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.
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
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:
- Never place the cot or bed in front of a doorway
or between a window and door
- There is a chance of draughts moving over the
- Make sure the changing table or compactum is out
of any draughts and close to a power point for light
and other equipment.
- 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
- The dustbin and a laundry hamper should be positioned
on either side of the changing station for convenience.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Always make sure you have 50 cm or more of room
between furniture items for ease of movement.
- Hang a coat rack near the door for bags, hats,
- Mount a towel rail onto the changing station or
a wall near the station for wet towels.
- 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.
- 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.
find that planning on paper beforehand, although tedious,
will save a lot of unnecessary pushing and pulling.
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
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.
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.
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
- Compactum/changing station
- Laundry hamper
- Basic linen
Great to Have
- Special linen
- Decor Accessories
- Display shelves
- Soft Furnishings
- 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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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….
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
Before Baby Comes
a Organising for your
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,
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,
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.
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
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
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
Make certain that all necessary hospital and medical
aid paperwork is done far in advance of your due
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
m. …and don’t
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
- Hand Mitts
- Bulb Syringe
- Baby Brush & Comb
- Baby Wash
- ’Bum’ Cream
- Petroleum Jelly
- Burp Cloths
- Nappy Stacker
- Alcohol (to clean umbilical cord area)
- Infant Cotton Swabs
- Cotton Balls
- Nursing Pillow
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
- Bottle Dryer
- Breast Pump
- Newborn Bathtub
- Teething Rings
- Fun Links (for keeping toys attached to the stroller)
- Soft Padded Toy Gym
- Stationary Entertainer
- Bouncy Seat
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
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
- 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
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
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:
- Does the seat fully recline and does it move positions
- Does it have an easy and safe buckle system?
- Does the footrest go up and down easily?
- 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?
- Is the stroller a practical weight for you to
- Is the open and close mechanism quick and easy
- Is the canopy large and adjustable with a zippered
portion to let air pass or to view baby?
- 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?
- Is the storage basket a good size for your needs?
- Does the stroller fold to a practical size for
- Is the seat well cushioned?
- Can the seat cover be removed and machine-washed
- Can other fabric areas be easily spot cleaned?
- Does it house a car seat?
- 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
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.
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
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.
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”
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
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.
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
I was whipped into the
theatre and bundled onto an operating table. The whole
process was upsetting but the baby’s health
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
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.
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
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.