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Welcome to my world of being a follower of Jesus, wife & mom, Certified Personal Trainer, Pre/Postnatal Fitness Specialist, Young Living essential oils fanatic, holiday junkie, home decor lover and your Preggercise coach!

Filtering by Category: Labor & Delivery

What to Expect Your 1st Week Postpartum

lindsey shooter

Day 1:

The first 24 hours after you give birth are pretty intense. Immediately after your baby has arrived there is this overwhelming relief and joy that is unlike anything you've ever experienced. You have made it though the last nine plus months of carrying this sweet little bundle and you are meeting him or her for the first time. Plus, if you've been experiencing the pain of contractions and pushing the relief you feel that it is over gives you a euphoric high. Congratulations, you are a mom!

lets get into the not so joyous part of giving birth. This will be coming from the point of view of a vaginal delivery. If there are any of you who have the experience of a cesarean birth I would love to get your input in the comments to bring some insight into that recovery process. Although each pregnancy and delivery is different, some of the things you can expect right after birth are lots of bleeding, possible tearing and stitches of the perineum, swelling, pressure, cramps/post contractions and an adrenaline high. Sounds awesome, right? Don't worry that little bundle you'll be holding in your arms makes it all worth it. Sounds cliche, but it is true. 

If you are giving birth in the hospital they will load you up on a slew of products to help ease the discomforts of your girly parts. They will supply mesh panties with very large pads for all the excess blood and discharge. You haven't had a period for nearly a year so just think of it as a big body flush. They will give you witch hazel pads to line in your pad along with epifoam for those dreadful hemorrhoids. Add in some Dermoplast spray to numb the pain and a spritz bottle to rinse clean after you urinate. When you leave the hospital, stock up on these things. You can take all of it with you. You'll need them in the days to come. 

Day 2: 

Cramps. If this is not your first baby, you will probably be experiencing more intense cramping/post contractions now. Many first time moms will not experience these kinds of cramps after delivery but with each consecutive pregnancy you will experience the post contractions more and more. I thought I was done with contractions!? It's simply your body working to shrink the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy state but these cramps can catch you by surprise. Many times breastfeeding will trigger them or it can be while you're simply lying down resting. I wasn't prepared, so now you will be.

Sore nipples. Day one was joyous as you and your baby are figuring out just how to latch and snuggle in with you. Day two, well, this can be a rough day. All it takes is one or two bad latches in the beginning and it will create small micro injuries to the nipples which become more irritated with each feeding. That's why it is so important to use the resources you have to make sure you are getting a good deep latch from the get-go. Hospital nurses and on-site lactation consultants are there to help you. Use them! In the meantime, if you are having a tough time with sore nipples apply lanolin ointment in between feedings, allow the ladies to air dry after feeding (just let it all hang out) and if worst comes to worst you can use a nipple shield. Nipple shields have been my saving grace and my kiddos have gained weight steadily from the beginning so I have no hesitation in saying they have worked great for us. 

Day 3:

Baby stares. You just can't stop looking at this little human you have made! Amidst all the gross stuff that has been coming out of you and the pain you may be feeling when you try to stand up, you just can't stop staring. This little baby is the best thing you've ever seen in your whole entire life. Enjoy these moments and take them all in. 

Sore muscles. When I had my son I was pushing for about 45 minutes. Which meant I was pulling my knees back and pushing as hard as I could for almost an hour. Let me tell you, I was not prepared to have every single muscle in my shoulders, arms and back more sore than any crazy workout I've ever done. And I'm no stranger to sore muscles after trying new intense workouts. I will happily leave this particular workout to once every couple years. 

Engorged breasts. Many women will get their milk in between day three to five. Engorgement may not be experienced by everyone but for those who do experience it, it can be rather uncomfortable to say the least. The breasts become large, firm (okay, hard as apples), heavy and warm. Your little one at this point isn't going to be able to stomach everything you've got to offer so you have to bare with it. It should only last a day or two but can be a problem that persists longer. You must be careful though that it does not continue for too long and you start to notice your skin becoming red as this can be leading to infection. To ease some of the discomfort apply cold compresses to your chest in between feedings (frozen veggies work great) or apply warm compresses and hand express. If neither of these are doing the trick you can use your electric breast pump but only pump for 10 minutes or so. Just long enough to relieve some pressure but not signal your body to produce even more milk.  

Day 4: 

Discharge. Yes, you are still bleeding but there is also a lot of other stuff coming out too. This is known as lochia. It is the discharge that contains not only blood but mucus and uterine tissue. I know, gross. I'm just trying to keep it very real here. I don't want you to be alarmed when its not just your typical bloody period coming out days afterwards. Keep the pads well stocked this can go on for up to six weeks. 

Bowel movements. Again, keeping it real. It could be very difficult to go after giving birth. Many women wind up constipated after delivery and there can be a good deal of pressure down in that region which makes the whole experience feel a bit foreign. When the time does come, try to relax and let things happen or you can end up aggravating your hemorrhoids by pushing with all your might. If things are really getting blocked up, talk to your doctor about using a stool softener to help loosen things up. Eat lots of fiber-rich foods and drink lots and lots of water. 

Day 5:

Naps and snuggles. The good news is your little one will mainly just eat and sleep (and poo) these first few weeks. So if you are lucky to have this time with just your little one, embrace the time to cuddle and nap with your baby. If you have other kiddos this may not be as easy but try to find time to get cozy with this little bundle because before you know it they'll be running all over the place and no longer accept mommy snuggles as often. 

Sleep. Or did I mean, lack of sleep. Yes, it is true what they say, you will be up often with your little one to feed these first couple of months. Now, I have to take a positive spin on this and mention that in my last couple months of pregnancy I was up every couple of hours going pee anyways, so this is nothing new. I'm not saying we don't need sleep but somehow I do feel like I need a whole lot less to function as a mother than I did previously.

Day 6: 

Sweat pants and messy bun. Be prepared to veg out and be home for a while. It's okay. Your body needs to recover and you have a newborn who needs to eat every couple hours and only wants to sleep in between. Plus, depending on the time of year you deliver it can be a scary germy world out there. Give yourself grace to lay low, put on that extra large t-shirt that is super comfy and not worry about doing your hair or makeup for several days. 

Day 7: 

Pediatrician Appointment. You will also be seeing your pediatrician within the first week of your newborns life. We saw our doctor on day four and then again the day after she was one week old. They will do weight, measurements, all the normal check-up on the first visit and then at your one week appointment they will likely only check their weight and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Be sure to write down anything you notice throughout the week that you may want to talk to your doctor about. Our pregnancy brains are not quite out of the fog so keep the paper and pencil handy. 

Victory. Things are looking up. Your boobs should be regulating your milk supply better now and not be as tender. Your nipples are toughening up. Your swelling should be subsiding. Your sore muscles are functioning just fine again. The discharge is hopefully getting lighter. It doesn't seem as big a feat to get up off the couch anymore. I'm not saying you are out of the recovery woods just yet but you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Continue to rest and allow yourself time to fully recover. You will have five more weeks now of taking it easy... no sex, no exercise. Find a good book to dive into during feedings and enjoy your little newborn. 

If you have more to add on things you experienced during your first week postpartum, please share in the comments below! I pray we can help support and encourage each other through this unique time by not keeping the gory details a secret but understand we all go through many of the same recovery obstacles. It may sound like a mess and frankly it is a bit messy but as I've said before the joy of having your little one here with you will ease the pain. God bless you and your little ones! 

Ellie's Birth Story: Prayers Continuously Answered

lindsey shooter

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It was a Monday morning and I knew having my 39-week appointment could mean we'd get a favorable progress report on miss Ellie's arrival. I had after all been walking around 3+cm dilated and over 75% effaced for several weeks now. I had also been experiencing false labor on and off again for over a week. So, on this Monday morning I thought we need to have a special morning with Beau. Let's go to Chick-fil-a (as the YouTube mom group song rings in my head -- "I wanna go to Chick-fil-a, Chick-fil-a, Chick-fil-a") and have a picnic at Riverview Park together as a family. 

Since my husband DJ had planned to take the morning off he was able to stay home with Beau while I went to my check-up appointment at 11:45am after our family date. I arrived at the office feeling hopeful that I would have some progress since my last appointment and talk to my doctor about possibly stripping the membranes to kick start things a bit. We checked Ellie's heartbeat which sounded great and then he proceeded to do the cervical exam. This is where things got interesting real fast. 

As he was examining me he took longer than normal and had a certain look of surprise on his face. He simply said, "good news is you are now 5cm dilated but I feel something that's not quite right and I think we need to get into the the other room to do an ultrasound right now." Sure enough, I had a bulging hour-glass amniotic sac which means fluid from the sac had descended down outside of the cervix and inside that sac was a prolapsed umbilical cord. A rare condition seen in less than 1% of pregnancies. I have become rather fascinated with birth so I had read enough to know that this is not a good thing.  

My doctor, whom I trust wholeheartedly, did as he always does and explained the situation at hand. Having a prolapsed umbilical cord means that had my water broken or if my water were to break now we would have approximately 5 minutes to get Ellie out before her life support (the umbilical cord) would be pinched off and she would suffocate. 

My doctor knowing how much I was looking forward to a non-medicated, vaginal birth saw the look on my face when I said, "okay so this means we need to get her out via c-section right now?" Being the amazing doctor he is he said, "I have an idea. In my 30-years of delivering babies, I have only had one prolapsed cord and this is what we did and she was able to have a safe vaginal delivery."

From here, my doctor inverted the bed so my head was nearly on the ground and Ellie was able to float up. The nurse applied pressure on my abdomen to keep her there and my doctor maneuvered, very carefully, the umbilical cord back up and around her head. At this point if he were to accidentally break my water we would be in big trouble. After a few minutes, he said, "I have pushed it back but we aren't out of the woods yet. Since your sac is still intact the cord could still sneak around again so we need to get you admitted to the hospital. There, I can break your water thus allowing her head to drop into the canal, preventing the cord from slipping in front again."

Luckily my doctors office is directly next to the hospital so I was able to drive my car over to the maternity parking lot and check myself in at 12:30pm. They admitted me immediately as my doctor had called over to prepare them for my arrival.

I called my mom to come over to our house to watch Beau so DJ could come join me at the hospital. The staff got me settled and began monitoring both me and baby. Now we just had to wait until my doctor was done with his other patients and he'd be coming over to break my water.

It was a little before 3pm when my doctor arrived. He did another cervical exam to make sure the cord had not snuck back in front. Lo and behold, Ellie's hand was now in front of her head. Again, another no-no when it comes to a vaginal birth. So with the help of the nurse he began trying to maneuver Ellie and get her hand to drop back again (did I mention how uncomfortable all this maneuvering is?!). Since he was going to break my water he had to be absolutely certain everything was out of the way so we had an ultrasound ordered immediately to find he had successfully pushed back the bulging sac, umbilical cord, and her hand. Immediately, before anything else could possibly sneak in there, he manually broke my water. Ellie was safe and if all continued to go smoothly I would be able to deliver her vaginally. Answered prayer.

Now it was a waiting game. I had been admitted to labor & delivery but I was not yet in active labor. Breaking your water does not always mean the contractions will start immediately so my doctor, knowing my wishes for a natural delivery suggested we give the smallest amount of Pitocin (oxytocin) to get things started. Since I was 6cm dilated and nearly fully effaced by this time, once the contractions would start we would stop the Pitocin and allow my body to take over. It worked wonderfully. By 7pm I was having lots of pressure and contractions strong enough that I felt I needed a check. I was a discouraging 7.5cm. Keep in mind, I have not eaten anything since breakfast this morning so my energy is dwindling quickly. Again, I begin to pray for energy, strength and Lord willing, for things to speed up as the intensity is really picking up. 

I got through one more hour and again feel the pressure and the contractions intensifying significantly so we check at 8:30pm and I am now at 9cm. Prayer answered.  

My doctor who stayed at the hospital was in by 8:45pm, got set up as I went through the final transitional contractions. By 8:55pm I was pushing and Ellie was born at 9:10pm. That dang cord was wrapped both around her neck and her legs. Similar to Beau's birth where his cord was wrapped around his neck 3 times. This didn't have any negative effects on either of them, just funny I seem to produce the longest umbilical lassos out there. 

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Immediately after birth, Ellie was calm and sweet. She only let out a few little squeaks and just looked around bright eyed at the new world she had been brought out to. After nursing and some skin-to-skin time she was measured at 6lb, 0oz and 19.5in long. She was perfect. Answered prayer.

Now as I look back I see even more answered prayers. Had I gone into active labor instead of the false labor I was experiencing all week at home and my water had broken we could have lost Ellie. Answered prayer. Having an experienced, confident doctor that was willing to do the unorthodox for the betterment of both me and my baby. Answered prayer. Having family and friends to help support and pray for us in the midst of the uncertainty. Answered prayer. Having an absolutely amazing, calm, encouraging labor partner and husband. Answered prayer. Beau meeting his baby sister for the first time was a success. We asked him as he entered the room, Beau do you know who this is? He answered in a yell, "ELLIE!" Answered prayer. 



Birth Plan: 101

lindsey shooter

We have the hospital bag packed and we are ready to go. Since it is round two for us, our bag is a lot smaller than it was last time. I've got the comfy P.J.'s that are breastfeeding friendly, light robe, yoga pants, slippers and socks, maternity going home outfit and toiletries. The great part about giving birth in the hospital is all the post-delivery "goodies" they provide such as witch-hazel pads, epi-foam, maxi-pads, spritz bottle, and the glamorous disposable underwear. Not sexy but comfortable and they are disposable so you aren't ruining your own underwear if you happen to soak through your pad. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you will soon. 

I've packed baby girl some warm P.J.'s, couple onsies and a going home outfit with a few cute little bows. None of these are even necessary but a girl needs to be brought into this world with a little style, right? Our hospital provides receiving blankets, long-sleeve onsie and diapers so I'm leaving those out this time. Don't forget the car seat!

For breastfeeding I've decided to bring my own nursing pillow this time. It was tough getting the hospital pillows to squash in just right last time and when you're trying so hard to get that good latch and keep your body relaxed I think this would have been a real help. I'll also be bringing my own lansolin cream and my new CoveredGoods nursing cover for when we have guests visiting. Last but not least, we will be bringing a copy of our birth plan. This is something I am fairly confident I would have overlooked in my first pregnancy had my sister-in-law not recommended we write one up. 

Why is it important to have a birth plan? Well if you are someone who has done a lot of reading, preparing and envisioning how you want your labor, delivery and post-birth to go then you'll want everyone else who is going to be a part of that process in on your vision. Nobody can read your mind and when you are in the middle of laboring the last thing you want to be doing is trying to verbally communicate this to everyone over and over again. If you are planning to give birth at a hospital I feel it is even more important to have your plan written out for the staff. I have never worked in a hospital so this is not coming from personal experience but I would think they've got a pretty routine way of doing things and if you have specific wishes that don't fit into that routine it can simply be overlooked or it may be assumed differently. This isn't the hospital staff's fault, they are just doing their job the way they know how to do it. That's why it's important to write everything down so everyone is on the same page.

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Keep in mind, just because you have something written down in your birth plan does not mean all your wishes will be granted. Write your birth plan ahead of time and talk to your doctor or midwife about it and see if you have realistic expectations. Trust your doctor and the hospital staff that they have you and your baby's best interest at heart and that they know what they are doing. Be flexible because the most important thing at the end of the day is that you and your baby are safe and healthy. 

In my birth plan, which I am happy to share with anyone who requests it, I outline each stage of labor and what my preferences are. Let's go through some ideas to think about when you are writing your birth plan. 

First-Stage Labor

  • Outline how you would like to manage pain whether it be an epidural or the use of breathing techniques, distraction, bath/shower, massage/aromatherapy, music, etc. 
  • Would you prefer for your water to break on its own or be broken artificially if not medically necessary? 
  • If inducing or augmenting labor becomes necessary, which techniques would you like to try first? Administering medication such as Pitocin or non-medicated including stripping of membranes, walking, castor oil, sex, etc.
  • Do you want to be given intravenous fluid (IV)?
  • Fetal monitoring - intermittently or continuously?

Second-Stage Labor (Transition)

  • Although episiotomies seem to be scarcely used these days, you can include whether you would prefer not to have an episiotomy unless strongly recommended by your doctor.  
  • If you are giving birth at a hospital or birthing center feel free to list the birthing equipment you would like made available to you such as a birthing tub, birthing ball, squat bar, etc. 

Pushing/Birthing

  • List ways you'd like support for an intact perineum including controlled pushing/breathing, perineal massage, warm compress in between contractions/pushing. 
  • Do you want a mirror made available to you so you can watch your progression or not?
  • Vacuum extraction or forcep use

Post-Birth

  • How quickly after delivery do you want to hold your baby?
  • Would you like to have routine Pitocin offered to you after the delivery?
  • Do you prefer to cut the cord right away or delay? 
  • Do you want to breastfeed immediately after birth? Or would you like to formula feed?
  • How would you like dad to participate? Help with cutting the cord? Help with the first bath?
  • Would you like vaccines administered to the baby or wait until you take your baby to the pediatrician?
  • How would you like visitors regulated?

Then I go into some of the unexpected events. 

Cesarean Section

  • Although it is common practice for the spouse to be in with you, you can list this as a must. Same with requesting that the baby be given to you or your spouse as soon as the baby is dried (assuming the baby is healthy). 
  • List whether you would like to have skin-to-skin time and breastfeed as soon after surgery as possible.

Sick Infant

  • If baby is taken to a different hospital you may want to include that you'd like your spouse to go with the baby.
  • Include whether you would like to provide the baby's milk if possible through bottle, dropper or tube.

Remember, each hospital and birthing center is different in their approach to certain birthing practices. Many tend to promote as much skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding on demand but its never a bad idea to have your preferences written down just to confirm these things with them. To ease anxiety, I would encourage you to take a tour of the labor and delivery unit you will be delivering at and ask a friendly nurse some of your questions. 

Here is an online birth plan template available for free (The Bump: Birth Plan Worksheet) or if you'd like to see a copy of my birth plan I will be happy to share it with you! Happy baby prepping! 

Supplements for a Healthy Baby Eviction

lindsey shooter

I have my good friend, Christina Sternberg to thank for turning me on to a lot of these supplements. She was my Doula for my first pregnancy with Beau and it was amazingly helpful. I find she's still my go-to for a lot of these types of natural remedies. 

Now to clarify, this is not about induction or forcing your body into labor. These are simply supplements that support your body as it naturally gets ready for labor and delivery. I consumed all of these supplements with my first pregnancy and was so happy with how my labor, delivery and postpartum recovery went. I was able to manage the pain without medication. I will stop right here and just say, I am not putting myself up on any pedestal. DJ, my husband, and I had done a lot of reading during my pregnancy and came to the conclusion that we wanted to try for a natural birth. That was all it was. Moving on. We labored at home for a very long time until getting to the hospital where I was checked at 9cm dilated. I spent another hour or so in transition and then pushed for 45 minutes to deliver Beau on his due date. My postpartum recovery was not bad at all. I had moderate to light bleeding for only one week. I had a very positive outlook on the whole experience and do believe it was because I first and foremost educated myself and had great support from my family and Doula. But secondly, I believe that these supplements did help support and prepare my body so that is why I find it important enough to share with you now. 

1. Prenatal Vitamin

This is a given. Any doctor or midwife will suggest you take a daily prenatal vitamin to make sure you are filling in any of the nutritional gaps in your diet. Some of the really important vitamins and minerals that are found in these supplements are folic acid, iron, iodine and calcium. 

Things to look for in a prenatal vitamin include:

  • 400 mcg of folic acid
  • 400 IU of vitamin D
  • 200 - 300 mg of calcium
  • 70 mg of vitamin C
  • 3 mg of thiamine
  • 2 mg of riboflavin
  • 20 mg of niacin
  • 6 mcg of vitamin B12
  • 10 mg of vitamin E
  • 15 mg of zinc
  • 17 mg of iron
  • 150 mcg of iodine

The other important thing I look for when selecting my vitamins is the serving size. If I have to take more than one a day, forget it. Tip: If you are like me and absolutely hate taking pills, I have found that taking them after breakfast with an 8oz glass of orange juice gets them down a lot easier than with water. It masks that vitamin taste and feels thicker to push them down. Always make sure you take them with a full stomach. I get so nauseous if I haven't eaten enough.

2. Prenatal DHA

When selecting your prenatal multivitamin you can usually find DHA included but in case you don't (like me), make sure you add this to the pile. DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, walnuts and some products which are fortified with DHA like eggs or milk make for an essential nutrient for preggo mamas. DHA helps build your baby's brain, nervous system and eyes. The prenatal DHA vitamin I have taken is only one per day containing 200 mg with no fish oil (I have found those to make me burp gross fishy taste).

3. Alfalfa

Alfalfa is the powerhouse of herbs offering a variety of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, silicon, and so on. It can also be a good source of Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Vitamin K which help with blood clotting. I have been taking my alfalfa tablets (4 total a day) during my last trimester to decrease postpartum bleeding in both quantity and duration. I truly believe this is what allowed me to have so little bleeding after my first pregnancy. 

Bonus, it is also shown to increase breast milk supply. I had no problems getting my milk in and sustaining a good supply throughout my 14 months of breastfeeding. Now, I haven't experienced many of these symptoms but I have also read that alfalfa tablets can be used for morning sickness, heartburn, constipation, anemia and swelling. Perhaps I haven't had these symptoms because I take this supplement!? Try it. 

4. Dates

Who knew that sweet candy-like fruit would have so many benefits for the preggo body? A study from Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who consumed six date fruits per day for 4 weeks prior to their estimated due date significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation, cervical dilation was higher upon admission, and the duration of labor was shorter. Um, heck yes to all of those. Plus, dates are rich sources of proteins, fiber and other vitamins. Oh and don't forget about those good ol natural sugars that make them so sweet! I like to buy mine at Costco with the pit in but you can find them pitted at most grocery or health food stores. 

5. Evening Primrose Oil

This may be the most controversial of all the supplements I take but I did my research and decided to take these pills at 38 weeks pregnant with my son. Being just under 37 weeks pregnant now I haven't even opened the bottle yet.  Basically, beginning at 38 weeks you can begin taking evening primose oil orally or inserted vaginally to act as a prostaglandin that softens and ripens the cervix. This is not something that will induce labor but as your cervix softens it will progress your labor and may make your delivery quicker and easier. As I will say for all of these supplements talk to your doctor or midwife to see what their thoughts are on taking this herbal supplement and what they find is the appropriate amount.

6. Pregnancy Tea or Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

I have been an on-again, off-again tea drinker but I finally found a delicious Pregnancy Tea that I love from a local shop called Desert Sage Herbs. It has a blend of red raspberry leaf, nettle leaf, spearmint leaf, alfalfa, rosehip and milky oats. I use my tea infuser and put it over ice with a little agave nectar and drop of lemon essential oil, delish! I drink this twice a day and it is said to help tone the uterus and prepare the womb for childbirth while potentially making your labor shorter in duration. Again, you have the added bonus of assisting with breast milk supply. If it tastes good and is helping get this little girl out more smoothly, why not!?

7. Papaya Enzyme

This is just a little added bonus I thought I'd throw in there because I did not know about this one with my first pregnancy and I am SO glad I know about it now. Heartburn. Oh my goodness, heartburn. I had never experienced what heartburn even was before having my son and let me tell you it hits me hard during pregnancy. I popped Tums daily with my first pregnancy with usually very little relief. Then, once again my beautiful friend Christina told me about papaya enzyme chewable tablets. These babies work! Since I am usually hit the hardest in the evenings, I just chew three tablets after dinner and am good to go. FYI, mine taste like peppermint pills... not the fruit papaya.

In conclusion, talk to your doctor about any and all of these and see what he or she thinks. These are the supplements that have seemed to work well for me and so I hope you find this information helpful for your pregnancy.