Monday, February 13, 2017

What's in my Hospital Bag // Do's and Don'ts from an L&D nurse

In just a few days, I will be 37 weeks pregnant (!) so I am officially packed and ready to roll whenever baby boy is! From four years of experience as a nurse in labor & delivery, and one delivery as a patient, I feel like I have a good idea of the necessities (and non necessities) so I wanted to share what is in my bag and the do's and don'ts of packing.

What is in my bag: (Do pack...)

-brush (Wetbrush to be exact)
-deodorant (LOVING Lavanila natural deodorant right now!)
-hair products (along the lines of dry shampoo, scrunch spray & gel cause chances are I'm not taking the time to blow dry and style it)
-headbands (for labor and beyond)

-phone charger with extra long cord (to reach bed while charging)
-camera (trying my best to not only document on my phone!)
-bluetooth speaker
-diffuser and essential oils (make sure your hospital allows use of them)
-rice bag (microwavable to use as heading pad, hospital provided heating pads don't get very hot)
-granola & protein bars
-coconut water & Gatorade (better hydration for labor and beyond than hospital juice or soda)
-large water bottle
-pillows from home (hospital pillows are always in short supply and super flat)
-abdominal binder (I loved having extra support for my core after delivery and am convinced it helped minimize my bleeding and the time it took for my muscles to heal and uterus to shrink back to its normal size)

Clothing for me:
-bathing suit top for labor (perfect for shower and Jacuzzi and easy to remove for first feeding)
-yoga pants
-pj shorts
-nursing tanks
-nursing bras
-loose tshirts
-flip flops (for shower)

For baby:
-swaddle blankets
-going home outfit
-1 onesie and sleeper
-boppy pillow
-nursing cover (love my 360 cover, perfect when unexpected visitors stop by!)

For husband:
-extra sweats
-pillow from home
-blanket from home

What NOT to pack...(based on my experience at one hospital)
-5 page birth plan - labor is unpredictable. Preferences for your Labor & Delivery experience based on your personal beliefs and preparation are wonderful, but remember: the end goal is healthy mom & healthy baby. The best mindset to have is an open one. I can't tell you how many times I've seen patients come in with such a detailed plan, attempting to control every step is almost guaranteed disappointment. With that said, there is nothing wrong with advocating for yourself and as long as everything looks good, laboring and delivering in a hospital with minimal interventions. I labored naturally with minimal monitoring for my daughter, but when I was pushing did need a scalp electrode to monitor her heartrate due to decelerations.
- Fashionable hospital gown- please just use what the hospital provides! Save your money. Labor is not a fashion show, and chances are the "cute" ones you find online have openings that make monitoring or working around IV's more difficult than need be. Also, delivery is messy. Chances are it will get ruined anyway! The same goes for your favorite fuzzy socks. Save them for postpartum!
- Specially bought "Granny" underwear - this is one of the most common things I hear moms telling each other to buy, but don't understand. Again, save your money! The hospital provides mesh undies that are superrrr comfortable and disposable! Wear them from the time you are admitted into labor & delivery to the time you go home. And grab a few pairs to take home with you to wear until your bleeding subsides! They hold the bulky pads better than normal underwear too!
- Pads - along the same lines of the point I made above, the hospital provides everything you need! Multiple sizes of pads as well as medicated pads and sprays. The hospital I worked at & deliver at provides tucks pads (little circles meant for hemorrhoids but perfect for any soreness or swelling caused from delivery, line your pad front to back with them!) dermoplast spray (a numbing spray for pain relief after delivery) I will say, its nice to have some smaller pads to wear for a few weeks once you're home, but no need to bring them to the hospital!
- Breast pump- the hospital provides double electric pumps for all patients to use while in the hospital AND chances are you will be sent home with a brand new one provided by insurance. (again this is based on my hospital) I see moms registering/buying/packing pumps all the time and its just not necessary! The hospital also provides all pump parts when you need to use it in the hospital, so don't buy or pack those either. Also remember, not all mom's need to pump in the hospital!
-Baby's entire wardrobe- while you are in the hospital, your baby will only need to wear a hat, tshirt, diaper, and swaddled in a blanket. For the amount of times baby will be assessed and unbundled in a day, there is just no need to dress them in full outfits as fun as it may be! All you need is an outfit for photos and a going home outfit. The hospital provides little white tshirts and diapers, so if anything pack a few cute hats/headbands and swaddle blankets.
-Wipes- along with diapers being provided, the hospital provides little gauze squares that are perfect to use as wipes the first few days. Just add a little warm water and that is all you need to change the first few days worth of diapers. Baby's skin is so sensitive store bought wipes can actually irritate it.
-Nipple shield - although you can buy them in the store, do not buy or use a nipple shield unless a lactation consultant tells you you need one. The ultimate goal for all moms is to nurse without any kind of aid, but sometimes they are necessary! Save your money and let a professional help you decide that! Using the correct size is also crucial so again, let a lactation consultant help you. Also as a side note, colostrum and breast milk makes for the best "nipple cream" for soreness and chapping in the first few days of nursing instead of store bought ointment.

Hopefully this is helpful! If nothing else it helped me mentally double check that I have everything I need! The countdown is on!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hello Again!

I'm back for my yearly "I'm going to blog more" post which I had every intention of writing on New Year's day, and yet here we are at the end of January already! First of all, if you didn't already know, I am in the home stretch of my pregnancy with baby #2. We found out late summer we were expecting, and now know a baby brother for Avery is growing by the day! I am 34 weeks today and can hardly believe how fast time is flying! (We have yet to touch the room that will be his nursery...yikes.) So here is a little interview style recap of the pregnancy so far:

How did you find out you were pregnant?

We decided to stop birth control in May, unsure of how long it would take to conceive this time around but knowing we wanted our first two pretty close in age. In mid-June, the day we got home from a family vacation in the Outer Banks, I took a test on a Saturday morning when Weston was home because I had super vivid dreams the entire week on vacation and woke up at 6am a few days having to pee (these were the first symptoms I had with Avery's pregnancy so I just had a feeling!) and sure enough, there were TWO LINES! It was so fun to have him there in the moment like last time. There's no way I would be able to wait until he was home for work if I would have found out during the week! We were so happy but also a bit in shock with the reality that it was all happening again. As an OB nurse I know the statistics of how long conception can take and unfortunately how often miscarriage happens (ignorance is bliss!) so although so far both pregnancies have started quickly and with a lot of excitement, there has also been a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. The first trimester has been a struggle for me mentally both times because of this, but I owe my sanity through those weeks to my encouraging husband, LOTS of prayer and a home doppler. Pregnancy has proven to be such a needed faith & trust growing experience for me both times, and for that I am so thankful.

How was your first trimester cravings and symptoms?

For most of the first 14 weeks, I was convinced we were having another girl because this pregnancy has been almost identical to Avery's. I was nauseous in the evenings but thankfully not vomitting, and craved super salty foods, carbs, and veggies. It took awhile for me to really pop again, in fact I'm carrying almost identical to Avery even though I'm carrying a boy. I fought fatigue so much more through my first trimester, whether it was hormonal differences or just the fact that I now have a little one to take care of and chase after unlike the first time when I could nap and lay around as much as I wanted. I haven't had any significant symptoms into the second and third trimester, and am thankful to have my energy back and feel pretty much like my normal self except for dressing my growing belly.  

How did you find out the gender?

At 14 weeks I chose to get a new blood test done that detects DNA to determine the sex of  the baby. Avery's anatomy scan was more stressful than fun when they couldn't see what they needed for an hour to be able to tell us her gender. So this time, I loved that we could not only find out earlier but know for sure the results were correct! In a few days, I had a midwife check the results while I was at work and she revealed the news, we were having a BOY! I immediately called Weston and he was happy to say the least. Avery is such a Daddy's girl and he is wrapped around her little finger, but I knew deep down he was really hoping for a boy. We didn't even bother with a gender reveal party or cute way of telling family and friends, we just called and texted everyone as soon as possible in our excitement. Sure enough, the anatomy scan at 20 weeks was a polar opposite experience from Avery's, with no pressure of seeing the gender, which of course he showed us proudly anyway! We were on cloud nine watching him yawn kick and wiggle around.

Does Avery understand what is happening?

At 18 months she definitely has limited understanding of what is actually coming, but she is obsessed with any kind of baby doll, kissing and holding and rocking them any chance she can. She also loves my belly, always trying to pull up my shirt when she's sitting on my lap. She also kisses it without any prompting which almost brings me to tears every time. If we see a baby in public she will exclaim "bay-bee!" and light up so I am confident she will be an amazing big sister. We will have to watch her though because she has a sweet tendency to share her snacks with her baby dolls, we'll have to work on teaching her that baby brother doesn't eat goldfish ha.

Avery will be 18 months old in 2 days, so I decided its about time to put off the procrastination of professionally documenting this stage of life. We had intentions of getting family photos done before Christmas, which unfortunately never happened. So this week Kelly Lapp Photography came over on a rainy Monday morning for a documentary session of our routine on a normal morning at home. I am so excited to have these simple memories documented of our time together before baby brother arrives. Plus, we were home in our PJs! No worry of coordinating outfits and less than excited husband and kids.

This year my hope is to cherish the everyday just as these photos do. To slow down, live simply, be present, and soak in the beauty that is life. 2017, you're already proving to be an interesting one but I'm ready to make the best of you!