Time is ticking and soon we will be welcoming a little mermaid to the family!
We are finally feeling prepared- – major construction projects have wrapped up, our home is mostly in order, mama and baby are doing great, Harper is beyond stoked and ready to be a big brother and our bags are packed. Poor papa is swamped with work and pulling all nighters…exhausted beyond belief which naturally means she will probably come at any minute. No rest for the wicked as he would say.
Many of you have asked how I’ve prepared for labor this time around and how we plan on handling the transition from 1 baby to 2 and so I’ve put together a sort of to-do list that kind of explains our thinking and preparation. I hope it helps you in your own family planning or at least gives you some ideas to look into
1. Choose whether you want a hospital birth, birthing center or home birth experience.
With Harper I choose a birthing center which tends to be a little more on the natural side of things. Typically a birthing center will have individual rooms that you labor and recover in which include birthing tubs, balls, stools, etc… to facilitate a more “home” like approach. The nice thing about a birthing center is they are also equipped to handle any issues that may arise including epidurals or complications that might require emergency C-section, etc…
You can read about my birth experience with Harper here.
This time around we are very fortunate that baby and I have had zero complications. We are very excited to be birthing in the same facility…maybe even the same room?! I loved our experience with the birth center and the nurses and midwives and SO look forward to welcoming Hana in this environment. Plus they gave me Haagan daz ice cream bar almost immediately after my labor…I mean seriously? A perfect squishy newborn and ice cream? How could I not go back?
2. Choose a care provider that you love and that is open to your style of birthing.
Nothing irritates me more than hearing mamas complain about their doctor/midwife/OB…if you’re already not a fan of them imagine how you’re going to feel when you are actually in labor. AND if you already feel like they aren’t 100% on board with your dream birth you most certainly aren’t going to feel any more confident about it when you’re going through it and most likely not able to communicate what it is you want/don’t want. I could hardly speak during my labor I was in such a zone and luckily I a) choose a provider who was on board with my birth plan and b) hubby was able to communicate my wants for me.
Most of us do endless research before making a big purchase or life decision…your birth experience is probably going to be one if not the single most defining “moment” of your life time. I suggest you do your research and feel confident in your care provider. Don’t leave your experience up to chance if you desire to have a positive birth experience and don’t feel like it’s too late to switch doctors or ask questions. You are in charge of your birth…knowing this and practicing this is what is going to help you get that experience you want and deserve for you and your baby so start with your provider.
3. Practice relaxation daily.
This was so easy my first pregnancy. I set aside at least 20 minutes each day to just relax, meditate, connect with my baby and breath. This time around I have to make a point to stop, sit down and just be. This daily ritual is so important to not only facilitate that bond with baby but to also listen to your body. Getting into a rhythm with your breath and your thoughts throughout your pregnancy will make it that much easier to go into your “zone” when you’re going through the birthing process.
I’m a huge fan of the hypnobirthing method (see my next tip) and love the positive daily affirmations. Listening to these throughout my pregnancy gave me a confidence and belief in my body, my baby and the birthing practice that I was able to rely on during my birth. Granted some of the hypnobirthing stuff was a little too hippie dippy for me but with anything you take what works for you and sometimes you never know what is going to work until you’re in the moment.
I was too cheap to shell out the money for the actual hypnobirthing classes or home study kit but these options do exist for those that want a deeper training and understanding of the method. For me the book, my own twist and some free downloads online did the trick.
4. Education yourself on the many different birthing styles/practices and practice!
For me it’s hypnobirthing. I read Marie Mongan’s Hypnobirthing book and have been able to take away not only a great understanding of how the birthing process works but also how to work with my body through relaxation and breathing to facilitate a more gentle, peaceful and ultimately more comfortable birth. I didn’t JUST read the Hypnobirthing book though…I read and still am reading EVERYTHING I can get my hands on. Again, you never know what is going to work for you when you’re in the moment and I believe reading and opening yourself up to the many different philosophies, schools, styles, partner work, etc… can only help you have the experience you desire. I’ve learned something from every book, video, friend, etc…that I’ve encountered and believe that the more you know the better off you’ll be. Don’t stop learning…in general and about labor and birth!
5. Essential Oils
I didn’t really look into the benefits of using essential oils for birthing and postpartum care when I was pregnant with Harper but this time around I’m really into it. I’ve assembled my arsenal of E.O’s and have put together a birthing “kit” for use during labor which includes:
Lavender- Used to calm and create a peaceful atmosphere. You can diffuse it in the room, spray it on linens, mist over your body, rub onto the soles of your feet, and use for massage. This is also a great E.O. for once baby has arrived to continue that calm and peaceful environment and can even be used to heal bruising that baby may have from the birth.
Peppermint- Great for nausea (especially during transition), to focus and re-energize during a long labor and also for back labor. You can use this in a massage oil, directly on the lower back or along the spine, to smell on a cotton ball, and even to reduce fever.
Frankincense- Not just for Jesus but you’ll feel just as divine once you’ve shelled out the money for this magical E.O. Again, Frankincense can be used for it’s calming affects and also for labor pains by rubbing directly on the belly or lower back. If you get a high quality oil from a company like DoTerra you can ingest frankincense directly during and after birth which will continue to calm your system, heal and boost your immunity. This oil can also be applied directly to any vaginal tears or wounds of any type and can also be applied to baby on the forehead and soles of the feet after birth.
Finally, Clary Sage is going into my kit as a back up. This E.O. can be used to induce labor and speed up a slowed or stalled labor. You use this one by rubbing on the belly, pressure points on the ankles or even to ingest (again if it is of high quality). I don’t plan on using this oil unless there is a need for some sort of intervention like Pitocin… then of course I will try it and wish I had known about it last time around rather than being fully induced through artificial chemicals! Blah!
*I’m not an E.O. expert but I have some bad ass midwife support who have guided me and helped me choose this specific selection. I’m really looking forward to experimenting with these oils throughout my labor and for postpartum healing. For my carrier/massage oils I choose an Organic Sesame Oil.
6. Placenta Encapsulation
Again, this is something I didn’t know about or do with Harper’s birth but I”m really looking forward to (as much as one can look forward to ingesting their placenta!). I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous not to mention disgusting but it has been a practice in many cultures around the world for centuries (just like that Frankincense for Jesus!). According to research the benefits of placenta encapsulation are balanced hormones which reduce the risk of postpartum depression or the “baby blues”, enhanced milk supply and increased energy. I figure what the hell…it’s worth a try and I know several women who SWEAR by this practice. I’ll let you know how it goes and answer your burning question of what the heck is it going to taste like? Don’t worry it isn’t like frying up a big piece of steak! The placenta is cleaned, dehydrated, ground up and mixed in with a bunch of other beneficial herbs and then encapsulated into a daily vitamin so it should be fairly tasteless.
7. Line up a good lactation consultant
If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you know that I had the WORST experience breastfeeding Harper. I was lucky to find a miracle boob guru who performs traditional Japanese breast massage and have had her support throughout my year of nursing Harper, through the weaning phase and periodically throughout my current pregnancy to keep an eye on how things are “shaping up” (more like drooping down….). I am so blessed to have not only her amazing support in the breastfeeding arena but she has also been a midwife for ages so I basically feel like I have two great midwifes and sources for breastfeeding support.
If you’re a first time mama and plan or hope to breastfeed take my advice and find a local support source NOW…before your baby comes! Pick up a book on breastfeeding, watch youtube videos of latching, positioning and take a class if your hospital offers one.
Be prepared and read my other tips that I wrote on breast feeding:
Breastfeeding Basics Part 2
Breastfeeding Basics Part 3
Breastfeeding Basics Part 4
Breastfeeding Basics Part 5
Breastfeeding Basics Part 6
Possible Tax Deduction
8. Prepare older siblings
We’ve done our best to prepare big brother for the BIG change that is about to occur in all our lives by keeping an open dialogue about baby, exposing him to little babies, including him in doctor visits, daily care (we take our vitamins together, he rubs oil on my belly, etc…), helping him to bond with her through touch, talking to my belly, shopping for her blankets/clothes, setting up her crib, leaving out her toys/books for him to explore, allowing him to play baby with her things, etc… We’ll see how it all actually goes down once she gets here but I feel like we’ve done as best a job as we can at this point.
We’ve also prepared a big brother gift from baby that we will give to Harper when he meets his sister for the first time. For his big brother gift we choose an awesome Big Bro t-shirt that he can proudly wear (and you know he will rock it), a large floor puzzle (one of this favorite activities and something we can do while resting at home in those first few weeks) a pretend Melissa and Dough Cookie Set (which he also loves to pretend play and will add to quiet fun at home) and finally a bubble gun which free’s up mamas hands and allows him endless bubble fun (which is always a big hit when things are headed towards disaster).
9. Pack your bags and prepare the house
Packing the bags was a little more involved this time around. Instead of packing 1 bag like last time I found myself packing 5 different bags (plus Harper’s gift!) for our upcoming trip…funny thing is we only stayed in the hospital less than 24 hours last time and I never touched a thing in my bag but for some reason I feel the need to pack!pack!pack! everything in the house just in case this time around. Call it nesting or over preparing or whatever you want but I have packed:
Mama’s Bag- Sleep clothes, coming home clothes, nursing tank, lanolin cream, bathroom essentials
Labor Bag- E.O. kit, massage oils, music, massager, birth plan
Hubby’s Bag- Swim trunks, change of clothes, blanket, snacks, camera, laptop, cell phone chargers
Harper’s Bag- Everything he needs for a weekend away including a rough sketch of our daily routine, meal times etc… and favorite snacks
Hana’s Bag- Swaddle blankets, favorite baby carrier (and my favorite/most comfortable thing to nurse in), Seventh Generation Diapers and wipes, pajamas, coming home outfit
10. Line up some postpartum support and good healthy meals
I am blessed to have an incredible sister in law who is not only the sweetest and most caring individual but also happens to be an Ayurvedic practitioner (if you are in the Bay Area you need to check her out as she specializes in women’s care).
Through her generosity I have loved and devoured two great books about postpartum care or “mothering the mother” which includes tips for daily oil massages, dietary recommendations, routine suggestions and basic newborn tips and care. I highly recommend checking out Touching Heaven Tonic Postpartum Care from Ayurveda and Touching Heaven Recipes which you can download in PDF form…again the more info and ideas you have the better.
We are also incredibly blessed to have a huge network of friends to support us and bring some healthy home cooked meals during the first week home. Our local playgroup which has about 15! expecting mamas has decided to use mealbaby.com to organize and schedule meal deliveries. You can set up an account with mealbaby.com and invite friends/family to support you in this way in lieu of a shower gift or just out of their good loving nature.
AND that completes what I think would be my top 10 things to prepare for baby list! What am I forgetting? Would you add or do differently?
I’m adding a few more to this list that as I laid in bed after posting I realized were pretty significant things in my opinion that we’ve done to prepare for baby.
11. Diet, Vitamins and other nutrition stuff
I would love to say that I have a great diet but the truth is we eat like crap. Not crap all the time but a lot of the time. When I was pregnant with Harper I tried so hard to eat only organic and as fresh as possible and I *almost cut out sweets completely. Poor Hana has been growing on Costco pizza and brownies. Oh to be the second child…
I’m being a little hard on myself here because I do meet basic “health” goals each day like drinking a minimum amount of water (your weight in half= how many ounces approximately you should drink a day), I eat my fruits and veggies, I try to eat as balanced meals as possible and I have tried to cut out a lot of the sweets but overall I feel like my diet has been my weaker point throughout this whole second pregnancy.
Positive things I’ve done are: the typical prenatal vitamin as well as Jarro EPS probiotics and Femdophilus probiotics. I should note that I have Group B positive during my first pregnancy which meant being hooked up to an antibiotic IV during my labor and after some research and consulting with once again my amazing sister-in-law it was suggested that Group B can be possibly linked to gut health. I boosted my probiotic intake, cut back on the sugars and carbs and ate a lot of vegetables that I hate like artichokes and brussel sprouts (all the gross really fibrous ones). I recently had the Group B screening and it came back NEGATIVE! Could my change in diet and probiotic regime have made a difference? I think so!!!
During these final weeks I’ve also added in 6 fresh dates to my diet after reading this study which suggests dates may facilitate an easier and shorter labor! Granted the study is fairly small but after doing some additional research it seems like the consumption of dates during the tail end of labor is something many cultures have practiced and encouraged. I figure it can’t hurt and it has the chance to help so I’m popping them dates like crazy. So crazy in fact that I pretty much HATE them now and am having to either blend them up in a morning smoothie or chop them up tiny and cook into my oatmeal so that I don’t “see” them!
12. Stay Active
I’m so proud and feel so blessed to have had such a healthy pregnancy that I’ve been able to stay as active (if not more) than I was pre-pregnancy. I’m just shy of 39 weeks pregnant and spent the morning jogging along the beach, paddling across Waikiki and surfing for two hours! Granted my “jogging” is a very very slow jog and my “surfing” is an ankle sized wave caught on my knees but I’m still out there. I’ve also been working out with Baby Boot Camp Honolulu as often as I can and love the workout and the friendships I built! I believe that staying active not only keeps you healthy and happy but helps during labor and so I’m out there as often as I can!