We are back for round two of Must Ask Mama!! Six of us mamas answer your questions once a month about anything from pregnancy and style to parenting and more. You can find last month's questions here. Be sure to send your questions in for the chance to have them answered next month! Remember to email your questions for next month to Lynzy (sparklingfootsteps at gmail dot com)!
MUST ASK MAMA: Round Two
1.) What are the essentials needed (or just great items) for a birthing hospital bag? - Katie
Kilee: "Packing a hospital bag sounds much more overwhelming than it should be. Really it is just packing most of the things you would want to take to a hotel for a few days. I've had three babies and each time I have found myself packing more and more like it is a short overnight getaway. Ok, ok, so it isn't quite so relaxing as a vacation, but I am one who LOVES my stay at the hospital. Just me and my baby, food delivered to me and meds on call- it may as well be a vacation!
My list of recommended items would be: comfy lounge clothes (such as leggings, an big cardigan and a comfy tee, socks and slippers), shampoo, conditioner, hair products, hair appliances, makeup, basic toiletries like face wash, moisturizer and a toothbrush, a laptop, your camera (with the charger and SD card), and your cell phone + charger. You will want to look like a cute human again after you are up and moving so don't feel bad doing your hair and makeup and putting on real clothes. As for baby, bring a cute hat, a coming home outfit and a blanket or two. Just don't bring a blue blanket- it makes the baby look super red in photos!
Honestly don't stress about it- your hubby will be going home anyways and can bring you anything you forgot."
Veronika: "My favorite thing I brought was a Victoria's Secret supersoft sleep shirt. I seriously lived in it my entire hospital stay (and at home!) It's long, so soft and comfy and it makes breastfeeding so easy.
I really didn't need to bring much because the hospital provided most of the things I needed (like pads, mesh underwear, bath supplies, etc.) I also brought and wore a nursing bra and a pair of Lululemon stretchy pants to wear around. Their "still pants" are great because they are looser than the other fits, perfect for postpartum."
Erica: "Great Question! I'm nearing the end of my second pregnancy and plan on writing a post about this soon, but here are the first things that come to mind:
Toiletries: Travel-Size Conditioner, Face Wipes, Deodorant, Make-up, Lotion, Hairbrush, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and everything else you would pack on a weekend trip. Last time I packed giant maxi pads, but I found the underwear-like pads the hospital provided to be more effective.
Electronics: Cameras, extra batteries, an extra SIM card, cell-phone chargers. I also brought my Bose portable speaker system so that I could play some motivating music (Pennywise) during my delivery. Some hospitals have something like that for you to use already.
Clothing: Comfortable, loose clothing (sweatpants, v-necks, etc.), a few pairs of the biggest underwear you have that you don't mind possibly getting a few blood stains on, and socks. Last time I packed a Maxi dress for my "going home outfit," but I ended up staying in my sweatpants and v-neck instead. One thing I'm packing this time that I didn't pack last time is my own delivery gown. The one the hospital provided was so gross and call me superficial but I was not stoked about how I looked in pictures.
Snacks. They'll tell you you can't eat during labor, but I went in without eating dinner and felt like I had no energy to push a baby out of me. I was so glad to have a pack of gummy bears on me... I ended up sneaking them when the doctors and nurses weren't looking. I also had snacks packed for the recovery period, which came in handy when I didn't like what was on the hospital menu.
For The Baby: A nursing pillow, a receiving blanket (some hospitals won't allow you to take the ones they provide), a "going home" outfit, a beanie, socks, baby wipes (some only provide dry paper because they don't want you using real baby wipes).
Other: A copy of your birth plan."
Britt: "I wrote a whole post here about what I packed, but some of my favorite must have items were: yoga pants, a robe, slippers, medium sized maxi pads, granny panties/mens boxer briefs, flip flops, and your own personal toiletries to make you feel more like yourself. I wish I would have packed lighter colored tops to go with my dark pants because there were many pictures and I felt like I looked washed out in my pictures. "
Denise: "First of all, I wanted to pack EVERYTHING! But in reality, here is what worked for me!
For baby, I packed two cute outfits for pictures and about 4 sleepers! Truthfully, sleepers is what the babe will be in most, but I wanted to have a cute going home outfit for her other than a sleeper and one more option for possible photo ops. I also packed about 3-4 of my own swaddle blankets. You will be swaddling your baby like a burrito for a while so these are a MUST. Not only was it nice to have her own stuff, but we had the nurses show my hubby and I how to swaddle using our blankets so when we got home it wasn’t so much of a learning curve. My favorite swaddle blankets are Aden and Anais (we use them for everything swaddling, burp clothes, light blanket in the summer).
For the mama, my essentials included anything that made me feel COMFORTABLE and slightly pretty. I mean after you give birth, pretty is probably the last thing you feel, but you are so overwhelmed with joy that it really doesn’t matter. However, a good shower and a little tinted cheek stain can go a long way when you are posing for tons of pictures. So I packed my essentials – just some good shampoo and body wash and like I said, cheek stain. I didn’t bother drying my hair or fussing with makeup really but as long as I felt clean, I felt good. As far as clothing, I opted for comfort. I wore yoga pants the entire time – including on the way home – and nursing tanks. I got some great nursing tanks from Target as well as a nursing bra or two (although I never actually wore a bra when I was wearing my nursing tanks – probably the only plus side to not have big ta-tas!). Other than nursing tanks, I packed some comfy wraps and cardigans to throw over my tanks because it gets cold in those hospitals rooms!
As far as other necessities, a good pillow for the hubs is a must (the hospital ones are not so great), a nursing pillow of some kind, your camera (duh), possibly an iPod or something to provide you with some music when you aren’t trying to sleep. And honestly, that is it in my opinion! I’m sure I am missing a few things in this list but that really is the jist of the important stuff!
Some other hospital tips – take everything you can before you leave – I mean extra granny panties, feminine products, diapers, samples of nipple cream and those amazing socks they give you!"
Lynzy: What a great question! I did a lot of research about this when I was packing my own bag! My friend Mallory did a guest post here that I really loved. So ultimately, the biggest things I used and loved while in the hospital was: Comfortable PJs (You will still want lots of room because your belly still looks 6 months pregnant after birth!) -- Comfy underwear ---nursing bar (although I never wore mine, I just wore the button down front pajamas and unbuttoned to feed her---Mints/gum for during the labor process---Your favorite shower/beauty products (that first shower you get after birth is amazing and you will love putting on your favorite lotion and it helps you to feel at home) ---one baby outfit for home (I brought more than one but she lived in her swaddle that the hospital gave her!) -- Going home outfit - yoga pants/Tee -- Toiletries for hubby ---all electronics (camera, videocamera, phone, etc) --- ipod dock (I made a birthing playlist!) --- birthing gown (I ordered mine- you can see it here) --- slippers!
2.) "I'm 18 years old and in the middle of my first pregnancy, I feel like there is so much I don't know and I want to know a few top tips that really helped when you first became a mother" -Jenny from Diary of a Dreamer
Veronika: "Hi Jenny! Congratulations on your pregnancy! I read a lot of books, but the best advice I can give you is to skip reading tons of pregnancy books and to read the ones about babies and the infant stage. I also looked to friends for advice and reassurance when I didn't know if something was "normal." Be sure you have a network of other moms you can call or text if you need support. I also recommend not being too hard on yourself during recovery. You will likely be emotional, exhausted and hormonal. It's okay to cry, it's okay to wear your pyjamas all day, it's okay to sleep when the baby sleeps (and it's okay not to). The last tip is to take it all in…take lots of photos and videos, they are only this tiny once!"
Erica: "I guess the most important thing I can tell you is to follow your instincts. I don't think anyone is ever really ready to become a mother until they are one. You'll be amazed at how many things will just come naturally to you. But if they don't, don't be afraid to ask for (or accept) help. One thing I remember someone telling me is to go on as many outings as you can when your baby is still a newborn (if you can). For most babies, this is the easiest time to do it. If you live an active lifestyle, they'll be used to outings right from the get-go. I found this advice to be true and I was so glad I followed it. I wrote a blog post with similar tips here - if you're interested. :)"
Britt: "I felt the same way when I was pregnant. My husband and I decided to take some birthing classes at the hospital that we were delivering at to learn some basics. I didn't know how to swaddle and learned in the class. It was a nice overview of what to expect, and the best thing about it was that the instructors were labor and delivery nurses so they answered a ton of questions we had. For the actual delivery part, I tried not to know much. I wanted to be as naive as possible so that I could just enjoy giving birth and keep in mind that every delivery is different and that I didn't need to stress about every possibility. A few tips I have is to take others advice with a grain of salt. Some people will really help you and others will cause you more stress. Every baby is different and you just do what works for you and your baby. As tired as you will be in the newborn days, enjoy them, because they go by so fast and you will miss that tiny newborn. Good luck :) "
Denise: "Congrats Jenny! Becoming a mother is one of the most special things in the world and you are in for an amazing journey! Here are three top tips if I had to narrow them down
1. Ask for help! Don’t try to be superwoman after your give your birth. People will ask to help. Let them! They want to help, so delegate. And if people don’t offer – ask! Seriously! Don’t fuss with the laundry or dishes if you don’t have to. Focus on you and that baby of yours for that first month or so. You will have enough on your plate with carrying for your newborn, resting, breastfeeding, learning how to change a diaper (I kinda struggled ya’ll!) and nourishing your healing body – so get help for all the other stuff. I struggled with this at first, but once I released control and welcomed the help, I felt so much better. Go ahead and plan ahead too. Ask for help before the baby. If your parents are available ask them to plan on helping out right after the baby, or find some friends who are willing to help. Trust me. It makes all the different.
2. Remember this very important thing – YOU ARE NOT A CRAZY PERSON. After giving birth, your hormones are kinda like a rocket ship. I mean really. Throw in literally NO sleep, and you could possibly think you have gone mad. Well, just remember you have not gone crazy. It’s normal to cry. It’s normal to feel a whirlwind of emotions – both highs and lows – those first two weeks or so. Cut yourself some slack and take a deep breath. You are doing a great job. (I will say that I, thankfully did not suffer from PPD, and if you are ever seriously worried about your emotions – call your doctor and just ask! It’s very common and totally normal too!)
3. That leads me to my last tip. When you want to call your doctor, call them. When you want to call your pediatrician, call them. Who cares that you’ve already called them 6 times before ? No one. A mama’s peace of mind is so valuable – especially in those first few weeks. I took my daughter to the doctor every week for the first two months of her life. Looking back, I was totally crazy and paranoid. But I’m so thankful my husband never questioned me or made me feel bad about it. If you are concerned or worried, just call. It is way better to spend the $20 copay for a visit to the doctor than to worry your sleep-deprived, hormonal self all night."
Lynzy: Oh my goodness! First of all, congrats - you are embarking on such an amazing journey and you will love it! You will want everyone's help in the first 4 weeks. It is a blur (even to me now...) and you will want all the snacks/prepared food/hands you can get. If someone comes over tell them what you need - dishes cleaned, food prepared, change the baby's diaper- whatever. Put them to work! :) Being a mommy is the best job in the world, but that doesn't mean it doesn't come with very difficult, trying times. Olivia had colic for the first three months and literally screamed day in and day out. Talk about frustrating. I wanted to give up so many times. STICK WITH IT. You are the best momma for that lil babe and one day it will get better. It did for us - she woke up at 3 months and hardly ever cries now. Breast feeding is HARD. I stuck with it and we are almost 6 months going strong, but do whatever is best for your baby and you. If you formula feed, there is nothing wrong with that. Do what YOU think is best, not what anyone else tells you. Listen to you. People love to give advice (I mean look at use giving you advice!) but you always know what is best for your baby. Finally, take time for yourself. Even if it's 5 minutes. Regroup. Take a shower -- a long one. You will never feel better than when you take a break. Do it. Often.
Kilee: "My tip would be to read a lot. Read a lot of different parenting books and don't be afraid to ask questions to the moms around you that you admire. Having the knowledge base from reading many different perspectives will put the information in your head and your heart will help you figure out what advice is best for you and your child. There is no best way to parent, but there is a best way to parent your little one and you will know what that is if you put the effort into finding out and learning."
3.) "How does one dress little ones in a chic / cute way while on a limited budget? I just can't afford to but BabyGap clothes on clearance. And I'm tired of Target!" Leanne from Being Jane
Erica: "One of my favorite stores for cute and affordable baby clothes is Old Navy. They always have awesome coupons and sales, and even clothes that aren't on sale are pretty affordable. I tend to buy most of my baby's clothing online because it's so much easier to compare prices and find the best deals. Every now and then I "design" my own baby clothes. No, I can't sew to save my life, but I'll take a white Gerber onesie and create my own design on it. There are a few tutorials I've found on Pinterest that show you how to make cute stamp prints on plain baby leggings as well."
Britt: "Having a baby girl is really challenging when it comes to clothing. There are way too many cute things that I could spend a fortune on, but that is not possible for us. When I was pregnant I was gifted enough play clothes for my daughter, but I wanted some nicer smocked or nicer brand items. I buy a lot of my daughters clothes on sale for the next year. I cannot afford regular priced baby gap, but they do have amazing sales. In the back of baby gap there is usually a clearance rack, and if you go during a time when there are additional sales, you can get already marked down items for an additional 40% + off. I bought so many play clothes for this winter that were $4-8. It was so reasonably priced I couldn't resist stocking up. Another thing I just recently got hooked on is consignment sales. In my area local churches have big consignment sales that have gently used clothing for very cheap. I got a kissy kissy outfit for $4 and other really great brands of clothing for just as cheap. This is one of my favorite ways to shop these days."
Denise: "First and foremost, I hear ya Leanne! I constantly battle with my slight obsession with the adorable-ness of baby clothes coupled with the nagging reality that I don’t need to spend $$$ on one measly outfit that Georgia will grow out of in months! My solution? SALE BABY SALE! I first of all love Carter’s. I think they’re clothes are adorable and they are wonderful about having great sales – especially end-of-season sales. I plan ahead too. At the end of last summer, I stocked up on ADORABLE dresses (that look very Lilly Pullitzer-ish) from Carter’s. I got them in 12 months so G could wear them this summer too and they were crazy clearance (think $2-$3 a dress!). The best thing about Carter’s is that if you save your receipt you can return it no matter how long ago you bought it. So I buy in advance and if it doesn’t fit her, I can return it – even a year later! I also loooove Zulily. They have sales that last for about a week and have heavily discounted baby and children’s clothes! I am a sucker for anything smocked and Zulily is great for having those at reasonable prices! Also – H&M. They have such cute things for babies and children and at amazing prices. I’m kind of obsessed with everything H&M lately (I just got my fave pair of jeans from there for $9.99), and am seriously wondering why it’s taken me so long to embrace this amazing brand! Lastly, I reuse and recycle! When my daughter grows out of a dress, usually it’s because it’s a little short. It usually still fits her in the neck – so then I use it as a top for her! That way you get more wear out of your clothes too! So there ya have it! Those three stores are wear we get most of our baby clothes from! I hope that helps!"
Lynzy: Okay. I am so bad with this. I want to buy my babe EVERYTHING. The best discovery for my was finding "Instagram shops". These are mamas who are selling their barely used/gently used clothing. Seriously babies wear things maybe once and then grow out of them so these items are in great (if not new condition) and I just wash everything once i get it. I got SO many of Olivia's clothes from the Instagram shops. I have great suggestions of some if you want the names. You can get things for SO much cheaper than in the stores.
Kilee: "I am all about this question! I don't spend a lot on my kids' clothing - it just isn't my nature or in our budget. I am all about buying second hand. I have good luck thrifting in the nicer parts of town and you can find great name brand items on eBay or Thread Up. I also really shop the sales at GAP and Old Navy (like the extra 40% off of clearance sales!). H&M is hit or miss for me although it is priced well. For shoes I often shop 6pm.com and find great deals on name brand items. TJ Maxx sometimes has cute things on clearance and so does Ross or Marshalls."
Veronika: "Hi Leanne! I am a big fan of sales. I like to shop at Baby Gap but I wait until things are 35-40% off---I never pay full price. Something you might look into are instagram accounts and websites that sell gently used baby clothes for lower prices. I love Target for baby clothes but I've noticed they don't get new stuff as often as they used to, so I can see how that can be frustrating when you're wanting to buy cute, inexpensive baby clothes. Carter's, OshKosh and Old Navy also have fantastic sales (up to 50% off). I also think Marshalls has some really cute baby clothes for a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere. The last place you can look is etsy. There are so many great shops with affordable pieces and a lot of them can be customized too. I also want to mention that simplicity is really appealing to me when it comes to baby clothes. A simple tee with some printed leggings is absolutely adorable. It doesn't need to be embellished or ruffled or extravagant (often meaning it's pricey!) to be cute. There are also lots of great tutorials online about how to make cute headbands with knots and bows if you have a girl and want to add some accesories on the cheap. Happy shopping!"
I hope you are loving these questions as much as I am. I love to read the other mommas answers because each perspective is so different! Be sure to send your questions over to Lynzy and we'll be back next month with another edition of Must Ask Mama.
What were your hospital bag essentials? Any advice you think a first time momma needs? Where do you like to shop for your little one?