This blog contains some graphic details of motherhood and breastfeeding so if you're underage, or uncomfortable with this content, please stop reading now. The audience for this article is PG-18 and those with the stomach to read the gory details of sometimes messy and painful process of new parenting.
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So you've just had a baby (or about to). Let me first begin to tell you that it's an overwhelming time and sometimes you may feel like everyone has 'nuskhey' and tips to give you but no one is really helping. I would say take what's best for you but if the advice makes you uncomfortable don't do it. For example, many moms and grandmothers told me using an Indian style toilet would help me deliver a normal baby. I couldn't so I didn't and I still had a normal delivery. So do what works for you.
This blog post needs to be filled with disclaimers too: I am a mom with one one child. I had a tough pregnancy, a blessed delivery and a challenging many months after that. I had only good advice which came my way (apart from some aunty who put pressure on me about being too fat, hours after I delivered, ugh). Most new mothers go through a phase of confusion and anxiety and its perfectly normal to feel like you're not in control of things.
Two pieces of advice You should hold on to
One: A wise doctor told us the morning after our daughter was born, she said "Everyday will be different, don't get too unhappy with the bad days and don't get too happy with the good days"
What a line! But it's held true even till this day. I do my best to apply it in all I do… but mostly in parenting. (wink wink).
Two: As I discovered, there is a supernatural power that is instilled (activated) in a woman when she becomes a mom (I believe God gives it) and even if it takes time to hear it or recognise it, eventually this superpower is called 'your maternal instinct' just know that in most cases it will aways be right. Listen, Read, Learn all your can to the advice of elders, friends, nogooders and dogooders and THEN, choose what's best for you and your child. Because in the end its just you and your baby whom you need to protect.
One big part of the journey of being a parent is having all the essentials around before you have the baby. These items saved my life and made my experience with being a new mom easier. I give this advice to every pregnant woman I meet. Sometimes making them very uncomfortable, but later they all have thanked me for guiding them. Hope it helps you but remember —
Listen, Read, Learn all your can to the advice of elders, friends, nogooders, and dogooders and THEN, choose what's best for you and your child.
So whether you're delivering normal or having a c-setion. The hope is always to breastfeed. It's good for the baby, good for your health too. Many good doctors tell you to massage your breasts weeks before the baby is supposed to arrive, to activate the glands. If they haven't, you should start before you deliver.
Truth be told, its really tough to breastfeed. So men, if you're reading this, get your wife a silicon nipple protector. It's available only in mom type stores (not medical shops) so order yours before she delivers. It literally saved my life. PLEASE NOTE: This isn't to use while feeding though, its to use to heal. Getting into details may seem irksome for some, so skip to the next section if this makes you uncomfortable.
Silicon nipples aren't good for the baby because the woman's nipple is natural. So I am NOT telling you to use the silicon nipples as a barrier between you and baby while feeding. That may be more restrictive than helpful. But what happens at least initially (for a few months for some) many babies take their own time to grab on comfortably to the nipple, so it's a real struggle #thisstruggleisreal
Given the baby is hungry it goes on attack mode and sometimes wounds that area (hurts like crazy!) Now the beauty and the miracle of being a mom, breast milk has healing properties (believe me i had a cut, put it on and it healed expectedly). So what happens then when your baby has ravaged your breast (sometimes both) its best to air it out or in my case what helped was to fit the silicon nipple on top of the nipple since women leak a lot when they are feeding, so the milk which collect into the nipple protecter heals the wounds around just in time for round two or 18th depending on cluster feeding. This also keeps the nipple around moist and doesn't let it crack (which is more painful while feeding).
Now I wasn't privileged with this information before I had a baby, but when you sleep in the night, your breasts gorge (they feel like they are going to burst because there's too much milk) to help with that, a breast pump may be handy. There are manual ones and electric ones, I would say invest in electric because you will definitely not have the energy to use your hands to pump the milk out of your breasts.
An Electric breastpump gives you the freedom to do other activities while you're pumping. I didn't use these but a lot my friends thought it was handy for them (it also helps share the responsibility of feeding between husband and wife) with a breast Pump and good investment are breast milk storage Bags I bought these but didn't really understand the science of keeping and thawing breast milk. But if you have that figured out, then these are really helpful to have. I know women put dates on the packets and it really helps when women are working, unable to feed or unwell and someone else needs to feed the baby.
Feeding bra's are important, especially when you live with others in the house, or if you travel. A feeding bra makes things very comfortable. A couple of night gowns and a set of clothes (dress, casual outfit, semi formal outfit) which help making breast feeding more comfortable won't hurt. Another thing make sure you get a lot of pads/panty liners, because every time you laugh or sneeze or move — especially for normal deliveries you have major urine incontinence.
Swaddling Cloth is very helpful because (in my experience) babies sleep really comfortably when they are swaddled. There are many youtube videos which we watched to get the swaddling right. Recently I some fancy new invention called the Swaddling Pod which I didn't have but it seems cool since swaddling is super important for peaceful nights for you and your baby. On cold nights we would use a sleeping bag (Mother Care) which would secure our baby (since generally babies kick their blankets off)
Feeding Pillow: help a lot with supporting the baby and your hands. it gets very tiring holding the baby sometimes, this helped me a lot.
Washable Cloth Nappies: Now all kids sleep and wake up at different times, but I tried this method and it helped me, maybe it would help you. So during the day I used cloth nappies either the Velcro Ones (these were a dream and no safety pin needed), the string ones which I found challenging because babies pull strings or the Muslin Nappies which were so easy to wash (they are good but be patient with yourself while using them Safety Pins (for baby diapers)
For the nights then, to ensure my baby slept in peace, I didn't use cloth and used Pampers New Born (the others gave her a rash, but you see which brand suits you). My theory was that at night time the baby needs to sleep so i would keep her dry for the hours of the night and then air her out during the day. This helps keep things more stable for my rest, but all babies and their timings are different.
Here are a few items we bought, which are necessary but it made our life easier
To carry our daughter in the car from the hospital and have a space for her to sleep when she couldn't turn we used a Moses Basket many people don't even get a cradle, but after the nursery rhyme rock-a-by-baby I was a bit afraid of cradles ("down will come baby cradle and all") . Baby Nail Cutters (their nails are super long and they tend to scratch themselves): Non Contact Thermometer *baby's are fussy when they are sick so even electric and ear thermometers are challenging. I saw a doctor use this, so I would recommend investing in this, this is a blessing.
Cute Buying (or Gifts) Options:
Hopscotch Simply Baby Boys Cotton Geometric Text Print Vest in Yellow Color
Hope this list has helped you kick start your journey to being a parent. Remember to be kind to yourself, no one gets it perfect and its so important to have a great support system. I had my family and a few friends who support and encouraged me through my journey as a mom. Incase you are feeling overwhelmed don't be afraid to speak up. If you have no one to speak to you are welcome to email me on email@example.com I'll do my best to cheer you up, not give you advice (which as you'll discover at every stage, you'll get plenty off). Take care!