The Ultimate Guide to Packing Your Hospital Bag: Free Hospital Bag Checklist!

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Your big day is arriving soon and you’re ready to pack your hospital bag! You don’t want to overpack, but you definitely don’t want to underpack either. You see, the problem with my hospital bag was that I packed more for my newborn than I did for myself! There were so many things I wish I had brought with me to make my experience at the hospital more relaxing and stress free.

After learning from my mistakes and doing some research, I’ve created the ultimate guide to packing your hospital bag so that you will have everything you need to make your experience with your newborn baby comfortable, relaxing, and enjoyable.

Before we dive in, here are a few things to consider:

1. Underpacking & Overpacking

You will be in the hospital for a maximum of 2 nights or so, considering that you and your baby are generally healthy. Some mothers are discharged on the same day as their delivery! Just pack what you need for those 2-3 nights because you’ll be home with your newborn baby before you know it!

2. Consider the season and weather.

If you will be delivering in the winter, make sure to bring a warm car seat cover and blankets for your baby. The clothes you pack for yourself and your baby should also be chosen according to the weather. Plus, a thermo for a nice hot drink will definitely help too!

3. If you’re unsure of what your hospital provides, just give them a call.

I have read many posts ensuring that hospitals supplied those mesh absorbent briefs so I didn’t bring my own. Turns out, my hospital didn’t supply them at all and they had to search the other units to find one for me! Avoid the trouble and give them a quick call. Better yet, write down a list of questions to ask when you register at your hospital and get a tour of the maternity unit!

Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Your hospital should typically provide the following items:

  • Mesh Briefs or Large Absorbent Pads
    • While we are on this topic, I recommend using both! I applied the pads onto the mesh brief for extra security when I was in the hospital. And when I got home, I used the padsicles with the mesh briefs and it made all the difference!
    • If you don’t want to use the mesh briefs, no problem. Make sure to pack stretchy, cotton underwear, possibly a size up, and apply your extra absorbent pads.
    • Cotton material is more breathable, hypoallergenic, and keeps you dry. Try to avoid polyester, and other synthetic materials as they hold onto body odors and prevents air flow.
  • Peri-bottle
    • If you don’t know, these bottles allow you to gently squirt warm water below to help with cleaning and soothing after delivery
  • Sitz Bath
    • Check with your hospital – some moms say they get them from their hospital, but I didn’t get one from mine…
  • Water, Meals & Snacks
  • Hospital Gown
  • Towels
  • Extra Pillows & Blankets (for yourself and your other half, but sometimes, they can run out…)
  • Nipple Balm
  • Disposable single breast pump
  • Medication
    • Advil (anti-inflammatory)
    • Tylenol (for pain)
    • Anusol-HC 2.5% Rectal Cream (Corticosteroid which has anti-inflammatory properties for hemorrhoids)
    • Stool Softener (to prevent hemorrhoids)

Learn more about Postpatum Hemorrhoids here: “Hemorrhoids – There, I Said It!”

Here is a helpful “Hospital Bag Checklist” to guide you in packing all you need for yourself, your new baby, and daddy as well.

Hospital Bag Checklist

 

Below I will further discuss each item on the checklist in greater detail so you don’t miss a thing!

Let’s begin.

☑ Identification & Birth Plan

When entering the hospital, make sure to have all of your identification readily available. As well, if you have a birth plan, make sure to bring those documents as well. Birth plans indicate what pain interventions you want, who is participating in the delivery of your baby, what can and can’t be done with your baby, and so forth.

☑ Lip Balm

This one is at the top of the list for almost every hospital bag checklist I’ve seen out there! Though I do agree, I did not pack any lip balm during my stay at the hospital and honestly, I didn’t miss it. If you forget to bring some lip balm, no biggie, just make sure to drink lots of water and hydrate yourself. The hospital also provides petroleum jelly as well which can also help to relieve those chapped lips.

☑ Skin Care Products & Face Wipes

During my stay, I only brought face wipes which was a huge mistake. I regret not putting more care into packing my skin care products. Even a basic moisturizer would have done me wonders. Also, it would be nice to look decent for family and friends when they come to visit and take photos… I got these sample products from my monthly ipsy glam bags.

Check out my latest ispy Glam Bag products here.

☑ Toothbrush & Toothpaste

This is an obvious item. The hospital does provide these items if you forget them though. Along with this, any other toiletries that you often use such as deodorant should also be packed.

Photo by Janita Sumeiko on Unsplash

☑ Basic Make Up

Along with basic skin care products and face wipes, I also placed this item close to the top of the list. You may get lots of family and friends visiting you at the hospital and definitely a lot of photo taking. If you want to look nice for these photos, bringing a few things from your vanity will help. That being said, not everyone wears or needs make up, so skip this step if this doesn’t apply to you.

On other note, you did just give birth to a baby! No one is expecting you to get all glammed up for photos when you don’t want to. Do what works best for you.

Photo by Jisu Han on Unsplash

☑ 3-4 Pairs of Comfy Socks with Grips

This is also an important item. If you didn’t pack your slippers (which I highly suggest), these socks will save you when your walking across the cold and slippery hospital floor to use the washroom. It is also a good idea to bring socks that you can dispose of after.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

☑ Slippers or Flip Flops

I didn’t pack this item in my hospital bag and I seriously regret it! Slippers are a must, especially when you’re feet are swollen after birth. Keep them warm, dry, and comfortable. Make sure to get a size up to accommodate for your postpartum swollen feet. Also flip flops are great to bring if you plan on disposing them after.

☑ Comfy Robe

A comfy robe is another item I completely forgot to pack! Comfy robes keep you warm and cozy, and they’re easy to throw over your shoulders when visitors pop up unannounced. It takes a second to cover up when you need to. Also hospital gowns are open in the back so when your pacing the halls with your possibly fussy newborn, a comfortable robe might come in handy. This robe is from Amazon: ShiyiUP Fleece Bath Robe and is perfect for what you need.

☑ Big Water Bottle & Straw

Always remember to hydrate yourself, especially when recovering from the traumas of birth. Water helps your body heal and remove excess fluid building up in your extremities such as your feet. A straw is also a helpful tool.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

☑ 2-3 Nursing Shirts (Darker Colour)

Loose and comfortable nursing shirts is a must if you plan to breastfeed. Make sure to pack at least 2-3 just in case. And it also helps if those shirts are in a darker shade to hide any leaks or spills!

☑ 2-3 Stretchy Pants (Darker Colour)

Pack at least 2-3 stretchy, comfortable and if possible, dark coloured pants. In the winter, find something more warm and cozy. In the summer, you could pack some comfy shorts.

☑ 2 Nursing Bras & Breast Pads

Don’t forget to pack at least 2-3 nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed. Make sure to find a nursing bra that fits you well, has no underwires, and is easy to unfasten and access your breasts when you need to. I found some nursing bras from LEMEF online that are great – seamless, soft, and easy to unfasten. As well, absorbent nipples pads definitely come in handy too but this is optional because your milk won’t come in until about the 3 day postpartum.

☑ Nursing Pillow

Sure, the hospital pillows will work but if you’ve already invested in a nursing pillow and plan to breastfeed, it wouldn’t hurt to bring it along with you to the hospital. My Brest Friend Original Pillow on Amazon is amazing. I love how it secures to your waist with a silent velcro strap.

☑ 2-3 Swaddles, Outfits, Mitts, & Socks

Don’t go overboard on packing for your newborn like I did! I packed way too much for my baby and only ended up using 2 sleepers and a swaddle. If you plan on taking some precious photos then sure, bring a few cute bows and swaddles. My recommendation is to bring about 2-3 sleepers with the mitt cuffs. That way, you don’t have to bring any socks or mitts because they’re all built in. I get mine from Amazon: Simple Joys by Carter’s (2 Pack) Cotton Footed Sleep and Play Sleepers.

☑ Baby Shampoo, Body Wash, & Lotion

If you forget to bring these items for your baby, fear not, the hospital should have generic products that you can use for your baby’s first bath. If you do decide to bring your own, try to bring a travel size set to save some room in your bag. I got mine from amazon: Live Clean Baby Soothing Oatmeal Diaper Bag Essentials Gift Set Trail Size.

☑ Newborn Diapers & Wipes

Again, the hospital should provide some of these but always check to make sure. Some babies require larger size diapers instead of the newborn ones depending on their birth weight. I suggest packing just a few newborn diapers and size one diapers as well. My favourite baby wipes are the Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Sensitive Wipes.

☑ Car Seat & Car Base

This item is obviously priority! You can’t drive baby home without a properly installed car seat! As you are being discharged, the nurse will inspect your car seat and make sure that your newborn is properly secured under the seat belts. The stroller and car seat set I got is the Graco Remix Travel System in Keagan. I love that the stroller grows with your baby and has 5 different riding positions.

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro from Pexels

☑ Change of Clothes

If daddy plans to be in the room with you during the delivery, he may get dirty! It is wise to bring a change of clothes, just in case.

☑ Sweater

Especially in the winter, it can get pretty cold in the delivery room. Hospitals tend to keep temperatures on the lower side to prevent bacterial growth.

☑ Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Daddy should also pack his toiletries if he is staying the night; just in case your little one takes a bit longer to arrive. He will also have all he needs to feel comfortable, refreshed, and ready for family photos and visitors.

☑ Baby Nail Clipper or Nail Filer

Sometimes, babies may be born with long fingernails. It may be helpful to clip or file those fingernails to prevent scratching. Mitts also work to protect your baby’s delicate face but some moms prefer to have their baby’s hands free to touch and experience their new world. Others suggest using your own teeth and gently biting off your baby’s fingernails instead. I got my clippers and filers (in the image above) from my Safety 1st Deluxe Healthcare & Grooming Kit on Amazon.

☑ Long Phone Charger Cord or Portable Charger

Labor and delivery can be a very long process and your phone batteries might die when you need it the most! Bringing a long cord or portable charger allows you to keep your phone charging close to you when you need it. That way, you can stay with your baby and not have to leave your bed.

☑ Breast Pump

The hospital should be able to provide a disposable breast pump for you to use if you need it, but you can also bring one from home if you have space in your hospital bag. It’s great to start increasing your milk supply by pumping in between feedings but honestly, in the early stages of postpartum you will be exhausted. Do what you can but don’t overwhelm yourself if you don’t have to.

☑ Nipple Balm

The hospital should provide a generic nipple balm for you if you need it but colostrum is the best remedy for chapped and sore nipples. Express a bit of colostrum on to your nipple and let it air dry. Colostrum has amazing healing properties! Lanolin ointment or Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter (Lanolin-free) is also great as well. It is safe for your baby to digest so you don’t have to wipe it off.

☑ Thermo for Warm Drinks

In the winter, a nice warm drink can make all the difference! If you want to get a head start on increasing your milk supply, try this Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea during your stay in the hospital. I love the little relatable notes they leave on each tea bag like the one in the picture above: “Living life at 10,000 emotions per second.” Nothing like some quirky humor to get you through postpartum!

☑ Change for Vending Machine or Bring your own Snakes & Drinks

Labor and delivery is exhausting. By the end of it, you will feel famished! Make sure to bring some change for the vending machine, or bring your own healthy snacks from home. You can also try eating galactagogue-rich snacks to jump start lactation. I love BOOBY BOONS Lactation Cookies in Chocolate Chip. The hospital may also provide some snacks and drinks as well like jello or apple sauce.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

☑ Your Own Comfy Pillow

Sometimes, it’s nice to have your own pillow with you in the hospital. Some mothers don’t like this tip because they fear that their favourite pillows will get dirty. This is completely optional and up to you. If bringing a piece of home with you to the hospital makes you feel better, then make sure to pack it.

☑ Postpartum Padsicles

I wish I had these with me at the hospital! If you don’t know, these postpartum padsicles are a simple DIY project that you store in your freezer to use after birth. It provides the most cooling and soothing effect to relieve discomfort from all the swelling and tearing down below. They can also be infused with ingredients to aid in healing such as aloe vera, witch hazel, lavender oil and more. If you plan on packing them, maybe consider a mini cooler or asking your nurse if there is a patient fridge on the maternity unit so the padsicles can stay cool and ready for use.

☑ Dry Shampoo Or Shampoo & Conditioner, Body Wash & Loofah

It depends on your needs and comfort, but most moms prefer to take a shower in the hospital after giving birth. A shower after birth is very refreshing and it gives you some time to reflect on your birth experience experience. Pack travel sized products if you can to save some room. If you don’t want to wash your hair, use dry shampoo to quickly and easily freshen up those roots. Razors, glasses, glasses, contact solution and case can also be packed if this applies to you.

☑ Your own Towel

If is completely up to you if you want to bring your own cozy towel. Hospitals do provide towels for you and although they may not be the softest towels, they will do the job just fine. If you plan on bringing your own towel, anticipate that it may get dirty.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

☑ Extra Hair Ties & Hair Brush

Long hair might get in the way during labor and delivery! Make sure to have extra hair ties just in case yours snaps or falls off somewhere. A hair brush is also helpful to freshen up for photos and what not. Some mothers like to bring their hair dryer too.

☑ Stylish Mom Outfit

If you don’t want to wear your nursing shirts and stretchy pants on the way home, bring a stylish outfit. Not only will you feel better going home, but you will also be ready for photos.

That’s it for my detailed list of what to pack in your hospital bag! Some may consider this list as overpacking but based on my past experience, I’d rather overpack than be left in the hospital without my comfy robe and slippers!

Don’t forget to check off your Hospital Bag Checklist as you go along!

Thanks for reading everyone.

Everything You Need to Know About Caffeine, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

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Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

One morning, I was grabbing a coffee at a coffee shop just around the corner from my workplace. I go there sometimes, when I leave my house and arrive early to work. I would spend the extra 15 minutes to drink my coffee and study a bit of my nursing material. At the time, I was preparing for my NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination).

Everyone could see that I was visibly pregnant. Of course, at 32 weeks, I was definitely showing, and you can also tell by all the stares that came my way when I stepped foot into the shop.

No, I didn’t order decaffeinated coffee. I ordered a regular one. And I just have one cup per day, but not every day.

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When the barista took my order, he was hesitant. He looked at my swelling belly, then at my face, and then at his coworker. I was waiting for him to say something, and he did. He simply said,

oh, you know we also have decaffeinated coffee and espresso too.”

I was empathetic and tried to understand that this man’s concern came from a good place. So I kindly declined his offer and asked for a regular coffee. Then I proceeded to say that one cup a day is fine.

And although it looked like he didn’t believe me, he went ahead and poured me a cup of caffeinated coffee anyway.

I will say that this did bother me. I’m sure he thought very little of me to be drinking caffeine while carrying a child. But seriously? Did he think I was drinking alcohol everyday too?

I respect his concern but he didn’t respect the fact, that I did my research and that if he wanted to correct me about something, maybe he should have done his research too.

Obviously, I am not the first pregnant woman to experience this. In fact, my experience was pretty mild compared to others.

Have you heard about the one where a grandmother literally snatched and threw away a pregnant woman’s cold brew coffee?! Mamma-mia…

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Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash

Is it safe to drink caffeinated coffee during pregnancy?

After the first trimester, it is safe to drink ONE CUP of caffeinated coffee per day and by one cup, I mean 200 mg of caffeine or a 10-12 ounce cup depending on where you go.

I know, research can make this all very confusing. New studies continue to combat each other. Some say it’s not okay to have a cup a day, and then other studies refute these results and claim that these conventional pregnancy theories are a thing of the past.

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Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash

But one fact is true – there is some sort of link between caffeine and miscarriages, stillbirths, and low weight births, especially when consumed in the first trimester.

The problem with this fact is that we cannot apply a quantity of how much caffeine to these risks or determine the true cause and effect relationship between the two.

However, studies do show that consumption of caffeine over the recommended 200 mg per day results in double the risk of miscarriages and low birth weights.

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Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

How does caffeine affect the human body?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. In the brain, caffeine causes alertness which is why many of us consume caffeine.

Basically, the stimulant blocks adenosine from connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain. (Adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that causes relaxation and sleepiness.) The chemical structure of caffeine is very similar to the structure of adenosine. Caffeine therefore, binds to the adenosine receptors and blocks adenosine from binding to it. This blocks feelings of sleepiness formerly brought on by adenosine, and the release of other natural stimulants such as dopamine. (Dopamine is also a neurotransmitter released by nerve cells and contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.)

We use caffeine to:

  • manage drowsiness
  • manage headaches
  • increase metabolism
  • enhance exercise performance
  • boost your mood
  • increase concentration
  • increases motivation to work

The peak effect of this stimulant occurs after approximately 30 minutes after consumption.

Consuming too much caffeine can cause:

  • insomnia
  • nervousness
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • upset stomach
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • muscle tremors

It is also a diuretic, meaning it increases urination. This causes the body to release more fluids through urine possibly resulting in dehydration.

How is caffeine addictive?

Caffeine can be physically addictive and behaviourally addictive, especially in those who consume caffeine on a regular and sustained basis.

Physical addiction to caffeine occurs when the body produces more adenosine receptors to make up for the ones that are blocked by caffeine. This means that there are now more receptors that caffeine can bind to, requiring you to drink more coffee to “fill” those additional receptors. This also explains how coffee drinkers build up a tolerance and require more coffee over time.

Behavioural addiction occurs through the repetition of drinking the coffee in a social environment and the positive feelings involved in that environment, rather than the caffeine itself.

Withdrawal from caffeine can cause:

  • headaches
  • lack of concentration
  • drowsiness
  • irritability

How does caffeine affect the growing fetus?

Caffeine can directly and easily pass through the placenta to the fetus. Adults can metabolize caffeine but the fetus cannot, especially in the early phases of development.

As mentioned above, caffeine binds to our receptors altering the chemistry of our brains and effecting our cells, membranes and tissue. This change in chemistry may interfere with proper development of the fetus.

Another theory proposes that the vaso-constricting (constriction of blood vessels) properties of caffeine may cause increased blood pressure in the mother, leading to decreased blood flow to the fetus. The lack of blood flow to the placenta deprives the fetus of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to grow.

Caffeine not only increases blood pressure but also blood glucose levels as well. And it increases the workload of the liver that is already dealing with the increased hormonal demands of pregnancy.

Is it safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding?

It is safe to drink caffeinated coffee while breastfeeding. Keep in mind that caffeine does pass through to your baby through breast milk, but only in trace amounts (approximately 1% of what you take in).

When breastfeeding, it is recommended that you should consume no more than 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day or no more than 300 mg daily.

If you drink about 3-5 cups of coffee, make sure to spread the consumption throughout the day to prevent high concentrations of caffeine in your breast milk.

If you find that your baby is becoming more restless and cranky after you’ve have coffee and breastfed, it may be time to reassess your intake amount.

How do you cut back on caffeine?

For chronic coffee drinkers who are or will be pregnant, it is important to wean yourself off of caffeine rather than stop cold turkey.

Start by mixing half caffeinated coffee with half decaffeinated coffee at first. Then eventually work towards drinking decaffeinated coffee entirely.

What other foods and drinks contain caffeine?

Besides coffee, caffeine can also be found in the following and should be consumed in moderation:

  • espresso beans
  • tea leaves
  • sodas
  • chocolate (cocoa beans)
  • energy drinks
  • some over the counter medication

As I’ve always mentioned, it is very important that you talk to your doctor about your caffeine consumption during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

We all know that mothers and mothers-to-be must make a lot of sacrifices for their growing babies but luckily, a cup of Joe doesn’t have to be one of them!

Thanks for reading.

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Hemorrhoids – There, I said it!

I never thought I would ever experience hemorrhoids in my life, not even during pregnancy. I mean, I’m young, active, and fairly healthy.  I knew that it was a common occurrence for mothers postpartum but I still thought, “Nope, not me.”

But I’ve since flushed all those naïve thoughts down the toilet… (hah)

You see, I remember my first time pooping after I had given birth. I was bleeding from my butt hole. And if you couldn’t tell, I was mortified.

After many panic-stricken thoughts on the toilet, I flashed back to my pregnant self laying on the hospital bed, pushing so god damn hard that I defecated all over myself while my dear husband watched (front row seats I should mention), and then I knew right then and there, yup, hemorrhoids. Oh yea, definitely.

So there you go. If you didn’t think it could happen to you, well think again momma!

I had to deal with hemorrhoids after birth, along with other postpartum troubles – PUPPP, breast feeding, sleep deprivation, anxiety… You know, the usual.

Read my post about “PUPPP: It Began With Stretch Marks…”

For those who don’t know, hemorrhoids are where the veins around the rectum swell with blood and fluids. This is due to increased pressure in that area such as when you are constipated or in this case, pushing out a tiny human from your vajayjay (aka vaginal delivery)! This increased pressure pushes against the vein walls in the rectum causing it to weaken. Over time blood will collect in pockets where the vein walls are weak and voila – the birth of a hemorrhoid. The weak vein walls can also burst and bleed! It can develop inside the rectum and/or outside around the anus. And fun (not so fun) fact, you can have multiple hemorrhoids inside and outside of your butt hole all at the same time!

Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with my hemorrhoids for too long. They lasted for about 2 months postpartum which is more than I can say for the other moms out there (my thoughts and prayers are with you). Hemorrhoids can develop anytime during pregnancy, pre- and postpartum! During pregnancy your uterus expands for your growing baby. This applies pressure on the veins in your rectum causing them to weaken and swell. They should go away once you’ve given birth. For those who have hemorrhoids after birth, they can last for a couple of days. If they last longer and you can’t find relief, please speak to your doctor!

Oh, and did I mention they were painful?

There were times where I was literally afraid to use the washroom. I would use any excuse to avoid sitting on the toilet but oh, was I so wrong! You see, the longer you wait, the worse it gets. It was like I was literally passing razor blades through my anus! Oh, how lovely motherhood is!

Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash

But it’s the truth and it’s all too common. So let’s talk about it. Let’s raise awareness about the glorious hemorrhoids of pregnancy and let’s remind each other that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

There were many home remedies along with a topical drug prescription that I used to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids. But my one and only saving grace was WATER. I can’t stress enough how important water is, especially postpartum when your body is out of whack and trying to heal. Water is absolutely essential. Not only is it good for hemorrhoids, but it helps with your milk supply, to reduce the swelling in your feet (edema) and so much more.

In my case, increasing my water intake helped soften my stool so it was waaaay easier to pass and I didn’t have to strain as much. Especially for those suffering from constipation after birth, drink lots of water.

When you’re sitting on the toilet and biting down on a towel, you’ll remember this and thank me.

In combination with increased water intake, here are some other very helpful tips to relieve your poor, poor butt hole:

Our family loves Bragg’s organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I know what you’re thinking because I thought the exact same thing! You would think that applying an acid to your already burning anus would make it worse, right? Well apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties and many have suggested that it provides immediate pain relief! It’s true, it really works! Apply the apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball or dilute it in your warm (not hot) bath water or your sitz bath. Doctors do warn that excessive use can lead to further irritation and burning so make sure to apply it sparingly and only as needed.

Sitz bath

Soak your bottom in a sitz bath for about 15 minutes! Usually, upon discharge from the hospital, you should have received a sitz bath tub that you can use to soak your bottom in. If not, they are available at your local pharmacy or online.

If you don’t have a sitz bath tub, no worries. A bath tub works just as well. I like to mix in lots of epsom salt into my warm bath water. Epsom salts dissolve into magnesium and sulfate in water which will be absorbed into the skin to soothe the area. You can also use baking soda, or even dilute some apple cider vinegar as well!

Hemorrhoid Ointment

Your doctor may prescribe some hemorrhoid cream which you can apply with an applicator directly in your rectum and around your anus. This cream is a corticosteroid which reduces inflammation such as redness, itching and swelling. The ointment that I was prescribed is called Anodan-HC. It contains 0.5% hydrocortisone acetate (which is the corticosteroid that reduces inflammation) and 0.5% zinc sulfate (which forms a barrier and protects skin from moisture).

Relieving pressure off of your bottom

Sit on a pillow or cushion, rocking chair or recliner that shifts your weight off of your bottom to another part of your body. This decreases pressure off of your bottom.

When duty calls, don’t avoid it!

I’m so guilty for this! I was literally scared sh*tless (hah) to poop because of the pain so I postponed it for as long as I could. Worst decision ever! If you need to go, go right away. Don’t wait! Delaying it will cause your feces to harden which makes it so much more painful to pass. This is because your body is reabsorbing the water from your stool when it sits in your rectum. Trust me, I know it hurts, but it will hurt so much more if you avoid it. Get it over and done with. You will feel so much better.

I hope this post provides help and support to those going through the same troubles I did when I had hemorrhoids!

You’re not alone and remember, it will pass!

Please feel free to share your stories, struggles, or advice in the comments below. We love hearing from our readers! Thanks for reading everyone!

5 Reasons Why You Need A Crib Mobile

Are crib mobiles really necessary? Or are they just a decorative piece to add to your nursery?

I always thought that new parents spent way too much money on baby items that they really don’t need, and this included the crib mobile.

But one night as I was putting my baby to bed, I noticed her toy bear sitting on the shelf. I held the toy bear in front of her face and instantly, her eyes lit up, she began to smile, and her arms and legs flailed and kicked like I had never seen before! And I thought, “oh my goodness, maybe crib mobiles really are necessary!…” So I decided to do my research and this is what I found.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you need a crib mobile!

1. Visual Stimulation and Eye/vision Development

Babies start to learn and take in information from their environment right from birth. Therefore visual stimulation is very important in the development of your baby’s eyes and vision. Your baby will track and follow the rotating toys on the mobile improving eye movement, vision, and strengthening eye muscles. From 0-3 months, your baby will see contrasts of black and white at first. As they grow, they will begin to see bold colors such as red, blue, yellow, and green. Colourful toys that rotate and encourage eye movement is definitely something to consider when purchasing or making a crib mobile. Even better, some crib mobiles come with lights that project stars and other images on the walls to help soothe your baby to sleep.

2. Sound Stimulation and Hearing Development

Some baby mobiles play soft lullabies to help soothe baby to sleep. These songs helps keep baby stimulated, contributing to their hearing development, and aids in preparing your baby for bedtime.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

3. Motor Skills Development

When your baby watches the mobile toys dancing above them, they get excited! They will kick and move, strengthening their neck, arms and leg muscles. Pretty soon, they will start to reach for the toys which contributes to hand-eye coordination and their comprehension of depth, distance, and spatial awareness.

Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

4. Bedtime Routine

Babies as well as their parents, love routine! And turning on the baby mobile as you settle your little one into their crib or bassinet for the night can help to soothe your little one and let them know that its time to sleep. Adding this step into our bedtime routine really helped. The key is to be consistent (easier said than done!) After a warm bath, I give my baby a calming lotion massage while the mobile plays its lullaby music. Then I put her into her crib, dim the lights, and let the mobile do its magic.

5. …Extra Sleep for Mommy and Daddy!

Last but arguably most important, the baby mobiles lets mom and dad sleep in for that extra half hour when your baby wakes up early. Your baby will keep themselves busy and entertained while you catch those last few precious z’s. Even if it’s 5 more minutes, I’ll take it!

Some things to Consider…

Crib mobiles can be very beneficial in your baby’s development but there are some things to consider when thinking about adding a mobile to your nursery.

It really depends on your baby! Sometimes, crib mobiles can be overstimulating which could hinder your baby’s sleeping habits. Also, some moms believe that toys in the crib will make the crib more of a playground rather than a place to sleep.

There are also hazards to consider as well. Make sure that your mobile is securely attached to the crib and that it is position far enough that baby cannot reach and grab it! Toys that can be detached from the mobile can possibly fall off causing a choking or suffocation hazard. Store bought mobiles are usually up to code but if you’re making your own, make sure the strings aren’t too long for baby to grab and pull.

As well, crib mobiles can be pricey! They can range from $30 to over $100 especially if the mobile has a music box, projects lights or is custom and handmade (like the ones you can find on Etsy). However they can be very inexpensive if you decide to make your own!

Check out my DIY Unicorn and Rainbows Crib Mobile coming soon!

All in all, I believe that the benefits of baby mobiles far outweigh the cons listed above. I believe that making your own gives the nursery a personal touch. It also makes a great keepsake or special gift! Our homemade mobile doesn’t play lullabies or project pretty lights on the walls at night, but our baby still gets excited whenever I put her in her crib for the night.

But my most valuable advice to my readers is to learn and understand your baby’s sleep behaviours and patterns. Understanding what helps your baby (and you!) go to sleep at night will assist in deciding whether a baby mobile is right for you and your family.

I hope this post helps. Thanks for reading everyone!

3 Easy steps to prevent and treat flat head syndrome

What is flat head syndrome?

Flat head syndrome is also known as plagiocephaly. (“plagio-” means slanted or oblique and “-cephaly” means head) It is also known as positional or deformational plagiocephaly.

It is where the back or the side of the baby’s head becomes flat, asymmetrical or slanted. Sometimes, the baby’s head may also widen and the forehead bulges out in more severe cases. This is due to prolonged external pressure on one spot of the newborn’s soft and malleable skull.

It is more common today because of the Safe to Sleep® campaign recommending that babies sleep on their backs in the first few months of life to prevent SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome).

Other causes of flat head syndrome include the following:

  • Medical problems or delayed development which makes it harder for babies to move and change positions
  • Stiff or tight neck muscles limiting neck movement (Torticollis)
  • Premature babies have softer skulls than full term babies and also move their heads less
  • Plagiocephaly can also occur in the womb such as overcrowding with twins or the mothers womb has an unusual shape

SIDS

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the death of a healthy baby who is less than a year old during sleep (also known as crib death). The cause of death is unknown even after a complete investigation but is believed to be linked to defects in the baby’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep. It is also said to be a combination of physical and environmental factors in the baby’s sleeping environment such as in the crib, however research is still ongoing.

I highly recommend mothers to visit this website, Safe to Sleep® campaign to learn about SIDS and how to reduce the risks.

Should I be concerned about plagiocephaly?

Experts have dismissed plagiocephaly as an aesthetic issue because not everyone has a perfectly round shaped head. Also, it is also believed that asymmetrical heads should resolve itself over time as the baby grows.

Because flat head syndrome is a fairly new concern, there is limited studies on the matter. There is a 2010 study from Seattle Children’s hospital that has found an association between flat head syndrome and developmental delays, specifically motor, language and cognitive delays. This means there is no actual cause and effect between flat heads and child development but there is some link between the two.  In fact, the study suggests that a flat head may be a marker to identify children who are at risk for developmental delays, not that flat heads actually cause such delays. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer at this time and research is still ongoing…

Learn more about this study at Seattle Children’s Hospital website here.

Plagiocephaly may also be mistaken with craniocynostosis which is very different! Craniocyntosis  is where the baby’s skull fuses too early preventing normal development of brain growth. Babies with craniocyntosis will have uneven head shapes and this may also look like flat head syndrome. Check with your doctor to make sure!

Treatment & Management

Treatment depends on your health care provider, the age of your baby, the potential cause and so forth. It is very important that you seek professional medical help if you are concerned!

Your baby’s soft skull will start to fuse together and harden at about 9 to 18 months.

If the cause of your baby’s flat head syndrome is due to how they sleep, nap and lay, treatment may include positioning your baby’s head in different ways and avoiding pressure on the flat spot. It is also important to limit the time your baby spends in their bouncers, car seat or anything that applies pressure to certain parts of their head.

If your baby is diagnosed with stiff neck muscles (torticollis), your doctor may recommend special exercises or refer you to a physiotherapist.

If after 6 months, there is no improvement after trying to reposition your baby’s head first, your doctor may recommend helmet therapy. The plastic helmet, lined with foam fits snugly on the round parts of your baby’s head, and loosely on the flat spots to allow the flat spot to expand and even out as your baby grows. Generally they are worn for about 23 hours every day from about 1 to 6 months but it depends on your child’s age and case. Also, helmets can be very pricey!…

Learn more about plagiocephaly at Seattle children’s hospital website here.

How we fixed our baby’s flat spot with 3 easy steps

A few months ago my baby started to develop a flat spot on the back of her head and I freaked out! I always put her down on her back for naps and at night (especially after reading about SIDS!) And I will admit that I put her in her bouncer when I’m busy around the house, and I let her finish her nap when she falls asleep in the car seat on our way home. I realized that all of these habits had contributed to her flat head syndrome!

I had spoken to my doctor about her flat spot and she said that I shouldn’t be too concerned because naturally, no one has a perfectly round head. Also, preventing SIDS far outweighs the concerns that comes with flat head syndrome. I mentioned that I had done some research about flat head syndrome and developmental delays but she assured me that more research is needed to conclude this hypothesis. After much discussion, she provided me with simple, at home measures that I could take to gradually mold my baby’s head naturally without a pricey helmet.

Today she is 6 months old and her head is as “naturally” round as can be.

With 3 simple steps, this is how we did it.
 

1. Repositioning

The first tip to try is to reposition your baby when he or she sleeps and naps. There are a couple of ways to reposition your baby without having to put them on their sides or stomach. Remember to always place your baby on their backs and for peace of mind, turn on that baby camera when your not in the room!

First, use interesting objects or toys that catch your baby’s attention such as a baby mobile. Position the mobile where you want your baby to turn his or her head when they lay on their backs.

Check out our post about the Top 5 Reasons why You Need a Crib Mobile.

Another tip is to place your baby the other way in the crib. For example, if your baby’s feet is towards to door of the room, instead place your baby’s head towards the door.

Lastly, you can also try rearranging your nursery in the room. Moving the crib to a different area in the room can help to move your baby’s head in a different direction.

2. Lots of Supervised Tummy Time

Tummy time is vital, not only for relieving the pressure off of baby’s head but also to help strengthen neck and shoulder muscles for crawling and sitting up. It also improves your baby’s motor skills.

Babies should be on their tummies for at least 2-3 times per day for short periods of time right from birth. As they get older, allow them to spend more time on their tummies with each session. Try not to leave your baby unsupervised when on tummy time! Also, never leave your baby on tummy time (or in any position) on a high area such as the bed or changing table. They may roll over and fall!

Tips for tummy time:

Lay out a blanket on the floor

Place their favourite toy within baby’s reach and help them learn to play and interact with their surroundings

Tummy time after a nap and diaper change is ideal

Avoid tummy time right after a feed, they may spit it all up!

Never leave baby unattended during tummy time

3. Head Molding Pillows

Right now, I’m using Babymoov Lovenest baby head support pillow when my baby sleeps or naps. She sleeps through the night for about 9 hours straight which applies a lot of pressure on the back of her head!

It is so important to put your baby down on their backs but this is probably one of the reasons why my baby developed a flat spot on the back of her head. So I did some research and found the Babymoov Lovenest pillow on Amazon for $19.99 CDN and had to give it a try. This pillow significantly relieve the pressure off of my baby’s head and I truly recommend it. I use this pillow every time I lay her down. It comes in a variety of colors. The fabric is soft, breathable and machine washable. If you don’t believe me, check out their reviews on amazon!

With these 3 simple tips, we saw a difference in just one month! Today, our baby is 6 months old and we continue to implement these steps when she sleeps. Her flat spot has evened out and we are very happy with the results!

Does you baby have a flat spot? Share your story in the comments below! We love to hear from you.

Becoming a mom: The gist of it anyway…

I knew I always wanted to be a mother since I was young. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up baby sitting my siblings and baby cousins, or maybe it’s just in our DNA – our womanly nature to want to procreate and care for something so small, delicate and defenseless. It’s definitely a combination of nature and nurture for sure.

Since I was in high school even! – I wanted to have a big family because I came from a big family myself. I have three other siblings, my grandparents lived with us during the majority of my childhood and our cousins and extended family members would spend lots of time at our home. I just grew up with lots of loved ones all around me and I knew that I wanted my children to grow up in the same environment.

An image of myself as a new mother, our baby girl, Ayanna and her loving daddy. One of my favourite family photos.

Today, I am a mother of one 5 month old girl and trying to be someone special to my partner’s 11 year old son. I am very thankful.

My wonderful partner is a notable Chef, with more than 20 years of experience in the culinary world. I was just your regular food server when we met about two years ago. We instantly felt a connection back then and today, we have a baby together.

When we found out we were pregnant with Ayanna, we were ecstatic! At that time in our lives we were definitely not ready for a baby but deep down, we had so much love for each other that we were secretly trying to conceive anyway! It was stressful and exciting at the same time.

During my pregnancy, my family lived quite far from us, so when Ayanna finally came into this world, I had to figure out how to be a mom on my own. I was fortunate that my other half had taken a few weeks off to stay home with me. He really is a good man – I’m very lucky.

To those of you who are or will be first time moms, were you ready for what’s to come? To be responsible for a life? I thought I was, but when the time finally came, I realized how much I didn’t know.

The struggle is real! From the traumas of birth to coming home with your newborn, it’s all so exhausting yet exciting! Though I was fortunate enough to have minor consequences from the actual birth, the reality of caring for my newborn was another story… I had the worst time with breastfeeding and latching. My little one just wouldn’t latch, and when she did, it was so painful! She would scream and scream and scream and there were many, many sleepless, inconsolable, and desperate nights…

People have told me many things like what to do, what not to do, this and that…. and yet there were so many other things that they didn’t tell me. So I decided to write a blog for first time moms (all moms really), who have, and are struggling with pregnancy and postpartum, and for those who lived far from their families and support systems and had to learn how to be a mom on their own.

I hope this blog will provide strength, reassurance, and guidance to those who feel lost, hopelessness and despair. I want to remind all first time mothers that yes, immediately postpartum, it can feel like the toughest moments of your entire life, but it doesn’t have to be. Even in those darkest moments, motherhood is a still a beautiful thing.

I want to remind mothers that everything is going to be okay, and that there will always be someone to help – and that you are doing a great job, and you are a great mom.

Thanks for reading. xoxo

Increasing your breast milk supply: What worked and what didn’t for me

Immediately postpartum, I was determined to breastfeed my newborn baby because breast milk is the most natural and beneficial food to feed your infant. Unfortunately, I struggled with breastfeeding and latching to the point where I was miserable. I wasn’t able to focus on what truly mattered – enjoying those precious early moments with my newborn baby. I tried a couple of tips to increase my milk supply but my other postpartum issues got the best of me and I switched to formula. For those who want to breastfeed and increase their milk supply, I have listed some tips and strategies that worked and didn’t for me below. But before we begin, you need to understand the basics of breastfeeding!

Breast milk is the most natural way to feed your baby.

…contains vitamins, protein, fats, and antibodies to meet your infants growing needs.

Colostrum is the first milk substance that your breasts produce for your newborn baby.

…is concentrated breast milk that is expelled from a mother’s breast in the early stages of postpartum. It is antibody and laxative rich. Colostrum is thicker and more yellowish in color. Eventually, colostrum will develop into regular breast milk which is lighter in color and not as thick.

Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process. The more you breastfeed, the more your body will produce milk.

As your baby nurses, the amount of milk that the baby takes in notifies your body to produce more. Therefore, the most important advice I can give is to frequently breastfeed and pump, even at night! In the early stages of postpartum, it is important to breastfeed or pump at least every 2-4 hours to increase the demand and supply. The more you demand from your body, the more your body will supply. Of course this won’t happen over night. It is draining and you already have so much on your plate, but keep at it and your milk supply will increase with time and dedication.

It is also important to consider how your baby latches onto your nipple.

Sometimes, improper latching can prevent the infant from getting enough milk, and this may also contribute to pain when breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should not be painful. Seek help from a lactation consultant at your hospital or reach out to your doctor if you are unsure about how to latch your baby properly or how to hold them when breastfeeding. There are various ways and methods to hold your infant that is most comfortable for you, your body and your baby.

Before considering if your breasts are producing enough milk, consider how your baby is latching on to you.

Firstly, hold your baby tummy to tummy with the baby’s mouth positioned in front of your nipple.

The baby’s head should be facing forward and his or her body should be aligned with yours. Don’t make your baby turn his or her head to reach. This is uncomfortable for them if they have to feed for long periods of time like this.

The infant needs to grasp both the nipple and part of your areola. The areola is the ring of pigment surrounding your nipple. It will cause pain if only the nipple is grasped due to pinching.

Rubbing your nipple to your baby’s nose and brushing along his or her mouth will stimulate the baby to open their mouths wide. This is called the “rooting reflex.” At the widest point of opening, insert your breast as deep as possible to avoid only latching the nipple.

If the infant latches on incorrectly (and you will know cause it’s painful!), break the suction by inserting your finger into the baby’s mouth. Do not try to pull the baby away as this can cause nipple soreness and trauma.

Feeding holds for all mothers
  • Cradle
  • Cross cradle or cross over
  • Football hold
  • Back lying
  • Australian hold
  • Side lying cradle
Breastfeeding positions for every day use and comfort.
http://www.mummymadness.com.au
Get comfy when breastfeeding. Prevent back aches and improper body mechanics that may worsen in the future.

At first, I thought I could live without a rocking chair or a breastfeeding pillow but honestly, when your sitting there holding your baby and breastfeeding so so so frequently, your back and neck will start to ache

If you can, invest in a comfy rocking chair! This will make all the difference especially for those late nights when you’re up with a fussy baby. As well, a feeding pillow (U-shaped pillow) will help when you’re on the go or if you’re unable to sit in the rocking chair.

Here are some tips I used to help increase my milk supply.

Make sure to drink lots of water!

I can’t stress how important it is to keep hydrated, breastfeeding or not. Drink plenty of water. About two liters per day is enough for both breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers. I heard that it is a myth that breastfeeding mothers need more water than their non-breastfeeding counterparts… Also, don’t force yourself to chug water! This can be very dangerous and can lead to fluid overload! An adequate amount of enough to help with your milk supply.

Herbal supplements are a great and natural way to increase breast milk supply.

I have used the following herbs below to help increase my milk supply:

  • Fenugreek (along with fennel and milk thistle)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
Fenugreek, along with fennel, milk thistle and other milk stimulating ingredients are infused into Mearthmama's organic milkmaid tea.
Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea has great reviews! Mothers have worn by it.

It contains fenugreek, as well as fennel, milk thistle and other milk stimulating herbs. I purchased a set of 3 boxes of tea from Amazon. Each box contains 16 tea bags for a total of 48 bags and I had 3 cups of tea per day. So it took me a total of 16 days to use up the entire 3 boxes and honestly, as much as I really wanted this super tea to work, I didn’t do much for my milk supply. I read amazing reviews from other moms and hoped that this would be the perfect solution but unfortunately it did very little. At least the flavor of the tea was pleasant! There is a moderate licorice fragrance and flavor to the tea which I didn’t mind at all.

Who knows, this tea might work for you. Other mothers seem to swear b\y it! I got mine at Amazon for $19.50 CDN. Let me know in the comments about how the tea has worked for you!

I tried using teas that contained these ingredients because not only do I love tea but it was easy to consume and enjoy with a newborn baby schedule. But you can take these ingredients in other forms such as in capsules or liquid drops.

Ginger helps with healing after birth and also adds to bleeding risks.

On the day my baby came, my mom arrived to the hospital with a big tub of rice and sauteed ginger! She swore that ginger helped with healing and increased her milk supply when she was nursing me. So it worked for my mom way back when but for me, I saw a very mild difference. Keep in mind I didn’t take in as much ginger as I wanted – say once per week. But I love cooking with ginger, and wished I had put more effort into eating more of it when I was breastfeeding. I was also told that eating too much of ginger can change the flavor of your breast milk and I don’t know if a baby’s flavor profile is ready for that spicy, peppery taste… (this goes for spicy foods too!) If anyone has found ginger to be helpful in increasing milk supply, please comment! I would love to hear your thoughts. Ginger is also used for nausea and vomiting but has been shown to increase bleeding.

Garlic is an antioxidant but increases bleeding risk.

Studies show that garlic also plays a role in milk production. It is also an antioxidant used to lower cholesterol levels. A side effect of garlic is increased bleeding, just like ginger.

I love garlic, and I use garlic in almost all of my cooking, pre- and postpartum. I didn’t really increase my intake of garlic when I was trying to increase my milk so I can’t say for sure if it helped or not. Let me know in the comments if you increased your garlic intake and it made a difference!

Barley is a great galactogogue to help increase breast milk supply.

Beer contains barley and the polysaccharides in barley stimulates prolactin (PRL), a hormone produced in the pituitary gland which facilitates milk production.

I found this tip really worked! I recommend drinking non-alcoholic beer of course as alcohol does pass through your breast milk to your baby, but in much smaller concentrations.

Or you can just eat barley. My mother in-law made me a wonderful barley soup where the galactagogue goodness (a substance that promotes lactation) infuses into the broth of the soup – the best part! Yum, it was such a delicious soup.

When I did drink non-alcoholic beer, literally in about 3 hours, I could feel my breasts tighten and engorgement with milk!

I really recommend eating or drinking more barely when breastfeeding. The results appeared quickly and substantially.

Lactation consultants at hospitals and clinics are here to help with breastfeeding mothers who are struggle.

Seek help from your doctor or hospital! The next day after I gave birth, a lactation consultant visited me and we had a one on one session on proper latching and the different ways to hold a baby (refer to latching above). It really helped! At my hospital, there is also a breastfeeding clinic where mothers can return with their baby as many times as they need to if they’re still having trouble latching or breastfeeding.

Breast massages and warm compresses

Stimulating milk supply can occur through increasing blood flow and warmth to the breast. Massaging the breast and expressing some milk before feeding your newborn leads to “let down” reflex where your milk flow is greatest. It makes it easier for your baby to feed adequately. Taking a nice warm shower or applying a warm compress will also help achieve to the let down reflex. This is a great tip and has worked wonders.

Skin to skin contact is the most important step after birth.

Skin to skin contact between you and your baby is the very first thing you do after delivery. Benefits of skin to skin contact include:

  • stimulates rooting reflex (sucking)
  • warmth and stabilization of body temperature
  • bonding
  • regulation of blood sugar, heart rate, breathing
  • comfort and relief for the baby (decreased crying)
  • eases the transition from the womb to the outside word

Those are all the tips I tried to improve my milk supply. But really the best way to do so as naturally as possible is to…

Pump every 2-4 hours to increase your breast milk supply.

or…

breastfeed as frequently as possible!

Breastfeeding – It doesn’t come as naturally as you think…

Throughout my pregnancy, I was determined to be as natural as possible. This meant many things: a natural (painful) birth and breastfeeding – because natural is always best, right? Even though it may be the scariest, most painful moments in your life, it’s what’s expected of us as mothers. It’s the self sacrifice and unconditional love for our offspring that makes us push our humanly limits to do what’s best.

You would think that breastfeeding comes naturally – and it does. Breastfeeding is natural and is a naturally occurring phenomenon, but the process doesn’t occur as flawlessly as you would think – especially for first time mothers like myself.

When I gave birth to my baby girl in January, I had the worst time with latching and expelling my colostrum. It was the most painful sensation I have ever felt! Mind you, I had just given birth to her and was dealing with the aftermath of 3 tears and an agonizing 34 hours of labor, and I still believed that the sensation of my baby sucking at my breasts and the entire process of latching was worse than birth itself… I just had extremely sensitive breasts that just weren’t used to that sucking sensation – and I have to say, my newborns sucking strength was very strong! (Well, all newborn’s sucking should generally be strong…)

It took me 3 months to finally get my breasts used to my newborns sucking strength and by that time, I felt it was too late. (Or is it?…) Today, my baby is on formula and that’s ok.

To mothers and parents who feed their child formula, let me just say, you’re doing what’s right for you and your baby. I have no judgement for mothers who breastfeed, or use formula, or both. I say…

There is this immense pressure from society to breastfeed your child exclusively because that’s what’s best and most natural. Breastfeeding has benefits not only for baby but for mom too. It has all the vitamins, proteins, fat and antibodies that the newborn needs to grow. For mom, breastfeeding helps burn calories faster to lose all that baby weight, and it triggers the release of oxytocin to contract your uterus to return it back it its normal size. (Of course your uterus will never really be the same again after pregnancy, along with many other things…) But sometimes and for some families, breastfeeding really isn’t what’s best at all. I remember talking to my OBGYN about how I badly wanted to continue breastfeeding but how painful it was to not only to latch but to watch my baby “starve” and not get enough from me. I had tried everything from lactation consultants to breast massages and warm compresses and so forth… (Check out my post about breastfeeding tips here.) I felt that I had already failed as a mother, and she was only just a few weeks old. She assured me that breastfeeding isn’t always the right decision for every family and I had to do what was right for mine. She also said that I would be surprised by how many of us were formula fed, herself included!

Along with PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) and other conflicting postpartum issues, I had to set aside my unrealistic goals in order to do what was truly best for my baby, and that was to switch to formula feeds. Today, she is a vibrant and cheerful little 5 month old baby and honestly, if she were on my breast milk, she would still be just as vibrant and cheerful.

I had spoken to another mom about my failures of breastfeeding, and she reassured me that I was doing just fine. She said she had breastfed her first child exclusively because she wanted to be as natural as possible. And then, she had a second child who she tried to breastfeed exclusively as well. And then unexpectedly, a third child came. At this point, she couldn’t keep up with the crazy demand so she switched to formula for her last two children. She said to me, “…my oldest son who had my breast milk is just as weird as my youngest who is on formula…And I hope this makes you feel much better, because I know I did.

So to those who truly do want to breastfeed exclusively, here are a few tips I wish I had known while I was pregnant:

If you are going to be a first time mom and are currently pregnant, feel your breasts and try massaging them. If they feel tender or painful upon moderate pressure, then you may have a tough time with breastfeeding like I did. Of course, not everyone is the same and breastfeeding may come about more easily for some mothers compared to others. And if the pain is that excruciating, you may be experiencing breast engorgement or duct blockage. Always check with your doctor if you’re unsure. Massaging the breasts is the most important tip I can give to new mothers like myself who have no idea what they’re doing! I had to push through the pain of massaging and rubbing my breasts to “let down” the milk all while trying to make sure my newborn baby was getting enough. It was draining. Massaging those breasts helps them get used to movement and pressure so start early, even before baby arrives! And when it comes time to latch on your newborn, these sensations shouldn’t be so new to your breasts. Of course, it may still be painful at first but not as excruciating. That way, you’ll be able to better enjoy those precious moments of your first feeding with your newborn baby instead of focusing on the “why can’t I feed my newborn like other mothers do so naturally?! I have failed as a mother already…Nope, none of that!

Of course, drink plenty of water. This not only helps with your milk supply, but it also helps to reduce the pedal edema (swelling in the feet) by flushing out all the excess fluid that has developed in your body. (During pregnancy, our bodies produce and retains fluid to meet the needs for your developing fetus.)

Always try to minimize stress! That is a given. Stress contributes to so many health conditions in every aspect of life. Be kind to yourself! You are creating a new life and that’s pretty darn amazing! Take some deep breaths, think happy thoughts, and surround yourself with good vibes.

Also, continue to exercise! Avoid strenuous training but continue with those stretches or even take a scenic walk. Ask your doctor what is right for you but if your condition doesn’t warrant otherwise, then continue to be active throughout your pregnancy. Remember to rest when you are tired. Being active is great but don’t push it. Trust your instinct. Move when you want to, rest when you need to.

Lastly, ask for help. It’s ok to admit you have no idea what you’re doing. I mean, do we really know what were doing? I know I didn’t and everything turned out just fine. Another piece of advise to new moms is, no matter how bad you think it gets, it will always pass. It won’t last forever. Talk to someone – your partner, a family member, a friend, your doctor. Reassure yourself that everything is ok, and that you are doing great and you’re a good mom. Hopefully they will reassure you too.

To those having a tough time with breastfeeding and are considering formula feeds, that’s ok too. Modern science has created some amazing inventions, and now mothers struggling with breastfeeding don’t have to feel so defeated and alone anymore. Formula will not make your child any less of a person than those fed with breast milk. You have not failed as a mother. You are not a bad mom.