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fatherhood

What We Packed in The Hospital Bag for Birth & Why

We attended a prenatal 1-day workshop at Pacific Midwifery Practice, April of this year, 2019. At that time, I was about 30 weeks pregnant. It was such a beneficial workshop and provided lots of information around birth & after care.

One of the topics covered in the workshop was what to pack in your hospital bag. We were recommended to have the bag packed and stored in a handy place by week 37 as many folks can have baby early.

The recommendation was to pack your bag for 2 days stay at the hospital. Usually in Vancouver the birther stays one night in the hospital. However, if there are complications that would be extended, in this case if your stay was extended make sure you have someone who has access to your home to pack extra things if you need.

This blog will cover what we packed in our bag, assuming we will be in the hospital for the 2 days. We have a small cloth weekend bag which we filled with Parents clothing, baby clothing, toiletries & snacks. We were recommended to only bring essentials and not come to the hospital with a huge suitcase of things. (Apparently this happens! Lol!!)

The above is the small bag we packed which has everything we need for the hospital in it. Its light, easy to carry & eye catching so hoping we wont forget it!! We have it stored in the closet by our jackets.

What We Packed: Why?
Birther:
Large T-shirt that I wear as a night dress During late labour the birther will be really hot and will need something easy to take on and off. Many birthers are naked but it’s good to have the option;-)
Comfy change of clothes for going home (Lululemon loose bottoms, soft loose cotton t-shirt & soft loose light sweater) This is where comfort over fashion comes in. We don’t know how our birth is going to go natural or c-section so packing loose fitting comfy clothing for going home ensures you won’t be uncomfortable for the car ride home. Tight tops & pants could aggravate stitches from surgery or apply too much pressure to a sensitive area after birth
2 large knickers & breastfeeding bras Since the birther will be bleeding after birth large knickers for sanitary towels are recommended. Also, if you are planning on breastfeeding bring a breast-feeding bra
Loose socks My feet get cold so this is a comfort thing
Flip flops The instructor at the workshop advised against bringing your home slippers as the hospital floor can contain a lot of germs & you don’t want to bring that into your home. Bring flip flops you can wash after
Eye mask Great for blocking out extra light & ensuring you are catching as much zzzzz as possible
Partner
2 t-shirts The partner can sweat a lot too during birth, nerves, stress and the rush of it all can really create some heat. Bringing a clean shirt will keep the partner fresh. The birther is also more sensitive to smells so avoiding the issue of BO is recommended
2 pairs of underwear Again, the partner should be as comfortable as possible, having nice fresh clothes to change into after a long labour is essential
2 pairs of Socks The partners feet can get cold or sweaty so pack extra fresh socks
Eye mask Great for blocking out extra light & ensuring partner is catching as much zzzzz as possible
Baby
2 onesies The option of 2 onesies is for photos & if we get any stains on one, we can use the other
2 hats We couldn’t decide between hats as both were so cute…. nice for photos too
1 pair of socks Just in case the baby’s feet are chilly, for car ride home too
1 cardigan To ensure the baby is warm enough when she is transferred from hospital to car & for car journey home
2 headbands For photos only
Muslin blanket To keep baby cozy and snuggled in her own blanket
1 small stuffy For photos and a cute little gift
Toiletries
Travel tooth brush, floss, Travel size Cleanser, moisture, shampoo, conditioner, body moisturizer, Deodorant, Facecloth, Comb We packed all travel sized toiletries so we could save space in our bag. We brought a little bit of everything so we can feel as fresh as possible after our first shower after birth
Snacks
4 fig bars, Cheese & crackers, Pecan nuts, Dates, Chocolate, tea We packed some of our favourite snacks so we can both keep our energy up during & after the labour. I imagine I will crave my favourite Tea after labour so I have it packed.
Other
Travel pillow for George (inflatable one from MEC) Our friend recommended to bring a pillow for George as the partner may not get a pillow…. we want both of us to sleep as best as we can after
iPhone For taking pictures of baby, sending messages to family, playlist for birthing
Paperwork for midwives & hospital check in We have to hand in paperwork to the hospital when we arrive, it’s at the top of the bag, all filled out & signed

These snacks are easy to eat, no cutlery needed, full of energy & ones we love to eat on a normal day.

The above table highlights everything we packed. Hopefully we have everything we will need & if not we will figure it out. Still debating if I should pack a soother for baby…. might pick one up just in case. Apart from that we are ready to go, we just have to remember to take the cheese & chocolate from the fridge before leaving. I’ll let you know if that happens. I plan on writing a follow-up blog about what we packed, this will cover the items which were essential & if we missed anything that we really should have brought with us.

 

We hope this was helpful.

 

If you have any questions please let me know.

 

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to leave comments.

 

Have a great week,

 

Theresa Burns xx

Responsibility – Passing The Torch To Future Generations

I am about to become a father. My life is about to change in less than three weeks and it will never be the same again. I will think and behave differently. I will be reborn a new person and my life’s purpose will have changed forever. Everything I do will be for my family.

What is our ultimate goal as a parent? Is it to give our children the best life we can possibly give them? To prepare them for the long road of life ahead? To be there for them and care for them all along the way? All of the above, and much more I believe, but how does that translate on a global scale as a race?

We must leave the next generation in a better position. That is not to say that we give them materialistic wealth, but it is our responsibility to pass on knowledge, kindness and responsibility through example.

I believe it is our purpose in life to wake up, not as individuals, but as a race. This may not happen for a long time but it is in progress and we must work together to guide both those around us and those who will come after us to find our strength and our kindness.

The individual must act as part of the collective and the collective must embody the individual.

We will never lose our individuality, but as individuals working together, we make a strong collective.

We have seen great leaders in the past who have shone like beacons to guide us and future generations – Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammad, more recently, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela.

There are those who are in positions of power today who are using that power to move us in the right direction.

They may not necessarily be enlightened but they are in a position to guide others and inspire future generations through example and guidance.

I believe that we have passed from the collective childlike state as a species in the last few generations and that we are ready to follow a path of change, care and responsibility.

We have leaders everywhere. Look around you now and you will see people leading by example. The woman who picks up the trash she did not drop. The man who smiles and acknowledges the homeless person.

We need to look up and become aware of the example around us that can help us reach our goals as a race, and in turn we can become those leaders and role models we need to be by working together through kindness. We can spread our example throughout our peers and instil it in the next generation.

As a species we have gone through life in a slumber. We were too immature to notice our actions towards each other and towards our surroundings.

We were children but now we are growing up. An awakening has started and we are ready to take on the responsibility of care, which is ours by default due to our intelligence. If we do not act, then who will?

We must take up the mantle of responsibility and kindness and share it among ourselves until it spreads like a spark in dry brush. We must pass it onto the next generation.

George Bernard Shaw said that “Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

Reality is in our grasp. It is there for us to see, beyond this screen. It is in front of us, we just need to look up and see it.

That is the first step.

Look up and meet someone else’s eyes. They are the leaders of the new world and you are their teacher. And Vice Versa. Together we are wakening up, to spread kindness and integrity and wield it like a shield to protect all life.

This is our responsibility as we are the most intelligent form of life that we know of. We are the only ones that have the power to come together to make all the difference. We have the power and it is our responsibility to use it wisely for the sake of our home and as Shaw says, pass the splendid torch onto future generations.

Our Decision to Breastfeed Our Baby: Why & How Are We Preparing for It?

Firstly, George & myself have tried to keep an open mind about all our decisions throughout this pregnancy. We understand that what we have planned may not work out. This applies to breastfeeding also. Coming from Ireland at a young age our exposure to breast feeding has been limited. At the beginning of our pregnancy I said to George that I would like to give breastfeeding a go but if for some reason it doesn’t work out then we will bottle feed our baby. I believe if the process is causing too much stress and disappointment then mother & baby are both suffering. We would like to avoid this situation at all cost.

 

Generally, when we make a decision, we do our research and prepare ourselves as much as possible to succeed, then if it doesn’t work out, we have the comfort of knowing we did all we could. We applied the same attitude to breast feeding. With limited exposure to breastfeeding other than feedback from friends in Canada (not all feedback was great) I decided I needed to learn more. Friends advise is great but everyone’s experience with breastfeeding is so unique, I wanted to speak to a specialist so they could explain why, how and the method of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding for me did not seem like a natural thing. The idea of producing milk & feeding my child from my own body honestly was completely alien to me. I needed help and guidance to change my mindset so I could see this process as a natural & special connection with our baby.

 

The first step to expanding my knowledge was to download a book called “Guide to Breastfeeding” by Ina May. I would recommend every woman who is planning on breastfeeding to read this book. Ina May is a huge advocate for breastfeeding and gave solutions to all problems & issues that may arise during the process. She is convinced that all women can and should breastfeed. After reading this book it built up my confidence that if I am having trouble at any stage of feeding there is always a solution, for me that is very comforting.

 

During my pregnancy I have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes & my haemoglobin levels are way below average but I am non symptomatic. Having low iron levels & diabetes could make breastfeeding a little more complicated at the beginning. If myself or the baby are not so great after the birth, it may occur that I am unable to breastfeed right away. Also, if there are complications during the birth it may create a situation that breast feeding right away may not happen.

 

For the above reasons I wanted to meet with a lactation consultant so she could answer my questions which were very specific to my pregnancy and to help paint a picture of when breastfeeding begins, how to breast feed and how we could prepare for any situation after birth.

I searched online for a lactation consultant and found Mommy’s Milk (www.mommysmilk.ca). I booked a private at home consultation with Shannon Joyce at about week 28.

 

In addition to learning how to breastfeed and how we can prepare for complications I really wanted to know how to use a breast pump and when I could pump. A friend of mine gave me her pump and said it was so useful. George really wants to be involved in feeding the baby and I am all for it;-) Its just that I don’t know how to do it and when he can start feeding!

 

Shannon arrived in the afternoon on a Saturday, George left us so we could have the space to ourselves. Shannon asked what my expectations were from our meeting and I told her what I wanted to know. She was such a pleasant person & put me at ease straight away. She listened to all my concerns and passed no judgement just offered her knowledge and wisdom.

 

Shannon went through her presentation on her laptop with me which covered the topics below:

 

  • Benefits of breast feeding for mom & baby
  • How breastmilk changes
  • How milk production works
  • What we should expect in the first 24 hours
  • How to hand express
  • What is colostrum
  • Best time for breastfeeding
  • How often to breastfeed
  • What are babies hunger cues?
  • How to establish a good milk supply
  • Steps to a good latch
  • How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk
  • Frequency and duration of feeds
  • Pumping and storing breastmilk
  • Partner involvement in breastfeeding
  • Breast related concerns
  • When to seek help

To say I learned a lot is an understatement. The majority of the topics above I didn’t even think of before our session. For me the most relevant topic to my situation was that you can self-express from 37 weeks and store your colostrum in vials or syringes in the freezer. Therefore, if anything happens after the birth that I cannot feed my baby I will have a supply of colostrum ready for George to feed the baby until I have my energy back up. It may not come to that but I would like to prepare for it. This is the first time I ever heard of this and I’m sure I am not the only one.

 

After the presentation Shannon demonstrated how to set up, use & clean my pump. During the presentation she used puppets and props to give me excellent visuals of how you know your baby is latched on well and where the baby’s head, chin & nose should be positioned to get a great latch.

 

She insisted breastfeeding should not be a painful process, it may be uncomfortable for the first few moments but then it gets to feel more natural. She insisted that no one should have sore nipples or suffer when feeding. Her advice is to stop feeding and reposition the baby until it does not hurt even if the baby starts crying.

To say I gained knowledge and confidence from this experience is an understatement. Knowledge truly is power. I highly recommend spending the money on seeing a lactation consultant before your baby arrives. This is where your money is well spent, forget about fancy cribs & strollers…. spend the money on services like the above which will make your life and the baby’s life a lot easier from day 1.

 

I now have the confidence that I can breastfeed even if complications occur & I am looking forward to it which I never thought I would. I’m hoping it will be a time for myself & my little girl to bond and be happy. After 6 weeks George can then have this experience with feeding the breastmilk from a bottle and doing skin on skin with the little person.

 

We are excited about the idea of breastfeeding and will definitely give it our best shot! Hoping all works out but you just never know. I will write a follow-up blog to this on how it all went.

 

Thanks so much for reading,

 

Have a great week,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa

Our Experience with a Doula: A Private Session to Empower & Prepare both Parents for Birth

Honestly if you were to ask us what a Doula was 1 year ago, we both would have looked at you blankly with our mouths open. “Doula” seems to be the buzz word during this pregnancy. We get asked “Are you planning on have a doula during birth?”, “Are you going to hire a Doula?”, “Will a Doula help you after birth?” Midwifes, friends, work colleagues & people we don’t even know ask us these questions, and to be perfectly honest we said no because we didn’t know why you would want to hire a doula…. we didn’t know what they did or how they would add value to the whole experience. Researching doulas and their role during pregnancy was high on my list just to settle my own curiosity and to be able to give an educated answer when asked if we are planning on having a doula at birth.

 

Saturday afternoons I go to a prenatal yoga class in semperviva and the teacher is a Doula, Teresa Campbell. Teresa is an awesome yoga teacher and as a pregnant lady I feel safe and comfortable going to her classes. She gave hints of her role as a Doula throughout the class and it intrigued me. She has over 20 year’s experience and has seen hundreds of births. She mentioned that she was holding a prenatal couple’s workshop that would be beneficial for both partners & moms. Unfortunately, it was held on a weekend we had signed up for another yoga workshop and we could not attend. Instead we signed up for a private class with her in our home.

 

I had just finished the book called “The Fourth Trimester” by Kimberly Ann Johnson and had my midwife explain to me what the doula’s role is during birth. I had a much better understanding of a doula’s role before Teresa came to visit. Doula’s are present to take in the whole experience which cannot be done by doctors or midwives as they are so busy charting & documenting the mother & babies progress. The doula is person who can help with all the emotions that come up during birth and after for both partners, she/he is there to provide encouragement & confidence to both people. I see a doula as someone who is completely dedicated to the emotions and experience of the mother so the birth can be the most positive experience possible for the mother & partner.

 

The major reasons why we wanted to have time with a doula before birth were personal to us but maybe useful to others.

An observation we both had was that the role of the partner during pregnancy, birth and in the early months after birth is unclear and often the partner can be ridiculed for being useless or confused. I believe this is really unfair. The more support and guidance we can offer our partners during this huge life changing event the better. Yes, the mother & baby are so important and are the leading characters but we also need strong supporting partners to make everything run smoothly.

 

We are so lucky we live in a time where men are actively taking more of an equal role to raising their children. Moms are no longer expected to give up their jobs and take the soul responsibility of raising the children. The new modern dad carries the baby in the carrier, has skin on skin time with the baby to help with bonding, changes diapers, feeds the baby pumped breastmilk/formula, helps with night feeds, the list goes on. It truly is amazing how times have changed since my parents’ generation. This is something I am so grateful for, now let’s help our partners by providing them with the information & tools they need to feel useful, loved & appreciated.

 

The modern dad has come a long way and it is inspiring to watch but it has not been easy for them or their partners. There is not much support for men out there who want to be more involved. Their role can be unclear and confusing especially during the early months of birth. I think they can be overlooked for the value they can add and how helpful they truly can be during the whole process of pregnancy and after.

 

I believe we need to offer our partners a roadmap of how they can truly help. Who better to do this than an observer like a doula? They get to observe the dynamic of partners during the birth and after. They have witnessed so many births and situations where partners have been excellent help and where others were not as prepared. Why not seek advice from a person who knows what works during labour for both mom & partner and who can empower both people by sharing their experience, knowledge, do’s & don’ts.

 

 

When Teresa visited our home for our couples’ prenatal course, we started off the session with why we wanted to take part in the course. Basically, we wanted more of an insight to both of our roles and visuals of what the birth would potentially look like and what we may be doing during this time.

 

Teresa explained what things George could do to make the experience more comfortable for me.

Some suggestions were:

  • Ensuring I was drinking enough fluids and eating enough snacks
  • Providing massages to help relieve pain (Teresa demonstrated particular massages George could do and we confirmed which I liked the best and the pressure I liked so George would know before the birth)
  • Keeping eye contact with each other to reassure mom that all is good, sometimes words are not needed
  • If it happened that the nurse, I had didn’t suit George can request for another nurse, he can ask for people to be silent in the room (staff included)
  • He could turn down the lights if they are too bright
  • He can play my favourite music
  • Basically, he will be the one who controls the atmosphere of the room with guidance and requests from mom

We had no idea about any of the above options. Instantly I felt more at ease about the birthing process. I had mentioned to Teresa I do not like hospitals and was worried how I would react arriving there. Thank goodness I have never had to stay in a hospital so the whole idea of it is alien to me. It’s nice we can make the room as homely as we can by having control over the above.

We practiced some exercises called eye gazing where it is to promote connection and intimacy between partners. We really liked it. We stared into each other left eye without saying anything, just looking into the eye. Then after a while as we kept eye contact, we mentioned 3 things we loved about each other, 3 things that we were most excited about and 3 reasons why we loved our baby. It was really special to take time out like this to just focus on each other because things can get out of control and the bond between partners can be stretched & pulled in different directions as time gets closer to baby arriving. When the baby arrives, you want to feel as close as ever to your partner but without truly taking time out to connect the bond can overly stretch and cause lonliness in a relationship. We do not want this to happen and really feel by just taking 3 minutes every day to connect is super powerful and will definitely help with build a stronger relationship after birth & help encourage intimacy when it feels right for both partners.

 

It’s important for the partners to know that the mother will go through several emotional waves after birth and that they should be mindful of what they say and who comes to visit. This is where the partner is great help. They can be the ones who text family when labour begins, they can be ones who tell family & friends that mom and baby are resting and to call back next week.

 

Teresa’s prenatal partners workshop was insightful for both of us. We learned a lot & felt reassured about the birth experience & our roles during the experience. The bonus from this workshop were the exercises Teresa showed us to help keep & build our strong connection after the baby arrives. After all we both love each other so much & we want to keep that bond even when we are sleep deprived & not feeling like ourselves. Something as simple as kind words of encouragement & eye contact can make all the difference. Our relationship with each other is just as important as our relationship with our new baby girl. My aim as a new mom is to show as much love to my baby & husband as possible because we all need love, support, respect and encouragement through times of change. No one should be left on the outside or feel not as important as another in our little unit of 3.

 

We would highly recommend incorporating a doula somewhere throughout your prenatal experience to prepare yourself as much as possible for during & after birth. We have decided not to have a doula present for our first birth as we want to see how everything goes with just us & the midwives.

 

Let us know your thoughts on the above and if you would recommend a doula for your first birth or not? We would love to hear your feedback.

 

I hope you enjoyed the above.

 

As always feels free to leave any comments.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog.

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxx