I’ve recently collaborated with Arianna Sertolli from Feed the Body and Soul blog for a Live Instagram Series called Healthy Mommy Happy Baby. Arianna is a holistic chef, health coach, yoga teacher and wonderful mama to her adorable baby girl Diana who just celebrated her first birthday and we originally connected over Instagram while we were both pregnant.
Each of our Instagram Lives cover our holistic health and wellness tips and experiences during the different periods of pregnancy as well as birth and the postpartum period. Our first Live covered Fertility and Conceiving. We covered things like getting in tune with your body and monthly cycle, our favorite fertility boosting foods, the importance of emotional balance and alternative assistance for supporting fertility like yoga, acupuncture and using essential oils. Our next was dedicated to all things pregnancy and that one is also recapped in a previous blog post here.
This past week we had our Live dedicated to birth and the fourth trimester and that is what will be recapped in this post. I think one of the best parts of this live was that Arianna and I had very different birth experiences. She went into labor early, had a vaginal birth and her daughter spent time in the NICU while I had a planned c-section due to Lane being breech. As we mention during our lives, we are not doctors and are only sharing our own experiences and research. We encourage you to consult with your doctor or midwife further on anything covered in this post.
Creating a Birth Plan
Research your options and remember you have a voice. It’s important to not only write out a birth plan, but also discuss it in detail with your doctor well in advance so that you are both on the same page when it comes to what you hope for. Know that your birth plan is a plan and a hope, but things don’t always go as planned and interventions are sometimes needed.
I hoped and planned for an all-natural birth in a birth center and ended up with a planned c-section, but I still had a birth plan for my c-section which you definitely can! Don’t think that just because you are having a c-section that it means that all choices and options go out the window. Here are some of the things I included in my c-section/hospital birth plan and discussed with my midwife/OBGYN prior:
- Skin to skin immediately after the baby is born
- Delay first bath
- Attempt breastfeeding immediately
- Administer lower dose of pain medication and increase only if needed and asked for
- Keep placenta for encapsulation
- My choices for the following: vitamin k shot, antibiotic eye drops, Hep vaccine (all 3 of these are administered in the hospital after birth unless you decline) I strongly encourage you to research the pros and cons of all of these.
- I requested that Brandon (my husband) be present at all times with me during the surgery and that if the baby had to go to the NICU or anywhere else that he went with him and was with him at all times and during any/all procedures. This is not allowed at all hospitals, but my doctor pushed for it to be possible for Brandon to be in the room during my surgery prep which was probably the scariest part for me.
- Natural vaginal birth
- Unless asked for, please don’t suggest medications
- Interventions only following opportunity to discuss options with my husband
- I prefer no induction and to let the water break on its own
- I prefer to have the opportunity to get on a birth ball, shower, back or the floor if needed
- I prefer no episiotomy unless required for baby’s safety
- I prefer no vacuum or forceps to be used
- I prefer to have hospital staff help with pushing techniques
- I prefer to deliver in whichever position feels more comfortable and not be limited to laying down on hospital bed
- Please don’t cut the cord until it stops pulsing, wait 2 or 3 minutes. If possible, allow father to cut the cord.
- Wait for placenta to expel on its own unless a medical issue occurs
Hospital Bag Must Haves
When you are a first-time mom it’s natural to want to pack everything in the hospital bag “just in case,” but here are some of our must-haves after each of our own first-time experiences.
- Vitamins- I brought my own vitamins because I preferred my own whole food vitamins over those given at the hospital.
- Non-toxic baby shampoo- I brought my own baby shampoo to avoid the Johnson & Johnson option in the hospital, but actually decided to not bathe him until a few days after we got home.
- Natural homeopathic remedies (arnica, essential oils etc.)
- Non-toxic/chemical free/organic pads
- Diapers/wipes if you don’t want to use the hospital ones
- Natural snacks/drinks- I brought a lot of my own snacks and a lot of organic juices/coconut water for after my c-section. I didn’t want to eat a lot of the hospital food because it just wasn’t the healthiest during recovery.
- Nipple cream/other toiletries- I brought my own Earth mama nipple cream and toiletries instead of using the hospital’s.
- Swaddles- There are so many now with velcros that make it so much easier than trying to swaddle with the hospital blankets. It was impossible for us!
- Documents and Birth Plan (remember you have a voice)
- Night gown and robe
- Wireless speaker if you want music/chargers for phones/computer if needed
- Baby essentials: diapers, clothes, hats, swaddles and if needed formula and bottles
- You and your partner’s going home clothes
- Postpartum natural, organic cotton pads and comfortable underwear
- Postpartum belly wrap
- Healthy snacks which you can have after delivery and coconut or regular water
Essential Oils for Birth & Postpartum
I highly recommend getting the book Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern (available on Amazon)
There is so much valuable information in that book that will empower you as a mama to reach for oils and natural solutions during this precious time. Here are a few of my favorite tips for oils during Birth & Postpartum:
- Clary Sage on the inner ankles can help encourage labor contractions when you are ready but should be avoided during the rest of pregnancy.
- If a diffuser is allowed in your hospital room or birth center, diffuse Lavender, Frankincense, Gentle Baby, Stress Away or Peace & Calming for a relaxing environment.
- Avoid Peppermint while Breastfeeding as it can affect supply.
- Fennel & Basil can be used to encourage an increase in supply.
- Once baby arrives, Lavender, Gentle Baby & Stress Away are great in a roller and rolled on wrists and neck to start so that your baby can get used to oils just by smelling them on you. Then, as you are comfortable, diffuse oils, but only a few drops to start. It’s also best not to diffuse directly next to baby, but across the room for example so that you don’t overwhelm their fragile senses.
- If you are experiencing postpartum depression or other difficult emotions, there are many different blends formulated specifically for emotional support. Joy, Release & Frankincense oils were some of my favorites.
Postpartum Recovery Foods
Now that you delivered, you need to regain energy for yourself and the baby. Ditch the idea of losing those baby pounds and think “how can I be at the best of my energy to be and enjoy my time with my baby?”
- Eat a healthy and whole diet
- Drink water and lots of it!!
- Stock up on omegas (1.1 gram/day from the Institute of Medicine)
- Stay low on caffeine which will just spike your energy for a short time
- Continue your Prenatal vitamins which have more iron, and since you are bleeding that will be important
- Bone Broth- an excellent source of fats and protein. Stay with organic and no fillers. Make it at home if possible.
- Bananas: great for vaginal delivery recovery and cramps
- Blueberries: low in sugar and anti-inflammatory
- Yogurt: has great prebiotics and is the only dairy you should have if breastfeeding if you want to avoid dairy which can be a possible cause of colic.
- Greens: Load up on chard, spinach, kale, watercress and more these will get your energy up
- Go for the healthy fats: Chia, avocadoes, flax seeds, cold water fish, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and organic meats.
Breastfeeding classes are so helpful, but might not cover all possible scenarios when it comes time to each person’s breastfeeding journey. Here are a few things we wish we knew more about prior or tips that might be helpful for you.
- Know when your milk comes in and what an ideal latch looks like
- Ask the pediatrician in the hospital to check the baby for a tongue and a lip tie if they have experience with this
- Research about overproduction and underproduction and your options for both of these scenarios- I had overproduction and hadn’t even heard about that prior to giving birth
- For low production, look into lactation teas, using fennel essential oil on lymph nodes, and taking a lactation supplement like Fenugreek
- Work with a lactation consultant when needed
If you have no milk, try not to stress or worry and know that you have options.
- You can buy milk through a milk bank
- You can find a group of moms who have oversupply and donate their milk- I used Human Milk 4 Human Babies Facebook group. Tasha donated hers through Eats on Feets Facebook group.
- If you choose formula, stay with organic if possible and know that you have options other than what is on store shelves: I used Holle and Hipp (both German, one of cow and one of goat) If you go that route make sure to use both since the goat can bring constipation and the cow colic.
Foods to Avoid when Breastfeeding
If breastfeeding, here are some foods to avoid that can cause low supply or bring problems to your baby such as gas or acne:
- Dairies: can cause colic and skin problems like eczema
- Caffeine: this goes directly to your bloodstream and passes to your baby
- Chocolate: check on your baby poo and if it’s too loose than try to avoid or stick with organic, dark, with no additives
- Parsley and peppermint: known to reduce supply
- Citrus: can irritate your baby’s underdeveloped gastrointestinal tract
- Peanuts: If your family has an allergy history, you can later introduce it into solids and see their reaction
Foods to Increase Milk Production when Breastfeeding
If breastfeeding, here are few foods which are great to support a healthy supply.
- Oatmeal: stay with organic and possibly gluten-free
- Sesame: High in calcium
- Hops: A great excuse to sip a little beer once in a while 🙂
- Green Papaya
- Fennel: this is also great if your little one has stomach issues
- Cashew, Almonds and Macadamia: stick with raw and un-salted
Favorite Postpartum Products / Other
- SheThinx underwear
- Natracare pads
- Coconut oil for belly
- Postpartum belly wrap
- Frankincense essential oil for scars
- Earth Mama nipple cream for pumping and breastfeeding
- Nursing friendly lounge wear
- Spectra Pump
- Bach Rescue Remedy- Homeopathic Stress Relief
- Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea & Honest Co. Lactation Plus supplements- Wait on these until you access your supply. Looking back I believe I contributed to my oversupply by taking these too early, but they definitely work.
- Sprout baby tracker app for keeping track of feedings/diaper changes
Find and join local mom groups with similar interests and location before giving birth so that you have support ready to go. After 3-4 months or whenever comfortable, baby classes are great to attend (baby and mom yoga and music classes) and are a great excuse for getting out of the house and back into the real world. Mom meet-ups at parks or play dates are also a fun way to stay connected. It takes a village to raise a child, find your village.
We hope all of this was helpful for you and would love to hear your feedback or questions if you have any.
Thanks for reading.
Lots of love and good health,
Tasha & Arianna