Continuing my countdown theme for my pregnancy related posts (see: Five things I’m glad I did during my pregnancy and Four things that helped me survive pregnancy), here are three things I wish I had done during my pregnancy … and maybe will once it comes time to start cooking baby #2 someday.
Known what questions to even ask
I found the classes we took at the hospital very helpful (and listed them as one of the things I’m really glad I did when I was pregnant.) That being said, during the time for “any questions from the class?” – I had no idea what to even ask because I didn’t know what to expect. Some things I didn’t think of at all and some I assumed would be easy or intuitive since they weren’t mentioned… Here is just a short list of things I wish I would have asked or they would have had the foresight to talk about in my classes:
- How to express colostrum. During the week of breastfeeding classes, I mentioned to the instructor that I had been ‘leaking’ a little bit here and there for weeks. She said that was a great sign and that I should have no trouble with milk letdown or production. She made a comment in passing about how I could even start saving it now but I didn’t really know what she meant or what follow up questions to ask about how to do that so I let it go and wrote it off, thinking, “Well, it’s such a miniscule amount that is leaking, what good is that?” Plus, I was 6 weeks away from my due date and that felt like a lifetime at that point. I thought I had time.
If I had known that I could express that colostrum by hand, freeze it and save it for those early days when the kiddo was still trying to figure out how to latch on and I was exhausted and couldn’t find a comfortable nursing position and I was constantly nervous he wasn’t getting enough – it would have been nice to have that as a back up. I’ve read that there is some concern about doing this as apparently, nipple stimulation can induce labor (huh) but considering that there are many pregnant moms out there who are still nursing during their pregnancy, I think it would probably be fine. I at least should have thought more about it and had the conversations with my doctor and the breastfeeding class instructor.
- How to operate a breast pump. It would have been helpful to see a little demo video of how to assemble and operate a pump, as I didn’t get my pump until about a week after Peter was born and had a mini meltdown feeling overwhelmed looking at the parts and the manual, cried, and decided I was doomed to ages of hand cramps from the manual pump until my husband pieced it together for me and showed me how everything worked according to the instruction book. #HesTheBest
In the hospital, a lactation consultant (two, actually) came to talk to me and one brought their super duty hospital grade pump with her so I had that experience but it was a different make and model than the one I got through my insurance. I don’t know, we figured it out but it would have been nice to feel a little more prepared about the whole thing since it’s a part of my routine now and I haul this thing with me to work every. single. day.
- Baby wearing/carrying. Maybe this is just me but man, you see moms walking around wearing their kids in wraps and slings and carriers and it just seems so effortless, right? I was given a variety of these devices and I had the hardest time figuring them all out! I feel like I still have never quite gotten the hang of it. Maybe it’s my chest, weight, baby’s size – I don’t know. I only used the baby wrap twice, around the house. Never in public. I used the front wearing carrier once out in public and he lasted all of 10 minutes in there before he started crying, I was sweating and we were both uncomfortable and unhappy.
The answer here might just be that it’s not for everyone but it would have been nice if they had spent some time with the baby dolls showing us how to tie the wraps and take babies in and out and tackling practical questions like, If you want to wear the baby around after you drive somewhere, do you tie the wrap around you at home and then get in the car? Or do you take it with you and do the whole miles of fabric intricate wrapping of yourself once you arrive while your baby just waits for you to get through this ritual?
I guess if I had joined a ‘mommy group’ or something, these kinds of questions would be answered but the idea of doing that made my anxiety levels shoot through the roof. I’m an introvert and my own biggest judge and especially during the first few months, I was often very hard on myself and worried that others would be too. Even if no one else is judging me, I look at what they’re doing that I’m not and on my worst days, I think, “She’s obviously so much better at this motherhood thing than I am. She must think I am horrible for XYZ.” I think I also feared going in with a problem to a group like that and having them, probably kindly, offering solutions and me going on the defense as a coping mechanism – “Have you tried…?” “YES, OF COURSE I DID THAT ALREADY, IT DIDN’T WORK!” – which, you know, isn’t the most friendly way to approach things and would just make me feel bad about myself. So. Anyway. I guess this bullet point is … trying to be more aware of questions to ask during pregnancy beyond just the labor and delivery of it all.
2. Perineal massage
I’m sorry to even mention it but it’s true. Wish I had at least given it a shot. I put it off and I put it off and I put it off and then it was too late. But ouch, guys. And that perineal massage might have helped. I’ve heard it is supposed to. I should have sucked it up and just tried it. They gave us a worksheet and everything and I just filed that thing away and thought, “I’ll get to that later” and then later never happened.
I mean, I didn’t really exercise before I got pregnant either and should have. But I’ve heard that exercising helps increase your flexibility for the last few weeks where it’s hard to bend over or get up from a seated position. Even now, I am sore all the time and wish I had more upper body strength for carrying my lovable sack of potatoes baby around everywhere and I think exercise during pregnancy could have helped. Honestly, this kid is 20 lbs of love and I swear I have done something to my back trying to pick him up, set him down and carry him all over the place (in my arms, mostly, because as mentioned above, I have really struggled with baby wearing apparatuses.)
~Maybe eventually I’ll write more about pregnancy or new mom stuff… life is busy 🙂 We’ll see.