10 Things I Learned After Having a Baby

Childbirth is a life changing event in every possible way.  Even if you read everything you can get your hands on about childbirth and the weeks following there are many things you just won’t understand until you go through it yourself.  Here are 10 things I learned in the first 2 weeks of life with a newborn.  Hopefully you will be a little more prepared than I was! 

1.  Master the side-lying breastfeeding position.  It makes nighttime feedings so much easier and relaxing.  I also avoid getting on my phone because that just stimulates my brain and makes falling back to sleep more difficult.   

2.  Newman’s Ointment is a lifesaver.  If you have sore or cracked nipples and lanolin isn’t working, ask your doctor to prescribe you Newman’s Ointment.  My nipples were soooooo cracked at the beginning because Jack had a tongue tie when he was born.  (We got it fixed before we even left the hospital.)  When we went for his 2 week appointment nursing was still extremely painful so the doctor prescribed me Newman’s Ointment.  It healed them and relieved all my pain within 2 days.  Seriously, this stuff is the BEST.   

3.  Meet with a lactation consultant as soon as possible.  Even though breastfeeding is natural, it can be tricky to get the hang of at the beginning.  Figuring out how to hold the baby, how to get them to latch, how to calm them down so that the will eat…a lactation consultant can help you with all of this.   We went to all the baby classes beforehand but it’s hard to fully grasp everything when you don’t have a baby yet.  I cried after our first session with the lactation consultant because she helped fix all of the problems, she identified the tongue tie, and she finally got Jack to nurse.

4.  Buy a postpartum girdle.  I knew that I would still have a belly after giving birth, but I didn’t quite grasp just how large it would be.  I seriously looked 7 months pregnant when we left the hospital.  I never even thought about how to help my belly get back to normal until after I had a baby!  I ended up ordering a Bellefit girdle (I wore a medium but a small probably would have been better after the initial swelling went down) to help with recovery and wore it for almost 2 weeks straight.  My C-Section belly went down like crazy and it really help my core muscles remember where they were supposed to go.  It also helped relieve the pain around my incision.  This thing is amazing!

5.  Get moving.  Even though it’s rather uncomfortable, walk as much as you can.  Strolling is good for you and it’s good for the baby to get some fresh air.

6.  Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle.  Baby arms are wild and crazy, and even if they fight swaddling (most) babies will sleep much better with their arms under control.  We used the SwaddleMe wraps when he was a newborn and then moved to the Halo SleepSack swaddle once he outgrew the other ones.  

7.  Bring your baby into the bathroom when you shower.  The sound of the water is soothing to them.  I put Jack in his swing in the bathroom when I shower, and 95% of the time I’m able to get everything done without having to rush.  He just sits there peacefully!

8.  If you leak don’t hesitate to buy disposable nursing pads.  I thought I’d be ok with just the reusable Bamboobies pads, but I was not.  At 4 months postpartum I still leak a good bit, but at the beginning I would wake up at night with my upper body completely soaked.  I even started stuffing washcloths in my bra to soak it all up, but that wasn’t very comfortable.  I finally bought disposable nursing pads after about 3 weeks, and never looked back.  I use the Target brand pads and they work just as well as the Lansinoh pads.

9.  Colace is essential.  Recovering from a C-Section is painful, so the doctors obviously prescribe you pain pills.  These pills can cause constipation, so Colace is absolutely essential to help get things moving.  

10.  Wraps and baby carriers calm down fussy babies.  I have a long post coming up about babywearing, but I wanted to mention it here too because babywearing is the best.  Whenever Jack gets fussy I put him in a wrap and he calms down almost immediately.  It has been the biggest lifesaver and if I could I would buy every new mom a wrap.  Even when he isn’t fussy I’ll wear him when I’m fixing dinner, running errands, and when I have to go to the bathroom on a road trip and I don’t want to go to the trouble of getting out the stroller.  Baby K’Tan, Solly Baby Wraps and the Ergo Baby Carrier are my favorite ways of wearing Jack.  All are comfy and he enjoys them all.   

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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  1. March 2, 2016 / 2:22 pm

    The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League is a great resource for breastfeeding. Some of its views are radical, but its instructional and how to content can't be beat. Best of luck to you and your family!

  2. March 2, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    Agree with everything! This stuff just isn't talked about enough! Except, if you have really really small boobs (i.e. Me…even when breastfeeding) side lying just isn't possible. Saddest thing ever. Sounds heavenly!

  3. March 3, 2016 / 6:06 am

    I absolutely loved this too! I do want to point out that for someone who struggled with a lot of the same things that Katie did (tongue tie, difficulty calming baby to get to a point we could latch) this book was just frustrating. I think the most important thing doe bew to breastfeeding moms to remember is that, while nursing is "natural", if it isn't clicking for you and your babe, getting some help and not giving up are what this book is trying to encourage, though it comes off in a rather bossy way. But I so believe it's well-intentioned. As I look back on 11 months of nursing and how much I wanted to give up on the beginning, I know why the book reads like it does. Because nursing eventually becomes incredible — (I'm looking at you side lying nursing. Heavenly!!) Great post Katie!

  4. March 3, 2016 / 6:06 am

    Don't buy a girdle. They are not good for any of your internal organs. Breastfeed wherever you want to. I did and my youngest is 22. (No stress) I wish I had known more about swaddling though! Mommy On!!! Everyone does their best!

  5. March 3, 2016 / 3:56 pm

    I thought that book was great! Definitely a little radical though, and Wendy, I can see what you mean, especially if nursing is a struggle in the beginning. Thanks for reading my post!

  6. March 3, 2016 / 3:59 pm

    Oh no! That is so sad lol. I have a terrible cold right now and Tom is out of town and Jack wanted to eat twice last night…side lying saved my life! I have really small boobs too even though they got massive at the beginning. They are pretty much normal sized now thank goodness. I felt so weird having big ones! Thankfully the position works for us, but I can see what you mean about it not working if they are really small.

  7. March 3, 2016 / 4:02 pm

    Swaddling is amazing. Keeps those crazy baby arms from waking themselves up! My mom didn't swaddle us either because back then, as you know, babies slept on their tummies. Interesting how things come and go in the mommy world. I have a feeling swaddling is around for good though because it works so well!

  8. March 4, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    Twenty eight years ago a nurse showed me how to swaddle my baby with a baby blanket. It was great. I nursed everywhere, I just always wore a shirt that dropped down on baby and people never knew. The best nursing advise I got from a lactation consultant was tummy to tummy, it is to hard on baby to turn their head and nurse. Side lying nursing was the best. You are doing great, Mommy on. ­čÖé

  9. March 8, 2016 / 6:55 am

    I disagree with Pam about discouraging wearing a girdle. It's not the kind that d list celebrities wear. It's a basic wrap girdle. I had a c section and I got one from the hospital. I didn't wear it much but when I did wear it, it really helped my incision pain – especially when I was standing/walking!

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