Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hospital bag – Essentials

Finally all the trimesters are over and the D-day is round the corner, you will be in labor and as if by magic everything will be fine! Well nice to know that! But hello!! We live in a real world with real needs, for the new mother and child! So than sending the family running out to buy stuff or even get things from home, make the most of your hospital stay, the first few hours and days with the newborn! Plan ahead! Simply!
Around the end of month 8, it is a good time to start packing your hospital bag tentatively.
Just keep putting in things, and finally when your final delivery date and schedule is confirmed by your doctor, pack the bag completely and ensure that your spouse or parent who is accompanying you to the hospital is aware of what all has been packed and in which order. So that you don’t have to divide your attention again, hunting for trivial things, when all you wish to do is give complete attention to your child!
If every trip, every journey requires planning and packing bags, this is a super journey for life, so packing and planning are very much a part of it!
According to the Indian belief, new clothes and baby things are not to be purchased before the birth of the child. But today we can clearly rationalize that this belief must have stemmed from a pure economic perspective, poverty and high infant mortality rate at that time. Today such is not the case, all your tests are periodically done, the fetal growth is charted methodically and medical care is always at hand, so keep aside your anxiety and fears and shop the basic essentials for your baby or gratefully accept hand me downs.
But do not overdo anything, all cute fanciful things, frilly clothes, shiny shoes…hold them all! The baby is going to be quite small, with extremely delicate skin, you need to select the softest and most firm fabric for your baby clothes. According to the season you can pack in more or less warm clothes, woolens, but do not omit them ever from your bag. Even summer babies, they need more warmth than grown ups!
Now to the actual bag packing, firstly understand that there will be two sections to your stuff.
One is clothing and essentials for the new mother, the other are clothing and essentials for the new born baby.
Hospitals will provide gowns and sanitary napkins for new mothers, but for your own comfort I would suggest carrying your own gowns and sanitary napkins.
Now here is the list of things for new mothers

List of Essentials for the Mother-To-Be

1.     2 nursing gowns
2.     2 nursing bras
3.     Minimum 3 pairs of Washable breast pads
4.     Maternity sanitary napkins
5.     Maternity sanitary pants
6.     Slippers
7.     Breast Pump (optional)
8.     Nipple Shields (if recommended-Buy only Madela)
9.     4 panties
10.  Disposable glasses
11.  1 Plate, bowl, spoon, thermos, knife
12.  2 ltr water bottle with water
13.  2 Face towels
14.   Bathroom kit (Soap, Toothbrush, Toothpaste)
15.  Cosmetic Kit (Comb, powder, cream etc)

This list is pretty exhaustive in itself. Do not add too many fancy items to this. You are not going shopping or travelling to a tourist destination, but going to a hospital. Focus on comfort and durability. It’s cute to have a light pink or baby blue gown n some neat polka dotted dress a la Princess Kate…

but no, recall your worst menstruation period, with heavy bleeding and magnify it thrice that is the kind of flow you might have after delivery. After all its 9 months of no periods, so is it some revenge! Nah! This is not your regular periods, this is lochia the blood loss you will have after delivery. It is more likely you will spoil your initial gowns, so have some sturdy cotton gowns with darker shades or big prints, in case of staining. After the first two or three days, once you gauge your fitness levels and lochia flow, bring on the pastel shades! J
If you need to add your mobile phone, your music player to this list you may do it! But I would suggest in the last week before delivery or at least 2 days before your due-date had over your phone to your spouse or parents, and focus on the major event in your life, do not be distracted by trivial and material pursuits which can wear you down. So generally avoid watching TV or getting chatty on the phone etc.
Now the list for the baby

 List of Essentials for the Baby-To-Be

1.     3-4 Full Jumpsuits( with socks)
2.     Minimum 6 onesies or baby shirts
3.     Minimum 6 cloth diapers or baby swaddlers
4.     1 Quick dry sheet
5.     1 mackintosh sheet ( for potty cleaning time)
6.      Diapers (New Born Size, Small pack)
(If in India prefer buying Huggies diapers, for the first 3 months because they fit well to the Indian baby’s smallish tush! ;))
7.     4 pairs of mittens
8.     4 pairs of socks
9.     5 cotton sheets for baby cribs/ bed (washed and free of any residual soap etc)
10.  3-4 baby caps
11.  1 small bowl and spoon, 1 small bottle for feeding in case latching takes time
12.  Cotton Bundle / Baby Wipes for cleaning potty
13.  2 Baby wraps/ Swaddle cloths
14.  Baby’s Mosquito Net (Applies if there are mosquitoes in your region)
15.  Bathroom kit ( baby soap, cream, oil, diaper rash cream, hair brush, powder)
( Soap, oil, cream,
 diaper rash cream, Powder )
16.  Cotton sheets  for cushioning the baby cot ( to cover over  what the hospital provides)

You should also ask your spouse to pack charged camera batteries, camera equipment, essential contacts list on paper, list of people you wish to first inform about your baby’s birth and also all your hospital records neatly filed and kept aside for emergency reference. This is very important that this file is handy for your doctor to refer. You may keep a cardigan or knitted jacket for your own self in case you feel cold after delivery.
Also request your visitors, friends and relatives to avoid coming in for the first 3 days after delivery if possible. So you have maximum time for your baby to bond, to let all the reality of parenthood sink into you. Also in case it is not possible, request visitors to stick to the visitor timings of the hospital. And never wake the baby when there are visitors, unless the child is awake. Young babies need a lot of sleep and rest in order to grow well. The baby has endured a long journey to be in your arms. Baby photos n displays can and must wait till about a week after childbirth. Also the very first pictures of your baby are indeed treasures! But on a side note, avoid using flash while taking pictures of your baby. Insist on that each and every time someone wants to click a picture of your child. The eyes of small babies are still adjusting to light, after being in the womb for 9 long months; they are still gaining control over their optic nerves. Sudden flash startles the baby and confuses the response generated. Hold off the flash until your child is about 6 months old and has a steady gaze.
So pack in advance, enjoy the actual trip to the hospital, cradle your most creative creation in your arms and smile! Rest a while, thank Mother Nature for this wonderful journey till delivery and brace for motherhood, the world’s most challenging and often understated job!
All the best!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The third trimester

Finally the end of a very creative phase is here, only to begin anew as another challenging phase of patience, love and bonding. The third trimester is full of emotional upheavals. All anxiety of whether we will be good parents? will the child be alright? Will the labor progress well? Will I bond with the newborn? Hope the water doesn’t break in a public place like shown in films! All this and more thoughts begin to cloud your mind. Even the most confident girl begins to waver in this phase. Why so? Why this excessive emotional phase? It’s your body preparing you for motherhood, a new surge of hormones, the final batch so to say is delivered into your systems, this should prepare your body for actual labor, prepare for the blood loss that follows and also makes provisions for your little one, in form of milk in your breasts.
Be very mindful during your entire pregnancy and don’t get swayed often by emotions, understand it’s the handiwork of hormones and learn to tide over them. It’s not for nothing that mothers and grandmothers advice you to keep smiling and be happy during pregnancy. It’s more like happiness should be your dominant state of mind, though there will be episodes of weepiness, excessive anxiety and depression. Tide over them quickly.
Now the unexpected tips for this trimester; firstly increase your fluid intake, keep adding more water, coconut water, fruits to your diet. Go easy on your fatty food intake towards the final month, and finally wean off food for the last few days and keep yourself well hydrated and sated, do not overeat. Why so? If you are going to eat more, your body is compelled to focus on digestion, rather than focusing on easing your labor, you certainly don’t want that! Also your body weight by now has gained the last 2-3kgs to hit the targeted mark from the first trimester.
Secondly keep walking, keep exercising. Don’t let your body shape or heaviness keep you from moving around, unless advised against by the doctor. You need all the muscle strength and agility to help you through labor. Now that brings us to a very crucial question, natural labor vs C-section. Most girls in urban and semi-urban places now a day prefer undergoing a c-section even in cases when it’s not needed. Unless there are some very strong reasons given by the doctor stating the need of c-section, go ahead and deliver naturally. Why? Well whatever does not kill makes you stronger! Keep in mind that giving birth naturally is well natural! Nature knows what she is expecting out of you! You are a part of nature aren’t you? If you have prepared your body in advance to give birth naturally, it would be easier than thought. Do not let film scenes cloud your judgment. These days hospitals offer you a pre-delivery labor room orientation. Ask your doctor, your hospital for a round of the labor room, and ask questions regarding what might happen that day, begin revising it mentally with positive thoughts about easy labor and healthy baby n you! It helps! Fear breeds from unfamiliarity, the unknown, once you know the staff in your labor room, the overall feel and look of the place, the bed and operating table, a sample of your hospital room, it becomes easier to train the mind to focus on the known objects and people. Also importantly it’s the birthright of your child to get the very important immunity bacteria from the vaginal canal and gradually be admitted in this world, as is the case with natural delivery. In case there is a last minute decision to have a c-section, do not consider this as a failure on your part or in your efforts, it’s just how it is meant to be. Look at the positives of an urgent c-section too! Your baby and you are safe, in case of a c-section, you do not face labor pain. Of course the pain that follows once the anesthesia wears off is going to be there, but at least you will be able to bear it better. Either case, target getting up the very next day of your delivery, better still the same evening, as much as it pains or you feel disoriented, it’s very important to gain control over your body, pain as early as possible. Because now you have the biggest responsibility of your life, your child! Why does all this have to be told in the third trimester? Forewarned is forearmed! It’s better to train your mind regarding all this in the final trimester, so that there is lesser rude surprise post child-delivery and you can focus on enjoying the blissful moments of motherhood. So for the third trimester, read about actual labor, brush up your GK about birthing techniques, explore them if you wish to, consult your doctor about your choices and if possible have a birth plan in place. Birth plan is a mutually decided piece of informal agreement between your doctor and you regarding the preference of natural birth and the kind of medications you should be administered during delivery.  Read more about birth plans if you are interested.

Thirdly, start packing your hospital bag in the last month. Well, if I tell you, you have a trip to a transformative planet far far way…what will you be doing 1 month before your trip? Of course planning what you’ll wear, check your camera if it is working, carry matching pairs of shoes and of course not to forget your favorite lip gloss! If for any trip you plan as much, should you not pack for a trip of a lifetime where you go as a couple and return home a family? Start asking around friends and family if they have recently had babies, welcome hand me downs, the gently used clothes and purchase baby wraps and blankets. Hand me downs are good because they are softer on the baby, and the baby needs a lot of clothes in the first few months and babies outgrow their clothes very soon. Than buying all new ones, and keeping them piling around the house, it’s better to circulate clothes between well meaning friends and relatives.
Plan what you should pack in your hospital bag. Watch out for a detailed post on this one next!
 Begin reorganizing your closets, buy an extra closet (small one) to accommodate excess clothes, toys etc. During the first three months you will have very little time, energy and enthusiasm to do anything around your home. Plan likewise and get the furniture rearranged, to accommodate extra set of parents, or relatives coming over and generally more suit your comfort in the days to come. Do not try pushing pulling any piece of furniture yourself, ask your spouse to do it.
If possible start sleeping on the left side so that your belly rests properly and you have no problem breathing. After the belly grows, it’s very difficult to sleep in your favorite sleeping positions which might range from curling up, to sleeping belly down. Also in order to ensure proper oxygen supply and to aid digestion during the final trimester, it’s advisable to lie on the left side of your body, so the lung cavity opens up better and there is no pressure on the heart or digestive system. As the baby grows within, the digestive track and other abdominal parts are cramped and pressurized. When you lie on your left side the pressure is temporarily eased.
Like I have mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts, start talking to your unborn child. It will be very useful! Read more about it here.
Lastly spend as much time you can with your spouse, discuss your fears, your joys, your dreams and aspirations. Prepare for the roles of parenthood, prepare for the changes in your lives as a couple. Assure each other of your unstinting support and be there at each step of this journey together. If you get your spouse to read and share the material regarding pregnancy, the birthing plan, the rituals if any involved, after delivery, even what you plan to post on social media, the pictures, the messages, discuss it all! Even the friends and family from either side who has to be informed about this news first etc! Your spouse literally takes over from you the charge of your wellbeing, your spouse is your moving self now on for at least the first few days. So trust him with your mobile phone, e-mail, social media and of course a host of other simple tasks around the house. All this will definitely bind you stronger to each other! Trust me go out on dates, get ready and go out to peaceful romantic places as often as you can! Some even have babymoons! Your last holiday together as a couple! Before you begin travelling with your baby! All this will serve as a beautiful memory when days post delivery mean you are confined to home for months on end. And romantic thoughts seem to have abandoned you altogether and patience is all used up for the baby and only yelling at the partner remains! All this won’t happen if you are prepared in advance and totally focused on enjoying parenthood positively! J
Congratulations for completing term! Best wishes for having a healthy happy baby! :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The second trimester

By now “being pregnant” feels a real deal! Slowly moving past the initial awkward days, slowly the belly begins to emerge, it’s still too early to jump into maternity clothes but yes those days are soon coming! :)
There are a few unexpected pieces of advice for this trimester too! :)
Firstly, stop wearing heels if you do wear them regularly. As glamorous it looks and feels otherwise or on pregnant celebrities, it does no good to your posture and legs muscles and overall body balance. Why is this important during pregnancy? Well slowly but surely the center of gravity of your body is shifting, due to the increasing baby weight. Be very careful about quick movements and think thrice before joining in any vigorous activity like rock climbing, bungee jumping or even rushing up or down a flight of stairs. The baby is still very fragile and so is your body in certain ways, so it’s better to be safe. That doesn’t mean you cannot exercise or move around at all. It just means that now on develop a sense of awareness regarding body movement and reflex actions and act likewise.
Secondly start paying closer attention to your fluid intake. As the baby begins to develop, it is living in and feeding on the amniotic fluid. The aim is to constantly maintain a healthy level of fluid for the baby’s regular nourishment and growth. Aim for more natural drinks, avoid carbonated or fizz drinks altogether during and after pregnancy as long as possible. Extra sugary, extra salty or sour drinks should be avoided. The best drink is natural coconut water. You can begin by drinking one serving of coconut water every alternate day, as the pregnancy progresses to the third trimester, you can increase it to one serving per day. Just remember, in case the season is cold or rainy, do not increase the intake of coconut water, it might not really help. Coconut water has high potassium content and contains antioxidants. It also contains cytokinins which promote plant cell division and growth. Other biologically active ingredients in coconut water include L-arginine, ascorbic acid, magnesium etc.
You can also consume home-made yogurt and buttermilk with a little black pepper and cumin powder and rock salt to taste. And instead of fruit juices, you can eat the fruit as it is.
Also H2O is your best friend from now on! Drink up all the water you can! If you are going to drink boiled water, plan to boil in advance and let it cool to room temperature. You can add cumin seeds, coriander seeds or dill seeds to the water while you boil it or even bits of dried amla (Indian gooseberry) so you have flavored water.  Later you can give such flavored water to your baby as well when she/he crosses the 6 month mark and is allowed to take sips of water. I used to drink flavored water, its good fun also I added a pure gold coin/ ring to it. If you intend to do that, keep aside a 24 carat or 22 carat gold coin or ring(which is not in use or worn by anybody) not more than 2gms in weight. Add it each day to the water container in which you will boil the water. After the water is boiling rapidly, continue to boil it for nearly 20 minutes and then remove from heat. This process ensures that the gold particles are released in water, such treated water is useful for the baby and your body, as gold helps your immune system and also its benefits are passed on to your baby. Another tongue in cheek benefit is, you yourself do that chore of boiling water and later keeping that gold coin/ring safely till the next use! ;) Another precious idea! Use pure silver glass or bowl to store or drink water. Not because you are a queen now! Haha! Just because silver has amazing anti-bacterial properties, which are passed on to the contents it holds. So even after you baby begins eating food, try feeding him/her in a silver bowl with a silver spoon! If you are reading this post on your laptop or desktop, am sure your kid is born with a proverbial silver spoon! So might as well use it! :P
Next important thing is clothing. As difficult as it is, I would like to tell you all that your body will undergo a massive change during these 18-20 months. After all how often in life do you gain nearly 15 kgs and lose them in a span of few months? Almost never! Hence the body will be changing its shape size and also utility. That rocking figure you earned till now, might not be around for a while but always aim and stubbornly do get back there! So girls! Do not throw away your clothes as you increase sizes! Just keep them boxed away! What you shed going up the scales, you shall use while coming down the scales too! So keep salting away all those jeans and fitting shirts, you will wear them again, after 2 years or so…or maybe later but we can always try!  Also instead of going in to buy all maternity clothing or confining yourself to tent like clothes, please keep the style meter upped! Stretch clothing is your best friend, so is your hubby’s closet! Borrow baggy shirts, tee-shirts and shorts and also warm jackets when you need them! It’s fun, romantic and economical too! 

 Also try and avoid pants which leave a mark on your belly or are very snug fitting, no your baby will not have a flattened nose because of that ;P, just that you will have difficulty breathing at times! :) Start buying maternity clothing after month 5 so that you can know if you are comfortable in it, because your maternity jeans will be your best buddy till your baby is nearly 5 months old! That long!! Yes so buy a sturdy pair or two! :) Also another idea you can use is, buying regular clothing but just a size or two over your normal size. For eg. If you wear size M, buy size L or XL, with shirts, tops and jackets it is immensely useful! Don’t buy for the baby yet! We need small doses of retail therapy throughout our term isn’t it girls? ;)
Practice your kegels! (go find out more about them! that is your homework! ha!) Okay! Your pelvic floor will be undergoing massive strain in the days to come, are you prepared? Your vaginal muscles need to be prepared for childbirth, even in case of a planned c-section, the pelvic muscles weaken after delivery. So for all those and more surprises springing on your pelvic floor, go ahead and give them a good exercise! If you are a yoga lover, you know your kegels by the name "Ashwini Mudra" Of course kegels are for you too! Ask your yoga teacher to explain it to you! This is something we can do simply in our free time, while we are sitting around watching TV or even reading a book! Its good to keep your pelvic floor in good shape! it will help you recover rapidly even after delivery! They are your great friends! Keep doing them!
Try and reach out friends and acquaintances those who are pregnant too! Not to discuss the baby’s weight or your last frightful bout of morning sickness! But to share reading material, new thoughts shaping in your mind and also joking about your changing contours! Laughter therapy is often such a good idea during these days! Also restrict your caffeine intake to just one cup per day, or skip it altogether better still replace it with milk! Full milk, with cream that is! Yikes! Is that what you said! Well I am a born milk hater! But let me tell you all, I just told myself this is a medicine prescribed by the doctor for me, so I have to have it! It works better that way! Why full cream? Well all the fat the good fat that goes into the system helps lubricate your system from within, which means lesser stretch marks, better healing and post partum recovery and brainy baby! Good fats are a blessing even for your tiny one’s brain! So gulp on! But do not over do anything, however good it is! Also, always verify facts and consult your doctor about your bodily requirement, it may vary from person to person!
That brings us to the topic of good fats! Consume cheese, clarified butter, and unsalted butter in sensible quantities during your entire term. Just as a well oiled machine would work longer and better, without any squeaks and sounds, your body which is currently manufacturing that lil nut, needs lubrication. Please don’t drink oil or ghee for that! Kidding! Just include small quantities in your meals! Add it to your rice, dals or your breads. That will be perfect! Also as much the body needs lubrication from inside; it needs it from outside as well! As the pregnancy progresses, some of you will have glowing face, long beautiful nails, thick hair and general beautiful feeling! Some might feel teenagers again, with pimples sprouting all over your face!
Well thank your genes in either case! J Also than thinking that stretch marks need to be cared for after delivery, start beforehand! Before they occur! Liberally use mustard oil or almond oil to massage into your entire body at least once a week now and nearly every day by the completion of term! Oil easily penetrates through your skin layers and helps the body stretch relatively easily and halts the damage or tear occurring in your dermis. And be informed that stretch marks appear on your breasts, stomach area and thighs as well. So better prepare in advance to avoid the damage! And after all this effort, when you still do see those reddish lines zigzagging around you, please don’t come berate me! But wear them as your badge of honor! Your mommyhood badge! J After all the bravest soldiers earn the most medals don’t they!
So enjoy this whole time, it’s your ‘golden mean’ time. One trimester behind you and one ahead of you! So work, be creative, laugh a lot and read loads, listen to super soothing music and smile often at your partner, finally it’s your cute secret that’s out! That you really love each other! :P Enjoy this phase!