My first baby wasn't a sleeper. My second baby was an even worse sleeper. I entered a state of delirium I didn't even know could exist--for years. When I was expecting my third baby, and my four-year-old was still having major sleep issues, I knew I needed help. Of the myriad of books and websites devoted to baby sleep, Precious Little Sleep (formerly Troublesome Tots) was the only one that helped me. It was not a quick fix, nor did it help my baby sleep through the night by six weeks old, but my third baby was sleeping through the night at about eight months old with minimal pain and trauma for baby or mama. For any mama who needs more sleep, check it out below:
Think of labor as a long, looong workout. Eating, and especially drinking, will support your body as it does the hardest work it will ever do. However, just like a runner in the middle of a marathon, there comes a certain point at which your body will not be digesting complex foods, so this is an appropriate time to ingest easily converted sugars, such as juice, gatorade or honey.
Unfortunately, what most hospitals have available is apple juice, orange juice, and cranberry juice cocktail--probably not what you like to drink. So, plan ahead and bring your own! Whatever you like in your everyday life may be a good option for labor. You probably want to avoid anything too acidic (I’m looking at you, citrus juices!), and you may want to avoid anything brightly colored, or your birth partners may be catching purple throw up (you may not care--if you don’t, that’s fine too). Some of my favorite choices are the lighter Gatorade/Powerade flavors or white grape juice.
Try to buy something in single serving bottles, and pack several in your bag. Then you’re prepared for anything, but whatever you don’t drink during labor you can have for those thirsty early breastfeeding sessions. Don’t worry about keeping it cold; hospitals always have ice you can pour your drink over, and it’s easier to drink from a bendy straw than a bottle during labor.
Like a blast from the past, my own first time mom misconceptions.
We all have them--things we think before having our first child that turn out to be so, so wrong. Here’s a few of mine:
So much of the birth process is not hard and fast rules. There are many elements of labor and birth that are out of your control. This can be a hugely difficult realization for those of us who are control freaks (guilty). The good news for all of you who HATE the thought of giving up control is that there are things about your birth that you should exert control over. While this may be unwelcome news for you free spirits out there, bear with me--putting in some forethought may very well free you up to go with the flow even more during your labor.
Here’s a very important rule: No warm bodies.
In a nutshell:
When choosing companions for your labor and birth, don’t invite anyone who will contribute only a warm body to the experience.
That means anyone who has tried to invite themselves to your birth.
That means your single friends who think your labor might be a great time to get together and socialize.
That means nursing students in a teaching hospital who are there for observation.
That means your best friend who’s “never seen a baby born.”
That also means your baby sister who’s never been pregnant, and who you plan to show how it’s done.
That means your older children.
That may mean your mom.
Anyone who would be present at your birth only as a spectator is likely to be a hindrance to the natural process of labor. The truth is that when you are giving birth, you will need support. You are not putting on a show, you are having a baby. It’s really hard work. You will sweat, and you will only appreciate those people who will wipe the sweat off. You will probably say you can’t do it. You will need the people who will look you in the face and say with conviction “Yes, you can.” You will be in pain. You may throw up. Don’t invite anyone if you aren’t okay with them seeing you at your worst.
When I was pregnant with my second child and planning for a much desired VBAC, I made my choice of labor companions based on who would be useful to me. I wanted people who could support me through the process, but I didn’t want anyone coming who didn’t have a role to play. I chose carefully and selectively, and I didn’t regret those decisions.
One of the biggest problems I’ve seen with birth “observers” is that their presence can slow labor down (not what you want). You know that phrase “a watched pot never boils”? Yep, applies to labor too. Ideally, your birth companions are working almost as hard as you are to keep you going.
Caveat: (There’s always a caveat for rules, isn’t there? Especially in birth…) A few women out there are social birthers, who appreciate being surrounded by a gaggle of women while birthing. However, even if you are one of these women, it is critical to carefully evaluate who will be helpful to you and who may potentially disrupt your labor rhythm before giving out invitations. It's okay to have many people at your birth if that's what you need. If they're coming for any other reason, you may want to reconsider.
By the way, the no warm bodies rule applies after the baby is born also. Especially for the first two to four weeks, you will be sore, milky, elated, cranky, sleepy, and confused. You need people who can bring dinners, fold laundry and entertain older children. Put off anyone who you feel like you need to straighten up the house for. People love newborn babies so much (who wouldn’t?) that they often forget what that sweet baby’s parents are going through.
This book is my new favorite resource for breastfeeding. The authors unravel so many of the misconceptions about breastfeeding that can leave new mothers with sore nipples, inadequate milk supply, and ready to give up on breastfeeding altogether. They discuss the biology of breastfeeding in language that every mommy brain can understand, laying out the reasons why certain actions, especially in the first couple of weeks, can make breastfeeding work better and set mothers and babies up for long term successful breastfeeding. The best time to read this book would be in late pregnancy, but mothers at any point in a breastfeeding relationship could benefit from the information in this book.
Birth is a mother’s moment to shine. No one should take that away from you. You are the hero of the story. It’s not about whether you take an epidural or give birth without medication. It’s about how you have loved this baby and grown this baby to the point of being ready to enter the world. Birth is the culmination--and it is the mother who delivers. Birth is the beginning--and it is your arms that will welcome your child. You deserve to be celebrated because you are amazing.
Doula, mother, crunchy minimalist, Christ follower.