Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Amy's Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist Series: My Labor Stories & Advice

My Labor Stories & Advice:

With my first son, we went to the hospital to be induced with a balloon. When we got there I was already having contractions, but little guy wasn’t dropping, so I wasn’t dilating very fast. They put the balloon in over night, put monitors on me, and I tried to sleep. (Side note: Monitoring can be frustrating, try to work with the nurses and doctors as nicely as you can, they are there to help you!) Come morning I had dilated to a 4.5, but little guy seemed stuck, still wasn’t dropping, and his heart rate showed that he was beginning to be distressed. We were told we could wait it out and likely go in for an emergency cesarean, I would be knocked out and Greg wouldn’t be able to attend. Or, we could start preparing for a cesarean, I could stay awake, and Greg could attend too. After thinking about it, and watching our baby’s heartbeat on the monitor, we decided to opt for the less stressful cesarean.

After the procedure,  my son wasn’t very alert due to the medicine in my system that, consequently, went through my breastmilk into his little body. We also had major problems with breastfeeding. That’s not always the case, but I would suggest learning as much as you can about breastfeeding and latch before you have your baby. We had a few other issues with breastfeeding that were not “the norm,” but I would recommend trying to use the lowest amount of narcotics or try to stick to the extra strength tylenol or ibuprofen to avoid the medicine knocking out your baby like it did with us. It’s hard trying to wake up your baby every few hours as it is, but when they don’t wake up to eat after 6-8 hours because of medicine in their system, it can get really scary! If in doubt, ask for help!! Never be afraid to ask for help!

In the first few months after my son’s birth, I knew deep down that having a cesarean kept our son safe, but I still felt like a failure. Cesareans are hard, I’m not going to sugar coat it! I’m going to tell you if you have a Cesarean, you are not a failure! If you have a cesarean, recovery is much longer, and more painful, but your baby’s safety and health are what matter most. Going through a cesarean, you put your baby’s life before your own. Giving birth vaginally is definitely no cake-walk, and there are risks involved with both, but cesareans are much more traumatic. It’s a major surgery! You get sliced open, half of your insides moved out of your body, & your baby gets yanked out in a very unnatural way, then you get stitched up, & are now expected to take care of a brand new, beautiful little baby! You need way more time to rest & heal, not only physically but emotionally as well. If you have a cesarean, know that you are not alone, and there are many women who have gone through what you have. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, or ask questions! 

A few points of advice: If you have stairs in your home, plan on staying on one level for the first couple of months while you heal. Set up an area where you can sleep, shower, and eat without too much effort. Arrange for help for at least 3 weeks! Standing up straight will seem impossible for the first week, and it will wear you out just to take a shower for the first week or so. You will want the help, don't feel like you should do it by yourself, or that your a burden, give others the opportunity to serve you!! Most of all, REST!!! Sleep as much as you can so you can heal, and take care of your baby the best you can.

With my second son, I was lucky to have a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). I wanted to see how far I could go without an epidural or any other medicine. Once I was dilated to about a 4.5, my contractions slowed down (I think because I had a cesarean before, and my body wasn’t quite sure what to do). After a while the doctor recommended pitocin to help my body kick back into gear. Once the pitocin kicked in, the pain quickly became unmanageable, so we tried a local pain relief, but it only lasted for maybe 45 minutes. Once that wore off, I started crying uncontrollably during the contractions, and I wasn’t even at active labor yet. So we decided to go with an Epidural. Just 2 hours later, I was fully dilated, started pushing, and our little guy was born after 6-8 pushes (I honestly don’t remember how many, but it was quick). I had a small tear, which is normal, and was stitched up in what seemed like no time. After that, I was worried that the epidural might affect my baby negatively, just like the narcotics had with my first, but my worries were quickly washed away once I got to hold him. He was very alert, and wanted to nurse right away! He latched on beautifully, and my pain level with nursing was extremely low compared to my first. I'm thrilled that I had a VBAC! Recovery is so much faster,  I didn’t have nearly as much pain, and I could care for my baby so much more easily!

My two experiences are vastly different, and that goes to show that every pregnancy is different, every labor & delivery is different, and every baby is different. Try not to stress out too much about what you’ll do for each situation. There is absolutely no way to prepare for everything that will happen. Just arm yourself with the knowledge you think will help you through the challenges you will face, and have a few people in mind to ask questions for when you don’t have a clue what you are doing. :) I wish you all the best with your pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and that you enjoy all the time you get with your new little baby! Time really does go fast, enjoy it all while it lasts.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Amy's Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist Series: Sibling Care During Hospital Stay

Care for Siblings During Hospital Stay:
If your kids are being watched at home:
  • List of Emergency contacts (Hospital, parents phone numbers, pediatrician, poison control center, etc...)
  • List of allergies and things they can have instead
  • Vitamins, medicines, doses and location.
  • List of foods and activities they like
  • List of daily routines (when they usually eat, any special bedtime or nap time routines or things that help them go to sleep)
  • If kids are in school:
    • bus schedule, when they need to be dropped off/picked up
    • school lunches or home lunches
    • homework
    • any specific needs
  • It never hurts to lay out an outfit or two so that it's easy to grab and go

If your kids are being watched at someone else's house:

  • List of Emergency contacts (Hospital, parents phone numbers, pediatrician, poison control center, etc...)
  • List of allergies and things they can have instead
  • List of foods and activities they like
  • Vitamins, medicines, doses (label & portion out, you may want a medicine box)
  • List of daily routines (when they usually eat, any special bedtime or nap time routines or things that help them go to sleep)
  • If kids are in school:
    • bus schedule, when they need to be dropped off/picked up
    • school lunches or home lunches
    • homework
    • any specific needs
  • Clothes, underwear, socks & shoes
  • Pajamas
  • Sleeping bags/blankets & pillows
  • Diapers/wipes
  • A few favorite toys/books/coloring books & crayons/stuffed animal/blanket etc…
  • Toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste/floss/shampoo/conditioner/soap/lotion etc...)

    Free Printable: Sibling Care During Hospital Stay

    Previous Series: Hospital Bags

    Next Series: My Labor Stories & Advice

Hanging Wooden Towel Holder

Living in an apartment can be tricky, especially when there are more than two in the apartment. I'm always looking for ways to make the most out of what little space we have, while still making it look attractive, clean, and organized. One thing that drives me nuts is having to find space for your towel in your bedroom, because there is not enough space in the bathroom, where it should be! So I came up with a way to hang our towels in the bathroom for under $5.00, and without having to drill huge holes in the wall.

I used some wood I already had, purchased some knobs from Walmart, and used a little left over oil paint that I had to "stain" the wood the color I wanted. After the paint dried, I sealed it with a matt clear finish to keep the wood from being damaged from any moisture from the bathroom. Then I drilled the holes, screwed the knobs in, put 2 sawtooth picture frame hangers on the back, and hammered 2 small nails in the wall. All said and done, I had my towels hanging in the bathroom within a day! Problem solved.

I even had some help from my son. He wanted to paint too, so he used a pen to "paint" on the back. :)

Anyway, if you're trying to find a quick, cheep, easy way to keep your towels off the floor, out of the bedrooms, and into the bathroom, give this a shot. If you do, I'd love to hear how your towel hangers turn out!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Amy's Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist Series: Hospital Bags

Mom’s Hospital Bag:
  • Towel & Garbage bag for the car. (If your water breaks on your way to the hospital, lay the garbage bag over the seat and put the towel over the top, it will keep your car clean.)
  • Cell phone & charger
  • Empty bag and folder for items you get from hospital (believe me on this one, you’ll get a ton of stuff!)
  • ID & insurance card(s)/wallet/purse
  • Birth plan
  • Hot pack/ Ice pack/ Stress ball (for labor)
  • Music/movies/games/ whatever you want to use for distraction during labor
  • Shampoo/ Conditioner/ Lotion
  • Hair bands, barrettes, pins, comb, brush
  • Toothbrush/ toothpaste/floss
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup/ lip balm
  • Disposable underwear/ Maxi pads
  • Breast pads, lanolin, & nursing bra
  • Paper Clip or bobby pin (track which side you’re on for breastfeeding)
  • Nursing pillow
  • Homecoming outfit (choose something loose & comfy)
  • Nursing nightgown (so you can be comfortable, but modest when visitors come)
  • Bellyband (no one likes to have a floppy tummy after birth)
  • Robe (Hospitals can be cold, and it's nice to cover up sometimes)
  • Flip flops and/or slippers (Some people like to shower in their flip flops. I like to bring slippers because they’re warm and more comfortable than the no-slip socks they give you)

My Tips and Tricks:
Obviously, the less you have to take with you, the easier it will be when you go home. But if you need or want something and don’t have it with you, it can be frustrating. I could go without the nursing pillow, the belly band, or the robe. But I definitely wouldn’t go without slippers, disposable underwear and maxi pads (at least enough for the ride home), and my bathroom bag, those are my absolute necessities.

Dad’s Hospital Bag:
  • Change of clothes (or 2)
    • shirt, pants, underwear, socks, shoes
  • Pajamas
  • Pillow (the hospital may have one for  him to borrow, but you never know)
  • Toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste/deodorant/comb/soap/shampoo)
  • Camera/Video Camera/ Cell phone
  • Chargers
  • Cash & change (if the hospital's cafeteria is closed, you might want something out of a vending machine)
  • Snacks/Candy/Drinks/Gum (for you and him)

Diaper Bag:

  • Homecoming outfit (I always pack two newborn outfits & two 0-3 outfits. Two, just in case little one decides to have a blow out right as you are going home. The different sizes because you never know how big your baby is going to be, the newborn size may not fit.)
  • Socks/onesies/hat/mittens (depending on the season)
  • Diapers/wipes/bags for dirty diapers (6 diapers are plenty, the hospital will provide you the rest that you may need)
  • Burp cloth(s)
  • Nipple shield & lanolin
  • Pacifier & pacifier clip (some people think a pacifier shouldn’t be used until nursing is well established, or that it could mess with their ability to latch on. Others think it’s fine. Really it’s personal preference, whichever you choose.)
  • Tissues (the hospital usually gives you a bulb)
  • Baby nail clippers and glass file
  • Blanket/receiving blanket
  • Toy or anything you want for hospital pictures

    Free Printable: Hospital Bags

    Previous Series: Early Labor vs. Real Labor

    Next Series: Sibling Care During Hospital Stay

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Amy's Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist Series: Early Labor vs. Real Labor

Signs of Premature Labor:
  • Leaking or discharge (clear, bloody, or brown)
  • Loss of mucus plug
  • Contractions every 10 minutes or more.
  • Cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Pelvic Pressure (baby dropping)
  • Backache
    • Lie down and relax
    • Drink lots of water
    • Rest & wait, if symptoms don't get better in an hour, call your doctor!
    • If symptoms go away, lay low, put your feet up, & talk to your doctor!

Stages of Labor:
  • First Stage: Start of contractions that cause effacement and dilation of cervix.
    • Early Labor - cervix effaces and dilates
    • Active Labor/ Transition - cervix dilates more rapidly, contractions are longer, stronger, and closer
  • Second Stage: Labor begins when fully dilated and ends with birth
  • Third Stage: Right after birth, and you deliver the placenta

First Stage of Labor:
Coping skills for Labor pains &  when to go to the hospital
  • Early Labor
    • Time Contractions, record them!
    • Take a shower or bath
    • Listen to relaxing music
    • Try slow, deep breathing
    • Change positions
    • Drink water, juice or other clear liquids
    • Eat light healthy snacks
    • Apply ice packs or heat to your lower back
    • Rest as much as you can!!
    • If contractions are 5 minutes apart, call your doctor & go to the hospital!
    • If your water breaks, STOP! Record the time, color, odor, and general amount. Call your doctor & go to the hospital!
  • Active Labor/ Transition
    • Take a walk
    • Take a warm shower or bath
    • Rock in rocking chair
    • Roll on birthing ball
    • Massage
    • Change positions - if pressure in lower back, get on all fours
    • Cool cloth on forehead/ cold pack or warm compress on back
    • Rest between contractions!

Second Stage of Labor: Pushing Baby Out

  • Find a comfortable birthing position: Squatting, sitting, kneeling, or hands and knees.
  • Imagine the  hard contractions are helping your baby to move down and out with each contraction.
  • Stay Positive! You have made it this far, focus on one contraction at a time. Remind yourself that you are doing a great job and that the baby's arrival is near!
  • Relax your upper body and focus on pushing where it counts