Wisdom from our 2020–21 Birthing Experience Survey

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The results are in from our 2020–21 Birthing Experience Survey! More than 250 Park Slope Parents members shared their honest reviews of OB GYNS, midwives, doulas, hospitals, and other support folks throughout Brooklyn and beyond, and they also passed along sage advice on pregnancy, birthing, and the post-partum period.

 

For member reviews and recommendations, view our Ob-Gyns, Birthing, Fertility and Post-Partum category; and for wisdom, read on!

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Wisdom in this article:

During Pregnancy

Heading to the Hospital

In the Hospital for Delivery

In the Hospital with Baby

At Home with Baby

General Wisdom

 

DURING PREGNANCY

 

Take things as they come, trust your gut, and try not to overthink:

 

“I wish I had taken a few more deep breaths and worried a little less. Everything turned out way better than I expected.”

 

“Get all the advice. Then take what you need from it, and do what you think is best for you and your family. People have their own experiences, but they aren't your experience. Just do you. You'll be fine. And try not to Google everything ;)”

 

“There is so much advice and opinion regarding how to be pregnant, how to give birth and how to manage a newborn - I found it overwhelming. Find a few trusted partners - your doctor or midwife should ideally be one of them - and also trust that you know what makes sense for you. For example, while a home birth was a great option for a friend of mine, I also knew that my anxious personality felt more comfortable at a hospital. If you do want to pursue a medication-free birth, let people know that and see how they can support you. 

 

“I wish I had relaxed more on the prep and research and enjoyed the first few months instead of worrying and critiquing on every single thing. But I'm enjoying my baby now and I suppose it's never too late!”

 

 

"Relax and enjoy your pregnancy, birth and first few weeks. It can be overwhelming and stressful planning for the unknown but trust yourself, figure out your support system, pre-cook meals and try enjoy the madness. Also take lots of naps and go on date nights- those become a lot harder once baby is here!"

 

 

"I was so nervous to actually give birth, I was crying the entire day before I was induced. But the one piece of advice I would like to give is, believe in yourself you are much stronger than you think! Childbirth is difficult, but the baby is the most beautiful gift."

 

But do your research when it comes to breastfeeding and the post-partum period in general:

 

“I wish I would have learned a lot more about breastfeeding before my daughter's life depended on me feeding her... it just felt so far away with the whole labor process hitting before it. But I do wish I would have known more about how much baby's are supposed to eat, what signs to look for that they may not be getting the right amount, and that there are options to help them get what they need while also working to get my supply up at the same time. It doesn't have to be either 100% breastfeeding or 100% formula.”

 

“Take a breastfeeding class, even more important than a birthing class in my opinion. Also learn about the foundations of sleep for infants. Highly recommend TakingCaraBabies. Also speak your truth, do what feels comfortable for you, your instincts know the answer even if you don't.”

 

“Breastfeeding was much more difficult than I had expected. I wish I had done more research and practiced with my breast pump beforehand because I needed to use it during the first 2 weeks due to milk coming in late and baby's latch issues/tongue-tie.”

 

“Research and take a class on breastfeeding before birth. Also identify which lactation consultant you will work with ahead of time.”

 

“I wish I had found and connected with a lactation consultant ahead of time so that when/if I needed her, it was easier to get an appointment and help. Not fun doing that in the throes of the first couple of weeks.”

 

“Prepare for the post-birth period! We took a four-hour class on newborn care and a four-week class on labor, and I wish the lengths had been reversed. Labor lasts no more than a day (or two, I suppose), but the first weeks and months of a newborns' life are much longer and often confusing and difficult to navigate. Having a doula who specifically focuses on the postpartum period was crucial--she was wonderful during labor, but even more helpful after we got home. And I had no idea how important it would be to have my mom stay with us for the first week of being home from the hospital. If there's someone you trust to be helpful who can stay with you, I highly recommend doing that.”

 

“I wish I had done some (not a ton, but some) basic research about newborn sleep techniques, beyond what I learned in our general newborn care class. I found myself desperately searching for ways to manage newborn sleep in the middle of the night or while trying to rock the baby to sleep for hours.”

 

“I wish I had spent less time thinking and worrying about the birth altogether, and more time thinking and learning about baby management -- how to take care of the baby, day by day, once he came home. I finally read a book called SECRETS OF THE BABY WHISPERER and it helped me deeply in giving us a routine and a sense of what to do. Read it beforehand, people!”

 

“We both read several books, watched various videos, and spoke with friends and family regarding labor. Our main piece of advice would be to make sure that the nursery or newborn space is prepped and ready to go well before the due date as our baby was born one month early. Otherwise, it's great to find a lactation consultant who accepts your insurance before birth. We also conducted research and found a pediatrician well before birth. Lastly, stock up on diapers and wipes as they have quite the output for such small beings. One more  thing, we only dress our baby once a  week or so to visit the pediatrician and definitely did not need many newborn size onesies.”

 

“Prepare yourself not just for childbirth, but what comes immediately thereafter. The first few weeks are extremely difficult, but you can and will get through them!”

 

“Think about and plan for postpartum as much as you plan for the birth!”

 


"Research pumping beforehand. I learned about breastfeeding/nursing, and had my pumps from insurance, but wasn’t prepared for all the pumping I needed to do, or how to do it."

 


"I didn’t realize that there are so many different ways to hold a baby to BF. In the hospital, 99% of the people try to teach you cradle and cross cradle, but once a nurse showed me the laid back method, it finally clicked for us. I wish I had looked into different ways beforehand, so I knew it didn’t have to be so 'only one way.' Maybe practice with a stuffed animal!"

 


"I wish I had read more about c sections and how to prep for recovery as I had an unplanned one and was totally unprepared."

 


"As much thought and energy you put into preparing for pregnancy and labor - put the equivalent, if not MORE, energy into preparing for your postpartum - we receive very little information about just how transformative, and also how challenging, the postpartum period can be, which leaves many of us in  state of shock while we're at our most vulnerable. I cannot emphasize this enough."

 

Including help from professionals if that’s an option for you:

 

"Most of all, having a doula is the greatest thing we did for the two times I have given birth. I recommend that every pregnant parent look into if a doula makes sense for you. Having an experienced person in the labor room with me at all times made me feel more comfortable and supported.”

 

“Hire a doula if you can. They support and empower you like a friend who understands intimately what you're physically, mentally and emotionally going through. The best ones will advocate for you every step of the way, so hire someone you feel comfortable texting in the middle of the night and who will see you makeup-less and gross, but who'll help bring your baby safely into the world.”

 

“Really glad we had a doula; wish we had interviewed OB GYNs and shopped around a little; we had a great experience for IVF at NYU with doctor F; we love our baby Bjorn bouncer; don’t get rid of the bassinet before 6 months.”

 

 

“I think I made the right calculation ‘saving’ by hiring a training-level doula with my first kid. Maybe it was specific to how talented she was, but she had enough experience to be extremely helpful without having attended dozens of births. I wish I had been less cost-conscious about an IBCLC. If you want to breastfeed, the $300 or whatever it is, if it's not covered by insurance, is worth EVERY. PENNY. I wish I'd started going to La Leche meetings when I was pregnant with my first, instead of when my first was a newborn. They could have recommended an IBCLC, and I could have had help at my fingertips.”

 

 

"I wish I had set myself up with a lactation consultant long before birth!  I would also take all the breastfeeding classes available.  Feeding is so constant and important.  I didn’t know I’d be so emotional about my need to breastfeed, and didn’t realize how important it would become to me.  It was my only struggle and I wish I’d prepared for it better."

 

 

"Definitely have a name/number of a lactation consultant to call if you're having trouble. Breastfeeding can be HARD. Also I recommend having some formula in the house just in case you are struggling, in pain or can't figure out the breast pump in time to feed your little one."

 

 

"Get an IBCLC immediately after leaving the hospital. I waited three weeks and that was a mistake. My nipples were ruined and I had to start over again on my breastfeeding journey once I hired a lactation consultant. I wish I had done it earlier."

 

 

Members offered advice specifically for folks considering a birthing doula and/or post-partum doula:

 

 

"Make sure you find someone you feel comfortable with - childbirth is messy (albeit wonderful) and you don't want to be worried about the mess while you should be focusing on welcoming your baby into the world."

 

 

"Definitely get a doula who does both! The support with breastfeeding and recovery has been really helpful, but it also made a world of difference to have a skilled professional with care and warmth by my side during labor."

 

 

"Again depends on your situations. For us we did not feel it necessary to have a birth doula, but a postpartum doula was a fantastic way to get settled in your new home and learn some great tricks."

 

 

"I highly recommend a doula if you want a natural or unmedicated birth. Also at this time when only one partner is allowed, it's nice to have another cheerleader and someone with a lot of experience especially for first time moms."

 

 

"This was completely worth it. For me it was reassuring to have someone on hand who knows what is normal and what is not when it comes to pregnancy and birth, but the extra support was just totally invaluable during a time when we already felt isolated."

 

 

"If it’s your first birth and like to know what’s going on, or just like to feel some sense of control and being informed, get a doula. Searching everything online never gives you answers about what’s happening to you as there’s conflicting views on everything related to pregnancy and birth. A doula can help inform you about what’s going on with your specific body and experience. So worth it!"

 

 

"Don't feel pressured to use a doula just because lots of people do! I did not and was happy with the decision to keep it 'just us' even as a first time mom."

 

 

"Post partum doula is really helpful for a few sessions to build up your confidence as parents."

 

 

"Do it, even if you think you don’t need to, and don’t regret it if you wind up having a super easy birth. Best case scenario is that you’ll hardly need your doula, and if you do really need the support, you’ll be SOOOOOO grateful to have it."

 

 

"Do yourself a favor and spring for a postpartum doula or night nurse or cleaning person or home cooked meal delivery or any combination you can afford. The newborn phase can be so so hard and YOU (not the baby!) will need all the help you can get."

 

 

"A doula is a phenomenal support regardless of whether you want to have an unmedicated labor and birth. Highly recommend!"

 

 

"I recommend a doula to everyone, with the caveat that make sure when you interview the doula, it's someone you are okay being your most extra, weird, messy, terrified self with, because hello, she will be the person fiddling with your mucus plug, listening to your weird contraction noises, hearing your farts, etc."

 

 

"Highly, highly recommend having a doula, both for birth and postpartum. If you are on the fence, just do it. I was nervous about finding the person I'd click with, but it's so worth the time and energy, and made my labor and delivery actually a really wonderful experience and I just think there would have been so much more uncertainty and anxiety if I hadn't had a doula."

 

Find community:

 

“Join a new moms group. Has been one of the best parts of my parenting journey.”

 

“Everyone needs to join a new parent / mom group, even the dads. You need a group going through the exact same thing at the same time.”

 

“I am SO grateful for the community of Park Slope Parents - I would highly recommend meeting up with other parents in the same birth month. It was so helpful to have that resource of people all going through something very similar to you. Both during pregnancy and after!”

 

“Positive birth stories! I was induced last minute and didn’t use any anesthesia and it really helped me. No matter the birth you choose or ultimately end up going through, I HIGHLY recommend immersing yourself in positive birth stories that reflect your situation and if the plan changes, read positive stories for the new plan. I spent the 2 hours before being induced reading positive birthing stories from women who were induced without anesthesia and I found it to be very helpful when I had to go INTO THE ZONE. From home birth to c-section, you will find it helpful to read positive stories from women who went through what you are about to go through.”

 


"Take advantage of the PSP birth month groups (both before and after birth). I was hesitant to get involved and the friendships and support that I've developed through these groups have been absolutely life changing."

 

 

"Take a deep breath and know you’ll figure things out as you go! And ask questions in the advice group —I had a question about diaper rash and got 50 super helpful responses. Also, make friends with others from your birth month group! Because I developed friends toward the end of my pregnancy with a handful of women also due around the same time my postpartum experience was soooo much easier and less lonely!"

 

Consider whether home birth could be right for you:

 

“Home birth is amazing and we are so glad we chose it. It is safe, easeful and we are privileged to live near so many home birth midwives and hospitals in case you need a transfer. Insurance covered it, also and yes we only had a one bedroom apartment. Do look into it as an option for yourselves — we explored every option —

Hospital, birth center, midwives, OB, and didn’t rule any out. Have also had many friends who delivered at home safely and happily with midwives and doulas. Highly recommend!”

 

"I have had four wonderful homebirth experiences in Brooklyn that would not have been possible in a hospital setting. My first baby took a very long time to come, so I know that labor would have been augmented with Pitocin in the middle of labor at a hospital, and I may have wound up having an emergency C-section because I was in labor for more than 24 hours after my water broke. I was able to have an uncomplicated, unmedicated, vaginal delivery at home. Two of my other three births are similar in that interventions would have been required in a hospital setting, but I was able to have unmedicated, uncomplicated, vaginal deliveries that were very positive experiences for me and for my husband and that I recovered quickly from. I know that homebirth is not for everybody, but I am so grateful that I learned about homebirth from my aunt and chose that model of care here in Brooklyn. It is a model of care that I encourage any new mom-to-be to look into! I am so grateful for how positive all four of my birth experiences being supported by midwives and doulas at home here in Brooklyn have been."

 

Stock up, but don’t go overboard:

 

“[I wish I] got on PSP classifieds earlier - there is so much you can buy second hand and save $!!”

 

“1. Don't feel the pressure to get all the stuff before baby arrives! Babies need very little at the start. Just get the essentials and take a few weeks to get to know your baby and how you parent. This will guide you in what you really need.

“Don't buy 90% of the clothes you think you'll need. You will use maybe 5 outfits max the first months of life. 2. An epidural is a lifesaver. My wife tried hypo-birthing and made it 9 hours before the epidural. She was so thankful. It's a lifesaver. 3. Pick a hospital close to where you live!”

 

“Buy nose bulbs that break apart into two pieces and can be washed on the inside.   The hospital ones get moldy basically immediately.”

 

“Don't buy a large quantity of diapers because it might not suit your baby well. Buy sample size of different brands and try them all out before you buy in bulk.

 

 

Get acquainted with your support team:

 

“I really like the OBGYN practice I was at, but I maybe should have had some appointments with other doctors in the practice, so a different doctor during the birth wouldn’t have been as much of a change.”

 

“I wish we had done the tour of the hospital. I .got around to it, but it would’ve been helpful in advance”

 

“We would have tried to better understand hospital billing practices and perhaps hired a patient advocate to allow us to push back on some of the bills that didn't actually make sense.”

 


"The #1 thing I'm most glad I did was hire a doula.  My labor experience would have been significantly more painful and stressful without her.  Definitely worth the money - she did more than the midwives did imo."

 

 

Stay prepared:

 

“Pack your hospital bags early.  We ended up delivering 5 weeks early and I had just nagged my husband into finally packing his bags 2 days before we had to run to the hospital in the middle of the night.  Bring long iPhone chargers to the hospital and for new mamas sick of adult diapers Thinx underwear are lifesavers.”

 


"Also good tip: be 100% ready to go into labor and bring the baby home around 32 weeks in case your baby comes early, which includes sorting out a handover at work. My baby came before 36 weeks, so I was grateful we had the essentials ready and hospital bag was packed, but I wish we had a few more meals in the freezer and had sorted out a few more little things before the baby came into our lives. I wish I had been more vocal with my work manager about a handover, which was left to the last minute, and then I had to get on calls and forward a bunch of emails during the first two weeks after birth. It was an unnecessary added stress and I'm still a little resentful about it. Prepping also includes reading a few baby books - I'd recommend Expecting Better and Crib Sheet both by Emily Oster, and Baby Wise to get an idea of how to structure your baby's schedule once you get past the first month. Also watch the Taking Cara Babies newborn class - my friends got that for me, it's a great baby gift if someone asks you what you want, or just fork out the $75, it's worth it."

 

 

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HEADING TO THE HOSPITAL

 

“Go to the hospital faster if you’re a second time mom! I had a crazy fast labor which prevented me from getting the epidural.”

 

“Bring a HUGE water bottle to the hospital. I really regretted not having my 64oz one with me. Bring your BFing pillow if you're BFing. Other than that...trust your nurses and providers.”

 

“I wouldn't have brought so much stuff with me to the hospital. My feet ended up so swollen that they didn't fit the slippers I brought, I was still so hot and there was no air in my recovery room so the pajamas I brought were unworn. The one thing I didn't bring was my nursing pillow and I would do that differently.”

 

“Birthing moms, bring some wide, slip-on shoes to wear home - wider even than anything you wore during pregnancy. I thought I was prepared for the postpartum swelling but I wasn’t.”

 

 

"Pack a sound machine and an easy swaddle that you have practiced with to the hospital! Most times a nurse would take our baby and bring her back crying and be like 'here you go!' and leave. We were so thankful to have the noise machine and the Ollie swaddle to soothe her (and us) fast."

 

 

"I recommend bringing your own pillow to the hospital. The one they supply is very flat. Also your own small fan is nice if you get hot easily."

 

 

"Breastfeeding did not work out initially as my son was unable to latch. One week and a very expensive visit from a wonderful lactation consultant later, the problem was solved with a simple nipple shield. These are available cheaply on Amazon. Next time, I'll bring one to the hospital just in case. I do wish the hospital would give them out to new moms who are having breastfeeding difficulties as it can be very emotional when breastfeeding isn't working, especially in the tender days after giving birth."

 

 

"Watermelon is a great labor snack (refreshing, hydrating, easy to eat). If you plan on an unmedicated labor, bring a heating pad. I wore mine (with a band/ace wrap) for my entire labor both times, and it provides wonderful pain relief and sensory distraction - that it my NUMBER ONE recommendation!"

 

 

"They supplied a very nice shower kit, robe, pacifier, and diaper bag with a few supplies to go home with. No need to pack those. My partner had to leave after visiting hours ended at 9 every night during covid which was really brutal emotionally and physically for me.  Nothing you can do about policies, just pointing out so you’re mentally prepared."

 

 

"Avoid showing up at shift change (7am and 7pm). Our doula informed us that this would be the craziest time and likely cause delays. Also, ask all of the questions! The doctors and nurses won’t automatically explain what they’re doing but will always answer if asked."

 

 

"Make sure you have your doula bring her certification to show at the front door."

 

 

"Verify the Covid testing protocol before your birth for yourself and your partner. We both had to be tested at the hospital a certain number of days before the planned c-section which was a bit of coordination. Also, my husband was unable to be in labor and delivery until we were admitted which I wish we had known before so we could coordinate better."

 

 

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IN THE HOSPITAL FOR DELIVERY

 

Set aside expectations:

 

“Something I know now is that labor can look really different from the methodical progression they teach you about in birthing class. My water broke with no contractions until hours later, when they started at 3 minutes apart. The most important thing to be prepared for is the need to improvise in the moment, and giving yourself permission to choose whatever options feel right for you once you're ‘in it.’”

 

 

"I wish I had not got so fixated on having a natural birth because I ended up being high risk and so having many interventions and I initially felt like my body had failed me. Things happen and being open to anything is the most important during labour and birth."

 

 

"The best advice I received was 'the only constant is change' so do not worry if things seem to fall apart. That's part of the growing pains for both baby and parents. In the hospital a lot of things are happening and people are coming in and out so it can be a little overwhelming, but PLEASE give yourself a few minutes of quiet time where you just stare at this beautiful tiny person you've brought into the world."

 

But do advocate for yourself and your preferences:

 

 

“1. Advocate for yourself (especially in a hospital)- if there is something you want, be sure to ask for it.

2. Be willing to be flexible and change plans if something isn't working

3. Cut yourself some slack throughout the pregnancy- it is the perfect time to start practicing asking for help because you will need that skill after the baby is born”

 


"Stick to your gut. I pushed back against weird hospital pumping demands and had a FINE breastfeeding journey of a year. I am grateful I didn’t waste more energy on feeling bad about ‘not pumping enough’ in the hospital before my milk even came in anyways."

 


"I was afraid of not being treated like a person at the hospital.  But I discovered that if you are nice and grateful to the people caring for you, they will give that kindness right back.  And just ask for the things you want!  Sometimes you have to ask multiple times or multiple people, but I got much-needed food and water after my surgery and extra pillows just by asking."

 

 

"As with any hospital, advocate for yourself! I noticed issues with my IV and had to speak up repeatedly to get it addresses. I don't fault the hospital staff -- just a reminder that no one will pay more attention to you and than YOU will."

 

 

"Advocate for yourself. If you feel your IV is wrong, get it fixed! If your bed is broken, say something! Don't just accept that something is off. You need to be as comfortable as possible. Because of Covid I think a bit of the "welcome" got lost so when you move from the labor floor to the recovery floor make sure you look at and ask about all of the 'goodies' they give you. There's a lot of helpful stuff in there and I was so out of it from my C-section I didn't take it all in soon enough and each day I kept saying 'Oh they provided me that? I wish I had realized that 2 days ago.'"

 

Other tips:

 

“If you’re on the fence about getting an epidural, ask to speak with the anesthesiologist before contractions get bad and fill out paperwork ‘just in case’ so if you ultimately decide to get the epidural, it can happen quickly and efficiently.”

 

 

"Call the hospital / whoever your doctor says to call 3 hours before you think you’ll need medication (if you want it). It took a while for a doctor to call us back and confirm I was in labor, then to tell us to come in, get into triage, tell them your whole life story and finally get to a room. Then wait for the anesthesiologist to come to your room. It was a lot and I’m happy we didn’t wait one more second to call."

 

 

"When I was in the recovery room, there was nowhere for my partner to sleep. They wouldn't bring in a cot or a recliner so he had to sleep upright in the wooden chair. If you can, I would tell your partner to go home and get some rest and come back in the morning if you can."

 

 

"If you are going for an induction, plan for it to take a long time and bring something to do that’s not a screen (cards/puzzle/knitting etc)."

 

 

"Remember to bring your marriage certificate or a copy of it if you want [your partner's] name on the birth certificate."

 

 

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IN THE HOSPITAL WITH BABY

 

Take advantage of the nursery:

 

“If you don't mind introducing formula, you can keep your baby at the nursery for the entire night! This was crucial during my traumatic recovery period, and trust me you won't get a chance to get a full night's sleep for a long time afterwards ;-)”

 

 

"Let the nurses take your baby to the nursery and use NYU's donor milk program so you can sleep the night while you are in the hospital as that will be your last opp to sleep through night for a while and your body needs to heal."

 

 

"My doctor also encouraged me to use the nursery if needed and I'm so glad I did. The nurses did a much better job of soothing a newborn and let both the baby and parents get some much needed sleep."

 

Don’t rush out the door:

 

“I know the hospital rooms are small and uncomfortable, but those 2 nights are the only time you'll have so many people taking care of you and your baby.  Our doctor told us we could stay for just one night if we wanted and then everyone kept asking us so we felt pressured to leave the next day, and we did.  Even 6 months later I have regrets about not spending that extra night before we had to go back to reality. (Disclaimer: this was pre-covid!)”

 

 

"During the pandemic, Lenox Hill gives patients the option to stay 1 or 2 nights after giving birth. I'm so glad I took the second night. The baby changed so much the second day and I would've been lost at home trying to figure out what was going on/what to do. The nurses, doctors and lactation consultants were lifesavers in helping me navigate the immediate post partum period."

 

Take advantage of the lactation consultants:

 

“Get a list of lactation consultant questions ready for the hospital consult, otherwise you go home being like...uhhhhh....what do I do now? It only works when she's RIGHT THERE HELPING.”

 

Seek support from folks who have had similar experiences:

 

“If your baby spends time in the NICU, please get help and support from others who have been through this experience. My wife and I did the necessary birthing classes, but none of that will prepare you for the NICU. Other NICU and preemie parents helped us through, and we are happy to help those who will be going through the NICU as well.”

 

Be careful about parking:

 

“Check the hospital parking rates/rules before someone drives over to pick you up for discharge!”

 

 

Thank your support team:

 

 

"If you like your care at the hospital, write the thank you note there rather than waiting until you get home (and then never do it!)."

 

 

 

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AT HOME WITH BABY

 

Ask for help, because people want to help you:

 

“Asking for help when I needed it was key. My partner organized a meal train for 2 weeks and it was the best decision we made. It sustained us nutritionally and emotionally, for weeks. We also decided to spend the money on a postpartum doula instead of a birth doula,  in addition to having family in town, and it made a huge difference. ... Ask for help, because people want to help you.”

 

“Don’t hesitate to reach out for help as soon as questions arise.  It truly takes a village!”

 


"Accept help, don't be a hero. Be gentle with yourself. The first 2 months is challenging but it's temporary. It was difficult for me to believe that when I was in it."

 

Including help from professionals if that’s an option for you:

 

“I would get a post partum doula, it's so helpful to have someone focusing on you when you're focusing on the baby.”

 

“Hire a doula who does postpartum work. It saved our sanity and made the transition home (especially with a c section) so much smoother.”

 

“Get a night nurse for the first week post-birth. If you can afford it, this was the best money we spent! We were able to sleep and relax and get into a rhythm which is impossible when you are deprived.”

 

“I wish I had sought an independent lactation consultant after leaving the hospital within the first 2 weeks of birth. My preterm baby was a sleepy eater and I didn’t even know this was a problem at the time.”

 

“Yes - don't hesitate to figure out and problem-solve any latching issues with baby early on by speaking to several lactation specialists if needed. If addressed early, these issues can be fixed.”

 

But draw boundaries when you need to:

 

“I wish I asked my mother in law to come later, she caused a lot of grief and stress for me and made me miss my mom even more.”

 

"Be clear with family on your Covid protocol so they know what to expect if they want to see the baby."

 

Rest and recover as much as possible:

 

“Read up on the fourth trimester and the importance of resting the first six weeks postpartum. It really is a recovery period so treat it as such, and support the birthing partner accordingly.”

 

“After giving birth, your body doesn't jump back to what it was like pre-pregnancy. It takes time for the excess blood to come out and for the bruising/swelling to go down. I recommend doing research on how to improve your post-partum experience. Also check your flange sizes in advance if you are pumping.”

 

Tips and considerations:

 

“Be cautious with lactation consultants and doulas who immediately push tongue tie correction surgery, especially those who immediately recommend a specific doctor/dentist. Speak to your pediatrician and / or go to a pediatric ent for a professional opinion. Breastfeeding can be really hard and it is normal for it to be painful at first! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Trust your instincts”

 

“If you feel at all you are having nursing issues see someone ASAP! I waited until 7 weeks with my first child to see a LC and stopped breastfeeding at 12 weeks. I saw someone with my second baby at 2 weeks and had a lot of success. Also, if breastfeeding does't work out THAT IS OKAY! YOUR BABY WILL BE OKAY!”

 

Each baby is unique, so try not to compare your experience with anyone else’s:

 

“Don’t compare your baby to any other baby. Ask for advice when needed but remember that no one knows your baby like you. And i wish wish wish I didn’t worry as much with my first. I wish I had enjoyed it more and didn’t get caught up in how good/bad a sleeper or eater she was. Don’t care what anyone else does.”

 

“Every baby and needs are different.  As much as you can, try not to compare to what other families are doing.  It's helpful to hear what people are doing, but it doesn't mean it's right for you.  For me, giving myself permission to be more flexible and not rigid with measuring, sticking to exact schedule, and being responsive to our baby has created a very positive experience.  Everything for us has ebbed and flowed.  She's been an awesome sleeper, and she's had some tricky times sleeping...but it all keeps working out :).”

 

(Breast)feeding tips:

 

“FED IS BEST - don’t let anyone bully you into breastfeeding if it’s not working for you or baby or if you just don’t want to! The baby will be fine. Your health - mental and physical - is important.”

 

I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding, because my milk didn't come in.   I got nursing consultation at NYU Langone (they were wonderful), and I then I tried nursing for about 1 month.   I found it to be horribly stressful, because I was not producing enough milk.   I was lucky to have the guidance of both my sister and my sister-in-law who also had problems with nursing and ultimately formula fed my nephew and niece.   So i decided to formula feed after a month, and I found it liberating.   My son has been healthy his entire life, and he's a great eater and sleeper.  I wish that I didn't stress or feel any shame in deciding to formula feed.   Fed is best!  And a happy mama is the best kind of mama.”

 

“Have a breast pump ready to use in case you need to. Last thing you want to do is fiddle around with it and learn to use it when you desperately need to and are postpartum crazed with a (screaming) newborn. Have an appointment scheduled with a lactation consultant in your home within the first 48 hours of coming home from the hospital. Nothing can prepare you for how challenging breastfeeding can be no matter how well read you may be!”

 

 

"Don't stress about breastfeeding! I had the idea engrained in me that I HAD to breastfeed, and when my baby wouldn't latch well it was so disappointing. But just know that breastfeeding is so hard, it may not work for your baby, and pumping and/or formula feeding are both totally okay and in fact a lot of women do combo-feeding."

 

 

"Beware the overly eager but not overly helpful lactation consultants, and just remember that you have several weeks to establish nursing if that's what you're trying to accomplish."

 

 

PPD is real. Get help if you need it, and be gentle with yourself:

 

“The best thing I ever did was sign up for the postpartum support group at week 3. They supported me through the darkest hours and helped me support my family by suggesting grief counseling for everyone in my family. If you think you might have any sort of depression, sign up and you can always quit it if you’re alright. It’ll help you be a better mother in the end.”

 

“No one seemed to want to tell me this, but any depression or anxiety beyond a few weeks is PPD/PPA. Get treated. It is not worth you trying to stick it out when you could feel better immediately.”

 

“Post partum depression is real, even if you are the least depressed person in your everyday life. I figured I would be overjoyed with the arrival of my son, and I was, but in a weird way I was too sad and down on myself to be present. I can’t articulate it because I’d luckily never experienced depression before, but know that it is real and it will pass. Seek help if you need it. Be kind to yourself in those first few days and weeks, it gets SO much easier.”

 

 

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GENERAL WISDOM

 

“My only advice, which I admit is hard to follow, is to follow your instincts and not worry too much about doing it right. It is far more important to figure out how you WANT to do it, because there are so many right ways to raise children and take care of babies. And related to that, you can change your mind! I wish I had worried less about creating bad habits, always thinking everything I did would have long-lasting impact. In fact, everything changes on its own with babies and young children. And you have endless opportunities to change your approach.”

 

“Take the classes and welcome the helping hands and support before, during and after!  And don't forget about the after part - the best thing is letting other people cook for you, and asking for help.  In our childbirth prep class, the instructor said you wouldn't run the NYC Marathon without training, so why would you give birth without putting in the training/preparation?  I'm sure this analogy has been used before, but it really stuck with me and thankfully I felt really prepared with my pre and post delivery team.”

 

“Educate yourself about newborn care, not just about pregnancy and birth (which are important, but honestly will often mostly take care of themselves without you having much say in what happens! once that baby's born, you are really in the driver's seat). Line up a meal train, or ask a friend to do it, so that you can have a steady supply of tasty food, and visitors, coming in and you can focus more on dealing with your baby, sleeping, and taking care of your post-birth body.”

 

 

"We are only 2 months in, but it can't be understated how hard the first few weeks are. You WILL be sleep deprived and question your life choices, but once routines start kicking in you can make more informed decisions. Sometimes you can get so into the data (how much did she feed or sleep etc) but sometimes you just need to listen to your child and put that stuff aside. Basically, find the balance that suits your situation."

 

“Be nice to your partner (if he/she is there with you), and remind yourself how lucky you are to have this beautiful new baby!! Every phase is wonderful, but they are only newborns for a short time.”

 

 

"Remember that this particular moment doesn't last forever and that decisions made now can often be changed: the baby will fall asleep eventually, you will eventually get a good night's sleep, friends/family will eventually get to meet the baby, choosing one way of feeding now doesn't mean that you can't choose something else later on, etc.  And ask for and accept help."

 

 

"New parents should definitely read up on this process, like what to expect when expecting. Also, keep an open mind in that you can go in saying you're going to have a 'natural birth,' but if your baby isnt turned or you have complications like you're not dilating enough, you could come out with a c-section. Also, you need help! Have someone to help you the minute you come home from the hospital cuz it's hard. I wish I had my mom come over before and not a couple days later. That saying 'sleep when the baby sleeps' is crap! Try as much as you can to take turns with your partner so you both get "enough" rest. Also, do not expect to get enough sleep for the next 3 months. I was blindsided by how exhausted I would be. Breastfeeding is not as rosey as it seems. I didnt understand that I needed to build up my supply in the beginning by pumping every 2 hrs and not just wait till I was heavy or engorged. Just because you're breastfeeding does not mean you will shed all your baby weight, it depends on the person and their  body so that is a myth. Lastly, there are many baby products out there and you never know what you will need/not need until the baby comes- don't overbuy! Get things that seem practical to you and your lifestyle/space. Don't get something because a bunch of mom bloggers swear by this or that product. Get a pediatrician in walking from you if possible."

 

 

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