As the days of pregnancy dwindle to an end, moms eagerly await their new addition! Rooms are prepared, baby clothes are laundered, car seats installed, and hospital bags packed. But usually, little thought is put into just what the new mom will need for herself!
With my first child, I prepped for birth, researched mommy-hood, but I had absolutely no idea about what would occur postpartum! I knew I’d be bleeding for a little while after birth, but that was about it. Naturally, I thought I’d regain my supermodel status in a few short weeks and be an instant super mom...
Reality burned. So did using the bathroom. Here are a few of my postpartum essentials, heads up, it's not glamorous:
· For starters, postpartum bleeding is very heavy (much heavier than a period)! Don’t be afraid to buy depends or disposable underwear (you'll thank me!). Overnight pads are helpful, but for the first few days, they won’t save your sheets! I highly recommend sleeping on disposable underpads. I used "chux" pads to protect the floor during my homebirth and found them to be equally helpful after birth!
· When nature calls, it might not feel so natural! Bowel movements may be difficult. If you had stitches after birth, straining any muscles might sound terrifying. Though you are a superwoman for the miracle you've just taken part of, your helpful sidekick will be stool softeners! Don't worry if they become a staple for the first few weeks, even months! Embrace the ease!
Peri bottles (or a good old fashion water bottle) are helpful in preventing burning while peeing and can be a soothing way to stay clean. If you had any tears or stitches, filling your bottle with warm water will wash away any anxiety while using the bathroom. Lastly, perineal cold pack pads are amazing after birth. They're absorbant pads that provide cooling relief and reducing swelling after birth. I always lamented when I ran out of them!
If you plan to breastfeed (and I hope you do!), these are my favorite newborn nursing essentials:
You'll need nursing bras! The dilemma first time moms face is that it is a challenge to properly guess your nursing bra size before you have a baby and your milk supply comes in. Instead of dumping money into bras that wont feel comfortable, I recommend grabbing a pack of sleep nursing bras. They run in small, medium, large, and extra large, and are a soft cotton which allows for room to grow (literally). They offer comfortable support for the first few days and make nighttime feedings so much easier!
If your nipples are sore, I highly recommend "soothies"! They are the sole reason I was able to nurse my children after a difficult first few days. They provide a cooling relief and help heal sore nipples! You'll want these in your hospital bag to use while you and your little one adjust to a proper latch! This get's easier as the baby's neck strengthens, in the meantime, SOOTHIES!
Good quality nursing pads are also essential. I've purchase cheap ones, and they leak. Breastmilk leaking through your bra and on to your shirt is not fun, especially when you have to wear your husbands jacket, in the middle of the summer, to try to cover an awkwardly wet shirt. I've used the TL Organic Nursing Pads, and have purchased three packs. In my opinion, their protection cannot be beat!
The final nursing essential is really a nursing helper. It will save your back, and your arms, and in my case, many trips to the chiropractor. I've used the Boppy Pillow, which was too flimsy. I've also used the Ergo Nursing Pillow which offered a wonderful amount of support for my baby, but the main con is it is expensive. I recommend "My Breast Friend" because it offers wonderful support for babies of all sizes, and is reasonably priced. You also might want to purchase an extra cover for your nursing pillow, breast milk, and spaghetti sauce, will splatter and you'll want to keep your nursing pillow covered and clean!
Did I miss anything? What is your favorite postpartum essential??
I love seeing God do miracles, don't we all? Miracles produce wonder, reverence, and remind us that we are the size of sand in the mighty, loving, hands of God. I've shared a few of the miracles I've experienced, as well as a book filled with many others, but for every testimony I share, I realize there are many who needed that same miracle, prayed for it, but did not see it happen.
So, then what? What role does faith play in losses, big and small? In Re:Birth, I shared about my terrible birth experience which was followed by crippling illness and a devastating diagnosis that it would be too dangerous to have more children (read Alexandra's Testimony 2). My dreams were crushed, my theology was wrecked, and my vision was destroyed. I was half way finished writing a book about all the miraculous things God can accomplish in pregnancy and deliveries, but my reality did not matching at all and I wanted to toss the book into the nearest trash can!
Before I did that, I had to pause and realize where God was in the midst of all my chaos. I felt like I was standing right next to Jairus. Jairus’s daughter was sick and near death, and he needed a miracle!
So he runs to the only One who can bring hope and life into his dismal situation, Jesus. Jesus agrees to come and pray for Jairus’s little girl, but on the way, an older woman touches Jesus’s cloak. The woman is miraculously healed, but in those same moments, Jairus is informed his daughter is dead. In grief, I would have pointed my finger at the woman for taking my miracle, or the crowds of people that made it so difficult to get around efficiently, and scowled at the joy on the woman’s face as she relished in her own healing. It seemed that Jarius’s window into the supernatural had closed.
The servants words did not make anything better, “Don't bother the teacher your daughter is dead.” (Mk. 5:35). The Greek for bother implies harassment and annoyance, words that make one feel like a worthless nuisance. Jairus could have listened to the denigrating words of the servant and left, in a sad, discouraged rage. I'm sure he was eager to hold his grieving wife, and comfort the shattered remains of his family. He had almost grasped a miracle, but it slipped away.
Instead of turning and leaving, Jarius stood. We don’t know whether he stood for a few seconds or minutes, but he waited for the Teachers response above every other voice around him.
When Jesus looked at Jairus, He saw through the hurt and pain, and to the very heart of the matter. With words that pierce through Heaven and earth alike, Jesus said, "Do not fear, just believe..." Those words must have brought comfort in the midst of confusion, and gave Jairus the hope he needed to keep on believing.
If you've experienced disappointment, you're in good company. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (Jhn. 10:10). Shawn Boltz pointed out that when he steals, he's technically stealing from God ("Keys to Heaven's Economy").And God is a just God... He will see that you are repaid and restored!
Through our struggles, Jesus's words to Jairus are just as true : "Do not fear, just believe!"Though there is pain, there will be victory. That's God's nature. Battles may be lost, but the outcome of the war was determined at Calvary. Like Jairus, we simply have to stand long enough to see it happen.
I'll leave you with one of our favorite songs. It's an oldie but goodie, and we sing it out in the midst of the battles and the pain, even when victory is nowhere to be seen.
"I have overcome!" And you will too!
 Strongs G4660
Ahh love is in the air, or the distinct realization that you are missing some earthly fulfilment of love.
There is no true love apart from God. It just can't happen. Even if you happen to be Allie Calhoun, object of Noah’s devote affection in the blockbuster film The Notebook, and you are five years into your happy marriage, you will come to a place where you need God to love.
Noah will mess up. You will mess up too. One day, you might be strolling down the road, sharing an ice cream cone just like when you were dating, and Noah mushes some ice cream on your face. Instead of a romantic kiss, you flip out. How could he make a mess of a five dollar premium ice cream cone? And he left the coupon in the car!
We do such a wonderful job of stocking stores filled with candy and red hearts, but as a society, we easily forget that we need God in order to love. The Bible says, “We love because he first loved us…” (1 Jhn. 4:9). We have to know God’s love in order to truly love others. God’s love in unending, sacrificial, and without any conditions, three attributes that are humanly impossible to replicate in our own lives a part from God.
So this valentine's day, celebrate those you love (and those you don't, because we're called to love without bias), but do it out of the abundance of love from God's heart that floods our own. Loving on our own can be squelched out like a match in the wind, but God's love is the eternal fire that fuels us all.
If you were the only person on earth, God still would have sent His own Son to die in your place. God loves you more than any human ever could, and he loves the person taking an obnoxiously long time to cash out in the grocery store line just as much! Celebrate that love!
Is a wife, mother of four, author of Re:Birth, and lover of afternoon naps.