Postpartum preparation

Dr. Amy's Favorite Things for Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum

Over the years after working with so many mamas and of course my own children I have come across many products and ideas; some have worked wonders and some not. I would love to share my thoughts about my favorite things that I used and recommend!

PREGNANCY

Pregnancy Support Band: As your baby bump grows you will start to feel pressure on your pelvis. One great way to help ease the discomfort is a support band. This provides support under your belly. My favorite brand is www.babybellyband.com

Chiropractic Care: I highly recommend chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. It helps so much with alignment which can easily be thrown off in pregnancy. Good positioning of your baby is helpful for labor and birth. Regular chiropractic care is proven to help shorten labor and pushing. Dr. Amber Moravec with Naturally Aligned works right out of Health Foundations Birth Center. Of course I love her! She specializes in pregnancy and newborns.

BIRTH

Birth Plan Flexibility: I am a big fan of birth plans. I do like to think more of it a birth preferences. The thing about labor and birth is that it is different for everyone. There are guidelines of what a "text book birth" looks like which is great but everyone IS different. Things come up; things change. Try and keep an open mind and remain flexible for change.

POSTPARTUM

Double Electric Pump: Whether you are a working mama or not, having a pump is essential. Even if you are not working you will want to pump and introduce a bottle for times you are away. If you are going back to work you will want a good pump that is easy to transport. Check out our class PumpTalk 101; it is very helpful for coming up with a plan on introducing pumping. There are many good brands out there but I prefer Medela or Spectra

Hands-Free Pumping Bra: Along with a good pump, get a hands-free pumping bra! That way you can do other things like work on a computer or read a book. Try the Easy Expression Bustier.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Even with a great latch your nipples will be tender the first few days. The Medela Tender Care Hydrogel Pads are heavenly. They are re-usable and help soothe your nipples. If you have cracked or bleeding nipples please reach out to lactation consultant right away. 

Bottle-warmer: Bottle warmers are a huge time saver. You never want to use a microwave to heat breastmilk or formula; it kills the nutrients and heats it unevenly. You can heat by placing in warm water but that takes a long time. The bottle warm is quick and heats the milk evenly. 

Nursing Tank: Nursing bras are great but nursing tanks are all you need in the first couple of weeks. They are easy and low-maintenance. Bravado has a great one; it is loose and comfortable during postpartum. You will find yourself living in it.

Woombie: I am a big fan of swaddling. When your baby was in-utero they were cozy and warm and didn't have a lot of space to move around. Think of swaddling as mimicking that space outside of the womb. It can be very calming for them and help promote good, restful sleep. I like the woombie because it is very easy to use and the shape of it is comfy for your babe. Swaddling should end by 2.5 months because of the possibility of rolling over.

Pacifier vs Fingers: Pacifiers in my opinion are awesome. Babies love to suck for comfort, it is very soothing. If you are breastfeeding you may find yourself constantly comfort nursing and it can be overwhelming. Pacifiers can help soothe your baby when cranky or tired. It can also help extend sleep. Sometimes parents are afraid of using one and will use their pinky finger to soothe. The problem is, your finger is attached to you! I remember hearing a mom say, "why don't they make fake fingers for babies?!" One popular brand is Avent Soothees.

Stroller with Click-In Carseat: Even if you love wearing your baby, a stroller is essential! Find one that works with your infant carseat. That way if your baby is sleeping you do not have to disturb them. Until your baby is sitting up strollers can be awkward and not very supportive to your baby's head and neck.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Uncensored

Let's be honest ladies, there are many things that happen during pregnancy and postpartum that no one ever told you about. In the moment they are far from funny but looking back all you can do is laugh!

Pregnancy Uncensored

No Control Over Gas: Starting in early pregnancy our digestive system does all kinds of strange things we are not used to. Gas being one of them. And it only gets worse as pregnancy progresses! This can happen in the most inopportune times...

Hiccups and Belching: Ladies with manners goes out the window. There is no stopping it. It doesn't matter what you eat or drink, it is happening! Thank your lovely digestive system once again.

Unpredictable Emotions: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll probably yell. Emotions are up and down throughout pregnancy. They can change on a dime any time of day. Commercials alone can get the tears flowing. Hunger can cause an angry outburst. The next minute you may find yourself dying of laughter. 

Wetting Your Pants: It could be a sneeze, a cough or a good belly laugh that causes it. It could be a trickle or a gush. The pressure on your bladder is no joke mamas! You may want to keep a pair of clean undies in your purse.

Nipple Changes and Pain: It is amazing how your body changes during pregnancy. Women's nipples and areoles become quite dark and large. The reason for this is for breastfeeding. It makes it easier for the baby to see them. But it can be quite alarming! Side note: if you are pregnant in winter, watch out! Cold temps can cause a stabbing pain in your already sensitive nipples!

Postpartum Uncensored

Bleeding and Mesh Underwear: Most of us are not prepared for the month long bleeding that comes after birth. Fun times. No period for 9 months and then BAM! 3-6 weeks of bleeding. To accommodate this you will be given mesh underwear with a pad that is more like a diaper. Victoria's Unkept Secret.

Hair Falling Out: A few months after your bundle of joy has arrived, your glorious pregnancy hair may fall out at an alarming rate. Don't worry- Although it may seem like you'll lose it all, you won't. Your body is just readjusting. During pregnancy you don't lose much hair at all so it is just making up for lost time!

First Postpartum Poop: This is definitely not discussed ahead of time and there should be a forewarning! After giving birth, which might feel like a huge bowel movement, the last thing you want to do is actually have a bowel movement! The pressure can feel kind of scary, but I promise your insides will not fall out even though it feels like they might!

Labial Swelling: Whether you push for 15 min or 2 hours, there will be swelling- probably lots of it. You may not recognize yourself down there. Stick with ice packs and 3-4 sitz baths per day. The swelling goes down! 

Hemorrhoids: This little cluster of grapes on your backside can happen in pregnancy, labor, birth AND postpartum. It is part of why the first postpartum poop is so uncomfortable. Have no fear, they do get better. Those lovely sitz baths will help immensely!

Pregnancy and postpartum is a very special time in a woman's life. It is beautiful and messy all at the same time. All laughs aside, if you are struggling during your postpartum time or something just doesn't seem right, please reach out. There are many resources in the Twin Cities such as, Postpartum Support Minnesota http://www.ppsupportmn.org, WildTree Psychotherapy http://wildtreewellness.com and Iris Reproductive Psychiatric Clinic http://www.irisreproductivepsychiatry.com

 

 

The Home Stretch: What to Do in the Final Weeks of Pregnancy

Final Weeks of Pregnancy

The final weeks of pregnancy are filled with excitement, nerves, aches and pains and often even some impatience. Fortunately, there is plenty to do during that time period to keep you busy and ensure that you are prepared for the arrival of your baby. Here are just a few of the things that should be on your to-do list for the home stretch of pregnancy!

  • Stock up on postpartum supplies: Must have items in the weeks following giving birth include heavy duty sanitary napkins (opt for overnight strength or even Depends), comfy undies, nursing pads, lanolin nipple salve and comfortable loose fitting clothing.

Expert tip: Consider making some ‘padsicles’ by applying witch hazel and aloe to sanitary napkins and freezing them individually. Padsicles make great soothing ice packs for your recovering lady parts.

  • Sleep! If this is your first baby and you don’t have a toddler or older child running around, cherish these last weeks of uninterrupted slumber while you can. Go to bed early, sleep late when possible and catch an afternoon nap. Your body needs to rest up for the big day and the months that follow of caring for a newborn baby.
  • Nest: Many soon-to-be-moms feel the almost compulsive urge to clean and organize in preparation of the arrival of the baby. If the urge has overcome you and you have the energy, run with it and ask your family and friends to help you. Clean out the refrigerator, dust the baseboards, reorganize your closet, spot clean your kitchen and bathroom and take unwanted clothes and belongings to donate. You will have greater peace of mind bringing your baby home to a clean house where everything is in its place.
  • Stock your freezer: Now that your freezer is clean and organized, it’s time to fill it with meals that can be easily reheated in a pinch. You won’t have time to prepare dinner while you and your partner are busy caring for a newborn, so plan ahead and have some nutritional meals ready to go for when the hunger hits. 
  • Prepare your car for baby: Clean out your car and take your car seat to the fire department for instruction on proper installation. You’ll want to have this completed several weeks in advance in the event that your baby should make an early appearance.
  • Prepare a contact list: There are likely lots of people who will be anxiously awaiting the news of the arrival of your little one. Preparing a list of people ahead of time for your husband to text, email or call can remove the stress of creating it on the spot. You may also wish to give your partner’s contact info to any close friends or family that will want to check on you while you are in labor.
  • Pack your birth center or hospital bag: The contents of your bag will vary depending on whether you will be going home the day of the birth or staying a few nights. Plan accordingly with changes of clothes, toiletries, lip balm, pajamas, slippers, and anything else that you may want to have access to while you are in labor. Be sure to prepare your bag several weeks in advance as you do not want to be scrambling to pack at the last minute.
  • If you haven’t already, create your birth plan: A birth plan is a document that outlines your wishes for labor and birth experience. For help creating a birth plan, check out this article on creating a natural birth plan. Be sure to print enough copies for everyone that you anticipate will be involved in your labor and delivery.
  • Spoil yourself: These may be the last weeks that you have time to focus on yourself for a while. Take advantage of this time by doing things to pamper yourself like getting a pedicure, a massage or a haircut. Eat out at your favorite restaurant, take a bubble bath or go shopping with a girlfriend. You’ll be glad you took the time to show yourself some TLC when you are in the throes of being a new parent.
  • Finish your nursery: If you’re creating a nursery for your baby-to-be, now is the time to put the final touches on it. Wash the crib sheets and changing table covers, hang any decorations or pictures and make sure you have everything you need for baby in those first weeks at home.
  • Make space on your camera: In the age of digital cameras and smartphones, it’s not uncommon to run out of space or memory for pictures. Make sure you clean out your photos and have plenty of space to take new pictures before you go into labor. Deleting old photos is the last thing you want to be worried about when you are trying to capture your first moments with baby.
  • Spend quality time with your partner: Similar to finding time to pamper yourself, it will probably be a little while before you and your spouse have time to devote to one another. Go on dates, make dinner together, go for walks, and spend some time focusing on each other and your relationship. There are many ways to involve your partner in your pregnancy. This will help you both feel better prepared and more supported heading into the challenges of being a new parent. 
  • If you have other children, use these weeks to spend some quality time with them, remind them of their importance to the family and help prepare them for the arrival of the baby. It is also a good idea to get a gift to give to your older child “from the baby” to help lessen any initial feelings of jealousy or competition.

The final weeks of pregnancy don’t have to be stressful with a little planning, organization and time set aside to care for yourself. To learn more about having a natural birth or for any and all questions related to pregnancy and birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you from preconception to postpartum and beyond.