1.) I will start off with an easy one. Sometime before the baby comes I highly recommend going through your closet (yes, the clothes you haven't worn in six months or longer because you are expecting) and taking everything that is dry clean only or hand wash only and hiding it. Say goodbye to these items for now. I didn't do this and as we speak I have a pile of things that need to be hand washed and a pile of things I dropped off at the dry cleaners (expensive!). This was especially a problem with sweaters. This many seem silly but trust me...when Junior gets here you are tired and running out the door and you grab a sweater or pair of pants and BAM. Spit up or some other special gift from your lovely. And the LAST things you want to be doing with an infant to take care of is hand washing laundry or making an expensive trip to the dry cleaners. (Live and learn for me...I hope this post can spare someone else the trouble.)
Related: My husband is not allowed to hold the baby when he comes home from work until he puts on a sweatshirt or something machine washable. This sounds harsh and right now you may be thinking...this girl is crazy is all her advice going to be so neurotic...but trust me...it takes less than a second to ruin a tie, blazer, dress shirt, or sweater. Do this especially if you are the one who does his laundry. Again...NO time for special care clothing!!
2.) Get the purple stuff!! Lansinoh brand lanolin and breast pads that is. This is very important! I saw a huge difference in the first few weeks of nursing when I threw out the hospital brand lanolin and got Lansinoh (the only brand recommended by La Leche League ). Get a tube before you deliver and bring it to the hospital. Their disposable breast pads DO NOT leak. I have put them to the test and spent hours wearing them out in public and they work wonderfully! I wear re-usable ones when I am home and wearing sweats but out in public do not mess around. All it takes is one day when you leak through your clothing and you will see what I am talking about. I live by the purple brand!
3.) Talk, talk, talk. Before you deliver find a few women you love and respect. Find some time and ask them to tell you about their delivery and recovery. There are lots of versions of any birth story from the 30 second to the hour long. I am talking about the latter... the glass-of-wine we're-here-all-night version. Ignore anyone who says stuff like "it will just come naturally...you'll know what to do" this is true to some extent. However, in our culture most women have never seen a woman in labor let alone a delivery before they go through it themselves. If we lived in another time and another place we may have attended countless births before we ourselves embarked on this experience. Since this is not how our culture works right now TALKING to those women you love and trust is the next best thing. Ask them not to leave anything out. Ask them specific questions. Realizing that all births are different and that your story will be nothing like theirs. Here's the thing, something they say will stick to your bones and help you through. I promise! You (mostly likely) will not be in a room surrounded by the experienced women you love and trust. The next best thing is to have them in your head.
PS- If you feel really comfortable...it was fun to have the husbands at some of these talks. Listening to how two different people saw and remember the same event gives you such a full picture of what it was like.
4.) Read, read, read. Related to #3. I don't suggest reading everything you can get your hands on. I suggest finding one or two books you really love and read them more than once. For us it was Dr. Sears The Birth Book. My husband and I both read it and I read it twice. We also really liked a book we had on the Bradley method. Remember those old commercials about "Knowledge is Power" or "The More That You Know". Do not avoid learning about birth because "you can't control it anyway" or some such nonsense. Guess what you can control? Fear. Fear will make your pain and experience so. much. worse. You can control your fear and you can control how to react and work with the pain of labor. Ok, soap box away...just do some good reading, ok?
5.) Read this blog post about not putting pressure on yourself to love every moment. I found it very helpful. The truth is there are hard moments, hard days, hard weeks even...and you need to be ok with that. Just love the little moments inside of each day and hold onto those.
6.) Read this blog post which is a letter to moms with only one child. This article helped me a lot and it should be required reading (in my opinion) for all new moms.
I will say about numbers 5 and 6 that it is funny how blogs, facebook, and the internet in general has been a blessing to me in the last few months. I can find almost any information I need on any question in a matter of moments. I belong to a mom's group on facebook where I can post a question and get a myriad of responses in a matter of minutes from moms I don't even know. Other people's blogs and having my own blog has helped to cheer and counsel me when I have been blue. All this is good and I am thankful for it. However, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Charles Dickens:
"Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true."
I think this is so true.
So, while I appreciate all the technology and all that it allows us to do,
I hope dear-new-mom-reader you have a few people in your life whose faces you can see regularly who with their soul will mean more to you than any blog post, baby product, or published book.
Because to be a good momma you will need to be brave and you will need to be true.
And I guess that is my number 7.)
Submitted for your consideration, with love.