Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pregnancy and PostPartum Q&A: The Answers

From this post two weeks ago, I asked if anyone had any pregnancy or post-partum questions and had lots of feedback! Here are your questions and my answers, if you have any other questions feel free to ask below and I'll update this post.

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- What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone would have told you before you gave birth to Ellie? 

I really wish someone- anyone! talked to me about the Baby Blues. All I ever heard about or read was about Post Partum Depression, but nothing about the blues you get. I had heard that after you give birth you’re emotional and would cry often, but no one talked to me about the feelings that come with it. Those few weeks were so hard on me, and I wish I knew to expect them. I think knowing about them wouldn't have changed very much of my experience, but maybe I could mentally prepare myself beforehand? Or at least prepare Matt!

Also, I really looked forward to getting dressed without a bump, it never dawned on me that it's still no fun getting dressed without it because everything has to be nursing or pumping friendly (if you're breastfeeding anyways). Before going to work and when I'm home on the weekends, I like to wear a breastfeeding tank underneath any top over it. That way if I BF while out, my side/back aren't in the open and I'm more covered up (my top shirt is pulled up, but my tank stays down). Before Ellie’s birth, I had bought a couple of tops and dresses to wear post partum, and they are completely not BF friendly. I can only wear them for a few hours, not even to work, because I have to take them completely off to breastfeed or pump. That’s kind of a downer and I wouldn’t have bought them had I realized that.

On the topic of breastfeeding, I thought the most difficult part would be the 3 weeks it takes to get the hang of it (your nipples will feel like they're on fire and are going to fall off) and the time it takes to nurse on demand. For me, the hardest part was all kinds of other stuff- how much is your little one eating, are they getting enough, do you make enough, and how you can increase your supply. I was able to meet with a Lactation Consultant and get a weighed feeding, we realized I had a low supply and would need to supplement for a short period of time. They also talked to me about how to increase my supply by nursing often and taking supplements such as Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek, Mother's Milk Tea, and lactation cookies (see my recipe here).

- How long did it take for your milk to come in? How often did you feed her? How did you increase your supply? 

It took four days before my milk came in, so I fed Ellie all colostrum those first few days. I fed her on demand and still do. Her first few days it was almost every hour to every two hours. Now it's every three hours, almost on the dot! The first few weeks, anytime she fussed I just put her to my breast and that worked to soothe her. At the beginning, I wasn't making enough so she would sometimes cry a lot and want to nurse 24/7. 24/7! I'm not kidding. That's when I went and saw a Lactation Consultant (LC) for a weighed feeding.

At my LC meeting I found out I was about 2oz short of a full feeding. We had to supplement using an SNS tube (a tiny tube used to feed your baby formula while they nurse so you can keep nursing which will help your supply from their feedings) and bottles for a few weeks. I also increased my Fenugreek intake to 3 pills 3 times a day. You will totally smell like maple syrup when you do that, but then you know it's working. I just started taking Blessed Thistle as well (1 pill 3 times a day) and that also helped maintain my supply while returning back to work.

What helped me the most I think is waking up during the night between 1-5am to pump. At first I was only getting 1oz, but now I get anywhere from 2-5oz during this time. Ellie sleeps during the night so I'm able to get up without having to feed her. It is really hard to break up your sleep by doing this, but you do what works for your family. I wish I started pumping earlier and was able to pump after each feeding, but I just didn't get the chance too. After a few weeks, Ellie didn't really sleep much during the day or only in my arms so I didn't have the opportunity to pump during the day. I would definitely recommend doing that if you're able to though. The combination of midnight pumping, nursing often, and my increase in supplements really helped to increase my supply. We no longer have to supplement and Ellie is getting nice and chunky.

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- How do you stay motivated/find the time to always look so dang cute? 

Thank you, this is such a sweet question. If you could only see me now: in pajamas, hair unbrushed in a top knot, and no makeup. I do try and get ready every day though, it just makes me feel better about myself. My routine hasn't changed much, but there are some days I only get halfway through getting ready before I have to attend to little miss.

My hair is pretty easy to maintain, and I don't have to curl it everyday. Lately, it's been pretty hot so I'll have to curl just the crown section of my hair. If Ellie is awake, I'll put her in her Rock and Play and bring it into the bathroom with me. I think she likes watching me get ready. I'll have music on and sing along to the radio to her which helps keep her entertained. It doesn't take me long to get ready, I do the same thing almost everyday so I just have it down pat. You can read about getting your curls to last longer here- I SWEAR by this "recipe" of products. I do wish I was good at getting my hair in a ponytail and having it look cute. Usually, my ponies need a braid or something to make them look cute. Otherwise it's just sad looking. Then I’ll spend just as much time trying to get my hair up as if I just curled all of it. As for makeup, I do the same routine, but sometimes I'll skip eyeliner and shadow and just wear mascara.

Now that I’m back to work, I do a lot of pre-planning. I pack all of my sides for lunch (and make my sandwich in the morning), pack my pump parts, I pick out what I’m going to wear including my shoes and jewelry and lay it out, I also pack Ellie’s bag for daycare with her favorite toys and extra clothes. Then, in the morning I just have to get ready, eat, pump, and make my sandwich. It really makes life so much easier. It’s a lot of work sometimes though and there are nights when I want to just skip it, but I know I’ll regret having to do the extra work in the morning.

- What were the first few days like? Did you have help from family that stayed with you, what are some things you wished you would've done now looking back? 

The first few days were amazing! Ellie slept all the time, she would wake up only to nurse, and we had a ton of visitors. I had to sleep up right on the couch though because of my c-section- our bed was too high and soft and it was painful getting in and out of it. Ellie at the time, would only sleep in my arms as well. That was really the only tough part, but overall is was incredible. I had a ton of adrenaline still and sleep deprivation hadn’t quite kicked in yet. We had people over almost everyday to visit and bring food, and it was so nice of them! Take advantage of people’s help because it tapers off and in week 6 and on you’ll wish someone was coming over to give your arms a break and bring you a decent meal. Looking back, I wish I wasn’t afraid to ask for more help. I wanted to do it all, but having someone else do some dishes wouldn’t have hurt. Also, there was a day or two where when our guests made plans to come over we were up for visitors, but by the time they got there we were too tired to entertain. After a few weeks, I didn’t have a problem cancelling my plans or saying no, but don’t be afraid to do that from the beginning. I definitely would have tried to also sleep and relax as much as I could, but anytime I was able to get Ellie down, I would suddenly have a ton of energy and would keep myself busy. It’s really hard to “sleep when they sleep”, but if you can do it, I would!

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-When did you have your nursery completely done? I keep stressing because we have a registry, mainly for family, but we're not having a shower (just not my thing). This means, there's no "deadline" for ppl to get us stuff which also means we don't know how much we're buying on our own. I feel like we should have everything set up a month in advance in case Peanut comes early. Yes no? 

Since I had a time and day when Ellie would be here (thanks to a c-section) I had my nursery completely done and organized two weeks before her arrival. Since you’re not having a c-section, I think one month would be plenty of time to get everything together and give you peace of mind before Peanut arrives. I would definitely buy a carseat, stroller, dresser, changing pad, diaper genie, crib, and anything else you’ll have your little one sleep in first. The first few weeks you don’t really use too much and can wait to pick up the other extras later. Since Peanut will sleep a lot in the beginning, you’ll have time to finish decorating and organizing the nursery, but you may just want to use that time to relax, watch TV, paint your nails, or sleep. Ellie still doesn’t sleep in her crib, so her nursery is really just for looks at this time. We only use her closet, dresser, changing pad, and rocking chair. LOL.

-I assume you need all the creams, wipes, toiletries all ready to go at home before delivery?

Yes! You will definitely need them ready to go for your little one’s arrival. Ellie had 8-9 diaper changes a day at the beginning, so you don’t want to be without those necessities!

-Who did you have visit you and E in the hospital? How long is an average stay? How did you let your friends/extended family know? (email, text, pic text, phone, etc.) 

On the first day we had only our family (extended family included), but at one point we had 15 people in our room! We are very social and close with our family so it was great having so many people visit us, but other people I know didn’t have any visitors besides parents or siblings. Whatever is best suited for you and your partner works, there will be plenty of time to visit once you’re home as well. After the first day, we had friends and more family come by as well to visit. We sent everyone a text message with a picture once Ellie arrived. We also let everyone know by text when they could visit and what room we were in. No one stayed more than 2 hours at a time and that was really just family, friends typically stayed about an hour. We personally feel that the hospital visits were easy and welcomed everyone who want to come by.

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-How many outfits (onesies) do you realistically need to start off with? Everyone says to not buy clothes b/c those will be gifted, but I think I need a healthy supply of basics on hand, right? 

They grow so fast, there are going to be outfits that they never wear or only wear once. Depending on whether you’re going to take your little one out of the house, maybe 6 outfits to start, 8 onesies, and 5 pjs?.You can always buy more as you go along. I didn’t buy any newborn sizing, but had a few that were gifted to me and had to run out to buy a few more. Our 0-3 months were too big for Ellie so the newborn ones were needed. I also joined a Mommy and Me group that met once a week for several weeks and wanted Ellie to look cute at our meetings and would dress her up in the outfits that were bought for her. Usually at home though, I would just dress her in a onesie and some socks.

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-Do you really need any toys in the beginning? Is that more to "decorate" the room with? 

Nope, you don’t need any toys at the beginning, all they do is sleep, eat, and poop. Just talking and singing to them is fun and enough stimulation at the very beginning. Once they’re more alert you’ll want to have rattles, soft little blankets, the OBall, and an activity mat though. I signed up for several email groups such as Baby Center, Lucie’s List, and What to Expect, they email you weekly based off your child’s birth with great ideas for activities, milestones, etc. I was always worried that Ellie was getting enough stimulation at the beginning and they had great suggestions to “play” with her such as taking different items of varying textures and rubbing them against your little one’s cheek and hands while talking to them about how it felt. Ellie really enjoyed when I did that with her.

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-What was your sleep arrangement like at first? Bassinet next to bed? You hovering over crib in nursery? No sleep for you at all? Sleeping in glider in between nursing? This boggles me. I picture myself zombie-walking from the master to the nursery, not knowing exactly where I should be. 

For the first three weeks, I slept up right on the couch because it was too difficult and painful to get in and out of our bed after having my c-section. Matt slept on the floor in the living room with me, and Ellie slept in my arms mostly, but some nights she slept in her swing (while it wasn’t on). After week three, we were able to transition her into her Rock and Play and we all moved back into the bedroom. That’s still our sleeping arrangement now and we’re talking about transitioning her into her own room, but I’m not ready for that yet. I’m almost there though. I never thought it would be so hard to move her into her own room, that’s right next to ours and she sleeps through the night, but it’s much hard than I thought it would be. I think we’ll start transitioning her into her nursery with her Rock and Play first, and then to the crib in the next month.

-How did you lose the baby weight? 

The day I went in for my schedule C-Section, I had gained a total of 25 pounds during my pregnancy. After Ellie’s birth, the majority of that weight was already gone between Ellie being 8lbs 1oz, the placentia, fluids, etc. Once I got home and the swelling and fluids disappeared, I think I had somewhere around 8-10 pounds left. Since I’m breastfeeding, I burned a lot of calories from that so the weight went away really quickly. I also walked almost daily around my neighborhood anywhere from 1-3 hours. Our neighborhood is a giant loop that’s just over a mile around. The first few weeks that I began walking I would only walk 1-2 miles. I was only able to walk the 5 miles a handful of times because it would just get too hot. I didn’t walk briskly or monitored my heart rate, I just pushed Ellie along in our stroller and walked until she woke up. That was often her morning nap and we walked with my friend and her baby so it was our time to get out of the house and get some fresh air.

- Did you use black out curtains or a noise machine? I'd like to train the babe to sleep without crutches but I'll also do just about anything to ensure that he (I) sleeps. 

We do not use black out curtains for Ellie. They would be nice to have, but I don't think they are a "must-have". You may want to look at how the sun hits your nursery at different times of the day to see if it's something you would need to help with naps.

We do have a Traveling Sound Machine attached to her car seat that we absolutely love- it's great to keep out loud noises when we're out and about. I would absolutely recommend using one, it's amazing when you're outside the home. It provides a constant noise so other noises are drowned out and not as noticeable or or startling to your little babe. For home, we don't use one though. There have been a few times when Ellie was fussy where I used The First Years Sound Machine in her nursery as I rocked her, but we don't use it regularly.

When you get home, you'll try everything with your little one. It's all about survival- I swear. You'll have to try things a few times to see if they work or not as well as getting your little one used to something new.

Thank you everyone for your questions! Feel free to ask any more you might think of below or email me at anytime. Hope you all have a awesome week, feeling  great in your pregnancies, and give your little ones lots of kisses from me and Ellie!

**Updated Questions**

-Everyone keeps telling me I need swaddling blankets/receiving blankets/some sort of flannel blankets. What are they for exactly?? And how many do I realistically need? 

Yes! You swaddle your baby nice and tight because it reminds them of life inside the womb. It's make them feel safe, secure, and warm and makes the fussiest baby calm down. Swaddling is life saving! They make these awesome blankets with velcro to make the job easier for you too. My favorite is Summer Infant Cotton SwaddleMe that I talked about in my first Baby Must-Haves.  I would have 2-3 on hand to begin with and then go from there. We stopped swaddling Ellie sooner because she slept better, and now we use a sleep sack when needed.

- I would love to hear about how you selected a daycare for Eleanor - what the process was like, how far in advance, what you looked for in a good daycare.

Matt and I knew we wanted an in-home daycare for Ellie, we felt that she would get the most attention that way. Luckily, our friend's mother runs one out of her home in our neighborhood and has done childcare since the 80s. I talked to a few people about her and all had glowing reviews- in fact, some of the children she's watched have grown up and taken their own children to her! Matt's dad had told me that she's the best and if we wanted to get in we'd have to call right away. So at the beginning of May, we called her and talked to her and just instantly knew we would be a good match. Then, this summer once Ellie was here we took her by to meet with her and check the place out and they had a good connection. Then we took her another time when the other children were there and Ellie really enjoyed it. Her home is very welcoming, she's very loving and caring- it just emanates from her, the other children are very sweet and dote on Ellie. We were looking for a place where Ellie would gets a lot of attention, be able to be held often, and had a limited amount of children. We found our place the last month of my pregnancy, it would just be easier for us to not be rushed into finding somewhere and it gave us the chance to meet with them before and after Ellie's arrival. I would think about what's important to you in the environment your little one will be in, talked to their references, call your state about any complaints that have been filed, and meet a few times with them to see how you and your little one will like it. Ellie loves going to daycare and looks forward to going, she always has a smile when we get there!

-Were you worried about people holding your baby? We have friends who insist of us washing our hands first. I will probably do the same. Thoughts? 

Yes and no. We make sure that everyone has washed their hands and if we were worried about them holding her (like our niece and nephew since they're small) we just make sure they're sitting down and use a pillow or boppy to help them hold her. 

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