21 Tips on Surviving a C-Section Delivery

Having a c-section is no joke! In this blog post we talk about the top 21 tips for surviving a c-section delivery!

Advertisements

Whether you had a planned, unplanned or emergency c-section, delivering your sweet baby this way is no joke! (If you haven’t read Jameson’s birth story, read it here!)

They essentially cut you in half in order to pull your baby out, but many people don’t see having a c-section as a major surgery so many mamas out there are forced to recover and take care of their sweet baby with little to no help in those first couple weeks.

Or, if you’re anything like me, you try to do it all yourself and delay your recovery even more.

So please, learn from my mistakes.

Here are 21 things that I learned throughout this process that everyone needs to read before they are wheeled back to the operating room (or even after!).

Recovery

It’s major surgerySo many people forget that having a c-section is in fact considered major surgery and you need to treat yourself as someone who needs recovery time and rest. Don’t try to be wonder woman and do it all, trust me, you’ll set your recovery time back and it will be super frustrating!

Keep your incision dryAfter showers I would lay down and let my incision air dry. I truly believe that because of this my incision healed very quickly. Added bonus: you get a little extra ‘me time’ there!

Move, but move slowlyAfter my c-section with Jameson, they had me up and walking within 24 hours. It was rough at first. My legs were wabbly and I had to lean on both nurses helping me up. But let me tell you sister, those 3:00am slow walks down the hallway with my husband and new baby were some of the most relaxing moments in the hospital. The postpartum halls were void of visitors, you heard mamas and their new babies in each room, the lights were dimmed so as to not disturb new little families. I loved it, and I highly encourage you to take advantage of that time together!

Drink water – get your insides movingAfter moving to the postpartum room they encourage you to drink a lot of water and check your catheter bag to make sure that you body is passing urine as it should. I was constantly getting in trouble for not drinking enough water, and I truly believe that played a part in me getting mastitis twice within the first month of Jameson being born. Water is absolutely essential in not only the healing process, but the milk making process as well. So if you’re not replenishing that water, you’re going to have problems.

Your first poop hurts – I was released from the hospital four days after I gave birth. That morning I pooped for the first time since before I was induced and goodness gracious…it felt like I was in labor all over again. So take my advice, and if they offer you a stool softener, take it! This might be TMI, but I wish a sister would have told me about this part of the postpartum experience! You’re welcome.

No heavy lifting or driving – What your doctor tells you may be different (please listen to them, they know what is best!), but I was not allowed to pick up anything that was heavier than my baby (I couldn’t carry him in the car seat) for two weeks and I couldn’t drive for two weeks. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of nice being driven around for two weeks, but it was really hard to remember not to pick up anything too heavy. Just stay aware of what you’re doing because you don’t want to hurt your healing body.

Hurts to laugh, sneeze or cough – Roughly 24 hours after my c-section, as my husband and was trying to change Jameson, he made a comment (I can’t remember what it was) that I thought was absolutely hilarious but I wanted to punch him at the same time…NO ONE told me that it was going to hurt to laugh. Yes, I should have expected it, but oh my goodness. Then I sneezed for the first time about a week later and about fell off the couch in pain. A tip my mom gave me was to put a pill on my lap and squeeze it when I have to laugh, sneeze or cough. So take her advice, it really works!

Tips/Tricks

Set alarms – meds/feeding/water – I had the hardest time remember when the last feed, diaper change or pumping session was. I even forgot to drink water for almost a day (which I believe wasl part of the reason why I got mastitis the first time). The apps to track everything were decent, but it was a pain trying to go from one tab to the other, from one app to the other, and then in most I wasn’t able to set multiple alarms (I have a problem with hitting snooze or off and not realizing it…) That’s when I created this for myself, set a couple alarms on my phone and was good to go from there on out! Two of the biggest reasons I loved the binder was because: 1. It was a visual reminder to log feedings, diapers, ect. And 2. If my mom took over while I napped or my mother law came to help while I went to the store, I didn’t have to remember to write anything down for them or teach them how to use an app, I literally just walked out the door or whent to bed and everything was in the binder for them. One less thing to worry about!

All the mesh panties – When I found out that I was pregnant for the first time, everyone told me that the mesh panties were amazing and I didn’t realize just how amazing they were talking. After I miscarried and had to have a D&C, those mesh panties were a life-saver, but after a c-section, they were the best thing that God had ever had mankind create! I unfortunately didn’t think about stashing them and asking for more until the day before I was discharged so I didn’t have as many as I would have wanted when I went home. However, I just recently found out you can order them online…I know what I’m putting on my baby registry next time! Ha!

Loose clothes – When I was packing for our hospital stay, I thought that the pants that were a little snug on me 9 months pregnant would be perfect to come home from the hospital in. Girl….those dang pants were STILL tight on me! You are so swollen after a c-section and are still retaining water, so I highly recommend that whatever fits you when you’re 9 months pregnant, wear that home. You’ll thank me later!

Essential baskets – When you get home from the hospital after a c-section, chances are you are going to do something similar to what I did. I walked in, found the couch, and ploped my butt down, not moving for the next several hours. During which time I know that my family that came to help (especially my poor husband) was especially tired of my crap after I asked for something for the 10th item in the last thirty minutes. So do yourself (and your family) a favor, and create essential baskets for yourself to put next to the couch and your bed that will be in arms reach for you. Put essential items that you’re going to need: water, snacks, chapstick, lotion, the remote…anything that you could possibly need within arms reach to make your life (and your family’s lives) easier.

Pads – Buy. All. The. Pads. Period. Also, continue to keep plenty on hand after you stop your postpartum bleeding, because you never know when that first period is going to hit you something serious! (I got my first period 5 months postpartum)

Support pillow – There should really be an s on the word “pillow” because you are going to need ALL THE PILLOWS! It took so many different pillows, blankets and positions to find a way to sleep that was actually comfortable and didn’t stretch out my incision. One way that really helped me was laying recliented with a huge pillow under my knees to keep my incision from stretching out too much. Or on my side in the fetal position with a pillow behind my back for support was super comfortable for me once I transitioned into the bed (I slept on the couch for the first week home because the bed was way too high for me to get in and out of constantly), also, my husband is an EMT and he had to wake up super early so I didn’t want to disrupt his already minimal sleep schedule. I know, I know, I’m a saint. 😉

Track Everything – You’re going to forget the last time you showered, the last time you peed and even the last time you ate something…so how are you supposed to remember to track everything from diaper changes to feedings for your little one? I was told to get this app and that app, but to be completely honestly I could hardly find my phone half the time and was constantly forgetting to open up the app and track everything or sometimes my phone was just completely dead. That’s when I created the printable baby planner for myself because I needed a tangible reminder on the coffee table to remember everything and let me tell you, I tracked everything! And I’m so glad I did so I didn’t feel like an incompetent mom when we went to the doctor and I was so exhausted I could hardly remember my son’s birthday! The one thing I love about the binder I created was that I simply handed it to my doctor and she did all the work! (And was quite impressed I might ad!)

Self-Care

Take a shower as soon as you can – One huge mistake I made while in the hospital was thinking that I couldn’t shower until I got home. I guess the complete exhaustion I was in from the meds, just giving birth and our struggle with breastfeeding simply got the best of me on this one. But please, do yourself a favor and as soon as the doctor clears you, shower! You may need help and support, but you will feel like a new woman!

Sleep as much as you can – I know for a lot of women they are tired of hearing “sleep when the baby sleeps”, but I tell you, get a good support system in place so in those first couple weeks you can! Yes you are going to be sleep deprived, yes you are going to question when the last time you showered was, but if in those first couple weeks you take advantage of everyone that wants to help and get some rest, you’ll feel so much better and be able to care for you little more! You also need to remember that your body is still healing and taking time to sleep will help this go a lot smoother!

Take time for yourself – I don’t know about you, but when I had my first baby, Jameson, I felt so guilty for even taking the time away from him to shower! Mommy guilt and mommy shame for taking care of ourselves is so ingrained in our society and to be honest I’m so sick of it. Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup”? Well, the same rings true for motherhood. You can’t reach your full potential as a mother if you don’t take time to rest and re-fill yourself – even if that means a quick 10 minute lukewarm shower. Enjoy those 10 minutes mama, you deserve them and so much more!

Talk it out – In those first couple months after your sweet baby is born, your emotions are going to be all over the place. You are going to question everything and that’s okay! Did you hear me? I said that’s okay! Just make sure that when you’re feeling down or upset about something you don’t bottle it up. Find someone that you can talk to (friend, doctor, therapist, family member) so that you don’t end up like I did at one point, feeling secluded, unappreciated and unloved.

It’s okay to grieve – Some women grieve for different reasons after childbirth: they wish they were still pregnant, they hate themselves for having to have a c-section, they got those pain meds when they wanted an unmedicated birth. Whatever the reason is, it’s okay to grieve but don’t let yourself dwell on it. (See the tip above about talking to someone.) I grieved a lot after everyone went back to work and it was just me and my son at home during the day. I was left to think and all I could think about was how much my body failed me because I had to have a c-section. I fell into the trap of believing that having a c-section isn’t really giving birth and it was a hard pit to crawl out of (this is something I still work on daily).

Which leads me to…

C-Sections are births – C-SECTIONS. ARE. BIRTHS. PERIOD. To be honest, I think you’re a bit more of a bad*ss if you got cut in half to bring your child into this world. Yes, you might not have had to push your baby out, but you went through MAJOR surgery and just a couple days later are released from the hospital to care for this tiny infant…you’re a bad*ss in my book. Just saying.

Photos – My absolute biggest regret was not allowing the professional infant photographer at the hospital to take pictures of Jameson and I. I hadn’t showered in a couple days, I was in pain, I was hot, I was tired and I looked like an absolute train wreck! All I could think about were those women that looked nearly perfect after giving birth and I didn’t match up to them. So, if you’re about to give birth or recently did, don’t shy away from the camera. You’re not going to care if your hair and make-up was perfect or not, you’re going to want to document those early memories to cherish forever (because trust me, the lack of sleep causes a bit of a haze to cloud your memory – I think that’s God’s way to tricking us into having more kids 😉 )

Jameson and I in the hospital when he was a day old.

Well, there you have it mama. The 21 things I learned (the hard way) through my c-section. What are the lessons you learned?

Leave your comments below, or head over to our Instagram @babies.and.bibles and let me know! DM, tagging, last photo comment, doesn’t matter. I want to hear from you, mama friend!

DISCLAIMER: Please use this blog post as a guideline. Please follow the rules and advice set forth by your own doctor or medical professional.

3 Lessons I Learned as a Rainbow Baby Mom

As I sit here and watch Jameson’s little chest gently rise and fall with each breath, I am brought back to a time when I never thought I would be pregnant, let alone be able to carry a sweet baby to term.

As I sit here and watch Jameson’s little chest gently rise and fall with each breath, I am brought back to a time when I never thought I would be pregnant, let alone be able to carry a sweet baby to term. (And then there is the anxiety of a successful delivery…that’s a whole other story though – one where a strong cocktail is definitely needed!)

 

Since becoming a rainbow baby mom, there are a few lessons I have learned, lessons that I want to pass along to you lovely ladies.

 

  1. Embrace the 2:00am blowouts

 

Sweet mama, I know you’re tired.

 

Trust me, if I could sleep 12 hours a night a would!

 

And once I began healing from my c-section and caring for Jameson by myself at night (Dustin is an EMT and often had to leave at 2 am for his shift at the station), I began finding myself getting frustrated with Jameson.

 

This sweet little bundle of joy that just had his second blowout of the night (or morning, depending on how you spin it) and was screaming at the top of his tiny lungs…I just looked at him and wished he would sleep through the night.

 

I longed for the warm and comfort of our king sized bed.

 

Of my boobs not hurting and aching to be pumped or nursed every 3 hours.

 

Then it hit me…as I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the poop out of the carpet…again…

 

That after each of my miscarriages I didn’t sleep either.

 

The only difference?

 

It was me crying and not our little miracle in my arms.

 

Yes, the 2:00am blowouts and hunger cries (or cries just because they need their mama) are not the most joyous of occasions, but it’s a heck of a lot better than crying for a sweet baby that left this earth too soon.

 

So pick yourself up off the floor you wonder woman you.

 

You have SO MUCH more in you.

 

You have endured SO MUCH more than this.

 

  1. Don’t let crazy people hold your baby.

 

Okay, so my mother-in-law is not THAT crazy. Nor my mom, my best friend or my husband’s grandparents.

 

But after the sweet nurses rolled Jameson and I into the postpartum room, I thought that everyone that wanted to hold him was a bit on the nutty side.

 

I had just gone through hell and back to not only get and stay pregnant, but labor and delivery was no walk in the park either. And now that I finally had my sweet, healthy prize in my arms, they wanted to HOLD him?

 

Negative ghost rider.

 

Okay, okay…so I wasn’t THAT mean about it. But I definitely made sure that Dustin and I had our own time with Jameson first before anyone was allowed back to hold him.

 

This was one reason why I was thankful I ended up needing a c-section, because we got that sweet hour in the recovery room before the flocks arrived.

 

It was such a sweet time of skin to skin with Jameson and seeing my glowing husband support and love on us both.

 

We were finally a family of three.

 

After this time together we did eventually let others back to see Jameson, but I don’t regret the decision to have people wait to see him one bit. Those first couple hours with your sweet baby should be for you and your husband to bond with your little one.

 

Others can wait just a couple hours.

 

Seeing everyone love on your baby will still be a sweet moment in a little while.

 

  1. The mom guilt is strong – but you’re stronger

 

Every mom experiences mom guilt, it’s inevitable unfortunately. But the mom guilt that comes after finally having your precious rainbow baby is a breed all its own.

 

In Jameson’s first couple weeks of life, I had mastitis not only once, but twice.

 

I could barely walk and take care of myself, let alone a ten day old baby.

 

I felt so awful that I couldn’t take care of my own son that I had tried so hard to have.

But I had to shake that off.

 

My amazing mother kept reminding me that in order to be the best mom for Jameson possible, I needed to first take care of myself.

 

This was the best possible advice that I ever could have gotten.

 

That and she made me sleep for 10 hours straight while recovery from Mastitis…girl I woke up a new woman!

 

Now, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a rainbow baby or not, everyone experiences mom guilt.

 

But news flash, you not wonder woman!

 

Take care of yourself first so you can be the best mom possible for your baby. And most importantly, stop comparing yourself to others! You’re little one was handpicked just for you, no one could be a better mama to them than you.

 

You best believe it!

 

So, to recap:

 

  1. Embrace the 2:00am blow outs
  2. Don’t let crazy people hold your baby
  3. The mom guilt is strong – but you’re stronger

 

I would love to hear what other lessons you have learned as a Rainbow Baby Mom. Drop your replies in the comments below!

 

And don’t forget to join our newsletter for freebies and insider content weekly!

 

Stay strong sweet mama,

 

XOXO

Ashlee

Jameson’s Birth Story

While Jameson’s birth was not a dramatic experience, it did not quite go as planned. 

The week before I gave birth, I went in for a routine doctor’s appointment to check on mine and Jameson’s progress. I was 38 weeks pregnant and so ready to have him already! My anxiety was through the roof after reading birth stories that went wrong (I HIGHLY recommend not doing this) and I just wanted Jameson here, so I knew he was safe.

Anyway, I told the doctor that I was having shortness of breath randomly throughout the day. It didn’t matter if I was laying down or standing up, it came on randomly and would eventually subside after a few minutes.

What I thought was just normal for a massively pregnant lady, my doctor thought could potentially be a red flag. She said that it was common for pregnant women to develop pulmonary embolisms and she wanted to rule this out as quickly as possible.

After calling over to the internal medicine department, they told her they wouldn’t do the test I needed on pregnant women – she did not like this answer.

So, she sent me down to the urgent care department, so I could get all the tests I needed done in one spot and told me she would be calling down to let them know I was on the way.

After hobbling my way down to the first floor and quickly taken to the triage room, I was informed that the urgent care doesn’t see pregnant women past 24 weeks and didn’t know why the OB sent me down there.

Just then, roughly 7 different doctors, nurses and techs rushed in and out of my room doing tests and trying figuring out what on earth they were going to do with me.

It was then decided that they were going to call 911 and have me transported to the hospital.

As the urgent care doctor was in contact with my OB, the hospital ER doctor and the labor and delivery department, there was again a whirl wind of people in and out of my room as the EMTs showed up to take me to the hospital.

I must take a moment here to say the EMTs were great!

They did an amazing job keeping my mind off the fact that I was on the way to the hospital and didn’t know whether or not I had a Pulmonary Embolism, and if I did what that meant for not only myself but the sweet little boy growing inside me.

I had a calmness in my spirit though.

I truly feel like the Lord calmed me down and reassured me that everything was going to be okay. If you know me, you know that normally my anxiety would have thrown me into a panic attack; however, I was calm.

I truly think that both the Lord and those fabulous EMTs are to thank for that.

Back to the story…

Once I got to the hospital, again there were about 7 or 8 different doctors, nurses and techs in and out of my room. All from either the emergency room or the labor and delivery department.

I had never seen anything like it.

But it made sense.

I was 38 weeks pregnant and I was having trouble breathing and they didn’t know why.

It was a scary situation.

After test after test, everything came back negative, but I was still having those bouts of shortness of breath.

The only test that would 100% rule out a pulmonary embolism was a CT scan, but that also posed certain risks to the sweet unborn baby within me.

After a moment of prayer and talking with my husband and the radiology tech (I wish I could remember his name, he was amazing!), I decided the benefits of a CT scan far outweighed the risks since Jameson was fully developed.

So, I had the test done.

Funny little side story: During the CT scan they placed one of the magnetic blankets over my belly…and boy did Jameson NOT like that! Everyone always questioned how hard and how much he really kicked me…but let me tell you, that heavy magnetic blanket came a good 4 or more inches off my belly! He was NOT a happy camper during the CT!

After the CT, it took awhile for the results to come back.

It showed absolutely nothing.

What I was experiencing was completely normal for a 38 week pregnant woman and I can not adequately express to you the relief I felt in that moment.

As Dustin and I drove home we joked that Jameson was nice an comfy in there and I probably wouldn’t have him until I was 41 weeks – when my doctor agreed to induce me.

Little did we know, just a week later Jameson was going to be in our arms.

Starting the following Saturday night, and all through that Sunday, I was feeling light headed and flushed.

I didn’t think anything of it at first, just thought it was another pregnancy symptom and tried to drink enough water and rest as much as possible.

Then it dawned on me…maybe it was my blood pressure?

I pulled our the blood pressure cuff my husband had in his work bag (he’s an EMT as well) and it was a bit on the high side.

I had just been up walking around, so I laid down for about an hour and took it again.

Still high.

So, I woke Dustin up and he told me because it wasn’t extremely high, I should just call the labor and delivery line and see what they recommended.

After being on the phone with the nurse for about five minutes describing my symptoms and answering all her questions, she told me to head on up to the hospital and she would alert the labor and delivery department of my arrival.

Ironically, I had emailed my boss around 9:00 that night that I would be in the office the next morning, and the next thing I knew was on my way to the hospital just two hours later.

Funny how things work out, huh?

I checked in at 12:00 on the dot, got hooked up to all the monitors in the triage room, and not five minutes later the high-risk OB doctor was walking into my room telling me that I was going to be induced.

I was in shock.

I was terrified.

I was not as prepared as I thought I was.

Yet I was so excited that this was finally happening!

Then…they tried to put in my IV.

I was so swollen from the high blood pressure that it took an hour and a half and 4 different people to get that stupid thing in my arm!

My left arm was every color under the sun from all the digging around they did.

Finally, the charge nurse was able to get it in my wrist, right where I told them was the best spot. *eye roll*

Anyway, they got the Pitocin going and I started feeling contractions about an hour later.

I dilated to a 4 pretty quickly and then my water broke on its own, and let me tell you, that was an experience all in itself.

The nurse was convinced that I hadn’t broken my water because the test strips came back negative, but once they went to check to see how dilated I was, there was no denying the fact that the sack had broken!

At this point I decided to get an epidural. Not because of the pain, but because if I had to have an emergency c-section I didn’t want to have to be put completely to sleep and miss the birth of my sweet boy.

The epidural wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be to be honest. It did take two tries to get it in though – they hit a vein on the first try, so that was fun! But boy oh boy, once that epidural hit, I slept so well!

Then it happened…I got the news I didn’t want to hear…I was not dilating past a four.

The way they explained it to me, my contractions were almost double the contraction strength needed to dilate my cervix about half a centimeter ever hour and I hadn’t budged in six. And to top it all off, Jameson was sunny side up, so he would be extremely difficult to push out.

They offered me a c-section at this point.

Dustin left the decision completely up to me, and while Jameson was not in distress at the moment, I didn’t want to risk him going into distress just so I could have the vaginal birth I had always wanted.

I signed the papers and 20 short minutes later I was being wheeled into the OR.

They increased my epidural meds, I couldn’t move anything but my arms (and that was a struggle in and of itself) and it was the weirdest feeling ever, I hated it and started to panic.

But I couldn’t let it show.

I didn’t want to have a full-on panic attack and have to be sedated or given anxiety meds. 

That was NOT going to happen.

So, I mustered everything within me to take control of my anxiety and shut it down. And I truly believe that the only reason I was able to do this was because of the Lord.

Truly.

The entire c-section process was weird.

It was weird being tied down and unable to move at all.

It was weird knowing I was being cut open but couldn’t feel it.

It was weird feeling all this tugging and pulling in my stomach.

And once they pulled out Jameson, it felt like I was on a roller coaster and my stomach had dropped.

As they pulled him out, he didn’t make a noise.

I would have panicked, but they held him up over the blue sheet in front of me and he had perfect color, so I knew he was breathing. (This was just our first glimpse at him showing us his calm personality.) He looked at me with those wide eyes of his, and my heart stopped.

This was the little boy that I had been waiting to meet.

I had prayed and hoped and wished for him for quite some time.

And he was finally here!

Absolutely perfect.

As they pricked his foot to test his blood sugar and start suctioning him out, that’s when he showed us that he did indeed have a strong set of lungs!

Boy oh boy were his lungs strong!

After they pulled him out, this flood of exhaustion waved over me. I hear that’s normal, but at the time I was thinking, “Why am I so tired, I literally just laid there as they pulled him out of me!”.

I fought it and tried to stay awake, so I didn’t miss anything.

Dustin followed the nurses and Jameson to the recovery room as they stitched me up.

Once I was in the recovery room and Jameson was laid on my chest for some skin to skin, I melted.

When they say that having a baby is literally having your heart on the outside of your chest, they couldn’t be more right!

Breastfeeding was a challenge, but that’s a story for a different day. I’ll write about that along with my postpartum recovery soon.

For now, I leave you with this, get used to your plans being ruined now. Babies have an agenda of their own, so go with the flow, pray and don’t get upset when things don’t go your way. The Lord has a plan for everything, so take heart in that.

Until next time mama,

Ashlee Lanham

Navigating the Holidays After a Miscarriage

With the holiday season just around the corner, I wanted to take some time and talk about the struggles that women (and men) deal with during this season.

The holiday season can sometimes be a struggle for anyone, but for those dealing with infertility or a miscarriage – things that not everyone sees – this season can been extremely difficult. I know when I was working through my miscarriages, family gatherings were always the hardest, so I want to share with you some things that helped me survive these events.

  1. Prepare Your Answers

We all have that Aunt Sue that likes to ask the most embarrassing and nosy questions as the Turkey is being passed around the table or Uncle Bill that has had one too many egg nogs and wants to give you some “solid dating advice”. While they may be well-intentioned, the questions they ask can cut you to the core…especially if they don’t know what you are suffering through in silence.

So, when they ask you the dreaded question that they ask year after year: “So, when are you having kids?” there are a couple ways you can combat this question: either be straight forward and inform everyone of what’s going on (maybe get some great support this way) or completely avoid the question. Either way, you need to have a thoughtfully prepared answer constructed BEFORE going into these situations.

Some examples are:

“That’s a great question. I really want kids; however, I’ve been struggling to getting pregnant. I don’t want to dwell on it though, so let’s talk about something else. How is your dog doing?”

“We haven’t decided yet, we’ll let you know when we do!”

These might seem like easy and straight forward answers, but by preparing what you’re going to say ahead of time, that takes the added stress of trying to decide what you want to say in the moment away. This also gives you more confidence joining in these family gatherings.

join mailing list promp

  1. Talk to Someone

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “I’m not going to go see a counselor. Why would I talk to some stranger about my problems?”

Before you click away, hear me out…

Yes, you need to talk to SOMEONE, but you don’t have to talk to a counselor if that’s not something that you feel comfortable with. Heck, I don’t care if you talk to your dog, but you need to talk to someone…anyone!

By verbalizing how you are feeling, you not only get it off your chest, but you can also hear the words that you are saying and it may surprise you. As you get talking, you may not realize that you feel a certain way.

Now, if your dog turns out to be a terrible listener, then write it out!

Just getting all your pent up energy and emotions out of you will help you feel so much better. Now, it’s not going to take away the pain of losing a precious child or another negative pregnancy test, but it helps free up some space inside you for a little hope to creep in.

For me, I found healing in pinning quotes on Pinterest.

Whatever works for you, do it!

  1. Don’t Say Yes to Everything

So many people in today’s society glorify the busy. They think that they need to constantly be busy to have purpose and often times this trap is even easier to fall into when we are grieving.

So, get picky about which events and gatherings you attend.

Just because Janet down the block expects you to attend her Christmas Eve Party, doesn’t mean you have to. News Flash: you are NOT Janet’s kid so why do you feel obligated to do whatever she wants you to?

So, if you don’t feel comfortable going somewhere…don’t. Just don’t. Taking care of you and your mental health is way more important than anything else.

If they ask, just tell them I said you can’t go.

  1. Start a New Tradition

Starting a new tradition as a family, even if that is only you and your husband, can be such an exciting experience. There is just something comforting about family traditions and observing them year in and year out.

So, whether this be opening up one gift on Christmas Eve, buying family Christmas pajamas, making ginger bread houses, making homemade cinnamon rolls…whatever it may be, it yours and your family’s tradition and it also helps keep your minds occupied and in the present rather than focusing on all the “what if’s” that can occupy our minds.

  1. Memorialize Your Sweet Baby

One of the biggest struggles I faced during the holiday season was feeling as though the world was continuing on and my sweet babies that were lost too soon would be forgotten forever.

One way that helped me feel more at peace about everything was buying a Christmas ornaments for them. Now, it doesn’t have to be ornaments, it can be a stocking, an outfit, anything that helps you both feel connected to your lost child or your future sweet babies.

 

Well, there you have it sweet mama. Those are my five tips for getting through the holiday season through the midst of miscarriage and infertility:

  1. Prepare Your Answers
  2. Talk to Someone
  3. Don’t Say Yes to Everything
  4. Start a New Tradition
  5. Memorialize Your Sweet Baby

If you have any other tips for other mamas out there, feel free to comment down below. Or hop on over to Facebook and join our exclusive Babies and Bibles group to connect with other mamas just like you!

 

Stay strong mama, you got this!

 

Blog Signature

Now that you’ve navigated the holidays, continue reading…

How to Increase Your Milk Supply
10 lessons I learned after bringing home baby - graphic

How to Increase Your Milk Supply After Mastitis

Mastitis can really do a number on your milk supply…trust me, I’ve been there…twice! This is how I successfully increased my milk supply after mastitis.

If you’ve been around my blog or Instagram for any length of time you remember that in the first few weeks after my son Jameson was born I was fortunate enough to get Mastitis not once, but twice. How lucky am I, huh?

All joking aside, mastitis sucks…like REALLY SUCKS!

I was also fortunate enough to get several clogged milk ducts. And both of these things severely decreased my milk supply.

I was already having to supplement a little bit of formula because he wasn’t latching properly, which killed me, and I didn’t want to have to switch over to 100% formula if I didn’t have to. (If you’ve chosen to formula feed, way to go mama, as long as your baby is fed and healthy it truly doesn’t matter!)

But what was I going to do?

How could I increase my milk supply after mastitis almost landed us both back in the hospital?

If you’ve ever had mastitis, you know this fear, you know this pain.

So, here’s how I increased my milk supply after mastitis. *

*If you think you may have mastitis or are suffering from low milk supply or have any other concerns, please contact your doctor. I’m not a doctor, I am simply sharing my experience.

  1. Water Makes that Liquid Gold

If you’ve read my other blog posts, you know I am a huge advocate when it comes to making sure that you are drinking enough water. Not only is it good for you, but it helps your body make the nourishment that your baby needs.

As soon as I started drinking 80-100 ounces of water a day, after just roughly 24 hours I noticed a huge improvement in not only the amount of milk I was able to pump in one sitting, but the quality of it as well. There was definitely a thicker layer of fat in it to keep Jameson fuller longer.

If you have a hard time remember to drink water or tracking how much you’ve had, you can download this chart (Make That Liquid Gold  )to keep track of it all.

  1. Pump or Breastfeed as much as Possible

Because Jameson had a hard time latching, I pump primarily; however, if you are breastfeeding crawl in bed and do nothing but sleep and feed your sweet baby. If you are pumping like I did, then pump all day.

Okay, maybe not literally all day, but even if it’s only been an hour since you pumped and you’re feeling sore…pump anyway!

One thing I learned from my lactation consultant was that by doing this it helps get things moving in your breasts which helps them heal faster.

Side note – I hated pumping for the longest time because I didn’t like having to hold the pump for the 15-20 minutes that I needed to pump for.

Then I discovered hands free pumping bras…when I say my life changed FOREVER.

I’m not kidding.

I’m actually using mine right now as I type this. Ha!

join mailing list promp

  1. Sleep – I’m Not Joking

Probably the biggest thing that helped me get over my mastitis was sleep.

I am fortunate enough to have an amazing mother who came over one night, took over all the feedings and let me just sleep. (Now, for those of you who are wondering where the hubby was…he’s an EMT and had to be to work at 3:00 in the morning so he needed his sleep too!)

I slept ten hours that night.

I woke up to extremely engorged breasts, a happy fed and sleeping baby, a clean house and decreased pain in my breast with the mastitis.

Now, this may seem contradictory to my third point, pump or breastfeed; however, the day prior I had pumped every 1-2 hours so things were moving and at that point and my body was so exhausted that I was beginning to go even more down hill so I slept.

I was a new woman after those 10 solid hours of sleep.

I know you want to be awake and with your new sweet baby 24/7, but trust me on this one, you need the sleep. Not only for you, but for the baby as well.

  1. Eat Healthy

Now, I know you just had a baby and if you have (or had) mastitis recently you are completely worn out and don’t have time to make fancy meals all day.

That’s okay!

Just add in simple things to your diet throughout the day.

A few examples of the little healthier snacks that I added to my diet were:

  • Apple and Cheese
  • Celery and Peanut Butter
  • Whole Grain Crackers and Breakfast Bars
  • Kind Bars
  • Fruit – like grapes, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, ect.

Nothing super serious, but it helped my body replenish what it needed from fighting off the mastitis.

You also just want to eat in general, when I was eating once or twice a day my milk supply was at its lowest. Once I started not only eating better but more often, my milk supply went through the roof!

  1. Lactation Cookies

While I’m not sure if these alone helped my milk supply, I ate them during my mastitis recovery and not only are they delicious, my milk supply increased so it wouldn’t hurt to add them to the list!

You can make your own, there are a ton of recipes out there, but I didn’t have time for that nonsense. So, I ate the oatmeal chocolate chip lactation cookies from munchkin…let’s just say, buy a couple boxes!

  1. Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a supplement that is supposed to help with milk production. A friend of mine recommended it to me and after reading about it on kellymom.com and speaking with my lactation consultant I decided to give it a try.

I honestly didn’t notice a different at first but having staying consistent with it for about three days I saw a huge increase my milk supply at each pumping session.

I have heard that it can cause gas in babies; however, like I’ve said before, I’m not a doctor so talk to yours before following any of my tips/advice here.

  1. Skin to Skin with Baby

There is a reason that doctors and hospital recommend skin to skin as soon as possible after baby is born…because it’s so good for not only them but you as well!

My lactation consultant told me, when I had mastitis, to crawl in bed with Jameson, strip us both down, do skin to skin, nurse/pump and sleep until I was better.

She explained that by doing skin to skin, it will help both of our bodies regulate themselves and my milk will start producing nutrients that are specific to what he needs right then and there. It didn’t make since to me how that happened, but I wasn’t going to fight her if all I had to do was rest and cuddle my baby, she didn’t need to say another word!

 

Recap

So, to recap, when I was diagnosed with mastitis, my milk supply plummeted both times. I was only pumping 1 oz on each breast (or even less sometimes), and once I implemented these seven things, I was pumping 4-6 ounces on each breast after about a week.

  1. Drink 8-10 cup of water a day
  2. Breastfeed or pump as much as possible: every 1-3 hours
  3. Sleep
  4. Eat Healthy
  5. Lactation Cookies
  6. Fenugreek
  7. Skin to Skin with Baby

 

There you have it, the seven things that helped me increase my milk supply after mastitis.

Again, remember that I am not a doctor of any kind, this is just my experience. If you have any questions or concerns, always consult your doctor first!

 

Good luck mama, you got this!

Blog Signature

join mailing list promp

10 Lessons I Learned After Bringing Home Baby

When we brought our son Jameson home I thought I had it all figured out. I had read articles and books, talked with other moms and asked all the questions at doctor’s appointments. I felt completely confident that I could do it all, even after having an unplanned c-section. Boy, was I wrong.

When we brought our son Jameson home I thought I had it all figured out. I had read articles and books, talked with other moms and asked all the questions at doctor’s appointments. I felt completely confident that I could do it all, even after having an unplanned c-section. Boy, was I wrong.

Below are ten things that I learned in the first few weeks after bringing Jameson home.

  1. It’s Okay to Ask for Help

The number one thing that caused me the most mom guilt when we first came home from the hospital was not being able to do everything for Jameson that I needed to. Having a c-section made it difficult to bend over and pick him up, lay with him on my chest for long periods of time or do all the cleaning that I needed to.

I also got mastitis…twice. Along with clogged milk ducts in both breasts at the same time.

To top it off, Jameson had a hard time latching, which caused my nipples to be so cracked they were dripping blood.

This drained my energy and I was in unbelievable pain, but I still didn’t want to ask for help.

My amazing mother, mother-in-law and husband constantly reminded me to take it easy, that I needed to heal. The lactation consultant even got onto me for doing too much.

Then my incision started to hurt worse and I got the chills so bad I couldn’t even carry Jameson safely.

When I couldn’t even pick up my own child, that was when it hit me…I need to not only ask for help but let those that come over and want to help, help. You may not be able to do everything that you want to right away, but if you push yourself and delay healing of your body it will be even longer until you are able to do those things.

  1. Rest

I know, I know, you want to hold and stare at your new baby 24/7…trust me, I get it! But just like your baby is resting from their birth, you need to rest too mama.

My biggest excuse for not getting the rest that I needed was that I needed to pump. So, if you are a mama who is pumping, yes it is important to pump often to keep your supply up, but if your body is worn down then you won’t produce enough milk no matter how many times a day you pump.

At the end of the day, your body needs rest to produce milk and be healthy enough for you to care for your little one.

So, ask a friend or family members – or your hubby! – to take over all the nightly feedings and diaper changes for one night so you can get 8 solid hours of rest. When I got mastitis the first time, my mom took over for the night and I slept for 10 straight hours!

When I say I felt like a new woman…I felt like I could take on the world!

Stitches and all!

I promise you, a full night of restful sleep does NOT make you a bad mama, it actually helps you become an even better mama! (If that’s even possible…Mrs. Wonder Woman over there!)

You know that saying that you can’t pour from a cup that’s empty?

Well…turns out it’s true.

So, sleep mama…for your baby.

join mailing list promp

  1. Water Makes Gold…and Keeps You Out of the Hospital

The biggest struggle I had the first couple weeks after Jameson was born was getting in enough water. I mean let’s get real, my main focus was one the new little bundle of joy that I went through several grueling hours of labor to finally meet…I wasn’t concerned with how much water I was drinking.

This was a HUGE mistake!

Dehydration was very scary for me, because it happened at the exact same time that I got multiple clogged milk ducts along with mastitis and it exacerbated my symptoms and my OBGYN was concerned with me landing myself back in the hospital. I also started to have a bit of a decrease in my milk supply.

I FREAKED OUT!

If breastfeeding wasn’t going to work out for Jameson and I, I at least wanted to be able to provide breast milk for him.

So, I Googled it…and it turns out that water helps your body create this liquid gold.

Who knew?!

Apparently…everybody but me!

As soon as I started taking more water (and an awesome supplement recommended by my lactation consultant: Fenugreek* which you can order here) my supply more than doubled!

So, whatever you have to do to drink more water do it. For me, it was making sure that I had a cup with a straw that would keep my water cold (my Yeti is my best friend…I’m truly serious). For others, app trackers or paper trackers work well – for me I would always forget to log my water.

Whatever works for you…do it. (If paper trackers work for you, I have a free one you can download here: Make That Liquid Gold. It will also be on our Freebies page if you need to re-download it at any time).

*Before taking any supplements, make sure you talk to your healthcare provider.

  1. Set Clear Boundaries…and DON’T Feel Bad About It

Well intentioned family members and friends are going to do some crazy stuff when you have a baby:

Randomly show up at your house…or in my case they just walk right on in like they own the place.

Constantly pester you until you allow them to see the baby.

Ask you inappropriate questions.

The list goes on and on and on and on…trust me. And all mamas out there can attest to this I’m sure!

So, set those clear boundaries and communicate them effectively…yourself…BEFORE baby is born.

While I did set clear boundaries before Jameson was born, I did not effectively communicate them to everyone. I told my husband, my parents and my in-laws, and I didn’t even tell them everything.

So, my advice…write up all your rules on some cute stationary and give them to everyone that will be visiting you either in the hospital or at home. Encourage them to put it on their fridge or in their car or purse so they remember all your rules when they come to visit.

Also, have one framed (or a couple) and strategically place them around your house.

You can download mine below:

Rules for Visiting Baby

As a side note…some people may push the boundaries of your rules or make comments about them, but don’t feel bad or guilty about them.

Did you hear me?

DO NOT FEEL BAD FOR SETTING RULES?

This new and precious child is yours to protect, so don’t ever feel bad for setting boundaries. You’re the mama and what you say goes!

  1. God is your lifeline…you will NOT get through motherhood without Him

The one thing I wish I had remembered to bring to the hospital with me was my devotional.

After so many miscarriages before Jameson, I held tight to the Lord as He was the only thing that kept me calm through my pregnancy and I needed Him during the birth. Then, being that I was in the hospital for so long, I got out of the habit of my daily devotional and it took me several weeks to get back into the groove of doing it.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

“Ashlee, I have a newborn, how on earth am I supposed to find time to do a devlotional? Have you lost your mind?”

No, I haven’t lost my mind…at least not yet.

The devotional that I use daily is the “Jesus Calling” devotional by Young which you can find here.

It takes about 5 minutes to read each day and it has scripture at the bottom of the page if you want to dive a little deeper.

Whether you use this devotional or not, find one that works for you.

I also love my She Reads Truth Bible, it has amazing devotionals written into it, so you get real world applications to passages as you read through it. (Not to mention the design is absolutely gorgeous!)

  1. Get Organized

The first couple days home I was so stressed out. Between caring for a newborn, being sleep deprived and in pain, I had all Jameson’s stuff organized…but not practically.

Then my mom happened.

My amazing mother looked online and found ways to organize the bathroom, the stuff I needed in the living room (I was sleeping on the couch due to my c-section), the pantry and even Jameson’s dresser!

I had put off trying to organize everything because I was so overwhelmed by the idea of having to make it look perfect. I thought it needed look like it had come right off a Pinterest bored.

Once I let that expectation go…my entire world changed.

Okay, I know I’m being a little dramatic, but seriously. My mom simply got some plastic containers and small counter shelving units to put everything in. My pantry is now 100% organized and I have three little containers on the end table in the living room to have my medication, pens/pencils for documenting his feedings and diaper changes and then misc things in the third one like a suction bulb and thermometer.

Once everything was organized, I truly felt like I could breathe again.

  1. Minimalism is Key

Building off my last point, when it comes to a baby nursery and baby gear…you truly don’t need to go all out. I have known people to spend hundreds of dollars decorating the nursery and stressing about making sure everything is perfect, when in reality your baby is more than likely going to end up sleeping in your room. (Now, if you’re a mama who has her baby sleep in the crib from day one, that’s awesome!)

The key here though is, figure out what your essentials are and go from there. No need to stress over not having every latest gadget, odds are your baby not even like it all!

(To see the top five items I found the most useful during the first couple weeks, click here.)

  1. Get Out of the House…ALONE

I’ll be the first to admit that leaving Jameson at home with his dad for the first time for 20 minutes while I ran to Target was the weirdest thing ever.

I felt like me again, but also felt as though as piece of me was missing.

I was relieved yet sad.

But you know what?

I survived!

And once I got home, even though I was gone for only 20 minutes, I felt re-charged and ready to take on all the poopy diapers!

So take some time to get out of the house by yourself. Whether that means going for a five minute walk around the block or a shopping trip to Starbucks and Target like me (don’t judge ladies – haha!), it doesn’t matter. But make sure and take some time to yourself to get out of the house and get some fresh air.

  1. Get Your Hair Cut…Or Nails Done

As soon as Jameson was born I knew some of my hair length needed to go. It was so long that it took 10 minutes to brush when I got out of the shower and most of the time it ended up just on top of my head un-brushed because Jameson was crying by the time I got out.

But I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house and do something for myself.

Sure, I got out of the house and went to Target…but those trips were to get things that Jameson needed. I didn’t want to be a selfish mom and leave him with someone else (even if it was a grandparent or the hubby) and do something for myself.

Now, remember the lesson on rest?

I’m telling you, go get your hair cut, get your nails done, get a massage. I don’t care what you do, but get out of the house and do something for YOU mama! You’ll be a better mom when you are rejuvenated and refreshed!

  1. Document Weekly

If you have kids already, then I don’t need to tell you how fast babies grow! So find an easy way to document milestones that won’t drive you crazy!

For me, weekly has been the best. Daily is too much and I often forget and they grow too much in a month. So I started taking pictures of Jameson every week with the hashtag of #52weeksofJamesonAllen to document his first year.

I also got a journal where I have a page for each of his pictures on the left and I write him a letter on the right. I talk about how much I love him and milestones that were accomplished that week or any adventures we went on.

This is a great way to document frequently but without the stress of documenting each and every day because let’s face it, us mamas don’t have time for that!

Let’s Recap

So, there you have it mamas, the ten things I learned after bringing how my first baby.

  1. It’s okay to ask for help
  2. Rest
  3. Water Makes Gold…and Keeps You Out of the Hospital
  4. Set Clear Boundaries…and DON’T Feel Bad About It
  5. God is your lifeline…you will NOT get through motherhood without Him
  6. Get Organized
  7. Minimalism is Key
  8. Get out of the house…ALONE
  9. Get Your Hair Cut…Or Nails Done
  10. Document Weekly

The bottom line here, take care of yourself, take care of your baby and don’t sweat the small stuff. You got this mama, you are the best mama for your baby which is why God placed them in your care and not someone else’s.

Do you have any tips for first time (or second, or third or tenth time) mamas? Drop them in the comments below. I’ll be rolling out a tip of the week in each newsletter so make sure and sign up for that too by clicking here.

Blog Signature

join mailing list promp