You may have heard… I recently birthed my first child. As the youngest of 5, I’ve had a lot of experience with babies, but almost none of that prepared me to become a mom myself. So, should you find yourself knocked up, whether you have a clue what you’re doing or not, here are some helpful tips that I learned firsthand along the way.
*I’m not getting paid off of any of the recommendations or links in this post. These are truly just what I used / use and found success with!
If you’re planning to get pregnant…
- Establish a healthy diet and exercise routine. This is crucial. Before getting pregnant, I had been on about a year-long journey to clean up my caloric intake and fitness routine, which resulted in losing about 28 lbs. This made staying fit while pregnant and feeling good physically post-baby soooo much easier. I also never found myself in a situation where someone said I looked huge or ready to pop, both of which are terrible things to say to an expecting mama. I used the MyFitnessPal app to track what I ate and went on daily walks around my neighborhood. I also practice yoga regularly via YouTube with Yoga with Adriene (THE BEST). Both walking and yoga are great things to continue throughout pregnancy until you pop!
- Take folic acid while you’re trying. Your doctor will tell you this too, if you discuss trying to conceive. It helps with early fetal development before you even realize you’re pregnant and get on prenatals. Folic acid is not expensive and is easily found at most grocery or all-around stores.
- Remember to be patient. Stress makes it harder to conceive so if you’re all worked up about how you haven’t gotten pregnant yet, it will only make things worse! Try to relax (easier said than done) and enjoy the act of trying to make a baby! (because you won’t have as much time for it once baby arrives!)
Once you’re pregnant…
- If your prenatal makes you sick, take it at night before bed. My oldest sister gave me this advice and it changed the game.
- Eat small, frequent snacks to curb nausea. I often found myself eating every hour, on the hour. My go to snacks included fruit, pickles (both because of cravings and their 0 calorie-ness), low calorie popcorn, pretzels, applesauce and nuts.
- Get prepared for the big day. I cannot stress this enough and I don’t just mean the basics like having a shower and setting up the nursery. Here are a few other things I did (and didn’t do but wish I had) to get ready:
- Make some meals to stash in your freezer for post baby. In case you didn’t know, cooking can be tough with a newborn. Having meals that just require you to pop them in the oven or dump them into a crockpot can be a lifesaver and will help ensure you don’t just find yourself in the drive through line every day. I’ve included some recipes below that I made ahead of time and were delicious.
- Make lactation cookies. If you’re planning to nurse, these will help ensure you have a healthy milk supply. I used this recipe. I would also recommend lactation smoothies. My favorite recipe calls for 8 oz chocolate almond milk, 1 tbsp brewers yeast, 1 tbsp ground flax seed, 1 frozen banana, 1/3 cup oats and 1 tbsp peanut butter. You can do some prep for these too by making small containers of the dry ingredients pre-measured out, as well as freezing some bananas.
- Clean (or get someone too). You will not want to, and should not, clean post-partum so try to keep your house tidy leading up to the big day (especially since babies don’t always arrive as scheduled).
- Ensure your registry has stuff to make life easier:
- Baby wrap – by this, I mean the thing that you use to wrap the baby onto your body. This was hugely helpful for me when my babe wanted to be kept close to me, but I wanted to get some things done around the house. I’ve also read this is very beneficial for baby as a way of engagement. I use this one.
- Baby aquaphor + bum brush – my niece, who is a nurse, gave me the advice of using aquaphor with every change (she learned this working in the NICU); this helps prevent diaper rash from occurring and protects sensitive skin. The bum brush made this so easy. You use it to apply the ointment, keeping your hands clean!
- Pre-made swaddles – SO MUCH EASIER than following the steps with a regular blanket. You can also get them in heavier fabrics which are great for winter. Just think… It’s 3am and you’ve already been up a few times to feed and diaper change. You want to get back to bed quickly but you can’t get the wrap quite right… Just skip that stress! I have both SwaddleMe brand and Halo (Halo has some great fleece options for winter and can act as both a swaddle AND sleep sack for when baby can no longer be swaddled).
- Lots of changing pad liners OR just get a waterproof, wipeable changing pad. Your baby will pee and poop on you. It’s inevitable and doesn’t matter if you have a boy or girl… It’ll happen, so be prepared.
- Good water bottle – if you’re nursing, you will be parched! And, water intake impacts milk production so stay hydrated! Highly recommend getting a dishwasher safe one because no one wants to do more dishes with a newborn than you have to!
- Baby lotion – so, this is obvious, but I’m actually recommending it for YOU, not just baby. You will be washing your hands A LOT, which means they are going to get dry. Use baby lotion to prevent dry skin and not worry about affecting baby with unsafe ingredients or fragrances. I like the Baby Aveeno.
- Get your post-partum essentials ready. Here’s what I’m glad I had:
- A haakaa (for my breast feeding mamas) that’s been boiled to sterilize; this is great to get a little milk out while nursing or to save any milk from leaking if you have an overflowing supply
- Nursing bras / tops – I would highly recommend a few nursing bras (regular and sports bras), camis and then lots of button downs or nursing shirts. Also, flyaway cardigans or jackets are great (no buttons or zippers) because you don’t want to scrape or poke baby. If you want to shop for nursing bras, check out Target. They usually have a couple in stock that you can try on vs. trying to pick one out online. AND, if you register with Target, you’ll get some coupons that you can use for these as well!
- Breast friend nursing pillow – highly recommend this rather than a boppy pillow, specifically for nursing
- Comfortable regular underwear
- A few heavier pads and lots of panty liners. One things I did was make “padsicles” because I saw a lot on pinterest about them. Honestly, I barely used them and didn’t even need them because I was sent home with witchhazel rounds from the hospital which were very nice. I also bought WAY too many heavy pads. Don’t make the same mistake I did!
- Make sure you have the essentials in your hospital bag. There are so many posts and blogs about this, so I’m not going to go crazy but I’ll tell you some things you may not think of that I was glad I had:
- A cute, two piece pajama set with a button down top. This was so helpful for nursing and it was nice to feel like I was wearing semi-real clothes. I also wore this a lot after we got home from the hospital since I didn’t have many nursing tops or button down shirts (lesson learned!).
- Frida mom disposable underwear – the hospital will give you disposable underwear, but they are loose fitting. I like the Frida moms to keep everything in place, especially when I had visitors.
- A robe – when you want to go raid the snacks in the kitchen, you’ll want something to throw on over whatever you’re wearing.
- Your own snacks – my daughter was born at 7pm on a Sunday. The cafeteria was closed and I was STARVING. The nurses hooked me up with a small bento box but I was very glad I’d brought some snacks as well.
- An extra bag to bring home hospital goodies. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take full advantage of the goodies available to you. Anything you ask the nurses for during your stay is yours to keep! You’re already going to pay for the stay so you might as well milk it!
- Remember you’re in charge. I mean this in so many ways. First, listen to your body. Even though this was my first baby, I just knew when it was time to go to the hospital and then when it was time to push. Advocate for yourself and trust your body. Second, don’t be afraid to say no. If you aren’t ready for visitors, say so. You need to do what’s best for you and your family and that may mean having alone time. Thirdly, don’t be afraid to ask for help – from your doctor or nurse, your partner, and your family.
- Live in the moment. It’s such a special time and goes by so quickly, so try not to think about what’s next, but be present. A great way to help with this, and your memories, is to write down what’s happening as it happens, especially for your “birth story.” Then, you’ll be able to tell your child how it all went down for years to come!
- See a Lactation consultant AFTER you leave the hospital. One will likely visit you while you’re there, but you get so many people who come by to tell or ask you things, it can be overwhelming. A visit with a consultant after that’s all over can be really beneficial. Also, I wish I had taken my breast pump flanges with me when I met with a consultant to make sure I was using the right size. (Yes, your pump comes with 2 standard sizes, but it can be tricky to determine which is the right fit or if you need a different size entirely.) I ended up going for a second visit to do so, so learn from me and take them the first time!
- Take advantage of online grocery ordering and pickup (or delivery!). My doctor recommended avoiding stores until babe was 2 months (and vaccinated). However, I still needed some essentials each week. Online ordering and pickup made it easy to get what I needed without setting foot in a store.
- Get a baby tracker app to keep a record of feeding, changes, sleeping and other activities or milestones. You want to make sure your babe is getting enough food / hydration, which you can determine through the number of wet and dirty diapers. Also, your doctor will ask about eating and changing frequency and sleep patterns at your appointments, so it’s just easier if you have it all tracked! I’m using Baby Tracker and it’s great.
- Do something with all the baby pics you’re taking. As of August 2019, the Shutterfly app offers a free 6×6 soft cover photo book each month (just pay shipping). As I take babe photos, I stash them in a folder by month and then create a free book each month to catalog how she’s growing. By the time she’s one, she’ll have 13 books – 1 with my pregnancy photos and 12 chronicling each month of her first year of life.
- Combat baby poop blowout stains with the sun. Out of everything I read, I didn’t come across this anywhere. If you have some clothing with breastfed baby poop stains, put it through a wash cycle and then lay it out in the sun. The stain will totally come out like magic. You can then re-wash + dry as normal.
- Avoid baby scratches by trimming their nails while they’re sleeping. I’ve found that this is easiest when I’ve got her in her car seat after a nice walk when she is snoozing. When she’s sleeping, she isn’t squirming and there’s a significantly lower chance that I cut any of her nails too short!
There you have it. I hope you find these tips helpful, but remember… Every experience is different so you just have to find what is best for you!