Safe breathing, fourth trimester, ppd, and loving your body

Baby’s airways are smaller then their pinky (i believe). They require a two finger width between their chin and chest to breathe safely. This is also true when you’re baby wearing, or when they are in a baby seat.

If your baby’s head is dropping in either situation, fix it. One solution is to roll a hand towel or burp cloth to prop right behind their necks. Another solution is to just lay them on a flat surface. My babies sometimes like a pillow under their knees and they’ll sleep longer. If your baby has reflux and doesn’t like being flat on his back, you could prop him up (on something appropriate) and still put a pillow under his knees, but you run into the same problem of a droopy head.

My favorite thing to do is to wear a baby, because it’s easiest to monitor them. But I know it’s just not always possible.

Most of us are in the fourth trimester (first three months of baby’s life). Once you pass month three, somehow the fog lifts and life gets much more manageable. For most of us, after-birth pain will be gone, hormones will stabilize, and baby will establish a routine if you’re respectful and observant of how he communicates with you.

Take it easy on yourselves! It’s hard right now, but you’ll bounce back soon! And you’ll miss the earliest snuggles your baby can give you, these are very dependent little creatures who still accept all your kisses and hugs without any protest. The day will come when he will wipe your kiss away, and say “no!” to a hug, even if he’s kidding! You’ll realize how precious and short these days are! The baby grunts, the tiniest yawns, the fuzzy chicky hair… the squirmy body, the tiniest hands and feet. I love all of it!

Try to drink it in, even though you’re fed up, exhausted, sleep deprived, malnourished, dirty, smell foul, and covered in stale milk. Drink it in, even though the laundry is piling, and people are pushing you around, and you’re unsure of everything. Drink it in, even though you don’t know which way is up, and you’re making mistakes, and you’re forgetting things. Try to take a deep breath and drink it in. Make a decision to draw in your baby right now and bond together in bed as much as you can.

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Close your ears to criticism. Do what you feel is right and best.

Appreciate your mangled body. God used it to give you a baby. So love your body back. Take a shower. Say thanks to the tears that fall – let them fall. They are a sign that you care deeply. No, you’re feelings aren’t flaccid and flat. Your feelings are full of emotion. And that’s good. If you’re drowning in depression, call for help. It’s okay to need help. It’s crucial you get it. We ALL need help.

And now, Mama, find your voice. Deep inside, regardless how you feel on the surface, God has made you a lioness. I know this because He made you a mother. He placed instincts in you that equip you for this high calling. You must find your voice and let it rise. You AND your minime need you to find your voice. You now represent two. Or three. Or twelve. Regardless of how many children you have born, or buried, your children need your voice to be kind and gentle, and firm and strong, and patient and generous, and clear and determined.

Raise a glass to you today. You deserve the fireworks.

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The first 24 hours

I’m a fourth time mama. My baby was born yesterday morning at 9:03am.

While all babies are different, I thought this might encourage you.

I’ve successfully nursed all three other babies and am starting the nursing with my first right off the bat.

Here’s what I’m dealing with even though I have plenty of experience. My babies are all tongue tied, so until I get that fixed, my nipples are really sore. I know we will face engorgement and an overactive let down.

This has been my most difficult labor and my first traumatic one, so healing will take longer… at last three weeks and up to six weeks. Even though I didn’t need a c section, it will still be long. On top of being sore up top, my bottom half is more sore than it’s every been and I’ve suffered a third degree tear which means my anal sphincter had to be sewn back together… but only superficially. It could be worse. Some women’s entire rectum is torn open. My pubic bone was impacted somehow so I can barely walk… it’s a little better a 18 hours after the birth, but the worst healing day will be tomorrow.

And I see so many moms here asking about cluster feeding. Here’s what my newest baby has done so far… which will show you how nonstop it is on day one while baby is working hard to get the milk to come in… and I already have some milk, but it’s not the big engorgement milk that will hit on day three or four.

Last night I had one three hour stretch of sleep, and a two hour stretch of sleep. I had a nap of one hour today and consider that a major blessing. Otherwise, very very broken sleep that was less than an hour at a time, with much of the night actively nursing.

12:10pm Ibuprofen (take 1 every four hours)

1:45pm nurse left

3:20 pm right nurse and left for an hour

4:30pm right

5:23-5:34pm left

6:47pm 2 ibuprofen

7:37pm and 8:19pm right

8:43pm and 9:32 left

9:45pm right

10:15pm left

11:15pm right

11:45pm left and hiccups

3/28/19

12:05am left

2 ibuprofen

12:23 and 12:37 am left (I SLEPT 3 HOURS)

3:39am right 10 min (1st bm for mom) milk in!

3:53am right football hold 10 min

4:10am left 27 min

4:45am left 15 min

4:49am left

5:24am right then left

6:28 am left (I SLEPT TWO HOURS)

8:30am first pee, 2 ibuprofen

8:35am right 25 min

9am left 30 min

9:30am left 30 min pee diaper

11:30am hair wash

11:30am right then left and sleeping

12pm left, 12:23pm left (I SLEPT 1 hour)

3:09pm right, 2 ibuprofen

3:30pm left

4:30pm right

5pm left

6pm right

So here’s what’s helping me. First of all, my mom and sister are here helping with my three kids. I’m not obligating myself to ANY housework or cooking AT ALL.

My midwife told them I’m to stay in bed a full week… like I’m only allowed to get up to use the restroom.

I sent my husband to work now, and he will take off of work after my sister and mom leave… that buys me three weeks of recovery time, which my body really needs right now.

I’m keeping my bladder empty. I was given a catheter in the hospital, and I get frequent UTIs anyhow, so I also take D-Mannose with cranberry every single morning, along with prenatals, electrolytes, probiotics, chloroxygen, herbalmeucil, and colace. At night I take Dr Schultz formula 1. These are all to keep my stool bearable while I’m healing. I can not afford to mess my stitches up.

I am doing tons of skin to skin… and I sleep with my babies, so the only reason baby cries is from wet diapers, hunger or gas, but never because he feels insecure. So some of those nursing sessions above in the middle of the night, I am able to side-lie and go into a haze of sleepy time even if I’m not sleeping. I’m better at that when I’m on my left side for some reason. I’ve always favored the left side for my babies… I think it has something to do with the way our brains read emotion. It’s processed in right brain, so your perception crosses over to left side (maybe I could explain it better, but it doesn’t really matter).

For nipple care, I’m putting some breastmilk on them and air drying. This is much more healing than lanolin. If you don’t have milk yet you could use coconut oil.

Also staying hydrated is wonderful and necessary. So before my husband goes to work I ask him for that battery of supplements I listed before.

So listen, I know not all moms have this amount of help. And I know many of you struggle with supply.

Here are some tips…

Let down has to do with how relaxed you are. Figure out how to be calm about nursing.

Every time your baby nurses you should drink too.

Keep your bladder empty.

Take a shower or bath when you need it.

Eat lactogenic food (fenugreek tea (“mother’s milk tea), lactation cookies, granola bars…)

Avoid gassy or acidic food if you notice your baby is gassy

Feed on demand

Snack when you’re hungry

Hold your baby as long as you want, skin to skin helps your body produce milk and regulate baby’s temperature too.

Don’t expect milk to really be in until day 3-4… and until then your baby will be fussy and want to stay attached to you because he’s “putting his order in” for milk to come.

If you’re pumping, that’s great, but it’s not a true indicator of how much your baby is pulling out of you. Double pumps do about 80% of what a baby will do.

Nursing is so hard. They call them tough titties for a reason. Get help. Hire a lactation consultant. Get the latch right. Re-latch your baby every time it hurts. You’re both learning the right way to do this.

Kellymom.com is a great website with sound information.

If you need to supplement you could try an SNS (supplemental nursing system) before completely going to a bottle because then baby will still stimulate your supply and not get used to the quick flow of a bottle.

Check out your local Le Leche League group, and check your hospitals and midwifery groups for free breastfeeding support groups. These mom friendships will really help you with much more than only nursing… but also questions about poop, sleep, discipline, weaning, development, and much more.

Babies love to be “on you” and expect to remain near you, especially for the first three months. Try wearing your babies – this is wonderfully freeing, and great help if you have more than one baby. I have five types of carriers and I use them at different stages past even two years old.

Here’s how to decipher newborn language:

“Neh” hunger

“Eh” burp

“Heh” discomfort

“Eair” gas

“Owh” sleepy

Lastly, if you cannot or don’t want to nurse, please toss the guilt aside.

If you don’t have as much help, then pick the things on two ends of the spectrum. Pick the things that stress you the most that you can creatively fix… think outside of the box for them, really work hard on finding these solutions… figure out what you can compromise and tell yourself to be okay with it. Pick the things that help you the most and really prioritize them.

For me, my food standards for my kids disappear. Since I have others caring for them, whatever makes it easy for them is what goes. I buy premade snacks, processed food, and all the things I normally wouldn’t do to make it easy for them. I use Instacart so they no one has to shop or leave to get the food.

My home organization standards fall. I’m not cleaning right now, or doing laundry.

My social requirements disappear. If people are here too long, I politely ask them for privacy to sleep. My sister and mom both suggested I start walking around- I reminded them both what my midwife said, which was three weeks bed rest with the first week only going to the bathroom. Otherwise I’m to stay in bed.

The things I need the most are to heal my undercarriage, to nurse my baby, and to stay nourished and love on this new baby. ALL my energy is going here and no where else. And I have NO guilt or frustration in other places – this is a choice… because I could bend and sway these choices. But I’d pay for it, and so would my new son, so I don’t.

I hope this helps some of you to set some wonderful expectations of yourselves and your babies and your family.

Get strong and stay strong. Some of you have tough families with blurry boundaries. Make decisions that are right for you and don’t feel you need to explain them. At the end of the day, you answer to God, yourself, a significant other (for some), and your baby. No one else has to live with your choices, do they? So be a tough mama, and love strong and love well… this includes loving yourself and finding grace for yourself. This will happen all of motherhood. Grace is a big word that you need to learn to love. Forgiveness is another one. Start with you and let that kind of depth of love permeate to your babies, and you will walk beautifully in motherhood.

Perfect design

God knows exactly what He’s doing. Again and again I’m astonished by His handiwork.

I’m snuggling my third baby who is five and a half days old right now. We’ve had a day of snuggling in, and that’s what we are doing the rest of the day.

Yesterday, at four days old, we went for her newborn and family pictures so it was a busy day for all of us, but especially her and I. The day earlier she had a tongue and lip tie repaired. She was three days old. That meant for our busy day yesterday, she was in the throes of recovery. And the stress of her procedure Tuesday and her grueling heart-breaking post-surgery care, on top of recovery from childbirth, lack of sleep, and stress from getting ready and out for pictures, lowered my immune system again, and my throat started worsening… again. This is on top of my head-ache-inducing cough which has been with me since mid-January. My post-birth body is suffering from separated abs, a pinched nerve in my mid-low back, a hip that threatens popping out, a hemmoroid, and soreness from nursing a tongue-tied infant, and the tail end of pink eye. That’s TMI, for sure, but this is real life. Almost laughable. Except it’s painful. So instead, sometimes I’m laughing and sometimes I’m crying. Thank God for family and generous friends who are bringing us meals!!

You shouldn’t plan anything that soon after birth. But I wanted my mom in our pictures. That’s the choice I made. And I’m grateful.

I’m glad that with sleep and rest this morning my throat feels better today. Except my mom left for Atlanta this morning, so I’m weepy and emotional. Love her!

I’m so glad my sister flew in Tuesday night! 

So lil’ bit and I went for the shortest walk. And are laying around again nursing my body back to health and bonding with this precious baby of mine.

I wondered how a relationship with a daughter might be different than a son. It’s so different. And wonderous. And both kinds of relationships are revelational and precious and one of a kind. I’m not sure if the difference has to do with gender or just the chemistry God gives you with each little spirit. So special though.

And it just struck me how God designed babies so perfectly, to garner instantaneous love at a capacity greater than you ever thought possible before you had kids. And compassion, mercy, gentleness, tolerance, and the determination to endure pain. I praise Him! Thank you Lord for giving us this love.

My birth plan

There’s the hospital birth plan and the thing I really want to happen.

What I really envision happening is for my water to break at some point, hopefully st home, though many women don’t have waters break before labor, and to labor for many hours (Micah was 30 hours, and Kade was 19 hours) during a calm day, and then have the baby in the middle of the night while the children are sleeping. 

And I want to be listening to praise music, smelling essential oils, and praying. I want to have a quiet labor in low lighting and end with deep low long breaths and a loose relaxed jaw.

I envision baby breathing just fine with great color and muscle tone and lots of hair like her brothers had at birth.

This is how I prepare for labor. I play it out in my head. I conceive what could be, in many scenarios. And I pray.

If it turns out differently – quicker, requiring surgery, requiring help, being late, baby struggling etc – I’ve imagined those scenarios too and how I might deal with them. 

God is in control, not me. Thank the Lord for that!

Birth story

My new baby’s birth story is already written. 

Psalm 139:14-16 says 

Certainly you made my mind and heart; you wove me together in my mother’s womb. I will give you thanks because your deeds are awesome and amazing. You knew me thoroughly; my bones were not hidden from you, when I was made in secret and sewed together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence.

Thus, the Lord has already written my baby’s birth plan.

I wrote up this baby’s birth plan a few days ago. But I know We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps (Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬). And the Lord’s plan is the best plan, so I lean in Him. He is the Rock of my Salvation, even in delivering my babies! 

As I come to the end of this pregnancy, I’ve been consuming lots of birth stories as my reminder of what’s to come. I started anticipating this time with some fear, but I’ve acknowledged it out loud to my husband, and to the Lord, as a sort of (cathartic) confession of sorts, and now I’m feeling ready. The fear is mostly just a remembrance of the reality of pain in childbirth. I now can acknowledge that if I have pain, it’s because God blessed my uterus to know exactly how to birth a baby – what a total blessing! Habakkuk (3:19) says The sovereign Lord is my source of strength. He gives me the agility of a deer; He enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain. Childbirth is rugged terrain… I have the ability to move however I want, but it’s mainly the kind of situation that you accept and embrace as God takes you on a ride. You can move and breathe, and you must, but you must also fix your thoughts.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

It gives me great comfort to know that whenever I remember (Jesus) on my bed, and think about (Him) during the nighttime hours… (He) is my Deliverer; under (His) wings I rejoice. My soul pursues (Him), (His) right hand upholds me. PSALM 63:6-8

My message to my baby Hope is Look, the Lord’s hand is not too weak to deliver you; his ear is not too deaf to hear you. Isaiah 59:1. I believe that babies can communicate with God and their mothers even before birth. Thus, her spirit draws strength.

I want her to be able to say I have leaned on You since birth; You pulled me from my mother’s womb. I praise You continually. Psalm 71:6

And I want this to be true for us as parents: May your father and your mother have joy; may she who bore you rejoice. Proverbs 23:25

I believe we will be full of joy in this labor! The Lord said He would help me. What a delight I have in that assurance! I need no other help than His! We are ready, Lord!

Childbirth… 10 things.

I, like many women, am part of a birth forum for pregnant women. I’m mainly involved as a silent observer, however, I have a few things to say about pregnancy and labor and afterwards.

  1. Wait till your baby signals he or she is ready to come out. Many girls are having their membranes swept, taking castor oil, or trying other methods to kick start labor, and some are just 38 weeks. Why the hurry? It’s uncomfortable at the end, but these last few weeks are critical for the baby’s healthy development. If you’re healthy and your baby is healthy, take a deep breath and relax! Enjoy these last moments when you and your baby are connected so intimately and your life is status quo (whatever that means for you). For me, I relish the times I get to snuggle by boys without juggling this bundle of joy at the same time. Soon they will have to contend with, and accommodate for baby sister too.
  2. Hormones are normal. Ups and downs and emotions are normal. If you cry excessively please get help. If you are sensitive that’s okay.
  3. Know what you need and hold to your boundaries. Relatives and even spouses of all kinds of pressure on pregnant women. Maintain a hold of what you and your baby need. You both come first right now.
  4. Take help when it’s offered. It’s humbling, but so wonderful to accept help.
  5. Try and stay home. If you have to work, take as long as you can to be with your baby before going back. If you must work but want to stay home, get creative and start working on a plan to transition home. This value is disrespected and unpopular in some circles nowadays. Motherhood is the highest calling in life. But again, if you have to work, then make sure you’re totally comfortable with the arrangements you make for your baby’s care while you’re at work. I know many families who flex time with their husbands or extended family so the baby can stay out of daycare. If you need to use daycare, research, research, research.
  6. Allow yourself a full recovery. People may want you to get up and move too quickly. Please recover. When you’ve had a baby you have two jobs, and two jobs alone. Take care of your baby and take care of yourself. Others can wait. 
  7. Breastfeeding can be difficult to establish, but is totally worth the work. Find a Le Leche League group near you for help and support.
  8. Don’t judge other moms. There’s enough people inserting unwanted opinions everywhere without you piping in. Try to be the voice of support to other moms.
  9. Our satisfaction after baby is born is tied to the expectation we build beforehand. Have grace for yourself and grow into this new aspect of your life.
  10. If you were disappointed by your labor and delivery, please wrestle with this and take it to the Lord. Don’t ignore it… birth is the most intimate thing you can ever do. Honor the place it has in your life.