Christmas time is a time for lots of family and friends to visit. Having a baby brings even more reasons for visitors as everyone wants to meet your new arrival, plus you want to show off the new tiny, beautiful human that you’ve created.
It’s one of those things though that looking back, Mums often say that they wish they took it slower or managed visitors a bit better. So here’s some of my top tips for managing visitors. I’ve put a Christmas spin on it as everything is better with a festive twist.
Be clear on times and who. Mary would have been sat there trying to get to know the baby she’s just birthed and in walked 3 Kings. Now I don’t know about you but in the presence of kings I would be worried about whether I would be leaking blood through my PJ bottoms or if my nipples were on show in front of a King. Both highly likely scenarios after having a baby. When you want to sit their with your boobs out trying to figure out breastfeeding, stay in your PJs all day with a disheveled mum bun or when you want to just have a nap when baby is sleeping, it’s good to know exactly who’s coming over, what time and when they’re leaving too.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for things. Lots of people when planning their visit ask to see if you need anything. Rather than being polite and saying no and then ending up with Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh., ask for a certain size of baby clothes that you need, or ask for a lasagne if you’re struggling to find the time to cook. I bet Mary wished that she had an easy meal to cook for the next few weeks rather than some Frankincense to carry home on her donkey.
3. Let people do the things… You’ve just had a baby. You’re job is to enjoy your baby, get to know your baby, feed, cuddle your baby and rest up. This comes first over entertaining 3 wise men. It shouldn’t be up to you to be making the teas and baking the cakes. Get your friend and family to make the tea and more so, Mums and Mother In Laws are always happy to put the washing away or unload the dishwasher!
4. Make use of the visitors too. If your family is coming over for the morning and you know they’re going to want to cuddle the baby, don’t be afraid of using this time to take a shower, get yourself dressed or even take a nap. You can’t pour from an empty cup after all so looking after no. 1 is important.
5. If it all becomes a little overwhelming have a safe space in your house where you can go with your baby. You could always take the baby upstairs to feed so you can get a little time out or space. Having a baby is busy and over Christmas especially it can be that bit more hectic.
6. Don’t be afraid to say no. Even if your guests are Kings, Wise and are from afar. You and your baby are the most important beings at this moment and if you don’t want someone visiting or holding the baby, then it’s ok to say no!
Have a conversation with your other half before baby arrives to see if you’re on the same page when it comes to visitors. It’s one less thing to think about when baby gets here.
Poor Mary on her donkey trying to find a nice place to have her precious baby, only to be showed to a stable filled with animals. If this was to happen nowadays we’d all be fuming that we didn’t get to our hospital room with a bed, warm water and a midwife.
But I want to share with you why I think Mary’s stable birth wasn’t as bad as we once thought.
1. When Mary was in labour, she set off on her donkey to find somewhere to give birth. She would have been upright sat on that donkey with her legs straddled wide, her open pelvis would have meant plenty of room for baby Jesus to travel down and this would have meant lots of pressure on her cervix to help it dilate.
2. Notice on her very long search for a place to birth she didn’t just accidentally have her baby on the pavement outside the local pub. That wouldn’t have made a very biblical story now would it?? You see our bodies have this funny way of having our backs. If adrenaline is high and we are stressed (for example being told a big fat, “No room at the inn” several times) our bodies can stall labour. Only when she found a safe place to birth did her labour crack on (that stable would have been nesting at its best!)
3. There was no bed in that stable. Beds are not always our friends in labour yet lots of birth rooms make the bed the centre point. Having no bed in the centre of the stable would have meant that Mary would have needed to walk, kneel, lean, squat, go on all fours to get into a comfortable position. This would have meant that baby Jesus would have been able to navigate through the pelvis a lot easier than if Mary saw a bed and then got on it.
4. It was dark. It was night time and there would have been no lights to just switch on in the stable. A dim lantern would have been the only light (and the North Star of course) meaning that melatonin (the darkness hormone) would have been at its highest. Melatonin acts on the uterus to increase contractions meaning a smoother labour.
5. There were no onlookers. Her mother didn’t just pop in to see if she was ok. Her other children weren’t demanding snacks or needing picking up from the school run. There was no midwife, no doctors, no change of staff, no staff just popping in to take equipment or check the resus. There’s a theory called the Fear Of Observeration. Whilst we may not consciously realise this, having people watching us in birth can make us behave differently and this can interfere with birth. I’m not for one minute suggesting that Mary shouldn’t have had a midwife there but, I think limiting her birth partner to just Joseph was a good idea.
So before you rush out to book the nearest Inn complete with stables and animals for your birth, notice that these 5 Top Tips for birth can be transferred to any birth scenario. Meaning that you can boss your birth like Mary, in all birth settings minus the straw and hay in your manger.
Want to know more about how you can help get the birth you want? Read a real life birth story and how she stacked the odds in her favour- Gayles Birth Story here.
Why is it you get home with your newborn baby and for the first few days/weeks they sleep? This is easy as pie, you think 💭 feeling smug, I have struck gold with a “sleeper”. Then as the weeks tick by your baby tends to turn into a baby that no longer knows how to sleep. Then you think 💭 I’ve broke my baby 🤷🏼♀️.
So I learnt from lovely, fellow Mum Helen that there’s a reason for this madness…
MELATONIN – the hormone that makes us sleep. A baby doesn’t start to produce this hormone till about 8 weeks. When a baby is born they have their mothers melatonin in their system making them often sleep beautifully until it starts to run out. They then have to build it up again from 8 weeks, hence the 8 week sleep regression 💡.
Delphi is currently coming up to 8 weeks and we’ve had a fair few sleepless nights. Knowing this nugget of info though has made me realise that I actually haven’t broke my baby at all, she’s not the real child of Voldemort (if you know you know!) and that it’s not only just normal but there’s a reason for it.
The most wonderful thing I gained from yesterday was knowing that this early on there’s nothing that you can do to control your baby’s sleep💤 SO STOP TRYING!!! What I can control though is how us as a family deal with it and accommodate this little sleep thief. It goes back to – Control the things you can, let go of the things you can’t – which is one of my favourite birth motos.
Whoever said breastfeeding was a walk in the park LIED!! Well at least for lots of women anyway.
That latch that midwives go on about sooooo much is so important because…
▪️ If the latch isn’t quite right your nipples can become sore and even cracked.
▫️ Your baby won’t be getting enough of a milk supply if the latch isn’t quite right which means that your baby may not be getting enough milk and this can also in turn reduce your supply.
Both the above can make breastfeeding VERY challenging.
Look at the way the mother in this photo is holding her baby. Just like we do when we grab a drink we tilt our head back- so the best way to hold your baby whilst feeding is by not holding the back of their head… Sounds like an alien concept though, right? Growing up we are encouraged to “hold the baby’s head!!!!” where as during breastfeeding this isn’t the case and supporting them by their shoulders and neck instead is a better way to encourage and support feeding.
We know how important feeding is to new parents and their babies, be that breast or bottle. So we’ve roped in Infant Feeding Specialist Midwife Sue to come and share her tips with you at antenatal class. You know lack of support is thought to be the biggest reasons why mothers choosing and wishing to breastfeed end up stopping, which is why we have your back ❤️ we think if you want to do it, it helps if your breastfeeding journey starts in pregnancy so it’s always included at antenatal.
Another tip for pregnant mothers is to head over to a breastfeeding support group in your area whilst you are on maternity leave before baby arrives. This is so that when you need to go there for breastfeeding support, you have already met some people there, you already know where you’re going and where to park. By doing this you’ll really be helping your sleep deprived & emotional future self.
This baby here was born ‘en caul’ which means that the baby was born still in its amniotic sac.
This is a fascinating photo and a fascinating (and rare) type of birth for the birth nerds amongst us but there’s 2 other important things to gain from looking at this photo.
1. Opposed to popular belief, this photo is evidence that waters don’t have to pop for you to be in labour. Babies can, in fact, be born with their waters still intact.
2. For most baby’s, they are not swimming in a giant balloon of amniotic fluid. If you look at the top of this baby’s head, the membranes are very close to baby’s head. If you then imagine that baby’s head tightly in a pelvis acting as a plug- you can see why some women second guess themselves on whether baby’s waters have gone or is it just a little bit of pee. Sometimes the waters trickle out, which NEVER happens in the movies, right?! Don’t always expect a flood gate and always call in if you suspect your waters have gone.
Two of my babies have been born with waters still intact when their heads were born. It was like giving birth to a little astronaut 👩🚀
Has anyone got an interesting story to share on their waters breaking?
You can read the comments and join in on the conversation here.
Hospital Bag Items. So the lists online are endless, but what do you actually need in your hospital bag?
Here are a few of the things that as a midwife, I see most helpful in the birth room and there after ….
💡Lip balm- Gas and air can make your lips really dry. So can hospitals with their dry air.
💡 Earplugs/Eye mask- This one is useful if you need to spend any time on the antenatal maternity ward eg. induction of labour. Ear plugs are definitely not for after you’ve had the baby!!
💡Flannel/water spray/mini fan – You can get HOT in labour. Also hospitals 🥵
💡Socks- if you have an epidural or spinal. When it wears off your feet can feel cold!
💡 Always pack an extra bag to keep at home for a relative to bring in if you unexpectedly need to stay in for longer
💡 Dads/Partners- Pack yourself a bag too. Think change of clothes, food, toothbrush, food, drinks, food. Paracetamol is also a good one for you to have, hospitals can’t dish out the drugs to Dads and lack of sleep and hospital air can mean headaches. Did I mention snacks? There is nothing worse than a hangry Dad.
But it’s not always about the practical things that you may need. Such as clothes to wear, food to eat, nappies for baby etc.
Have you ever thought though about packing items that may make your birth better?
Here are a few hospital bag items that will help improve your birth.
1. A Pillow – The most relaxed time in your day is most likely the moment just before you go to sleep. Your body, without maybe even realising it, will find comfort in the smell of your pillow. Bring your own pillow with you to help keep you relaxed in labour. Plus, pillows are like gold in a hospital!
2. An IPad or laptop – One of my TBTBC ladies went through her whole labour watching the athletics on her iPad. She had an induction of labour and was on the hormone drip. I remember going in to see her whilst she was in labour as I was on shift. I left the room thinking she is far toooo calm to be in labour as she just perched there watching the athletics. Turns out an hour later I was in the room as she birthed her baby. It was amazing! The iPad for her offered a great distraction method.
3. Headphones – If you think about the times that you have maybe been to the gym for a gym class- music is a massive part of any session as it acts as a distraction method. You notice less when you are feeling out of breath or exhausted because a good song is on. The same can apply for birth, complie a birthing playlist with your fave tunes on and bring a speaker or some headphones to listen.
4. Lucozade – Your uterus is a muscle, so during your contractions your uterus will need water and energy to work efficiently. Lucozade (ideally not the fizzy one) is great to keep your uterus hydrated so it can keep on contracting well.
5. A flannel- Many birthing mothers get very hot in labour. A flannel can be put on your forehead or nape of your neck to help keep you cool and comfortable. If you forget a flannel,, a sanitary pad on your head can also work the same way !
And for baby…
Pack enough nappies for 48hours days.. 8-10 nappies to be on the safe side. If your baby only does one poo a day then you’ll be fine. Equally, they can poo 4 or 5 times a day or more so better to pack safe. If you’re in for longer than have extras already packed in your “extras” bag at home.
A hat is a must. Babies lose heat through their heads and they don’t regulate their temperatures very well in the first few days.
As a rule of thumb, baby should be wearing one more layer to you. So in the winter, you are likely to be putting your baby in a vest, baby grow and a cardigan. Then blankets too. Cardigans though are great for the winter baby. 5x vests and 5x baby grows and 2 x cardigans would be plenty for a 48 hour stay in the hospital.
Want the complete checklist? You can get it here to print off and tick off when you have added it to your hospital bag.