Veterans Moms Tell All: Advice for Moms-to-Be

advice for moms to be

In today’s information age, preparing for motherhood can sometimes be an overwhelming and daunting experience. It can be incredibly challenging to find  unbiased information for many topics related to pregnancy, birth, infant care, and the postpartum period, and it seems like just when you think you have the answers you’re seeking, someone in your life contradicts it.

In an effort to get real life advice from moms who have been there and done it, we took to our local Facebook group, Baltimore Birth, Babies & Breastfeeding and asked the following question:

What is the most important piece of advice you could give to a person who is about to welcome their first baby?

We got an outpouring of responses to share with you.  Below you will find very honest, candid, and wise feedback about those early postpartum days from moms throughout Baltimore.  If you’re looking for a place to ask your own questions related to the childbearing year, join us on Facebook!

  • Trust your gutKaty Linda
  • Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Stephanie S.
  • Beware of the mythical “perfect mother.” She’s fraudulent. She’ll make you think you aren’t good enough. You are. I want her to know that irritation, resentment, and boredom are common but rarely spoken (because, “perfect mothers” don’t feel these things). There is so much joy in blowouts, endless feedings, days without showering, and loss of autonomy. Oh, and I’d want her to remember that we were intended to raise children in communities. With others. Who can help with a capital H. Sara Nett
  • Try to do one kind thing for yourself each day, Mama.  Lily Dwyer Begg
  • You’re gonna be okay. Melissa L.
  • It’s OK to be scared. Christan M.
  • Stay off of google. Pace A.
  • Use a postpartum doula. Melissa K.
  • Sometimes pediatricians give bad advice!! Amanda W.
  • Trust your instincts, only you know how to best parent your baby. Haleigh F.
  • Let people help. Call the after hours pediatrician. Hire a doula and/or postpartum doula if you can. Call the nurses line. Invite trusted friends and family in. Let people clean. Let people buy your dinner. Tell your midwife or ob what still hurts. It doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you a bad or worthless mother. Trish B.
  • Some days and nights may seem long, but enjoy the snuggles while you can! In a blink, they’ll be a toddler!! Kate
  • Build a support network before baby arrives. Someone you can call who will just stay on the phone with you while you cry. Someone experienced who will talk you down when your baby has its first fever. Someone wise who can reassure you that what you’re going through is normal and your feelings are valid. Someone single who can come watch the baby when you desperately need even half a freaking moment to yourself. It takes a village and in this day and age, we have to build that village for ourselves. Facebook isn’t enough. Also, stay off Instagram. Caitlyn D.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell people they can’t come over. Jessica M.
  • Some days the anxiety around “are you doing the right thing” will crush you and turn you into Dr. Google, but you’re doing an amazing job and your baby is perfect. Jeana D.
  • Don’t allow people to kiss your baby! Amanda B.
  • Get ready to jump in to what my sister and I like to call the “newborn hole” where you don’t know which way is up or the way out. Focus on survival, you’re learning how to keep a human alive and that’s enough. The hole can last up to 3 to 4 months and that’s okay, you’re doing great. Alexis B.
  • You don’t have to “enjoy” every moment. They do grow up fast, but mothering a newborn can be grueling. Be gentle with yourself and your feelings. Danielle S.
  • Find a provider you trust and jive with. Becky R.
  • This is probably the hardest thing you’ll ever do and you likely aren’t doing it wrong, it just really is that hard. Megan R.
  • Having a mama tribe is so important. I wouldn’t have gotten through my SAHM time without them. And if I could go back and do it all over, I’d have done placenta encapsulation all 3 times. Ah-mazing. Colleen C.
  • Don’t be afraid to limit visitors the first couple of weeks to only those near and dear (or to those you know will give you the support you want and need). Prioritize the needs of your new family and getting into a rhythm, including the time it takes for you and baby to learn how to breastfeed, over saying yes to everyone that wants to call text or visit. It is ok to set some boundaries and say no if you need to. And on the flip side of that, splurge the money on a postpartum doula. I didn’t, but wish I did. Everything is a phase. And it gets easier. Stephanie P
  • Don’t compare yourself or your baby to anyone else. You are doing the best you can do, one day at a time! Meg R.
  • It’s OK if it’s not love at first sight! You aren’t going to enjoy every minute and anyone who tells you to can step off. Everything with a baby is temporary- the good and the bad. Try to bask in the good and endure the bad. This too shall pass! Becky K.
  • Childbirth is …not necessarily the “best day of your life.” Having a newborn and exclusively breastfeeding is hard and can be lonely and isolating. It’s OK to feel that way about it and love your little one so much it hurts at the same time. Rachel N.
  • Ask for and accept help. Know you are not alone in your fear, pain, sadness, confusion, overwhelmed-ness. You gotta do whatever works for you, your baby, your family. Healthy, happy mama…healthy, happy baby. Pregnancy, delivery, postpartum…MOTHERHOOD is NOT one size fits all. Don’t be hard on yourself if your experience isn’t exactly what you thought it would be or what someone else’s is. Nora B.
  • Just because things are “natural” doesn’t mean they can’t be hard, or take work, and that’s okay. It took time to grow a person, it can take time to find your rhythm afterwards (for breastfeeding, sleep, pretty much everything) and that isn’t a personal failure. Maureen B.
  • Trust your mama instincts, you often know what is best for your baby. If your parenting choices work for you and baby, then no one else’s opinion matters. Mom shaming is sadly very real and can make you second guess yourself. Try not to let it. Instead embrace your parenting choices and trust that you are doing your very best and no one is a better mom to your baby than you. Also be kind to yourself! You just created a true miracle. The miracle of life. Your body is strong and beautiful even if it never looks the same again. Remember to love yourself too even when it’s hard and you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. You deserve love too, you are a miracle maker after all. Katelynn A.
  • Do not have any expectations of yourself for the first six months. Just be with your baby and heal. Esther B.
  • Be patient with yourself allow yourself time to heal. You and your baby are both learning each other. Give yourself time and love adjusting to your new roles. Megan P.
  • Stop reading the books and start reading the baby. Tova B.
  • Make sure you have all the support you need and know that you have people around you all the time. Make sure you have supplies and make sure to be there for that little one because as soon as they are born you are their go-to person. Anonymous
  • If they are planning to breastfeed- it might end up being really painful and really difficult. If it is, reach out to a good lactation consultant because this means something’s not going the way it should be. Some hospital lactation consultants aren’t good unfortunately. If you want to get everything figured out and continue on your nursing journey, a good IBCLC is your best friend! And you can get it figured out if you want to. But no matter what, know that you have to decide to do what is right for you, be it nursing, pumping, switching to formula. You have to feel good about your decision, whatever it may be. If you feel good about it, then it’s the right decision. Caitlin S.
  • Don’t worry about “bad habits”. I wish I could get back the time when I was on maternity leave with my first that I spent desperately trying to put him down drowsy but awake because everyone said i was supposed to. I stressed so much because he wouldn’t sleep on his own without being held because of the so called “bad habit” I was creating. And I’ve done that with so many things since. Now I try to live by the motto “do what works until it doesn’t work”. Especially in infancy, children change so fast that the “bad habit” you are pandering to today will look totally different tomorrow. If I could do it all again I would just make sure the remote was in reach and hold that baby all day long! Alyssa L.
  • Don’t be afraid to say exactly what you need…whether it be to your partner, family, friends…whoever. This is a struggle for me but I’m trying to be better about it. And if you’re going to breastfeed, definitely meet with a lactation consultant…best thing I ever did. Catrina M.
  • Always, always follow you gut instinct! If you have a feeling something isn’t right, don’t ignore that feeling. There are specialists out there for a reason. Also, sleep when baby sleeps. Seriously! Jenna S.
  • My friend’s dad’s advice was that everyone else’s advice is wrong. Two years later, true that. Kate S.
  • It’s OK to cry. A lot. Anna R.
  • You know what’s best for your baby and you have a community of mamas who will support you-many of whom you don’t know, but we are here. Clare G.
  • 1. Things will get better. 2. Be honest with your partner about what you are going through. Don’t try to hide your fears or tears. Jenna W.
  • Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, even if it’s venting to a friend/loved one. You’ll love this little human more than anyone could ever explain, but the newborn phase is just as much frustrating and unnerving as it is beautiful and exciting. Also, sleep when baby does. It took until #2 until I no longer felt less than about this. Brittany S.
  • Everything is temporary- it doesn’t feel that way but it is! Fussiness, non sleep, pain – as much as it sucks at 2am. that your baby still wont sleep, just get through that moment and it will be over soon. Sarah R.
  • It’s okay to not be in love with your new role. April B.
  • Caring for a newborn is really hard. Hard doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong though. It’s just hard. But it gets easier. Heidi D.
  • Trust your instincts, if you feel like letting your baby cry themselves to sleep is wrong, or that people who say you hold your baby too much are wrong, or people make you feel bad for using formula or nursing on demand without a schedule…. Everyone has an opinion. None of them matter but yours. Drown them out. Danylle S.
  • Ask a friend to set up a MealTrain for you so that you have nourishing meals and don’t have to think about meal prep do you or your partner in those first weeks. Claire C.
  • Your relationship with your partner is going to be different, and sometimes you might resent them because you are giving so much of yourself, but IT GETS EASIER. Jeana D.
  • Sometimes the bonding is not immediate. Of course you love your new baby, but you may not experience it like you see on Facebook or in the movies. Also, everyone has a different experience. Some people are very lucky and some experience many complications that may break you down. Be your own advocate if you think something is wrong. Doctors, although often wonderful, do not know everything and you are not their only patient. Don’t give up and trust your gut. You can’t control your body during or after pregnancy and you may not be able to control your anxiety. Just keep reminding yourself that this is temporary and any medical or emotional issues can be fixed in time. It is not one size fits all. Your child will love you. Be a germaphobe. Focus on getting healthy emotionally and physically so you can be your best version of motherhood. We are all fortunate to have made it through with a healthy child. Melissa O.
  • It’s all about the mind! Prepare Your Mind. Odile P.
  • The lactation consultant is everything! I had no idea what I was doing and her reassurance and advice helped me continue breastfeeding. Becca W.
  • Have confidence in your instincts! You may feel like you have no idea what you’re doing but they are always guiding you if you will only listen. Autumn B.
  • Take advise and help once the baby arrives. You cant do it all on your own. And use that help to have time and space for the new mom to recover and do self care. Janine D.
  • You will get tons of advice and expert opinions but ultimately your mama instinct can be the best for your baby. Sonya L.
  • Hold that baby!! Don’t worry about the house, the cooking, cleaning, laundry… eat up every precious minute and second you can!! Rest with them and don’t stress. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help!! And don’t feel guilty for saying yes when someone offers! Let them bring you food, do a grocery run, put a load of dishes or clothes in for you! Kim P.
  • Accept help. All of the help. Brea L.
  • No one and I repeat no one has it all together. No matter how good they make it look. We are all winging it and when all else fails just add water. My mom told me that with my first 15 years ago and she was right. It’s amazing what a bath can do for a crazy situation. Ashley H.
  • You will know your baby better than anybody, trust yourself and your instincts. There is no “right” way to parent, only the way which feels the most in alignment with your deepest self. Trust that, it’s so hard because so many people will have opinions about how you “should” do it. Kindly thank them and do it the way that feels right for you. As a new mom, you will be learning as much as your baby, be gentle with yourself, its harder than you can imagine. But you have everything you need to mother your child, and don’t be afraid to get support. But never let that support person override your gut. Leslie L.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Your whole world has just changed. Kara B.
  • Nobody else knows what they’re doing either. Reilly P.
  • The sleepless nights will end and its worth every second. Staci Blitz

YUM! Milk Boosting Horchata

We’ve taken a timeless Mexican Horchata recipe and adapted it to support lactation in new mothers.  By substituting the rice for oats and using a plant-based milk, this recipe may be helpful with milk production in breastfeeding mothers.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup of uncooked oats

5 cups of water

1 cup of coconut, rice, or almond milk

1/2 T vanilla extract

2 cinnamon sticks

1/3 cup of sugar (more or less to taste)

 

Directions:

1. Place 2 cups of water, oats, and cinnamon sticks in the blender until the oats and cinnamon sticks are roughly ground.

2. Add additional water and place mixture in the fridge to soak overnight (or 4 hours minimum).

3. Strain mixture and discard solid contents.

4. Add vanilla, milk, and sugar.

Serve cold.

 

**This recipe is not intended as a fix for supply issues or breastfeeding challenges.  For mothers struggling with breastfeeding or milk production, we encourage you to reach out to one of our recommended IBCLCs for guidance and support.** 

Postpartum Herbal Bath: Nourishing baby, body, and mind

postpartum herbal bath

If you’ve been following any birth or newborn photographers on social media, you’ve likely seen the gorgeous images of a mom and her new baby soaking in a tub of tea-colored water.  There are usually rose petals or orchids floating on the surface and a blissed-out mom and baby relaxed and soaking up the nourishing water and relaxing scents.

As you can imagine, growing a baby and giving birth are hard work.  Women are practicing self-care by utilizing the healing and relaxation properties of a postpartum herbal bath.  Postpartum herbal bath, chocked full of herbs that fight inflammation and promote healing in the skin and tissues, can not only be a way to provide comfort for a sore body, but it can be a beautiful opportunity to bond with a freshly born baby.

Postpartum herbal bath, which includes plantain, comfrey, yarrow, uva ursi, and a variety of other healing herbs, can be added to boiling water, but removed from the heat of the stove.  The herbs should steep for 20 minutes, and then be strained.  What remains is a powerful brew that can be used to heal and comfort sore and bruised tissues, combat inflammation, and promote relaxation and well-being.

The herbal bath brew can be used in many ways:

1.  It can be added to a bathtub of warm water for a relaxing soak.  This can not only be a way for mom to relax, but it can be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and bond with baby as well.

2. The herbal brew can be added to a peri-bottle to rinse mom’s bottom after using the restroom.

3. The brew can be added to a maxi-pad and frozen to be used as a perineal ice pack to soothe swollen tissues. Conversely, using the herbal brew on a warm compress can be a comforting relief.

4. It may also be conveniently added to a sitz bath to soak mom’s bottom in the day following birth.

If you are planning an upcoming birth and want to treat yourself and baby, consider a warm soak in a relaxing herbal bath.  You and your baby worked hard, you both deserve it.

Our herbal bath and other products can be found on our Etsy page.

**Please check with your care provider before taking a bath in the immediate days postpartum.**

Soothing Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy and Postpartum

hemorrhoids pregnancy

Hemorrhoids, which are swollen and exposed blood vessels in the rectum, are perhaps one of the biggest complaints I hear from expecting and postpartum parents.  Some find they have hemorrhoids during pregnancy, while others get them postpartum, likely from pushing.  hemorrhoids

But why do hemorrhoids happen in pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the increased progesterone levels cause the walls of the veins to relax, increasing the likelihood of swelling.  Progesterone levels can also cause constipation in expecting mothers, particularly in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  With increased swelling, constipation, and the growing uterus adding pressure to the inferior vena cava, hemorrhoids can become a common and unpleasant pregnancy symptom.

What can I do to soothe hemorrhoids in pregnancy/postpartum?

Eat well and supplement to make sure stools remain soft. Don’t strain. Eating a diet high in fiber can help keep constipation at bay.  Leafy greens, fruits, beans, and whole grains are all good sources of fiber.  Supplementing with magnesium is also known to help keep bathroom habits comfortable and regular.  I love this magnesium supplement and add it to my daily smoothies. Regular exercise can also encourage mobility in the bowel.

Witch Hazel is an anti-inflammatory antiseptic that can reduce discomfort and itchiness.  Witch hazel is also an astringent, which contracts the tissues to minimize bleeding. After wiping, dip a cotton ball in witch hazel and apply to the area.

Sitz Baths are a basin that sits in the toilet bowel and can be used to soak your bottom in warm water.  Not only can a sitz bath keep the area clean, but the warmth of the water can be comforting and also increases blood flow to the area encouraging healing.

Using cold compresses or ice packs can reduce pain and swelling in the area.  Alternating between hot and cold throughout the day is ideal.

Kegeling can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can prevent internal hemorrhoids from being exposed.  The exercise can also increase blood flow to the pelvic area, promoting healing of existing hemorrhoids.

Potatoes! Using a cheese grater, shred a raw potato.  Use the grated pieces of potato to make poultice and place it next to the hemorrhoid (do not insert into the rectum).  This is reported to reduce the swelling and the size of the hemorrhoid.

A diet high in vitamin C is known to strengthen blood vessels and can help prevent hemorrhoids.  An added bonus of vitamin C is it also maximizes iron absorption. 

 

 

New Childbirth Classes in Baltimore

birth classes baltimore

We have had the honor of providing childbirth classes in Baltimore since 2014. There are many reasons we love and use the Birth Boot Camp curriculum to prepare couples for an amazing birth. The materials are unmatched and the curriculum, which is updated with current statistics and research yearly, is the most modern and comprehensive we have found.

Since the program was launched in 2011, it has had amazing growth. Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes are now taught throughout the United Stated, as well as in Canada and Guam. The latest, and potentially most exciting change, has just been announced.  In addition to the comprehensive 10-week childbirth series, Birth Boot Camp will now offer 5 new classes to meet the different needs of birthing couples.

homebirth baltimore

 

 

Training Couples for an Amazing Out-of-Hospital Birth

This class gives you all the tools and information you need to know about the nuts and bolts of labor.  We will discuss the stages and variations of labor and tools to keep labor pain and discomfort at a minimum.  Waterbirth, labor positions, and relaxation techniques are also addressed. This 4-series class is $220 and includes a beautiful color workbook.

 

 

infant care class baltimore

 

 

Homecoming: Life with a New Recruit

Get parenthood off to a great start with this 2-series class.  Topics include: postpartum health, newborn procedures, babywearing, breastfeeding, and safe sleep.  This class includes a workbook and a 3.5 hour breastfeeding video download, which discusses feeding positions, common challenges, and pumping and returning to work.  The fee is  $115

 

 

food and fitness

 

Food & Fitness

Aside from preparation, staying low risk increases the likelihood of meeting your birth goals.  Join us for this 3 hour workshop to discuss how eating well and preparing your body can be the most effective way to remain low risk.  We will discuss nutrients that are crucial to a maternal diet as well as exercises and stretches to promote flexibility and stamina, giving you the most comfort during pregnancy and birth.  This class includes a workbook.  The fee is $95.

 

 

Classes coming in January 2018 include:

Coping Strategies for an Amazing Birth

Training for an Amazing Hospital Birth

 

We proudly provide our childbirth classes in Baltimore at The Womb Room in Hampden.  To learn more about our classes or to see our class calendar, click here.

 

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