you prepare for your big day!

 I will try to do a follow up on the other side of delivery and let you know how this preparation worked for me. 

 You’ve got this, mama!

A Subjective List of Pregnancy Must-Haves

A Subjective List of Pregnancy Must-Haves

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.I'm sure you are tired of hearing how every pregnancy is different for every woman and even each pregnancy for each woman, but it is true! The reality is that what is a...

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Functional and Beautiful Must-Have Baby Items

Functional and Beautiful Must-Have Baby Items

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.I that am not a fan of baby junk; ugly plastic, obnoxious colors, cheesy characters, and so cheaply made that it rarely lasts through one child. When I had my son, I was...

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A Subjective List of Pregnancy Must-Haves

A Subjective List of Pregnancy Must-Haves

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

I’m sure you are tired of hearing how every pregnancy is different for every woman and even each pregnancy for each woman, but it is true! The reality is that what is a “must-have” for one woman isn’t even a nice-to-have for another woman, but entirely useless. Keep that in mind as you continue to read “Pregnancy Must-Have” posts, including this one. That’s right. I don’t claim to have the definitive answer on what EVERY WOMAN EVER TO BE PREGNANT needs for her pregnancy. All I am here to do is provide you with some solutions to some issues that I experienced during my pregnancies. Hopefully, they will be useful to you. 

How to use this post: Read it, save it to Pinterest, and refer back to it as these issues crop up during your pregnancy as well or use the advice if you are currently experiencing these issues as well. 

How not to use this post: Read it, panic buy everything I recommend (and every other post like this you read), and then hate me when you don’t end up needing half of it. 

Got it? This is a subjective list. I hope it is helpful to you, but I don’t claim to be an expert on your pregnancy. That’s you, mama. You’ve got this. Trust your instincts. 

All that being said.

Here are the things that I found incredibly useful during my two pregnancies:

Pregnancy Pillow

Before I got pregnant, I wouldn’t have believed that a pregnancy pillow was necessary, much less a must-have. I wouldn’t even have bought one at all if I hadn’t had a coupon and found it on sale. I am not above admitting I was wrong. I was wrong. A pregnancy pillow is a must-have, for me. Sleep is a big struggle for me in general, but particularly during pregnancy.

When I was about 7 months pregnant with my son we had to do some traveling. Since we were flying, I thought I could manage without my pillow. Our hotel room happened to have two queen beds and even with every single pillow off of both beds (except the one my husband was using), I was still unable to get comfortable and sleep well. By the end of the trip, my husband vowed we would never travel pregnant again without it. 

My husband calls my pregnancy pillow “The Great Wall of China”. He wasn’t thrilled at first when I brought it home. Then one night, I came to bed after brushing my teeth to find him using it. He has seen how much better I sleep with it and has accepted it as beneficial for all. 

*Pro Tip* Instead of having the long side go along your back, flip it around so the long side goes down your front to the outside of the bed. This will allow your husband to snuggle with you like normal. 

Benefits of the Pregnancy Pillow

1. It allows you to sleep any way you want while providing the support you need to stay off your belly and keep from decreasing circulation. 

It is well known that the optimal position for sleeping during pregnancy is on your left side. While that is always my goal, it doesn’t always happen. With my pregnancy pillow, I can sleep on my back, stomach (sort of), propped up for heartburn (with a regular pillow added under my head/shoulders, and either side. 

2. Reduced visits to the chiropractor. 

My chiropractor spent over a year telling me that my neck was going to keep needing adjusting as long as I kept sleeping on my stomach. Getting pregnant, making an effort to sleep on my left side, and using my pregnancy pillow to get the proper support allowed me to go much longer in-between visits to the chiropractor. I pretty much quit going due to back/hip/neck pain and only resumed during the third trimester when I started going in preparation for labor (highly recommended). 

3. Most importantly: Better Sleep

Sleep during pregnancy is not easy. Even when you do sleep, you have crazy dreams! I get a lot more sleep using my pregnancy pillow than when I don’t. 

There are many options out there, this is the one I have* and it’s great. The only downside is that it is quite a challenge to get the cover back on. Usually gets a good laugh out of me whenever I fight that battle.

Water Cup/Bottle

It is important to drink enough water during pregnancy and I find that I am much thirstier when pregnant. I pretty much have water with me 24/7. Any cup or bottle will do. Whatever makes you happy. You probably already having something at home you can use. 

I find that I drink more water when it is really cold. So, I love my Yeti Rambler*. The poor thing is about 5 years old and served me well in the years before pregnancy and is still going strong through my second pregnancy (over halfway now!). I was quite the reluctant Yeti convert. Mine was given to me and it definitely won me over. We now have several different varieties of Yeti Drinkware*.

However, the best bottle/cup out there is whatever is easy for you to haul around everywhere and whatever facilitates you drinking the most water. Some people prefer room temperature water and some people find they drink more through a straw. There is no one right answer here. Just drink water! 

Prenatal

Of course, you already know you need to be taking a prenatal vitamin. This is about which ones to take. Different prenatal vitamins will have different effects on you, so don’t be afraid to try different ones, especially during the first trimester if the one you are taking is causing morning sickness or making digestive issues worse.

I used Mama Natural’s and Wellness Mama’s blog posts on choosing a prenatal to choose which prenatal vitamins to take during my first pregnancy. I ended up taking New Chapter Perfect Prenatal* and Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA*. I took them at night and they were great.

The only downside was that it required me to take 5 pills every night. After almost two years (yes, you are supposed to take prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant and throughout your time breastfeeding), taking 5 pills a night was getting old. I started researching other options.

I ended up switching to Ritual Vitamins*. They suspend the dry ingredients in the oily ingredients in a nested capsule format that means I only need to take two pills every night, instead of 5. I also like the lemon-scented tab in the bottle (removable if you don’t like it). It makes the pills more palatable than most vitamins. The only downside is they don’t contain a probiotic like New Chapter Perfect Prenatal. I picked up some gummy probiotics* and take those during the day when I remember.

Overall, swallowing 2 pills each day and having my order auto shipped each month won out. Ritual* also provides a printable handout to take to your doctor with the ingredients and amounts, so you can feel confident you and your baby are getting the right amount of nutrients. 

Pro Tip: If you struggle to remember to take your prenatal vitamins, try putting them on your nightstand with a bottle of water and taking them before bed each night. This is especially helpful during morning sickness. This is the only way I remember to take mine each day.

Pregnancy App

Must have may be a stretch… how about lots of fun! For my first pregnancy, I used the BabyCenter free app and BabyList (registry) sent me weekly emails about the progress of my pregnancy. They were fun. BabyCenter gives you a fruit or veggie size comparison and BabyList chose mostly none food items for comparison. Both included information relevant to that week/stage of pregnancy. They were both fine.

However, when I got pregnant this time, I decided to see what else was out there in the world of pregnancy tracking and found Ovia Pregnancy (free app). Ovia has many customizations and shows you not only a size comparison (in four different categories), but shows you the size of the hands and feet each week as compared to baby’s hands and feet at 40 weeks gestation. It’s pretty adorable.

Ovia also provides a lot of useful information and allows you to track a ton of useful data. Right now, I take my blood pressure every night and enter the reading into a graph in Ovia. This will allow me to easily catch if my blood pressure starts creeping up again (you can read my preeclampsia birth story here).

Another usual feature is a built-in calendar. You can add doctor’s appointments and track milestones, but to me, the handiest part is being able to check and see easily at a glance how pregnant you are going to be on a certain date. For instance, I hit 37 weeks on July 4th. Your weeks are written in on the calendar.

Like I said, not a pregnancy must-have, but a lot of fun and potentially useful if you’re like me and need to track data in between doctor’s appointments.

Pregnancy Book

Honestly, I haven’t picked up my pregnancy book this pregnancy. My son is only 17 months old and it’s still pretty fresh. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy book during my first pregnancy. It was very helpful as I navigated all the options new mothers have presented to them. It is also full of helpful tips and tricks for getting through pregnancy. There are so many pregnancy books out there and I am sure just about any of them would be just fine. I tend to lean on the crunchy side just a bit, so I went with Mama Natural’s Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth. She presents all options fairly with the pros and cons. She also maintains a healthy respect for the healthcare system and knows that there is a point when medical intervention is the right answer. 

Maternity Clothes

Obviously, at some point, that is different for each woman and each pregnancy, you are going to outgrow your current wardrobe. I am fortunate enough to live in a community where there is a shared store of maternity clothes that we all pass around as needed. This means I have purchased very few maternity clothes myself. The downside to this awesome situation is that not everything is my style or size, so I want to purchase a few pieces of my own.

I have found some decent pieces at the resale store Clothes Mentor. But, this pregnancy I also tried something different. My friend sent me a referral link (that included a credit) to Stitch Fix* ($25 Credit). I decided to give it a try for maternity clothes. I was VERY surprised at how happy I was with the choices my stylist made for me. I ended up with a great dress, a super comfy pair of nice skinny jeans, and a pair of capris (and I’ve never worn capris in my life).

I also have two support tank tops from Blanqi* ($20 credit). They are great, but I wish they had them available in petite. I have a very short torso and they are so long. I usually fold them up about 4-6 inches to hid them under whatever shirt I am wearing. Their leggings look pretty great too, but I haven’t tried them yet. 

Cotton nursing bras* are huge must-haves (for me) at night/at home for when your breasts get sore in pregnancy and then for when you are breastfeeding. I may or may not be wearing one of these exact ones right at this moment.

Maybe I should just write a full post on maternity clothes… Interested?

Well, there you have it. My completely subjective Pregnancy Must-Haves. I hope my list helps you in some way as you navigate your pregnancy. 

Have you found a great pregnancy product? Leave me a comment below!  

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.How many weeks am I? If you told me during my first pregnancy that during my second keeping track of my weeks was going to be a challenge I wouldn't have believed you....

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*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.Easter is only a few weeks away! I cannot believe it! Easter is one of my favorite times of the year. I love spring! Everything is blooming and it's warming up and we...

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Postpartum Recovery: Encouragement, Must-Haves, and Unexpected Joy

Postpartum Recovery: Encouragement, Must-Haves, and Unexpected Joy

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

Postpartum recovery used to be the best-kept pregnancy secret. So many of my friends have told me that they had no idea what to expect and were extremely surprised. Now, I rarely scroll through Pinterest without seeing a post about what to expect from postpartum recovery. While it is a good thing that the secret is no more, it has also had the unintended effect of terrifying new moms. I read a lot of these posts and watched a lot of YouTube videos about postpartum recovery during my first pregnancy. I was prepared and expected it to be absolutely horrible. It wasn’t. 

One of my main goals for Like All Moms Before is to take the fear out of motherhood. Not to paint some idealistic picture that motherhood is all rainbows and unicorns, but to empower mothers to face the challenges of motherhood by keeping the hard parts in perspective. Also, it is important for you soon to be mothers to know that the worst-case scenario isn’t necessarily going to happen to you. When a person has a bad experience they tend to talk about it. I am not saying this is a bad thing. It is just important to remember that for every worst-case scenario you read there are many more cases where everything was just fine, but who wants to read a blog post about something that went just fine? I hope you do because that is what this is going to be. 

That’s right. It wasn’t completely horrible. Some parts were beyond unpleasant, but for the most part, recovery went pretty smoothly. It was not nearly as bad as I expected it to be based on my research.

Ready for some TMI? That’s what you’re here for, right? If not, skip on down to the must-haves section.

Labor

If you’ve read my Birth Story, you know that I had some things working in my favor and some things working against me.

My baby was only 5.5lbs. That means I didn’t have to push out a big baby. However, I did go from “I can’t even feel your cervix” to holding my son in less than 2 hours. That didn’t give my body much time to stretch. Things happened so fast that as I was pushing, the preemie team was scrambling to get in place in time to be ready to support my son if needed. The whole room was chaos while I was pushing. Thankfully, he was just fine. I ended up having two minor tears that each required a couple of stitches. 

I know what you’re thinking. Of course, postpartum recovery was easy for her with that tiny baby! You may be right. However, I have two very close friends who had very similar postpartum recoveries to me who each had a baby over 9.5 lbs. You read that right. Vaginal deliveries of babies over 9.5 lbs. These women are rock stars! They each had minor tearing, a few stitches, and a mild postpartum recovery. 

Immediately Following Birth

After giving birth, the sweet wonderful nurse that made sure my son made it safely into this world, kindly helped me clean up before I was moved from labor and delivery to the maternity suite. After that, I was on my own. I am sure I could have asked for help, but my husband was the MVP.

The first time I tried to go to the bathroom alone I knew theoretically what I needed to do from reading a bunch of blog posts about it, but knowing what to do and being able to juggle it all was another matter. I should have just asked the nurse to help me the first time, but I didn’t. I carried all of my supplies into the bathroom, tried to figure out where to put everything, made a royal mess, and eventually asked my husband to help me because it was too much to figure out on my own. He lovingly helped me the first couple of times, but it didn’t take long to have the process down. The hardest part was remembering to fill the peri bottle before going to the bathroom. I didn’t end up needing the peri bottle by the time I got home 3 days later. 

I am sure you have already read plenty on the topic, but essentially you fill the peri bottle (plastic bottle with a spout cap) with warm water and you squeeze the bottle to slowly run the warm water over your lady parts as you urinate. Urine will burn otherwise. 

Other than that, you will need to change your hospital provided pad that is huge and bulky. I feel like I had more to juggle than that first time, but I can’t remember. 

The critical piece is that there is a learning curve. Expect it. You will figure out what works for you. Ask for help if you need it.

*Pro Tip* While in the hospital, remember the nurses deal with this every day and they can help you. If you are in pain, tell your nurse. She will most likely have a solution for you. The first day or so they brought me ice packs and made sure I took Advil regularly. If you, like me, walk into the bathroom and are fumbling around and leaving a trail of blood behind you (yes, really), ask your nurse for help. I promise you your nurse will be more than happy to help you get the hang of it. 

Going Home

The worst part of the postpartum period for me was getting my digestive system back on track. I was already having problems before I was induced and it took a while for things to start moving again and when they finally did I would have gladly given birth again instead. That is why one of my Top 5 Labor Tips is to keep your digestion moving leading up to your due date. Literally. There are only 5 and this made the list. That’s how bad it was for me. The good news is you know better now and don’t have to go through it too. You’re welcome. 

Other than that, the recovery period was pretty mild. 

However, even I have a few recommendations for getting through it. 

4 Postpartum Recovery Must-Haves

1. EarthMama Herbal Perineal Spray*

I liked that the ingredients in this spray better than Dermaplast. It worked well and I plan to use it again with Baby #2. It was great to spray on after visits to the bathroom or any time I was feeling discomfort. It felt like it was actually doing something as opposed to just providing temporary relief.

Out of everything, I used this spray the longest during my postpartum recovery. It was easy to keep by the toilet and spray on each time I used it. I didn’t have to remember to get anything on the way and it didn’t take any time at all to apply when I was in a hurry. Also, I still have over half the bottle left and that should be plenty for Baby #2.

*Pro Tip* During my stay in the hospital, I kept this spray in the mini-fridge in my room. This added an extra soothing quality those first couple days. 

2. Freezer Pads

I did make padcicles, but I didn’t use them all. After the first couple of days, it wasn’t worth the trouble of remembering to grab on on the way to the bathroom. There are so many recipes on Pinterest that you should have no trouble finding one. I mixed a few different ones and landed on overnight pads*, aloe*, witch hazel*, coconut oil*, and lavender essential oil* (because I had it on hand).

I folded the pads back up after applying the ingredients and put them back in their wrappers, then I put them all in a tissue box with the top cut out in the freezer. I think I made them when I was around 34 weeks. It is an easy project to get out of the way ahead of time. They did come in handy those first couple days when the discomfort was at its peak, but 6-10 were plenty for me.

3. A Pillow

We have really hard chairs at our breakfast table. I can’t sit in them for very long on a good day. So, I just kept a regular bed pillow in my chair for a while. This did the trick. A simple, but effective solution. 

4. Help

The number one must-have for postpartum recovery is help. I know everyone says this, but it really is true. My preference is close family. Those people that you don’t mind asking and that you know are happy to help. My sister was here for the birth and stayed to help me for the first week after my son was born. My mom was in and out too. My sister left and we had two days on our own before my mother-in-law arrived and stayed for another week.

My son is her 9th grandchild and I have 3 sisters-in-law. My mother-in-law has this postpartum period down to a fine science. She took wonderful care of us all and allowed me to focus on my son and figuring out how to be a mom. She cooked and cleaned, refilled my water cup and brought me snacks, and she didn’t get upset when I monopolized the baby. All I had to do was bond with my baby and recover. It was a wonderful time having all my favorite women surrounding me during such a sweet time.  

I would be remiss if I didn’t also brag on my husband. He was wonderful through it all, except for a couple of middle of the night, not his best self moments that were so funny I couldn’t even get upset with him. It didn’t take long for the slightest whisper of his name to have him awake and jumping to help when I was so tired I wasn’t functioning. This was an improvement from the first few nights of having to elbow him repeatedly to get him to wake up. He was the better swaddler. He also encouraged me to trust myself, which was probably the best thing he could have done. 

Unexpected Joy in the Postpartum Period

All that brings me to my next point. Show yourself grace and show your husband grace. This is a new experience for both of you and it is going to take some adjustment. I think labor and the postpartum period have the opportunity to bond husbands and wives like nothing else. Don’t miss that opportunity. Be patient with yourself and your husband. Enjoy watching him grow into his role as a father. It really is a beautiful transformation. As is your transition into motherhood on this side of the womb. Together you can figure it out. 

Lean on each other and trust you’re each doing your best.

Look for things your husband is doing well and praise him for them. He needs to hear he is doing a good job as much as you do. 

This leads us to more TMI…

This sweet time of bonding makes the wait to “reconnect” extra difficult. We may not have waited the 6 weeks you see recommended most often. I don’t remember that being part of my discharge instructions though. We did wait until the bleeding completely stopped. It was just shy of 4 weeks. It may be worth asking when they go over discharge instructions. We went with the ignorance is bliss method.

There was a little bit of discomfort where my stitches had been, but for the most part, everything was just fine. I was really worried about this part of recovery, but it didn’t take long before things were, I was going to say back to normal, but it was (is) actually better than before pregnancy. I didn’t expect that to be the case and it was a pleasant surprise. 

Sex after having a baby is another thing that tends to spark fear. Unnecessary fear. While some women may have issues after birth, the majority are just fine. Like I said, for me, it made it better. If you do end up having a problem, talk to your doctor. There are solutions. 

 A couple more nice-to-have items…

Amazon Basics Underwear in Black* so you don’t ruin your favorite undies. I am still wearing these over a year later. They have seen better days, but have served me well. I will likely buy another set for postpartum recovery with Baby #2.

– Overnight pads, regular pads, and panty liners to be ready for whatever flow the day holds.

Notice I don’t have a special peri bottle on my list. The one they gave me at the hospital was just fine. 

In summary, the postpartum period is without a doubt a unique time. There are some challenges, but along with those challenges come opportunities. Don’t miss the opportunity to bond with your husband during this time. Remember, it isn’t necessarily going to be absolutely miserable. It could just be uncomfortable and a little annoying. Fear is your biggest enemy. Your body was uniquely made to stretch to accommodate a baby. Read my Labor Tips for more encouragement. 

You’ve got this mama. I promise every time you look at your new bundle of joy you will see that it is worth every bit of it. Hard things usually end up being the best things. 

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

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Functional and Beautiful Must-Have Baby Items

Functional and Beautiful Must-Have Baby Items

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

I that am not a fan of baby junk; ugly plastic, obnoxious colors, cheesy characters, and so cheaply made that it rarely lasts through one child. When I had my son, I was determined to avoid “junk” as much as possible and try to only acquire quality items that were well-made, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. While I wasn’t 100% successful, I found some great products along the way. My son is 16 months old now and these items have stood the test of time and are still in great condition for Baby #2 coming in July! I hope to save you some time by putting all of these items in one post, so you don’t have to spend hours and hours scouring the internet as I did.

Happy Baby Carrier

Hands down the best looking baby carrier on the market. I have not used any other carriers, but I have been using this one since my son was one week old (around 6lbs) and still carry him regularly now at 22lbs (while 18 weeks pregnant) in comfort and style. Seriously, these carriers are so cozy, comfortable, and beautiful. The Happy Baby Carrier is a soft-sided carrier where the waist strap is worn higher on the body and provides support for a very comfortable carry. I have the Original in Olive, which is made of linen and allows for front inward-facing and back carry. They also have the Revolution which allows for front outward-facing as well and an Onbuhimo style carrier that I am considering for Baby #2 (not because I need a new one, but because I want one of their other beautiful colors). These carriers are great for so many reasons. The Happy Baby carrier is much lighter and the fabrics make it much cooler than other carriers. They fit in your diaper bag and just get more cozy and beautiful with wear. Mine rides around in the car (usually ends up on the floor) and has spent many a day on the farm and still looks beautiful. My husband even uses it. He particularly likes the “olive drab” color. Have I mentioned you can nurse in them? Number one baby must have right here. They also have a wrap that was great for church or other nicer places during the newborn stage. It was more comfortable while sitting and it is much lighter weight than the Boba or Moby wraps.

Pro Tip: There is a very active Buy/Sell/Trade group on Facebook (that Happy Baby runs) where you can find used carriers and used carriers in discontinued colors. Members post pictures of the colors in different lighting, do fit checks, answer questions, and share the Happy Baby love. Brad and Beth (owners) also share sneak peeks of new lines, provide customer support, and get input for future projects.

Snuggle Me Organic

My son decided swaddling wasn’t for him around a month old (I know, right?). He would fight his way out no matter how tightly we swaddled him or would fuss until we let his arms free. The SnuggleMe Lounger fit perfectly into our bassinet and its hammock effect acted as a swaddle in that it kept his arms from flailing and waking him up. He slept in the SnuggleMe until he started showing a desire to roll over and while he was in the bassinet beside our bed. Disclaimer: The SnuggleMe is not marketed to be used for unsupervised sleep. Please do your own research and make your own decisions. Their safety statement can be found here. This lounger can also be used for tummy time and for a safe place to lay baby down. My son continued to enjoy it on the floor in his nursery long after he stopped sleeping in it. He enjoyed using it as an obstacle to crawl over and a place to lounge and look at a book. Have I mentioned that it is also beautiful in addition to being practical and well made? Mine still looks brand new. 

Gathre Mats

My name is Shannon and I am addicted to Gathre mats. They are leather and vegan leather mats that are beautiful, super easy to clean, fold up nicely, and wear amazingly well. I have the Mirco as a baby diaper changing mat, the Micro+ for a toddler changing mat, and the Midi as a multiuse larger mat (under the highchair in the formal dining room, on the beach, in the yard). The diaper changing mats have gotten the most use of all. They fold up very thinly for the diaper bag and if I got anything on them during a diaper change, I would just wipe it off with a baby wipe. I also have two of their toddler bibs that I purchased before they came out with the pocket bibs. They look nice, fold up small, and are easy to wipe down on the go, but pocket bibs really are the only way to go. I would buy just about every product they make if I could afford/justify it. I love their floor pillows and they just came out with padded mats that look awesome.

 

Olliella Changing Basket

I’m not going to make a case that my changing basket is a necessary baby product, but it is absolutely stunning and perfectly functional. A lot of people expressed doubt that I would be able to use it for very long because they didn’t think it would contain a squirmy baby, but I still change my son’s diaper in this basket on top of a dresser every day even now at 16 months (always with a hand on him). It still looks brand new. Even the white pads I have still look brand new and it is not because I am such a good diaper changer that baby ick hasn’t gotten on them many times. I wash them normally, but I always hang them to dry. It does slide on the dresser some in the middle of a toddler tantrum mid change, so you have to be conscious of that when you’re changing diapers as your child gets older. I have not found it to be an issue, but I don’t want you to be surprised. If it does become an issue, a non-skid rug pad underneath would probably do the trick. It has not been enough of an issue for me to take any action, other than teaching my son to behave during diaper changes. The pros outweigh the cons in my book. This changing basket brings me joy.

 

Maileg Stuffed Animals

Real talk. Most stuffed animals start looking pretty gross pretty fast with regular use and most aren’t that attractive new anyway. While we love our JellyCats, Maileg takes the cake as the absolute best stuffed animals out there. They are vintage looking and made of high-quality materials. When you hold one they just feel amazing. Even better, they wear incredibly well. The more they are played with the more beautiful they get. It’s amazing. My son has the hippo and the rhino rattle and I am so excited to pick out one for Baby #2. My sister in law has several and even with heavy wear from her three children they still look so beautiful. I don’t know how they do it. They also have a lot of toys for children older than mine and I look forward to adding more to our collection over the years.

 

Bibs Pacifiers

Talk about ugly baby products. Pacifiers are not usually something about which to get excited. Until now. Bibs pacifiers are the perfect blend of vintage charm and function. I like the natural rubber nipples, simple design, and the colors are stunning. We used the Avent pacifiers at first, but quickly changed to these exclusively and found that my son liked them better. He used them until 6 months when we sleep trained and inadvertently weaned him from the pacifier at the same time. I look forward to picking out more colors soon!


Baby Clothes

Kate Quinn Organics baby clothes are so cute and soft and charming. They also run great sales often. There is such a difference in quality in baby clothes. I have found that buying good quality baby clothes is absolutely worth it. They don’t wear out as easily and pass well to the next baby. I also love Janie and Jack*, particularly for nice clothes and socks (they have great socks), and Hanna Andersson, particularly for pajamas. We have one Hanna Andersson shirt that started looking faded really quickly, but other than that everything we have from there has been good. 

*Pro Tip* Footie pajamas are cute (and need to be purchased up a size), but footless pajamas allow your child to wear them much longer. This is important to think about when buying nicer baby clothes. You want to stretch your money as much as possible, at least I do.

Humidifier

This will be short. I couldn’t abide the animal-shaped humidifiers or the huge industrial looking ones. I found a sleek one that has served us very well and is very unassuming in the nursery. I went to find the link and unfortunately, it is not available anymore. However, here is one* that looks very similar and has great reviews.


Nursing Covers

CoverMe Ponchos are lovely nursing covers that come in a variety of stylish colors and patterns. They provide 360-degree coverage, allow for flexibility in clothing, are lightweight, and pretty. Great for nursing in the carrier.


Earth and Eden Diapers and Wipes

We have done some cloth diapering, never exclusively, but since I got pregnant with Baby #2 we have only been using disposables. Since my son was out of preemie sized diapers, we have been using Earth and Eden brand disposable diapers. They are free from lotions, parabens, fragrance, latex, and chlorine bleach. I cannot say enough good things about these diapers. My son has not had one diaper rash that wasn’t just redness that resolved overnight with coconut oil. The design is minimal and neutral, but they still have an indicator stripe. Blowouts and leaks are rare because the leg cuff/leak guard is way better than any other diapers we used during the preemie and newborn phases (Pampers, Huggies, and Bambo Nature). The best part is that they cost about the same as Pampers and Huggies. Recently, they came out with wipes. We used WaterWipes until I saw these. They are very similar to WaterWipes (99% water), except they aren’t as wet. I found that the WaterWipes were a little too wet, so I have switched to the Earth and Eden wipes. I am on my third box and I’m officially a convert. Another advantage over WaterWipes is they actually have a lid, instead of just a sticky flap. If you’re like me and forget to close the lid occasionally, the wipe sticking out will partially dry out, but the rest are fine. I purchase Earth and Eden diapers* and wipes using Subscribe and Save* through Amazon Prime* (link includes free 30 day trial). When combined with my other Subscribe and Save items, I get 20% off each time. 

*Note* The wipes are currently unavailable on Amazon (the only place they are sold). I sent a message to the company and they said they are currently out of stock in the Amazon warehouses, but they are working to get them restocked as soon as possible. I have included the link to the Earth and Eden website (not an affiliate link), so you can view their full selection. Here it is again.


Well, there you have it. Baby gear that brings joy. Who knew it existed? I searched high and low and this list is the best of the best in my opinion. 

 Have you found a great baby product that brings you joy? Tell me about it in the comments below!

  

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Sometimes Breastfeeding Comes Easily

Sometimes Breastfeeding Comes Easily

*Disclaimer* This post may contain affiliate links. See my full Disclosure

Dear First Time Mom, 

Breastfeeding isn’t always miserable.

That’s right. One more time for the people in the back: Despite what the internet wants you to think, breastfeeding actually just works sometimes. It is possible to breastfeed your baby without a big dramatic saga full of pain, self-doubt, and heroic perseverance. Sometimes it just works. Not every time. But, it does happen. It happened to me.

My baby latched right away and nursed well (even born at 36 weeks). My milk came in (aided by pumping) with minor discomfort. Apart from one sore nipple from one bad latch early on, breastfeeding was smooth sailing. I nursed without incident until my son was a year old and had a super easy time of weaning.

I am not telling you this to brag about my own accomplishments or make anyone feel bad if this wasn’t her story. My goal is to let you know that there is hope that you too will have an easy time of it. Before I had my son, I heard so many breastfeeding horror stories that I had steeled my resolve to fight this battle. I expected that pain and suffering were inevitable and it would take great sacrifice to breastfeed my child. Sometimes it does. But, not always. There is a chance that you will be just fine. A little soreness and minor discomfort and you’re golden.

Preparing to Breastfeed

I do agree with most mommy bloggers out there that breastfeeding isn’t a natural thing that you inherently know how to do. It does require some preparation on your part.

1. The best thing I did to prepare was to watch this video: Breastfeeding: Getting a Good Latch Every Time

It is excellent. She is a little over the top, but thorough and very clear. In my opinion, she tells you everything you need to know to be prepared to breastfeed your child. She also mentions in her other video (Breastfeeding: Getting Started) that you should avoid any artificial nipples until breastfeeding is well established. I did not give my son a pacifier until he was 2 weeks old and it was longer than that before he had a bottle. 

2. Give Lactation Consultants a chance!

Once your child is born, take advantage of the lactation consultant(s) at the hospital , birth center, etc.. Or as my husband called them, the lactating consultants. I have read horror stories about lactation consultants being pushy and grabbing your breasts without asking, etc. That wasn’t my experience either. We had great lactation consultants (they asked permission before touching my breasts). **Spoiler Alert** Lactation consultants will have to touch your breasts to help you. It is also important to establish breastfeeding as soon as possible and I could see how they could come across as pushy to a mom who had a tough labor and delivery. However, breastfeeding was important to me and I appreciated their quick arrival and assistance. Both of our lactation consultants were gentle and respectful. They were extremely helpful and made sure we were comfortable breastfeeding before we left the hospital. They also helped me figure out how to pump so my milk would come in quickly since my baby was early.

Also, if you do end up having problems, lactation consultants are a great resource even after you’ve gone home and anytime during your breastfeeding journey.

Even when breastfeeding comes easily it is still a huge commitment. It takes a lot of time and dedication to breastfeed a child.

All that being said, I do have a few thoughts and suggestions. 

 

Breastfeeding Fun Facts/Tips/Must-Haves

1. Modesty – Breastfeeding (pregnancy and childbirth in general) have a way of taking the most modest of women and changing her (don’t worry, your modesty will return soon). In those first few weeks, you will lose count of how many people (in my case women only, apart from medical personnel) will see your breasts. Your mom, sisters, mother in law, cousins, aunts, girlfriends, etc. Why? Because you have to expose your breasts every two hours for an extended period of time. If you kick everyone out every time you breastfeed you would never see anyone. Most women are polite and don’t look, but at this point, I promise you won’t really care anymore. You will start caring again around the time you are able to nurse under a cover. It works out nicely.

Side note: I’m not taking a stand on covered vs uncovered nursing. I am more comfortable nursing covered after the initial adjustment period. Do what makes you comfortable.

2. Nipple Cream and Nursing Pads – Let me save you from ruining some of your clothes as I did. Lanolin stains. Use coconut oil instead. Very effective, doesn’t stain, and doesn’t make a huge sticky mess. Nursing pads a great in the beginning, but I didn’t have to use them the entire year I breastfed. I used reusable ones and kept a few disposables (free samples) stashed in my purse, the car, and diaper bag in case of emergency. 

3. Getting Comfortable – The first week or so nursing will require an unobstructed view of your breasts and your baby. Don’t even bother trying to cover up. It’s a lot to juggle and figure out and you need to see what’s going on. Either get comfortable with those closest to you seeing your breasts or kick them out of the room. You only make it harder on yourself when you try to cover up. There is plenty of time for that once you’ve got the hang of it.

4. Water & Snacks – Those first few weeks the second the baby latches you will feel like you’ve been lost in the desert for a week. Make sure you have water with you when you start nursing. After you guzzle that down, you will be ravenously hungry. Have your favorite snacks within reach too. Trust me.

5. Nursing Covers – After the initial no cover phase, but before you’re really comfortable, the covers like this that have the stiff piece that allows you to see what your doing are great. Once you have it figured out, an all around cover like these are my favorites. It is nice to feel covered front and back now that you’ve returned to modesty. It frees up your clothing choices too. As your baby gets older, it gets easier to nurse without a cover while also remaining covered, at least around females. I always used a nursing cover if males (other than my husband) were present. Again, my personal preference.

 6. Nursing Bras – My favorites are ThirdLove.  Most nursing bras don’t have the same feel as a regular bra and I never feel like they looked right on me. ThirdLove bras made me feel a little more put together than the others I wore, while still being comfortable and able to nurse easily. I love their regular bras too and when I got back in mine after weaning it was like “Ahhhh”. My biggest advice is to stay away from removable liners when you are out and about. I had an unfortunate experience where instead of pulling up the cup on my nursing bra, I pulled out the liner. Thankfully, my cousin was sitting next to me in bible study and could hold my baby while I got things situated. Not a fun time.

7. Nursing pillow – I had a small baby and I have a short torso and maybe that makes a difference. I used a small nursing pillow for the first little while and then didn’t bother. The nursing pillow was loaned to me, otherwise, I wouldn’t have bought one and would have been fine without it. It falls into the category of nice to have. Regular pillows work pretty well. My advice would be to borrow one if you can until you know you need one. 

8. Nursing positions – There are a lot of them. Give them all a chance. More than once. They take some getting used to and it takes a few tries to not feel odd. Be open to new positions as you progress through breastfeeding. A position that wasn’t great with a one week old may be great with a 6-month-old.

9. Pumping – Obviously, how often you pump or if you pump at all will be determined by your lifestyle. I can only speak to my own. I am a stay at home mom, so I didn’t have to pump while at work or anything. I did struggle with how much to pump, if at all. I ended up having to pump at the beginning to get my milk to come in and to keep my supply above the demand for my little guy for the first week or so. I quit pumping once we were well established and he was gaining well. I started back again briefly when I night weaned to have a little stash in the freezer. We started trying for number 2 and I didn’t want to lose my supply and not have enough to get my son to a year. I also used it to make his baby cereal when he started solids. Now, I need to throw a bunch out that is still in the freezer unused. If you are a stay at home mom, don’t stress about pumping or a freezer stash.
Pro Tip #1: I used my Instant Pot to sterilize bottles and pumping parts. 
Pro Tip #2: If you do need to pump, get a pumping bra or tank top to allow you to pump hands free. Game changer.
Pro Tip #3: If you put a little coconut oil inside the flange where it narrows, it makes it a lot more comfortable on your breasts. 

10. Haakaa Pump – Get one. Just do it. It’s great. It helps with engorgement, keeps you from leaking everywhere, and creates a small stash to cover the needs of a stay at home mom. I used this off and on throughout my entire year breastfeeding. As my son dropped feedings, it was a great way to relieve a little pressure without stimulating production. You can use it by itself or on one side while you nurse on the other. I watched YouTube videos to learn how to use it, but I never found a really great one that is worth a link (sorry!).

11. Comfy Spot – I nursed on the love seat in the nursery or in bed. Gliders are great, but I’m really short and struggled to find one I thought would be a comfortable height for my arm. Also, they are really expensive. I never had an issue breastfeeding on the love seat or propped up in bed. To each her own though. As long as you’re comfortable.

12. Nursing in a Baby Carrier – This is a really awesome skill to learn. I wasn’t able to do this with my son until he was around 4 months old. Baby needs good head control and there is a learning curve. It’s a game-changer though. Nursing while walking around the grocery store, etc. is wonderful. Personally, I love Happy Baby Carriers

13. Tips to Increase Supply – You will see tips everywhere about how to boost your supply. Drink this. Eat that. Follow this pumping routine. Stand on one foot and pat your tummy and rub your head. All these “tips” had me worried low supply was going to be a real problem. Turns out it is very rare. Most likely, you will be just fine without going to these lengths. There is a certain ice cream that is supposed to help though… I could get behind that tip. 🙂

14. Weight Loss – May you be one of the woman whose baby weight melts away breastfeeding. I was not. You may not be either. I’m sorry. When you’re ready, I have a review of the app Noom specifically for breastfeeding moms. 

15. Returning Cycle – May you also be one of those woman whose cycle doesn’t return while breastfeeding. Mine came back 2 months postpartum when my son dropped a night feeding. I feel a little cheated… not gonna lie.

I hope this post has encouraged you and provided you with hope and some information to feel prepared to breastfeed your child. Try not to stress until you know you have a problem.

If you do have issues breastfeeding, find a lactation consultant and fight your battle. Don’t give up too quickly or too late. Supplement if you have to while you work on it. Breastfeeding is great, but fed is best.

Sincerely, 

A Recovering Anxious First Time Mom

 

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

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Gift Ideas for Husbands

Gift Ideas for Husbands

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How to Buy Quality Children’s Clothing on a Budget

How to Buy Quality Children’s Clothing on a Budget

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.If you have read just about any other post I have written then you know how important quality is to me when it comes to buying decisions. Baby clothing, and now toddler...

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Noom Review + 5 Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

Noom Review + 5 Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

Disclaimer: This is a review I am doing of my own volition. Noom has no idea I am doing it. I am going to include my referral link and will receive 20% off and a $20 Amazon gift card for anyone who continues past the trial.

If you are just here for the tips, they are at the bottom. Feel free to scroll on down.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a fitness guru. If you see me running, you better start running too because something is chasing me. I was not at my normal weight pre-pregnancy and gained 45 pounds during my pregnancy. At 7 months postpartum, I still have 23.2 pounds to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I would like to lose another 20 pounds or so to get back to my normal weight, but I accept this may not happen until after children. I enjoy walking and having a lifestyle that requires me to be active, but I do not enjoy working out. I am also a foodie. This is a bad combination. (Also, I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.)

Enter Noom

Why now?

Well, we are thinking about baby number 2 and I really don’t want to add another 45 pounds to my current weight. That is my motivation (which is important on Noom, as you will see). Beyond vanity, I want my body to be healthy and ready to carry another child while nursing my son until he is at least a year old. I am shooting to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight between pregnancies and then try to get back to my normal weight after babies. Some “well-meaning” people in my life have encouraged me to use wanting a second baby as motivation to lose all the weight. I’m sure that is a good plan if you are in your early 20s, do not have any fertility concerns, and only want a couple of children. That, however, is not my situation. My husband and I have discussed that having four children (Lord willing) is more important than my weight alone, but health is important. We also are under a bit of a time crunch. I am 28 and due to my endometriosis, my fertile years are most likely shorter than the average woman’s. Not to mention the fact that being pregnant or breastfeeding continuously is the best thing I can do for my endometriosis. So, we are shooting for 18 months apart. It took us a year to get pregnant with our son so we will see how the Lord works.

Why Noom?

You clicked on this post, right? You know the answer already because it is the same as yours. An abundance of advertising and the claim that it is different. I wanted to test it for myself. Accountability and goal setting are critical for me to get things done and Noom offers plenty of both.

Now for the Review

Alright, alright. I’ll give you what you want. My honest review of Noom.

Initial Impressions
First, you have to sign up on the website, not the app, which is dumb (or I am dumb and couldn’t figure it out). Download the app, then you fill out all the information you would expect; sex, age, starting weight, goal weight, the speed at which you want to lose weight, and height. Then it creates a plan for you based on the information. Note: This does not include a meal plan. The meal plan was extra. What am I paying for then? Keep reading. I also got an email offer for a special price. You do have to give them your payment information to do the trial.

The app is pretty easy to navigate and is set up intentionally, but can be slightly annoying at times. It is set up as a daily to-do list which is great if you are like me and cannot leave things unchecked. They say it takes 10 minutes a day to do the tasks. For me, it takes about 5 minutes to read the information each day and 5 minutes to do the active work (i.e. logging meals). Of course, this does not include any exercise you do. I took the baby and dogs for a walk a few days a week.

Method
Noom is very clear that they approach weight loss through psychology and science. This is reinforced every day. They teach you strategies to help you manage your impulses and decisions about food. It is all written in a fun, catchy way that makes it a quick and easy read, albeit hokey at times. They assign you a “Goal Specialist” that is supposed to help you set goals and provide accountability. They do let you choose the type of Coach you would like, think drill Sargent vs gentle encourager, using a quiz. Speaking of quizzes, almost every day you are quizzed on what they are teaching you or challenge your assumptions. They are simple and just make sure you are learning. They do not count for anything and just serve as a psychological tool. You also get assigned a Group Coach and Support Group, but I am not that far into the program yet (halfway through week 3). The app also uses the thing in your phone (you know) to track your steps or you can connect the device or your choice (i.e. FitBit). I have just been using my phone, but this makes my step count off because I do not keep my phone on me at all times when at home. Your daily step goal starts at 2,000 steps and increases once you hit that goal for several days in a row. Of course, you also log your food. Their database is pretty good and it allows you to create and save dishes to make logging dishes you make or eat regularly much faster. They also guess what you are going to log based on the meal you are logging for and do a pretty good job with the recommendations. This saves a lot of time logging food. Noom classifies food into three categories based on caloric density and divides your calorie budget between the three. It is almost a universal recommendation to only weigh yourself once a week while trying to lose weight, not with Noom. The first thing you do every single morning is to log your weight.

Losing Weight While Breastfeeding

Losing weight while breastfeeding can be tricky and that was my reason (ok, excuse) for putting off losing weight until my son was 7 months old. Now that nursing is thoroughly established, he is eating solids, and his weight is acceptable, I was ok with experimenting to see how my supply would be affected. Initially, I set the weight loss speed all the way to the fastest setting and that made my calorie budget 1250. I tried that for a couple of days and felt awful. I did some research on KellyMom and then adjusted my speed to a couple of notches above the slowest speed to force the program to account for breastfeeding. This increased my calorie budget to 1550. This has been sustainable for me and I have not seen a dip in my milk supply. I think this is because Noom adds calories to your budget for a high step count or for logging exercise. You get half of the calories you burn added to your calorie budget. I am not sure 1550 calories would be enough on active days if not for this adjustment. What works for me may not work for you. Listen to your body and adjust as needed to find the right balance. 

My Experience

I lost 7.2 lbs in the first two weeks. At the end of my two-week trial, I decided not to pay the lump sum ($110) to continue the program for 6 months. Not because it was not working, because it was obviously working, but because I hope to be pregnant within the next 6 months. Counting calories seemed to be the key for me and there are numerous free apps to count calories. I figured I could try to continue with the program using a free app. So, I proceeded to cancel. Note: To cancel, you have to message your Goal Specialist. Doing this triggers an automatic response with a link to cancel. The link takes you to a page that asks you why your canceling, etc. After I answered the questions, I was offered a month by month plan at a reduced rate ($19/mo). This obviously took away my excuse not to do it and was less than a dollar more per month. No brainer really. I figured the accountability of paying for it would help me stay committed to the program. What has been most motivating for me (not most effective like logging food) has been weighing every day. Seeing how a bad day of eating affects my weight graph usually makes me realize it was not worth it and encourages better decisions in the future. I do not expect to continue losing weight at this rate, but it has been a nice motivational jump start. I have not told my husband that I am working this hard on my weight while he is gone this month. I’m hoping to surprise him by losing 10 pounds. Let’s hope he notices! Ha.

Conclusion
If you need to lose weight and need motivation, accountability, and guidance to get there, Noom may be a good option for you. Since the goal of Noom is to create a lifestyle, not just drop weight quickly, this may work for you if your attempts in the past have not been lasting. Like anything else, it only works if you do the work, but Noom does make it easier to do the work. If you are a fitness junkie who survives on kale and water and exercises 5 times a day, you probably do not need this. It’s great for moms, and others, who need a little help to stay focused on their goals while taking care of others all day. With the two-week free trial, you really do not have much to lose to give it a shot. I hope it works for you, too. Sign up here.

Tips for Using Noom While Breastfeeding

1. Listen to your body. You should be able to tell if you are not eating enough. Do not ignore this feeling. Adjust your weight loss speed setting to give yourself more calories to account for the extra calories you burn breastfeeding. Read this article on KellyMom for guidelines to safely lose weight breastfeeding.

2. Tell your coach you are breastfeeding. My coach sent me a link about using Noom while breastfeeding and was understanding.

3. Weigh yourself at the same “time” each day. If you weigh yourself before and after your first feed in the morning, you get very different results. So, be consistent. I weigh after my first feed in the morning (except the one time I weighed before and realized that was a bad idea).

4. Protein is your best friend. Hard boiled eggs. Canned tuna (in water). Turkey slices. As a mama, having time to prepare food is a challenge. These 3 easy sources of protein will help you get started while you figure out what works best for you.

5. Try comfort food hacks. I figured out that if you add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon heavy cream in a frying pan with a prepared package of either zucchini noodles or riced cauliflower and then add some spices it tastes rich and cheesy and wonderful all for less than 200 calories.

If you decide to give Noom a try, I would love to hear how it works for you!

Want to read more? Check out my posts on breastfeeding and postpartum recovery

 

How to Keep Your Home Under Control: Getting Started

How to Keep Your Home Under Control: Getting Started

In the last year, I have made so much progress towards keeping my home under control. Even with the addition of a new baby 6 months ago, I have had a clean home more consistently than it was before children. No more panic cleaning at the last minute for guests. I’m happier, my husband is happier, and our home is functioning so much better. So, what am I doing differently to keep the dishes clean and the laundry clean and put away? Keep reading to find out.

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

Preparing for baby number two can feel overwhelming. especially if your first birth didn’t go as planned. How can you prepare for labor and delivery of your second child? How do make peace with your previous birth and apply the lessons you learned to this birth? Here are 10 steps to have a great second birth!

Gift Ideas for Husbands

Gift Ideas for Husbands

Have you read numerous gift guides for husbands and not one item seems like a good fit for yours? Same here! So I wrote my own. This gift guide is for men who work hard, prefer practical gifts, and have refined tastes.