In case you haven’t got enough to do already! Yogurt!

I’ve been working on mastering the art of yogurt for awhile now, and I’m about to share some really exciting information with you.  YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN YOGURT!

Why would you though? It is SO inexpensive to buy, what need have you for making your own?  Well to put it simply, home made yogurt gives you a sense of accomplishment, and fills your body (gut) with healthy bacteria that you need to help your immune system stay strong.

Home made yogurt carries more of those essential bacteria than store bought yogurt too.  So if you want the amazing power of good gut health, you’ve got to get some yogurt!  You could buy expensive probiotics, but you are not guaranteed a good batch, and you have no way of knowing that there is more than sugar in those pills… but when you grow your own bacteria from milk that you culture yourself, as you watch the process you are SURE that there is healthful beneficial cultures in there, because if there were not, you wouldn’t get any yogurt.

Now that you know why, I’ll tell you how… but first let me explain a few things.  There are two different kinds of yogurt you can make… store bought milk has been pasteurized and homogenized, which kills all the bacteria in the milk so that you end up with a product that should in theory be safer for human consumption.  There are those who believe this process to be ridiculous, and you can take the time to find a more scientific article to find out why if you want… but I mention it because if you are educated on your milk facts and want to create yogurt from RAW milk without killing the natural bacteria I will include a second set of directions for RAW milk yogurt makers~

First up, store bought milk yogurt…

This yogurt will have all the same bacteria as the store bought yogurt, and potentially more of it, but not likely more variety.  So in terms of bacteria, you’ll probably get more bacteria, but not more variety.

What you need:

one gallon Milk (I prefer to use whole milk but any milk will work)

4 quart size wide mouthed canning jars

One cup of yogurt (you can pick up a single serve package at the grocery store, use plain or vanilla though, the flavor won’t be helpful)

Sugar or sweetener (if desired, I use about a cup but you can use as much or as little as you like)

Vanilla (if desired. I use 4 tablespoons, but again this is optional and used at your own discretion for taste)

One large stock pot with lid (should be large enough to fit all four jars inside with the lid in place (it doesn’t need to sit perfectly but should cover the opening).

Large towel or small blanket

Candy thermometer

How to make the yogurt:

Pour milk in stock pot, heat to 180 degrees (use your thermometer to check the temp) stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.  If sweetened yogurt is desired, in a separate bowl mix sugar, vanilla, and yogurt lightly, no whipping, or whisking, just mix until blended, set aside. If unsweetened yogurt is preferred just put your yogurt in a small bowl alone.

Once your milk has reached 120 degrees remove the thin layer of milk that has solidified at the top (it’s ok if this didn’t happen, but if it did you don’t want to leave it in the pot).  scoop about a cup of milk from the stock pot and mix lightly with the yogurt/sugar mixture.  Once it is completely blended pour the entire yogurt mixture into the stock pot and lightly stir.  Don’t make the bacteria angry, you’re not beating it, just lightly mixing.

Now rinse your mason jars with very hot water, you want only the bacteria from the yogurt to be growing here, no other.  Temperature of the milk won’t likely break your jars but to prevent that happening the hot water rinse will prepare them for the hot milk/yogurt mix.  Now pour your yogurt mixture into the jars evenly… if you have extra left over feel free to drink it, it’s delicious, especially if you’ve sweetened it.

Once all of the milk is emptied into the jars rinse your stock pot out and place the jars (with lids in place) inside the pot.  Now fill the empty space around the jars with warm/hot water.  Put your stock pot on a counter or stove top where it is unlikely to be bothered, cover with the lid, place the towel on top of the lid covering the edges of the lid in case heat might escape from them.  Leave your yogurt for 4 hours, then carefully transfer it to the refrigerator over night.  DO NOT OPEN your jars.. You might be tempted to look, taste, or touch your yogurt at this point, but resist, you’ll get a better yogurt if you don’t disturb the process.  Once your yogurt has refrigerated for 8 hours you can eat it to your hearts content!

Now for RAW milk yogurt.

Because making yogurt with raw milk means that you likely have researched the safety of raw milk, I’m not going to educate you on it, and I’m going to assume you want to keep the bacteria that is currently in the milk in place… if you don’t want to keep that bacteria and you’d like to kill what is there and start fresh you can use the recipe above to do that.  But this recipe is to keep the living bacteria of your raw milk in place and add to it to create yogurt.

The only thing we are going to do differently from the above recipe is not heat it up as high.  The milk bacteria needs to stay at a temperature between 95 and 110 degrees.  95 is probably more ideal.

Pour the milk into your stock pot and heat to 95 degrees, mix sugar, vanilla and yogurt separately and then add a cup of the heated milk stirring lightly (this is simply to avoid lumps).  Pour yogurt mixture into heated milk, mix lightly, and empty into jars, then follow the above directions… LITERALLY the only change is the temperature the milk is heated to.  Keeping bacteria alive is key in this one.

There have been multiple benefits found from encouraging a healthy gut flora… more regular bowel movements, less infection, less sickness in general, and even being group b Strep negative… There are several ideas for a healthy building of the gut bacteria, but this is one simple way you can do something incredibly fun for yourself and be more healthy at the same time.

Have a Cherished Birth!

and enjoy your yogurt!

Sleepless Nights

There are so many reasons once you become a mother, that your sleep will be interrupted… Most of them have to do with your children.  I’m not going to lie, you’re going to simultaneously love and loathe those little ones when they’ve kept you up the entire night.

When I had my first baby my husband worked nights, and in my delirium I fantasized about what I could do to muffle the sound of my crying son, a pillow came to mind, not to be placed on him but a few inches above him, just to have the sound hit something soft and not bounce around the room.  I never acted on that fantasy, but I did once call my husband at work (a big no no for a military man) and tell him that if a dog walked by our house and barked I was going to kill it, because I needed sleep, and someone needed to pay for the lack of it that I was getting.

Fast forward to my fourth, and she is perfect and all smiles and happy and cooing, and I think “wow, she’s so easy” and then we go through the normal sleep issues and come out feeling great, and then the congestion hits, and she’s coughing and gagging on snot all night, and even when it doesn’t wake her it sure wakes me!  And when it does wake her it’s OK, I have not slept yet anyway, for fear she’d stop breathing and die (did I mention my oldest DID stop breathing once?  No he didn’t die, and it only happened once but seriously once is enough!).  So I’m up and down, and up and down all night, and it’s tough, and it’s annoying, and I just want to scream, or run away and make her dad deal with it, because it’s been months since I had really good sleep….

But then the sun comes up, and she wakes up happy, with a smile on her face, and cooing and drooling and everything is OK. And that smile is just enough to know that all I went through the night before was worth it.

I am a mom, I get paid in smiles and hugs, and I love it!

You, expecting your first, or fourth, or eighth baby, you, if you don’t already, will know very soon the joy that a smile can bring you, the refreshment you need after a long night of caring for an infant that can’t or wont sleep when you want them to.  And you will know it is worth it.

BUT  you also really do have to take care of yourself, so below is a list of the things you can do to help yourself out when sleep and sanity are frolicking together somewhere far away from you.

Solicit help!

Lots of people love to hold babies, and don’t mind washing dishes or making a light meal for a sleep deprived mamma, you just have to ask, and that’s the hardest.  I’ve not lived close to family for most of my babies infant days, and asking for help meant asking women with children my own children’s age, which was both ridiculous because their plates were full, and impossible because their plates were full…  OR I could ask that sweet old lady that lives a few streets down, or the woman at church who loved to play with the kids before service.. and often that meant I didn’t really know the woman, but if you invite her to your home when you feel somewhat sane, then you’ll feel more comfortable calling on her in the middle of a rough day when you really need the help.  Get to know people now while baby is still inside, let them into your inner circle, or at least test the waters, you’ll be glad you did once baby is here and you’ve not slept more than three hours in a stretch in months.

Plan ahead.

OK, so most nights you can’t plan whether your baby will sleep or not, but what you can do is plan your days as if you DID NOT SLEEP…. So what this means to me is that from the time I wake up and get dressed until lunch I don’t do anything outside of my home.  Sometimes this means that I don’t get dressed until lunch time and I wander around feeling drained of energy and getting nothing done, but then there are days when baby did sleep longer and I can actually get things done in my house that have been neglected for way too long.  Thinking of your daily schedule and planning it as if you are going to be tired will help you not over schedule your day on days when you really can’t handle it… and give you an advantage for the days when you could have handled it, with nothing on your schedule you might be able to meet a friend for coffee, or take your older kids to the park.

Nap when Baby naps

Everyone says this, I find it stupid, but I’m going to say it anyway because there are people who magically accomplish it… I am not one of them, so if you are not either, don’t feel bad.  But if you can nap when your baby does, please try.

Lower your expectations

I don’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for your best every day, and want a clean home and nice food and ironed clothes (who does that?  anyone?  Am I the only one who completely ignores this task?)  What I do mean is that if you were a neat freak before you had a child then you are going to have to get used to a different method of doing things. A method that might mean you are too tired to get the dishes done every night before bed, or that occasionally means you don’t get the laundry folded as soon as it comes out of the dryer (meaning that since you don’t iron anything you might have to throw it back in the dryer or deal with wrinkled clothes).  Yes, get the dishes done, Yes, fold the laundry, but understand your timeline includes a new person and things are going to change, you can’t keep everything going all at once, and you certainly can’t do it on zero energy.

Eat

There are a few things in this life that are vital, eating, drinking and sleeping are those things.  We can choose when we do those things, and we should make them a priority.  If a child is keeping you awake at night therefore keeping you from sleeping, then you should focus more on the other two things… you NEED water, especially if breastfeeding your baby.  Most breastfeeding moms who experience a low supply of milk will admit that they have not been drinking enough water… how is your body supposed to make liquid when it has no liquid to make it from?  And if you want to regain a little of that sanity you need to feed yourself, and I don’t mean running to the pantry and eating a Little Debbie as you nurse your baby and try to sweep the floor… I mean something with true natural color, color it grew with.. food that grows! If it doesn’t look like something that at one point grew and was alive (the food, not anything that might grow on it) then you shouldn’t be eating it on a day when you are sleep deprived.

This sounds crazy, on the day you have no energy that you would be preparing food, actual food, but sister, I’m telling you, it is necessary!  Eat a salad, they are surprisingly easy to put together, especially now that you can get ham already cut into tiny pieces, carrots cut in whatever shape you like them in your salad, and lettuce in a bag that is already salad ready.  And those things are going to help you build up your energy and stamina for a day with a bad start.

Shower

Whether you shower at night or in the morning, or like me, whenever you can fit it in, you need to care for yourself, shower, make yourself clean and you will feel better about yourself, which will help you feel happier.

Get Dressed

Some days are pajama days, and that is OK, but don’t make some days all days… you really need to be comfortable going out to get the mail without worrying if the neighbors will see you.  Not because it is any of their business, but because if you worry about what people will think when they see you, then you are worrying, and worrying is not good for your mental health, so choose, is today a pj day, or is today a day that I get dressed, but pick one that will make you feel good, not just let you be lazy.

I hope some of these tips will help you feel better on those days when sleep has left you, and your children need you…

Have a Cherished Birth

When life give you Lemons…

You’ve all heard it, when life gives lemons you make lemonade…  RIGHT?

What lemons have I been given?

A LOT OF MOVING.

A C-section birth I NEVER wanted due to a cord prolapse, so incredibly emergent.

A Baby who wouldn’t/couldn’t latch well to breastfeed.

PTSD.

ECTOPIC pregnancy

Surgery

Miscarriage

Lots of Lemons…..

What am I doing with them, you might ask…

I feel like everything happens for a reason, it just does, I mean God has a much more grand plan for this planet and the people on it than what could ever happen to me, so sometimes bad things happen and I mourn, I cry, I suffer, but then I pick back up, learn whatever is possible (I never stop learning) from that situation, and then I use that to apply to other people and to help them through the situations for themselves.

And this is why you really should consider hiring me as your birth doula.  I’m not full of myself, but I’ve been working on this self respect thing, and yeah, if I’m honest I can actually say that it would be worth it for a number of people expecting their babies soon to actually think about hiring me.

As a doula I can say without a doubt, every woman needs a doula, and there is a perfect doula for every woman, but I’m not advertising for the other doulas just this second (though if I’m not the one for you I’d be happy to help find one that is perfect for you).

But here are the reasons you should hire me… listed out in lemonade

I’m not from here, I’m not from a lot of places, but I’ve lived in a lot of places, so maybe you are new to the area and you want someone who can understand where you are from… I’ve lived in Michigan, California, Oklahoma, New Zealand, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina… that is a lot of places, and from that I’ve gained a pretty good understanding of a lot of different cultures, both in and out of the United States… (side note, I also hosted exchange students as a kid, so I learned a bit about Hungary, Germany, Japan, China, and Peru as well).

You are planning a beautiful un-medicated birth, or an epidural assisted delivery, or a scheduled c-section… yeah, I’ve been to births, and I’ve experienced them myself, I actually know how frightening it can be to experience it the first time, or to be experiencing it again after a time that wasn’t pleasant… Because my second was born by c-section and in a very big emergency, I didn’t have time to plan for the changes that happened around me, and my husband nearly passed out, so he wasn’t much help either. In that moment, don’t you think it would be great to have a reassuring hand to hold?  The hand of a woman who has been in a situation similar to your own?  This is in no way intended to mean that your birth wouldn’t be wonderful, but sometimes the unexpected happens, and if it did, you’d be well cared for with me.

So you planned to breastfeed, and things are not going well?  I understand, I’ve had a baby who just couldn’t get it right… I’ve dealt with the disappointment of not getting my baby to latch, I’ve dealt with the heartache when giving up the pump because it is painful and doesn’t produce the effect (milk) that you are hoping for.  If this happens to you, wouldn’t it be nice to know you are not the only one?  Lets hope it doesn’t, but the support of an understanding woman just might be helpful.. plus, since it happened to me I’ve done a lot to prevent it from ever happening again and learned a lot of really neat tricks along the way that might help you avoid giving up the dream.

After the birth of my second child went so far off course I struggled with my emotions and my actions, my mental health wasn’t good.  I thought I had PPD, but it turns out I was actually suffering from PTSD, my brain just wouldn’t stop replaying the moment when I felt my surgeon open my skin to take my baby out.  Mental problems after childbirth, no matter the cause, are serious, and I take them seriously.. My mom’s will know without a doubt that if they need help I’m there, if I can’t help I will find help for them.  I won’t play around when my mom’s are frustrated and it is taking a bit longer to get over it than it should, or when they are sleep deprived and need a rest, I’ll help them to get back to that sweet spot where they can relax and be taken seriously if they are struggling.

Some women wait to hire a doula until they are close to the end of their pregnancy, because maybe they don’t know they need one, or maybe they just figure a doula is there for just the birth of the baby… but to be honest pregnancy; the whole thing, is full of ups and downs, emotions, and fear, and excitement, and ALL THE THINGS!!!!  Because I’ve lost not one but two babies very early on I know how important early care is.  To have someone reassure you during those scary moments, or to cheer you on with your nutrition goals, or just to congratulate you at every milestone is pretty awesome, I’d love to do that with you!

And if things happen to take a turn for the worst and you lose your little one, due to ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage, or even late term loss, you don’t have to suffer in silence, there is another woman who would love to give you a hug, talk about the baby you were preparing to meet, and just plain love on you while you mourn this devastating loss.

Let me be your doula, let me celebrate with you, let me mourn with you, let me cheer you on, let me be a friend… it’s more than a job, it’s a calling.

I’ve been training my whole life for this job… and I’d love to help you in the transition of becoming the mother of THIS child.

Let my lemons be your lemonade.

Have a Cherished Birth.

Align Mommy and Me

The latest news in my world is that I’ve partnered with Align Chiropractic and Wellness in Choctaw to create “Align Mommy and Me”.  Approximately twice a month Tara Goodson of Align Chiropractic and Wellness and I are going to be getting together with other moms in the area and talking about fun mom topics, and sharing a fun afternoon with people in the mom zone.  We are incredibly excited to start this up!

Our first meeting is scheduled for March 24th at 11am.  The topic will be Nutrition.  Tara and I will both be talking a bit about it, but she’s going to take the lead this time.

I’m so excited to share this new adventure!  If you are in the Choctaw area on Friday the 24th, please come and see us!

 

Tara has also invited me to start meeting my clients in her office as well.  So when arranging to meet with me for doula services I will now be scheduling my initial meetings in Tara’s office.  After the initial meeting we will decide what is best for your individual case and where would be best to meet, in your home, or in Tara’s office space in Choctaw.  Scheduling those first appointments should be pretty easy, I’ll be seeing people on Fridays, and my time card is wide open right now!  I look forward to hearing from you all soon.  Lots of babies coming, and they all should have a doula on their birth team!

Have a Cherished Birth.

Breastfeeding and Mental Health

Recently someone posted this article about breastfeeding and mental health on facebook, and I’d just like to comment a bit on it.

Really there isn’t much more I can add to what these people have already said, but it seems pretty incredible to me, so I’m just going to say first of all, please go read the article, and second… WOW!

We all know the line ‘breast is best’, and for the most part there is no argument to that, it is true, breast milk is known to carry antigens and healthy bacteria to the infant from the mother, and if you have a choice then you should absolutely choose breast milk for your infant. *There are certain situations that do not allow for a baby to be exclusively breastfed, and I would hope you understand that I’m not saying every mother can and will be able to.

As a mother who tried to breastfeed all of her children and was successful with 3 out of four so far, I feel like I can speak in this area a little.  Mental health is affected by so much!

My daughter Sapphira was born by c-section, she was my second baby, and her older brother breastfed like a champ.  Sapphira however was smaller, much smaller than her brother, and had a lip tie (it wasn’t diagnosed until much too late to help our breastfeeding relationship).  I can honestly say that my mental health struggled a lot during this time.  I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was shocked that I wasn’t given the label of PPD, or just ‘the baby blues’… but I was actually traumatized from the surgical delivery of my daughter (that is a story for another day).

To say that my mental health wasn’t healthy is an understatement.  As with all new mother’s I didn’t get much sleep.  I was careful to care for my daughter and my toddler son, but often forgot to eat, or to shower when I really should have.  I was having nightmares of when the surgeon cut me, and I wasn’t enjoying being the mother of two.

And add to that the deep desire to feed my daughter the ‘best’, and the inability to get a good latch from her.  The worry of her not gaining weight, and the frustration at trying for more than 1/2 an hour to an hour every feeding just to get some food in her…

My milk supply did come in, but Sapphira wasn’t any good at getting it out, and I was exhausted.  I turned to pumping and bottle feeding, but my body doesn’t respond will to a pump so I was spending the majority of my day pumping milk instead of feeding my daughter.  And wishing I had time to play with my toddler.

Was I as attentive with my daughter as I was with my oldest child?  No.

However, I realized very early on that even though I didn’t really want to hold her (because the memories of her birth clouded my judgement at the time of who and what she was to me), I MUST hold her, I MUST not let her know that I was suffering, I MUST give her all that she, the innocent child she was, deserved to have from her mother.

I decided that knowing how important that bonding was I must absolutely do everything a breastfeeding mother would do with her child… and that meant that only rarely would I let other people feed her, that I would hold her when I fed her, that I would not prop a bottle up and leave her to eat alone.  I would rock her at night while I fed her, I would sing to her and rub her back, I would do the things I had done for my oldest, to create the bond, to help her socialize, to make the connections in her brain.

I didn’t even realize what I was doing at the time, I just knew that it was better for a baby to be held than to be left alone, and that I wanted to encourage her grow and learn, so I did what I felt was natural for a mama to do.  Now reading this article, and knowing about the bond that is formed from simply being forced to hold and attend to your baby even when you are struggling with a mental illness, and you don’t feel the bond yourself,  I feel like I might have done something more powerful than I even knew.  I’m so glad I followed my motherly instinct.

You have instincts in you to mother your children, I would urge every mother out there, use those instincts, even when you don’t ‘feel’ like it.  There were plenty of times my mental health was so low that I just wanted to walk away, but instead I stayed, for her sake.  Stay, for their sake.  Hold them because it is good for them, not because you feel like doing it.

And as a reward, later, when your brain starts feeling more normal, you’ll be glad you did because you’ll start to feel the way you wished you did before, and you’ll not have missed that critical time to bond with your baby, because you did it even when you didn’t feel like it.

 

Have a Cherished Birth!

(and breastfeeding experience)

Jesus Take the Wheel

Recently in a facebook group that is fighting for parental rights, someone quoted the song “Jesus take the Wheel” sung by Carrie Underwood.  I love that song, it is so pretty, but it also has a great message.

The chorus says:

“Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
‘Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go
So give me one more chance
And save me from this road I’m on
Jesus, take the wheel”

The situation in the song has NOTHING to do with delivering babies, but the message still applies.

There are doulas and midwives, doctors and nurses who will call you a ‘birth goddess’ or cheer you on as you deliver your baby, and while I disagree with calling any woman a goddess, I would argue that in that moment it feels great to tell a woman how wonderful she is doing, and as a mom delivering a baby it is great to hear.  But there is one voice in our great country, who lives much too far away for me to meet her in person, that says we are not the only ones playing a part in our births.  The truth this woman speaks is amazing and was something my own heart had been feeling for a long time, but I just didn’t have the words to put it in… Kierra Blasser.  Kierra just has a heart for Jesus, it is all over her website, and in her podcasts, and she is a super sweet and friendly woman (I’ve only spoken to her through e-mail but it counts).

After taking Kierra’s childbirth class I finally (Yeah it took me seeing how someone else did it to understand how I could) got how God fit in the birth of my babies.  All we have to do is recognize that he is there, just like in everything else.  And let him take the wheel.

The truth is, we can’t do anything on our own, and birth is incredibly hard, so to think we are ‘goddesses’ and do birth on our own is just silly.

In the midst of a whirlwind two hour labor with my daughter Esmarie there was a time when I was completely alone, and felt like a child, I cried out to Jesus and said “I don’t want to be alone” and the answer spoken directly into my heart was “You aren’t”.  And from that moment until my birth team finally arrived I had another song in my heart…

“I am not alone” by Kari Jobe

“When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me”
It was a perfect moment of release, a moment when I truly knew without a doubt that though I labored with no man or woman near me, my savior was there, and I was NOT alone.
So my prayer for you, for all of the mama’s out there getting ready to bring their babies into the world, would be that you can give the wheel over to Jesus, and realize that you really are not alone, and that the creator of the world, the amazing father of all things, the one who created you, perfectly and in his image, the one who formed the child in your womb is with you, and he will protect you, and guide you.  And in that realization you will have an amazing birth, and see the power of God through it all.
Have a Cherished Birth

 

Part two, Your Birth Bag, beyond the essentials

I wrote a post a while ago about your birth bag, and promised a follow up with a more extensive list of the things that you might consider putting in your bag… The following is my list, as promised…

 

No Birth bag is complete without a doula, I’ll just say that…

The things you need for your birth are often included in her service, she has two extra arms to carry all the other things you bring to the hospital or birthing center as well.. and if you are birthing at home and your birth ‘bag’ is your whole house, she may come in handy since she will likely attempt to familiarize herself with the location of your essentials before you begin labor, so she would be highly beneficial beyond her training and expertise in birth.

But back to the actual bag… things you need…

Momma Pre-birth bag:

Tunes (you can bring a cd player and cd’s, ipod, mp3 player, or digital device to play your favorite music, but whatever you do, think about at least three types of music you might like during labor.  Slow, upbeat, country…. whatever you like, but you may like one kind pre-labor and another once you are in labor).

Scents-  Hospitals are not known for their beautiful smells, they are meant to be sterile, the scents of home, or essential oils that you enjoy may help you relax, you might bring a baggy of your favorite potpourri, a cloth with your favorite essential oils, or a diffuser are all options you could consider.

Comfy clothes- Consider bringing something you’d like to wear more than a hospital gown someone probably died in.  There are cute things sold on-line, but there is also your favorite pj’s, or some old clothes that you’d never wear to ‘look good’ but just feel good in.  When you consider what to wear please remember birth is messy, there is fluid involved in nearly every part of your body and the process of birth… some people puke, most people sweat, there is blood, and amniotic fluid… if getting those fluids on your clothes are an issue, you might consider skipping this one.

Hair brush- some people really like to have their hair brushed, and it relaxes them, you might like this too.

Hair tie- whether it looks good or not, you  may decide your hair just needs to be pulled up and a hair tie will help.

Headband- same reason as above, but it pulls all those little whispy hairs that don’t stay in your pony tail.

Socks- Lots of moms get cold feet in hospital, but they also don’t like wearing shoes in labor, so you might consider buying and bringing a pair of socks with a little tread on the bottom.  Pretty socks are fun too… some moms like to pick some incredibly funny socks.

Pillows- You’ll probably like laying your head on your own pillow much more than you’d ever enjoy the ones the hospital offers.

Visuals- Ultrasound pictures, a picture of a place you would like to visit, or loved being at some point, A stuffed animal, Some birth affirmations on cards you can hang up, or flip through.

Make-up- I’ve had a few moms start applying make-up in labor, so they can avoid the ‘I just worked the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life’ look, and greet their newborn infant with a fresh looking face… this is a fun thing to do in labor too if time and energy permit.

Rice bag- Great for a warm compress

Ice pack or water bag- great for a cold compress

yoga ball-great for getting into new or different positions during labor for comfort.

Drinks and snacks- most hospital births will recommend that mom’s do not eat or drink, but research suggests that this is an outdated policy, and doctors and nurses are beginning to permit these things in labor, in the end it is your choice whether you eat or drink and they can not stop you… (I will not tell you if you should or not, but would gladly talk to you about the risks and benefits if you like, so that you can choose for yourself).  Regardless clear drinks are almost always accepted by the nurses and doctors during labor… so an electrolyte drink is usually not questioned at all, I have had moms drink Kefir, and bring honey sticks as well.

books and games- Most mom’s I have served do not use these things, but when labor goes for a long time, or is induced these are good things to include, just in case.

 

Dad’s Labor Bag:

Yup Dad’s need stuff too!

Swim shorts- if mama wants to shower, or bathe during labor you may end up in a position of support that leaves you wet, having clothes that you’ll be comfortable in is beneficial to you.

Money-You are going to get hungry, or want to visit the gift shop, or cafe at some point, having a debit or credit card, or cash on hand is a good idea.

Comfortable shoes-You’ll be on your feet awhile.

Pillow-Some births last a long time and Dad’s like to take a nap, this is a great idea depending on the situation, and you should be as comfortable as possible if you nap.

tooth brush and tooth paste- Mom doesn’t want to smell your breath after you’ve had something to eat and she is starving because the doctor said ‘nothing by mouth’.

Mama’s post-birth bag:

I recommend that you don’t pack all your things in one bag, put them in two, then in labor you only bring up the ‘labor bag’, and after baby is born and you’ve switched rooms to be in your postpartum room send Dad down to get your other bag.

Clean clothes- after baby is born you do not need a hospital gown, unless you are comfortable in that, but you will want something easy to nurse in, and that is loose and dark colored in the bottom area.  You will be bleeding after baby is born and a light colored pair of pants might end up with a blood stain on them (I did this with my first baby, and my baby blue yoga pants were ruined, but SO COMFORTABLE)…

Hygiene items:  Hair brush, tooth brush, hair ties, make-up, sanitary pads (the hospital provides these, but if you have a brand you prefer you can bring them with you), underwear (the hospital also provides these, but they stretch out pretty fast so you may want to have the comfort of your own), deodorant, shampoo and conditioner and body wash (the hospital will probably only provide baby shampoo which isn’t very pleasant for adults).

Camera

Book

Boppy

 

Baby’s Bag:

Going home outfit

Diapers and wipes (the hospital provides these and any open package can be taken home with you, but if you prefer a specific brand bring them with you)

a small bottle of Olive oil- pour a little on baby’s butt before they poop that first poo, and for the next few diaper changes after you’ve cleaned them up, and you’ll not have a hard time cleaning up that first tar-like poop

a few onsies or outfits for wearing until you are sent home (hospitals usually provide a hat and a long sleeve onsie, but if you prefer your own you should bring some with you.)

Car seat- You will not be able to go home without a car seat for baby.  In my experience though nurses are required to attend a class or learn about car seat safety they do not always know what they are talking about when checking your child for a proper fit in their car seat (my 6’lb 4oz daughter was ‘cleared’ to go home in a seat that did not fit at all, luckily I knew and sent my husband to buy a different seat).

 

 

This list was just sort of fun to put together, most of the items listed are not essential to birth.  Many of the items are provided for you by the hospital or birth center you plan to deliver at, and others are only helpful if you are going to be in hospital for a long time… however we never know what birth will look like until it is said and done, so have fun putting together the things that are important to you, and don’t worry too much about what you do and don’t have.

Have a Cherished Birth.