Thursday, April 28, 2011

Best Of: Post Partum Tips

This 'best of' post is like the index card you're handed at a baby shower with the request to record some advice for the new mom.

Here's what my index card says:

*Breastfeed if you can. And don't let your baby snack. Get him good and full at each feeding so he will sleep properly. (This doesn't really apply to the first two weeks, when I think you should feed OFTEN and how ever much the baby wants so you can make him happy and build up your milk supply.)

*Speaking of nursing, I've tried every brand, and I really think Johnson nursing pads are the best. They are soft, absorbent, and the least lumpy through a t-shirt.

*Also speaking of nursing, you need lanolin for your sore little boosies. Try Lansinoh.

*Invest in an awesome, battery powered swing. IT IS THE GREATEST THING EVER! I love holding my babies, but sometimes you need to have a shower or get breakfast on the table...

*Gerber onesies are the best. They fit nice and snug. (They run on the small size, btw.)

*In the first few weeks postpartum, listen to your body. If you are tired, SIT DOWN. Sometimes I try to get right back out to the rice paddy, so to speak, and overdo it. Bodies need to heal. Nap whenever you can!

*Along those same lines, listen to your mind and heart. If you are starting to feel cooped up, melancholy, or lonely, call a friend! This time around I struggled with this more than usual, and when I felt it coming on I tried to reach out rather than get sucked further in (which is my typical inclination). There's nothing that cheered me like my friend popping by with an icy cold coke for me...

*In the end, never be afraid to throw out all the advice and listen to your mother heart.

Em here...

It's been a while since I was "post-partum" - and even though it is soooo hard, and exhausting and all-around nuts in many ways, it is a state I would very much like to find myself in again soon. My advice is to look at that little babe and smell it and sing to it and hold it close and savor it all very mindfully. But I'm sure you already know and do that.

I don't really like to tell other moms what to do - everyone's patterns and habits evolve differently. And what one mom feels totally happy and content with might drive another mom crazy. All I can really say or recommend is what felt right to me. Something that is very important to me is honoring my baby's schedule; we all seem to be happier when we can do that. I know it gets harder as you add more children and life gets busier with each child. But as much as possible, after my babies are born, we lay low. We stay home. We let the baby sleep!
And schedules and sleep patterns don't always just materialize out of luck and thin air. Sometimes you have to work at them quite diligently. I say work at it. It might seem like a lot of work on the front end (it is) but the pay off is beautiful and so worth it.

My last bit of advice is, don't wait too long to remember you. For the first few weeks after I have a baby, I just let life happen. I don't try to impose any sort of order or schedule or normalcy on anything. But if that drags on too long, I start to feel out of sorts and unhappy. So, I try to figure out what I need, and act. I have a hard time feeling peaceful and happy if my house looks like Chernobyl. I'm not militant about it, but I make it a priority to get things back to some semblance of order every day, even with a small baby. If I can't do it by myself, I ask my husband to help. I recognize that mothering, especially of a new baby, requires a lot of sacrifice. But I think when it gets to a point of total self-sacrifice that stretches on and on we really start to feel lost and depressed. So don't wait too long to nurture yourself.

What does your index card say? What products do you think are the BEST? What advice would you give a new mom?


Rachael said...

So timely! I'm looking forward to everyone's responses, since I'm having my fourth in a couple of weeks.

I love the advice to slow down after a new baby is born. My third is my best sleeper, and I think in large part it's because we weren't rushing all over creation--he was able to nap happily in his bed while I was reading stories or coloring with his older sisters.

Like Anne said, I've really found that it's worth working hard--and sometimes it is hard--to get that baby full at every feeding. In our family, we found that the wake, eat, play, sleep cycle produced the happiest babies and mothers.

And drink TONS of water! It helps your milk supply, and it will make you feel so much better. Promise. :-)

Barb @ getupandplay said...

My advice seems cliche but it really isn't. You are the expert on your baby, trust your instincts, try different things until you figure out what works for YOUR family.

For me, making sleeping and showering my priority saved me. My house was a wreck but I didn't care as long as I got to shower every day, was napping at every opportunity, and taking care of the baby. That's a LOT of work already!

My other advice is to pray. Seriously, I never felt as at peace as when I stopped reading the baby books and got on my knees. I received some answers but mostly I felt peace and strength and patience to endure the hard times.

The Banners said...

I had my first baby almost a year ago and I had some pretty bad tearing. I highly recommend a daily sitz bath, Tucks and some benzocaine numbing spray if you have any stitches. Also, strange as it sounds, I loved Kleenex Hand Towels for blotting down there after using the bathroom. It doesn't stick like toilet paper and is softer than paper towels. Just don't flush them down the toilet ;)

The Banners said...

Oh ya, and I swear by Mother's Cordial (made by Wise Woman Herbals). You take it the last four weeks of pregnancy and after delivery. It helps tone your uterus and prepare it for labor. It also helps your uterus shrink back down and helps with postpartum bleeding. My nurse at the hospital said that she can tell a distinct difference between my doctor's patients who use mother's cordial vs. other doctors' patients who don't. Here is a link with some info about it from my doctor's website: (Dr. Brass is awesome!)

Jolena said...

I totally agree on the Johnson's nursing pads. I started with them and then decided to try a couple other brands and they were by far the best.
If you can get your doctor to prescribe you some Newman's ointment, it works so much better than lanolin. I like lanolin, but the Newman's was amazing.
Also, get those flannel lap square things at Babies'r'us. They are a lifesave for changing diapers. They come in packs of 6, are about $10 and they're about a foot square. They are waterproof, so they save a ton on washing as all the messes that come with newborns are caught on them. I put them all over my house and in my diaper bag so I'll always have one when I need to change a diaper.
Udder cream is the best stuff for diaper rash. My baby doesn't get it too often, but it works like a charm to fix it.
Cloth diapers are the best burp cloths around. I sewed some ribbon on them to make them cuter. They absorb everything so well.

Steph said...

Belly binding. My midwife recommended it when my third baby was born, and it really helped with the afterpains and getting my uterus to shrink back down quickly. You can buy belly binders, but I just used a long woven scarf and tied it really tightly around my belly. It was even more of a lifesaver with my 4th baby (those afterpains were a beast!!)

jeanine said...

Oh I'm loving this one! I have 2 months until #4 is born!

Personally, I prefer the Gerber nursing pads... I tried the Johnson's and just didn't like them as well.

One thing I wish I had known with my first (but am so thankful that I discovered before #2) is Mother's Milk Tea ( You drink it several times a day for the first 2 weeks or so after your baby is born and it helps your milk come in. With my first baby I was ALWAYS sore then entire 12 months of nursing and even had mastitis. With my next two I had no problems AT ALL. Seriously it's a life saver! (And I've seen it at Target! and health food stores).

One last thing... freeze meals beforehand! I try to do a few myself but then my awesome mom comes. She makes dinner every night that she is here--and makes extra to freeze for when she's gone. Between that and good friends I usually don't have to cook much for the first month! (Which is great because I have c-sections).

Sorry such a long comment! I may be back though and I read other peoples advice!

Brittanie said...

I second the Newman's oinment. Lanolin doesn't even compare. The stuff is amazing!

Calmoseptine is the best thing we have found for diaper rash. It is behind the counter at WalMart. Again, nothing else has come close.

Other things seem so individual. If you have a baby with colic, don't feel bad when the baby doesn't follow the "rules". Listen to your mother heart and trust your instinct. I guess that applies to regular babies too!

Last thing we have loved is Kid-e-Reg for constipation. It is a herbal drop by Dr. Christopher. Works. like. a. charm.

The MOB said...

My group of friends has done a "dinner train" for each mama when they bring home a new little peanut and we each bring mama and family dinners. It is the greatest thing ever when you have a new little peanut and you don't have to worry about making dinner. Plus you get to have the support of your friends!

Heather said...

Great tips! I will have to try the Johnson's nursing pads next go round. Carters onesies are the ONLY ones I buy! They are so soft, don't shrink, and last and last. Also I found an amazing product by The First Years with my last baby called lanolin free nipple butter. It goes on like buttah :) Not at all greasy. When I found out what lanolin was, I kind of freaked out a little. (sheep grease) no, really.

The dinner train and freezer meals are such a perfect ideas! That was definitely one of my favorite things, not having to worry about dinner! So wonderful. I seriously love reading all these tips and tricks, they are great! And definitely, just listen to your heart. Pray, trust your instincts.

My best tip is to just enjoy it. Revel in that first stage. It can be hard, but it goes by all too quickly. I feel like there is such a presence of heaven, just for a moment. Such a gift. Can't wait to do this again sometime soon.

Kalli Ko said...

Newman's is definitely where it's at. With this last babe (7mo old) I had the absolute worst time nursing, mastitis and infections and bleeding nips, THE WORKS. Newmans was the only thing that healed me up. Spendy even with insurance but I still have half a jar in the medicine cabinet.

If you have other kids at home invest in grip of dvds and new toys to keep them occupied/entertained while you are otherwise engaged. Maybe even set up a play date schedule before you have the baby if you can so they can get some interaction and you can have a break.

Babies are the best. I feel like I'm still in the newborn stage sleepwise even though my sumo baby is 7 months and weighs 25 lbs already.

ALSO, hang all to all the free stuff at the hospital. If it has a barcode on it, you paid for it, it's yours. I even took home the plastic tubs that they brought stuff to me in. They make great soaking tubs for stained onesies. Invest in some oxiclean if you don't use it already. Nothing works better.

Emily said...

Bingo to everything that both Anne and Emily said.
Johnson & Johnson are the best disposable nursing pads, but if you want reusable, Lily Padz are awesome. They are made of silicone and very natural looking. They also prevent leakage(or at least hold it in, so it doesn't get all over your shirt). I have seen them at Target lately.
A good muslin blanket to swaddle that cute, precious little baby in. Muslin is an excellent choice for swaddling because it's breathable, the baby won't overheat--that was essential for my last little guy in July in AZ.
Burts Bees baby body wash. It's paraben and pthalate free. It might not smell as nice asJohnson and Johnson, but I sure feel better about it not having all that extra stuff in it.
A sleep schedule. Like they said, not the first 2 weeks, but after that. Everybody is different but that keeps me sane. I also think it makes for good sleepers/nappers in general and happy babies. We like to do eat, play, sleep.
Oh and also a pedicure or girls night out. Even if you feel gross, go. You need it and deserve it!

Jonesy said...

For severe diaper rash--Maalox. Not even kidding.

Also, for swelling and pain in the "nether-regions" try slitting a diaper on one end and adding crushed ice. It doubles as an ice pack and pad and is a lifesaver for me during the first week (with or without tearing or episiotomies).

Thanks for the tip on belly binding! Afterpains get exponentially worse with each child, and now that #6 is on its way, I'm dreading that the most! (Even more than the epidural!)

Rachael said...

Thought of another one (maybe I shouldn't have left my first comment so soon!)

This may sound a little out there, but I really love cloth diapers for the newborn stage. We regularly use bumGenius for older kids, but I really like prefolds and wraps for tiny babies--very inexpensive, and so nice if your baby poops 3 times while you're changing their diaper--you can just wash and reuse instead of throwing away all the money! I spent about $45 for all my newborn dipes, which is about 2 weeks worth of disposables the way my kids go through them...

AND if you would rather do disposables, Amazon Mom offers great deals when you sign up for repeat delivery--think 30-50% off what you'd pay at a big-box retailer!

Jessica said...

Thanks! I'm in the second trimester of my very first [surprise!] pregnancy. I'm nervous and have no idea what to do, buy, or expect.

Kimberly said...

I just had my first baby five weeks ago and the number one thing I'm glad I did was freeze a whole bunch of pads. I soaked them in witch hazel and then froze them-they were absolutely divine on my stitches, and I wish I had frozen more of them.

The other thing I'm glad I did was pretty much staying in bed with the baby skin to skin three weeks and sleeping as needed. Breastfeeding would NOT have happened without this.

And finally-get help! My husband stayed home for 3 weeks and then my mom stayed with us for 2. I'm now home alone, and I could not have done that from the start.

Natalie said...

I love Lansinoh nursing pads. My main priority after having a baby is getting that little person on a good schedule so that I can sleep. If I am rested, I'm a better mom and wife. I also think babies who get on a schedule are typically happier, and the whole family benefits.

Sigh. I have 3 more months before baby #4 joins our family and the crazy post-partum lady who looks a little bit like me, shows up and wreaks havoc on our home for a few months. All I can say is get in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride! :)

Emily@the-polka-dot-umbrella said...

So many good tips! On the product front: Carter's onesies are the only kind worth buying for me. I also love Burt's Bees Baby Wash.

As far as post-partum: know that there can be problems with breastfeeding. With my first, it never even entered my mind as an option, but I didn't make enough milk. With my second, I was much wiser, but still had problems... it hurt so much! My baby ended up having tounge-tie. So, don't be afraid to ask for help when you think that something isn't right.
(As a side note: that's fun that a few people recommend the Newman's ointment, I visited the Jack Newman breastfeeding clinic when I was having problems with my second baby. The stuff does work!)

Kim said...

My advice isn't really for baby but... Enjoy them while they are young because they do grow up too fast. People gave me that advice when I had little ones everywhere but it didn't really sink in until this year. My youngest will be in kindergarten and my oldest in 7th grade next year and I find myself wondering if I spent enough time with them, if I taught them everything I should have etc. If I could have those years back I would forget about all the things that stressed me out and took me away from my kiddos. If people think badly of you because your house isn't perfect that's their problem. It's more important to love your children. I wish I'd played with them more, read with them more, gone to the park more, relaxed more... the list goes on. I suppose no matter how much we do we will always wonder if we did enough but don't let time pass you by.

Cherry Blossoms said...

Being a new mom here myself ( have a 4 month old daughter) I ended up having an emerg c-section. So needless to say my recovery and delivery did not go at all what I was envisioning. The best thing I did for myself and I would recommend is even though I didn't leave the house much at first I always made sure I took a shower every morning and I put on some makeup. It def helped me feel human! I also, loved that no one JUDGED me because I was not able to breast feed my baby and due to not feeling like I was bonding with my baby I stopped pumping at 3 weeks. It was the best choice I made for myself. I am so glad I had the support there as I do feel moms that formula feed appear to be "judged".
And yes, the J and J pads did work wonders :)

families are forever said...

What wonderful tips! The tip I needed most, that I recieved was with my first child, was "It is ok to let the baby cry, especially after you tried everything to comfort it." (Of coarse, listen to your heart, if this feels right to do) I needed that, sometimes I needed a break and had to just step away and let him cry for awhile.

Savannah said...

I'm going to focus on products, rather than advice...

MOST IMPORTANT PRODUCT: The Itzbeen Baby Care Timer. It's a little timer that keeps track of how long "itzbeen" since you changed a diaper, fed the baby, he went to sleep, etc. There's an extra button for you to time whatever you want (like your other child's nap!). It even has a flashlight, clips to your pants, is back lit, and keeps track of what side to nurse on next. My favorite thing ever!

Nursing Pillow: My Brest Friend. SO much better than the boppy!

Nursing Pads: Lilypadz. Invisible through a shirt! However, they do eventually fill up and leak, so you have to pay attention. At home I just use cloth pads and wash them. Yay for being green!

Pump: Medela Pump in Style. Double electric = heaven. If you have an ABUNDANT supply like me, this is a life saver at the beginning especially! Can be pricy though! I got mine brand new on Craigslist and saved a bundle.

Swaddle: Halo Swaddle Sack. Easy to use and keeps the baby nice and tight.

Baby Carrier: The Moby Wrap and ErgoBaby with Infant Insert are my favorites!

Diaper Cream: California Baby. Works great, smells great, all natural, and cloth diaper appropriate!

Cloth Diapers: Smartipants. Between $11-$14 a diaper, cheapest pocket diaper I've found! Fit from 8lbs-35lbs. Cute colors! The insert washes out so you don't have to touch anything gross. Save yourself THOUSANDS of dollars and unnecessary trips to the store. Switch to cloth!

I could go on and on... Sorry it's so long! :)

Jill said...

I would completely recommend the product Colic Calm, it's an all-natural gripe water that is a-maz-ing. My baby didn't have colic, but for those times when he was so upset and nothing was working to sooth him, a little bit of this magic would give us ALL relief almost instantly. My sis-in-law has a 7 wk old right now, and she just told me yesterday how glad she was that I told her about this product. It's a little expensive, but totally worth it. Check it here

Dallas and Natalie Turley said...

My advise for sore boosies is hydrogel pads!! They are amazing, a little pricey, and totally worth it. If you are lucky your nurse will give you free samples in hospital!

Jenissa said...

For me, I have an abundant milk supply and I tried all the disposable nursing pads and the only ones I didn't leak through were Lansinoh. I'm somewhat petite myself, but every time I nurse a baby, the girls seem to get huge and the Lansinoh pads were the only ones that really gave me much coverage too. I do NOT like how they fit underneath a shirt, but this nursing bra seems to help (it has an insert that helps smooth things out a bit)... I was able to buy these at my hospital for about $30 a pop.
(btw, I love the diaper w/ice idea as well as freezing pads... wow, that's smart)
I've never heard of belly binding before, but I'm going to have to check it out. I just had my third baby and even though the last two births I had were natural with no epidural, the afterpains seemed worse than the labor (maybe that's because afterpains just don't seem worth it while all the labor contractions are working to get you what you've spent nine months growing!) It seems true that with each kiddo the afterpains become stronger.
I mentioned before that I always have an abundant milk supply... with that I also seem to get mastitis a lot. Once with the first baby, twice with the second baby and I'm really hoping that I don't get it with this one. Anyway, I've tried plenty of home remedies and recently I read online that something that really helps a clogged duct is to get down on all fours and position the baby underneath you so that they can nurse and you can let gravity and the baby's sucking help. During this third pregnancy, I started to get all the symptoms of mastitis. I tried to fight it by getting plenty of rest, but I couldn't beat it. I had no idea that you could get a clogged duct before the baby is even born (did I mention I always have an abundant milk supply? Yeah. no kidding.) So I got down on all fours and had the husband help massage out the clogged duct. It hurt like nobody's business. But, after about an hour of that, I took a hot shower. I was able to sleep and woke up and never had a problem with it again (*yet* now that baby's here, I'm just crossing my fingers...)
Swaddling is amazing. I hear a lot of mom's that say their babies hate to be swaddled. Just because they fight it doesn't mean they hate it. Think of how cramped they were in the womb... swaddling is somewhat like recreating that snug feeling... also, it is extremely helpful in helping them sleep longer. Babies experience a "falling" reflex when they are on their backs... you notice it when they all of a sudden jerk their arms away from their bodies and freak out. If this happens while they are sleeping, it can wake them up prematurely from rest. When you swaddle the baby, you eliminate that. All of my babies fought/struggled being swaddled at some point in time... but with all three of them it has become a source of comfort for them (one time, even after my oldest had grown out of being swaddled, we were traveling on an airplane. He was not happy, over tired, and over stimulated.. I couldn't get him to sleep. And then I decided I would try to swaddle him anyway. Worked like a dream.)... All this being said, it's important to find a good sized swaddle blanket. They grow out of the 30x30s pretty fast. I have had much better success with a 40x40 or 42x42 sized blanket. Also, doing a double swaddle (two blankets) has been helpful at times as well.