When I’m talking about our favorites, I mean Sam’s and Mom and Dad’s favorites.
1. Favorite skin remedy: CJ’s BUTTer. This has been a staple of ours since Sam’s birth. I got the recommendation for this as a diaper cream, since we started out with cloth diapers. Yes, this is sold as a diaper rash cream. Yes, it is marketed as a natural cream safe for cloth diapers. It meets those qualifications — nothing is better for healing a burn rash after it’s started drying up. This handy cream is also the only thing that works for Sam’s eczema in the winter. Sam’s scaly skin has started to reappear this month, and CJ’s is the only thing that works. I put it on him at night, and in the morning he’s baby smooth again. Like magic! This miracle cream is made only of natural organic oils: shea butter, cocoa butter, lanolin, beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil and vitamin E oil.
2. Favorite book: Busy Doggies! This is a very simple book, with great pictures of real dogs. The words rhyme: “Doggies greeting, doggy eating.” And so forth. I thought it was kind of silly when my mom got it for us, but she said she couldn’t resist, and it’s been in Sam’s pile of books in his play area ever since. About a month or so ago, he started carrying the book around, “reading” it to himself, and bringing it to me and his dad to read from. Sometimes he also barks or howls at the book. He points out the dogs to me, and squeals at the pictures. Completely worth it.
3. Sam’s Favorite Toy/Seat: Radio Flyer Wagon. (Thanks to Nancy, a dear family friend). Sam likes to get in and out of his wagon. He likes to sit in it to watch Sesame Street. He likes to push it around and ride in it in the yard. It’s one of the best gifts we received and will certainly be in use for years to come.
Since it’s my bed time, I’m going to end my post here. I’ll post a few favorites each month, with links and hopefully some more pictures. When I asked my husband to weigh in on Sam’s favorite he said: his wagon, and running around in the yard (he sure does love those leaves).
Today you are one year old. That means that exactly one year ago, I was holding you for the first time, watching you sleep for the first time, nursing you for the first time, and kissing your sweet baby hair on the top of your sweet head for the very first time. Your daddy held you for the first time, and stayed up with you for the very first time. And we changed your tiny diaper together, for the very first time. You were very big, and very healthy, and absolutely perfect in every way. I never had to worry about you being too small, or too frail, or having any condition that caused us worry. Just about every day, I thank my lucky stars that you are here, and you are real, and you are healthy and beautiful.
Ever since I had you, I think a lot about all of the women and men out there in the world who have lost children — before birth or after. I know that it’s a little bit morbid to think this way, but I can’t help it. I think about how dark my world would be without you, now that you have entered it, and I wonder how so many parents who have lost so much can survive. I suppose it is the nature of the human spirit to push forward, but still, I say a prayer for all the children lost, and I try to remember how special and miraculous you are in every moment that I spend with you.
This has been a special year for me and your father. I can say for myself that I now feel like a woman instead of a girl now — marriage, home ownership and a really amazing full time job were important steps along the way — but you make me feel grown. I don’t know how to explain that in concrete terms. After all, I don’t do a lot of adult things — like clean my house or get regular car washes. I certainly struggle with organization day to day, and I sometimes pay bills too late. Those are things my parents never struggled with, and therefore, they are the things that I associate with adulthood. I also still want to play and travel, and watch ridiculous television — my maturity level in those ways has not changed. I guess it is that you make me feel like there is something greater in my life than just me. There is a person that needs me for food and clothing and warmth and love. There is a person who will need me for homework and music lessons and going to the playground. Because of that, I feel more important and meaningful in this world than I ever did before I met you.
People find meaning in life in many different places. For some it is their job. For others, it is their passion for music or art (or accounting? perhaps?). For me, it is you. You inspire me to be more patient with myself, to love myself more, and to be positive even when it feels that I cannot or I should not be. I want to be a role model for you, as you grow up and find out who you want to be.
Today was a sad day in some ways. I cried several times sitting at my desk at work, thinking about how you’re such a little man now. Where did my baby go? He’s walking now, and picking up the remote and talking into it like a phone. Here’s the secret I have to remember; you’ll always be my baby. Sam, even when you’re ten years old and it’s really not cool to have such a sappy mom, you’ll be my fat little baby. You’ll be my baby all the days of your life, my beautiful little baby.
I may or may not have mentioned my mild internet addiction, which worsened when I had Sam glued to my boob for the first four months or so of his life. During that time, I was at home most all of the time. Also, it was winter. Also, the whatnot with the PPD. The internet, for better or probably for worse, was a big part of my life. I frequented (and still do) the oddly popular and gigantic Diaper Swappers parenting forum. I joined the Peaceful Parenting network on Facebook, and the Whole Network on Facebook as well. I also frequented sites about natural birthing, baby wearing, organic baby foods, and oh, lots of other things. The things these sites have in common? Judgment of others’ parenting decisions abound. This of course fueled my judgment phase of parenting. Why aren’t others using cloth diapers? Why don’t more women choose natural birth? I thought. Why does anyone circumcise? Why would you feed formula when you have plenty of breast milk?
Disclaimer: I will certainly try for a natural birth again. I still won’t circumcise if I have a second son. I may try cloth diapers again — I do believe there is much too much waste going into landfills. And yeah, I’ll probably try to breastfeed until one year next time … if I can.
In the statement above, folks, notice the use of “I” statements. Yep, those are my decisions. And beliefs. I now recognize that those things don’t apply to the general population a lot of the time. Newsflash, Camilla! Disposable diapers and formula ARE a LOT easier. (Yeah, taking out the trash and making bottles — those things are a pain, but they don’t add up to mountains of laundry or furiously pumping for an hour at work to get two ounces.) HA! Another newsflash — labor is incredibly freaking painful. Damn right women should have a right to pain relief! Lordy.
Since I’ve gotten off of my high horse, I’ve been increasingly amused at the comments I see floating around on forums or strings of Facebook comments. I’ll paraphrase here, since I am not keen on using exact quotes.
Peaceful Parenting asks (recently) — A mom wants to find a good forward facing carrier for her child. Her child doesn’t want to face towards her body, but prefers to look out. Can you help?
Multiple (more than 20) responses: You should never put your child in a forward facing carrier. This may cause hip issues. Please mama, reconsider before putting your child forward facing.
Me: I think she wanted actual suggestions, not a school lesson.
The, “Please, Mama,” is the especially condescending bit you see very often in these internet conversation. Another good one…
The Whole Network says, Mayim Bialik is having her son circumcised! Please leave thoughtful and loving comments on her blog about circumcision.
Responses: I cannot believe she is mutilating her son!
Responses: I left a comment that she should reconsider and not mutilate her son!
Me: Unfollow The Whole Network.
Um, mutilate? Come on. I’m not pro-circumcision, but calling out a Jewish mom and telling her she is mutilating her son is just … ugh. It’s just wrong and awful. (Miyam Bialik’s response was fairly trenchant, to say the least.)
And this is from just now…
Peaceful Parenting posts, “Does anyone know any good studies about children watching television under three?”
Multiple responses: We have never, and will never, let our children watch television. Never ever.
Other responses: I let my kids watch TV sometimes so I can make dinner or go to the bathroom alone.
Multiple responses: Just think how much more gifted your kid would be without television! Why are you letting the television raise your child? (Emphasis added.)
Other responses: Want to come raise my kids?
Other responses: Why isn’t anyone answering the question?
I haven’t unfollowed Peaceful Parenting, since Dr. Momma does post some very interesting articles. She’s also a good writer, and I gel with a lot of her beliefs. I also live for writing snarky responses to judgmental mothers. Stab stab. Poke poke.
I know it won’t cause them to reconsider the belittling remarks they leave. I know it won’t stop a lot of people from thinking they way they think or leaving unsolicited advice lying around the internet, like my dog leaves turds in my yard. But it’s fun to get a jab in here and there.
Maybe one of them will pause and say to herself, “What is it about the internet that makes me want to leave comments like that? Would I say this to my best friend? To my sister? Maybe, maybe not. Why do I want to reach across the country to say, Please Mama, don’t mutilate your child. Make sure to feed him breast milk, since formula is poison.” (I’ve seen that said more times than I can count. How does formula = poison? I’m flummoxed.)
Is it something about the anonymity? The grouping together of moms with a baby on boob, trolling the internet for mothers with whom they disagree? The automatic assumption that I AM DOING IT RIGHT, and no one else is, and therefore, they must want, nay NEED my advice?
I wish I could go back in time and change my website to Unsavvymom. I’m not any more savvy than anyone else — the name sometimes gets to me these days. And if I’m not any more savvy, there are probably a lot of other moms in my same boat.
My job has taught me many things that are important — but this one rings out in my head whenever I see posts like these — assume goodwill. When that mom is posting about her decision regarding [whatever], assume that she’s trying to do the best she can, assume that she knows a little bit about being a mom, and please, assume she’s not trying to abuse her child or put him or her in danger. Give her some credit — and think, hard, please. Maybe there are some decisions you’ve made that weren’t so perfect either.
A friend of mine sent me this poem of Plath’s in response to my post of “Morning Song.”
I think this is by far the most accurate description of active labor that I’ve ever seen:
I talk to myself, myself only, set apart-- Swabbed and lurid with disinfectants, sacrificial. Waiting lies heavy on my lids. It lies like sleep, Like a big sea. Far off, far off, I feel the first wave tug Its cargo of agony toward me, inescapable, tidal. And I, a shell, echoing on this white beach Face the voices that overwhelm, the terrible element...There is no miracle more cruel than this. I am dragged by the horses, the iron hooves. I last. I last it out. I accomplish a work. Dark tunnel, through which hurtle the visitations, The visitations, the manifestations, the startled faces. I am the center of an atrocity. What pains, what sorrows must I be mothering? Can such innocence kill and kill? It milks my life. The trees wither in the street. The rain is corrosive. I taste it on my tongue, and the workable horrors, The horrors that stand and idle, the slighted godmothers With their hearts that tick and tick, with their satchels of instruments. I shall be a wall and a roof, protecting. I shall be a sky and a hill of good: O let me be! A power is growing on me, an old tenacity. I am breaking apart like the world. There is this blackness, This ram of blackness. I fold my hands on a mountain. The air is thick. It is thick with this working. I am used. I am drummed into use. My eyes are squeezed by this blackness. I see nothing.
Why, yes. That is how it is.
The day has finally come where Sam is entertained by his Jumperoo! It’s a good day, and I predict more blog posts. As for Sam, he is touching things curiously, staring at his hand, drooling enormously, and chewing on his fingers most enthusiastically.
As for me, I wanted to give you guys a postpartum update about ME. That’s right — I am still considering my life to be postpartum. From now on, it always will be. Sam’s birth was a major event that has changed me physically, emotionally, mentally and … in just about any way you can imagine. I think I always thought that after a certain period of time, you return to “normal.” Alas, that’s just not the way it is. According to my doctor, you get back to about 95% of how you were after one year. I accepted this when I heard it. After I got home, I pondered: “What happens to the remaining 5%?” The answer came to me: It’s gone. My body is permanently rearranged. Now, I’m sure this doesn’t happen to some people, like Kate Hudson or Jada Pinkett Smith, but I think it’s pretty damn common to get a rearrangement of sorts.
So here’s the update …
I am slowly returning to something of a normal size and shape. If I hadn’t gained [actual number omitted] pounds, I would probably be back in my regular size. As of now, I am a size or so beyond that, which I think is pretty okay. The actual diet starts January 1, 2011. Why diet during December?
My pregnancy acne is diminishing. This is very nice. It stuck with me throughout the pregnancy and for a long time after. And now, I’m feeling a little more normal skin-wise.
My bodily aromas have returned to normal. This is pretty great. I was getting sick of showering twice a day and lathering on deodorant.
Night sweats are gone! This stopped around 8 weeks postpartum.
Stretch marks are fading significantly! They are there, but not as noticeable.
The not so good:
My hips and back still hurt tremendously. They feel like they are knitting back together, and in fact, they still are. The relaxin hormone really wreaked havoc on my body, and my hips spread very wide apart. Plus, Sam was a big one, and I think he rearranged some stuff on the way out. I try to stretch, but it doesn’t do a lot of good. The bones and ligaments just have to settle back into place. Hopefully they do!
My hair is falling out. In no uncertain terms, I am losing tremendous amounts of hair. My hair thickened and darkened significantly during pregnancy, and I was hoping to keep the thicker locks. This is clearly not going to happen, and the shower drain is gathering my losses. It is gross. And sad. Just as I was told, this started at precisely 12 weeks postpartum.
The lady parts are still healing. They are in working order, let’s just say, but I have a scar. Soooo, yeah. That’s not yet 95%. Maybe 50%.
The pretty terrible:
Due to the relaxin, my feet grew two sizes while I was pregnant. They have since returned to their normal size, which is good for my shoe collection. In the process, though, no one could put Humpty Dumpty back together quite like he was. In fact, the bones in both of my feet have slipped out of place, and a tendon in one of them is in the top of my foot, when in fact it should be in the back near my heel. It is very difficult to walk or be on my feet for long periods of time, and I actually fell down the stairs because my feet are not bending as they should. (I was not holding Sam, and I am very careful when holding him.) Thankfully, I went to the podiatrist at the beginning of December, and I will have orthotics by next week. I will have to wear them for two years before my feet are in full working order again.
Will this happen to you? Likely it will not — unless you have flat feet. If you have flat feet and are pregnant, you probably shouldn’t be wearing anything but athletic shoes with major support. My podiatrist actually recommends that flat-footed women get orthotics when they find out they are pregnant in order to prevent this major slippage.
I am never to wear heels again. Anyone want to purchase some really cute size 8 heels?
You need gear to breastfeed. I mean you really don’t … the boob is the thing … but the accessories make it easier to get through the day (at first) and establish a great breastfeeding relationship with your baby. If you are a pumping mom, or if you want to stay dry while breastfeeding, or if you want the most comfortable position, you need some breastfeeding gear. I’m here to report on my absolute favorite supplies. Put these on your registry or your wish list on Amazon. These will help you out immensely!
I know the Boppy is the in thing to have these days. I didn’t know that there was an alternative to the Boppy when I first created my registry. So now I have both a Boppy and a My Brest Friend. I actually like the My Brest Friend so much more than the Boppy that I have it downstairs on our sofa, which is where I spend the majority of my time feeding Sam. The Boppy is upstairs in the nursery, and in our bedroom (where Sam still sleeps), I use the side-lying position (learn this RIGHT AWAY, new moms … it means sleep for you and your baby and whoever else sleeps in your room!). I like the My Brest Friend best of all because the surface where the baby lies is wider and flatter than on the Boppy. It also buckles around your waist so that it doesn’t shift and slip forward while you are feeding a squirmy little one. For those who have twins, the My Brest Friend is particularly recommended! I’ve even seen Michelle Duggar walking around with two babies attached to her and chilling out on the My Brest Friend. I can’t carry Sam like this because he’s too big … but you sure could with a smaller little one! You can find these used on eBay or Craigslist. (Mine is on loan from a friend.)
I wish I’d purchased my Milkies before Sam was born. I would have been able to store a ton of milk over the past three months. This piece of equipment is pure brilliance. It is designed around one of the physiological oddities of nursing — when you nurse from one breast, milk comes into the other and leaks, usually onto your shirt or a nursing pad. That milk is usually lost forever. Milkies remedies that sad situation — it slips into your bra and onto the breast you are not nursing from, and it collects the milk. You can then pour it into a container to refrigerate or freeze — over the course of a day, I can collect about two ounces this way. For Sam, that’s about 1/3 of a feeding at this point. Over three or four days, I can collect enough to give to Eric or my parents to go out on my own and have some valuable me time. It’s brilliant! No pumping involved. If you are going back to work, it is a crime not to have one of these. You can start freezing milk almost right away — and in this way, you can provide for your little one longer without having to switch to formula. Great idea, great product. Put it on your registry right away!
So far, this is all I have really used. I haven’t had luck with my inherited electric pump — it doesn’t get enough suction and doesn’t seem to fit me properly. The soft cup on this breast pump is very comfortable, and it works really well. The fact that it is manual also allows me to customize how quickly I can pump. As for the double action, I just put the Milkies on one breast and pump from the other. This has been all I’ve needed in the past three months — and especially for a mom staying home, this is all you will need altogether. I promise. I know you feel like you NEED an electric pump, but trust me, you do not. This will get just as much in just as short a time, but it will indeed take up one of your hands. For work, you might want to invest in a good electric pump, but I haven’t needed one yet. I’m even going to try this as my main work pump — we’ll see how it goes. You can’t beat this for price or for quality. It rules. (By the way, new moms, don’t expect to be able to pump a lot when you are nursing your babe. Sam drains me at every feeding, and I cannot get the pump to work between feedings. It will take time for this method to work, or you’ll need to pump at night after the babe goes to sleep for a few hours and your milk comes in a bit better. A pump is best for when you skip feedings and want to relieve engorgement — like when you return to work.)
I LOVE these nursing pads. I have the four layer and five layer variety, all ordered from For Mom and Keiki (an online store based in Virginia — the owner provides free shipping on everything!). After using Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads (absolutely the best disposable pads), I got sick of how uncomfortable the disposable feel is. They scratched my skin, sensitive from thrush, and felt sticky all the time. They also got caught in my washing machine more than once and got the paper and SAP all over everything. Ugh. Cloth pads are much much softer, and these in particular are the best! I love that they are contoured too, and don’t show through clothes as much as some cloth pads.
This is the very best nursing top I have — you can simply lift the band of the shirt to breastfeed. I am super all for breastfeeding in public, but I like to balance being discreet in certain situations. I think this is a very attractive, slimming top that accomplishes ease of breastfeeding as well as discretion. And it’s not the samey samey v-neck cut of a lot of nursing tops — in fact, it doesn’t really look like a nursing top at all. I love it. In my estimation, you only need a few nursing tops for going out. The rest of the time, you can lift up your normal shirts or use your stretchy maternity wear for nursing at home. For going out, I have three nursing tops. This is by far the best! I snagged it on a Black Friday sale — look out for deals on diapers.com. Gotta love deals!
I haven’t strayed from my original love of A Pea in the Pod nursing bras. Yes, they are expensive. And yes, they are absolutely worth it. My craptastic Medela sleep bra conked out after repeated washings — like it ripped apart and the elastic came out. That’s what you get for $9.99. (For sleep, by the way, a friend recommended the Majamas Easy Bra … it is the bomb diggity for chillin at home!) This bra, though pricey, is super comfortable, supportive, attractive, and nicely padded to hide nursing pads. I love it! Get one!
Of course, everyone finds their favorites, but these are just some of mine. Hope this helps you in your breastfeeding relationship!
I have strong views and opinions. I guess you probably know that about me by now if you’ve been reading this blog at all. One of my strongest views is that a parent should not be criticized for his or her decisions unless those decisions involve child abuse. That said, a recent comment on my blog inspired me to talk about circumcision — and why my husband and I made the decision not to circumcise our son.
I hadn’t really considered the issue of circumcision until a while after my husband and I found out we were having a boy. It was only when our doula asked at thirty weeks if we were going to circumcise that I was all like, “Oh crap, I guess we have to decide that.” And really, we hadn’t put too much thought into it. My inclination was to say no, but I told her we’d get back to her on the matter once we’d done some research.
And we did do some research, and we had some discussion. This is what we came back with …
Reasons we decided NOT to circumcise:
1. What’s the point of it? We aren’t religious and don’t have a cultural reason to do it. And … male babies are born with foreskin. I assume that natural selection made that happen for a reason. We don’t cut off any other body parts when babies are born. We don’t take out the appendix just because it isn’t used. We don’t cut off fingernails or ear lobes or the pinky toe. What since does it make to cut off the foreskin? I just don’t like to do things that don’t make sense.
2. There aren’t any real medical reasons to circumcise. For a long time, American folk have come up with a bunch of reasons to justify routine circumcision. Other countries do NOT routinely circumcise, and that includes Western European countries that have lower infant and maternal mortality rates than America does. The lower rates of penile cancer and STIs are very small. So small as to almost be negligible. (This site, which yeah, is biased gives a run down debunking the medical reasons we’ve held to in the past.) Which has something to do with the next point …
3. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends AGAINST routine circumcision. You know those people who get paid to do research and talk about the health of babies? Those doctors? They recommend against it and have since 1999.
4. It’s a brutal procedure. Newborns feel pain. And circumcision hurts. It’s not merely the cutting of a loose flap of skin, as I had always thought. The foreskin is actually attached to the glans of the penis, and it must be torn away from the penis during the procedure. It exposes red, raw skin, and it takes a good while to heal. In fact, infants are often strapped down to be circumcised. It also removes 50% of the skin of the penis — and not just skin, a muscle too. Yikes!
5. The foreskin actually has a function. It protects and lubricates the glans of the penis (like an eyelid does for your eye), and enhances sexual pleasure. As much as I don’t want to think about my precious little baby having a sex life, one day he will. And although I hope he doesn’t tell me much about it — unless it is to say that he’s having safe protected sex with a respectable partner! — I hope he has a good life in that way. And that’s all I’ll say on that one.
6. Finally, I don’t buy into any of the reasons for why people circumcise.
- Won’t look like the boys at school? Well, some people have glasses and some people don’t. Some people have freckles, and others do not. Also, fewer people are circumcising these days, so it’ll likely be at least a third of his class who is not circumcised.
- Won’t look like dad? No one looks exactly like their parents.
- It’ll look weird to future sex partners? Well, honestly, you don’t want to be with anyone who cares whether you’re circumcised. That’s kind of a lame argument.
- Too hard to clean? It probably takes about five seconds to clean in the shower. And it doesn’t need any extra care until it begins to separate from the glans later in life.
- Medical reasons? Mostly bogus.
- Everyone else does it? If another parent told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it too?
Bonus Reason. Circumcision became popular in the Victorian era in America as a means to prevent young men from masturbating. Needless to say, this didn’t work. And I think that’s a terrible reason for anything to become popular.
As I said, these were simply the reasons we decided not to circumcise. I don’t judge anyone else for their decision, but my recommendation is to do research and reading on the subject so that yours isn’t an uninformed decision. There are a lot of heated arguments on this topic out there … and my post is certainly biased in one camp. So find out for yourself! Do your research and make sure that you figure out what works for you and your family. What pains me most is that many people make decisions based on what everyone else is doing … and not on what they truly want to do.
For more information …
There’s lots more reading out there on the subject — these were just a few of the pages I read!
So, we’ve been sick for the past coupla days, which is part of the reason I haven’t been so great about posting! I’m still going to aim for a post-packed November, because that’s how I roll …
Here’s a size comparison, for fun!
Sam at two days old:
Sam at one week old:
Sam at two weeks old:
Sam at three weeks old:
Sam at four weeks old:
Sam at five weeks old:
Sam at six weeks old:
Sam at seven weeks old:
It’s safe to say that it seems he’s been going through one long growth spurt. Next size comparison starting at eight weeks! Can’t believe it’s been this long already …
I wrote about this subject before (see the posts here and here), but I haven’t addressed it after Sam’s birth. I think it’s important to address since many natural birth lovin’ ladies are of the impression that one cannot have a successful birth at a hospital — or that a hospital will push you to interventions or ignore your wishes. In fact, one of those ladies inspired this post — read her story here.
I’ve actually fielded a lot of questions around my hospital birth from a similar school of thought:
- Did they start pushing you to get an epidural? No. No one mentioned it except when I was screaming for one during transition. And the nurse said, “You can make it! You are doing such an amazing job. You don’t need an epidural!”
- Did your doctor push you to get induced? No. But he told me I could if I liked!
- Did they give you an episotomy? Nope. I tore, the good old fashioned way (and I’m glad I did. I can’t imagine having stitches in that … region.)
- Did they take your baby away? No. Most hospitals room in nowadays. Sam was with me from birth until we left the hospital. They only took him away to bathe him — and they let me pick exactly when that would happen.
- Did they push the vaccinations and tests? Why YES, but I refused the Hep-B vaccine until his immune system was a little more mature to handle it (got it at two weeks — Dr. Sears recommends two months). They just asked me if I wanted it over and over, and I just said no each time. Not a big hassle. The other tests — get em. You want to know ahead of time if something is wrong with your little one.
- Did they wake you up every two hours? No. They left me alone for the most part. They brought me my sweet, sweet Percocet and Motrin every six hours, and oh, I got smoothies and cookies.
- Did they let you breastfeed? Threaten to give your baby formula? Yes, I breastfed — and with help! No one ever mentioned giving Sam formula or glucose or water, and I had lactation consultants and nurses to help me.
On top of all that? I heard from just about every nurse, and the resident, how amazing and incredible it was that I had a natural birth. I mean, that’s the best feeling ever — getting told you are awesome after you’ve done something totally awesome and life-changing for the first time ever. You can’t beat that with a stick. Not only did I get to hear that from my parents and husband, I got to hear it from everyone who walked through my room.
SO … How can you have a satisfying natural birth at a hospital? LOTS of women don’t! Here are my tips for a successful birthing journey:
1. This is the biggest, best advice anyone can have for having a natural birth at a hospital: Find an awesome, natural friendly, experienced, trustworthy OB or midwife who is linked with a hospital in the area. If you have a care provider who doesn’t support your desires, you might as well schedule your induction. Overall, I’d say to look for someone without the “I’m right” attitude. You need someone with the “Mama knows best” and “Baby will come when baby is ready” attitude (frequent sayings from my OB). Ask the following questions of your practitioner:
- How long will you let me go? (41 weeks is pretty standard, but some docs start scheduling at 38!)
- What is your c-section rate? Episotomy rate? Pitocin use rate? (If a doc is cagey about this stuff, that’s not cool.)
- Do you support having a birth plan? (My doc required one!)
- What do you think of Hynobirthing/The Bradley Method/Birthing from Within/natural childbirth classes? (Again, my doc required a class. I’m glad he did.)
- Any other questions that will make you comfortable — Can I wear my own clothes? Can I have food and water? Whatever you like!
2. Pick a hospital with a good reputation around natural birth. I did my research, asked around, and switched from the giant, Baby Factory type hospital in the area (they do 11,000 births a year as opposed to the 3000 at Virginia Hospital Center. In general, small hospitals have smaller staff, smaller patient load, and more time for you!) It just so happened that my doc was associated with that hospital. I also talked to my coworker who had a successful birth at VHC. Great idea! I also talked to several different doulas who all recommended the same hospital and NOT the other one. (Interviewing doulas is FREE, btw, and gets you a lot of great info. You don’t have to choose the first one you interview.)
3. Take a tour of the hospital so you know what to expect. It’s great to know the process ahead of time so you don’t feel overwhelmed when you get there!
4. Take a natural childbirth class, and read your books on natural childbirth. I do know of people who have gone into natural childbirth blind, but having done it myself — it’s absolutely not something I would recommend. I am so glad I knew exactly what to expect through each stage of labor. Knowing about labor is ESSENTIAL. I mean, knowing about it to the level that someone can quiz you about it and you know what happens during early first stage as opposed to late first stage … that’s the level I’m talking about. This helped me a ton. Example: Around 4AM, when the pain started getting REALLY EFFING BAD, I asked yelled to be checked because I thought from my physical symptoms that I was making strong progress. And it turned out I was right. I had gone from three centimeters to six in about three hours. And I knew from that that it wouldn’t be long! That was so encouraging. And I’m so glad I knew about my stages so I didn’t get scared!
5. Hire a doula, or make sure that your husband knows his stuff. I did both! It was awesome to have our doula there with us — she explained the heart rate monitor when the nurse did not. She also explained why certain things were happening, and how to handle the situations as they arose. Eric was excellent because he would remind me of every stage as it happened and offered suggestions on how to manage the pain.
6. On the note of the husband (or partner), make sure that person is about 1000% on board with your decision to labor naturally, and tell them beforehand to encourage you and tell you not to give up. This is SO incredibly important. When you are at the height of your pain, it is likely you will scream for relief, even if you intellectually know that you don’t want it. You need the person who loves you most to tell you that you are STRONG, and you can get through it. When you say you can’t, they need to tell you you can. Pain relief is so readily available at a hospital, you need someone you trust to tell you that you don’t need it.
7. Make a plan for pain relief. This plan should be tiered. First tier: What will you do to manage pain in the first stage of labor? (Walking, showering, laboring at home, using different positions … do your research and figure out what might work for you!) Second tier: What will you do when the pain is really intense? (My suggestions include: walking, showering [my hair got washed a lot], yelling, singing, shouting, and stomping … what will work for you? How much can you manage?) Third tier: At what point will you be okay with getting an epidural? Other pain relief? (Sample plan: I will get an epidural after 24 hours in the hospital, after 36 hours of no sleep. This will help me get to pushing, and I’ll be okay with it. This will help you have a goal, get to it, and not feel guilty if you decide to go for pain relief.)
8. Bring food and water. Labor burns a lot of calories. It’s pretty much bunk that hospitals won’t let you eat during labor. It’s total bunk. They tell you not to eat because you are in a pre-surgical (pre-c-section) state. Well, I’m in a pre-surgical state right now. If a brick fell on my head, and they had to operate, they would do so without a thought to the pumpkin bread on my stomach. I labored for 12 hours at the hospital. 12 hours with no food? Not me. I didn’t WANT to eat anything, but I’m really glad we brought a couple of PB&J sandwiches. Eric made me eat, and I needed to. When you don’t eat, you get exhausted. When you get exhausted, you can’t keep on. Low blood sugar can lead to low heart rate for baby. Bring food, tell the nurse it’s for daddy, and eat when nurse isn’t around. Eat like it’s medicine you must take. If you are too nauseated to eat, drink water as much as you can.
9. Don’t take it lying down. On “A Baby Story,” you mostly see ladies lying down in labor. They are either already hooked up to an epidural or they’re waiting for one. Lying down is a pretty terrible way to labor naturally. You progress a lot more slowly, you can’t try a whole lot of positions, and the pain is more intense. Bleh. It was THE worst position for me. The problem is, at the hospital, they have you hooked up to monitors for twenty minutes out of every hour to get a fetal heart rate! (If you can find a hospital with telemetry, go for it! Read about different types of monitoring here.)
10. Stay at home as long as possible! It can be really exciting to start labor, and it can also make anxiety rise within you so strongly that you want to take off for the hospital ASAP. Don’t do it! I wish I’d stayed at home much longer. Remember the 3-2-1 rule. Your contractions should be about 3 minutes apart, lasting for one minute a piece, and this should be happening for about two hours. Then it’s time to go to the hospital. I went before that, and gosh, I wish that I’d stayed at home way longer. (Of course, if anything is wrong or weird, go to the hospital right away.) For a simple guide on the stages, check this out.
So there end my tips. I really hope they help you have the kind of birth you want! For all of the pregnant ladies who read this, I wish you a safe and healthy birth, whatever type you choose. Always make sure you do your research … remain as calm as possible … and be prepared.
Would I do another hospital birth? Probably. Am I considering a home birth next time? You bet. I want to be able to walk around and get in a big jacuzzi tub … right on.
Welcome to the Savvy Mom Space
I’m a liberal feminist that believes that liberal, feminist ideals should gel with embracing your gender and motherhood (if that’s what you feel like doing). I support all kinds of moms and dads and parents. Oh and, although I totally love that natural vibe and not harming the environment, I supplement my organic milk and fresh fruits and veggies with the occasional Twix, the frequent Oreo, and the daily Coke Zero. I’m opinionated, not easily offended, and a loudmouth in person and on the internet. I am what I am. Welcome.