babying: health + wellness

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YOUR BODY—AFTER BIRTH CARE
Your practitioner should set you up with a few post birth tools:

  1. a peri bottle (you can fill with warm water to wash your vaginal area at 2-3 times a day)
  2. a sitz bathtub for which you need to purchase Epsom salts—for a daily sitz bath
  3. maxi-pads (even if you thought you’d never need a maxi-pad again, you aren’t allowed to put anything (yes, anything) in you vaginal canal for at least 6 weeks after birth.  The hospital maxi-pads are very thick and actually comforting.  You will bleed and have discharge, so you need to be prepared.
  4. Disposable underwear—kind of like mesh boy shorts, these are actually cool because you can throw them away (which is good in case they get stained).  They give them to you at the hospital, and if you like them you can always ask for an extra package.

Your body after birth is amazing but different.  Depending upon your birth you will be sore in different ways.  If you have a vaginal birth you’ll have a lot of discharge and bleeding too, a c-section birth will still have bleeding and the incision to monitor.  Your breasts will swell and become Jessica-Rabbit like when your milk comes in.  Try to find the humor and the magnificence in it all—you’ve just created a life!

Your Sex Life Just After Baby
Whether or not you’ve had a vaginal delivery or a c-section, every woman is supposed to wait until their 6 week follow up appointment when they can be examined to resume sexual intercourse.  “Nothing goes in there for 6 weeks!  No tampons, nothing,” the nurse turned and looked at my husband.  We laughed, it was our second baby-- we knew the rules.  And, even though six weeks might seem like a long time, there are a lot of other things you’ll want to do if you find yourself with free time.

If I’m breastfeeding / nursing do I still need to use birth control to avoid getting pregnant?
YES!  Breast-feeding only stops your body from ovulating if you nurse every 4 hours, period.  That means the first time your baby sleeps for 5 hours, you must start using birth-control if you wish to avoid getting pregnant. 

It’s good to have some kind of lubricant when you do resume-- I’ve never known anyone who had a pain-free first time back in the saddle (I’m not trying to make it harder to relax, just don't rush the moment).  The safest are silicone based lubricants-- they are condom compatible and glycerine-free (glycerine, which is in water based lubricants, can promote yeast infections which you especially do not want to get now).

  • Wet: Platinum Premium Lubricant
  • Eros: Body Glide
  • If you need a silicone-free lubricant (water based):  Astroglide
     

Read more about birth-control here, in living:health & wellness

THE PEDIATRICIAN
You will take your baby to the pediatrician within a few days of his birth.  This is a time where weight and bilirubin levels (high bilirubin levels indicate jaundice) are checked.  Sometimes your pediatrician can answer questions about breastfeeding but not always, and the information is not always accurate (sorry doctors!).

I always bring paper and something to write with to the pediatrician.  I used to try to take notes other ways, but they are usually distracting (most of us find when we take out an iPhone, Blackberry, or Palm Device your child will be interested and you won’t be able to use it easily).  Sometimes my husband teases me, “You’re the only one taking notes when we go places!” but it gives me a chance to go over information when I have a chance to concentrate. 

Someone at the visit usually writes down your child’s height, weight and head circumference.  You can put this information in a book for you and your child to look back at later.

If you have specific questions or concerns, let the doctor know before you just ask.  “I have some questions about Jon’s runny noses,” or “I’ve been noticing that Lily isn’t pulling up as much as some other babies we know,”.

Subsequent Visits
Usually you have a “well visit” (check-ups are now called well visits):
When your baby is born, at 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 8 months, 10 months, 1 year, 15 months, 18 months, 21 months, 2 years, 2 and a half years, 3 years, and once yearly after that.

VACCINATIONS
Ask your pediatrician at each visit about the vaccination plans for the next visit so you can read up on current information.   www.askdrsears.com has a constantly updated vaccine information and balance discussion of what vaccines to give along with alternative schedules. 

Larry Palevsky, MD, FAAP, ABHM is an East Coast doctor who lectures about the dangers of vaccines.  Information can be found at his website.

My personal vaccinations beliefs (please discuss your own beliefs with your pediatrician)

  • Give one vaccination at a time, no need to overwhelm the immune system.
  • When you finish breastfeeding, give your child’s immune system 6 months to adjust before giving another vaccination
  • Research the aluminum content of vaccines as well as the mercury content—and adjust for age—newborns absorb more of these chemicals than older babies.

TEETHING
Some babies let you know when they are teething, some don’t. Some people say teething pain is sharp, and short lived, some people think it can be dull and last for periods of time.  Teething is a great (and sometimes accurate) scapegoat. If your baby seems fussy and you don’t know why, he or she may be getting a tooth.  Many moms say, “It’s all teething,” because really, until all the teeth come in, it could be teething, you never know.

What Can Help Teething Babies

  • You can buy homeopathic teething tablets and Boiron Camelia (liquid single dose packets).  They can help ease pain, and are helpful for the placebo effect. 
  • Sucking on a frozen washcloth, knawing on a frozen bagel, and just chewing on toys (increasing saliva therefore softening the gums) can also help.

PHYSICAL BABY CARE
In your diaper area you need diapers, diaper area cream, dry wipes, water, a box of tissues, and baby clothes.  When you change your baby

  1. Pull the clothes your baby is wearing up completely
  2. Take the new diaper, unfold it completely (including leg ruffles) and put it under the diaper that is already on your child—sticky tabs under the butt side.
  3. Pull the tabs to unstick the first diaper—if there is poop, use the diaper to wipe it away, then put the diaper off to the side or right in the diaper pail or a bag—far enough away from the baby’s feet.
  4. Sometimes the feeling of cool air makes your baby pee—if you have a boy you may want to drape a tissue over his penis now.
  5. Use a wipe from the baby’s back (poop tends to ride up) and the baby’s front.  If you have a girl make sure to part the vagina and wipe the poop from inside. 
  6. Put the wipe in the old diaper if it’s still out, or in the diaper pail or bag.
  7. The new diaper is ready to be put closed up—pull the top half up through the baby’s legs and fasten with the tabs.  If you have a boy, point his penis down before you close the diaper.

Changing a Newborn’s Diaper
For the first 4-6 weeks of your baby’s life it’s best to use plain water most of the time to wipe her up.  Dry wipes (wipes without anything) can be wet with water and serve as a perfectly good baby wipe for most diapers.  Remember, the surface area of a baby’s skin absorbs higher concentrations of the chemicals in all products—so the more natural, the better.

Your baby’s first diapers will be filled with meconium—a black tar like paste that is the baby’s first poop (sometimes there is meconium when your water breaks, or your baby poops it out at the hospital or birthing center, but usually it takes a day).  Regular baby wipes are best for these diapers.

UMBILICLE CORD CARE

It will take about two weeks for your baby’s entire umbilicle cord and stump to fall off.  Sometimes there is an piece sticking up in addition to the stump (where the plastic clamp was)—you must wait until the stump falls off before you wash that area or bathe your baby.  For our two children we left the area alone until it fell off on its own. 
Note: some people suggest wiping the area with a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol, some people say this makes it take longer to fall off.  Ask your pediatrician if you have any other questions.
 


 

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