Wednesday, April 18, 2012

the first five months: breastfeeding

“If one but realizes it, with the onset of the first pangs of birth pains, one begins to say farewell to one’s baby.  For no sooner has it entered the world, when others begin to demand their share.  With the child at one’s breast, one keeps the warmth of possession a little longer”.

Princess Grace of Monaco (1929-1982). 

you do what you gotta do...
Nursing on the side of the Dish walking trail
Breastfeeding to off to a bit of a slow start for me.  Our little guy was born with pretty major tongue tie that had to be clipped on THREE separate occasions (in the hospital, by the ENT, and finally by the pediatrician) before breastfeeding was not incredibly painful.   My advice?  See a lactation consultant if you have any pain - I saw Joanna Koch at Palo Alto Medical Foundation three times over the course of a month and she was AMAZING.  Worth the cost many many times over.  It is so nice to have someone to talk who knows what they're doing and will help you problem solve.  I liked seeing Joanna at PAMF better that someone at Day One because our pediatrician was also at PAMF - meaning that Joanna could refer me to other doctors (the ENT for example) and stuff just happened quickly.

So what do I use?
  1. Balboa Baby Nursing cover: I use this everyday.  I got mine as a hand-me-down from a friend and I love love love it. 
  2. Medela Pump in Style:  I pump every night to help me build my stockpile for when I return to work.  I pump so much that when we moved to our new house, we got a separate deep freezer for our garage.  It just has breast milk in it.  No joke.  It is great.   
  3. Pumpin pals: I got these shields for my breast pump.  They are not noticably more comfortable than the ones that came with the pump.  I bought an extra set of pump parts so that I didn't necessarily have to wash them everyday. 
  4. My breast friend: I used it for about the first month.  I haven't really ever used it since.   Nice in the beginning when he was so small!
  5. Dr. Brown's Bottles:  We like these, but don't feel evangelical about them.  I'm sure other brands are nice, these are what we happened to get from friends.
  6. Breast pads:  I liked the Johnson and Johnson ones early on (very absorbent), but have moved to the Lanisoh ones (thinner).  I don't feel strongly about the brand I use. 
  7. Nipple cream:  Medela tender care was my best friend for about the first 8 weeks.  I didn't like the Mother Love (too thin) or Lanisoh (too thick) brands. 
  8. Nursing tank tops: A must.  I really like the Ripe Maternity brand.  They are pricey for sure, but I have worn one everyday for the last 5 months.  In terms of cost per wear, the price is very reasonable!
our little guy sleeping on the breast friend

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The first five months: Sleep

I hesitate to tell you this, but our baby started to sleep through the night around 6 weeks of age.  It was actually the night of my 30th birthday and it was the best gift ever.  Seriously.  He had done it once before, around 4 weeks old on 12/23/11 - it was like an early Christmas gift.  I remember waking up in a panic wondering if he was still alive!  My husband and I were so refreshed from sleep that night we took an early morning walk and I got my toenails painted for the first time since having the baby.  It was heaven.
a baby burrito
So what has helped us along the way with sleep?  
  1. Swaddle blanket: The premade swaddle blankets have been key to our sleep.  We have liked using the fleece (it was winter) Summer Infant Swaddle Me.  We used these premade swaddle blankets until around 4 months of age when we switched to the Halo SleepSack.  My pediatrician recommended making the move away from the swaddle as our little guy got closer to rolling over.  We were able to make the switch without too much of a problem.  We had been worried since he would wake up from time to time in the middle of the night when his arms had come un-swaddled.  Turns out that maybe fighting the swaddle woke him up!  The first night we un-swaddled him he slept just fine. 
  2. Infant swing: A friend lent us the Fisher Price Lamb Swing.  It was the best way to get him to sleep in the early days. We would sleep on the couch next to it. 
  3. Go the F to Sleep: We got this funny book from our friends.  You can SO relate in the early days.  This provides a good laugh.
  4. Pacifiers:  We didn't introduce the pacifier until around 6 weeks.  We tried earlier, but we thought he wouldn't take one.  We had to try several brands, but it turns out he liked the NUK brand.  It has been really key in helping him soothe himself before bed. 
  5. Big aerobics ball: We would sit on this thing in the middle of the night in the early days and bounce him to sleep.
  6. Bassinet: Our stroller (the Uppababy Vista) came with a bassinet.  We got the bassinet stand (which we now use as a laundry hamper) and used this bassinet in our bedroom for the first several months.  Made middle of the night feedings much easier. 
  7. Carters fleece zip-up footed pajamas: The fleece keeps him warm and the zip makes for easy access.  We still use these!  After Christmas Carters had a big sale on these and I bought a few in every size.  The sales lady asked how many children I had... 
  8. A routine: Early on we decided to put together a bedtime routine, even if he was waking up every couple of hours.  It helped mark the start of the night.  We would bathe him, put him in his jammies, give him his vitamin D drops, turn on the sound machine, read books, and then nurse him to sleep.  We still do the same routine today at 5 months (although I try to put him down awake now rather than asleep). 
quality sleep in the lamb swing

the bassinet 

zip up pjs are the best!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The hospital packing list

The time in the hospital is already starting to be a bit of a blur.  I remember being so excited to finally have my little baby boy in my arms.  We had a shared room at Lucile Packard, but were lucky enough to have the entire thing to ourselves.  It was hard to be interrupted constantly day and night for various checks, I now get why people check out early if they can.  It was so nice to get home with our sweet baby boy.  

When I was preparing my hospital bag, I got a list of what to bring from my doctor (see below).  Another friend (and photographer) sent me a link to her list of what to bring.  However, it turned out that I used very little of what I brought (aside from toiletries, car seat, and a going home outfit for me and the baby).  I think if I am so lucky as to do this a second time around, I would do things a little differently.

Hospital prep list from my doctor
Here is my hospital packing list for next time:
  1. A towel for the car:  My water broke when I got out of the car in the hospital parking lot.  I knew my water was starting to break when I left home, so I sat on a towel on the way to the hospital.  
  2. Nipple cream:  I am nursing and in the beginning it was a lot to figure out.  I was very sore and tender.  The hospital offered me olive oil, but that just wasn't protective enough.  I brought my own Lanisoh brand lanolin (a fat derived from sheep's wool that is safe for babies).  However, after trial and error with several brands since - my favorite brand is Medela Tender Care.  Lanisoh is very thick and could be painful to smear on.  The other popular brand (Mother Love) was too thin (too much like the olive oil at the hospital).  Medela was just right. 
  3. Swaddle blanket: While we were in the hospital we just used the cotton flannel receiving blankets that they had.  However, we have since learned that it is MUCH easier to swaddle our baby in one of those premade swaddle blankets with the velcro.  It took us a few days (and some desperation in the middle of the night) to realize that swaddling with regular blankets was just not as effective.  I honestly didn't really realize that I could bring my own swaddle blankets... 
  4. A bed jacket:  Helpful because of all the people coming to visit.  My mom got me mine and it snapped up the front.  Hospital gown was not that comfortable as it was hard to keep over my shoulders.  I was also cold a lot in the hospital.
  5. A sleep bra:  My breasts were so tender and the rough hospital gown rubbing on them was not helpful.  Next time I'm going to wear a sleep bra with either gel Soothies or regular nursing pads with lanolin to protect them from the friction. 
  6. Baby clothes:  The hospital put our baby in this little kimono shirt with a billion strings to tie.  It was inconvenient.  I didn't really realize that we could have changed him into his own clothes at any time!  I will bring my own little SNAP kimono shirts next time.  Easy to unsnap for skin on skin time - but not impossible to put on when he is crying or squirming. 
our little guy just after he was born

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