Giving birth is the most amazing and messy experience that I have ever had the honor of experiencing. The amazing part can’t be described or compared to anything else. The days that my babies were born were THE MOST incredible days of my life.
Everything else is insignificant . . . whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section, whether you deliver with or without pain medication, whether you breast feed or use formula. We all have needs and desires related to these topics but they pale in comparison to the sight of that little one.
That being said, there is A LOT of nasty business that goes on to get those babies here. The following is a list of things that I found to be extremely helpful post delivery. With less than three months to go til baby #4 arrives, I am starting to stock up on these essentials. They aren’t all pretty, but they are real.
Pajamas – If it’s your first baby, 100 people might come visit you in the hospital. If it’s your fourth baby, even the grandparents will be too busy with your other kids to come meet the newest addition. Either way, have something that you feel comfortable in to wear post delivery. There will be doctors, nurses and hospital staff stopping in. I’ve always felt better having a nice pair of PJ’s.
Nursing bras and tanks – Get as many as you can get your hands on! Especially in those first few weeks, it’s just a mess. You’re breasts are huge and leaking all over the place. You might go through several bras and tanks in a day. Buy which ever one you find confortable.
Breast pads – As mentioned above, breastfeeding is messy. You will probably leak when it’s not feeding time. When your baby starts eating, both of your breasts will “let down” and you will have a big mess on your hands without breast pads. I wear these at all times. The idea of leaky boobs in public is just more than I can take.
Breast pump – I didn’t realize how crucial this would be until my first born. I intended to nurse so why would I need a pump? Thankfully my cousin loaned me one. My first born went through about a week long period where he would only eat from one breast. If both breasts aren’t stimulated, you will lose your supply. This was an unusual circumstance but there are many times that a pump can be helpful – mastitis, clogged duct, etc. You can also rent pumps from from your friends / relatives,if you don’t want to make the investment before seeing if you really need it. Some insurance plans cover the cost as well.
Bottles – Even if you are breastfeeding, have some bottles. You just never know what you might need. Those first weeks are stressful. It will ease your anxiety. They are glass/Fiber and easy to clean. They also help with feeding problems and digestion. I’ve purchased some new parts but otherwise these bottles have lasted through three babies and I intend to use them again.
Frozen vegetables and cabbage leaves – These aren’t for eating! Your breasts are going to turn into huge (even if you have small breasts, they will be your version of huge), hard monstrosities when your milk comes in a few days after delivery. You can feed your baby and pump out the extra milk (store it!) and they will still be huge and sore. These things can help ease the discomfort. You will only need them for a short period of time while body and baby get used to the new routine.
Heating Pad – Your uterus will slowly shrink back to normal post baby. After your first delivery, this feels like the cramping you might have with a typical period. It can become increasing painful after each baby. After my third baby, it was so painful, it would cause me to wince while breast feeding. (Your uterus shrinks noticeably while breastfeeding.) A heating pad helped tremendously.
Large comfortable undies – I love those meshy ones from the hospital! I always ask for extra before leaving. I’d also buy some cheap ones to wear pre and post maternity. I’ve had these for a few weeks and they’re awesome. But they aren’t glamorous or sexy . . . at all.
Stool softener – I read Jenny McCarthy’s book, Belly Laughs, when I was pregnant with my first baby. She was so scared to poop that she held her bowels for days and ended up back in the hospital because of it. I was so terrified of not being able to poop that I would have done anything. For the record, the most important thing you can do is not worry about it. Don’t get all caught up in your head. But the stool softener helps. Just take the recommended dosage until it becomes easy peasy. You don’t want to get clogged up on top of everything else your body is going through.
Lastly, ask for help where you need it; call your doctor, the lactation consultant at the hospital, a trusted and experienced friend. Don’t suffer in silence. You will want to be super mom, but super mom needs rest. Your friends and family genuinely want to help. When they ask what they can do, let them do your laundry, clean your kitchen, take care of your baby. Take a nap mama. Take care of yourself the way you are taking care of that baby. You deserve it. It took my third baby for me to follow this advice. When people asked if I needed anything, I would say, “I would never turn down a meal.” And when my FIL’s wife asked what she could do to help, I said, “my laundry . . . it’s right over there.” And you know what, that was the first time that ALL my laundry had been done in a long time. I could barely fit it in the drawers. Ask for and accept help. And most importantly, don’t feel guilty about it. If you are struggling, you are not alone. All new mama’s have their own trials and anxieties.
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