Before Baby Arrives
- Stock up on freezer meals or set up a meal train. Nourishing your body as a new mom is crucially important as you need the energy to be able to take care of your newborn. More so, if you’re breastfeeding, your body is the primary source of nutrition for your growing little one so it’s never been more important to fuel up properly! I made a point to stock up on a few freezer-friendly meals (ours was full of frozen dumplings — I follow this recipe but add kale into the filling too!) as there were so many times I was grateful for having quality food available and not resorting to processed snacks whenever the hunger monster struck!
A meal train is another wonderful idea and after one of my friends had this set up for herself, I wondered why I hadn’t heard more of it before! It’s the perfect way to let your friends come visit the new baby while also helping out by bringing by a delicious meal! The meal train lets you set up a calendar to coordinate when food is being brought and allows the recipient to specify what kinds of foods they like — it’s genius!
- Schedule those personal appointments and pamper yourself. Book a haircut. Schedule a mani / pedi. Fit in a spa session. Trust me, once you have a newborn, getting out of the house to have any of these appointments done becomes pretty difficult. I know for me I went almost 4 months before I was able to get a haircut after I had Dylan. And let’s not even talk about the mani / pedi (I usually just resort to an in-home treatment these days!).
- Have a birth plan. When I was pregnant the first time around, giving birth scared me. I didn’t know if I would be able to deal with the contractions and even more so, how was I possibly going to push out a baby? As is the case with mommyhood and parenting in general, there is no “right answer” for how to birth a baby (vaginal delivery vs. c-section, all natural vs. epidural, induced labor vs. natural labor, etc), it all comes down to what works best for the mom. I do think though that regardless of how the baby is delivered, it is still important for the mom to have a plan. It lets the medical staff know your wishes for your baby’s big day and sets your baseline preferences as a guideline that can be followed.
- Know your baby’s health options. There is so much to decide on what happens the minutes right after the baby is born too. Do you want delayed cord clamping? Immediate skin-to-skin “kangaroo care” before the baby is washed and weighed? What about cord blood banking? It’s amazing how many important decisions are made in the few short minutes following the baby’s delivery. Doing your research and knowing your options to be able to make an educated decision is absolutely critical here!
One of the biggest (and most emotional!) decisions I had to make was whether I wanted to bank my baby’s cord blood. The remaining blood in my newborn’s umbilical cord could essentially be collected and stored as it contains young stem cells that have an amazing power to heal. It’s incredible to see how these cord blood stem cells are being used to today to help treat serious diseases, including some childhood cancers. The process is simple, painless, and doesn’t disrupt either you or the baby — it’s even still an option if you choose delayed cord clamping or have a c-section too! ViaCord has been collecting and storing cord blood stem cells for over 20 years. And if you thought this was something you couldn’t afford, be sure to look into their affordable payment plan options too!
After Baby Arrives
Listen to your body. The birth of a baby undoubtedly puts your body through quite a bit. Not only is your body physically healing but hormones are adjusting and it’s normal to still not feel like yourself for quite some time. I think it took me a full 6 months with Dylan and 4 months with Kennedy until I felt “normal” again. Rest when you need it. Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t feel guilty about any of it.
- Be flexible. As a first-time mom with Dylan, I tried to do so many things “by the book” but ultimately I learned that it wasn’t working for our family. I realized I had to be flexible, be open to trying something different, and trust my gut instincts.
- Enjoy this time. There is so much truth to the saying “the days are long, but the years are short.” While sleepless nights and constant nights might make you feel like you’ll never have your life back again, it’ll be over before you know it. It might seem like forever while you’re in the moment, but phases pass so quickly in the grand scheme of things. Even on those really hard days when I feel like I’m barely getting by, I remind myself that this time when my kids are young and really need me are short-lived. Savor those snuggles. Breathe in that sweet baby smell. Just enjoy it all.
Motherhood is one of the most rewarding journeys you can embark on. There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one. Find your own path and relish in the ride!
P.S. In case you missed it:
- Mustard Sweater + Olive Puffer Vest – Layering in a few Fall essentials!