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As any mother can attest, having a baby is such an exciting time. All the mums at Holly and Jack remember what it was like to be an expectant and new mum. So, we have put together a treasury of tips and advice that you may find helpful. We share some of our experiences and reflections and hope they bring back your own motherhood memories or prepare you for new ones.

Décor

What to do, where to start and how to create a dream room for you and your baby. It’s all here for you to learn.

Nursery and Bedroom Layout

Decorating a room for your baby can be a rewarding and successful experience if you follow a few simple guidelines. Holly and Jack have provided you with a professional guideline to room design with our ‘Design your own Room’ advice. However, before you get stuck into a full-on decorating scheme; decide on the layout of your room. The practical workings of a nursery can supersede any aesthetic considerations when things don’t work well.

Here are a few basic rules to work by when planning your layout:

  1. Never place the cot or bed in front of a doorway or between a window and door
  2. There is a chance of draughts moving over the cot/bed
  3. Make sure the changing table or compactum is out of any draughts and close to a power point for light and other equipment.
  4. Place your armchair near a source of natural light and a power point for a reading light. Make sure there is room for a small side table next to the chair.
  5. The dustbin and a laundry hamper should be positioned on either side of the changing station for convenience.
  6. Mount a set of small shelves directly above the changing station to store extra supplies, mementoes and items which need to be stored out of babies reach like medicines.
  7. Keep all power points clear of clutter and fit with child-proof plugs and fittings. If you need more than one point, mount a bank of plugs on the wall at a convenient height to reach. In this way, you will avoid tangles of wire and the frustration of unconnected appliances.
  8. Create storage space by installing shelving that can accommodate baskets and other kinds of containers. Alternatively, create user-friendly toy storage for your child by putting extra shelves into fitted cupboards.
  9. Always make sure you have 50 cm or more of room between furniture items for ease of movement.
  10. Hang a coat rack near the door for bags, hats, etc.
  11. Mount a towel rail onto the changing station or a wall near the station for wet towels.
  12. If you have to store a pushchair in the room, try to find a convenient space near the door or with clear access to the door.
  13. If at all possible, put a single bed into the room as well. Great for downtime with a niggly baby.

The easiest way to check that you have your layout properly ordered is to draw a scale plan of your room and use cut-out shapes of the furnishings to assess whether or not everything fits in the way it should.

You may find that planning on paper beforehand, although tedious, will save a lot of unnecessary pushing and pulling.

Décor Styles

Generally speaking, there are 2 approaches to design for children. The first is one we like to call ‘Themed Décor’. This is an approach dictated by the theme and colour of the chosen fabrics and accessories. The designs are often bright and childish. Although this approach can be enormous fun it lacks foresight and sophistication and can be an expensive way to decorate. Your 8 year old may not appreciate sweet little Teddies on his bedroom curtains!

The style we recommend is a more classic approach that leaves room for different interpretations. This approach covers any style from Country to Contemporary. Style, at the end of the day should be as personal as possible, so using a neutral, classic approach allows you to layer different looks over your basic design.

Choose furnishings in neutral colours paint the walls in soft tones, Dress the windows in gentle hues. Having created what is essentially a blank canvas in the room, add colour with artwork, throws, rugs, Accessories, linen. A good rule of thumb is to only add colour and style with items that are easily removable. Having said that, a mural is the exception to the rule. A quick coat of paint will wipe out any traces of a themed wall even though it is semi-permanent.

Sophistication comes through subtle use of unusual colour. Leave the Brights to toys that can be easily stored away. Remember that the room will need to serve your children through their growing years. Beds will replace cots.; desks will replace study tables If you have used a good quality fabric for any of your basics ,a good tip is to buy extra metreage to match up any new pieces you may need to bring in.

We recommend that you create a calm, peaceful environment with room for mementoes. Artwork and practicality. We wish you success with your own personal blend of décor elements.

Practicality

We’ve compiled a list of necessaries and one of ‘great to have.’ Practicality comes first but there’s no harm in a little wishful thinking or even buying!

Have to Have

  • Cot
  • Compactum/changing station
  • Shelving
  • Storage
  • Curtains/blinds
  • Flooring
  • Paint
  • Laundry hamper
  • Dustbin
  • Lamp
  • Bath
  • Basic linen

Great to Have

  • Artwork
  • Special linen
  • Decor Accessories
  • Display shelves
  • Containers
  • Mobiles
  • Mementoes
  • Soft Furnishings
  • Rug
  • Display toys

So often the cost of all the finishing bits on top of your basic baby paraphernalia can break the budget. Choose your accessories and save up for them or find cheaper alternatives.

Great Ideas

Every month, Holly and Jack will let you in on a trade secret, helping you create a professional looking décor scheme for your child. We look forward to sharing some exciting ideas with you …..
“Rooting” - Nothing to do with the plant kingdom! Rather, one of the fundamentals of good design.

We’ve all experienced those moments where no matter where you put a piece of furniture it just doesn’t look right. The trick is to apply a principle we like to call ‘rooting’. Basically every piece of furniture needs to be connected to its environment visually. Placing a compactum against a wall on its own without a visual link to the wall surface or other pieces just makes it look like a big lump of furniture that has been temporarily stored and could be moved anywhere in the room or even out of it at a moments notice!

If, however you were to hang a proportionately correct set of artwork or shelving above the compactum, there is an automatic visual connection with the wall surface. The furniture has been rooted in its own little environment. Treat every piece of furniture this way and you will soon see the difference it makes to the composition of your design scheme.

Archives

Where to Start

It can seem awfully overwhelming to furnish and decorate your child’s room no matter what your budget. Here are a few tips that may help you, alternatively go to ‘Design your own room.’

Any design project you undertake should be treated like all your other household administration. Create a filing system for all your research and costings and a cache of computerized images as well.

Start by researching the style of décor you like.

Choose a range of complimentary colours once you understand the rules of colour co-ordination.
Next, work out your budget and lists of necessary furniture and equipment. Follow that up with a list of ‘nice to have’s.

Plan the room layout on a scale diagram

Design from the floor up; chose flooring, rugs, wall colour, furniture, fabrics and accessories in that order.

Avoid too much permanent ‘theming’, its difficult to get rid of in the long run.

Collect all the physical samples or catalogues of your choices together in one place and never go shopping without them!

Happy hunting!

Some Things Learned

The mums at Holly and Jack have all learnt things about the space your kids need. Sometimes the hard way! We’d like to share some of those experiences with you. Every month will bring a new tale of woe and the happy solutions…...

Practicality comes first. We are all in agreement that décor comes a really big second to function. Storage, convenience, organisation and adaptability are all paramount when designing for children. There’s nothing worse than a niggly baby who wants mama near when dad is trying to catch some zs or vice-versa. We think a single bed in baby’s room is a must. No need to tip-toe around your sleeping partner when baby calls.

And when your child needs to start sleeping in a proper bed the transition should be relatively painless; the bed is already familiar to the child. Believe us; you’ll be grateful the expense of a bed was covered early on.

Motherhood Experiences

Most mums love to share their mothering experiences with others in the same boat. It gives one a sense of belonging and fulfils the need to be reassured that you’re not alone in experiencing new parenting frontiers.

We would love to hear your stories. Send us a message about your experiences and qualify for a monthly prize….

Contact Us

Competitions and Giveaways

Lifestyle

When you have a new baby there are so many things to think about – not to mention emotions to feel. We put all our memories of the whole baby experience down on paper. Our “Nesting Checklists” will give you advice born of hard earned experience!

Before Baby Comes

a Organising for your sanity
Once you are over the 18 week morning sickness/exhaustion, you may find you have loads of energy. Now is the time to get organised. As many moms can attest, it seems like the baby will never come and then the baby arrives and there’s no time for anything but the baby! So start preparing now by ‘nesting’ in a big way. Clean those drawers out, purge all the clutter, spring clean willy- nilly; you won’t get the chance to do so when baby arrives.

What’s the urgency?’ you may think. To avoid feeling overwhelmed at the end of your pregnancy it’s imperative that you get all the really physical work out of the way. No one wants to heave their pregnant belly round the shops at the last minute! You want to be able to relax, play or work in those last few weeks and not worry about how disorganised you are. Knowing you are as prepared as possible will keep you calm and ready and waiting.

b. Schedule a plan of attack
This keeps you focused. Start with the baby’s room first. Figure out what needs to be stored, moved into other rooms or given away. Empty out the wardrobes too so that you have a clean slate to start with; ready to be transformed for baby.

c. Don’t use it? Chuck it out!
After clearing baby’s room, move on to all the other rooms in the house. Clear out drawers and wardrobes. If you haven’t used or worn something for over a year, get rid of it. Get rid of as much as you can; it will simplify your life.

d. A home for everything
Make a place for everything and then make sure everyone living in that house knows where that place is so you don’t find your self organizing again and again. Organisation in your home will help to keep you feeling ‘together’ and on top of things and it just makes life easier while learning to adjust to the new demands of motherhood

e. Visit the hospital
Many hospitals have a special tour laid on for expectant moms. Take advantage of this offer and familiarise yourself with the maternity facilities. It will lessen your anxiety about the unknown. If it’s permitted, take a video camera along so that you can share this information with your partner and other friends and family. Ask lots of questions. Now is the time to allay any fears you may have.

f. Attend ante- natal classes
There are many hospitals and mid-wives who run ante- natal classes. A great learning experience as well as an opportunity to bond with your partner and other mums to be.

g. The room, the gear, the layette
Last but not least, attend to all the shopping when you have the energy. Don’t leave things till the last minute.

At the Hospital

Here are the things you may be glad to have at the hospital

a. Camera, film, batteries, video camera
be sure to check all the batteries ahead of time. If you feel that you want the birth documented you should consider having a special family member or friend in the room with you to videotape and take photos, as you’ll need your partner close by every moment for coaching and support. You may not be so sure if you want a video for the birth but you may be happy to have it in the long run.

b. Names, phone numbers, e-mails
Don’t forget to bring contact information of the people you want to notify when your baby is born. A designated person should take care of spreading the happy news.

c. Toiletries
And don’t forget a hair dryer - most hospitals don’t have them readily available.

d. Hospital pack
The hospital you check into may very well give you a pack of supplies you will need post birth. If not, there are several suppliers who can provide you with one. (Link to directory)

e. Several pairs of comfy socks
Make sure you have lots of big comfy socks for when you’re in labor just in case you’re cold, and for after the baby is born, instead of slippers. When you’re walking around the hospital, it’s better to get these dirty than your favorite slippers and you’ll be able to grab a new pair.

f. Cotton camis or nighties
You don’t have to live in your hospital gown after giving birth. Cotton camisoles or front opening nighties are much more practical, sexy, and convenient. Highly recommended to make you feel good, and also makes you look much more glam than a hospital gown would in all of those special photos with your new family. Buying a new set of sleepwear will make you feel pampered after the hard work of birthing.

g. Flannel washcloths, antibiotic cream and lanolin
If you are going to be breast-feeding I would highly recommend packing these items in your bag.

h. Cotton nursing bra
The cotton will be the softest on your nipples and will allow for moisture to pass.

I. Coming home panties
You’ll need something that’s cotton and comfy and allows you to breathe. Lyn brought the bikini panties she had been wearing through her pregnancy, and all she can say about that is “good luck!” She had to wear the hospital disposable panties home instead. Hot stuff!

j. Your coming home clothes
Jo naively assumed she was going to wear her pre-pregnancy pants home! Not even close. Pack some stretchy pants, or consider a skirt. Plan for a nice coming home outfit because they’ll be lots of special photo ops and it will just make you feel good.

k. Hospital and medical aid paperwork
Make certain that all necessary hospital and medical aid paperwork is done far in advance of your due date.

l. Cord kit
If you are banking your baby’s cord blood, be sure to have all paperwork completed with the hospital ahead of time and don’t forget to pack the kit. Make sure you have a friend see that the cord blood gets to the overnight delivery company on time. Most cord blood banks now have a courier to come directly to the hospital for you, which makes it more hassle-free. Also, be sure to remind the midwife and/or doctor during the delivery that you are banking the cord blood. This is a very important reminder.

m. …and don’t forget baby
The only thing you really need for the baby at the hospital is a comfy coming home outfit and you also might want to consider your own swaddle blankets in plain white. Some white, baby blue or pink hats and cotton snap front T-shirts are also a good idea. We say this because you may wish to have some photos of baby at the hospital in something other than the generic hospital t-shirts and swaddle blankets covered with bears and the words “hospital property” all over them. It’s a personal touch and doesn’t feel so sterile. The nurses love it too.

When coming home from the hospital in the wintertime, it’s best to dress your newborn and then cover him in the car seat with blankets (rather than putting him in bulky clothing.) Just be sure that the car is warm and waiting for you and the baby before you go outside.

Finally, you might want to also pack a baby brush. Your babe may come out with a full head of hair. And don’t forget your nappy bag. You’ll probably want to use your own brand of nappies.

In the Nursery

Some items, large and small, that will make your nursery complete:

a Cot linens
your baby will be spending a lot of time in his cot so have fun with the linens. Your bedding set will determine the color and style of the room so make sure you fall in love with it. Look for machine washable linens so that your baby does not have to sleep on or near dry cleaning chemicals. Bumpers should be slip covered for easy washing. This helps to keep them looking like new... And of course, don’t forget extra sheets and blankets.

b cot
Be sure the cot you are choosing meets all current safety standards and fits with your overall vision of the room. We recommend that you install a hypoallergenic mattress with breathing holes and a zip off cover for convenient washing.

c. Moses basket or crib
Be sure to find a Moses Basket or crib with a hypoallergenic mattress pad and slip covered fabrics for easy machine washing. A crib or Moses basket is so easy to move around and is a bit cosier for baby initially. You may want to put baby to sleep in the crib or basket to start with. One of our staff said that her son would only sleep in the basket, so she would actually put the Moses Basket into the cot. Another staff member’s baby had colic; she said the only way to calm him was to put him in the basket on top of the dryer while standing next to him.

d. Wardrobe organizers
These are worth their weight in gold. You can do-it-yourself by going to your local hardware store or you can hire a company that specializes in it. Having a clean and organized wardrobe for your newborn will help you to keep your sanity after giving birth and losing lots of sleep. Be sure to really think about your needs and how your wardrobe can function best. Allow for hanging areas, shelf areas, shoes, toys and a hamper as well as storage space for the countless gifts and toys proud grandparents may give you!

e. Bookcases
There’s never enough room for all of the fun books that your child will accumulate. Choose a bookshelf that allows for a child’s easy access and don’t forget to anchor it to the wall.

f. Window treatments
Choose something to complement your bedding choice. If you are using a covering that has any type of cord be sure that it is secured close to the top of the window so no part of the cord or string is dangling at baby’s reach. It’s also a good idea to not use window coverings that make babies accustomed to only sleeping in the dark.

g. Lighting
Overhead recessed lighting gives great coverage for playing and creating. The dimmers are also nice for midnight diaper changes to keep baby in sleep mode. Table lamps offer a special warmth and character and add to the decor of the room.

h. Art/paintwork
Choose paints and artwork that complement your fabrics. Remember to select calming colors for the paint on the walls and artwork. If you are doing a mural on the wall keep larger animals such as horses or cows off in the distance so that they can be painted smaller. A child’s room is a place for creativity but it is also a special place for cuddling up and telling stories, reading a book and of course, going to sleep.

i. Changing station
Having drawers at the top of your changing table creates the perfect spot for all the nappy care necessities to be at your fingertips. The drawers also make it extra nice because all of your supplies stay organized but are not out in the open creating a cluttered look in the room. Choose a distressed finish for your baby’s furniture so that you don’t have to cringe when your little one drives his bus into it or bangs it with his toy telephone. This way it always looks beautiful and can stay as a part of your home forever.

j. Area rug/carpet
Choose something that’s soft yet durable and easy to clean. If you have wood floors, celebrate them. It’s fun for kids to have the hard surface for cars and blocks while still having a soft play place on an area rug. If wall-to-wall is your only option chose a neutral color that will be able to grow with your child.

k. Rocker/armchair
Think comfort and style. For comfort and ease, hands down, you’ll need a glider rocker. Unfortunately, they don’t exude style but that problem is easily solved with a slipcover. They’re the best because you can toss them in the washing machine. Be sure to choose a comfy fabric for your glider because you’ll be spending a lot of time in it. And don’t forget a coordinating throw pillow for the rocker. It’s great for your lower back and again helps to pull the whole room together. Another great alternative is a large, squishy armchair. The armchair has a longer life in your child’s room than the rocker. Lots of room to cuddle up on for story time.

k. Twin bed
If you can manage a twin bed into your budget for the nursery you will find it to be invaluable as a special place to curl up with your newborn in the nursery. It also makes a comfy spot for you to sleep when your baby is sick and you feel like you need to be extra close. It’s also a great place for you and the baby to read and play together.

l. Child’s play table and chairs
Believe it or not, babies can use their chairs and table at seven months. . They may love to sit there and bang their toys and rustle papers. It’s an important place for them, and it’s the perfect size for them to sit and create as they grow. Try to find a table set with a distressed finish so that bumps and scratches end up looking like they belong.

No nursery is complete without these items:

  • Toweling nappies
  • Toweling nappy Pail
  • Disposable nappies
  • Changing Pad with Slipcovers
  • Side and Back Sleeper
  • Laundry Hamper
  • Safety Tip Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Hand Mitts
  • Bulb Syringe
  • Baby Brush & Comb
  • Baby Wash
  • ’Bum’ Cream
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Bibs
  • Burp Cloths
  • Pacifier/dummy
  • Nappy Stacker
  • Alcohol (to clean umbilical cord area)
  • Infant Cotton Swabs
  • Cotton Balls
  • Nursing Pillow
  • Monitor
  • Wipes

Here are some other items you’ll need at home for the baby:Body Lotion

  • Cleansing Lotion
  • Hooded Towels
  • Infants Pain & Fever Reducer
  • Bottle Set
  • Bottle Warmer
  • Sterilizer
  • Bottle Dryer
  • Breast Pump
  • Newborn Bathtub
  • Teething Rings
  • Fun Links (for keeping toys attached to the stroller)
  • Soft Padded Toy Gym
  • Stationary Entertainer
  • Swing
  • Bouncy Seat

Layette/Clothing

All your newborn needs are very comfy clothing. Look for items with easy opening neck areas, snap fronts, pull-on pants and gowns that open all the way down the front. Look for 100% cotton only and do the touch test on the inside of your wrist to make sure it’s really soft. gowns and snap side tees are so easy to use for the first two to three months of their lives. They’re comfy for baby and allow for fast nappy changes without having to pull anything over baby’s head or wrestle off their legs.
Determine your quantities on how often you think you’ll be doing laundry. Keep your layette simple with whites, baby blues and soft pinks. Go with all whites if the gender of the baby is going to be a surprise. It’s also a smart choice because you can also use the same basic items for your next baby. After the baby arrives you can build her wardrobe to be gender specific as she grows.
The Ideal Layette includes:

  • 4-6 full front- fastening gowns
  • 4 -6 babygrows– summer or winter depending on the season
  • 4-6 short-sleeve snap or tie-side tees
  • 3 long and short sleeved snap-front tees
  • 2-4 long-sleeve snap or tie-side tees
  • 4-6 pull-on elastic waist leggings or pants
  • 2-4 nappy waterproof covers for toweling nappies
  • 2 button-down sweaters
  • 1 sleep bag
  • 1 coming home outfit
  • 6 simple cotton hats ( winter)
  • 6 pair of socks
  • 2 pair of moccasin socks
  • 3 pair of booties ( this is a style choice more than anything )
  • 4-6 Receiving blankets (lightweight 100% cotton flannel)
  • 2 stroller blankets (24” x 24”)
  • 6-8 flannel drool bibs
  • 12 flannel burp cloths
  • 12 flannel washcloths
  • 3 hooded bath towels
  • 4 terry washcloths
  • 2 small soft rattles
  • 1 Moses basket with extra sheet
  • 1 cot with extra sheets
  • Christening, baby naming, or bris ceremony outfit
  • After-ceremony attire: beautiful, comfy outfit
  • Don’t forget to wash all of your baby’s items in a baby laundry detergent.

On the Go

Traveling with the baby is much easier if you’re well-prepared. Here are some things you might find useful on the go:

a. Car seat
You will need a car seat that accommodates newborns and that meets all international safety standards. Before your baby arrives, learn exactly how to use the car seat and install the base in your car so that it is tethered down. Choose a car seat that has covers that you can easily remove and machine-wash. Also remember that it will be far safer to bring baby home in his car chair, not to mention less nerve wracking for you.

b. Sleepy wings
These slip onto car seat straps to cradle your baby’s little head. Be sure to have these attached to the car seat before you take your baby home from the hospital. Wash them in baby detergent before use. I personally feel that Sleepy Wings hold your baby’s head much better than a normal head support in the car seat.

c. Nappy bag
Find something with lots of compartments, so that it’s functional not only for baby, but for your things too. You’ll need space for all the basics, (nappies, wipes, cream, lotion, etc). But also remember two changes of clothes for newborns, a stroller blanket, individually packaged stain-remover wipes, pacifier, toys, feeding items, burp cloths and bibs.

d. Back seat attachments
These are so great for newborns in the car. Much better than staring at a blank seat. Mums like the washable fabric type best.

e. Prams and push-chairs
There are so many great strollers to choose from to fit almost any need or budget. Here’s what to look for in a stroller for a newborn:

  1. Does the seat fully recline and does it move positions easily?
  2. Does it have an easy and safe buckle system?
  3. Does the footrest go up and down easily?
  4. If the footrest is in the up position, is there a net attachment to help keep items in the stroller and baby’s feet safe?
  5. Is the stroller a practical weight for you to lift?
  6. Is the open and close mechanism quick and easy to use?
  7. Is the canopy large and adjustable with a zippered portion to let air pass or to view baby?
  8. Does the handle flip so that you can face your baby when he’s a newborn or turn the baby away from the sun easily?
  9. Is the storage basket a good size for your needs?
  10. Does the stroller fold to a practical size for your needs?
  11. Is the seat well cushioned?
  12. Can the seat cover be removed and machine-washed easily?
  13. Can other fabric areas be easily spot cleaned?
  14. Does it house a car seat?
  15. Is it easy to maneuver?

Some Things Learned

Get the scoop from someone who’s been there. And be sure to check back every month for a new topic.

Moses baskets and sleeping rituals

Moses baskets, wicker or fabric, are invaluable to new parents. It’s great to place in between you and your partner in bed or to have next to the bed on the stand. It also works well in the crib. And it’s a convenient size to move about the house or to take to Grandma’s (but never move it with the baby in the basket).

This old fashioned staple makes it easy to have baby at the dinner table with the family... It is also handy to have in the bathroom so that you can be close to and see your babies while showering and getting ready. Most babies use their baskets until about three or four months of age depending on their size and ability to roll over and pull themselves up. Later, the basket makes a great place in the nursery for stuffed animals and dolls.

But with baby’s sleeping rituals, the basket’s value extends even further. Some parents have told us how their baby grew to love her crib so much and now her twin bed. They believe that having the Moses basket always allowed them to have her close in bed with them but did not make her dependent on always needing to touch a body to sleep. The mother would nurse her at night and then put her back in the basket. During the day mama would put her basket in the crib for her naps so that her crib and its surroundings would always be familiar to her as a place to sleep. It didn’t feel foreign to her when the parents decided to move her permanently into her room at night.

Easing your child into sleeping habits in this way makes the transition from the basket to cot to twin bed a lot easier. In fact, you may find that your toddler will always ask for his room when it’s time to sleep. Just like we, as adults, want our bed when we get tired, he wants his.

While our children all love Mommy and Daddy’s bed for cuddling up and playing in the morning, or at night to watch a video, they should all be very comfortable with their own places to sleep. And we think the Moses basket can be a big part of accomplishing this.

Nighttime quiet play

Keeping a basket or box in your own bedroom filled with toys & books makes for a different and fun place for your baby to play. Every night before your toddler goes to sleep, you can create a ritual to pull out this basket and spend special time in your room with her. It’s a different environment for her, and she knows this is her last playtime before bedtime.

Changing table

 Don’t have room for one of the larger commercial changing tables? Customize your own for an elegant look and flexible function. Find a smaller dresser and purchase a changing pad for the top. Add a washable slipcover that works with your nursery décor. When your child outgrows nappies, you can transform the table to a kid-sized dresser.

Damp bottoms

 After using baby wipes, you’ll notice how damp your baby’s bottom is. Just imagine putting on your own panties without drying off first from your shower. It only takes an extra minute to fan the bum dry. Just put the clean diaper under your baby’s bottom but before closing it up, fan all damp areas dry with an unopened diaper. This way, you know you’re not starting your little one off with a damp environment. It’s also best to not put nappy cream on until all areas are completely moisture free.

Creative waiting

Going to the pediatrician can be an exercise in patience—for you and your child. Next time, come prepared with a box of crayons, paper and stickers. While waiting for the doctor to come into the examining room, your child can color a simple shape or drawing on disposable paper. . It keeps them calm—and gives the doctor a fun way to connect with your little one before asking him or her to “hop on the table”

Birth Experiences

Most women I’ve talked to before my first’s birth said it’s painful but it’s over fairly quickly. A close friend told me it was the easiest thing she ever had to do. After the epidural she was in heaven and only had to push three times and the baby came out.

This was not my reality. After going through it, I feel that it’s important to hear about the difficult labors along with the easier labors so that you are more prepared for whatever yours might be like. I had heard so many stories of what a “piece of cake” it is, that I didn’t feel prepared with what was happening to my body during labor.

But despite the physical pain, emotional stress, and overall exhaustion, in the end it is most definitely worth it. When you see your child for the first time, you’ll feel the biggest sense of fulfillment you’ve ever felt and immediately love in a way you never knew possible.

The Editor

I was one of those women, unfortunately, with 24-hour morning sickness. I tried all of the tricks but nothing seemed to work for any of my pregnancies. Feelings like I was in a constant state of nausea made me want to lie in bed all day with the covers over my head. It was awful.

However, with some effort, I was lucky enough to keep my meals down. I think that allowing myself to throw up in the morning before I ate anything helped to keep my breakfast in my stomach. It wasn’t a great start to the day, but it made me feel well enough to make it into the shower. Until I hit 18 weeks it was a battle to just make it through each day. It was a hot South- African summer at the time. Finding something that was healthy and that sounded remotely appetizing was such a challenge. One day my neighbor had a bottle of carbonated orange drink. It looked so good to me. I tried it and I thought, “This is it! I can drink it and it tastes good!” He gave me a few bottles and I excitedly showed them to my husband. By the next evening I couldn’t even look at them.

The feeling of incessant sickness was actually making me feel depressed. I never thought that I would feel normal again. Thank goodness it was all over at 18 weeks. It was like I had lost myself, and then found myself again, but what I found was like the experience of being a new person. It actually taught me to be thankful to just get out of bed, feel good, eat, and enjoy it and to be able to accomplish things on a daily basis. I got a kick out of the everyday pleasures of life that most of us take for granted.

You read a lot about postpartum depression, but they never really talk about how debilitating early pregnancy sickness can be. I think it helps to know that you are not alone and that there are other women who have experienced this feeling of helplessness.

Please remember how important it is to eat whole and healthy foods for your baby and to get the extra calories and protein. Talk to your doctor if you are not able to hold down the required quantities, and remember that when you see your baby it’s all worth it!

When I had my first, we didn’t know if we were having a girl or a boy and didn’t have a definite name. James was the favourite for a boy and Holly for a girl.

He was due on August 2nd, 1991, and I thought for sure that he was going to come early and that he’d be big. In fact, he was born on August 10th, 1991 after 22 hours in labor—a big, beautiful 3, 95 kg, 21”.

James was my first and I really had it in my head that I didn’t want an epidural. After my Antenatal class I believed that a tennis ball, nice music, a warm shower and breathing would make this a beautifully spiritual experience. I soon learned that the reality was that during labor, I was throwing up while trying to make it to the toilet with “number 3” (diarrhea).

I could barely move or walk from an intense sharp pain in my lower back, which I thought, was sciatica. Half way through my labour the baby went into distress. I still was nowhere near dilated enough to deliver naturally and had to face both the unpleasant side effects of pethidine and the disappointment of a caesarean birth. After the epidural I was in heaven. So much for music and tennis balls.

I was whipped into the theatre and bundled onto an operating table. The whole process was upsetting but the baby’s health was paramount.

I never thought that I would make it. I had been in labor for 20 hours with no sleep. The C-section was quick but by this stage I was a little disoriented. I didn’t get to hold my baby straight after the birth as is common. I had a temperature all day due to Bronchitis and poor little James had to be whisked off to an incubator to stabilize his body temperature. All in all, not sterling experience all round. I barely remember being stitched up.

Exactly two hours after my first child was born I got to see him all scrubbed up and swaddled. The very first cry he made is a sound etched on my memory forever. I was speechless and felt an immediate swelling of emotion despite the alienating experience I had just been through. My husband and I were in such awe.

I couldn’t believe that I was looking at the beautiful baby I had carried for so long. It is an experience that was beyond belief and beyond words. The midwife showed me how to help James latch onto my breast. I couldn’t believe it was so simple.

The human body is remarkable. I couldn’t believe that he survived that trip perfectly and now he was nourishing himself from my body. The whole thing still amazes me to this day.

The C-section scar hurt unbearably at first and I was devastated not to have given natural birth. The nurse I had was such a support and reminded me that you have a baby to have a baby regardless, not to experience a perfect vaginal birth.

Three weeks after Jamie’s birth, I said that I would definitely do it again. It’s not that you forget the pain; it’s that the reward is worth enduring absolutely anything.

Olly’s Story

 Beautiful Cecilia. I didn’t want to know the sex of the baby but the ultrasound technician accidentally slipped. After the shock of finding out that we were having a girl before she was born I felt 100% decided on the name Cecilia. While I was in labor with my first baby my husband looked at me and said, “Honey, you can name the baby whatever you want.” So I knew I would also have last say with “Cecilia” if my heart was really set on it.

Her due date was Christmas of 2001, though I thought for sure she was going to come early, because it was my second baby and everyone told me the second baby comes early. Wrong. Six days past my due date, we took Gracie to the zoo and I tried to put myself into labor by walking for four hours up and down hills in the rain. It didn’t work. Finally on New Years Day, my gorgeous 2, 95kg, 22” little girl was born via vaginal birth after 14 hours of labor.

Induction started at 11 a.m. on December 31st with a petocin drip. After having given birth naturally with Gracie, I thought for sure that I would not have an epidural with Cecilia. After all, nothing could be worse than my labor experience first time round and I got her out without any drugs. Well, was I in for a big surprise. Once I started active labor with Cecilia, I was again throwing up and starting to feel like my pelvis was separating.

Soon, I started to have back labor, which I did not have with Gracie. The only way to describe back labor is that it feels like an entire army is sticking knives into your lower back and turning them all at the same time. It doesn’t go away, it’s constant. Once again I found myself begging for an epidural. When the anesthesiologist arrived I wasn’t even afraid of the needle going into my back - I welcomed it, because I knew the relief it was going to bring. Soon, I was in epidural heaven joking with my “New Years Eve” room full of family members. We were all sporting New Years hats made out of whatever could be found in the hospital room cabinets - upside down bedpans with napkins taped on them reading “Happy New Year” and inflated purple surgical gloves attached to them. The nurses were even requesting a “custom design.”

Once I made it to ten centimeters it was time to push. I was ready to experience the “no pain” delivery. So I started pushing just like the midwife had taught me to do with my first baby but my nurse informed me that nothing was happening. The epidural was working so well that I thought I was pushing so hard but really wasn’t. Then came the bad news, they were going to have to turn the epidural down. Well, that didn’t help either so I had to lose it completely. I was hoping that the back labor would now be gone since the baby was so far down. But, as the epidural wore off, I was quickly realizing that I was not so lucky.

I started throwing up from the pain. Now that I was feeling everything again, it was time to push. But it was futile. The intense back labor made it impossible to move all of my strength down so low. By now, I was pleading for them to turn the epidural back on, or to give me a C-Section. After Gracie’s birth, I knew how to push out a baby but this was just physically impossible with an army of knives in my back.

Finally, my anesthesiologist came back and said she might be able to dull the back labor with narcotics. I really didn’t want to have the narcotics but she thought it might help enough so that I could at least push enough to get the baby out. My husband and I agreed to give it a go. The narcotics dulled the pain just enough so that I could at least push. Now, Cecilia’s head was coming down very quickly. I was so ready to get her out and she was coming so fast, that as they were wheeling me into the delivery room I had to breathe through the pushing urges so that she wouldn’t come out. I remember screaming, “Tell me what to do! Can I push yet? I need to push!” When they told me finally to push I thought for sure she was going to come right out. But I could literally feel the enormity of this baby and it felt like she was stuck.

I was saying, “Did you do the episiotomy yet? Do it! Do it! Do it!” It was amazing. It honestly felt like there was a basketball stuck down there! After they told me the episiotomy was completed I pushed so hard and out came my beautiful little baby girl. I never thought that I would get her out; I truly believed it was impossible. The midwife held the baby in the air and said “no wonder you couldn’t get her out you poor thing, this baby is huge.” And I so clearly remember looking at the baby as she held her up and thinking to myself, “How did she ever fit inside of me? She’s huge!”

I’m so thankful to my nurses; midwife and doctor for not giving me an unnecessary C-Section and helping me brave the pain, which is a natural and even empowering part of giving birth for those lucky enough to be able to make that choice without endangering the baby.

 

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