Friday, October 31, 2014

29 Things About your Newborn baby that New and Expecting Moms Should Know:

Congratulations Mom! Or almost mom. You have alot to look forward to, and your life is about to change, permanently. But ofcourse, you knew that. Here are some things you may not have known and should be aware of, about your new born baby.

For more about your pregnancy, or labor and delivery, click here.

29 Thing to Know About Your Baby, at Birth: 

1. Yes, your baby is the cutest in the world! But rest assured (incase you get a little freaked out),  he or she is just going to keep getting cuter... And you may eventually look back and admit that newborns do look a little alien-ish. 

2. They have dry peeling skin (and even lips), which gets worse in the first few weeks. It's from suddenly having to deal with air after being in a pool for 9 months.

3. They have lanugo, which often falls off by 3-4 months. Note, some kids are just hairy, my son's moustache turned out to be genetic and not lanugo! But ofcourse it's still adorable! 

Cone head!

4. Have you heard of the cone-shaped head? No jokes! During a natural birth the head takes the shape of your pelvis.

5. Baby acne, newborn rash, Mongolian butt (that's a kind of birth mark on baby's bottom that takes years to go - I would post a picture but I don't want my baby to hold it against me someday!) These are all terms that you will likely become familiar with. 

6. Strawberry hemangioma, not as common, but still seen in 10% of babies, but can occur at birth or even after, on your baby's face or body. Basically, it's a blood vessel that got left behind (and is not in use) during fetal development. Unless it is in the way of your baby's vision (in which case show it to a doctor), leave it be. It will eventually fade away.

7. Your baby's skin is paper-thin. So be careful with the products you use, and with anything sharp that can hurt your little one. Do not use adult products on baby skin and while I would once have told you not to bother with all natural products and you should know too that skin has a very high permeability particularly baby skin, and so do try and choose products that are natural and also have natural preservatives (and a short shelf life), and actually have not just hypoallergenic labels but that have organic labels. They are worth the extra cost as they are free from harmful byproducts, sulphates, scary acrylates, synthetic  fragrances and and carcinogenic ingredients . If your baby has eczema or a skin sensitivity, then switch to all natural, but don't worry about the tried and tested baby stuff hurting your baby.

8. Baby nails - can scratch you and the baby. They also grow at a superhuman speed! Pack some little nail files in your hospital bag, or mittens, as your little one is likely to be born with claws.  This is just for fingernails though, the toes grow at a super slow rate (Yipee for small mercies). Mittens and socks will also keep those cold (and sometimes blue) hands and feet warm. 
Socks and mittens mandatory!

9. Are you one of those lucky ones whose baby was born with a full head of hair? (And like me, was gasping and burping with heartburn for almost the full 9 months). Try not to brag too much, these newborn locks often shed and fall, thanks ofcourse to your hormones (and friction from all that time baby spends on its back.) 

10. Be grateful for those locks though, they will cover the cradle cap (which is basically baby dandruff), that occurs also due to your hormones around 3 months of age. It can stay for what feels like forever. Don't be tempted to oil it, oil is what is causing it.You can use oil to help you scrape off scales but do not leave it on for long. Medela has a cradle cap cream that worked wonders for me. For more on what to shop and where to start, click here.

11. In three months, your baby will look completely different. That doesn't mean that if baby has daddy's nose their bone structure will change and they will suddenly have mommy's. However, the proportions change, the eyes open and the face structure becomes more defined. (Plus they chub up!) so enjoy the journey..that's when you can really start arguing about who your baby looks like. 

12. Meconium, or newborn poo, is hard, sticky and black. If it's touched your fingers (not on purpose ofcourse), you will learn that while it isn't smelly, it's a lot like tar. It's been building up in their bodies for months, and some babies do poo in utero. Your doctor will be able to tell if it's in your water (when it breaks) and decisions will have to be taken appropriately. (That sounds gross I know but at that point even your mucus covered baby is nothing but beautiful.)

13. Expect one poop and one pee in the first twenty four hours. Two of each in the next twenty four, three each in the 24 hours after that. At which point, once your milk kicks in, or formula if that's the case, you will have a more predictable pattern. Not all babies stick to the schedule but that's the minimum to expect - we had one pee and 6 poops in the first 24 hours (make your hubby change all these while u rest ofcourse). 

14. Your baby may be born wide awake, but may also, like most babies, sleep for the first 24 hours. Wake your baby to nurse, as the more often you nurse (even if it's for a few minutes at a time), the sooner your milk will come in.

15. Also, don't assume this calm sleepy nature is the norm.  Your little one is just tired from all that pushing and the sudden sensory overload. You won't be able to judge anything till you get home, and often not until after the first 3 weeks. 

16. While day 1 is for sleep, day 2 and 3 may be filled with tears and even hunger, while your milk comes in. Be strong and for breastfeeding moms, resist the temptation to supplement, please! If you keep latching your baby to you, your milk will come quicker (yes, there are exceptions, but do not give up easily or early), but the time spent on a bottle is that much less time your child is spending on stimulating your milk to come in.

17. While your milk comes in, your baby is getting colustrom, which is full of antibodies and very very healthy. And your baby's belly is the size of a little marble at birth, so even a little of that is enough to sustain them.

18. If you have a colicky newborn, do yourself a favor and find time to skim (if not read) Dr. Harvey Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block. I know you have enough going on and some of you are reading blogs to avoid reading full books (and for most of you, my blog should help you avoid having to read anything else), but for colicky babies, understand what the 5S's are - they will help you get some Z's in. 

19. If your baby has little boobs (even for boys), or some vaginal bleeding (just for girls, it's a baby period), or acne, don't panic. These are all little gifts we are giving them through our hormones. It's just part of the deal with all the antibodies and good stuff we are passing on as well. It will all go away before you know it.

20. You know that sensitive baby skin? It can also feel things a lot more intensely than our thicker skin can. So don't be afraid to cuddle your baby, massage him or her, and use your hands to show your affection. It will help you both bond, help release positive hormones, make your baby feel safe, and make your little one know they are loved.

21. Don't be afraid to hug, cuddle, pick up your baby (even the second it cries). There is no way to spoil a newborn! Infants, and toddlers on the other hand, are a whole other ballgame. Make the most of this while it lasts, you will miss it once your baby is throwing tantrums just to make you come running. 

22. Did you finally fall asleep, in the same room as your baby, just to be woken up by whistling, sneezing, snorting, whining, even crying? Wait a minute before rushing in and actually waking up your baby. Newborns are noisy sleepers! (more on baby sleep here, and here). 

23. Pacifiers and bottles are great (Seriously, I pumped and nursed so I almost never had to feed in public), but do not introduce them until 1 month if you are nursing, as your baby can get confused between the nipples and have trouble latching on to you. They can also affect your milk supply, if introduced early.

24. And yes, I did say pacifiers are great. My child never took to it, but for the few weeks that he did, it saved me from being a human pacifier (it didn't last long though). There are pros and cons here - the cons are that your child should be weaned off this young or it can affect their teeth and increase the chances of ear infections, it needs to be kept really clean, it is difficult to wean a child off this, and can actually reduce the sleep you get because babies keep waking up if this falls out of their mouth. On the flip side, it may buy you some quiet, and your baby will not sleep as deeply (which helps reduce the risk of SIDS).
25. Babies are born with an awareness of what their mothers may smell like, they know what we sound like, and within an hour of birth, they will be able to pick us out from anyone else due to our sound and the now confirmed smell.

26. They are also able to smell and taste the things we eat, in utero, so keep that in mind while you are fulfilling your cravings. (My little one may want to spend his life eating Taco Bell, and salted chips mixed in chocolate cake, I will keep you updated on this though!)

27. There will be times you will want to send your baby right back in, and will find no human way to do that. Ask your spouse, or mother (who is probably your greatest resource right now), to step in and help so you can sleep (that is, until the next feed).

28. Your baby's first graduation will be here before you know it, they will be  an infant instead of newborn after the first 3 months.

29. It's all worth it in the end, and often in the middle and beginning too. Believe it! 

For more on your new baby, your body, and dealing with it all, click here!

More to come!

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be reproduced or copied without permission. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

27 Things About Labor and delivery That Every Expecting Mom Should Know:

While pregnant, I found myself caught up in arguments with my husband about my how he envisioned my labor process. He saw it as a short and quick process wherein you go to the hospital when your water breaks, women fuss and sweat while guests are waiting outside, and the baby is out so quick that there's even a risk of the delivery happening in the car. One of the times he was ranting about how he's scared I will deliver in the car, I had to sit him down and go through what was in his head and realized that all of his ideas came from the television! Quite contrary to what was going on in my head. 

Ever since I found out how babies were born, the thought of me being in that position scared the living daylights out of me. However, while I was pregnant, I tried not to think about it for the majority of my pregnancy and focused on what was going on with my baby in the present. By the time I was closer I just so ready to be done. I had over time though formed an idea of what I wanted my labor to be like, who I wanted in the room, whether I wanted drugs or not, whether I wanted my husband to cut the cord and so forth. These are all individual decisions and I'm not going to tell you what's right or wrong, as there is no right or wrong! However, I will give you some tips on things you should know - no matter what your decisions are, or will be.

(Note:  this will not be helpful to anyone who has an elective c-section coming up, but if you plan to try the normal labor route, please go ahead and continue reading.) 

27 Things About Labor and Delivery that Every Expecting Mom Should Know: 

1. Ignore everything you have seen on TV (unless you make a habit of watching birthing videos). Seriously. 

2. Yes, the first baby tends to be late, and girls (because they are, on average, smaller, do too) but there is actually no way to tell if your going to be early, or late. It's very circumstantial and depends on your pregnancy.  All you do know is that there is only a 9 percent chance that your baby will be born on its due date.

3. Even dilation and effacement doesn't give you much of an indication as you can be dilating a 'couple' centimeters for weeks before going into labor. 

4. Nor does your mucus plug. It's a discharge that happens before you go into labor (thought it can also happen during labor). It can happen weeks before or minutes before. 

5. Effacement is how short your cervix is (in percentage, at 100 percent, your cervix is completely shortened), while dilation is how open your cervix is (in centimeters). 

6. You push when you're at 10 centimeters dilated and contractions cause dilation. 

7. There are three stages of labor - Early labor, active labor (defined as contractions every 5 minutes or more, and dilation of 4 cms or more), and pushing (when you are dialated and contractions are 2 centimeters apart.)

8. Be your own advocate or appoint one (probably easier if you're screaming more than speaking).  Make sure they know your wishes and needs.

Some of the many decisions you will have to make in the hospital..

9. Make sure you know your own wishes and needs first! Would you like music, do you want to see yourself crowning in a mirror, would you like to be able to move around...., the list is endless! Download a simple birth plan (from any website) and go through the questions. You don't have to write it all down, just know what you will be comfortable with.

Some more..

10. Then, decide how much of that you can let go, as it will never be as ideal as it is in your head. 

11. Keep in mind that you have to be flexible, and let your advocate know what you would like to be flexible about. I was admitted to hospital because I felt that my son wasn't moving as much and it turned out that his heart rate was fluctuating (he stabilized but the docs decided to watch me and if needed, get him out.) However, my plan of moving around during labor and not being stuck to a bed and monitors went totally out of the window. 

12.  When admitted, tell your nurse what you would like. Don't give her an endless list or overwhelm her, just pick three things that are important to you, and let her know what they are. (Mine were - cord blood banking, an epidural and wanting both my husband and mom in the room.. Keep in mind that I was two weeks early and my mom was on a flight from India to the U.S and I went into labor while she was unreachable!!)

13. Trust your nurse. She is your best resource and has done this more times than you can imagine, and seen more than you (or atleast I) would want to know about. 

14. Pain and stress slows down the labor process and increases the chance that you will need a c-section. Try and keep as calm as possible and take things with you that will help like music, maybe certain aromas/ fragrances. You can't use candles in a hospital (oxygen + flame = fire!!!), but you can take certain oils or scents. 

15. If you can, move around during labor. Lying on your back in a bed is not the most comfortable position. Holding onto a railing, bending over, squatting, even poop position or having your husband rub your back, may be more comfortable to you. 

16. Stay at home as long as possible. Given the time of day estimate how far you are from the hospital and try not to go in until you are closer to delivering. The rule of thumb is when your Contractions are 5  minutes apart, lasting for one full minute and have been in this state for an hour. 

17. Only in 10 percent of deliveries, does your water break before your contractions start. It's usually the other way around. If your water breaks, go to the hospital. They will not be able to do too many medical exams (internal) but will need to keep an eye on how quickly your labor is processing as your child is now susceptible to infections. 

18. You actually can have a glass of wine while Laboring at home. (As per medical professionals, not just me. This was all in my plan that went out the window.) 

19. I know there's all this buzz about natural labor, but don't feel forced, pressured or stressed to do anything you are not comfortable with. There's no shame in wanting an epidural, or even other drugs during induction or while your labor is starting. You have grown a baby, you are already a hero. (Again, the more you stress or are in pain, the longer your labor and more likely you are to need an induction or c section due to the effect of stress hormones on the labor process.) 

20. I don't believe in making your decisions for you but I can't resist adding this - Home delivery, to me, is for pizza, not for babies. Get to a hospital, your child's life is in question, as is your own, why would you not want to have licensed medical professionals around? 

The talented Namita Azad struggled to get one of these with Coco in them too.

21. Epidurals are given in the spine. I was more terrified about this than the entire process because I knew I was going to get one. But honestly, it's given when you need it, and at that point the prick in your spine is really not as painful as the contractions. (My epidural was given by a resident because I was desperate, it was given 6 times because and I didn't care much about the pain from the injection because I was so excited to finally be getting some relief about 18 hours of labor). No you will not be groggy it does not put you to sleep but it does help you get some rest while your body prepares for labor. And no, it will not make your baby sleepy, all newborns are sleepy at birth (more on this next week). 
This was the best we got!

22. Group B strep is a type of bacteria that lives in your birth canal. Most women do not have it but some do, just like yeast. You will be tested a few weeks before delivery, and if you are positive you will be given iv-penicillin (or another antibiotic if you are penicillin allergic) every 4 hours during labor, to protect your child. Take the meds for your baby but don't stress about a positive diagnosis, and don't google the crazy list of signs either. You will just get scared and you don't need that right now. 

23. Do you believe in insurance? Cord blood banking is just that, it's an insurance policy for your baby and actually, your entire family, against any potential issues your child or relative or sibling can have in the future. If you can afford it do it, all you have to do is send the umbilical cord and placenta (the nurses will do it for you entirely), which would otherwise be medical waste anyway. (Note, in some hospitals you can donate it if you are not banking it.) 

24. Delayed cord clamping is all the rage nowadays. But while it does increase the iron your baby has in their blood at birth it also increases your baby's odds of getting jaundice as all that iron is hard on the baby's liver. You can always do a minute clamp and not wait for the umbilical cord to be completely dead, as that is a healthy medium (and will leave your cord bankable.) 

25. Even if you do end up with a c-section, insist on skin to skin as soon as you are able. It calms down your baby immediately, it helps you bond, it helps you nurse, it's been shown to be better for your baby's health in the short and long term, and it helps them recognize you! 

26. I was terrified about the recovery and had a lot of stitches, I didn't have an episiotomy (when the doctor has to cut, as that is no longer common practice  in the US but is practiced in most places), but I did tear. I must say, the doctors and nurses gave me great tips and meds (baby safe), and it was not as bad as I expected.

27. Breathe, breathe, breathe... Or don't! I practiced breathing while holding cubes of ice for a minute at a time.. And yet, when the time comes it's the last thing you want to do (unless you have superhero concentration) or be told to do.
I don't think any mom looks good in this post delivery shot!
But until you get there... Breathe!!!! It will be there, and will be over before you know it. You will be left cuddling your bundle of happiness (and desperate to sleep). 

I haven't gone in depth on many subjects, but if you have questions or want to know more, feel free to reach out.

I will be back with more on what to expect from your newborn baby.

More to come! 

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be reproduced or replicated without permission. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

25 Things About Pregnancy That Expecting Moms Should Know:

It's likely my age, but I know a lot of people who are expecting. For some, it is a wonderful journey filled with glowing skin, the ability to sleep and shiny hair. For others, it's a path you have to endure to get to hold your baby. And then there are those like me, who may likely be the majority. I had several days that I enjoyed the journey and embraced the bursts of energy by nesting and doing baby laundry, but even more days when I just wanted to sleep, throw up, sleep, eat, sleep, work, sleep, read, sleep. Did I mention I really wanted to sleep?
There were times I was awake though.. (all my amazing maternity shots have been taken by Namita Azad Photography)

I did manage to work (and drive myself to work) till the day I delivered (in the crazy New York polar vortex with a 20-mile commute daily), so growing a baby doesn't mean the rest of your life has to go on hold or that you cannot be as productive or efficient as you like. But be prepared to take things at a pace that you are comfortable and put yourself first.

I'm not going to list what's going on with you or your baby week by week, there are enough apps that do that really well. I prefer to share facts that you ought to know at this stage in your life. Here are some things about you, your changing body, and your growing child that you should know:

Note: In order to not overwhelm you (and me), I am going to write this in three parts - stay tuned for more on labor and your newborn! 
Also, I am not going to go on about high risk pregnancies because while I have book knowledge about them I do not have any first hand experience. 

There are 4 people in this picture!

About you, (almost) mommy:

1. You do not have to eat for two when your pregnant (feel free to quote me to any mothers-in-laws that insist otherwise), unless you would like to look like two (of you). The calorie requirement is 300 calories extra (per day not per hour) in the first trimester going up to 500 calories in the third. That's just a little more than an extra banana.

2. The healthy weight gain is 4-7 lbs in the first trimester and one pound per week after that. That's a total of 25-35 lbs. People who were underweight or overweight before should gain more or less accordingly (and those with multiple pregnancies ofcourse). Keep in mind this is the recommended weight gain, and people do put on more or less depending on nutrition, body type, genetic, and even their appetite while pregnant. At the end you will put on weight faster than in the beginning. For the record, I put on 40lbs, but often hear of women who gained  approx. 20lbs less or even 20lbs more! 

3. If you have back to back pregnancies and haven't lost the weight, you still have to put on the same amount the second time! It's what each baby needs. (Ugh) 

4. Nausea - ugh! Can last forever, though the actual vomiting (in most cases) goes by 14 - 16 weeks. There are some smells though that will make you feel sick even after your baby is born. 
More shots taken by the amazing Namita Azad.

5. If you don't have an appetite early in your pregnancy it's alright. Just eat whatever you can keep down and take your vitamins. Your baby will still get all the nutrients it needs from your body if not your food. Once you're able to eat, do so, but it's to replenish yourself.

6. You will eventually be hungry, and even crave things you never liked before. So, eat everything that you want.. (Except ofcourse raw food, sushi, medium or raw steak, most fish, shellfish, and Brie and other delicious unpasteurized cheeses).

7. Prenatals, prenatals, prenatals. Seriously, Take those vitamins! You don't want to be losing teeth when the baby is born along with your hair (sorry mom, those thick locks do eventually shed- but your body is just making up for the fact that you're not shedding while pregnant). 

8. Pregnancy books can scare the living day lights out of you!!!! Even I, with my love for information, thought that it was way too much! 

9. Pregnancy apps however, that tell you about your babies development and your body/ expected symptoms are a blessing. What to expect, baby bump, and baby center are the best ones.
Don't forget to document your growing belly through pictures!

(Now for the stressful stuff - I'm not trying to scare you, just trying to help you deal with the symptoms you may have.)

10. Heartburn.. you can't get rid of it completely but you can control it… speak to your MD about a prescription if it's unbearable like mine was.

11. Memory loss.. you may feel like you're immune but your unlikely to remember why you have it or what the hell to do about it when it's there. It's even worse when the baby is born, and at some point you will feel like your mind is never coming back.. but it does.. slowly (I'm still struggling to remember my points as I write this, so make use of the notes on your phone and put post its everywhere). At work, I would write down my points before opening my mouth, as they would disappear from my head as soon as my mouth opened.

12. Just when you think your bladder cannot get any smaller, it does… But rest assured, it's never as bad as it will be during delivery, so ask for a catheter/ urine bag, or keep running to the bathroom (I was down to every 5 mins when I gave up and had a catheter put in).
Note: most of these selfies tend to be in the bathroom (at work)…since I had to keep running there anyway

13. Back pain, and sciatica (back pain from pressure on your sciatic nerve in your back) can happen, depending on the position of the baby. Hip pain can come with sciatica too, but there are exercises, like pelvic bridges you can do that really do help. (As per Grey's Anatomy this week, back pain is practically a sign that you are pregnant, due to how common it is during pregnancy.)

14. Sleeping on your belly will soon become impossible if it isn't already, and on your back can harm you as the baby presses against your organs. So sides it is! Get a good pregnancy pillow (the wedges help but the pillow is worth every cent). Keep it between your legs and try to sleep on your left. Which is medically recommended to increase blood flow to the  baby. However, you are likely to end up tossing a lot between both sides and that's fine too!

15. Sleep isn't easy but try try and try, and on your own schedule.. you won't have that luxury at all very soon. Nothing will make you feel better than being able to sleep early.

16. Have you heard the rumors that your feet can change size? Not just swell like a balloon but actually change sizes as your bones expand under your swollen feet. Mine didn't (thank you  for small mercies - or large ones, actually this one is ginormous for my shoe closet and husband's walker ), but my fingers still (8 months after delivery) won't fit any of my original rings. For your feet - stay active and when your home keep them as elevated as possible and just keep drinking water !!!! It will reduce any retention not increase it.
This was 10 months ago,  but they still don't fit..
17. Stretch mark therapies are a dime a dozen. I bathed myself in bioil, vitamin E oil and shea butter and thought I got away scot-free until week 35... My belly still looks like it's been mauled by a tiger. It's just genetics ladies. Keep yourself oiled but at the end of the day if you're skin is not super elastic, Suck it up, and wear your stripes with pride! (They will eventually fade but how long that takes I don't know, I will let you know when I get there).

18. I can't stand people touching me! Seriously. The spa is a punishment for me and not relaxing in the least. But I did try a Prenatal massage and if I wasn't averse to the entire concept I would have perhaps enjoyed it.. So if your a spa person don't be afraid to go for one, just make sure it's after your first trimester and your therapist is licensed and knows how to do a prenatal massage specifically. I know people who got relief from this, with all kinds of joint aches. 

19. Hair, nails and skin - this can be good or bad.. For most women their hair and nails will grow like crazy enjoy it. Skin on the other hand can either grow or suddenly become hairy!! (Even on the face around your chin) and can get acne (even for those who have never had it.) Sorry ladies - though you will be able to spot which of you're friends are honest and who is lying, because everyone will swear that you are glowing anyway.

20. Does this all sound like a nightmare? Each trimester will have it's own challenges so you won't face it all together, don't worry. Each one will have it's own milestones too- the first kick, the first turn, the ultrasounds, the heartbeat. Try and focus on the good! It will be worth it in the end. 

21. Speaking of the end, it's the hardest.. Just because you want to hold your baby already! Other than that, and just balancing and peeing, I didn't think my third trimester was as exhausting as my first. It's different for everyone but at least keep in mind that it won't be all bad and there is a lot to look forward to.

I definitely couldn't wait it out till my due date (more on that to come)

22. Keep yourself busy! Even if you are home  and not working, take time to do things that interest you. Make things for the nursery, or get out at lunch with your friends. Not just because you won't have as much time later, but more because you will feel better and healthier if you're mentally occupied.

23. Maternity clothes - buy things that really stretch so they last you longer. Believe it or not, not all maternity clothes are built to go the whole way. Also, some of them are just wayy too big and don't fit you till the end (even in smaller sizes). So stretchable fabrics are the way to go! Plus, they make that baby bump look so adorable. Dressing in layers will help with hot flashes, so you can strip down or bundle up as needed. 

24. Most importantly - If u don't want anyone to rub your belly and treat you like a laughing Buddha be clear about it. Don't be afraid to say that you're not comfortable. (Think of it as practice for when everyone is trying to grab your baby). I don't know what it is about us growing a baby and sharing our bodies with a child that make people think we are now public domain to rub and play with!!

25. Remember mommy, you and your needs come first!  Take the time to cater to your cravings, and have every whim met. That won't always be the case...

The light at the end of the drowsiness..
I hope this gives you a better picture of what lies ahead. Really, it's not all bad, it's a beautiful journey for some and for those who don't think it's all that cushy, don't worry, you will soon forget the most of it! Thank you, dear hormones. 

I will be back with more on labor and delivery, and tips for your brand new baby so stay tuned.

Veteran moms - feel free to let me know what I missed (as my pregnancy brain was pretty bad too). 

More to come! 

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be reproduced or copied without permission.