To Take the Class or Not…That’s the Question…

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Childbirth education classes.  Are they all they’re cracked up to be?  Are they really that important, necessary, worth your time?

It’s been a little bit since I’ve posted in my pregnancy series.  In keeping with the sequencing of preparing for baby, it seemed the next logical post should address the idea of childbirth education classes and their importance to pregnant mamas.  Let me just start out by saying that whether you’re planning, or hoping for, a natural delivery or medicated, vaginal birth or cesarean section, childbirth education classes are a MUST in my opinion.  The ultimate goal is for mamas (and dads) to have the confidence to make their own choices and decisions during the childbirth experience.  This confidence comes directly from educating oneself and being fully prepared for what is about to occur during that beautiful time.  Childbirth education classes don’t just educate; they can relieve stress and anxiety by explaining the ins and outs of labor, inform mamas of their options, teach relaxation, breathing and pain relieving techniques, create and foster a bond between mom and dad in preparation for baby’s arrival, inform dad about the process, support he can give and his role in the birth of his child and prepare new mamas for what lies ahead.

“Taking a course is not a requirement; you’ll get to give birth no matter what,” says Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Workman Publishing). “It’s just that they call it ‘childbirth preparation’ for a reason: it helps prepare you. It takes the mystery out of it. Information is empowering, and what you don’t know can scare you more than it should.”

Although most doctors, midwives and doulas across the country recommend their patients take some sort of childbirth education/preparation class, more and more women are choosing to forgo taking the class in exchange for doing their own research on the internet (which might explain why you’re reading this post in the first place! ;)).  According to a study by Listening to Mothers II: Report of the Second National U.S. Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences (Declercq, Sakala, Corry, & Applebaum, 2006), researchers found that only about 56% of women expecting their first baby took a childbirth prep class and 9% of experienced mamas took a class.  However, 82% of women included in the study claimed to have wanted more information about the birth process.  These statistics are startlingly alarming for maternity doctors, nurses, midwives and doulas.  Basically what it means is that although women admit to needing/desiring to be better informed, they are not following through with taking the classes that can give them this knowledge.  This leads to women in the delivery room who are not prepared, have no information on breathing or relaxation techniques (think this might have something to do the fact that 81% of first time moms have an epidural!?) and who have to rely whole-heartedly on their provider for advice and what to do.  Not only does this cause more work for the provider, but it also creates an experience where the mama is unable to take charge of her birth and make informed decisions on behalf of herself and her baby where she is in control.

Benefits of Childbirth Education Classes

  • Build mama’s (and dad’s) confidence in herself and her ability to give birth
  • Educate on the process of labor including stages, what to expect, duration of each stage, etc.
  • Inform mama on signs of labor, when to call your caregiver/go to the hospital or birthing center, what to do if your water breaks, how to time contractions, false labor vs the real deal
  • Give parents the ability to discuss and dispel fears and concerns not only with the childbirth educator, but also with other couples with similar concerns
  • Educate on pain management techniques including breathing, relaxation, massage, aromatherapy and pain medicine options.
  • Not only teach about breathing techniques, but also give mamas an opportunity to practice these techniques ahead of time so that she feels more prepared for labor
  • Inform dads (or birth partners) on support to give laboring mamas, what to expect and what role to take in the childbirth process (things to do, get, be in charge of, etc.)
  • Build a community of support by getting to know other couples in your class that are going through the same thing you are
  • Inform mamas of what to expect before, during and after labor, both physically and emotionally.  Including recovery information and tips.
  • Educate new parents about care of newborns – safety, feeding, diapering, overall care, how to identify illness, how to deal with fussiness, etc.
  • Give parents an opportunity to tour their birthing facility (if classes are taken at the same location) – this reduces anxiety, gets you familiar with the surroundings and eases tension when labor actually starts because you’ll know exactly where to go!

“Prepared childbirth classes remain a valuable experience for individuals who participated. In the present study, the majority of women who attended classes viewed childbirth educators and prepared childbirth classes positively. Women who attended classes were more satisfied with their labor and birth experience and felt more prepared compared to women who did not attend classes” – “Patient’s Perspectives on the Role of Prepared Childbirth Education in Decision”, Lamaze Institute

Types of Childbirth Education Classes Offered

  • Lamaze® International: a contemporary curriculum that supports birth as normal, natural, and healthy and empowers expectant women and their partners to make informed decisions.  For more info: http://www.lamaze.org
  • The Bradley Method®: helps women prepare for a natural labor and birth without the use of medication or medical interventions.  For more info: http://www.bradleybirth.com/
  • Hypnobirthing®: teaches mothers that if you remove fear and tension, severe pain does not have to be part of labor. Intense relaxation will enhance natural birthing instincts that lead to a calm and serene birth experience.  For more info: http://www.hypnobirthing.com/
  • Birthing From Within®: prepares mothers to give “birth-in-awareness,” not to achieve a specific birth outcome.  For more info: http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/

Where Do I Find a Childbirth Education Class?

Or talk to:

  • Your caregiver – doctor, midwife or doula
  • Your birth facility – hospital or birthing center
  • Friends and family
  • Community resource centers

So there you have it.  Some of the ways that educating yourself ahead of time through childbirth education classes can help before, during and after your childbirth experience.  Can you find some of this same information on the internet??  Probably, and in fact people like me would be without readers if no one used the good ol’ World Wide Web to educate themselves.  However, there is something to be said about having that back and forth conversation and relationship while learning, the ability to ask questions and get expert advice, building and fostering relationships not only between you and your spouse/birth partner, but also among other couples preparing to take the same journey as you and the educator who is a certified expert in this content and obtaining hands-on skills and practice that can only be achieved through childbirth education classes.

I get it, you’re thinking that all that breathing crap is hooey when it comes time for labor and yeah, yeah it will all go out the window when the pain gets tough… but I’m here to tell you that that isn’t always the case.  Take it from a girl who “breathed” her way through a natural childbirth.  Furthermore, don’t you suppose those breathing and relaxation techniques might come in handy later in life??  For example, when the baby has colic and won’t stop crying for hours, or when your toddler has pushed you to the limit??  Besides, these classes are about WAY more than just breathing (as we’ve already established)!  So if you haven’t done so already, do some research and get yourself signed up for a childbirth prep class.  Trust me, you won’t regret it…but if you don’t, when the going gets tough right around being dilated to 5-6…you’ll wish you had! 😉

“We could all use a little Lamaze in our life endeavors.  Between each push, remember to breathe.” -Unknown

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References:

American Pregnancy Association

Lamaze Institute, “Patient’s Perspectives on the Role of Prepared Childbirth Education in Decision”

Listening to Mothers II: Report of the Second National U.S. Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences

 

Wait… You Mean My Due Date is Just an Estimate?!

Everywhere you look in our society, whether it be on social media sites among our circles of friends or celebrities in the tabloids, women (and men for that matter) appear to be under some sort of screwed up notion that your due date is this magical day on the calendar when poof! your baby is ready to be born.  What they apparently fail to realize is that in fact this isn’t the case at all!

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M was born a week late.  I was teaching at the time and therefore only had 12 weeks of maternity leave to be at home with her.  Consequently I worked up until the day that she was born.  This meant 2 weeks (because people started asking/commenting a week BEFORE my due date..SERIOUSLY!?) of getting comments like: “What? Here again?” “No baby yet?” “How are you feeling, any signs yet?” “When are you going to get induced/how far past your due date will they let you go?” or my favorite, “You’re still here/still no baby?!”… YES I’M HERE, IF I WASN’T YOU WOULDN’T BE TALKING TO ME RIGHT NOW AND DO I STILL LOOK PREGNANT TO YOU, THAT MEANS NO, NO BABY!!  I hated it!  I mean I know that all of my coworkers at the time meant well, but it was seriously so annoying.  Just because I was nearing my “due date” didn’t mean that the baby would be born by that day!

So let’s set the story straight, due dates are simply an estimate.  In fact, most research states that a due date is typically within a 2-4 week window of when the baby will actually be ready to be born. According to the American Pregnancy Association, only 5% of babies are born on their actual due dates.  However, 80% of babies are born between weeks 37-42.  Due dates are typically determined based on the 1st day of the mama’s last menstrual cycle.  Providers assume that she has a typical 28 day cycle and ovulates half-way through on approximately day 14.  The problem with this method of determining one’s due date is that not all women are the same.  For me, for example, my due date with M was August 31st.  However, I got pregnant using an ovulation kit and therefore knew the exact date of conception (which was on day 21 by the way…).  When I calculated my due date on my own using the date of conception, I came up with September 4th… not so far off from her September 6th birthday.  Given this and the fact that she was born supposedly a week late weighing just a little over 7 lbs, I’m incline to believe the estimate of my due date was just a little off.

My mom has a similar story with me.  I was due August 1st and was born August 17th (over 2 weeks late supposedly) and yet I only weighed slightly over 7 lbs as well.  Kinda small for a baby 2 weeks late, huh?!  Then again since due dates are only an estimate made based on a generic formula that’s supposed to fit all women, maybe I wasn’t actually late after all!

Some people think that their ultrasounds have all the answers and can give them a more accurate due date.  Well I’m sorry to break it to you, but that thinking is wrong as well!  Prior to 18-20 weeks of pregnancy, ultrasounds have a margin of error of roughly a week and a half of predicting accurate due dates.  Between 18-28 weeks, this margin of error jumps to slightly over 2 weeks and by 28 weeks of pregnancy, ultrasound due dates can be off by over 3 weeks!!!  Apparently ultrasounds only give you an estimate as well!  Are you noticing a trend here… let me spell it out for you, your due date is a ESTIMATE!  (Let’s face it, there’s only 1 person who really knows when your baby is going to be born and it would do you good to remember it should be all on His time!)

So, why do I get so fired up about people’s over-reaction to their impending and heaven forbid passing of their due dates?!  First off because I was one of those women.  The one who had her baby past her due date and therefore had to be subject to all the annoying, unending questions.  And second (and more importantly) because of the number of women having elective inductions based on an “overdue” baby.  What happens when that 40+ week baby is actually only 38 or even 37 weeks along and isn’t ready to be born yet….. ahhh… now we’re getting somewhere.  But, that’s a post for another day… stay tuned! 😉

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A Birth Plan??

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Let’s be honest… childbirth never goes completely as planned.  Labor is one of those things that has so many influences, invariables and unknowns.  So, why write a birth plan?

As you’re preparing for baby’s arrival, in addition to your registry and packing your hospital bag, writing a birth plan is one of the things you’ll want to set time aside to do.

Why write a birth plan?

Birth plans can give women a voice and sense of empowerment over their childbirth experience.  I think that sometimes as women we are made to feel that we have no say in what happens to us in a medical setting during labor and childbirth.  We feel forced to abide by hospital protocol and routine and are given little choice in the matter.  However, this isn’t the way it should be.  More and more women are taking back their labor, educating themselves on their options and making informed decisions about their care and that of their newborn babies.  A birth plan can help you convey your wishes to your doula, midwife, OB and nursing staff prior to and during labor, in turn setting you up to have a more positive experience and help you to feel more of a sense of control.

Is a birth plan for me?

A birth plan is for everyone!  Regardless of your thoughts, wishes or expectations, it is a good idea to write a birth plan to make sure that you are on the same page as your caregiver, spouse and other family members that will be present.  Birth plans are even necessary for those of you with a planned C-section, as you still have a say in some of the things that will take place and especially in terms of care for your newborn baby.

First things first!

Prior to writing your birth plan, be sure to do some research to find out what hospital or birthing center protocols are out of your control.  This way you won’t have added stress later when your wishes aren’t obeyed during labor.  You should also be sure to have all of your questions answered by your caregiver ahead of time so that you’re well informed going into the writing process.  Finally, be sure that your spouse takes an active role in writing your birth plan, as he will likely be the one carrying out your desires as the intensity of labor jades your rational thoughts and actions! 🙂

Things to consider:

Labor

  • Who do you want to be present in the room?
  • How often do you want to be monitored for contractions/checked for dilation?
  • Do you want an automative IV upon arrival?
  • Presence of visitors, both medical and non-medical (friends/family)
  • Movement restrictions
  • Pain management resources (bathtub, birthing ball, walking the halls, massage, etc.)
  • Do you want pain medication? Would you like it offered or only requested?  Offered at what point.
  • Ways to progress labor in the event of it stalling (medicine, non-pharmacological, etc.)
  • Do you want to wear your own clothing, listen to music, have special requests for lighting, etc.?

Birth

  • Number of people present (including family and medical staff)
  • Are you will to have an episiotomy or would you rather the natural tear process?  Do you want to be notified of a repair (stitches) if need be?
  • Is there a certain position in which you want to give birth?
  • Do you or your spouse want to help “catch” the baby?
  • Who do you want to cut the cord?  Prior to or after it stops pulsing?
  • Do you want the baby brought to your chest immediately or after s/he is cleaned up?

Baby Care

  • How much skin-to-skin contact do you desire?
  • How soon after birth do you want medical procedures performed?  Who will accompany baby during initial procedures/check-up?
  • Do you want the baby to undergo all initial medical procedures? (Circumcision, vitamin K shot, eye gel/drops, hepatitis vaccine)
  • Do you want to be present for initial testing and baby’s first bath?  Do you have specific bath products you would like to be used?
  • Do you plan to breastfeed or bottle feed?  Do you want a pacifier offered?

Postpartum

  • How soon after delivery until you’d like to be able to be up walking around, eating, IV removed, etc.?

In general:

  • Your birth plan should be no longer than 1 page
  • Take the time to go over your birth plan with all those who will be present ahead of time, including your caregiver
  • Be sure to have several copies with you when you go into the hospital/birthing center (for your spouse, doula, OB/midwife, nursing staff)
  • Don’t just copy and paste information unless you understand what it’s saying and agree with it
  • Unless you have a medical background, write your birth plan in “normal” language, not medical terms

One last (important) note…

Although it’s a good idea to plan ahead and write a clear plan for how you want your labor and childbirth experience to go, it is important to remember that labor is unpredictable and each woman’s experience is unique.  Be flexible and willing to deviate off of your plan if need be.  In an emergency or abnormal situation, getting too hung up on your birth plan can just cause added (unnecessary) stress.  Remember, at the end of the day you want to have a safe experience that results in a healthy mama and baby.  It’s an added bonus is everything goes according to “plan”! 🙂

Here are some great resources!

There are lots of examples of birth plans floating around the internet for you to use as inspiration.  Here’s My Birth Plan that I wrote for M’s birth (disclaimer – there are things that I would change now before I use this birth plan for the next baby).  You should also check out Earth Mama, Angel Baby’s birth plan template – it’s a super easy step-by-step generator for creating a personalized birth plan.

Whether or not your labor and childbirth experience actually follows your birth plan, taking the time to educate yourself, take a stance and advocate on behalf of you and your new baby empowers you as a woman and allows you to take the first step in taking back your childbirth!

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**I’d love you hear about your experience!  Did you write a birth plan?  Was it followed?!  Comment below and tell me about it!!**

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.foodfitnessandfamilyblog.com

Birth Affirmations

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Have you heard of birth affirmation flags, posters, cards and videos??  If you’ve kept up with reading my blog entries, I’m sure you can easily tell at this point that I am a huge advocate for natural childbirth and a woman’s innate ability to give birth to a baby as her body was created to do.  Therefore, although this idea of birth affirmations is new to me, I love it!

There are several ways a pregnant mama can immerse herself within the power of birth affirmations.  Here are just a few ideas:

  • Print a variety of birth affirmations on small index cards.  In the days and weeks leading up to your childbirth experience, begin and end your day reading a card to serve as a simple reminder and ease your mind.

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  • Create a video or slideshow of birth affirmations to watch during the early stages of labor.  Here’s a beautiful one from Indigo Midwifery in Albuquerque:

  • Print out and make a banner of birth affirmation flags to hang in a visible spot in the room during labor.

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  • Come up with a list of your favorites and have your hubby or doula read them to you in between contractions.

So as you start to wonder if you can really do it.  This thing called childbirth.  Pause and think about this:

“300,000 women will be giving birth with you today.
Relax and breathe and do nothing else.
Labor is hard work, it hurts and you can do it.” 
-Unknown 

If that’s not enough to remind you of your strength and power read through a few of these quotes and affirmations:

“If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished ever moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.” -Irma Bombeck

“For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” -Psalm 139:13-15

“We are made to do this work and its not easy…I would say that pain is part of the glory, or the tremendous mystery of life. And that if anything, it’s a kind of privilege to stand so close to such an incredible miracle.” -Simone in Klasson 2001

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

I think one of the best things we could do would be to help women/parents/families discover their own birth power, from within themselves. And to let them know it’s always been there, they just needed to tap into it.” –John H. Kennell, MD

“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” -Laura Stavoe Harm

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:28-31

“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.” -Virginia Di Orio

“The power and intensity of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, because it is me.”

“From birth I have relied on You; You brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.” -Psalm 71:5-8

“The whole point of woman-centered birth is the knowledge that a woman is the birth power source. She may need, and deserve, help, but in essence, she always had, currently has, and will have the power.” -Heather McCue

 

“My body knows how to have this baby just as my body knew how to grow this baby.”

“Birth is an easy and natural occurrence for which my body has been perfectly designed.”

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And if all of those still aren’t enough to have you convinced, remind yourselves of this simple yet powerful fact… “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:13

Your body was made for this very act.  And you can do it.  Trust me.  But more importantly, trust in yourself! ❤

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Preparing for Baby: Hospital Bag Must-haves

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I remember when we were taking our childbirth education class before having M and the instructor had us go around and say one thing that we had left to do to get ready for baby.  For several women in our class, the answer was the same: pack the hospital bag.  This wasn’t something I had really thought much about so I panicked a little, did some research and in typical me fashion started writing a list of what I needed to pack.  I decided I would take 2 bags with us to the hospital: one for me, and the diaper bag filled with everything we would need for Miss M.

Boppy pillow, M's bunny aka my labor focal point, M's packed diaper bag!

Boppy pillow, M’s bunny aka my labor focal point, M’s packed diaper bag!

In doing my research I kept seeing the same advice over and over… don’t overpack or you’ll end up with all kinds of things that you won’t actually use.  While I heeded this advice to some extent, I still ended up taking things I didn’t need.  And so, I’ve come up with a list of what I deem as being “must-haves” for your hospital bag.  Hope it’s helpful! 🙂

Mom’s Hospital Bag

For labor:

  • Insurance card/driver’s license (my advice would be to pre-register at the hospital!)
  • Sports bra/swimsuit top (if you plan to labor in the tub…which I HIGHLY recommend!)
  • Headband/hair ties
  • Chapstick
  • Breath mints
  • Focal point
  • Relaxation items: CD, aromatherapy/essential oils, massage tools
  • Camera/video camera – take way more pictures than you think you would want…you can always delete them but can never go back and take them if you don’t!!

After baby’s born:

  • Yoga Pants
  • Comfy shirt/sweatshirt
  • Robe
  • Slippers/Flip flops (easy to slip on to walk around your room or the halls)
  • Socks
  • Extra panties (don’t bring nice ones, they’ll probably get ruined)
  • Nursing cami/bra
  • Shampoo/conditioner/body wash/toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Hair brush/hair dryer/straightener
  • Make-up
  • Pillow
  • Nursing pads/sanitary pads/Lanolin cream
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama Bottom Balm and New Mama Bottom Spray
  • Nice outfit for coming home (you’ll be taking lots of pics!)
  • Laptop/magazines (in case you want something to do)

 

Hubby’s Hospital Bag

  • Snacks
  • Stuff to drink
  • Laptop/books/magazines
  • Extra clothes (if planning to stay the night)
  • Personal hygiene products: deodorant, shower stuff, etc.
  • Cell phone charger
  • Cash/change for vending machines – the hospital we delivered in had a “Refreshment Room” with all kinds of stuff for the family, but not all hospitals have these

 

Baby’s Hospital Bag

  • Hand mittens/booties
  • Cute hat – you’ll want baby to stay warm but those little hats the hospital gives you aren’t the cutest!!
  • Blanket – again to keep baby warm but avoid having to use the standard hospital ones
  • 2-3 outfits (more if you plan on having newborn pictures taken in the hospital)
  • Pacifiers (if you plan to use a certain style)
  • Baby wash/shampoo for first bath (if you don’t want to use Johnson’s & Johnson’s)
  • Boppy/nursing pillow
  • Nursing cover
  • Baby book – our nurse was awesome about giving us tons of extra footprints for M’s scrapbook, memory box, etc.
  • Gift for baby to “give” older siblings (I’ll be giving some great ideas for this in my “Friday Find” post this week so check back!!!)

Things most hospitals provide:

  • Diapers/wipes for baby
  • Body wash/shampoo for baby’s first bath
  • Receiving blanket
  • Hat for baby
  • Sanitary pads for postpartum
  • Tucks pads/Antiseptic spray for postpartum
  • Formula (to supplement or formula feed if you choose)
  • Pacifier (the standard green silicone “Soothie”)
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Baby comb/brush

Ours also provided:

  • Lotion (for me) – baby shouldn’t have lotion yet
  • Snacks/beverages for me and the family in a “Refreshment Room”
  • Tubing/accessories for my breast pump
  • Breast pump to use while in the hospital if needed/wanted
  • Lanolin cream

Printable Checklist:

Complete Hospital Bag Checklist

Well, there you have it!!  And here’s my best piece of advice: pack your bag early and have it in the car or by the door!  That way no matter when the time comes, you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’re ready or forgetting anything, because unlike me (who went a week late), you might go early and then you’ll be prepared! 🙂  Happy packing!!

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**For more information on preparing for baby, check out my first blog in this mini series entitled Baby Registry Must-Haves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.migonishome.com/2013/03/packing-my-bags.html

Baby Registry Must-Haves & Printable Checklist!

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If you’re like me, when expecting a baby, your first baby, the task of completing a baby registry holds 2 emotions: exciting, as you prepare for the arrival of baby and getting everything ready, and overwhelming.  I’ll be honest the task can be a little scary!  I mean here you are registering for everything that you could possibly need for a baby…that you don’t even have yet and therefore who knows what you’ll need?!  I might have gone a little overboard in my preparation; I talked to family and friends, consulted Pinterest and other parenting blogs and culminated my research by making a checklist of everything I would need, complete with pricing and brand at the 2 stores I knew I would be registering at.

Here’s what I kept in mind while registering: the total number of people that would be attending my showers combined, what did I consider as “necessities” so I wouldn’t register for too many “extras” (you don’t want people to buy all the extras with the money they could be spending on necessities), and not to stress too much because if I forgot something…Target is always 5 minutes away! 🙂

In the end, I registered for the same things at both places (so that no matter where people went, they would have my full list of options), monitored my registries on a regular basis so that I could delete things as they were purchased at the other store, and ended up with almost everything I could have possibly needed.  In an attempt to help other mamas during this process, I’ve come up with a list of must-haves from this “seasoned” mama!  Be sure to check out the printable Registry Checklist at the end of the post!!

Here you go!!

Feeding:

  • Bottles – the amount depends on how often you want to wash them. We had 5 and that was plenty. (Also, it’s really not necessary to get the little 4-5 oz bottles…you only use them for a short time before moving up to the bigger ones, might as well use the big ones from the get go – it’ll just look a little funny with only a couple oz of milk in the beginning!) **Don’t unwrap/sanitize more than a couple – that way if baby hates that particular bottle you can return the majority of them!
  • Formula dispenser – even if you are fairly stuck on breastfeeding, it doesn’t hurt to register for one of these handy things just in case
  • Bibs/burp cloths – 5-7 bibs, 3-5 burp cloths (more if you don’t plan on doing laundry every few days)
  • Breast pump – check with your insurance company… LOTS of them will pay for this for you with a prescription from your care giver
  • Breastmilk storage bags/Lanolin cream/breast pads
  • Boppy or other form of nursing pillow – even if you’re bottle feeding you’ll definitely want one of these!!
  • Nursing cover/wrap
  • Various nipple sizes (optional)– we ended up staying with the ‘1’ the entire time because even as she’s gotten bigger, M likes the slow flow
  • Bottle brush
  • Bottle drying rack
  • Sippy cups – we found that having a variety of styles was nice because it took going though several before M found one she liked!
  • Plates/bowls/utensils – even though you won’t need these for several months, you might as well save yourself the money in the future and have someone buy them for you now
  • Snack cups – these are super handy for on-the-go snacking
  • High chair
  • Booster chair – once again, you won’t need it for a while but might as well put it on there!
  • Reusable or disposable place mats – these are really nice when eating out!
  • Baby Bullet – or another baby food making system. It is so much healthier and cheaper to make baby’s food and it is so easy –especially when you have a food processor/steamer like the Baby Bullet system.

Things I found not so necessary or downright a waste of money in terms of feeding: bottle warmer (we trained M really early on to take her milk at any temperature, this made it soooo much easier to feed her while we were out and about), dishwasher caddy (I hand-washed all of her bottles/nipples and even when I didn’t it was fine to just lay them on the top rack), insulated bottle tote (I got one in the mail and one from the hospital – you’ll probably end up getting one for free somewhere so don’t bother registering for one)

 

Health and Safety:

  • Monitor – I would suggest a video monitor that way you can keep an eye on baby and when s/he is older and fusses in the night, you can see if s/he is really awake or is just trying to get back to sleep before you go in there
  • Angelcare breathing monitor – this is a monitor that goes under baby’s mattress and detects breathing/movement. An alarm sounds if baby stops breathing…to me this is a MUST HAVE!
  • Baby gates – a necessity if you have open stairs, not so much if you don’t have any stairs
  • Baby care kit – these are really nice because they usually have everything you’ll need in them: nail clippers, thermometer, medicine dropper, comb, etc.)
  • Nasal aspirator – only if you’re going to register for the Nose Frieda. Otherwise just use the one they give you at the hospital – none of the other ones work worth a darn
  • Outlet plugs, cabinet/drawer latches, toilet lid lock, furniture corner cushions… all that safety stuff is oh so important!
  • Humidifier – I guarantee you that the first time your baby has a cold his or her pediatrician will tell you right away to have a humidifier in his or her room when sleeping!
  • First aid kit

Don’t bother with: nose bulbs/aspirators, teething gel – I never used the gel on M… I’m a little hippy and don’t like medicine unless it’s absolutely necessary but to each her own

 

Bath Time:

  • Infant bathtub
  • Bath seat – these are really nice for when baby doesn’t need to be laying down anymore but can’t really sit on his/her own
  • Bath toys
  • Toy storage – we have one of those storage scoops…love it! You can just scoop up all the toys and then hang it on the side of the tub to drip all the water off and dry
  • Bathtub spout cover
  • Bath kneeler – can I tell you a secret? We use an inexpensive gardening kneeler. It was half the price and works just as well! 🙂
  • Hooded baby towels/robe – these are nice for keeping baby warm on the way to the nursery to get dressed
  • Shampoo rinse cup
  • Soap/shampoo
  • Lotion
  • Brush/comb (if your baby care kit doesn’t come with them)

Don’t bother with: baby washcloths – these are a waste of money in my opinion…just use a regular washcloth, Johnson & Johnson’s yellow baby shampoo/wash/pink lotion – it’s actually terrible for baby’s sensitive new skin and do you know some of the chemicals they put in that stuff? Formaldehyde for one…We use Dove Body Bar for Sensitive Skin for soap and Johnson’s Natural Shampoo or another natural/paraben free shampoo for kids (no tears is important!)

 

Baby Care:

  • Diapers – don’t forget to register for a variety of sizes!
  • Baby wipes – refill packs and travel packs are nice to have, too
  • Diaper bag
  • On-the-go changing mat – we had one in the diaper bag and one for a “changing station” on our main level at home (that way we didn’t have to take her all the way up to her nursery every time she needed to be changed)
  • Diaper rash cream – Earth Mama, Angel Baby makes the best hands down. Don’t even waste your money on that other crap – trust me! They have it on Target.com, but if you aren’t able to register for it where you’re registering, don’t settle on another brand, just buy it yourself!
  • Pacifiers – 4-6, it’s a good idea to register for a couple different options and then open and sterilize only one of each kind. That way if baby prefers one over another you are able to return the ones s/he doesn’t like!
  • Sunscreen – be sure to find one for sensitive skin/babies, preferably one that’s natural with no parabens and remember: sunscreen is only safe for babies over 6 months of age
  • Sensitive laundry detergent – one that’s free and clear of fragrances, dyes, etc.
  • Baby toothbrush (if your baby care kit doesn’t come with one)

Waste of money: wipe warmer – they really just dry the wipes out and you’ll end up throwing them away cause they’re all dried up, baby power – this can cause respiratory issues for baby when they breathe it in…look it up! And anyway, it’s really not needed. Diaper pail – just throw the diapers in the garbage and if they’re really smelly, toss it in the dumpster outside – don’t waste your money on one of these, Destin or some other diaper cream (other than Earth Mama, Angel Baby) bad chemicals, don’t really work, can cause yeast infections and UTIs.

 

Nursery:

  • Crib/mattress
  • Fitted crib sheets – I suggest having at least 2-3 in case baby gets sick/has an accident in the night
  • Waterproof mattress pad/cover
  • Bassinet type thing – we had a Rock n Play…M LOVED it!
  • Pack n Play – these are handy for traveling – don’t forget sheets for it!
  • Changing table
  • Changing pad/covers (2-3 covers)
  • Glider/rocking chair
  • Dresser
  • Lamp
  • Mobile/crib activity toy
  • Blankets (3-5)
  • Toy organizer
  • Decorations – this is the fun part!!
  • Sound machine/CD player to play white noise – the sound drowns out the other noises in the house and helps baby sleep better!

Skip: Comforter/bumpers for the crib… it’s just not safe!

 

Activity/On-the-go:

  • Infant or convertible car seat
  • Additional base(s) for car seat
  • Toddler/convertible car seat – might as well be prepared for when you’ll need it!
  • Car seat cover – it isn’t safe for baby to wear a coat in his/her car seat so a cover will keep him/her warm and protect from the elements
  • Car seat head support (if your car seat doesn’t have one built in)
  • Car window shades – one for each side of the car
  • Auto mirror (so you can see baby from the front seat)
  • Stroller/jogging stroller
  • Umbrella stroller – it’s nice to have one of these in addition to your regular stroller because they are less bulky/lighter weight and good for when baby gets a little older
  • Baby carrier – we have an Ergo and love it!!
  • Car seat/stroller toys
  • “Baby on Board” sticker – did you know that statistically cars with these stickers are involved in fewer accidents?!
  • Cart/highchair cover
  • Swing
  • Bouncer seat
  • Jumper/exersaucer
  • Activity mat for the floor
  • Walker – only if you have a one level house or gates/doors protecting the stairs. Baby can quickly get near the top of the stairs without you realizing and you don’t want him/her to fall down in his/her walker!
  • Bumbo seat with tray – these are handy to help baby sit upright before they’re able to on their own. I’ve even seen people take these to restaurants and sit baby up on the table. If you do this, NEVER leave baby unattended!!
  • Toys/rattles

Skip: seat protector mats for your car – these can make your baby’s carseat slide around and just aren’t safe, multiple seats – ex. bouncer, exersaucer, rocker, jumper, walker, swing… baby really doesn’t need all of these things – just pick one or two (we loved our jumper and swing best!). Chances are you’ll be holding your new little one so much s/he won’t use them very often anyway! 🙂 Stuffed animals – you’ll get lots of these when people come to visit new baby.

 

Clothing:

  • Short/long sleeved onesies (depending on the time of year baby’s born) – be sure to register for a variety of sizes
  • Socks – I felt like we could never have enough socks!! Again, make sure you register to different sizes
  • Swaddles – these seriously are amazing…baby feels so snuggled and cozy!
  • Hand mittens (so they don’t scratch that brand new skin)
  • 1-2 hats
  • Sleep sacks/gowns (2-3) – these are really nice and comfy for baby, and make it easy to change diapers!

Don’t worry about: registering for clothes – in my opinion this isn’t necessary. I found that between the clothes I bought for M and the ones that people bought for us on their own, we had plenty! Plus I wanted other people to buy the necessities and leave the ”fun” stuff aka clothes, for me! 🙂

Here’s a printable checklist for you!

Registry Checklist

Well, there you have it!  The complete baby registry list…according to this mama!  Pin it, share it, repost it!  Hope it helps ease a little of that anxiety, and remember, even if you forget something: Target is always 5 minutes away!

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Ten Things I Didn’t Know About Having a Baby…Before I Had a Baby!

 

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I think it’s safe to say I thought I was prepared.  Ask my family!  They would tell you that I’ve always been semi obsessed with pregnancy/childbirth/being a mom.  I read books.  I read blogs.  I read magazines and websites.  I talked to my mom.  I talked to other moms.  I went to every class the hospital had to offer.  I was so ready and knew all I needed to know about having a baby….. or not!

Starting the second my midwife laid my sweet baby on my chest, things started happened that I was so not prepared for.  And the kicker???  The list of things I didn’t know has just kept on growing!  So here I am 19 beautiful months later sharing some of those with you… maybe then you’ll be a little more prepared.  Probably not (because honestly who’s really prepared to have a baby!?) but at least a few things won’t be such a surprise!  Hang on tight because it’s going to be a long, sometimes graphic, ride!

1. Labor hurts… A LOT.  Okay so this one seems like DUH, but seriously you guys it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.  I mean think about it.  Your body was designed to push a baby out without you even having to consciously push – there’s bound to be some serious pain involved.  In order for a watermelon to come out of an opening the size of a grape it’s not going to be pretty.  It’s kind of hard to describe how it feels but imagine it like this: you’ve got a 200 lb weight sitting on your stomach while your insides literally feel like they’re being ripped out along with intense pressure similar to feeling like you need to poo… now multiply this pain that you’re imagining by like 50.  Nope, you still don’t have any idea. That’s okay, you will…  But are you ready for the craziest part of all???  5 minutes after it’s over, you’ll be thinking “that wasn’t so bad”, 2 weeks later “I really thought it was going to be worse” and a year later “I think I’ll do it again!”  Isn’t it amazing that God erases the memory of pain almost immediately – it’s so you’ll have more!!!!!  And although at some point you will think to yourself, and possibly even shout it from the top of your lungs, that you can’t do this, can’t go on, have to stop…you can, you will and no you don’t.  It won’t last forever, the pain is temporary and you will get through it.  Isn’t that awesome?!

2. While we’re on the topic of labor – let’s talk about your hubby!  All along I assumed he’d be Mr. Tough Guy while I’m doing the hardest work of my life to pop his kid out, right?  Not so much… Okay actually I was pretty lucky – my husband has always been super supportive of me, especially my wishes during pregnancy and labor (ahem all natural, tell me I can do it, don’t offer the drugs, you get the idea).  However his first mistake was not going to bed at a decent time so he’d be well rested.  I mean here we were 6 days past my due date and when I told him at 8:30pm that I was going to take a shower and go to bed because I was having contractions and wanted to see if resting would make them stop, you would think he would’ve gone to bed too, right?  Wrong!  When I woke up at 12:30am and my water started to break… guess where he was.  Downstairs.  Still awake.  No sleep for him… Second mistake: not eating.  By 7am not only had he not slept since the night before – so well over 24 hours at that point, but he also hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before.  Not a good combo.  We’re talking dizzy, feeling like he’s going to pass out, needed to sit down right as I’m going through the hardest part of labor!!!  Thank goodness for my mom who not only took care of me, but him as well! 🙂 Lesson learned: make sure the hubby is well rested, FED!, and has additional snacks/things to drink during the process.  That way you don’t have to add being worried your husband’s going to pass out before the kid is even born to your plate during labor.  All jokes aside – my husband was right there by my side the entire time (with the exception of the few times he had to sit down and take a breather!) and was a great source of support and encouragement! 

3.  Breastfeeding is not easy.  At all.  As in it’s actually really hard, doesn’t seem at all natural at first and is something that you have to work at.  Who knew, right??  I mean I had this idea that I would breastfeed because it’s what my body was made to do and that I would produce enough milk and it would all be a piece of cake.  HA HA!  First of all, it’s really awkward at first!  I mean here you are having just had a baby and all the sudden you’re supposed to just “know” how to nurse her.  And if you don’t, well that’s okay because the nurse or lactation consultant will come in, whip your shirt up and be all up in your business making sure the baby is latching correctly and everything looks right!  Luckily for me, M took right to it and it wasn’t so bad.  However, no one warns you about the pain!  By the 2nd or 3rd day in, we’re talking major pain the first couple of sucks… of every feeding!!!  That Lanolin cream works wonders, but it still doesn’t completely alleviate the pain of your bra rubbing, the water from the shower or baby’s hungry mouth.  All you can hope for is for those babies to callus quickly!!  I have heard however that you can help prevent the pain by “toughening” your nipples ahead of time.  This was something I found out much later after having nursed M so I can’t speak to this – but it’s worth a shot!!  In addition to how painful it can be, milk production is a very sensitive process.  For example, you aren’t drinking enough water?  Your production will go down.  Baby isn’t nursing as much one particular day?  Your production will go down.  You aren’t taking in enough calories?  Your production will go down.  Do you catch my drift?  Here’s my best piece of advice: breastfeeding is hard work.  Get all the assistance and help from lactation consultants that you can, go into it trying your best, but realize that it’s not for everyone and if you aren’t able to continue… you haven’t failed!  I lasted 3 months, but I gave it my best and am proud to have lasted as long as I did.

4.  This one might be my number one thing that no one EVER told me, so listen up.  You think labor is painful?!  Postpartum is wayyy worse!  Everyone knows labor isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I had no idea how much worse it would be afterwards!  Yeah I had my baby and everything was great, but talk about discomfort and pain!  While the magnitude of labor pain is much worse, postpartum pain goes on and on for days… sometimes weeks.  That is just not a good time!  You’re swollen, bleeding, there’s a pretty good chance you’re stitched up from having been nearly torn in half (okay that might be an exaggeration but it sure feels like it!)  It hurts to sit, there’s pressure when you stand and don’t even get me started on going to the bathroom.  Peeing is bad enough… it burns, but luckily if your hospital is like mine, they give you this fabulous numbing spray, a squirt bottle to keep everything clean and witch hazel pads to ease some of the discomfort.  Combine that will this most amazing cream by Earth Mama Angel Baby called “Mama Bottom Balm” and you’ll be good to go for the most part.  However, poo-ing is a completely different story.  I think I was more afraid to go number 2 after labor that I was to push M out!  I cried.  I’m not kidding.  The thought of sitting on the toilet, pushing it out when I was still trying to recover from first pushing experience (when she was born) was enough to make me lose it!  No one tells you about that!  The terror, anxiety, desperation you will feel!  It’s not fun.. all I can offer you is good luck, but just know that it’s coming.

5.  While we’re on the lovely topic of poo, let me tell you something else disturbing.  There’s a chance, okay a really good chance, you’ll poo during labor.  Here you are bare for the world to see and you just might lose control of your bodily functions.  Lovely, huh?  Luckily those labor nurses?  They’re amazing.  They will have just finished cleaning up vomit (oh yeah, did I mention you might puke, too??) when they’ll have to switch gears to clean up another sort of *ahem* mess.  See why they’re so great? (okay seriously pregnant mamas, how excited are you for labor right about now?!)

6.  You will absolutely, most certainly, no doubt about it need help.  When someone offers it, take them up on their offer!!!  Even if it’s just half an hour to take a nap!  We were so, so lucky when it came to this.  Not only did my mom (who only lives about 5 miles away) stay with us the few couple nights home from the hospital to assist with nighttime feedings, but she also came over and made/dropped off dinner for like 2+ weeks after we came home from the hospital.  Oh, and she cleaned my house, did the dishes and did the laundry that whole time, too.  See, I told you we were lucky!  The moral of the story here: take whatever help, as much help, as you can.  You’ll be glad you said yes.  Side note – let’s say no one offers, you have no family near by, etc…. forget about your house, the dishes, the laundry and sleep when the baby sleeps!!  I know everyone says that, but trust me… DO IT!

7.  Your body will never be the same.  Ever again.  And that’s okay.  There’s something awesome that happens when you have a baby.  Your body changes.  There’ll be stretch marks, perhaps a scar, spider veins, tummy pouches.  And guess what?  They might not ever go away again.  But that’s okay because when you look in the mirror and see every one of those marks remind yourself that it’s like you’ve been branded forever.  A mommy.  And that little girl/boy standing next to you?  They’re your prize for having that body.  And they’re so worth every single blemish.

8.  No one tells you that you’ll never get sleep again.  I mean you expect it’s going to be rough in the beginning, right?  You have a newborn, newborns wake up to eat every couple hours, yeah yeah you get it.  But you don’t.  Here I am, going on 2 years later and guess what.. my baby bear doesn’t sleep all night most nights.  According to a recent sleep study, over 30% of children ages 2-7 wake up at least once a night, and almost every child studied has at least one night a week where they wake up.  So the whole idea that when they move past that newborn stage they’ll sleep through the night is a myth.  Sorry to break it to you.  And if your friends tell you otherwise, there’s a chance they’re lying.  Sorry again.  The bottom line: sometime near the middle of your pregnancy you’ll stop sleeping all night without waking up.. and this will probably continue until your child is in elementary school.  Although then you’ll be listening for them to get up sick or from a nightmare… so maybe it’ll continue until they’re teens.  Then again, by then they’ll be driving, sneaking out and just overall causing you all sorts of anxiety so you probably won’t sleep then either.  Maybe when they move out… but then you’ll be worried about if they’re okay, safe, etc.  Yep, it’s official.  You’ll never sleep all night again! 🙂

9.  You will never have “me time” again.  For the next several years you will always have a shadow, someone watching you, looking up to you, depending on you.  They’re always right there and you’re never alone.  It’s actually kind of fun!  However, you better enjoy always having an audience no matter what you’re doing.  Changing clothes?  Yep, they’ll be watching.  Going to the bathroom?  There too… even if the door is shut, M always ends up sticking her little hands under the door.  Taking a shower?  If they’re not in the shower with you, they’re probably still in the bathroom.  Are you catching on yet?  And even in those few and far in between times that you and the hubby might have a date night or you might get to run to the store alone, it’s like they’re there because chances are they’re all you’ll think about and talk about the whole time you’re away from them.  Your life isn’t so much about you anymore as it is them.  And that’s okay because that’s exactly the way it should be!

10.  And the final thing that although people tried to tell me, I really had no idea about before I had her was the love and joy she would bring into my life.  You think you know love.  That all consuming, lay your life on the line feeling, but let me tell you my friend, you have absolutely no idea.  There’s nothing like it.  It’s the best feeling in the world.  When that little baby, toddler, preschooler, child, teen, adult looks up at you and you’re all they see in the world.  It’s simply amazing.  No one will make your baby’s eyes light up like you.  No one will calm her fears like you.  Sometimes no one will matter but you.  And what a feeling that is.  To know that you love and are so loved, that you are literally the very being responsible for their life (other than God of course), the one they solely rely and depend on.  There is no way to describe the love that your child will bless you with.  And that’s all that matters and what makes it all so worth it.