Friday, January 31, 2014

New Mama: Getting Registered

Congratulations on becoming a new Mama! 

If you've even stepped into Babies R Us or Target to start your gift list, you may have easily become overwhelmed with lots of questions. 

What do I really need? 
How many will come in handy? 
What brand should I go with?

My sister-in-law had the same questions. Here is what Babies R Us says u need. Well here are some thoughts from me and my sister-in-law, Samantha to help you get started!

>If u are looking to save money, this is a great area to save. You can find like-new cribs for around $100 at consignment shops like Once Upon a Child.
>If you go with white it is easy to convert old furniture to use... like a dresser... with just some paint.
>You can save by buying a convertible crib. If so go for one that goes to a twin. The toddler conversions aren't the greatest in my opinion because they end up being higher off the ground. Plus, some parents just transition their toddlers to a twin. 
>Also keep in mind that a toddler bed runs around a $100 so make sure you are truly saving money if you are buying a conversion.

Changing Table
>Some of my friends just use a changing pad around the house... on the floor, on the bed, on the couch. This saves them room in the nursery and money for other nursery items.
>I prefer some sort of changing table. If you decide to get one, you definitely want something with storage or a diaper hanging bag for your supplies. 
>I wish I would have just used the top of my daughters second hand dresser. It gives you storage on the top in the drawers. When they are potty trained you just have a dresser and have not wasted money on a changing table. Some just put a wood framed box on it or crown molding that goes around the top of the dresser.

Other Furniture
>You won't need a night stand any time soon. I spent my money on a tall book shelf that I use for my kids books and the top for the lamp and things. Neither are necessary.
>Remember when looking at a dresser that eventually your kiddo will get out their clothes. Make sure it is short enough and easy to open.
>A recliner may be more useable than a rocker. For me the recliner was more spacious and comfortable.
>If you get a rocker, definitely get something comfy or you won't end up using it much. A glider is also safer for when the children are playing in the same area. 
>Don't forget some night lights so you can see them without waking them with a bright light.

Changing Pad & Covers
>I love my 4 sided pad, but it is harder to find big enough covers.
>You will want 2 covers for when one is in the wash.
>You will also want to buy some waterproof pads/liners that you set on top of the covers for little accidents. It will save your covers while you have newborns who tend to pee all over. 

>I have about 5 small and 4 larger waterproof pads. I use them in the swing, on the changing table, in the car seat and on the sheets for more protection on your fabrics and covers.
>My step Mom had a great trick too. She would put 2 sets of sheets on the crib and a waterproof pad in between them. If they got wet during the night, she would just strip off the top layers. No making the bed at night.
>I don't use any crib mattress pad covers. My crib mattress was plastic so I just wiped it clean if it got dirty.
>I also don’t like bumper pads. By the time the baby can roll around you have to take it out, so for me other than being pretty, they are worthless.
>Get 2-3 crib sheets! Sam and I both had reflux babies, so we use more than the average Joe. I think I had 5. You can't have too many if you plan to eventually put them in a toddler bed or have more kiddos. 
>I also bought a used crib sheet from a hand-me-down store as my "sickie" sheet. I used this sheet whenever my kiddos were sick so that it kept my other sheets nice looking. Plus, if it gets too gross, I just dump it on the trash and go get me a new one.
>If you are using a bassinet, you'll want 1-2 sheets for it. It is really hard to use a crib sheet. It just don't fit well enough.
>If you are buying a Pack n' Play, they make special sheets to fit them. I would suggest just using your crib sheets. They will be large, but are easy to fold over the edge. If you really want one though, you should only need 1 unless you travel often or use it around the house. 

>You'll want 2-3 swaddling sized blankets. I like the flannel type.
>No matter what season your baby is born in you'll want 2-3 fleece or thick, soft blankets to wrap them in. Newborns need to be kept warm. Even if you aren't dealing with snowy conditions, you still have to deal with air conditioning too.
>You'll also want a thick, warm blanket to go over your car seat unless you buy a special car seat cover.
>Sam had a great suggestion! When picking out warm blankets, don’t go too thick. Imagine still having to control a wiggly baby inside it.
>You will also want 2-3 receiving blankets that are medium warm. These are bigger than a swaddle blanket. You'll use this to play on the floor and to cuddle with when it isn't too cold. Crocheted blankets are my favorite! I sometimes use these over the top of my Pack n' Play to keep the fan or air conditioning from blowing directly on the baby.
>This is just me, but I don't waste money on crib set blankets. In my mind they are super expensive and I would rather have a sentimental homemade blanket any day.
>Bottom line...lots of blankets :)

Bath Time

>Infant towels and wash cloths aren't essentials. With my third kiddo, I just use normal towels. However, it is really nice to have cutesy ones and people love to get them for new Mamas. I would suggest 3-4 sets.
>Robes aren't really necessary either, but I love bundling my little guys into a cute robe. They make adorable pictures too! People love to get this for a new Mama!

Bath Tub
>You'll want a tub that is easy to store and has something to hold a little baby. Mine has a little sling in it.
>My MIL uses a sink and a hand towel on the base to help with slipping. Both Samantha and I feel a tub is better with strong kicking legs and floppy bodies.
>I use a wet washcloth, bucket of warm water, soap and a towel on the changing table for a quick bath for the first two months.
>When my kiddos are sitting really well I use a laundry basket. This helps with siblings that take a bath with them too.

Infant Care

Burp Cloths
>Don't waste your time on registering for special burp cloths. Register for 2 large packs of cloth diapers. These are more absorbent and easy to bleach if they get terribly stained or stinky.

Health Items
>You definitely want a humidifier which puts moisture in the air. I used to get warm air ones until a pharmacist said that a cool air one is safer because a warm air one can put bacteria into the air. Cool ones are easier to clean too.
>We got the Crane Ultrasonic Elephant Cool Mist humidifier. We’ve had to replace a little part but the company sent it express mail for free.
>Get a good thermometer. We have a head scanning one but it isn’t as accurate. I would rather an ear one. You’ll get a regular thermometer and aspirator at the hospital.
>Don’t forget a grooming kit!

Baby Products
>Check out my opinions and thoughts on shampoo/ baby wash in this post. I prefer all Burt’s Bees products for their safe ingredients and nice smell. My favorite things are their bubble bath and fragrance free/tear free wash. They have a diaper ointment that I have not tried yet, but hope to soon.
>I don’t use lotion much on my babies, especially in the first 6 weeks. As their skin gets used to being outside the womb it will get flaky at times, but it is best to not over bath them and just let their skin adjust.
>I LOVE using baby powder. It can really freshen a baby and help dry up a bottom.
>Vaseline and diaper cream are must haves.

>Don’t bother registering for a lot clothes. Just pick out anything that is very specific that you want. You will get TONS of clothes!
>Register for lots of socks. Get a few packs for each size up to 12 mos.
>For winter get a warm coat, booties and hats.
>For newborn to 3 mos, you will mostly use sleepers. Remember those 8-10 diapers a day! You’ll want something easy to open and not a lot of layers. Zippers are the best because at night you don’t have to think about snaps!
>I also love the newborn onesies or sleepers that cover their little hands like mittens. This keeps their nails from scratching their face and their hands warm!
>Sam likes the bag styled sleepers. Just remember that you can buckle a car seat or swing around them.
>For little girls, register for some cute bows. For newborns, use some Karo syrup or KY Jelly to attach cute little bows to their bald heads!


Car seats
>If you aren't getting a travel system, it will come with an infant car seat. This is the way to go with a newborn in my book!
>Definitely think ahead and register for a convertible car seat. This is for an older child. The guidelines just changed.
>Register for a convertible car seat that can go up to the car seat weigh limit. If you can find one with a booster seat go for it. They will use it until like 1st grade so get a nice one.
>A funny little thing, but a BUILT-IN cup holder is REALLY NICE when your kiddo is old enough to use it. You can get clip ons, but they don't work so well. Getting sippy cups and snack cups thrown on your car floor is no fun!

>I prefer a travel system. This really saves my back and I love the security of using it in stores because a car seat in a shopping cart is not always the safest or easiest to use.
>Make sure to test it out or at least the brand. It should be comfortable to push, easy to fold up and put into the car!
>You will want a lightweight one for your larger toddler. This is nice because when they are older, you'll pack a lot less things... so there isn't a need for the bulkier one. Open it up and make sure it is tall enough. We got a cheap one and it is so low I slouch to push annoying!

Play Time

Infant Swing
>This is a lifesaver!! This is where I spent my money. A swing is great for any baby, but especially a reflux or colicky baby! 
>It is a play area and sometimes a bed. Seriously it may be your crib for several months!
>If you're baby gets sick and is stuffy, it will help with breathing too.
>I love my Graco Sweet Peace swing! It goes all different directions which is great for a colicky baby! I also love that I can put my Graco car seat in it for a smaller infant or a sleeping infant right from the car!
>The biggest thing is you want something that can go sideways and not just front to back. Most babies prefer that motion.

Sleep and Rocker
>These are a newer and replace the idea of a bassinet. I just got my first one and I LOVE IT! It really keeps them more swaddled and I can rock the baby if they need help falling asleep.
>I also like how the baby isn’t laying flat. This helps settle a baby’s full tummy when you have just finished the late night feed!
>These are also WAY cheaper than a bassinet.
>Did I mention they are simple to fold up and take places too?!?! LOVE THEM!

More Play Things
>You'll want a play mat for tummy time and floor play time.
>I hate bouncers because that's what my swing is for. Many Moms swear by them though.
>Don't bother registering for books, DVDs or toys unless you want something specific.
>Bumbo seats were the rave. They are to help learn how to sit but we barely used it. My son got too fat in the legs for it and my daughter was always in the swing or high chair for play time.
>I never had a jumper, but I have been thinking about getting one for my third child. I have friends who had toddlers that loved the jumper over the stationary exersaucer.


>You will not know what your baby will like until you try some out. However, a well vented bottle will save you a lot of belly aches and spit ups.
>If you are planning to want to plan on registering for at least one 8oz. set in case you have to pump!
>If you are planning to bottle feed only, you may want to register and then return them if the baby hates them or get several 1 packs to try until your baby finds a favorite.
>My friends mostly rave about the Tommy Tippee and Dr. Browns bottles. I like that the Tommy Tippees are very well vented. I used the Milk Bank bottles and they are no longer available. They were triple vented and perfect for my reflux babe!
>When you pick a brand, you will eventually want 8-10 8 oz. bottles. Honestly I wouldn't waste money on smaller bottles. 
>You will want all the sizes for the nipples. You will want enough to have one for each bottle. Check your bottle package to see which size comes with the bottle set before registering for other sizes.
>Get a nice bottle cleaning brush. I love the ones with a suction cup bottom.
>Get the small bottle and sippy cup cleaning brushes! You'll need them for the vents!
>A bottle warmer...not worth the money or headache!
>A sanitizer is great if you are bottle feeding and going through a lot of bottles every day. You can use the sanitizer to clean your pump parts, binkies and bottles.
>The Medela sanitizer bags are great for a Mom who just nurses, a Mom who randomly uses a bottle or when you are traveling. 
>You can just clean and not sanitize, but it really helps to get them fresh and truly clean! I normally quick wash the parts and then put them in the sanitizer. It saves me a lot of hassle. Swish, pop into the sanitizer and then 2 min in the microwave!
>A bottle drying rack is not a necessity. Now 3 kids in I wish I would have gotten it because I have an organized personality and I love when things are in their place.
>I also love having my dollar store plastic buckets for all the bottle and sippy cup pieces.

Breast Pump
>Before registering for a $300 pump, call a local hospital supply store and see if your insurance covers it. Both our primary and secondary insurances covered a brand new one for 100%. I just had to get a script from my OB. I dropped the script off at about 35 weeks and I picked it up a few days after my baby was born.
>If you can’t get a free pump, you can buy a second-hand one. You will just want to replace all of the main parts except the air tubing. You’ll need breast shields, valves and bottles. I bought my used one for $80 and spent like $15 on new parts. Just make sure you match the brand of pump you have to the parts. They are not universal.
>If you are not sure how long you may need a pump, you can also rent one from the hospital or supply store. I think the hospital charged $30 a month.
>Some wonder if they need a pump if they nurse. I have always needed one whether to keep my milk in, increase my supply, pump an extra feed for freezer supply or when I had a babysitter. For me it is piece of mind.
>This time around I got a hands free bra. I know this will be a great help now that there are 3 kids!

Nursing Accessories
>I never found covers very helpful. I just always used a light blanket.
>Nursing pads come disposable and washable. Washable is definitely the way to go. I made mine. Here is how
>I ended up using a shield, but many women don't. You can always get one at the hospital or later if you need one.
High Chairs
>Several of my friends have the chairs that attach to the table directly. They love it because it is easy for travel and saves on space.
>I got one that is a beast. I have the Graco 4-in-1 high chair. It rolls around and can be made into a booster seat too. It does take up A LOT of room. I do like that it contains the mess to their area and not on my table. I also love that it is a higher model which saves on my back. Plus, I can roll my kiddo to wherever I am working in the Kitchen because most of the time I am cooking or cleaning while baby is eating.
>In my opinion, if you are going to go big, get one with wheels. Who has time or space to fold it up or the strength to pick it up to move it?
>I guess the space saver booster seat type high chairs are kind of a happy medium. I’ve never regretted my beast though, just sayin'.

Other Items
>I LOVE my boppy for bottle feeding or nursing. It helps to balance baby and save my arms.
>Pacifiers are one of those picky things. Some kids like them and some don't. Most nursing babies tend to like them. There are relatively two types. There are the gumdrop kinds and the more traditional nipple style (ie: NUK brand). This is a trial and error kind of thing.
>Pacifier holders are so great. They keep those binkies off the floor and when they are older they can get their own binky!! I love making them! Here is how.
>My first two kiddos hated teething rings.
>My best friend is gripe water for upset tummies. You can find it at Wal-Mart and most grocery stores.

Diapers and Wipes
>Sometimes it is hard to guess how many diapers you will need. You definitely want to register for NB-size 2.
>For my 8lb. babies, I used 1 value sized NB box and a small package until they grew into size 1. Even though the NB size says up to is really more like 10lbs.
>Remember you will use 8-10 diapers A DAY for the first 4-6wks. 
>You will go through at least 5 value boxes of size 1 and size 2.
>My fair skinned baby broke out with every diaper except Pampers Sensitive. My other kiddos took the cheap brands. For newborns I prefer the Pampers Swaddlers because they show the line when they potty which is not very easy to tell with a NB.
>Wipes are different in quality for sure. Huggies and Pampers are the thickest. If you are looking for a chemical free option take a look at my recipe here.
>If you are cloth diapering, check out my thoughts here.

Diaper Bags
>Go for easy to carry rather than huge. We have a larger one for newborn-early toddler. We have a mini backpack for walking age and older to hold a few essentials!
>I raided a travel section at Wal-Mart for some small Vaseline, wipes and baby powder to reduce the load!
>Some women just get a fashionable bag or purse and share the space with baby items. I tend to carry my clasp wallet in the diaper bag!


I’d like to leave you with this little bit of advice from Samantha about your new journey into Motherhood. She is a new Mama and I thought it was very insightful:

“Don’t stress about having every detail in order ahead of time. Just stick to the basics. It’s a whirlwind and usually the most important things are just basics: food, diapers, clothes, warmth (hats and blankets) and hygiene. Then imagine it getting pooped and puked on and PRESTO you have the picture of life with a newborn!”

Well said SISTA!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Mama Series: Labor & Delivery

New Mama: Labor and Delivery

The most stressful part of the whole process of becoming a Mom can definitely be the thought of giving birth!

Here are some tips to make it through Labor and Delivery:

Take a childbirth class!
>Nothing will totally prepare you for Labor, but at least you'll learn the whole process and the options you will have.
>If you aren't taking a class, at least know what effacement is, what dilation is, what stations are and what kind of pain management options there are.

Be Flexible!
>Many stress you to make a childbirth plan. That's a nice idea, but in reality, you just need to know what options you would prefer and then BE FLEXIBLE! Nothing will go according to plan, but at least you'll know what you prefer!
>Many of us new Moms go into labor thinking, I'll go all natural or I want all the drugs! The truth is that back labor can change the all natural candidate to an epidural with just a few contractions. Or maybe an emergency sends you right in for a C-section.
>Knowing all the options and your preferences will help you make wise choices while keeping flexible with how it all works out.

Pain Management
>You will definitely need to be flexible, but you need to have an idea of what your choices are. Here are some things I have learned.
     -An epidural can slow things down.
     -An epidural can also cause your blood pressure to go down.
     -Pitocin will increase your contractions and the power behind them.
     -Several people I have known have been given Pitocin without knowledge or choice.
     -Make sure the nurses and your doctor know your preferences and if you don't like what they want to do, ask if there are other options. Remember you have a voice :)

It's all in the family!
>Ask your Mom and Grandmas how labor went with them.

My Mom only had one child and ended up with several days of early labor. She had a tilted uterus though that slowed things down. Once her water broke, she went to full dilation pretty quickly and then had a short delivery. My maternal Grandma had very short labors with all 3 of her children. Her longest was around 3 1/2 hours. I am built like my Grandma and I followed her labor pattern. My longest labor, which was my first, was right around 4 hrs. With my third child, I went right to 2-3 minutes apart with my contractions when labor started. My short labors meant I had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions. With my third, I had early labor for 2 weeks and BH starting at week 14. Of course I dilated a lot ahead of time too. I was always around 4 cm and 80-100% effaced for a little while before I went into labor.
>Knowing your family history will not guarantee how your labor will be, but knowing the information will help you as you determine when to go to the hospital.
>This information really helped me. Many will tell you that you will be in labor for a long time with your first and to just hang out at home and keep comfortable. If I would have done that with any of my kiddos, I may have had an at home birth, especially with my third.

Go With Your Gut
>The biggest thing I have learned is Ask Questions and Go With Your Gut!
>I was in a lot of pain in my back and leg with my first pregnancy. I just sucked it up because the doctors basically said it was just normal pregnancy pain. I should have stood up for myself but instead I ended up with back surgery when my daughter was 4 weeks old.
>It doesn't hurt to call a nurse or doctor to get their opinion!
>It doesn't hurt anyone to go into Labor and Delivery if you think something is wrong.
>And when you still feel like you need help, push for it. A mom's intuition is sometimes all that you can go on. Have them check any possibilities and if they don't find anything then you can rest knowing it's ok.