I’ve decided to put together a list for a first time expecting mother of all the things I wish I had done or would have done differently, a few items that I used the most and my otherwise unsolicited advice.
Get a doula. I used MaySheBloom and she was so very helpful. I could consult with her anytime about anything. She did research for me, sent me tips, recipes, listened to me, she even pre-interviewed doulas that could be there in person with me.
I really wanted to have a birth at home and I wish that I had felt secure enough to do it. If you have a desire like this, I strongly urge you not to let people talk you out of it. Just do your research. This is where a doula can really be helpful. They will encourage you to write a birth plan. I can’t say that I actually wrote a birth plan because I was too busy working 60+ hours a week. I did know that the baby will come when and where she wanted to come. But to sit down and think about how you want it to go, imagine how it will go, have a peaceful vision of birthing your baby and thinking through the steps, certainly is a good thing. You’ll never be prepared for what is going to happen because it’s your first time and it’s a miraculous experience. Enjoy it.
Do your best to breastfeed. It may be a little rough in the beginning but it gets better. Get a great lactation specialist and it will go so much easier. Attend virtual or in-person classes about breastfeeding. Doulas can be very helpful in this area as well.
Skip all the goopy lanolin and go straight for the Silverettes. They were the only thing that really provided relief and it makes so much sense that breastmilk is the best way to heal your nipples.
Make a list of foods and ways in which people can help you. Have it prepared so that when people want to come by or ask what you need you can share that with them. Let them do some laundry or wash some dishes. Put these things on your list. Then they don’t have to ask you a million times what to do. May even made me a sign to hang on the wall for when I had a visitor. They could consult the list on the wall and see how they could help. Full disclosure, I didn’t do this, but it would have helped me. I didn’t have that many people visiting me. Just my mom and sister. It can be hard to ask for things that you yourself need and not just the baby.
You don’t need all the baby crap in the stores. Here is my suggested registry. Number one being a way to wrap baby to your body. Skin to skin was so important for us. I could literally feel it calm me and calm her. I could feel my hormones and anxiety spike and then go back down after wearing her. She was so tiny that she needed my body heat. Go ahead and get this before you come home with baby. You’ll want it immediately.
Every phase seems to last a long time, pregnancy, birth, the first 3 months… try to enjoy every droplet of it. You can’t go backwards. It’s not a test run. Perfection is not the goal. Gratitude for every ounce of it is the goal. I’ve never felt more joy and more exhaustion in all my life.