This is a guest blog post from Katie, an amazing mother, partner, friend, and scientist:
To my expecting friends,
Congratulations on this exciting, terrifying and amazing path you are traversing! Here are a few musings that may be worth exactly what you are paying for them, but they are things I was thankful others prepared me for or things I did not know and wish someone had told me. In no particular order:
STOCK UP ON:
- Foods you can eat with one hand (burritos, protein bars, hard boiled eggs, you get the picture…)
- Fridababy Fridet Momwasher (perineal bottle) – the angling and spout design are amazing, for real
- Alcohol-free witch hazel – add a healthy squirt to the aforementioned Momwasher
- Epsom salts – add a couple of large handfuls to your regular bath or a small handful to your sitz bath
- Breast pads and comfortable nighttime nursing bras and/or pajamas – there is a fair amount of leakage early on, and the pads will also save your shirts if you need to use nipple cream/oil
- Aquaphor – great for covering baby bottoms and lubricating breasts while pumping (I used it daily—months into pumping)
- Bed pads – disposable or reusable – to put between each layer of bassinet/crib/bed sheets. Blow-outs at 2 am are a thing.
- ALL the free diapers (mom & baby) from the hospital
- You know how hungry you get now? It gets even crazier. I was not prepared for how voraciously hungry I would be after delivery. Order ALL the food. At UNC, you can order once per hour. It takes about an hour for them to deliver your food, so plan ahead. I definitely ate six to eight full meals per day, including multiple times overnight, and had multiple snacks too. That hunger continues if/as long as you nurse. Carry snacks everywhere.
- It’s normal for new moms to cry. A lot. Especially postpartum days 3-4. I’m not a crier, and I found myself surrounded by puddles. Hormones are a thing, and life can feel entirely overwhelming. Call me. I’m always up for a good cry.
- Walking is very, very good for you after delivery. It may not be easy to get out of bed, but if you can, take a lap around the ward when you go to refill your water. If you have a good place near your home, go for short walks outside with the new baby.
- If you are planning to nurse, schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant within a week of returning home. Our LC saved my nipples and my sanity. If you are in North Carolina, I cannot overstate how wonderful the Women’s Birth and Wellness Center is, and anyone can see the LCs there. Partners – this is a great thing to encourage. Even better, schedule the appointment yourself!
- Nursing can be hard at first, and it gets easier—I promise. I was skeptical when my friend told me that, but it did get easier. I didn’t think I would, but I even came to enjoy it. It’s 100% normal to nurse all the time in the first two months. Fifteen times a day is normal, and I promise it isn’t like that every day. These kiddos are growing nonstop, and your supply is trying to work itself out. They also are learning how to eat and will eventually become more efficient. Use that time to read books to your little one (whatever interests you—I read Stephen King out loud) and watch Netflix (I recommend The Letdown and GLOW).
- Formula is great. We are lucky to have access to high-quality formula and safe water. It’s a great way to maintain sanity while you are nursing so that you can continue to nurse if that’s what you want (it’s best to supplement with formula after nursing), and it’s great if nursing just isn’t working out for you. You don’t need to apologize for providing your baby with any type of age-appropriate food.
- Enjoy your gorgeous hair while it lasts. You will lose approximately half of it sometime between 2-4 months.
- No time is too early for bedtime. For the first three months, I went to bed between 6:30 and 8:30 pm. It’s what I needed to feel human, and I did not apologize for it.
- Your parent-friends will tell you to text them anytime. Do it. You will be surprised by the number of people who are also awake at 3 am.
- It’s normal to feel like you’re going crazy. Call me when it happens. I still feel like that sometimes. It comes and goes.
- Do what feels right in your heart of hearts. There is no “right” way to parent. At the end of the day the things that matter are: love, shelter, food, and snuggles with your baby and partner.
- Your baby will grow and develop at their own pace, and it’s all okay.
- Parenting can be so hard, especially now that most of us don’t live on the same street as our entire extended families. We need to spend a little more time and effort creating our villages. Bryan and I are here for you! I sent many of my more experienced parenting friends and new peer friends late-night texts and random questions. Their reassurance helped preserve my sanity. Let us reassure you!
Last, but certainly not least, YOU ARE ENOUGH. You’ve got this!