Okay. So my hubby and I are avid hikers. We live in the great northland, and pretty much every Sunday you can find us on the trail. So as soon as our baby was able (6 months!) we wanted to start getting him out there.
Prior to this we were able to go on nice long walks with our stroller which we LOVED, but it just wasn’t the same. And the front carrier (we had a Baby BJorn) just wasn’t comfortable when used for a long period of time (and we love long hikes).
We LOVE the Gorilla Carrier we ordered off of Amazon. We had a choice of 3 different colors, and I let my husband pick since he’d most likely be the primary carrier.
He was SOOOOO excited to take it out. He also loves just walking around town or through the mall with it on. Seriously!
It has cool features like a ton of storage space, a removable backpack, and a sun/bug cover.
It’s easy to get on and off, and our little guy loves it (in this picture he had just woke up from falling asleep in it)!
We got this baby ball pit as a baby shower gift from our gift registry on Amazon, and my husband thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. It’s basically an activity gym, but the sides come up and you can fill it with the plastic balls! It’s great! Our son can spend a lot of time in it without getting bored.
Plus it lets him practice grabbing, pulling, and moving objects around.
These are the BEST for when you just need to put the baby down for 5 minutes and get something done without worrying. He’s at the age now where he rolls/pulls/kicks/slides so you cannot leave him alone in anything!
HOWEVER this jumper keeps him stationary. He can warm up lunch or make coffee or go to the bathroom and not be worried about the baby rolling into something or falling off of anything.
Also, he LOVES it. He can spend 20 minutes easy in it. PLUS it counts as Tummy Time (anything that exercises their back and neck is considered tummy time).
My husband chose this diaper bag backpack to put on our gift registry, and he was SO EXCITED when we got it. He actually WANTS to be in charge of the diaper bag, and he isn’t embarrassed about going out in public with the baby by himself.
So many diaper bags are geared towards women, and this one is gender neutral.
It has PLENTY of storage, it’s comfortable, and we LOVE it.
It also comes with a changing pad, which is pretty cool.
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully your hubby or man enjoys these products as much as mine does!
So my son Vincent just turned 6 months old last week.
He’s healthy (20lbs, 27 inches) and happy (see below for smiling adorableness). My doctor is completely thrilled with his development overall.
I love being his mom, and I have loved nurturing him and taking care of him.
Along with that, I love knowing that my body has produced enough nutrition to allow him to thrive.
However, in my journey of motherhood (he’s my first baby afterall) I have learned that breastfeeding is not for me, at least not this time around (see previous post on Exclusively Pumping). However, I still wanted to provide him with the best nutrition possible.
I’ve been exclusively pumping for about 3 months now. That means that instead of breastfeed, I pump and feed him with a bottle (or he gets bottles of breastmilk at daycare which I send with each morning).
Again, I LOVE knowing that my body is taking care of him. However. I HATE PUMPING.
This isn’t surprising since I’ve never once heard a mom say “Yes, pumping is AWESOME!”
No. It’s time consuming, tedious, boring, and uncomfortable.
I figured this out after only pumping a few times.
So, I created a goal for myself.
By the time my son was 6 months old I WANT TO WEAN MYSELF OFF THE PUMP but still HAVE ENOUGH FOOD/ BREASTMILK FOR HIS FIRST YEAR.
In other words, I needed to create a stockpile.
As you can see, I achieved my goal. I have done the math, and if I begin to wean myself now (a process which usually takes a few weeks to do it properly) I can be done pumping by the time my son is 7 months old, but still have enough food to HOPEFULLY make it to his first year without using formula or other substitute.
(deep freezer full to brim – I also have a good pile in my regular freezer)
How did I achieve this? Well, I’ll fill you in.
Whether your baby is 6 months old or you are preparing yourself for your future little one, you can start your stockpile now. HOWEVER I will say one of my benefits was starting early because I was able to train my body right away.
Tip #1 Start Pumping Early
I started pumping when my son was about a month old.
The doctors recommend waiting to pump/bottle feed until a child is about 8 weeks old, because it can take about that long for your milk supply to figure itself out and that’s about the best age (so they say) to introduce a bottle to avoid nipple confusion (which my son got anyways even though he didn’t get a bottle until about 9 weeks old).
Why did I start pumping so early?
Well, I wanted to train my body to produce enough milk for me to both nurse and pump. As previously stated, your body takes a couple months to sort out its supply (as in how much to produce for each feeding and how often your baby feeds).
I knew I wanted to create a stockpile for daycare or for trips out of the house in the future, so I wanted to start pumping and freezing milk.
Since I started pumping early, my body was trained to think thats how much milk I needed to produce.
The only potential downside to this method is that you create an oversupply. You are telling your body to make more milk than necessary.
An oversupply can lead to a fast let down, clogged ducts, or foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.
To help avoid this, you need to get on a set pumping schedule, and it can help to pump first BEFORE feeding your baby so your baby doesn’t have to deal with the fast let down. Also, I recommend only pumping twice a day (unless your supply is extremely low). I usually aim to pump 4oz on each side per session. I freeze my milk in 4-5oz bags, so essentially pumping twice a day I freeze 3-4 bags of milk.
Tip #2 Get a great pump like mine.
I have the Medala Pump In Style. It’s quick – usually only takes about 15 minutes for me to completely empty both breasts, sometimes only 10 – and I’ve NEVER had an issue with it.
I just have to wash all the parts regularly (I wash them quick with soap and water after every use and sanitize the equipment thoroughly almost every night) in order to prevent mold.
I have talked to moms about their pumps, and no one every raves about them. I totally brag about mine to my friends, and I plan on keeping it for baby #2 !
Seriously, you want an effective, easy to use pump so you don’t dread pumping and so you can pump quickly and move on with your day (or to caring for your little nugget).
Tip #3 Pump in the morning
Your supply is highest in the morning, so the morning is the best time to get a routine going and get used to your pump. I could usually feed my baby then still pump 4 ounces on each side.
I tell all my friends if they are going to pump only once a day, do it in the morning. Your supply will always be lowest at night, and trying to pump in the evening can be extremely frustrating.
If you have a goal in mind like I did, it can also be EXTREMELY helpful for creating and maintaining a large supply to pump in the middle of the night.
My little nugget typically woke up around 2am, and I’d nurse him. When I was done I would pump the side he didn’t finish nursing on (usually at night he’d only do one side) and get about 4-5 oz. Early morning-mid morning (2am-8am) you are going to get the highest amount of milk.
Once my baby started sleeping through the night (around 4 months old) I still got up and pumped around 2am every night for about a month to help build my stockpile. It was a pain, and I admit that, but now, like I said, my little guy is 6 months old and I’m ready to start weaning off the pump. I will no longer be a slave!!
Tip #4 Get on a set schedule for feeding and pumping
Your body will thrive under a routine. It’s seriously creepy/amazing.
For example, this was my feeding/pumping schedule for my first 3 months
You can do different variations of that. However, I recommend pumping at least once in the very early morning, and again whenever you start your day. Your supply is best then.
I always pumped late at night too to try to increase my supply (since it’s always lowest at night). But that’s your call.
The strange/creepy thing is that seriously like clockwork I can feel my boobs start to letdown/leak at around 11am every single day, and again around 2…etc etc…. They know they’re going to get used soon. Your body thrives on a schedule, and your body “remembers” how much milk to produce when. If you stick on a routine of when you pump, you will train your body to have that much milk ready for you. Crazy! But it works!
Note: I was fortunate enough to work in an environment which made pumping at work on a schedule fairly easy.
Be preemptive though. Talk to your boss before returning to work about your ideal schedule. THE LAW SAYS THEY HAVE TO LET YOU PUMP! KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Yes, it’ll be a pain some days. But trust me, it’s worth it.
Also, keep your work schedule in mind when you are creating your pumping/feeding schedule.
It also helps to have a manual pump like this one:
Why? Sometimes it’s really tough to coordinate finding a place/time to pump with your electric pump. For example, a long drive or going to a concert and dinner. If you want to maintain your schedule, you’ll need to pump. Having a hand held/manual pump can be a major life saver. They’re tricky to use the first couple of times, so I recommend practicing before you actually need to use it, but you get the hang of it pretty fast.
Tip #5 Stay Hydrated and Eat Right
It’s SO HARD, even on maternity leave, to have time to take care of yourself. You’ll be either holding a baby, trying to get a baby to sleep, or feeding a baby 99% of your time. And when you’re not, you’re probably trying to sleep.
MAKE SURE YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
Breastmilk is basically water, fat, and protein.
I could EASILY notice a difference in my pumping on days I wasn’t drinking water or would forget to eat. Seriously.
I never made any special breastmilk increasing meals, but I made foods that were easy but full of protein. I also stocked up on gatorade and powerade or vitamin water (whatever was on sale at my gas station or grocery store) and tried to drink at least 2 of them a day.
My favorite easy snack was just dipping apple slices in peanut butter. I also ate a lot of peanut butter toast. Anything that you can eat with one hand that isn’t hot (in case you spill on the baby you’re holding) is the best.
When my husband got home from work, he was in charge of dinners. We ate a lot of chicken (cheap, easy to cook, full of protein) and vegetables (we love brussel sprouts, potatos, and carrots).
We also tried to make foods which would create a lot of leftovers for us so that way I could have easy lunches when I was home with the baby. You won’t have much time for cooking, so having easy meals will help you continue to eat.
For example, usually once a week we’d make some form of pasta (which is always enough to feed an army). We’d have enough leftovers for a day or two. Then we’d make something else leftover-focused such as stew or enchiladas (my personal favorite) or meatloaf. Again, I’d then have leftovers for a day or two. It was a good system.
I was also fortunate enough to have an amazing mom who made a few freezer meals for us while I was in the hospital (she came and stayed at my home for about a week) so when we were really in a pinch we could throw something from the freezer in the microwave. She made us pulled pork, chicken wild rice soup, and lasagna.
Tip #6 Pump for at least 15 minutes OR until you hit your desired amount.
I always aimed to pump about 5 ounces on each side.
If you’re trying to increase your amount- for example if you are only getting 2 ounces- don’t get discouraged. Keep pumping for a few minutes even after you get your last drop. Your body will learn that you need “more food” for your baby and respond appropriately after a couple days.
OR make your own by cutting holes into a sports bra or belly band.
Either way, having your hands free to eat lunch, flip through a book, or scroll through your phone makes pumping so much more enjoyable.
Another tip is to get a comfortable chair and set up a special pumping zone. I have a great glider, and I keep a small end table next to it stocked with my pumping essentials as well as usually a book. I always bring some water with me or sometimes a snack. I also keep a baby bouncer like this one:
in front of my glider. That way if my baby is awake I can put him near me and still talk to him or sing to him or watch him play with toys.
Often thinking of your baby or even looking at pictures, and especially being near your baby, can increase your production.
Finally, relax. Being stressed out about pumping is going to do you more harm than good. Trust your body.
Along with this, pumping shouldn’t hurt. Don’t use the maximum setting, just use whatever setting is comfortable (I’m just barely past medium). Make sure your shields and all equipment are the correct size and set up correctly as well.
Thank you for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed my tips! Feel free to share yours as well!
So my son Vincent (or “Vinny” as I call him) is 6 months old!
As the mother of an average, healthy (somewhat larger than average) baby, I would LOVE to share with you the toys and gear that have made both baby and I’s life enjoyable so far.
The Activity Gym. If you don’t own one, get one. Seriously. As early as his first day home from the hospital, we used this Activity Gym for tummy time and play time. Before, he used to just stare at everything and make little adorable noises. Now, he reaches for things and swats at things, and has even started rolling over! We even ended up getting a second Activity Gym/Ball Pit because we loved it so much. My husband LOVES the ball pit and plays with the baby in it quite a bit.
Vincent and his Activity Gym
The Bumbo Seat. We also have the tray. It’s perfect to use in combination with the Activity Gym. It gives baby a different perspective on the world (he has a small world so far) and helps give him some much needed head/neck exercise. We started putting him in it at around 4 months old. He’s at the age where he is trying so hard to sit up on his own (sometimes we surround him with a Boppy Pillow to get him some more core practice) so he really enjoys being able to sit up like a big boy.
Vincent Chillin in his Bumbo Seat under the gym (and flicking us off accidentally)
Links. These toys are so cheap but so entertaining for him. Plus, they’re portable (we attach them to his Activity Gym, his Exersaucer, his carseat, a shopping cart..etc) and they are easy for him to hold on to. He is very into grabbing anything and chewing on it right now. Links usually come in a variety of textures, so he loves gumming them. You’ll see in the photos above the links hanging from the gyms. Here they are pictured on their own.
Easy to Grip Toys like this Ball. Again, his favorite skill lately is reaching for things and putting them in his mouth. I don’t really want him chewing on anything furry or that he could choke on, so toys like this are great. He can hang onto them easily.
Vincent practicing his grip on his Ball before dinner
Exersaucer/Jumper. Both at daycare and at home, this is his current favorite toy, and it is my savior. Whenever I need to do something like the dishes or make lunch, I can stick him in this jumper for 15-30 minutes (sometimes longer) and he is completely content and safe! Plus, it’s good exercise for him!
Board Books. It is NEVER too early to start reading to your kids! We read at least 2 books before bedtime, (our favorite is Goodnight Moon and Time for Sleep), and usually a couple more during the day. I recommend board books over paper pages because a) your baby will put everything in his mouth and they are more sturdy b) they are harder to wreck if your baby gets a hold of them.
Crinkle Toys like This Giraffe. This is our favorite toy to bring with to restaurants or in the car because it’s small but it keeps him occupied! I got this as a gift from a friend, and for whatever reason our baby is endlessly entertained by it!
The Bath Tub. Okay, so this isn’t technically a “toy”, but giving your baby a bath is one of the most fun things you’ll do. Plus, if baby is fussy, sometimes giving him a bath will relax him or at least distract him. I love this tub we got off of Amazon! It’s a “grow with me” style, so it works for them as infant all the way until they are big enough to sit up in the tub by themselves (well, under supervision).
Please feel free to share any other toys you recommend!
My short story on why I pump, plus tips for pumping and enjoying pumping and products that will help!
Vincent was born this past October, and he is now almost 6 months old (where does the time go?!?!?).
Prior to his birth, I attended breastfeeding classes and also read up a lot on the benefits of breastfeeding and what to expect.
Turns out – shocker – breastfeeding is REALLY HARD.
My baby was born, and the first thing the doctors want you to do after he gets all checked out and you get a snuggle time is to try to get him to eat.
He grabbed on (with the nurses help) and my first thought besides “he’s so cute!” was “crap this hurts!”.
He ate well, and I was told by multiple nurses that my baby had “a good latch” so I was pleased, but by day three in the hospital my nipples were literally bleeding, and my toes curled and my eyes watered every time I had to feed my little nugget. It just wouldn’t stop hurting.
We went to the doctor for his 4 day follow up appointment, and I was pleased to hear that my son had regained to his birth weight (just an FYI, babies pretty much always lose weight in the hospital, and doctors want babies back up to birth weight by two weeks old, if not sooner). So obviously he was eating well and doing a good job. I explained to my doctor though about my pain, and she looked at my breasts, and she gave me a nipple shield.
LET ME TELL YOU that if you do decide to breastfeed for the full year or two years or whatever you decide, GET A NIPPLE SHIELD. It was night and day for me! I ended up buying a second one so I could always have a clean one handy. This is the Nuk Barely There Nipple Shield (with case) and it’s what I bought and used. Cheap and totally worth it!!
It took a couple feedings, but my baby was a champ and figured it out. Basically it goes on your breast just like it says, as a little barrier between your boob and their strong mouths, and it gave my breasts a chance to heal. FINALLY. After about 2 weeks of using the shield, I got off of it, and my breasts no longer bleed when I nursed.
I was so relieved, because everything I read and everything everyone says is that breastfeeding is best. Plus, I really liked the bonding experience between my son and I. It was something I could do that no one else could for him.
About a week before daycare (he started daycare at 12 weeks old) we decided to introduce him to a bottle. Partially because we wanted to make sure he would eat at daycare, and also because my husband was really excited to finally be able to feed our baby.
We did a little research, and we ended up buying a box of AVENT NATURAL FLOW BOTTLES AND NIPPLES. We started with the newborn/size 1. There are 2 bottles with size 1 nipples that each hold about 4 ounces (more than enough for a newborn-4 month old, then you might have to go bigger). We were told by our hospital, and by my online research, that these bottles did a good job replicating the shape and flow of a natural breast.
I then pumped a couple of ounces, and we put it in the bottle “fresh” so it would still taste the same.
It took a couple of feedings (we fed him one bottle a day over the course of those two weeks) but soon he was drinking bottles like a champ.
The trick is to make sure he takes the nipple deep into his mouth, like your breast nipple, and also trying to keep the bottle horizontal rather than vertical. If you tip it too high the baby can 1) become overwhelmed by the quick milk flow 2) drink too fast and get gas/tummy aches.
I was still breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, and for the most part it was still going well. I definitely started to feel a bit like a human pacifier, especially in the evening when it felt like all he wanted was to suck on me from about 4-7pm. It also makes it a little difficult to hang out with family and friends or go out in public when your child needs your body every couple of hours.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem when other women breastfeed in public or in front of their friends. It’s just something I never felt 100% comfortable doing. I didn’t like feeling like people were staring at me, and plus, my baby would usually make a mess so I would end up walking around with wet clothes.
Breastfeeding turned me into a bit of a homebody, which the first month or two was fine, but after about 10 or so weeks, I was ready to get out of the house a bit more. However, I really wanted to do what was “best” for my son, and so I continued to breastfeed and spend 99% of my time taking care of him.
I was completely devastated when I had to return to work. If my husband and I could afford it, I would gladly be a stay at home mom. I loved it. I loved my maternity leave and I didn’t want it to end. However, I returned to my job as a preschool teacher, and my son went to daycare.
After only about a week of daycare, we were back to square one with breastfeeding.
Now, this post isn’t about bashing daycare, because I totally respect and like the people who take care of my son from 9-5. However, most daycares are overwhelmed by the number of their kids, so it becomes necessary for babies to eat as fast as possible so they can move on to and feed another screaming hungry baby.
Whatever happened, he was no longer a pro-breastfeeder. His latch had changed. I was back to having tears well in my eyes every time I fed him at home, and sometimes I could tell he was getting extremely frustrated too. He got “nipple confusion”. I know some doctors and people tell you this can’t happen, but it totally did. He didn’t understand anymore how to get milk out of my breast efficiently.
After about a month of a lot of crying and frustration, I GAVE UP USING MY BREASTS.
The decision was not made lightly, and I cried over it. But I wasn’t enjoying feeding my son, and he wasn’t enjoying being fed, so what was the point? I didn’t want to use a nipple shield forever, and I wanted feeding him to be a bonding, enjoyable experience again.
I DECIDED TO PUMP EXCLUSIVELY.
What does this mean?
It means I pump my milk and feed him with a bottle instead of my breasts.
He’s still getting the best nutrition he can, and he’s gaining weight, and he’s completely healthy. He just had his check up a couple weeks ago and my doctor can’t stop raving about how “normal and healthy” he is.
I had ordered a breast pump right after he was born with the mentality of pumping while at work and to build a small stock pile for daycare/low supply days. I had already been pumping at home about twice a day to make my stockpile and for my husband to feed him a daily bottle, and I had been pumping at work twice a day as well to maintain my supply,.
This is the breast pump I use (6 months and going strong) and I have had zero issues. It’s called the MEDALA PUMP IN STYLE.
The only negative is that it’s kind of bulky to lug around, but honestly I’ve seen a bunch of pumps and it’s about the same size, if not a little smaller, than others I’ve seen.
The Medala Pump In Style is quick (I can pump in about 10 minutes), efficient, easy to clean, and easy to use. I recommend it to all moms who ask me what I use to pump.
How to Pump Exclusively
It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds, and now that I’ve been doing it for about 3 months I actually really enjoy it. I think with baby number 2 I’ll probably do the same thing, because it’s become so easy and convenient.
I don’t have to worry about if I just a had a beer and am unable to feed him, I don’t have to worry about where I am when I feed him, I don’t have to constantly undress to feed him, and anyone can feed him now – not just me. At first I was kind of bummed, but honestly it’s a lifesaver to be able to give a bottle to my husband and say “I’m going to go grab coffee and read”.
Finally, I’ve been lucky enough to have a great milk supply and a deep freezer, so I can actually probably start weaning off pumping and still have enough milk to get him through a year old (my goal).
Now, in order to pump exclusively it’s pretty simple.
You need to pump about as often as your baby eats (for most every three hours) and you need to pump as much as your baby eats (or more).
So here is my sample schedule for when I first switched to pumping exclusively.
I had to pump at:
Then I would also usually pump once over night. Baby usually woke up between 12-3, and after he was fed I would pump for about 10 minutes.
Now that he’s older and also has started not needing to eat in the middle of the night, and we started introducing rice cereal and blended food, I have now started “dropping” pump sessions.
I no longer pump at 2 am or 5 am.
Again, the rule is, you should pump as often as your baby eats. Once your baby no longer eats at midnight or five am, you no longer need to pump around those times either.
The exception would be if you are trying to increase your supply, in which case the more you pump the better.
My son right now eats about 6 ounces at a time, so each time I pump I always try to get at least that. However, most pumping sessions I make closer to 10 ounces, so I am able to freeze a few extra bags of milk each day in my deep freezer.
I use the Up and Up brand from Target. They’re cheap and good quality. They run out fast at my store, so I always buy a bunch at a time. I’ve never had a single one leak or become damaged. I even reuse the bags a couple times and still never had an issue.
Piece of advice? Buy in bulk. 50 bags sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Like with most things, the more you buy the more you save. And it really sucks to run out.
I prefer the bags over the bottles, personally. It is nice to have bottles though occasionally. Why? The bags you pretty much have to transport in a cooler, but you can put the bottles just in your bag as is (if it’s not a long trip) without worrying about them getting popped or poked. Plus, the bottles are reusable forever, not just a few times. I have both, I freeze extra milk in bags, but typically when I send my baby’s milk to daycare I send fresh milk in bottles which I carry in my work bag, and they rinse them/clean them at daycare after they’re used and send them home with me.
Tips for Enjoying Pumping
Get a comfortable glider/rocking chair. Probably one of my favorite gifts I got was a glider from my parents. You’ll be spending A LOT of time sitting and feeding baby, you may as well be comfortable!!!
Get a Boppy Pillow. Seriously. They seem so dumb but they are excellent back rests or neck rests.
Get a baby bouncer. My baby sits in the bouncer in front of me while I pump (it’s really impossible to hold a 5 month old baby and pump effectively – he’s too wiggly!). It’s nice because he’ll stay content and happy and in one spot, and I get a foot rest too! This one is by Ingenuity, and it vibrates and bounces and plays music.
Get an amazing pump. Like I said earlier this post, I love my Medala Pump in Style. I recommend it to everyone.
Go hands free. I actually made my own hands free bra by cutting holes in a sports bra. However, you can buy them for a reasonable price too, and for baby number two I probably will. Pumping is so nice when you can use a remote, check your cell, or tend to your baby easier. This is the
Get a manual pump. These are saviors! For example, I recently went on an extended girls day/night and did NOT want to lug around my electric pump. I brought my handheld pump and a couple small bottles with me in my giant purse, and I was able to discreetly pump in the car between venues. Another reason for these? Long road trips. Great investment They take a little practice, but they are worth it. This is the Medala Harmony Manual Pump. It’s worth it.
Keep your pump parts clean! Get a good routine down and stick with it! Your baby is going to be eating what your making, you want to make sure everything is sterile. I use the microwave sterilizing bags called which are super quick when I’m at work. At home I typically boil my parts at least once a week as well, or I soak them in warm soapy water and vinegar (vinegar kills mold) and let them air dry.
Keep a routine. Your body is very conditioned. If you pump the same amount at the same time every day, your body will produce consistently. If you’re constantly changing it up, your body isn’t going to know how to react. I have kept my same routine for the past 4 months and have had zero issues with supply.
Feel free to share with me your experiences and tips!
As a happy mother to a healthy 5 month old son, I have lived through labor at a hospital.
My husband and I attended parenting classes, and I scrolled through Pinterest avidly, and we packed our hospital bags weeks ahead of time. However, the best teacher (as always) is EXPERIENCE.
After my experience, here is my list of what 15 things (in my opinion) you will need:
BLANKETS! The hospital has great pillows (at least mine did) but their blankets were not comfortable, at least not for me. They weren’t very thick or soft. Plus, after hours of labor, I would’ve given anything to curl up under my soft comforter. Also, if you ask my husband, he could NOT sleep at the hospital. They didn’t provide him a cot- just a recliner. And he said it would’ve been so much more tolerable if he would’ve had his own comfy blanket.
PHONE CHARGER! You will be taking so many photos and getting so many phone calls, that sucker is going to die. Be prepared. Maybe even buy an extra charger to put in your bag,
PHONE/CAMERA! Given. You’ll want pictures and videos of your big day! And you’ll want to spread the news!
SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER! Hospital shampoo and conditioner is not nearly as comforting as your own. I was so proud of myself for packing to go containers of my favorite stuff. After hours and hours of labor, that first shower is HEAVENLY, and it felt better after I came out smelling and feeling fresh. I even got a compliment from my nurse about how refreshed I looked.
LOTION! As previously stated, hospital stuff is okay, but it’s not as nice as your own. Labor, even with an epidural or drugs, is so taxing on your body. It feels so good when you get a minute to do something simple for yourself – like shower or brush your teeth or put on lotion. Take advantage!
SNACKS! I underestimated how much I can eat in just a few days, and we ordered a ton of room service. It was good food, but it would’ve been nice to just be able to whip out a bag of chips or something and snack on them while my family was visiting or when I was up at 3am nursing a baby. Especially since ordering room service always takes a bit of time, and (in my opinion) it’s kind of awkward to eat a full meal in front of guests. Plus, there is no such thing as eating a hot meal once you have a baby – even a newborn. You’ll be constantly either nursing a baby or entertaining guests. So bring snacks/foods that don’t need to be cooked to taste good. Apples, bananas, chips, etc. Bonus points for snacks that can be eaten with one hand (poptarts, granola bars, etc). WARNING. Don’t bring anything with nuts. Some hospitals won’t allow them.
COMFY CLOTHES and DARK PANTS/SHORTS! Gross but true fact- you will lose a lot of blood. You will be leaking fluids out of every surface. You will be wearing nursing pads in your bra, and you will be wearing giant hospital underwear and giant pads and ointment etc. inside of them. You will not be able to wear fitted clothing, and you won’t want to. I was most comfortable in a tank top, my own comfy bathrobe from home, and black sweat pants. I wore a variation of that outfit everyday. Plus, when tops are stretchy/comfy they are easier to nurse in!
PERSONAL HYGIENE NECESSITIES! Deodorant. Toothpaste. Hairbrush. Toothbrush. I feel like these are obvious but my list would be incomplete without them.
WHITE NOISE MACHINE/MUSIC/FAN! Hospital rooms are either crazy quiet or crazy busy. Either way, if you want any hope of sleep, you want noise! Otherwise all you will do is concentrate on your baby’s breathing or the constant footsteps or machine beeps. You will barely be sleeping as it is- do what you can to change that!
BABY CLOTHES! You will want a couple cute outfits to show your baby off in when you have visitors. One of my favorite things was getting my baby dressed for the first time! You won’t need too many outfits, maybe two or three. They aren’t big/messy enough to wreck outfits yet. We just brought one for each day. SIDE NOTE. I learned that pretty much every baby will be born as a size “newborn”. Newborn is up to 10 lbs in baby clothes. I had packed a bunch of different sizes because I was worried that he wouldn’t fit into newborn clothes/diapers, but the nurses informed me that pretty much every baby will be size newborn at least for a week or two.
PAPER/BABY BOOK/FOLDER! You’ll get a lot of really great mementos from the hospital. You’ll get the umbilical cord clip, you can get footprints of your baby, you can get a print out of your contractions/heart beat monitor, pictures of ultrasounds, etc. Bring something to safely store these in so you aren’t just shoving them in a duffle bag! They also gave us an extra copy of my baby’s footprints, and I brought a blank white sheet of paper for my baby book for him to get his hand prints and foot prints put on.
CASH! Vending machines. Parking lots/meters. These things (usually) take cash only. Keep some in your bag.
FLIP FLOPS/GRIPPY SOCKS! I lived in my fuzzy, grippy socks. But flip flops would’ve worked too. One of those situations in life where you don’t quite feel comfortable/sanitary walking around barefoot but you don’t want to wear tennis shoes when you are in total lounge mode.
BATHROBE! Probably the best thing I packed.
Things I packed but I didn’t touch:
MAKEUP! I thought I would want to get all dolled up for visitors, but in reality I was too exhausted to even brush my hair. Plus, your baby doesn’t care what you look like!
CUTE, FITTED OUTFITS! As previously stated, these were impractical and also unwearable. Fun Fact. You’ll still look pregnant for several days/weeks after you give birth and will still need to wear maternity clothes.
BOARD GAMES/CARDS! Yeah, you aren’t going to play those while you’re in labor. And after the baby has arrived he/she will suck all your attention (in a good way). Save the space.
DIAPERS/WIPES/BABY SUPPLIES! All you will need are a couple outfits. The hospital will supply you with more than enough diapers, wipes, ointment, and anything else you’ll want. I even got to take home a bunch of blankets, wipes, diapers, etc. Again, save the space! Just pack a couple cute outfits!
PACIFIERS! Turns out, you aren’t even supposed to give a baby a pacifier until they are at least a month or two old. It’ll interfere with breastfeed.
IMPORTANT I didn’t include this in my list because it wouldn’t technically go in a bag, but: You will need a safe, non-recalled, non-expired car seat in order to leave the hospital. They will have you bring it to your room and approved by your nurse/doctor. Do not forget this!
Good luck! Please feel free to share any other tips you have!
Everyone’s pregnancy and birth story are different.
I was the pregnant lady that HAD to read every pregnancy book on the market, paraded through literally hundred of Pinterest posts, and forced herself and her husband to CPR, First Aide, New Parent Classes, Car Seat Safety Classes, the works. I wanted to know EVERYTHING and be prepared for anything.
Although I am grateful for all the knowledge I gained and I enjoyed the learning experiences, no amount of research, reading, or interviewing other moms can truly prepare you. However, I always love hearing and sharing birth stories with fellow women.
Your birth won’t be/wasn’t the exact same as mine, but feel free to read and gain insight from my experience!
Here is the birth story of my son, Vincent.
I was one of the rare people who actually went into labor and gave birth on her due date.
Something like only 5% of babies are born on their due date, so I think that’s pretty cool. I was told most first babies are expected to go past their due date, and that was a miserable thought to entertain.
This was even more of a treat because it was my first day of maternity leave. Talk about good timing! I didn’t have to sit at home for several days off work, bored, anxious and baby-less.
I went into labor at about 4 am on October 27th, 2016 – my due date.
I woke up around 4am, and wasn’t sure why. I often woke up in the middle of the night to pee or because I was sore from having to only sleep on my left side (I was told that was best). I laid in bed for a while, trying to figure out which reason I had woken up for, and wasn’t sure. I got up, went to the bathroom, had some water, then tried to fall back asleep. After laying awake for another ten or so minutes, I felt it.
Everyone tells you when you get “real contractions” you’ll know. Let me tell you, it’s true. They were definitely different than the Braxton Hicks I had been experienced for the past several weeks. Side note – those BH contractions are super annoying and confusing. They are uncomfortable, and they cause you to stress out about if they are “the real deal”. Let me assure you, like I said, that what “they” say is true: You’ll know a real contraction when it happens. It was lower, and I definitely felt a lot more pressure in my back and lower area. I felt a strong, pushing sensation that moved downward and throughout my whole abdomen region. I was too shocked and excited to move. I feared that it was a fluke- who would be lucky enough to go into labor on their due date? I looked at my phone to check the time, and then waited. Sure enough, about 25 minutes later I felt another one. My heart raced. I woke my husband up.
“Dylan, don’t get too excited, but I think I might be in labor.”
He totally pulled a movie move, and shot up out of bed and asked me if we needed to get to the hospital.
I told him it was still about 25 minutes apart, so that we probably had a while.
We laid in bed and waited, and sure enough about another 20-25 minutes later there was another one. We laughed and got excited and talked about how this might be the day we meet our son. Our due date.
We laid in bed until about 6 am, then we realized we were never going to go back to sleep and we decided to start our day. We let the dogs out, made breakfast, and I instantly started cleaning the house, because if it was the big day we had a lot of family that would be couch crashing soon.
We were fortunate enough that, since it was my due date, I had my 40 week appointment that morning at about 11am. We killed time until then, keeping busy making the house nice and playing with the pets and taking a long shower. At this point the contractions were more uncomfortable rather than painful. They were noticeable enough that I would have to pause what I was doing for a minute, but I wasn’t bending over in pain or wincing.
We arrived that my 40 week appointment totally excited. We were trying not to get our hopes too high, but we wanted to be told that our baby would be here soon! My contractions hadn’t stopped, and they were still about every 25 minutes. The pain was still very mild, it more just felt like a pressure that would build up and recede. My doctor Nancy came in the room asked the standard “How are we feeling today?” and I almost hugged her when I said, “I’m pretty sure I’m in labor!”
She checked me over, felt my abdomen and felt inside me, and sure enough, I was. She told me I was about 1.5 centimeters dialated and 70% effaced (thinned out). She also said the baby’s head had definitely begun to drop into delivery position.
She then decided to do what they called a “membrane sweep” to try to “speed things along”. A membrane sweep basically means they stick their finger(s) inside you and swirl them around vigorously. That’s what it feels like. It’s basically a more uncomfortable cervix check.
She told my husband he could probably go to work that day (he was supposed to work 12-9) because most first labors take several days, but if I were to go down to contractions less than 10 minutes apart he should come home.
We were kind of disappointed to hear that, but not totally surprised. My cousin, who now had a three month old, told me she woke up in labor Thursday morning, but didn’t go to the hospital and deliver until Saturday.
We left the office and said, “Hopefully we see you soon!” Turns out, we’d be seeing her later that day.
That membrane sweep really worked. My husband and I left the doctor’s office and decided to get some coffee and donuts at Dunn Brothers. All of a sudden while we were sitting inside, my contractions started to feel more intense. The pressure was greater, and they lasted a lot longer. I actually said, “Whoah!” and I remember pressing my hands to my stomach. We sat and talked and drank coffee, but every contraction now was distracting and extremely uncomfortable. I told Dylan I couldn’t sit down anymore- the pressure was too intense -I needed to get home and move around.
Once we got home, pacing/walking was what made me feel better. I was probably at about a 5 out of 10 on the pain scale. We continuted to monitor my contractions, and we noticed I was now already down to only about 15 minutes apart. We decided to take our dogs for a lap or two around the block to try to kickstart labor, and to also get them some last minute exercise in case we went to the hospital. My husband called into work, since things seemed to be moving quickly.
About halfway through our walk, I was having trouble. I literally had to stop moving each time I had a contraction, and pause to bend over and breathe for several seconds. The walk seemed to help speed things along though, because by the time we got home I was down to ten minutes apart and they were building in intensity.
I was stuck at ten minutes for awhile, with the pain building quickly. I was trying everything to keep the pain at by, but nothing would make me feel better. I was experiencing major back labor – pain that shot up my back and made my spine feel like it was ripping open with every contraction. I tried leaning over the couch, I tried laying down, I tried walking, bouncing, rocking, taking a hot shower, but I just couldn’t make the pain lesson. I thought I was at a 10 on the pain scale.
Finally, at about 3pm my contractions were at about 5 minutes apart. My labor was definitely moving quickly. We had only left the doctor’s office 3.5 hours prior!
My husband called the hospital to let them know that I had reached five minutes apart, and I was told to wait an HOUR before heading in, but since things were speeding up so fast, my husband and I ended up ignoring their advice only waiting only about 30 minutes.
We got into the car with our previously packed “go bags” and car seat, and all of a sudden the pain was overwhelming and so were my emotions.
I began sobbing on the way to the hospital. My husband was amazing and supportive, and he kept reassuring me that we were going to be okay and he kept telling me how excited he was and how happy he was.
When we pulled up to check in, the women at the desk waved me through with sympathy. I must’ve looked as bad as I felt.
I was given a room and was triaged- which means I was checked to make sure I was actually in labor enough to stay at the hospital. I was dialated to a 3, and my contractions were still only about 5 minutes apart. I was told we could get our bags from the car- we were staying! I was going to have my baby!
My husband immediately ran out to the car and started calling our family and posting a FB status, while I suffered and cried.
I had decided somewhere early on in my pregnancy that I didn’t want an epidural. I had read about lots of disadvantages (being bed ridden, possibles side effects for you and the baby) and had watched videos of so many moms doing it “the old fashioned way” so I thought, why not me?
After laboring for 3 hours without any medication, I was giving up. I had tried bouncing on a labor ball, sitting in a hot tub, walking, squatting, everything.
I was checked at about 6pm and told I was about 5 cm dialated. I couldn’t believe that in three hours I had “only” grown two centimeters. The pain now felt like a 13/10 on the pain scale, and it was almost all in my back.
I found out later that my mom had also had terrible back labor. Believe me, you do not want to experience that.
I told them I wanted the epidural. I was spent, and I was in so much pain that I couldn’t think straight,
The doctor tried to convince to keep doing what I was doing. But I was done. I had been up since 4am and hadn’t eaten anything other than a donut, and I just wanted the constant pain to end. I was sobbing and practically begged for it. They told me it’d be about 30 minutes before the anesthesiologist could get to me, but he was on his way.
As a side note- major props to the moms who do this without an epidural! I thought I was going to die, and I didn’t even experience the full birth unmedicated.
At this point my parents showed up. I was kind of mad – I had told them I didn’t want visitors during my labor, and for good reason. I was in my ugly hospital robe, sobbing and swearing, when they came in. When my mom saw me she cried and hugged me and told me they were so proud of me. It was nice to hear, but I wasn’t in any state to enjoy their soothing words.
Luckily, my nurse came in and made up an excuse to kick them out.
While I waited for my epidural I was given dilated, which basically just feels like laughing gas. I could feel the pain still, but it made the 4 minutes between contractions soothing. I was able to actually breathe and sit without feeling like I was dying, at least for a couple minutes here and there. I was able to finally stop sobbing every time I felt a contraction hit.
Finally, around 6:30, I the anesthesiologist made it to my room. What they don’t tell you is that the epidural takes close to 15 minutes.
First, they have to clean the area. Then numb you with a giant needle, but you need to hold very still, which is hard to do when you’re having contractions. I was really freaked out too. I was worried I’d be paralyzed or have some kind of reaction or something. I also felt extremely guilty. I had wanted to be tough and do it “the natural way” for my baby, but I was “giving up”. My husband reassured me that he was still proud of me, and that there was nothing wrong with needing some help.
After they numb you, they need to actually do the epidural, which takes about 10 minutes to set up, make sure you’re holding still, and then for the medicine to kick in. The actual epidural looks scarier than it is though, and my anesthesiologist reassured me that this is what he did for a living, and that everything would be all right.
I could tell the second it started to work. All of a sudden there was no pain, just pressure. I felt discomfort, but I could actually lay down and breathe. It was kind of an out of body experience. I could feel what was happening to me, but it didn’t hurt. I was so relieved, I almost started to cry again.
My nurse stayed with me to monitor me, and all was going well for the first several minutes. Then all of a sudden she got up, and she asked me to try to roll onto my left. She had to help me because the meds make you paralyzed from the waist down. Then she tried to roll me to my right. When I asked what was going on, she calmly said that the baby’s heart beat had slowed down.
I instantly felt like I was having a heart attack. She told me not to panic, but that she had just paged the NICU and several doctors were about to run in. This was my first experience of the love I have for my son. The horror that he was in danger was overwhelming. I couldn’t breathe, I was shaking, and I just kept asking, “Is he going to be okay?”
My room was quickly filled with 5 or 6 doctors. They had me flip over onto my hands and knees, they broke my water, and stuck a monitor on my baby’s scalp to monitor his heart beat. They gave me a shot of epinephrine to increase our heart rates. After about a minute, they had me lay back down. At this point I was sobbing, not from pain, but just being overwhelmed and scared. My husband kept kissing my forehead and reassuring me everything was fine, but I was inconsolable for several minutes.
The doctors explained that sometimes when the epidural kicks in it messes with the baby’s heart rate, but it was now back to normal and no serious damage had been done.
I think I made the doctors repeat that to me about a thousand times before I believed them.
After I was finally consoled, I began to try and rest. It’s not really possible to sleep, even without pain. I still felt constant pressure, and I was still being monitored/checked on every hour at least.
I was bed ridden, but I was fine with that because I was exhausted. I was checked around 9pm and told I was at 8cm and that they had called my doctor so she could come deliver my baby. Apparently the epidural and “relaxation” had helped my body speed things along.
I attempted to rest, until around 10. Suddenly, the pressure felt stronger. I feared maybe my epidural was wearing off. I paged my nurse, and she and a doctor arrived and checked me. I was fully dialated, and my baby was in position to come out. They asked if I felt the urge to push, and I told them I was feeling a lot of downward pressure. They got excited and immediately called in a couple more nurses and my own doctor into the room.
My doctor laughed when she saw my husband and I, and said, “I’m glad I got to see you twice in one day!”
They told me to do a few “practice pushes”. This was a little strange, because I had a lot of people crowded around my lower area, basically telling me how to push. Honestly the biggest help, strange as it sounds, was when the doctor put a finger exactly where she wanted me to push towards.” I got over my embarrassment pretty fast. I was excited for my labor to be over and to finally meet my baby boy!
On my third “practice push” they told me it wasn’t really practice anymore, my baby was making serious progress. The nurses donned what my husband called “Splash Gear”. They threw on masks, face shields, and put buckets and towels everywhere. I was feeling a ton of pressure and tightness and other strange sensations. I kept pushing, about every 5 minutes or so. It was another unexplainable feeling. It didn’t hurt, but the effort of pushing was exhausting. They had me push as hard and as long as I could through every contraction. Those 90 seconds or so of pushing are seriously intense!
Thankfully, they soon told me they could see his head! They even had me reach down to touch it. That was really weird, but also strangely motivating.
I became extremely excited, and after a couple more pushes he was out! At 11:13pm my son was born.
I think that’s the only time I have ever heard my husband cry, and he cut the cord.
They handed me my baby, and I was instantly in tears for the millionth time that night, and all i could do was say “Oh my god, oh my god oh my god” about a thousand times as I stared at his tiny little body. The doctors let him lay on my chest as the checked him over and patted him down. Then they tended to my stitches that were needed (2) and checked me over.
After giving us a few minutes together, they took him to weigh him and give him his first round of tests/shots. He was 21 inches long, and 8 lbs 2.9 oz. My husband held him and nurtured him as I watched from my bed.
I had a nurse put me in a wheelchair to bring me to the bathroom. It takes a few hours for your epidural to wear off, so I had to be escorted everywhere until the following morning.
Be prepared to see yourself lose A LOT of blood. I was completely horrified.
The first hour after his birth and check up was called “The Golden Hour”. It was just me, my husband, the baby, and occasionally our nurse who would peek in to check on us.
I don’t remember everything about that night, but I do remember most of that hour. My husband crawled beside me in bed and the three of us snuggled and talked and we introduced ourselves to our new son.
I could’ve stayed like that all night, but most of our family had arrived by then, so they all wanted to meet the baby.
I was too out of it to fully enjoy that experience though. I was wiped and also super emotional. I was ready just to snuggle with my baby all night. I had waited 9 months to meet him, and I wanted to have him all to myself.
We took a few pictures, then they said goodnight and headed to our house to sleep.
I have to say, it was a very out of body feeling to finally hold my son, and to spend time trying to nurse and smell and enjoy him. It took me several days to wake up and remember that I wasn’t pregnant anymore – my son was here!
Like I said, everyone’s story is so different. Mine was smooth for the most part, and everyone made it out without any complications. We are a very lucky family.
Feel free to share your birth stories! I’ve attended several mom’s groups, parenting classes, or just talked to other moms and I always love to ask about them! It’s one of the most exciting moments (or days) of your life, and they’re all amazing,