In light of Thanksgiving, I thought it’d be fun to share the many things that have made new motherhood so awesome these last couple of weeks. I’m hoping that some of you soon-to-be moms will appreciate this! I know that when I was pregnant, I was so unsure of what I would really need. I realize that everyone is different, different mamas and different babies, so take what I say with a grain of salt. This is what has worked for us, it may not be for everyone. In fact, I think the most important thing to have is a flexible attitude. Be in tune with yourself, your partner, and your baby… You may be surprised what decisions you’ll make!
So, on that note, here are the things that I am thankful for… Some of them were planned, some of them not. Some of them are pretty crunchy, some not. Take what you will, leave the rest…
1. A Supportive Husband- Now, I realize you can’t just pick this up at the store but I thought it was vital to include this because he truly has been a God-send. Caleb is amazing as a person but what made him so great during this process is that he was willing to learn how to be the support that I needed during labor and postpartum. There is so much to learn about the birth process and I am grateful that he was willing to dive in. We took The Bradley Method course together and it was invaluable for us. He also subscribed to the Baby Center weekly updates like I did so that he’d be in the know every week. Caleb’s education, in combination with his kind heart, helped him to empathize with me and to understand the whole process in a way that made me feel so supported and loved.
2. Helpful Family & Friends– The first week, my mom and stepdad came down to stay in the area so that they could help us out while I was in recovery. I can’t even tell you how precious that time was! I was able to focus on bonding with Luca and healing my body while they helped Caleb with household tasks. They also loved to bond with their new grandbaby during his first days of life. If you can have someone come to help with these things during the first few days I would highly recommend it!! We also had a friend manage a meal bringing plan for us. She used MealBaby. We’ve gotten some pretty tasty stuff and it’s such a relief to not have to cook right now.
3. Our Doula, Becky Leonard of Nourish– Becky was so amazing to have on our team. She’s not only a doula but also a lactation consultant. She was available for me to call anytime before the birth… Super helpful for a first time mom who continuously had false labor! She’s also been available to help us with breastfeeding. I attribute my confidence and success in breastfeeding to having Becky’s support. Oh, and how can I not mention what an angel she was during labor?? She was remarkable. She helped both Caleb and I remain grounded and focused. She reminded us of our birth plan when we needed to, she provided pain management techniques, and she was so encouraging. I can’t thank her enough for how much she contributed to that day.
4. An Awesome Midwife– we are so fortunate to live near South Coast Midwifery. They have a remarkable team of midwives and assistants. We felt respected and cared for from the moment we began with them. We were able to call them after Luca was born to ask them any questions we had. This included a call at 3am one night to make sure that Lucas’s belly button wasn’t infected! They are always so sweet and eager to help.
5. A Birth Pool– if you’re going natural, water will be your best friend. I almost feel like I liar when I say that I had Luca naturally because the water felt so much like a drug! I don’t know what it is about the water, but it made labor much more bearable.
6. Snuggle Nest- How a family chooses to sleep is very controversial and personal but let me just say, when you’re recovering from giving birth and you have a precious new baby, it’s incredibly relieving to have your Boo so close. This contraption allows you to have baby in bed with you without actually being IN bed with you. I thought it was ridiculous at first but it has been so helpful. I just reach over and pull him out for nursing. Plus, it also has a nightlight so that I can see him when I’m trying to get the latch right. My husband also really likes being so close to him right now. So his little Snuggle Nest goes in between us and it helps us all get better sleep. (One night, Luca was very noisy, grunting and such, we didn’t sleep great that night but it helped us to be attuned to Luca and comfort him. I learned that I needed to get better at burping him. Truly, co-sleeping usually does make sleeping better but it always facilitates the attachment bond better.)
7. Medicine Mama’s Baby & Mama Gentle Nourishing Skin Cream– it’s all natural and seriously, this stuff is remarkable! I hope this isn’t TMI, but let me just say, I was expecting my nipples to take a major beating from breastfeeding and this stuff has totally prevented that! It also worked great when we went to the desert and Luca’s skin was getting dry, I just applied it as a moisturizer. Today I used it on his little bum that was showing signs of diaper rash. This is versatile, good stuff!!
8. Frozen Witch Hazel Pads– I got this tip from the midwives. Take an overnight super maxi pad and soak it with witch hazel, put it in the freezer and BAM! You have an awesome “ice pack” to help with postpartum recovery… Great for your perineum and hemorrhoids. Ugh.
9. Epsom Salt Baths– another midwife suggestion. These baths have made my recovery shockingly speedy! I try to take two 20 minute baths a day.
10. Placenta Encapsulation Pills– Ok, this is about as crunchy as I get… I am actually taking a supplement made from my own placenta. Linda Swanson, “the artful doula,” took my placenta immediately after the birth and dehydrated it in order to encapsulate it. Studies have shown that this practice reduces the “baby blues” and the risk of postpartum depression. The pills help to wean your body from the pregnancy hormones. I swear, they have helped me to stay positive during sleep deprivation and all the other stress that comes with this major life change! If you have a history of depression, seriously consider this as an option to lessen your chance of experiencing mood disturbance after birth.
So there it is, my list of Mama Lifesavers! If you have any questions or other suggestions for new mamas, please leave them in the comments section. =)