The weeks that followed were filled with unspeakable joy and wonder accompanied by sleepless nights, massive mood swings and the overwhelming feeling that I had no idea what I was doing and I was failing at all of it.
And breastfeeding. How can a “natural” thing be so damn hard?
I learned a lot from my first child. I did some things differently with the second child. Following, is what I found made the difference.
(I credit a lot of these tips for my success with breastfeeding my son. If nursing is not for you, that is awesome 🙂 It was not for me with my daughter. Be sure to read Megan’s Formula Feed Without the Guilt.)
I realize that this is not under everyone’s control. My mom stayed with me and my family for a week following the birth of both my daughter and son. She took care of everything! Laundry, cooking, shopping, changing diapers, putting up with her hormonal daughter.. the works. Meanwhile, I would cry on the couch from both sleep exhaustion and breastfeeding woes with my first. With my son, I worked, gung-ho, trying to be my normal self even though I was healing from a 6-inch incision in my abdomen. My mom was there, telling me to rest and bringing me my 32-ounce hospital issued cup of ice water to me. If only she could have stayed around longer.
An Educated Partner
Guys have no idea what it’s like for women to be pregnant and give birth. They just don’t. But, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to. When our daughter was born, I remember pacing up and down the hospital halls waiting to be called into triage. I was having painful contractions and back labor. My husband sat in waiting room playing on his phone. He’s not an insensitive person, he just didn’t know how he could help me. The birth of our second child was different due to one very significant thing:
An Amazing Childbirth Preparation Class
The Bradley method is a natural (no drugs) childbirth method that centers on husband-assisted childbirth. Over the course of 8 weeks, we attended classes together and learned about the stages of labor and how he could be a part of the birth process. Even though my natural childbirth plans didn’t work out (breech baby), my hubby helped me relax with massage, he advocated for our baby while in the hospital and knew what to do when first-time breastfeeding troubles arose (call our Bradley instructor who came running :-).
As an added bonus, all the women in my Bradley class were such lovely people that we still keep in touch today. We were each other’s support system during those early months and still continue to lean on each other with toddler woes today. If Bradley isn’t for you, there are many other childbirth classes to choose from.
A Post-Partum Doula
As part of my natural childbirth plans, I also hired a doula to help out during labor. When labor didn’t happen and it went the c-section route, my doula became a post-partum doula. She visited us at home 3 times after the birth of my son to help out with whatever we needed. She help reassure me when my son wasn’t gaining weight as fast as the doctors wanted. She taught me how to breastfeed laying down! Resting while nursing was my lifesaver the second time around.
Nursing Tank Tops
I lived in these for the first post-partum month. Little did I know how much cup size could change as soon as milk comes in. I bought a nursing bra immediately with my first child and a few weeks later, it didn’t fit. For my son, I bought 5 nursing tanks. They made it easy to nurse in and were so comfortable!
Placenta Encapsulation Pills
You can read my entire experience with these at “You did what to your Placenta?” I used these pills after my son’s birth and they kept my moods under control. Any time I felt anxious or jittery, I took a couple of pills and felt normal.
My post partum with my second child was infinitely smoother than my second. I credit that to the items on this list as well as being less fearful the second time around. I knew what to expect. I knew that I wasn’t going to accidentally break my child. I knew that babies are much stronger than us new parents give them credit for.
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