Our First Month with a Newborn!
My sweet Ruth Margaret was born on June 26th at 8:29 PM and I have been SO in love ever since!! She was 6 lbs 11 oz and 18.5 inches – just a little peanut. She came at 38 weeks 6 days after I leaked some amniotic fluid and was give some Cytotec to help move contractions along. A bit of pitocin, an epidural and about 20 hours later, she was in my arms! I write this post as I watch her sleeping (her favorite activity) in her rock n play, and still can’t believe she was born just one month ago. I have so much to share about my first month with her and after asking for questions on Instagram I have a good idea of what might be helpful to other first time mamas. I am going to break it all down into sections and hopefully cover all the nitty gritty like how breastfeeding is going, what recovery was like and how intoxicating baby smells and snuggles are.
I got the question of what surprised me most about my labor and delivery and to be honest, nothing!! This had a whole lot to do with my mindset going in. I think birth plans can be great for some people but I had no plan and no expectation going in. All i wanted was for myself and my baby to survive. Pretty simple to accomplish in a hospital right? This mindset made everything easier because whatever the doctors said to do I was able to think about in that moment and agree (or disagree) as we went. If I was to think of one thing I would say maybe just how long it took to really get those first few centimeters dilated. It took from 1:30 AM – 3 PM to get from 0-3 cm, then finally started moving much quicker, but moving so slowly at the beginning was discouraging for sure!
After 2 pushes she was in my arms and the tears were REAL. The most intense and emotional moment in my life for sure – IT’S CRAZY! I GREW A BABY! I could go on and on about that. But let’s get into the nitty gritty – recovery!
Recovery from delivery:
As far as the nitty gritty question everyone has, and I was terrified for, yes I had a 2nd degree tear. I was totally expecting this too as I heard before I had her that it is very common. Thank goodness for the epidural and the sweet baby in my arms, I didn’t even really notice what was happening down there right after. As for tending to my lady bits after, I did everything the hospital had me do and continued when I got home. That included, spraying with Dermoplast, lining a large pad with Tuck’s witch hazel pads and using the mesh underwear they gave me. I also did the ice packs they gave me while in the hospital but stopped using those when I got home. Also once I got home I used Depends diapers for 2 days, then pretty quickly went to a medium sized pad, and 2 weeks post partum I was just using a thin thong liner as the bleeding was already super light. 5 weeks postpartum now and bleeding has stopped completely! Also I recommend having ibuprofen around the clock in those first few days after to calm everything down.
In this recovery section I also wanted to touch on another question I got a lot which is about baby blues and postpartum depression. So far I have been super lucky to not be too effected by these things. I have had some SUPER hard days already and had a few where I felt like I would never stop crying. But those days and crys were mostly all pain related. When I had mastitis, thrush and vasospasms I was in PAIN – bad pain, and had the feeling like it would never go away. But even on those days I found joy in looking at my baby and chatting with my mom (when matt was working). At this point I am feeling great and haven’t cried in like a week – winning!
The truth is, this might depend on the type of person you are! All I needed was clothes to wear after and for the drive home (for myself and Ruth), toiletries and some snacks. I had a comfy nursing dress and robe that I basically wore the whole 2 days we were there and some sweatpants and a tank top. I just wore my flip flops around the hospital too and those were perfect. For toiletries I brought shampoo and conditioner but ended up just doing dry shampoo and waiting till I was home to shower. Also, make up because the next day you will want to take some cute pictures and not look like a total train wreck. Most importantly have family or friends or whoever is around get you food and know they can go run to target if you need anything.
All things BABY:
I got tons of questions all about Ruthie and her schedule, must haves, products and such so let’s dig into it!
Newborn must haves:
I don’t want to put too many things on this list so I will keep it short.
- Fisher Price Rock n Play – We keep this in our living room and it is perfect for naps during the day!
- Halo Sleep Sack – We have muslin swaddles too that work well, but this baby keeps her arms in tight and is super easy to use.
- Sound Machine – This small portable sound machine is so perfect and the ocean sound + a swaddle and a paci work wonders on getting her to fall asleep!
- DIAPERS! This is obvious but you go through a lot of diapers. We are using both pampers that we got at showers and pampers pure that we just bought. We also use the Pampers Pure wipes and like them!
A lot of you were wondering how my life has changed and if it is the same at all. Well let me tell you – of course it has changed! I think we are slowly just now getting to the point where we can think about something other than tending to our baby throughout the day. The first few weeks are so different for everyone depending on the baby and we are lucky enough to have a great sleeper. But even though they sleep a ton, the first few weeks are still a fog because you aren’t sleeping straight through at night so between feedings and diaper changes during the day, you are just trying to rest and get used to this new routine. 5 weeks in and more sleep at night means that during her day time naps we are feeling much more up to running errands, making decent meals for ourselves, and for me writing this blog post!
Biggest life change? A love a never imagined!! People always tell you that before you have a kid and I was always nervous thinking, will I feel that?! I have no idea what they mean! But YES! Any scary, painful, tiring feeling you have postpartum is washed away with that love for this tiny human you CREATED. It’s insane and I only think you can understand it once you are a mom.
Sleep & Feeding Schedule:
From the beginning she has been an awesome sleeper so we had to set alarms for every 3 hours to get her up to eat. The first week we did that then once she wasn’t gaining wait at her 1 week apt (which I will touch on in my breastfeeding section), we upped it to every 2.5 hours during the day and 3 at night. At her 2 week appointment she was gaining weight well so we kept 2.5 hours during the day and let her go 4-4.5 hours at night. Once we just hit the one month mark we decided to stop setting alarms and let her tell us when she is hungry. We are loving it because she can go 5-6 hours between feedings once a night then the rest of the day it is around 2-3 hours between. The long nighttime stretch is EVERYTHING! Again, every baby is so different but this is what is working for us right now – check back with me in another month! 🙂
At night she is sleeping in the bassinet attachment on top of our pack n play and during the day she naps in the rock n play, on this pillowy napper (something like this, ours was a hand me down) or in our arms. Soon we will start testing out naps in her crib to see how that goes and when the nighttime stretches are longer we will have her go into her room!
Ruth was honestly never really fussy at all until she hit 4 weeks and her first growth spurt. I have the app The Wonder Weeks and it lets you know when your babies developmental leaps and growth spurts happen so I was comforted by the fact that her fussiness was totally normal and good. I read the book “happiest baby on the block” when I was pregnant and it has been so helpful for this time!! I highly recommend it as it goes over the 5 ways to trigger your babies calming reflex and get them to calm down. When all else fails (aka – diaper is changed, she is fed and burped) a combo of those techniques always works.
So many questions came in about Matt and how having a baby has changed our relationship, how we are splitting responsibilities and general spouse advice. Now let me start off with saying I know I am extremely lucky to have an amazing husband who completely agrees that caring for this baby should be a 50/50 split because hello, she is half of both of us! I hope that every man is like that but sadly I know that is not the case. We talked a ton about how we are going to raise kids before we had her and also went over how we NEED to communicate well during this time. Being tired can make a person a terrible communicator and we knew that, so we went over nighttime responsibilities before the nighttime came so we could both be on auto pilot.
This has changed throughout our month already because the first week and a half I was strictly breastfeeding from the boob and then I started pumping more. When she was on the boob, Matt would get up and unswaddle, undress and change her diaper to wake her up, as I got my spot ready and he would hand her over. Then he would go back to sleep as I fed her then I would change her diaper again if she went during the feeding (which she always does), then back in her outfit, swaddle and to sleep.
Once I started pumping and we fed her with a bottle, we would get up together, either Matt or I would change her and undress her while the other person got a pre-pumped bottle from the fridge and warmed it up, then Matt would feed her with the bottle and I would pump. That is typically what we do now and it works great because we are both up together and can watch some TV then get back to sleep.
As for other responsibilities throughout the day, we both change diapers, we both feed her, we both do dishes and housework. When Matt goes to work he is gone for at least 48 hours (he is a firefighter) and is home for 4 days. I am getting used to taking on all the jobs when he is gone and then when he is home he is fully home which is so nice!!
As far as changes in our relationship, there haven’t been any! Except maybe me loving him even more for how darn sweet he is with our girl.
Time for the most hot button topic – feeding this kid!! The last month has had so many ups and downs and twists and turns and they were pretty much all because of this topic. I talked all about this on my instagram but I will recap it here and give an update on where things are and what I am thinking about for the future. Let me add here too that any judgements in this space can be kept to yourself – please and thank you! 🙂 Let’s break it down by week:
Week 1 –
From the start at the hospital I was using a nipple shield as I had pretty flat nipples and a latch would be super hard to achieve. This is something that I had researched before and I was glad I did because the shield helped a TON to get her latched on and drinking colostrum before my milk came in. On day 4 postpartum my milk came in and my boobs were HUGE and HARD. It took about 3 days for them to go down and meanwhile we were still using the shield and I thought all was going fine with it. The lactation consultants at the hospital told me to have her eat for 15 minutes per side so that is what I did and she was always sleepy at the end so I thought it was going super well.
At our 1 week appointment she was weighed and still weighed 6 lbs. 5 oz, which is what she was when we left the hospital. (if you don’t know, it is totally normal for babies to loose weight right after they are born). Because she was not gaining, our pediatrician said to have her eat as long as she can then pump to make sure you get the hind milk and feed that to her too.
Well it only took one day of 1-2 hour feedings + pumping to exhaust and overwhelm me. My first thought was to just pump till empty and feed her all of it in a bottle. This was SO much nicer. It also showed me that I was only making about 1.5 -2 oz per pump so I thought maybe a low supply is why it took her so long to eat. I started to look up ways to up my supply and started pumping every hour and a half, eating oats and flax meal and quickly my supply increased to the point where just 2 days later I went back to pumping every 3 hours and was making anywhere from 6-10 oz per pump. I was super excited about it until my boobs started to hurt and feel hard all the time. This lasted 2 days until I was hit with Mastitis HARD. 102.5 degree fever, chills, aches – the whole thing – so I rushed to the ER at 11 at night to get on antibiotics. After another day of flu like symptoms, they went away but I was still left with a massive left boob that was aching like crazing and FILLED with clogged ducts.
Nothing I did could get them out so I went to an amazing lactation consultant to help clear them. Not only did she confirm I had a lot of clogged ducts but she also told me I had a yeast infection in my nipples (aka- Thrush), and vasospasms. She worked on the clogged ducts, massaging and hand expressing (sooo painful) for an hour. It felt better at the end but she told me to come back the next day if it filled back up. By that night is was already back to the same thing so I went back in the next day. 2 LCs now worked on in for the hour and although they got a lot out, it filled back up right when they finished. I left feeling SO defeated and upset but went ahead with what she told me to do to get them to stop filling in with so much milk, which was trying to dry them up slightly. I crushed cabbage leaves and put them on the clogs in my left boob for 1 hour, 3 times a day for just 24 hours, as well as rubbed with peppermint oil and did epsom salt baths. Within that 24 hours they were gone!! It was such a relief.
After that my left boob was really only making drops but I didn’t care. My right one still made a decent amount and I would give anything to not have the pain anymore.
Weeks 3 & 4:
After that traumatic week I really had to think about how much more of this I could handle. Even though my supply had dropped I was not about to try anything to increase it again, terrified that the whole thing could happen again. Let me also add here that I have never been super intense in my thinking about what to feed my baby. I was formula fed, Matt was formula fed and I know tons of people that formula feed as well and know that when you apply to college you don’t have to fill out how you were fed the first year of your life. So with that, I have just been taking it one day and one week at a time and know that ultimately my sanity, mental and physical health are #1.
Another fun tidbit is that Ruth also had a lip tie! On her one month b-day we went to a pediatric dentist and had it cut by a laser, not only for breast feeding, but for future problems it could cause like stunted growth and a gap between her teeth. We are still doing exersices to help her get used to it and I think it is helping her feed!
When my supply really dropped after the initial use of cabbage and peppermint, I was making only 1.5-2 oz a pumping session and my nipples were so trashed I couldn’t put her on the boob to get more. I had bought some formula before we had her and decided to supplement the remaining that I couldn’t make. That only lasted about 2 days and I was super happy to see she took the formula well and reacted to it well too! For my sanity I have decreased the amount of pumps I do in a day to about 5-6 and have been still trying to get her on the boob once a day (but it still takes her awhile to eat and is hungry soon after). So I am currently pumping 4-5 oz a session and ruth is now eating about 4 oz when she eats about 7 times a day.
At this point I know I can’t mentally do this for a very long time. The vasospasms still act up and being chained to a pump throughout the day, and doing a ridiculous amount of bottle cleaning is exhausting to say the least. So I am already planning in my head being able to stop around 3 months. I say planning because we decided to still supplement a bit every day with formula so we can still freeze and save breast milk to be able to give her that mixed with formula until she is 6-7 months old. If we can do that I will be super happy!
So yes, pumping and feeding with and occasional on the boob feeding and a little formula mixed in is possible! I feel like when you hear about feeding a baby it is either on the boob breastfeeding or formula. But there are SO many combinations and ways to feed a kid – why do we need to be put in a box? She is a happy little girl that is gaining weight and pooping like crazy, so I am a happy mama!
The pump I use is the Spectra S2 and love it. I chose it initially because it was recommend by other people and I can confirm, it gets the job done very well. As for bottles we use Avent anti-colic bottles in both 9oz and 4 oz! Highly recommend getting lots of bottles if you pump a lot so you just have to do one round of the dishwasher a day.
Wow that was a lot for one month right?? I feel like it for sure has been 2 years, not one month, but as hard as it has been at times I wouldn’t change it for the world!! Okay okay now it is time to get back to baby snuggles.