Postpartum Essentials for Mom

Recovery after birth is sometimes the last thing we think about when pregnant.  I on the other hand had a really overdue baby, and had a lot of time to get really prepared for baby and to get everything ready for an optimum birth recovery.

I had a month worth of freezer meals ready to go, I still have some left over in the freezer! I wrote down easy recipes that Carl would be able to make,  I set everything up for my home birth, made balms for baby and me and researched everything for a great, fast recovery after birth.

The one thing I found while trying to find what I would need in my postpartum kit, was a lot of the same things or rather obvious things, like a nursing bra?  If you’re breastfeeding I think it would be quite obvious that you would need a nursing bra and breast pads for that matter.   To me these postpartum essentials posts weren’t really helpful, but that was just because it was filled with the stuff I already knew I had to get, but not the strange and insanely helpful things that I really used.

Postpartum days are a whirlwind of lack of sleep and grazing for the nearest food you can just quickly shove in your mouth, while you and your baby get to know each other.  These are some of the essentials that I used during postpartum that made me feel more human, during a time when lack of sleep, getting peed on and just staring at poop seems to be the norm.  Don’t forget googling about what poop is normal.

POSTPARTUM ESSENTIALS FOR MOMS

  1. Coconut water.  It felt like coconut water saved my life during the first couple of days of postpartum.  It hydrated me and gave me a little energy boost that I needed during that time.  It also helped replenish electrolytes that I lost during birth.  It was also the most refreshing thing in the world to me at that point of time water felt like a drag to drink, while coconut water seemed like a gift from God.
  2. Robe.  This is one of those ” it could be obvious” things, but I decided its just a must to add.  I was having so many hot flushes and just sweating like crazy during those first couple of days ( thanks Hormones).  I just never wanted to wear a shirt.   I was always just in a nursing bra and pants, when we were alone of course, but man I wish I had a robe! I feel like it would have made me feel more decent and like I had all my ducks in a row.
  3. Dry shampoo.  I had a quick sitz bath everyday, but it wasn’t really a shower.  That first week postpartum is all about the baby and if you get a shower in , you’re lucky! With guests coming over to see the new baby, not feeling like  a complete mess is essential!  Dry shampoo is a lifesaver for those times.
  4. Vitamins.  Your body lost a lot of energy and vitamins during birth.  Keep taking your multi vitamins, but also take a probiotic to keep digestion going.  A magnesium tablet is also essential to keep cramps at bay after birth.  You won’t believe how achy your body will be.
  5. Leggings: Comfy pants is a must postpartum and these from mermaids and unicorns have such an amazing design that you can wear them while entertaining guests.  People will be so distracted by your amazing leggings that they wont even care how bad you look.  The cute baby that everyone is passing around will also be a distraction.
  6. Cocoa butter. After pregnancy you will be left with that beautiful brown line on your stomach….Linea nigra if you want to get all fancy, or if you just want it gone and not even bother knowing its name, get some cocoa butter and massage it all over it everyday.  It will help get rid of it fast!  I also used cocoa butter for the most amazing breastfeeding nipple cream, it was a lifesaver during those first couple of days when you and baby are just trying to figure out breastfeeding and you wonder if you gave birth to a snapping turtle.
  7. Arnica Everything: I used arnica oil after birth for my achy muscles and believe me did it help.  You won’t believe how sore your muscles are! Labour is the most intense workout of your life and you will hurt in places you didn’t know you had muscles.  I also took arnica tablets for inflammation, pain and aches.  You just have to get it!  Its a homeopathic dreamboat.
  8. Exercise ball.  This ball is not just helpful during labour, its amazing afterwards as well.  Bouncing a fussy baby on the ball is a great way to calm them down, help burp them and make them fall asleep.  Its also a great workout.

Extras.

Sitz bath.  A sitz bath after birth will help ease discomfort down there.  If you cant find some of the herbs to make your own sitz bath bags, just add 1/2 cup Epson salt to your bath water and 5 -10 drops of lavender oil.  It will help heal you faster and ease any discomfort.

Perineum spray:   This is great for healing and keeping things clean down there.

Granola and Snacks: I loved my healing golden milk granola as a snack during those first couple of days, it was so easy to eat and had all the healing properties I needed.

Lactation cookies:  I lived on these amazing cookies I created during the first couple of days when waiting for my milk to come in and when my milk came in I had one happy baby on my hands.

Chocolate:  Having a some dark chocolate when you feel so tired will be that pick me up you need.

Support: having your partner there helping you and making things as comfortable as possible is just what you need during your postpartum period.  I’m really grateful to Carl for all his help and support he gave me and how involved hes been in Arren’s life even before he was born, this guy doesn’t want to miss a thing.

Feeding Pillow:  A feeding pillow is a great thing to have to adjust baby just right, I only really started using mine this last week or so.   I was too frazzled to remember where I put my feeding pillow and just made a pillow fortress with all the pillows in the house, but now that I’m using it I can’t believe that I didn’t use it from the start.

The most important thing is to get enough sleep! I know it can be so difficult when you have a perfect little angel sleeping next to you and all you want to do is stare, but trust me try and get some sleep when your baby sleeps.  It will help you heal better and make you feel more sane!

I hope this helps all those new mamas out there!

Musings Of First Time Parents – The First Month with a Newborn

The first month with little Arren has been a complete whirlwind.  It’s somehow been the shortest yet longest time of my life.  I personally didn’t know my body could run on such little sleep and still be able to care for someone else so well, even be slightly entertaining.  I mean the songs you start to sing once you have a baby will have you think maybe you should go into a music career? but we all know that’s just lack of sleep talking.

Carl and I just can’t believe how such a little person can dislike him so much.  Little Arren has claimed his mommy and just shows his dislike for Carl the whole time.  Arren will also not be fooled into being held by his dad when he’s wearing a mommy milk covered shirt or blanky.  He’s too smart for that!  We’ve decided to stockholm syndrome our son into liking Carl.  Every time I nurse Arren, Carl creepily lurks and forces Arren to make eye contact with him,  believe me Arren hates it! Soon this little guy will be forced to love his dad….

It doesn’t help that Carl gave Arren the biggest fright of his little life so far!  By laughing!  We were watching SNL and Carl laughed so hard that, little Arren went into purple screaming and wouldn’t stop for so long!  I finally managed to calm him down, but we decided that Alec Baldwin is way to funny to watch around Arren.

So here are some of our musings of new parents.  Please note these are honest musings, meant to be amusing.  We love Arren a lot, and he made our lives better and complete, but man is it hard!

MUSINGS OF NEW PARENTS

 

  1. Do not throw away any ugly blankets or outfits that you get from colleagues, family or friends. You can use these to wipe up pee or poop or use as a changing mat cover; just because you are busy changing the diaper doesn’t mean that baby has finished peeing.
  1. You as a new parent know better than any parent before you. The internet is your friend.
  1. Everything can be made into a song.
  1. An exercise ball is a lifesaver for bouncing. Babies love to bounce, don’t you dare stop bouncing.
  1. You will get pee and poo on you. Boys are gross.  I’ve turned my back for a second only to have had pee on my back and hair.
  1. You will talk about poo a lot. Like all the time.  This is your new life.
  1. You wouldn’t have guessed that such a little person can go through so much laundry and that your laundry has quadrupled.  Drowning in laundry everyday.
  1. Sometimes white noise is too white and your baby just want’s some rap music to console him.
  1. There will be a moment when you think you have finally gotten the hang of it and then your baby will wake up, scream in your face, like he has never seen you before, and be inconsolable.
  1. There will be a moment when you feel like giving up and that everything is too much and then your baby will give you a fleeting smile( around one month) and then it makes everything worth it.  Your baby is a sadist.
  1. You will do everything possible to get that smile again. You will be silly, you will beg, you will negotiate.
  1. After dancing with your baby and bouncing for two hours, you think he is finally asleep, so you put him down, only for him to wake up and to start the process again.
  1. You will lie and tell people your baby sleeps great, not mentioning that it happens about two nights a week.
  1. Babies want constant entertainment, even when they aren’t able to show appreciation, they want to walked around and have everything explained to them.
  1. You will get to know every corner of your house.
  1. Your baby is now your exercise equipment, and only gets heavier with time.
  1. When you air dry your baby, you will probably end up getting pee or poo on you.
  1. The first bath time, is one of the scariest moments of your life.  You have no idea what to expect.
  1. The first month is all about surviving, you will be sleep deprived, you will turn on each other.
  1. Sleep when they sleep, we haven’t, but you should.
  1. Colic is a real thing and sometimes it just happens, regardless of what you eat and don’t eat.
  1. You will google everything to find out if it is normal, and then be terrified of IDS.
  1. Your baby’s first outing will be nerve racking, a car trip can get your baby to sleep, but a noise in a mall can wake him up super quickly.

 

an unexpected Lotus Birth

One thing that was not in my birth plan or after birth plan was a lotus birth.  The idea of carting around a placenta was just a little too much for me, but its strange how things change as soon as that baby is out of you.  How I thought things were going to be and how they actually turned out in reality is way different.  I didn’t think our baby would hate a bassinet so much, or scratch his dad right in the face,  while screaming bloody murder just because he’s not mommy.  Apparently Arren doesn’t care about Carl’s feelings.

After I birthed the placenta our midwife convinced us to do a lotus birth, at that point of time I was just so grateful that they were there that I would have done anything they said.   Our midwife explained the whole process of caring for the placenta to us and off we set to an unplanned lotus birth.

I’m not going to lie the first day with the placenta was rough, we had to figure out how to manoeuvre with the placenta and being the typical new parents we were completely paranoid and didn’t know what to do.  At one point I felt like crying because I didn’t feel like I could console Arren fast enough, but at the end I was completely happy we did it and gave it a try.

 

“We need to relearn what a birth can be like when it is not disturbed by the cultural milieu. We need a reference point from which we should try not to deviate too much. Lotus Birth is such a reference point.” Michel Odent

When I was speaking to my sister about our lotus birth I was quite shocked to find out that she didn’t even know what the placenta looked like, it was strange to me that during her birth it was taken away like it was something dirty and that shouldn’t be seen.  This was your baby’s lifeline for so many months, when my midwife showed me all the healthy veins, the sack where Arren called home for so long, I was completely mesmerised.  It was such an amazing thing to see and I was so happy my midwife showed me everything and explained it to me.

A lot of lotus birth posts talks about baby’s being friends with their placenta, but to us it seemed like Arren hated his placenta.  He acted like the only reason he came out of the womb was to escape from his evil placenta girlfriend, and like he just couldn’t figure out why were keeping it around.

REASONS I LOVED OUR LOTUS BIRTH

  1. It reminded me to take things slower and be more aware of my surroundings.
  2. It was a perfect uninterrupted bonding time with our new little family without having to deal with guests.
  3. It gave us time to get to know each other and figure out breastfeeding without having the stress of having to entertain people.
  4. It made Carl feel more involved.  He helped me move Arren around or helped move the placenta.
  5. It forced me to take it easy and let my body heal.
  6. The placenta and cord fell off after 3 days and he was left with the cutest little belly button.
  7. Being connected with his lifeline for so many months, until it was ready to fall off was amazing.
  8. Delays cord clamping letting baby get all the last bits of blood

HOW WE CARED FOR THE CORD AND PLACENTA

It wasn’t that difficult caring for the placenta or cord.  Carl made a little placenta bag to make the placenta look a bit festive and easier to transport.   We dropped a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on the placenta every day and we used wecesin powder to dry up the cord.  Wecesin powder is just the best thing to use for the cord, its all natural and helped speed up healing.  Once the placenta fell off we used a drop of lavender oil and a cotton bud to clean and disinfected the belly button and that’s it!  We buried the placenta under a tree in our garden in hopes that the nutrients would help give the tree some life in this drought filled times we’re having in Cape Town.

 

My home birth story : The Fast Birth of Arren Yuki

The birth of Arren sure will be a memorable one.  This little guy has had spunk since inside the womb.  From taking his sweet time to get out of the breech position, making his mommy crawl around on a carpet every day, doing obscene poses to nudge him into the right position.  He eventually decided to flip into the right position for birth after that it was all smooth sailing until my due date and he decided  that he was just so comfy in the womb that he just did not want to come meet us! This little guy has some serious attitude and we just love him for it.

My due date came and went, and I started realising, that baby will come when baby is ready! I tried all the little labour inducing tricks, with no luck at all and decided to just be patient.  Until….the new year came rolling in and I still had no baby?! Even my midwife was getting worried and asked if it was time we tried the castor oil method.  I was really apprehensive of taking castor oil, because I just wanted baby to be completely ready to meet us and not have any problems once he was out.  The night before we saw and felt the baby doing his practice breathing, and I just felt like taking the castor oil would just not be right.  We scheduled an appointment with the midwife for the next day, but I just knew that baby would be here soon.

On 2 January 2017 we watched a show in bed and fell asleep.  I was actually having such a lovely sleep dreaming about essential oils when at 2:05 am 3 January,  I woke up to my water having broken.  Man, it was such a weird feeling.  I just remember getting woken up and saying “oooh”.  Carl woke up ( hes been on high alert for weeks and every sound I made would put him in “It’s  go time” mode) and asked me whats wrong, as I walked to the loo,  I say walk, but it was more of a weird wobble, trying not to dirty everything in the beginning…I told him my water broke, we both could just not stop smiling as we knew it was baby time soon.  I decided to take a shower and get myself cleaned up as I prepared for what I thought would be a marathon labour.

We went downstairs had some tea, while I prepared snacks and treats for the midwives and Carl.  At this point I had no contractions…..As we talked, while drinking tea, I kept bouncing on my exercise ball and then….my water broke again……….this time with even more force…..I was so shocked, firstly because I just changed my clothes and secondly because my water broke again?!

I went upstairs to go change again and ran down only to have MORE water come out…..at this point I just couldn’t believe how much water was in my body…. and how much clothes I’ve gone through without any contractions.  At 3:15 am contractions started.  I downloaded this contraction timer app and it was just the best thing ever! It gave Carl something to do, without me hating on him for asking stupid questions.  We called our midwife and we all decided she could wait a little bit before coming over..I could still easily talk through contractions and we were all preparing for the long haul.

I asked Carl to bring me two blocks of ice I ate one without a problem and threw the other one at Carl because it wasn’t a good size…..Yeah, labour brings out the monster in you.

The contractions were getting more and more intense. so I decided to get some relief from the pain in the shower….at one point I wanted to live in the shower, we called our midwife and told her its time to start heading over.  I still didn’t feel like I was going to have the baby any time soon.

Soon after that everything started feeling way more intense, I remember thinking if I still have 5 – 12 hours left of this labour I’m just not going to make it, the sweet, sweet release of painkillers were looking pretty good to me right then.  I kept thinking transition would be way more intense. so I didn’t even realise I was in the transition stage at that point.

Carl called the midwife again at that point because he was getting freaked out by my intense labour grunts……..I felt an insane need to push and felt down only to feel baby’s head.

I felt my entire body felt relieved and I just had this natural instinct that washed over me.  As I shouted at Carl that the baby is here.  He decided it was time to phone the midwife again to tell her what I said.  I rushed out of the shower and felt like I needed to push.  I pushed down once and felt the baby’s head coming out, I kept thinking I’m not stopping until his head is out.  I screamed at a shocked Carl to get a towel as he ran the wrong way,  I shouted again that its behind him.  I told him to get ready for the baby as I gave one more push.  Carl caught baby Arren at 4:20 am.

 

We were both so shocked at what just happened that we just sat there looking at our perfect baby that had a good cry and stopped as soon as he was in my arms.  We just sat there crying saying how beautiful he is for what felt like an eternity……after the shock wore off I realised I was in a squat position not knowing what to do now…..we were both trying to figure out the placenta cord and if I could sit on it or not.  We decided that staying in that position was safer.

Carl went to open the door for the midwives and a whole wave of relieve washed over me they instantly made me feel calm and relaxed.  I was so happy to see them because I just didn’t know what to do next….I mean you plan for your baby not the placenta?

They helped me get up, made the bed extra comfy for me and baby and got us settled.  They gave me angelica drops to help get the placenta out, but I was just so done with pushing.  I was on one chilled out boat that would have ripped out the placenta at this time just so I wouldn’t have to push anymore.

I got into the squatting position and the placenta just dropped out.

 

He came out a whopping 3.89kg/8 pounds! 55 cm /21 inches tall and a head size that felt way bigger of 35 cm.  He also got a 10/10 on his apgar score! Our healthy little chub monkey.

Hes just been pure bliss to have around.  Its been hard at times, but everything is just worth it to see his little face.

We decided on the name Arren Yuki, before we ever started trying to have a baby.  We actually have names ready for all our future children.  Yeah we are those people!  Arren means mountain warrior and Yuki means snow in Japanese.  Our little baby was conceived in Ireland and the mountains that surround this beautiful city made our hearts race, and finally made us feel like we found the perfect home for us, in the most beautiful country to us.  We chose Yuki as his second name because we were looking for snow all over Dublin and finally found it walking through Tick Knock forest, it was around that time we conceived little Arren. Japanese people also believe that your name reveals a part of your soul so our little snowflake will always be something special to us.

I never want to forget the day my heart grew so much bigger and that’s why I’m sharing it here.

P.S eating 6 dates a day really did give me a fast labour.

P.P.S If you’re looking for the most amazing midwife and assistant in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, the world.  You should definitely contact Marianne at spiritual birth! From the beginning she made me feel at ease and helped me have an amazing pregnancy and birth.  From what she suggests you eat during pregnancy to all her helpful tips on supplements she was just amazing.  Check out her website here.