Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Real Mom's Guide...Heather's Postpartum Survival Kit!

Hooray for another guest post :) Today I'm featuring Heather Sherman, who wrote a phenomenal post for this series. Enjoy!!

Jasper arrived in the very early morning after a fast and furious labor – just 5 hours!  For all the hubbub of the delivery he was a very relaxed little guy and I was in awe of what we had just done together.  But it wasn’t as simple as all that.  For me, the story of his birth will always be intertwined with the story of his brother’s birth 3 years earlier.  You see my first baby was born by emergency C-section, which made me bound and determined to carry through with my plans to have a VBAC home birth.  I’m very happy to report that Jasper’s birth was a great success! I could go on and on about how to prepare for VBAC, or home birth for that matter, but today I have the happy task of telling you what is most needed after you’re holding that sweet baby in your arms.

Afterbirth Sitz Bath: My vote goes to Wish Garden’s Herbal Sitz Bath.  I didn’t find it practical to get into a tub or actually soak my lady bits in a basin.  I went a little more user friendly.  Just boil some water and steep it like a tea.  I dipped prefold cloth diapers into the infused water after it cooled down a bit and applied as a compress every couple of hours.  
Prefold Cloth Diapers:  I used these for everything from my sitz bath compresses, to wrapping around frozen peas for a cold compress, to a burp cloth, to actually diapering my baby.  Honestly.  They are possibly the single most useful baby item I have ever owned.  You can get all kinds of fancy ones – hemp, organic cotton, etc.  But they are going to get messy if you’re going multi-purpose.  And in that case you can simply go Gerber.
Powdered Goldenseal: I got mine from a local health food store, but you can order it from places like Bulk Apothecary.  Truth be told you don’t need a bulk amount.  Just an ounce or so should do it.  When, or if,baby’s belly button gets a bit wet while it’s healing it may start to smell funky.  Take a Q-tip and apply a tiny amount of powdered goldenseal around the area that is wet where the cord is healing.  Its much gentler than using rubbing alcohol and goldenseal has natural antiseptic properties.  I had never heard of this before getting it for my kit and I was very happy to have it.  We cloth diapered from the beginning with Jasper and it can be more challenging to keep the belly button dry.
OxiClean: I’m guessing I don’t need to elaborate here….  As you know birth can get messy.  While my midwife and doula did a fine job of clearing up all evidence of birth after the delivery they weren’t looking after my dirty laundry.  OxiClean saved the cloth diapers and a few other items from permanent ruin.
Mama Cloth: I did use the super serious disposable maternity sanitary pads for the first day or two after delivery.  But after that I discovered and was happy with the Lunapads Postpartum Kit.  I actually liked it better than using the disposable pads because it was softer on my sore bits (I was so impatient… erexcited… to meet Jasper that I wouldn’t cooperate and hold his head at crowning long enough to avoid a tear… my bad).  And hey, while we’re getting crazy the MAIA Organic Brief Lunapanties are pretty AH-mazing as well.  They were comfy and allowed me to insert a liner right into the panty.  Best part about all of these products is that I still use them today when my period comes around.  So, I’ve actually saved money in the long run.
Easy, Healthy Foods: I was very lucky to have a generous midwife who brought me eggs straight from her own chickens.  They were seriously the best eggs ever and easy for hubby to prepare.  I also had a week of hot dinners brought in by friends in the community, which was such a blessing!  But, I could have used more “convenience” food that was healthy for me.  We’ve had a health overhaul in our house this last year and looking back I wish I would have had green drinks (made with spinach, coconut water, and frozen fruits like pineapple or mango) and Shakeologysmoothies on hand to keep me nourished and hydrated while adjusting to the new demands of “mother of two.”

Those are the highlights.  There are a few odds and endsthat aren’t as exciting, but shouldn’t be ignored:
A Water Proof Barrier & An Extra Set of Sheets:  In case your water breaks or in the event that you deliver in your bed you’ll want to have a water proof barrier such as a shower curtain or a mattress cover underneath your bottom sheet ahead of time.  Jasper came 12 days early, so, yeah… be ready.  And if you really want to impress your friends you should put a second bottom sheet beneath the water proof barrier so that after the baby is born you can strip the bed down to a clean sheet without the trouble of having to remake it.  That is possibly my all time favorite home birth tip!
A Clean Bowl: If you’re planning a home birth you’ll want to have a clean bowl in which the midwife can place the placenta in order to examine it and be sure it remained intact during the delivery (if part of the placenta remains in the mother, she could end up with an infection).  If you’re going save your placenta for hormone therapy you may want something resealableso you can store it until a professional comes to do placenta encapsulation.  I’m thinking you don’t want to use your spaghetti bowl.  Just sayin’.
Your Pain Killer of Choice:  I did not know about, expect, or prepare in any way for after pains.  These pains are caused by the contraction of your uterus during nursing.  Essential for reducing that baby belly and getting things back to normal, but apparently quite painful for some women.  After 2 days I couldn’t bare it anymore and the arrival of Tylenol helped me relax and enjoy early nursing a bit more.  Rest assured these pains only last a few days!
A Nest: You may not be able to go up and down the stairs in your home for a few days.  So, decide ahead of time where you’ll make your nest, put aside a few warm blankets, make sure you’re on the same floor as a bathroom, and prepare to hunker down blissfully after the birth.  If you have other kids this is a great opportunity to include them in welcoming your new baby.  My family of four cuddled together in our nest at night for the first two nights.  We had a giant sleepover on air mattresses and couches on our first floor and our then 3 year old loved it!  We got this idea from an awesome childrens’ book that our midwife lent us called Welcome With Love.

Heather Sherman is a busy mom of two wildly adorablelittle boys, Navy spouse, health and fitness coach, holistic mama, lactivist, aspiring yogi, lifetime learner, bookworm, and awkward dancer.  She loves going on new adventures with her boys and supporting other women around birth, lactation, and fitness.  

Connect with Heather:
Instagram: @heathershermanfitness

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