Things I wish I knew before pregnancy

 

Taking it back to where it all started. Pregnancy! In my opinion, motherhood begins before childbirth and way before you get pregnant. I wanted to take a second to chat about being pregnant for the first time and the interesting things I discovered in the early weeks of pregnancy.

  1. Tiredness: Not until when I entered into the first trimester of pregnancy, did I understand what it meant to be TIRED. I remember sleeping for 14hours straight a few times consecutively and it wasn’t enough. The hormonal changes and what not completely took over my body in ways I never expected.1ca8171993ebf3fbd997d29b7e7df122
  2. Pee, Pee, Pee No matter what: Ah, if I knew how much I’d need to pee during pregnancy, I would have rented my bladder out and had it returned after childbirth. Unluckily for me at the time, I lived in an apartment where the bathroom was a little distance from our room (6 seconds walk). This made my night trips to the bathroom a horror story. Even when I stopped drinking water at 7pm.giphy7
  3. The Dr. says everything is okay: Yeah! Whenever I went for my pre-natal checkups I would have a long story of what I was experiencing such as my leg looks funny, I felt a pinch at the back of my foot, I can’t catch my breath, I think I felt a flutter kick. The response I would get was “you are alright”, “it is normal.” I would be expecting a more detailed response but all I got was “you are fine.” Thankfully, it really was.                                                                                              .200w.gif
  4. Everything smells: I am naturally built with non-sharp senses but my sense of smell heightened drastically during pregnancy. Before my husband would open the fridge, I would smell that sautéed kale I had for lunch two days ago.giphyu
  5. Everyone and their brother has some advice for you: I heard it all. Things like, “oh, you should rest and put your feet up,” “are you drinking enough water?”, “oh, you must be due on this date because….”giphy.gif
  6. Your pregnancy pillow becomes your first love: If you don’t get anything during pregnancy please do yourself a favor and get a quality and comfortable pregnancy pillow because sleeping during pregnancy can be extremely uncomfortable. Tummy sleepers, like myself get the brunt of it.giphyg
  7. You start to cry for every and any reason: Thanks to nature and hormonal imbalances I was able to estimate how effective my tear ducts were. Everything made me cry. I don’t feel myself- cry. I am so tired- cry. I am pregnant- cry. She gave me a “look” – cry. The list is endless.                                            giphytia

What are some things you heard or didn’t expect during early pregnancy? 🙂 xo

 

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My Breastfeeding Essentials

Thanks to man-made inventions you are not alone in your breastfeeding journey. How?Because your breastfeeding gear has got your back. Below are a few essential breastfeeding items that have been useful and effective for my journey.

  1. Breast Pump: The electric breast pump I used was the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump. Depending on the size of your breast you may need a different size of flange. I also got the Medela Manual Pump to pump if I was briefly away from my daughter and feeling engorged. Both are amazing for their intended use.
  2. Hands-free pumping bra: You can buy a good hands free pumping bra or create two standard sized holes (around the nipple area of an old sports bra) like I did. MY DIY hands free pumping bra worked perfectly for me.
  3. Nursing Pillow: This is my top breastfeeding gadget that both baby and I cannot do without. We got the Boppy Nursing Pillow. It is also multi-functional and can be used as a propping, sitting and tummy time pillow (at different child milestones). My daughter gets so comfy during nursing and loves it. It also gives my arms a break from constantly holding her while nursing. We have traveled with it a few times. It’s that great!
  4. Nursing pads: Depending on your preference you can get the reusable or disposable nursing pads. Thankfully, I didn’t leak as much as I thought I would so I didn’t need more than one box. I got the Lansinoh nursing pads.
  5. Nipple Cream: I honestly didn’t think anything could soothe the pain around my nipples caused by frequent pumping (during the early weeks after childbirth). The nipple cream I used was the Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream. It worked very well for me.
  6. Breastmilk Storage Bags: I bought the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage bags. These are helpful when you need to pump and store your breastmilk for later use. The bags come with a patented double click and secure seal to prevent leakage.
  7. Large water bottle: I kept a 64.Oz bottle with me majority of the time to remind me to stay hydrated. It also helped stimulate my milk ducts that greatly helped with more milk supply.
  8. Nursing cover: I got two kinds of nursing covers to use for when I feed my daughter in public. However, I preferred the Wsky Nursing Cover over the Nursing breastfeeding Scarf as the former is easier to manipulate and more breathable for baby.
  9. Nursing bra/tanks: I am either wearing the iLoveSIA nursing tanks or nursing bras for the most part of my day and both are very useful and convenient for nursing. The last thing you want is struggling with your bra and trying to calm a hungry baby.

There are many more breastfeeding items that you may consider using but these were essential for my breastfeeding journey. Let me know in the comments what your must-have breastfeeding items are. 😊 xo

The Breastfeeding Mama

Breastfeeding was something I didn’t do any research on during pregnancy until after childbirth.  Oh, and this was after attending a breastfeeding class. While I was in the recovery room a few hours after giving birth, I vaguely remember the nurses say,  “get her to latch,” “you need to place her head like this,” “her mouth needs to be wide open,”. As a first-time-mom, it was very challenging trying to breastfeed.

I am currently still on my breastfeeding journey with my now eight-month-old daughter. However, we had to overcome a lot to get to where we are today. First, my breastmilk didn’t fully come in till DAY 10 after she was born. Sounds worrying, I know. But I was determined. Determined to do what it took to feed my child.

Below are a few things that helped me during my breastfeeding journey. These tips come in handy for any new mama or mama-to-be.

1. Your milk may come in slower than expected: Yes, it does happen. Mine did. The first milk your body produces after childbirth is called Colostrum. The colostrum (thin and yellow-milky) produces a ton of antibodies to protect your newborn against diseases. At first, it may seem as though baby is not getting enough to eat because you don’t notice your milk forcefully coming out, but trust me, they are eating. Their tiny stomachs are getting just the right amount during each feed. If you are worried or concerned your baby is not feeding well or getting adequate breastmilk, contact your child’s medical practitioner right away or lactation consultant/nurse. Luckily, there are centers that provide a 24/7 hotline to reach in case of emergencies depending on your location. Before going crazy like I did, do a simple home test to check if baby’s feeding by monitoring the number of wet/soiled diapers they produce in 24hrs. I was told by my lactation consultant that the age of your baby in days is the number of wet diapers baby will have in the very early days of baby being born. For example, if your baby is 5 days old, he should have at least 5 wet diapers that day. This will eventually plateau at around the second week of baby’s birth.

2. Your body is your superpower: I didn’t know mothers had super powers until I became a mother. You are considered your baby’s feeding machine for as long as you are able. As stated earlier, my breastmilk didn’t fully come in until DAY 10 after my baby was born. She nursed frequently, say about 9 to 11 times every 24hrs until she was 7 weeks old. Because of how frequently newborns eat, mama is expected to work twice as hard in keeping up with baby’s feeding demands. You may have heard this before but I will say it again. Breastfeeding described in two words is about ‘supply’ and ‘demand.’ The more you feed, the more your body generates more milk. I know, it’s a magical experience so use your superpowers.

3. Surround yourself with a strong support group: One of the major reasons why some breastfeeding journeys end before they start is because mama lacks a strong supportive community. Although rewarding and very beneficial, breastfeeding can be painful, challenging, and time-consuming. Because of this you want to make sure your support system provides encouragement and cheerleading all the way. Also, ask other mothers on a similar journey or mothers who have successfully gone through the different stages of breastfeeding for advice and tips.

4. Consult with a lactation specialist: Working with a lactation consultant can be very advantageous; especially for a first-time-mom. I got a good amount of information from the lactation nurse I worked with just four days after my daughter was born. I didn’t know that to get my breastmilk supply up I needed to pump after each feeding session (at least during the early stages as my milk came in). Pumping also helped relieve me from engorgement, which could lead to something called mastitis where the milk ducts are clogged causing infection to the breast. Doing this helped me a great deal as I was determined to exclusively breastfeed my baby without having to supplement with formula only if it was necessary.

5. Nipple preparation: The good news here is that there is no physical way to prepare your body for breastfeeding because your body is already doing the work. However, because nipples come in different shapes and sizes it is important to prep the nipples for baby’s strong sucking by gently massaging around the areola where the sucking takes place. Getting baby to latch properly and carefully removing baby from the latch is very crucial in reducing nipple pain. Also, nursing on different sides for a certain amount of time is helpful in reducing  wear and tear on one nipple over the other.

I hope these tips were helpful. I’d be covering the breastfeeding essentials that helped me in part two of this post. How did you prepare for breastfeeding?

She’s here! Now what?

I remember how quickly the first few days flew by after my baby arrived. I had all the emotions you can find in the dictionary. I was tired, anxious, happy, sad, hungry, joyful. It’s the “fourth trimester.” The trimester no one tells you about. It’s the special time you spend with your little one alone or with your partner and/or family member(s). It can be awkward and a little weird. It can also be exhilarating  and joyful at the same time. In this “trimester,” you are trying to learn how to take care of a new little human, which could be for the first, second, third -or even forth time.

As a first-time-mama, it was a little challenging trying to manage a flux of emotions, waiting for my breastmilk to come in, figuring out the best way to take care of my baby, receiving guests and trying to get some sleep.

Below are some tips that helped me settle into this phase of motherhood.

1.       Limit the number of guests visiting at a time: Recovering from childbirth is no joke. I had my daughter vaginally and know how much rest and sleep my body needed. During this time, your baby is using all their senses including smell and touch to differentiate you from other people they meet. It is recommended to keep visitors to a minimum to allow your baby connect with you as you get used to your new family. You also just need a break after the long marathon you and baby just finished.

2.       Ask for help: This is one thing that I cannot over emphasize. It is more than likely that you will receive a ton of well-wishes and congratulatory messages from family, friends and loved ones after you have had your baby. Don’t hesitate to ask for help as much as possible. “What would you like?”, “would you like me to bring you anything?”, “how can I help?”. Someone can make you food and bring over, another can help you with your laundry, a friend can do your groceries etc. Just make sure you get the help you need because the last thing you want during recovery is stress.

3.       Sleep is a priority: Getting enough sleep is very important in the first few days and weeks after delivery because it helps you heal quicker. After feeding and bonding with baby, try to get some sleep while baby is sleeping. I took advantage of all the help I received in the first three weeks after my daughter arrived. When she napped, I tried to nap. Getting in small dozes of cat naps goes a long way.

4.       Drink lots of water: Drinking a lot of water after childbirth is pertinent to help you stay hydrated. It also helps with your initial breastmilk production for baby. I had my sister who came by for two weeks three days after my delivery to fill my 64ounce bottle with water every 1.5hrs.

5.       Chat with experienced mamas: if you are able, have a chat with close friends and or family members who are mamas that have gone through the process before. You will be surprised by how much you may learn. While doing this don’t forget that your experience will be different that others so don’t fall into the trap of comparison. Each journey is different.

23 hrs and 20 mins

mandiaphotonessanewborn-1.jpgAll it took was 23 hours and 20 minutes for my life to change forever.

At 3:23am on Monday, Sept. 18th, 2017, I felt a gush of fluid trickle down my thighs as I laid in bed and the first three words that came out of my mouth were “babe,” “babe,” “water.”
My husband who is naturally a light sleeper jumped out of bed and responded, “babe, are you okay?”
I immediately knew our little miracle was getting ready to greet the world sooner than expected.
We had both saved the labor and delivery lines on speed dial anticipating this day and called right away.
The attending nurse asked all sorts of questions and the conclusion was to come down to the hospital for checkup and observation.
The first round of checks were performed by Lexi who confirmed my water hadn’t officially broken. Uhm, lady, what does that mean if I felt a gush of fluid just less than an hour ago? Lexi said “you are fine to go back home and monitor any acute pain or early signs of  contractions and call back as needed.”
Okay!
My husband and I drove back home and everything seemed normal for a few hours until 7pm that evening. This was when it went down.
Before 7pm, I had washed and conditioned my hair with hopes that the false alarm will remain a false alarm until the next day or later in the week. After all the due date wasn’t for another week.
Nope! The real contractions started right after I had braided the last plait on my head. Funny but true.
It’s like baby wanted to give me time to get myself together before making it out of my birth canal. How selfless!
At a little past 7pm that evening, the contractions started to occur every 10-13 minutes and lasted for about 4-5 minutes each time. It was the pain I never felt in my life. I couldn’t walk a step without screaming, I couldn’t take a seat without yelling, I couldn’t catch my breath without crying. I just couldn’t.
Interestingly, I felt more sorry for my husband than myself because he looked helpless and not sure if saying “babe, it’s okay, take a deep breath, you are almost there” was enough.
We managed to get downstairs to the lobby of our apartment and drove back to the hospital. Luckily, the hospital was only 1.3 miles away from our house. However, this didn’t exempt me from screaming through the whole ride from the unbearable pain.
Lexi’s shift was over and Kristi was the my new attending nurse. She saw my state and said “I think we will just check you in”. You think?
Dr. Sarah was on call and came in to check how far I was dilated. Hello there, she said, “you are in early labor and about 3cm dilated.”
Nurse Kristi asked if I had a birth plan and all I could recall saying was that I wanted epidural to end this terror.
After check-in was complete, I was moved to the labor and delivery unit where the real miracles happen.
An anesthesiologist came in my room to introduce himself and walked me over the process for receiving the epidural.
“Yes, I agree” is all I can remember before I lost all sensation from my waist down. It was the most beautiful relief ever.
Hours and more hours passed with different doctors, and nurses dropping by to tell me how far dilated I was.
“You are now 5cm dilated.” “It’s 7cm.” Oh, and your water just broke by the way. Really? That’s good to know, I muttered. How far am I now?

“You’re at 8cm.” And after about an hour, I heard “You are almost at 9cm.”
At a point I didn’t care how far dilated I was anymore because one of the biggest hurdles had been crossed. The PAIN!!!
Kristi’s shift was over and it was time for Jessica to take over.
“Wande, I am going to teach you how to push okay?” Okay!
“Now, whenever you are experiencing a contraction, I need you to push through it. Don’t push until I say so. Got it?” Yup, got it.

In the middle of pushing, Jessica said, “ I can see her head. Would you like a mirror so you can see it too?” Uhm, no thanks, I said. That will be distracting. Can we get back to pushing please?

My husband held my hand the whole time, which kept me calm. We were a few minutes away from being parents. Priceless!
On Tuesday, September. 19th, 2017,  at exactly 4:58pm, our little angel was born. The pain, the tears, the aches, the fears all disappeared. What was in front of me was more precious than life itself. Everything else never seemed so far away. Our 2.95kg baby girl was all that mattered.
All it took was 23hours and 20 minutes, and my life changed forever.
What was your birth story like? I’d love to hear.