Just Take My Word For It
A Misinformed First-time Mom and How To Not Be One
Little Black Heels
What I brought to wear home from the hospital the first time: black high heels, nylons, a black skirt, a blouse (insert 300 laughing-cry-face emoji's). Hashtag- misinformed. I also lunged a huge bag full of candles, a stereo/mixed tape (I realize this dates me) filled with "calming songs" to play in the background etc all with intentions of creating an ambiance for the birth of our baby (pretty sure it's against hospital policy to have open flames). If you're not rolling on the floor laughing at me then you've probably never actually had a child and all of these ideas seem reasonable. Since I've got 5 kiddos worth of birthing experience I'm giving you all the ins and outs to help make your experience more smooth sailing than mine. First note-worthy tip. Don't bring high heels to wear home.
Now that I've given birth 5 times, I've learned a thing or two about what is actually helpful and necessary and what is absolutely fluff. I want to help you avoid some of the mistakes I've made and make your transition to motherhood a little more comfortable, aka, I want you to be prepared/realistic about what's coming.
No Special Certificate If You Forgo Pain Meds
A few things I didn't realize despite all the "Mom" articles I read were that after birth things get swollen. It makes sense thinking about it, but I just didn't think about it- because no one ever mentioned it. You just pushed a very large bundle out a very small opening. That combination will make for some swelling. I just want to assure you that the swelling will go down. Things will return to close to normal eventually. Take your pain medication. Sure, you are still numb so you don't need any meds because you can't feel anything. That will change. If you are in intense pain, it will be hard to take care of your baby. It will be hard to visit with family and friends. The pain medication is offered for a reason. You don't get a discount, or a special certificate if you forgo your meds. All you get is misery. Nursing is not easy. Your bosoms will expand with healthy fresh milk that your baby needs and it hurts. Also, having a baby suck vigorously on your nipples will cause levels of pain that you'll wonder if you could also get an epidural for. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a pretty big fan of nursing (I've nursed 5 kids for about 2-3 years each). If you do the math I've got about 12 years of nursing experience under my belt. I didn't start out as a natural nurser it was a rocky road to start off but I got the hang of it and became an experienced milk-maid. Now I'm a huge proponent of getting educated about breastfeeding in order to be successful.
Now that I've been through this circus called childbirth 5 times I've created a list of things you actually should bring.
Flip flops, slippers, or socks and ginormous maxi pads. Remember when I told you about how your lady parts will be unrecognizable? That's because you just pushed out a baby that is much larger than the hole it came through. That also means you're going to bleed. More likely than not it's going to get on the floor. Especially when you go to the bathroom (which they will make you do even if you're as scared as we all are. You must at least pee and hopefully poop before they will release you, Dr.'s Orders). Think about how many mothers have bled, thrown-up, etc on that very same floor. Just think about it. And now pack some easy slip on shoes or slippers to wear while you walk around. You cannot wear tampons postpartum so maxi pads it is. They will provide you with plenty at the hospital but you'll need a bunch once you checkout so make sure you're stocked up.
Stool Softener. Remember how about 2 sentences ago I told you that they will make you go poo and you will be scared. That is most likely due to the fact that your parts are swollen, bleeding, and sore. Also factor in that your poop has become a rock solid mass that is content to stay where it is. Enter stool softener. Yes, they will have this available at the hospital and will give it to you. But you will be going home soon and you will need this like a 2-year-old needs their Spidey videos and blanket. You might even carry it around with you like a 2-year-old with a blanket. Just saying, stool softener will be your best friend.
Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush. Although your spending approximately $3,000 a night for your accommodations that, somehow, does not cover luxurious amenities. So yes, they do have a tiny bottle of cheap shampoo but my hair felt awful after using it. And it was only enough for 1 use. Depending on your circumstances you could need more than 1 shower and you definitely will want fresh breath. And smelling and feeling clean can not be overrated at this point.
Food. This may be something that only I need but I'm going to include it in case you're like me. After my baby was born, approximately 15 minutes later, I was starving. Probably had something to do with the fact that I had been brunching on ice chips for the last 15 hours. I was ravished. They immediately brought me some food and I devoured it. Then I threw it all up. All over. Now, don't get me wrong, one of the best parts about having a baby is sitting on your propped up hospital bed snuggling your delicious nugget and picking up your phone to order food. I'm not kidding, if I ever change tax brackets and get super rich, I'm totally hiring a cook. One I can call from my bed and order things like "Tex Mex Breakfast hash, grape juice (think stool softener), and wheat toast with grape jam." I LOVE this part about having a baby. But you only get three meals a day. If you're nursing, you will need about 7 meals per day. My suggestion is, at least bring a few of your favorite snacks to hold you over while you wait for your "Tex Mex Hash" to arrive or to fill in if you've puked your last meal up.
A Hair Dresser/Make-up Artist. You think I'm being ridiculous or joking. I'm not. I don't really mean bring in a professional to do this, but you need to ask a trusted family member or friend to come and gussy you up while you're at the hospital. You will be too tired to hold up a hair dryer. Your fingers will be too shaky to properly do eye-liner. Besides, make-up and hair are beyond your husbands realm of expertise. He can sit in the corner and hold baby while someone can help you look like the normal you. This cannot be over-emphasized. Family and friends will be coming by, gobs of photos will be taken. Your pride and vanity have not evaporated just because you have a baby. The more you look like yourself, the better you will feel. I promise. And whomever you ask to do this will feel very special and honored to be there for you at this special time.
Comfy, stretchy clothes. You won't want your maternity clothes (you will want to burn them) you won't want heels and nylons (just take my word for it) what you will want is something cute-ish (you'll likely be taking pics of this joyous occasion) but comfy (you will be feeling worn out and anxious). A soft, loose tunic and some stretch pants are my suggestion. You can still look good while feeling comfortable. It's laughable to look back and remember gingerly removing my hospital gown and pulling out nylons, and cunning little heels for my drive home from the hospital postpartum. (What in the heck was wrong with me?)
A really big, baggy bra (no underwires). Your nursing boobs will get a lot bigger than you think. It's kind of amazing, and also painful. The last thing you want is anything tight squeezing them. If I wear any kind of wire-bra while nursing I get a clogged duct within 24 hours. By the 2nd child I stopped using nursing bras. I just pull down the side, latch that little ravenous mouth on and I'm good.
Phone (with a lot of open storage space), phone charger, camera, batteries or battery charger, an empty camera disk. This is the greatest moment in your life. It happens very quickly (if you're lucky), you don't have time to go and get your charger at home, or to the store to get new batteries. This will cause you a lot of emotional grief if you don't document these moments as a new family. You also don't have time to delete a photo every time you want to take another one.
Pillow and blanket. If you have any sort of preference about texture or denseness you'll want to bring your own. The hospital pillows are pretty scratchy and too fluffy for me. You need to get as much sleep as possible and since they are going to wake you up every couple of hours to take your blood, check your bleeding, and deliver your pain meds, it's nice to not have to toss and turn for another hour because their pillows are crap. We all have different temperature preferences. I tend to get cold in hospitals so I have a much more comfortable stay if I bring a blanket from home to snuggle up with and add extra warmth.
Personal Quirky Items. I live in a very dry region and can't stand to have dry hands or lips so for me Baby Magic lotion and chapstick are a necessity. If you're reading this Baby Magic CEO's, I will gladly accept a sponsorship from you. I love you beyond belief.
Nipple-Shield. Most-likely you've never heard of this. I know I hadn't. Luckily, my sister-in-law gave birth about 9 months before I did and offered this suggestion after I was failing miserably at nursing the first time around. I was sitting on my toilet at 2 am pumping my severely sore boobs and then tip-toeing to my bedroom (my Mom was asleep on the couch) to bottle-feed my breast milk to my screaming with hunger newborn. Super fun. It took forever to first pump, then feed my little girl. I couldn't get her to latch on properly and I was bleeding and so sore that I couldn't feed her. The nipple shield is basically a thin latex cover that helps the baby latch on and can be removed once your initial "let down" is over. It worked like a charm, helped my nipples heal, and I was able to stop using it after a couple of weeks. Problem solved.
Leave Your Stilettos Home
Giving birth is a stressful experience. I don't care if you've got a Douala and your having a water birth in your front room. If you've taken la mas classes up the ying yang (pun intented) you're going to experience stress. Even if you have a fully-planned, fully-numbed c-section. You will be stressed! There's no way around it. The stress comes from wanting your baby to be healthy. That is all you care about. You want your baby to come out with all the normal parts, to not have any health issues and that is where the stress lies. Hoping, waiting, and sometimes finding out that not everything is as you hoped and prayed it would be. Enter, stress.Having a few items of your own and having a plan in place will help alleviate some of that stress. So, leave your stilettos and tummy sucking nylons at home. And pack plenty of ginormous maxi pads, stool softener, big bra and nursing pads.
Let me know if I forgot anything that you know to be a necessity! I'd love to hear.