Monday, January 7, 2013

My Advice for Moms-To-Be

Since most of my traffic (and some followers) are moms-to-be, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned so far in my first year as a mom.

(I know all experiences are different and different things "work" for different people. These are just my experiences and opinions in my first year as a real-life Mama... I'm new to this and some of you more seasoned moms may laugh at how naive I am! Ha! If you have any great advice for me and other moms-to-be reading this, please feel free to leave a comment for all of us! I may edit this post as I think of additional things to add.)

Don't stress about the delivery!
I know, this is totally easier said than done. (I'm a worry-wart anyway.) During my pregnancy, I worried and Googled constantly about different stuff that was not likely to happen. My advice -- familiarize yourself with the options (epidural, episiotomy, etc.) but don't spend your entire pregnancy researching and thinking up situations that could (but probably won't) happen. I had probably one of the easiest possible deliveries and I fully regret spending that time worrying instead of just enjoying my pregnancy. If you've never given birth, I promise it's not going to be like anything you've experienced before, and it's not going to be like mine or any other story your friends have told you. The whole experience went by so fast, it's almost a blur. I did opt for an epidural and I don't regret it. I was able to relax, let my body do its thing, and enjoy the process -- which in turn was the best thing for Lily Kate. She came 6 hours after my Pitocin was started and I think it was because my whole body was relaxed. No two birthing stories are alike but either way, worrying won't change the outcome and I PROMISE you'll get through it. I don't know anyone that didn't. The post-pregnancy stuff was actually worse for me... but still, not as bad as I imagined (or read).

(Yes, I look a HOT MESS but LK was the most beautiful newborn I ever saw!)

ENJOY your baby's birthday.
I mean REALLY soak up every single moment. Like I just said, my whole hospital stay was a blur and pain or not, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. I gave birth on Wednesday and went home Friday afternoon... and it felt like I was there only a few hours. Just like your wedding day, TIME WILL FLY! I actually can't wait until this day for my future children! Other than the day I gave my life to Christ, this was the best day of my life, so SOAK. IT. UP.

Postpartum hormones are CRAZY.
You will bring your little bundle of joy home and shortly after, your emotions will go bat crap crazy. I was never "depressed" or diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, but almost every mom that I've talked to went through a time where you just look at your baby and cry. Why? Sometimes for absolutely no reason and sometimes because you don't want them to grow up or sometimes you feel like you don't deserve such a wonderful, beautiful gift from God. Those exaggerated emotions will pass. Then you will be praying for the day when they can wipe their own butt.

Buy as many things 'gender-neutral'.
If this is your first child and you plan to have more children, consider buying things gender neutral. I admit, it was REALLY hard not to buy that cute pink car seat, but I know I would regret it if we found out we were expecting a boy later on. Almost everything along the lines of swings/car seats/high chairs/etc. are some sort of green or neutral color. It'll save a lot of money in the end... or keep my little man from sporting pink. ;) 

I also did a lot of gender neutral things for the nursery. In fact, I could paint the walls blue right now  (and get rid a few "frilly" things) and it'd be ready for a boy. I did splurge on a few good-quality items such as the glider, crib, and bedding -- and I want to get as much use out of them as possible.

(My poor Photoshop rendition... You get the idea)

This is probably my biggest piece of advice. As expecting, nesting moms, we like to get everything washed, folded, and put away, but don't wash everything. Wash a few things to get you through the first few weeks and go from there. You baby will grow in spurts, the weather will be different than you anticipated, and some things just won't work well for you. We literally had about 20 gowns for LK to sleep in and we couldn't use them because she'd scoot herself out of them and wake up a naked baby. Really though, if you need some extra onesies, or you know you're going to put her in that cute dress for this weekend, how long does it really take to cut the tags off and throw them in the washer? 50% of the clothes that we bought or that was given to us could have been taken back and exchanged for larger sizes -- but I had already removed the tags and washed them. I have a tub FULL of clothes and it's only her newborn to 3-month sizes. WAY too many clothes. We are now going into 18 month clothes and we have hardly anything. You don't need and won't use as many as you think. Leave that tag on and leave the possibility open to take it back until you know you're going to use it. 

(Just a few things my newborn had waiting on her.)

Receiving blankets.
I never used them. You always get these as gifts and I washed all of them. I used maybe three of them? For the first week? I now have probably 20 washed, unused, receiving blankets. (Maybe I can make a quilt or something??)

Never used this either except maybe the first week because I thought I just "had" to have it. (Had I breastfed, I'm sure it would have been a necessity.)

(UPDATE: I've gotten comments that receiving blankets and the Boppy worked out well for many! Maybe I'm just the weirdo!)

We bought lots of bottles in different brands. My advice would be: Try one brand until you find one that your baby likes and stick with it. You don't know how many hours I've spent trying to match up 20 different nipples with 20 different rings and 20 different bottles (at 2 am) AND trying to teach my husband "this goes with that and you need this extra part with this brand". When you don't get them just right, they leak. The Playtex drop-in liners worked best for us because of LK's colic. I put every other bottle back into the cabinet and we just used those for probably the first 5 months. We now mostly use Avent. They were easier for her to hold once we were past the colic. She doesn't like the smaller nipples so I gave all of those away. My favorite brand bottle would probably be the Soothie brand that was a gift (no extra parts, easy to hold, nipple is the same shape as pacifier, and the lid snaps on the bottom of the bottle -- genius!), but I can't find them anywhere locally.

(And I know some of you are saying "Breast is best, forget the bottles." I can't argue with that! It just wasn't my choice for several [some, medical] reasons.)

Sound machine.
Okay, this is probably my second biggest piece of advice. Benjie's brother got us a sound machine (because it worked so well for them) and I would pay for it's weight in gold. Lily Kate was sleeping through the night at 8 weeks. If the electricity went off (and her sound machine) she'd wake up, and still does. I always loved a background noise to sleep to, and I honestly will have to buy one for my room when she moves back to her room. Other than that, it helps soothe her when we aren't at home (Grandparent's house or vacation) and it's something that has always been a consistency when she sleeps. We also downloaded a white noise app that we use on our phones for the car seat or on-the-go. Ours is a Homedics brand and we sleep to "waterfall". We started with the "rainfall" but I found myself laying in bed at night counting raindrops and listening to the "loop" pattern (Yes, I'm crazy).
(Buy it here.)
 AngelCare Monitor
If you don't know about these, then you'll want to thank me! During all of my pregnancy "researching", I came across a lot of articles on SIDS and a lot of mothers who commented about loosing their baby to SIDS. (Completely devastating. Take my advice and don't read those kinds of comments until your baby is older.) The AngelCare monitor is sort of like a 2-in-1. You can just use it like a normal baby monitor, or you can use it as a breathing monoitor, or both. This is the one that we have...
(Buy it here.)

 If you've never heard of it, the pad thing goes under the baby's mattress. Once you get your settings just right, you can have the parent piece flash or beep every time the child breathes. If they quit breathing for more than 30 seconds, an alarm goes off. Like the sound machine, it's worth it's weight in gold to me. Before we got this, I'd wake up every 30 minutes to check on Lily Kate as a newborn. I'd get up just to make sure she was still breathing. That kind of sleep is hard on your health and sanity! Once we got this, I was able to sleep until the alarm went off or she woke up. We did have a few false alarms that will scare the @#$% out of you, but that's what it's there for, right? I'd rather have 1,000 false alarms than miss being alerted if there really was an emergency. I STILL use the breathing monitor today (we rarely have a false alarm now that she's bigger) and I will continue to use it as long as she's in her crib. It only takes 0.5 seconds to turn it on or off.

Accept help when it's offered.
A lot of moms give this advice to new moms and maybe I'm the only one that didn't really listen. I thought, "It's my baby. I'm the Mama. I need to learn how to do it. It's my job." Then two weeks later family and friends leave, the "excitement" starts wearing off and you're home alone and EXHAUSTED with a newborn. Your body just carried and delivered a miracle, let it rest afterwards and accept the help. I did however let Lily Kate stay in the nursery the first night after she was born (probably from midnight to 5am). I don't regret it -- I was sooooooo tired (I hadn't gotten any -- ZERO! -- sleep in the past two days) and I knew that was probably the last chance to get more than 4 hours of sleep for a long long time. Plus, her first night, I knew she's be taken well care of in the nursery by the AMAZING nurses while I tried to get some rest. Other than the moment they put her in my arms after birth, my second favorite moment was when they brought her to me early that morning. She was all warm and bundled up in pink... and I had the energy to cuddle all day long! :)

Postpartum  Body.
I was also a little worried about what pregnancy would do to my body. I was lucky enough to dodge the stretchmarks. (I had a few on my hips from my teens that got a little worse.) I used a Luzier cleansing cream on my belly and never really used any kind of butters or lotions. It has the consistency of Crisco (yeah I know) and I slathered it on every time I got a bath or shower. It's really oily. (I normally use it as a face mask about once a week. It makes your skin so supple!) During the end of my pregnancy, I'd put it on my belly at night in the tight spots and just let it "soak". I know it's crazy, but it worked... so it's definitely what I'm going to use next time!

Some people told me that the weight will "fall off" and others said "9 months on, 9 months off." By 3 weeks I had lost most of my weight. (I think that part is genetics. I've always had a pretty high metabolism.) It took another month or so to get my jeans to fit comfortably, and by about 3 months, I was at my pre-preggo weight. At 6 months postpartum, I weighed less than I did in HIGH SCHOOL and I'm probably smaller now than I've been in 10 years. I really don't have the time to work out, but as a stay-at-home mom, I'm a lot more active. I'm always cleaning or doing something around the house. If not, I'm toting around my 20 pound baby. Since I'm busier and not sitting at a desk all day, I find that I eat a lot less. And since I gained 30 pounds with LK and I know what that feels and looks like, I am more conscience of what I eat and how much exercise I get throughout the day. All I can say... It may take a little longer for some, but you really can have the best body you've ever had... if you want it!

Postpartum hair loss isn't fun. I shed like a cat for about 3 months. It starts about 100 days after birth (or any traumatic event, I've read) and you'll lose any hair that you didn't shed during pregnancy. My hair was so full and thick during pregnancy. I had the best hair ever. :( Still, one year later, I still shed more than normal, but I've been taking extra iron, Vitamin B, and Biotin supplements to help.

Now my skin -- I've had hormonal acne all my life. It's gotten progressively better since I've gotten older but I'd still have outbreaks almost every month. By the time my face cleared up for that month, it was time for next month. A never ending cycle. My skin was "okay" during pregnancy. I couldn't use any of the face washes that I normally used but I didn't have the "monthly" reason, so it stayed about the same. Since I had LK, MY SKIN HAS NEVER BEEN BETTER! Maybe it's the work-related stress that's been eliminated since I've become a stay-at-home mom, or maybe it's just because my body "reset" itself after pregnancy. I'm not sure, but I'm sure enjoying it. I do have minimal monthly breakouts, but no where NEAR what it used to be. And since pregnancy, I still only use Cetaphil face wash for cleansing and toothpaste (yes, toothpaste) for spot-drying zits.

Don't forget to jot down the milestones... and do the baby book later.
I have an a "note" in my phone that has all of Lily's milestones -- first laugh, first time she rolled over, etc. I frequently email the note to myself just in case something happens to my phone. I have a big box and I toss in notes, cards, and memorable stuff that I want to include in her baby book. I take a lot of pictures and I make a CD every few months to keep at my mom's house, just in case something were to happen to my computer. The pictures are marked with the date they were taken, so if I forget to write down a milestone (but I always take pictures of it) can always reference the date. I write a monthly letter to Lily Kate. (I missed months 2&3 but I think I have enough blog material to fill it in.) With that said, I haven't written a single thing in her baby book. Not even her name. I plan to sit down in the next few months and do the entire book, start to finish. It's just important to get all of the info and pictures -- even if you don't have the time right now to organize them.

Learn how to use your camera.
Whether you have a phone camera, a point and shoot, or a DSLR, learn how to use it before baby gets here.  (You can find almost every tutorial you'd need on Pinterest these days.) Know what settings to use in low light, day light, when baby is "moving", etc. The worst time to try and figure out how to get a non-fuzzy picture is when you're baby is smiling or crawling for the first time. Trust me, those moments don't last long.

But don't get caught up in taking too many pictures.
I am the camera queen. I always take pictures of everything. I could make a flip book of Lily's life just from the pictures I have taken. Take pictures, but don't live your life behind a camera. Snap a photo, put the camera down, and enjoy the moment.

Hand Sanitizer. 
Take advantage of clubs and points. 
I haven't done so well with this, but some brands and stores offer reward programs. You're going to be buying this stuff, so why not get rewarded for it?! I know Babies R Us has a rewards program (we signed up at our registry) and our local grocery store has a "Baby" program. You just sign up and they send you emails with coupons and sales. Pampers has a "Gifts to Grow" program where you can enter the codes online for rewards. They're all free, so take advantage of them for something "extra".

Well, I think you can only write so much before people stop reading. This is just a list of a few things I've learned so far and if one little piece helped, then it was worth the time written. You may not agree, but hey, we are all entitled to our own opinion. I know I have SOOOO much more to experience and to learn. And, I'm sure some of these things may not work for our future children if the Lord decides to bless us with any more. Feel free to comment and leave your advice for other moms-to-be reading this... or leave me some advice of what's to come. (I need some major advice for teething and weening bottles!)


  1. I love all these tips! I bookmarked this post on my computer! Thanks for taking the time to share it!

  2. This is great. I missed out on a lot when I was pregnant with Dav. And, I regret that. I really didn't know a lot of things that I know now, but will with the next baby. I wish I had that Angel Monitor...never heard of it until months ago...he's 2.5 now. I was a freak about SIDS and never got sleep...half the time he didn't either. But, I did use my receiving blankets and my bobby. He still likes to lounge in the boppy in the den watching cartoons. And, he carries a receiving blanket. He wanted to be a burito - truth be told. LOL. And, I totally agree about the camera!!!!! Ahhh, missed so many great moments there. :( Makes me very, very sad. That sound machine...I want to try that now with him. He loves lullibies and has issues sometimes going to sleep.

    Thanks for sharing this with us all. ;)

  3. This is so awesome! My husband and I are hoping to get pregnant this year, and I am definitely going to read this post again when the time comes. Super helpful! Thanks!

  4. Great post!! We also have the angel care monitor and I never had to worry, definitely worth it's weight in gold! One thing for us that we loved was a mirror in the car so we could see our LO's face while driving. It made us both feel much better, she could see us, we could see her. I did breastfeed, but I found that a regular pillow worked better than a nippy, everyone is different I guess! ;)

  5. I loved reading your post! I agree with a lot of things and I know with our next baby we will do things differently. I guess ever experience just makes you better for the next one! I used my receiving blankets a lot but baby Charlotte had A/R and I found they were great to have for all her spit ups. Something I will read again for our next baby to remind myself of all the little things to do/not do.

  6. I really, REALLY appreciate this post! Especially the part about neutral stuff in case #2 is a different gender! Oh, and I think it's super awesome that your mobile is Pinterest famous. Every time I see 2000+ repins I think, "Yeah, I know her." :)

  7. Haha! That's funny Christy! I never thought it'd be that popular!

  8. Great advice, thank you! I'm expecting my first baby (girl!) this fall and this is all so helpful.