It’s official… My worst fears have been realized. Sleep has left the building and it doesn’t look like it will be returning anytime soon.
By all accounts I’ve had a textbook pregnancy so, with less than 3 weeks to go, this is to be expected. But, anyone who knows me can attest to how much I enjoy sleeping, so I’m experiencing a bit of an adjustment. Last night I couldn’t fall asleep until 1 am, woke up at least 6 or 7 times to pee… I stopped counting and this morning I was wide awake at 7 am. This is definitely preparation for the weeks ahead, I’m sure! So, I’m embracing it!
Here’s a list of things that I’ve been focusing on lately. Maybe some of you are on the same boat and can relate, or better yet, share your thoughts on this list.
1. Packrat! I don’t know why but I just can’t seem to get the hospital bag packed. I have a bag, a list of things to pack in the bag and I’ve washed everything I think I’ll need for myself and the baby, but something about putting this bag together has eluded me. Here’s my list:
- Hospital documents including Picture ID, Insurance Card
- Toiletries, including Chapstick, Lotion, Hair products
- Bathroom slippers/Socks
- Undergarments, including Nursing stuff, Sanitary pads,
- Pajamas, comfortable change of clothes for both mom & dad
- Going home outfit for mom
- Going home outfit for baby in NB & 3mos sizes
- Receiving blanket for baby
- Swaddling blanket for baby
- Socks, hats, mittens for baby
Car Seat (This is done!)
- Electronics- Phone, Camera, Chargers
- Snacks/ Drinks/ Quarters for vending machine
Did I miss anything???
2. There’s an app for what? My friends tell me that I need to download a contraction timer app, a baby vitals monitoring app to ease through labor and the early days. It’s nice to get in the practice of recording everything and nothing beats data when you’re trying to figure out sleeping and eating schedules. So, I’m on board. The contraction app seems pretty straight forward, I downloaded “contraction timer” on my android but does anyone have a suggestion regarding the latter? What questions will come up during the first pediatrician’s visit?
3. Finding a Pediatrician: As a new parent, it’s important to find a pediatrician with whom you feel comfortable with. If your child becomes ill, you want to have a good working relationship with a doctor you trust and respect, and who will be there to support you. Ask around and determine what your personal preferences are, male vs. female, proximity etc. Research on healthgrades.com and yelp for potential red flags about a doctor. Don’t wait until the last minute
as we have. When meeting with the pediatrician, don’t hesitate to interview them. Here are a few questions:
- What are your office hours? Is emergency coverage available 24/7?
- Which hospital does he/she have privileges in?
- Do they accept your insurance plan and how does the office process billing and claims?
- What are the qualifications of the pediatrician? Is he or she an AAP member (i.e., “FAAP,” a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics)?
- What are his/her thoughts on breastfeeding, bottle feeding, circumcision, parenting techniques, getting babies to sleep, alternative medicine, antibiotics, immunizations, childhood obesity?
While you’re there, take mental notes on how clean, kid-friendly and professional the office is. My guess is that we will go through a few doctors before finding one we like for our son. Trust your gut!
4. Cord Blood Banking: I have to admit, I had not thought about this much. Cord blood banking involves collecting blood left in your newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta and storing it for future medical use. I did ask a few friends informally but didn’t get any satisfactory answers. A quick google search revealed more than I wanted to know… for example, private blood banks typically charge a $1,500 – $2,000 collection fee and an annual $100 – $200 fee per child. Over a lifetime, that adds up to a pretty penny. All for what??!! It turns out that the odds that the cord blood of any given baby will be needed by that baby later in life are quite small… 1 in 2700, according to Dr. Steven Joffe, a pediatric oncologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School. One reason is that for many of the conditions where a blood cell transplant is the answer, a patient’s own blood cells cannot be used, because they would reintroduce the disease you are trying to cure. A sibling donor is almost always ideal, but in most cases, that sibling is still alive and available as a donor, so banked blood is not needed. There is an option to donate our son’s chord blood to a public bank, so, I think we’ll be going down that route and saving our hard earned money for better options.
5. To eat or not to eat? Yes, I’m talking about my placenta and before you say ewww gross, let me just say, most other mammals, except humans, routinely consume their afterbirth. Still, the truth is there’s not much evidence to say whether the practice benefits humans. A few small studies have connected placenta-eating with increased breast-milk supply and increased energy. But no studies have looked at the possible risks, if any, of ingesting human tissue. Most medical experts believe that there’s no known benefit to eating your afterbirth, but I’m still curious, so I contacted a local postpartum doula who specializes in this practice. The placenta can be dehydrated and made into pills for around $300 for a 3-4 month supply. If you’re considering this, please find someone who is experienced and knowledgeable and always consult your physician or midwife before taking anything.
6. Breastfeeding: A friend of mine suggested that I take a breastfeeding class before I give birth, but there are quite a few videos on YouTube on this subject that can give you a running head start. Most insurances will cover lactation services while in the hospital, so definitely take advantage of it. Lastly, speak to a lactation consultant in your area and have their number on speed dial before you go into labor… if breastfeeding is not going well, for whatever reason, invest the $100 and learn the skills necessary to get it right. Most consultants will come to your home and help you put together a plan for how to manage breastfeeding during the early days postpartum.
7. Bringing home baby! I can’t believe that after only a couple of days in the hospital, they’re gonna let me go home with a newborn. If the thought doesn’t terrify you even a little, then nothing ever will. I’m going to be responsible for another human being for the rest of my life. eeeek! While I feel very confident that my instincts will kick in once he’s born, I don’t think anyone is ever quite ready for what’s ahead. So, it’s important to have a plan to manage the first 24hrs, the first weeks and month, until you
become a pro get the hang of things. Here are some things to think about:
- Do you have all the essentials ready and setup for your baby? This includes a place for baby to sleep, change and feed.
- Have you ordered your breastpump through insurance?
- Will you have full-time help for the first 24hrs after you come home? Trust me, you will need someone there!
- Have you planned your freezer meals ahead of time?
- Have you identified someone to prepare your meals, shop for groceries, help with light household cleaning, laundry etc. during the first couple of weeks?
- Have you researched postpartum doula or mother’s helper services in your area? Most start at $35/hr and will provide postnatal services including light cooking and cleaning services during the early weeks. Care.com has some wonderful part-time helpers you can research.
Have I overwhelmed you yet? I hope not… Part of being prepared involves thinking and talking about these things. As a naturally inquisitive person, I’m always looking up things online or asking
silly questions of my friends. Luckily, I’m surrounded by well-informed friends and family who always have something new to add.
8. Love is all you need! The transition to parenthood can test the strongest of relationships. Not surprisingly, 69% of new parents experience conflict, disappointment and hurt feelings during the first few months. I could probably write a separate post on this topic but, I’m no expert. For now just remember, this too shall pass. As a good friend said, don’t start sleep wars and be kind to each other. So what if the house is messy and you haven’t showered in a couple of days… give each other a break! You’re a family now and like everything new in life, it will take some getting used to.