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How an Assertive Parenting Style Helps Mom Keep her Calm

How an Assertive Parenting Style Helps Mom Keep her Calm

As a mom of a rambunctious baby and a high energy preschooler, I can get pretty overstimulated and overwhelmed. Sometimes my nerves are completely fried by the end of the day. This is when I start to feel angry, resentful and burnt out. The constant 

Birthday Party Alternatives for Preschoolers

Birthday Party Alternatives for Preschoolers

There are a lot of big developments for kids in the preschool years, but not all kids at this age are necessarily ready for a big birthday bash. Or, parents may be on a tight budget or simply not have the bandwidth to throw a 

My Favorite Art Activity For 3 Year Olds to Encourage Creativity and Confidence

My Favorite Art Activity For 3 Year Olds to Encourage Creativity and Confidence

Setting my son up to paint on inexpensive wooden shapes from the dollar store or the craft store is perhaps my favorite art activity for 3 year olds. I love joining in on this activity too!

This little art project somehow holds my 3 year olds attention for hours. One day he sat and painted for at least 2 hours and made about 20 wooden tree ornaments. And he was ready for more the next day!

3 year old art activity painting on wooden christmas trees

We are now using his finished painted trees to count the days to Christmas by tying one to our blanket ladder everyday. And because we painted so many tree ornaments, we had a ton leftover (after setting aside 25) to make a long garland we hung from our bathroom mirror as some fun festive Christmas decor. 

painted wooden christmas tree art activity for 3 year olds

Reasons I Love This Art Activity For 3 Year Olds

  • Develops self confidence and self esteem
  • Develops creativity
  • Encourages creative exploration
  • Fun for child as well as for parent/caregivers
  • Versatile for different seasons/holidays/child’s interests
  • Can be done as a long term or short term project

This art activity for 3 year olds is pretty simple to setup and I don’t have to do much once my 3 year old gets going. In fact, I can enjoy a little craft time myself!

And the reason I love this activity for my son’s development is because it provides some structure while still allowing a lot of freedom and room for creativity.

Three year olds really want to exercise their growing independence. They also have a ton of wild energy. So this activity allows them to paint independently, while not getting too out of hand. The wooden shapes create both a literal and psychological boundary that helps contain little wild toddler energies.

Of course some adult supervision is necessary and perhaps some gentle redirection, but I have found I have only had to be involved minimally when my son is focused on this activity.

I have a background in art therapy, and the following phrase by the famous art therapist Judith Rubin was always referenced in my training; “a framework for freedom.” This means that setting people up for success is all about providing them with the right tools and structure. The structure isn’t meant to be restrictive in an overbearing way, but more to contain energies and impulses that are actually counterproductive to free and meaningful self expression. 

Free painting on wooden shapes also helps little ones develop their self confidence and self esteem. The shapes contain wild and free brushstrokes within an identifiable form that delights little ones.

My 3 year old loves hanging his finished pieces all over his room as garlands or single pieces.

finished pieces from a painting art activity for 3 year olds

And every time he looks at them he is reminded (at least on a subconscious level) of his creative power. As well as the joy and pride that went into making his creations. I’m hoping this sense of empowerment stays with him as he grows up. As well as the joy and excitement of creating.

Additionally, this art activity for 3 year olds is great because it is so versatile. You can create different themes depending on your chosen wooden shapes to go with different seasons and holidays, or for just any ordinary old day.

For Christmas, we painted on a ton of wooden ornament, tree and snowflake shapes. And then hanging all the ornaments on our mini tree became another fun activity.

hanging 3 year old's painted christmas ornaments on a tree

My tot has also painted many wooden cars (he is obsessed with cars in general).

toddler painting on wooden cars

Materials

  • Wooden shapes (from the dollar store or craft stores like Michaels)
  • Acrylic paint (or washable paint, depending on how comfortable you are with your toddler and paint)
  • Paint brushes
  • Cup with water for paintbrushes
  • Old dish towel or paper towels
  • Tray or newspaper or plastic sheet to paint on
  • Painting bib

In addition to being versatile, it’s also a very affordable activity for 3 year olds! For example, I recently bought a set of 16 neon acrylic paints at Michael’s for $10. And at Christmas time I got 50 wooden ornaments for $5 (that was a solid 6 or more hours of activity!).

You can also get wooden pieces at the dollar store. They have all sorts of shapes and sizes. The dollar store also has little acrylic paints and paintbrushes.

Creative Growth for Kids

There are so many rules and directions that kids have to follow everyday. So setting them up with projects that allow them to exercise their creativity, independence and self-expression is so important. Plus, sometimes tired parents just need something to keep their wild children busy sometimes! 

How did this art activity go for you and your littles? Please share in the comments below!

My 12 Favorite Snacks for Nursing Moms

My 12 Favorite Snacks for Nursing Moms

Breastfeeding is a big job and as such, snacks for nursing moms are essential! Not only is making breastmilk physically demanding, but it can be mentally and emotionally demanding as well. Many mamas are feeding their babies around the clock and may additionally be dealing 

A DIY Christmas Tree for a Festive Eco Friendly Holiday

A DIY Christmas Tree for a Festive Eco Friendly Holiday

I’m so excited about our DIY christmas tree this year! It was a lot of fun to put together as a family and it feels perfectly festive and magical. My 3 year old has also been having a blast playing in and around it. And 

How Much Coffee Can I Drink While Nursing?

How Much Coffee Can I Drink While Nursing?

Ever since becoming a mom, coffee has become a very important part of my life. VERY. The cumulative effects of sleep deprivation are just too real, and sometimes a cup of coffee feels like the only thing that is possibly going to get me through the day.

So, I have commandeered a cabinet shelf in our kitchen to house my caffeine supplies. This is my little shelf of joy. And I have even leveled up to buying primo locally roasted coffee beans and purchased an espresso machine. Yum!

mini coffee bar shelf for mom

Although I love my coffee and ideally would love to sip on it all day long, I have set some limits for myself. And this is because I am breastfeeding and caffeine can transfer to breastmilk. So when I started brewing myself a second cup of coffee everyday, I started to wonder, exactly how much coffee can I drink while nursing?

While Healthline notes that only a tiny 1% of caffeine transfers from mom to baby, some babies may be more sensitive to those small amounts of caffeine. Additionally, especially premature babies and young babies can not process caffeine very quickly, so it can build up in their systems. 

Effects of Caffeine on Breastfeeding Babies

In good news, Medical News Today explains that drinking coffee while breastfeeding does not pose the same risks to a baby as drinking too much caffeine while pregnant. 

So, while there is not the same concern of effects of caffeine on breastfeeding babies as babies in the womb, breastfeeding mommas may still notice some negative side effects of caffeine on their babies. Healthline states that excessive caffeine can make some babies fussy and disrupt their sleep patterns. 

Exactly How Much Coffee Can I Drink Per Day While Nursing?

La Leche League International explains that breastfeeding moms can safely have 200-300 mg of caffeine daily. And that caffeine is greatest in a person’s system 1 to 2 hours after consumption. And ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommends no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day while breastfeeding.

Like La Leche League International, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) also recommends staying under 300 mg of caffeine/day while breastfeeding.

Interestingly though, another web page on breastfeeding from the CDC leaves one with a little different perspective on how much coffee is too much. They state, “Irritability, poor sleeping patterns, fussiness, and jitteriness have been reported in infants of mothers with very high intakes of caffeine, about 10 cups of coffee or more per day.”

10 cups?! That seems like an awful lot for a person whether they are breastfeeding or not. Medical News Today echoes this more lax perspective and states that even more than 300 mg of caffeine per day is “unlikely to harm a baby”. 

I’ll continue to play it safe though and stick to my 200-300 mg of caffeine daily, but it does make me feel better about having my 2 cups of coffee knowing that the CDC is using 10 cups of coffee as a reference point for significant effects on baby. 

Another point to consider is the timing of coffee consumption. La Leche League Canada notes that caffeine content is highest in breastmilk 1 to 2 hours after drinking it. So I like to try and drink my coffee either right before I breastfeed, while I’m breastfeeding or right after I breastfeed. 

How Many Cups of Coffee is 200-300 mg of Caffeine?

Having some clear numbers in regards to a daily caffeine limit is great, but how exactly does 200-300 mg of caffeine translate to a cappuccino or a cup of drip coffee? After all a Venti Starbucks drip coffee is going to have a very different level of caffeine than a cappuccino with a double shot of espresso.

As it turns out, the answer to the question of caffeine content in coffee is really not all that clear. In fact, there is quite a wide range of answers depending on the source. 

For example, the table below shows some numbers from different sources I found online regarding caffeine content in a double shot of espresso. As you can see, these numbers range from 58 mg to 150 mg. So can I safely have 3 cappuccinos a day or should I just stick to 1 while breastfeeding? While the difference may not be significant to many people, it can be important for a breastfeeding momma who wants to follow the guidelines.

mg of caffeine in a double shot of espresso
Super Coffee150 mg
Two Chimps70-120 mg
Stumptown Coffee Roastersless than 100 mg
The Spruce Eats58-185 mg

The reason caffeine content is not always so clear is because the amount of caffeine in a cup depends on how coffee is brewed and the type of bean used.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters explains that batch brew coffee (like that from an automatic drip coffee maker) has the highest caffeine content, then pour over, and then espresso. 

coffee caffeine content by brew method guide while nursing
Batch brew coffee has more caffeine than pour over or espresso because the brew time is longer.

As far as type of coffee beans and caffeine content is concerned, Super Coffee explains that there are “robusta” coffee beans and “arabica” coffee beans. You can use either in espresso drinks, but robusta coffee beans can have twice the amount of caffeine as arabica coffee beans. In good news for pregnant or breastfeeding ladies, Super Coffee states that coffee beans sold in the US are usually arabica beans. 

I looked on the two different bags of coffee I have in my cupboard, and nowhere does it indicate whether they are robusta or arabica coffee beans. I find this odd given that robusta beans can have twice as much caffeine (even if most coffee beans sold in the US are arabica beans). It would be nice to look on a label and get some confirmation. 

Luckily a quick google search of any given coffee bean company usually reveals what kind of beans they use and some general information regarding caffeine content.

For example, Stumptown Coffee Roasters explains that a double shot of espresso usually has less than 100 mg of caffeine. Meanwhile, an 8oz cup of batch brew has somewhere in the range of 120-180 mg of caffeine. And they explain that differences between different coffee bean roasts (with the exclusion of arabica vs robusta beans) are “minuscule”. Again, the caffeine content is determined mostly by the brewing method.

Enjoying my Coffee While Breastfeeding

In conclusion, I’ll be enjoying my cup or 2 of coffee everyday without worrying about ill effects on my nursing baby. There’s enough to worry about and deal with while breastfeeding (eg Nipple PainMilk Blebs, etc…), so I’m glad to at least check this one off my list! 

And since there seems to be a lot of varying information regarding just how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee, knowing some general ranges is helpful. It also gives me some additional peace of mind to drink my coffee right before, during or right after breastfeeding. Even though our bodies do a pretty good job of metabolizing caffeine before it reaches breastmilk, caffeine is highest in the system 1-2 hours after drinking it. 

I’m also keeping in mind that the caffeine content is largely determined by the brewing method. And the longer the brewing time, the more caffeine there is. So espresso, french press and pour over have less brew time and contact with hot water than drip coffee. 

So there you go! I hope this is helpful and I’m wishing all the breastfeeding mommas continued strength and endurance on their breastfeeding journeys.

Fun Family Dinner Night with Easy Homemade Pizza!

Fun Family Dinner Night with Easy Homemade Pizza!

Looking for a simple recipe for a fun family dinner night? A meal that’s delicious for kids and adults alike? And that even young children can help make? Look no further! Here I share a simple and tasty homemade pizza recipe. Historically, the thought of 

Milk Blebs and Shooting Pain

Milk Blebs and Shooting Pain

What is a Milk Bleb? What Does a Milk Bleb Feel Like? Treating Milk Blebs and Blisters at Home Breastfeeding is one of the most arduous tasks of motherhood. It is time intensive and sometimes quite uncomfortable and painful. And unfortunately for some, dealing with 

Preventing 3 Year Old Behavior Problems After New Baby

Preventing 3 Year Old Behavior Problems After New Baby

For the first month or so after bringing home our new baby, I was surprised that my 3 year old had no apparent shifts in behavior. He seemed curious about and delighted by the new baby.

Fast forward a month and this is when the ear piercing toddler screams started. Yikes. 

In addition to this outrageous screaming, other 3 year old behavior problems after new baby came home included;

  • Kicking/hitting
  • Refusing to go to bed
  • Refusing to get in the car
  • Making angry grunting noises when wanting attention
  • Ignoring or pretending not to hear directions

In retrospect, I really can’t blame my toddler for acting out in these ways. Things were a bit chaotic as we all figured out a new schedule and I myself took to “silent screaming” on occasion, along with stuffing my face with cookies as my primary coping mechanism… Perhaps this is why it is hard to return to pre-pregnancy weight after a second child.   

So when I realized that my new cookie eating habit was getting a little out of control, as was my toddler, I got serious about figuring out how to help him and the whole family adjust to our new family system.

Resources On Helping Toddlers Adjust To New Baby

I read Dr Laura Markham’s book, “Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings” and this book completely shifted my mindset and approach with my toddler. 100% recommend. For those who do not have time to do a deep dive into the whole book, I share my takeaways below.

I also recommend following @Transformingtoddlerhood on Instagram for bite size pieces of amazing parenting advice.

So as my husband and I implement many of the suggestions from these resources, we have witnessed huge improvements in morale around our house. Our toddler is back to falling asleep at a decent hour, he hasn’t had a major tantrum in weeks, and for the most part he is listening to us when we ask him to do something. Of course there are days where I want to rip my hair out, but overall, my heart is full and our house is peaceful. Well, as peaceful as a house can be with a 3 year old bursting with energy. 

Toddler Regressions After New Baby

While I was initially bewildered and frustrated by my 3 year old’s behavior problems after new baby, I have since realized that they actually make a lot of sense given the massive shift in our family system. With a new baby in the house, my 3 year old started receiving far less attention than he was used to, and of course he was/is going to have big feelings about that.

Romper explains that toddler behavior regressions are perfectly normal after brining home a new baby. Young children can feel like they are being replaced and the shift in their parents’ attention can really throw them for a loop!

So after reading about toddler regressions, I realized that those angry grunting noises I mentioned earlier were my toddler’s attempt at mimicking the baby when she cried out. He was making that same “eh, eh, eh” sound whenever we were shifting our attention to her. So to a toddler, mimicking a baby probably seems like a perfectly good way to win back some attention.

To highlight how stressful a new baby can be for a toddler, I love the way that a HuffPost article on the subject frames it; they describe a scenario where your spouse brings home another partner and tells you that this new partner will now be living in the house and how great it is that everyone is going to love one another. Of course most people would not be happy with this situation. So it is understandable that our little toddlers with their undeveloped toddler brains can’t quite comprehend why exactly we have brought home a new baby.

5 Guiding Principles to Deal with Toddler Tantrums After Second Baby

Toddlers can ignite a special kind of fury and frustration in their parents. As a result, I think it is very normal for parents to start feeling like they need to strictly discipline so that they do not become their 3 year old’s personal minion. 

Let’s remind ourselves though, our 3 year olds’ need for power and control is not about them having dreams of ruling over us. Rather, it is most often about them feeling insecure, anxious, fearful or overwhelmed.

And as a result, trying to figure out (aka test) where the boundaries are that are going to help them manage those feelings. A boundary lets them know that things aren’t going to get out of control. They also help our littles know what to expect, which helps build a foundation of stability and security in their growing minds. 

So reminding myself that little brains and hearts are prone to overwhelm and that I can help keep that overwhelm in check, usually pretty quickly starts to transform my frustration into compassion and love for my toddler.

So what little ones may need most when they are acting out is to know that their parents can remain calm and in control, and that they will continue to love them no matter what. This approach requires putting some trust in our toddlers. 

So rather than assuming the worst of my toddler, I assume the best; I assume that he wants to cooperate and listen, but that he is struggling with some big feelings that are making it hard for him to do so. I assume that when I give him my unconditional love and supportive guidance and boundaries, he will better be able to regulate his feelings and behavior.

playing with my 3 year old and new baby

1. Keep Your Cool

Keeping your cool and calm while modeling emotional regulation skills for your toddler is no easy task. Especially when you are exhausted from being up half the night feeding a newborn. But, it is something to strive for and work on, both for yourself and your toddler.

Keeping your cool does not mean that you do not have or express any emotions of your own. It does mean though, that you do it in a conscious and regulated way. So rather than angrily yelling at your child when he refuses to listen, you step back and take a deep breath (or several).

And when I notice that I am having a hard time keeping my cool with just a few deep breaths, I put extra effort into some self care at the end of the day, or I step up my independent play basket game for my toddler so that I can have a quiet moment during the day.

2. Be a Fountain of Unconditional Love

In the midst of a toddler tantrum, I remind myself that my toddler is likely feeling insecure and overwhelmed, and that his undeveloped toddler brain is in overdrive and is spinning out. This is when he really needs my love and supportive guidance so he can take back control of the wheel. So I remind myself of this over and over and over.

And being a fountain of unconditional love is simply letting my toddler know that I am there for him, whether it be through words or just a calm and loving physical presence. In the midst of a tantrum, the later is more effective since a spinning out toddler brain really can’t process many words. So in these cases, a bear hug or a warm and concerned facial expression while sitting nearby can mean a lot to a little one that is overwhelmed.

3. Cultivate Empathy

We teach our children about empathy by showing and talking about feelings; both our own and theirs. Cultivating this emotional awareness and understanding is a huge part of learning to regulate big emotions.

Giving a name to emotions and talking about them helps kids feel like their big feelings can be managed. They learn to see that big feelings are not illusive all powerful monsters that are going to completely overwhelm them. They are just normal human emotions that can be felt and talked about. Additionally, understanding emotions is an important part of positively connecting with others.

We can also help explain to our toddlers why they might be feeling those big feelings. This helps young children feel seen and heard, and that is so important for our little ones’ sense of self worth and self-esteem.

Here are some ways we can cultivate empathy with toddlers;

  • Use an “I feel…” statement and use a facial expression to match it. In the case of a feeling like anger or frustration, using an “I feel” statement is not about trying to emotionally guilt trip or manipulate your child. Rather, it is about teaching them about emotions, understanding others and understanding how they can positively or negatively impact others. 
  • Empathize with your toddler and help name the feeling they are expressing (eg anger, frustration, sadness, happiness) and pointing out how their behavior and facial expressions match the emotion. And also narrate for them what happened before, during and after the arrival of a big feeling.

4. Set Reasonable Limits

Sometimes it is not enough to empathize with an overwhelmed toddler. Sometimes, we need to additionally practice some assertive parenting skills and set a limit. This is a boundary that helps toddlers know what to expect as well as what is and is not acceptable behavior. And when toddlers know what to expect and know what we will and will not allow, this may lessen anxieties that are contributing to problem behaviors after new baby.

For example, when my 3 year old started having some regressions around bedtime after new baby, he started kicking his door and then me one night. In this kind of situation I’d say, “You are feeling really frustrated because I am asking you to go to bed. You don’t want to go to bed because you are having so much fun playing together. I can’t let you kick me though, because it’s not okay to hurt people”.

And then I step back or put a pillow in front of me. And if he keeps trying to kick me or looks like he might bust his toe by kicking the door, I give him a big bear hug to help him calm down. Bear hugs help activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system that kicks in when we are in a rest and relaxation mode. 

I have only had to physically step in like this twice after new baby came home and things were escalating too much for my liking. For the most part, empathizing, setting a limit verbally and lovingly letting my toddler know that I am there for him is enough to get things back on track. And then we talk about what happened once things are calm. 

As parents, we decide what limits to set for our children. Sometimes though, it is hard to know what exactly an appropriate limit is. Sometimes I find myself setting limits when one isn’t really needed, or setting limits that do not really make sense. Or sometimes I am too lax about setting a limit and things get a little out of control.

So whenever I realize that I need to set a limit, I ask myself the following questions;

  • Is this limit meant to keep my toddler and others around him safe?
  • Will this limit help my toddler feel less overwhelmed?
  • Will this limit teach my toddler something important?

If I answer yes to one or all of these questions then I know I have set a reasonable and meaningful limit. Setting a reasonable limit also allows parents to explain in simple terms to their toddler why they set the limit. And toddlers are surprisingly reasonable themselves when they understand why a limit has been set.

And when you combine empathizing with setting a limit, it helps your toddler feel seen and heard, as well as helps them know that you are watching out for them.

5. Maintain a Positive Connection with Your Toddler

In her book on encouraging positive sibling relationships, Dr. Laura Marham discusses how young children want to listen and cooperate when they have a positive connection with their parents.

So often we think that we need to focus on strict discipline or complicated parenting strategies to get our kids to listen, but in reality, maybe we just need to play with them more!

Here is what I do with my toddler to build up our positive connection;

  • Schedule time for one-on-one activities or special outings. Baby stays home with my husband and my toddler gets my undivided attention. Outings do not have to be extravagant or excessive. It can be a simple trip to the donut shop, a walk to the park or making a batch of cookies together.
  • Use encouraging words and comment on positive behaviors
  • Play and play and play more together

Doing Our Best to Help Our Toddlers Adjust to New Baby

It’s so easy to talk about unconditional support and maintaining calm as a parent, but I know it can be incredibly difficult in reality. And I don’t think we ever become a “perfect” parent, but we can always be a better one than we were the day before.

And sometimes no matter how calm, empathizing and loving we are, our toddlers are still going to have the occasional meltdown. We might too. And that’s normal.

What I want though, is to minimize the number and intensity of the meltdowns and problem behaviors. I want my toddler and his little sister to have a great relationship growing up together, and I know that I can influence this relationship by practicing patience and consistency, and giving them all my love and support. 

Do you have any stories to share about the challenges of life with two little ones? Say hi and share in the comments below! 

More on parenting young children:
Assertive Parenting to Help Mom Keep Her Calm
Intergenerational Family Patterns and How We Parent
Raising Little Boys and Thoughts on Andrew Yang’s ‘Why Boys and Men are Failing’
Raising Global Citizens for a Better Tomorrow

The Best Baby Wrap for Summer – Nominating the WeeSprout Tencel Modal Wrap

The Best Baby Wrap for Summer – Nominating the WeeSprout Tencel Modal Wrap

A great baby wrap promotes bonding, provides comfort and offers convenience. And with a hot and fun filled summer ahead, finding the best baby wrap to use while out on adventures or at home getting things done is a must. Features of a Great Summer 

My Unplanned VBAC Birth Story: When Baby Arrives in a Hurry

My Unplanned VBAC Birth Story: When Baby Arrives in a Hurry

My first birth was an emergency c-section and my second was an unplanned VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). The best-laid plans, right? Birth plans gone awry are the quintessential example of one of life’s favorite maxims; control is an illusion. I spent hours during my 

How I Treated My Postpartum Anal Fissure After Childbirth

How I Treated My Postpartum Anal Fissure After Childbirth

Let me tell you about my postpartum anal fissure and how I got through it.

A fissure is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a small tear in the lining of the anus. A postpartum fissure is among the most painful issues a woman may experience after birth, yet one of the least talked about.

Given that a postpartum anal fissure is a quite common problem though, I think we really need to discuss the issue more openly! (“…anal fissures occur in about 40% of pregnant women and women during the postpartum period” according to the National Library of Medicine).

But, it’s no surprise that we don’t talk about this postpartum issue. Any malady with the word “anal” in it, is the last thing anyone wants to discuss. I am checking my shame at the door though, because I want other women who may be experiencing the horrors of a postpartum fissure to know that they are not alone!

And I also want to share what I did to treat my fissure at home. It took a lot of persistence and patience, but I came out the other side.

Please note, however, that in the case of a chronic anal fissure, home remedies may not cut it. Chronic fissures are those that have not healed within 6 weeks.

My fissure healed at just about 6 weeks (thank god), but it reopened a couple of times months later. It was never as painful as it was that first time around though, and I knew what to do right away to start helping it heal.  

So while I can’t say that my bum is the same bum it was before pregnancy and childbirth, I will say I have learned a lot about self-care and taking care of what needs to be taken care of! And that I am in a far far better place now than I was at a month or two postpartum. So I hope that offers some hope and comfort to anyone struggling with the horrors of an acute anal fissure postpartum and/or hemorrhoids. 

Please note that I am not a medical professional. The information I share here is from my personal experience and any questions you have regarding your health and medical treatment should be directed to your health care provider ♡.

My Experience with a Postpartum Anal Fissure

The delivery of my second child was fast and furious. I went into labor the morning of my scheduled cesarean section, and things progressed so quickly that I ended up having an unplanned VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). My Unplanned VBAC Birth Story is far more interesting than a lovely scheduled medicated cesarean delivery would have been, so at least there’s that.

So with this surprise VBAC and all the straining of childbirth came a traumatized bum hole. And this was NOT something I was prepared for.

I had some mild trouble with external hemorrhoids in my third trimester of pregnancy, but nothing prepared me for what I experienced after delivery. 

The strain of pushing had caused an explosion of hemorrhoids and swelling in my rear end. I’d never experienced anything like it. Never mind the perineal lacerations and stitches from birth, I hardly even noticed that. All I felt was the searing sharp pain in my bum! And a week later, I realized I had developed an anal fissure.

At first, I assumed the severe pain I was experiencing was related to hemorrhoids since I had never heard anyone talk about fissures as a potential postpartum issue. But after a friend mentioned that she had hemorrhoids and fissures after childbirth, it occurred to me that I too may have had a fissure.

So I consulted Dr Google and concluded that yes, what I was experiencing was almost certainly a postpartum anal fissure. My OB confirmed my suspicions at a later appointment. She said that if things didn’t heal soon she could refer me to a gastrointestinal doctor for a rectal exam. She explained that a GI doctor would be able to explore some different treatment options with me.

Symptoms of an Anal Fissure

Every time I had bowel movements, I would break out in a sweat and cringe through the pain. It felt like I was being cut with a knife every time I pooped. And I’m not exaggerating at all here. I would start shaking and just close my eyes and try to breathe through the pain.

For hours afterward, I experienced a strong and deep burning and aching sensation all throughout my behind. This made sitting, walking, and just existing miserable. This was a daily occurrence for about 3 weeks. 

And as painful as it was physically, I found myself obsessing over it mentally as well. How could I not when I was hobbling around all day with a burning bottom and an aching pelvic floor? 

How could I heal my postpartum fissure? How long was it going to last? The thought of pooping terrified me. How could I find a way to sit comfortably for all those hours of breastfeeding a newborn? Would this nightmare ever end? What if it turned into a chronic fissure? The questions and dread were overwhelming. 

Home Remedies for Fissure After Delivery

I was desperate to find a way to heal my fissure. And I was terrified that my fissure was going to become chronic if I didn’t figure out something fast.

So I religiously utilized the following for weeks;

  • Plant Based Salve
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sitz Soak Salts
  • Suppositories
  • Flushable Medicated Wipes
  • Peri Bottle/Bidet
  • Stool Softener
  • Prunes or Dried Figs
  • Lots and lots of water

Before I go into detail regarding the above home remedies, I want to also discuss what did not work. 

What Did Not Work to Heal My Postpartum Anal Fissure

First I want to share what did not help my postpartum fissure. Before realizing I had a fissure, I was using Doctor Butler’s Hemorrhoid & Fissure Ointment to help calm all the swelling in my postpartum bottom. I did not experience much relief with this ointment, but I kept using it in hopes it was doing something. 

After I realized I had a postpartum anal fissure on top of hemorrhoids after delivery though, I started looking through the reviews of the ointment on Amazon to see if anyone had success treating their fissures with it.

One reviewer commented that the ointment was actually harmful to fissures long term (beyond a week or 2 according to this reviewer) because there is a steroid in it that thins skin over time. Thin skin is the opposite of what you want when it comes to healing and preventing fissures. 

This same reviewer also stated that the vasoconstrictor Phenylephrine in the ointment is problematic because it restricts blood flow. And fissures need a good blood flow supply to heal. So after checking the ointment’s label myself, I saw that Phenylephrine is indeed listed as an active ingredient.

And oddly, after further looking into the relationship between anal fissures and phenylephrine, I found some advisory information on the Doctor Butler’s site itself. And Docter Butler’s clearly states, “Oftentimes, hemorrhoid ointments contain vasoconstrictors like Phenylephrine, which should not be used on a fissure.”

So to sell an ointment that should not necessarily be used for fissures and to call it “Doctor Butler’s Hemorrhoid & Fissure Ointment” seems misleading and like false advertising to me.

To be fair though, Doctor Butler’s also explains that hemorrhoids can contribute to the development of anal fissures, so treating the hemorrhoids ultimately helps the fissure. So in theory, using the ointment to treat hemorrhoids should help prevent fissures. But in the case of an already existing stubborn fissure, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to use an ointment with vasoconstrictors or steroids in it.

What I Did To Help Heal My Postpartum Anal Fissure

So after feeling disappointed that the goopy Doctor Butler’s ointment I had been smearing on my bum for weeks was likely counterproductive to healing my fissure, I went on a search for another product that could hopefully help speed up the healing process. 

Plant Based Salve

I settled on Thena H-Salve ointment. This ointment is a plant-based product with the following ingredients;

Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Lavender Oil, Organic Grapefruit Essential Oil, Canola Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Vitamin E, Organic Arnica Extract, Cera Alba (Beeswax White), Organic St. John’s Wort, Organic Oatmeal Kernel Meal, Organic Witch Hazel Leaf (non-alcohol), Organic Yarrow, Organic White Oak Bark, Organic Comfrey Root, Organic Calendula, Organic Arnica, Organic Plantain Leaf, Organic Nettle Leaf, Organic Rosemary Leaf.

So after making sure everything was nice and clean around my bum, I would apply this ointment several times a day. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but I started to notice some very small improvement in my pain level. 

So I continued to use the salve multiple times a day, for several weeks.  

(Pro tip: Get yourself some finger cots! You can buy a bag of 340 for about $6.00 on Amazon. This way you can apply any ointments with a finger cot on, and then just throw the cot away after use. Makes the whole process feel more sanitary and easy.)

Coconut Oil

Before getting the Thena H-Salve product, I was just using plain old coconut oil to soothe my fissure. Apollo Spectra explains that coconut oil helps moisturize and heal fissures. 

I also applied coconut oil to my fissure area before having a bowel movement to lubricate things. And I think that this was incredibly helpful to protect the postpartum fissure during those horribly painful poos. 

Warm Sitz Baths with Sitz Bath Soak Salts 

I also used an over-the toilet sitz bath as many times as I could in a day. This is a warm water bath just for your bum. I got to where I was doing 3 sitz baths a day, and this correlated with an improvement in my fissure symptoms as well.

home remedy products for healing postpartum anal fissures

I will say though, that when my hemorrhoids were inflamed, I actually felt like sitz baths made me more uncomfortable. I believe this is because soaking my bum in the hot water caused additional swelling as it brought more blood to the area from the warm water. This is great for promoting healing of a postpartum anal fissure and relaxing a sphincter muscle spasm, but not so great when it comes to already swollen postpartum hemorrhoids. 

So on days when everything felt swollen, I would take shorter sitz baths. It was a delicate balance, but ultimately I believe the sitz baths were very helpful for helping heal my fissure. 

And since I was having some success with the Thena H-Salve ointment, I also tried the Thena Sitz Bath Soak. Again, I do not know whether it was just coincidence, but I noticed my fissure symptoms improve even more after starting to use this soak regularly. It really helped soothe the pain more than anything else I had tried.

Suppositories

I also used Healing Bottoms Suppositories for my postpartum anal fissure. These suppositories are made up of turmeric, coconut oils and circumin. You put them in the freezer before using them and from there it’s pretty straightforward. Do note though, that turmeric is very yellow – so wear your oldest ugliest undies or a pad for any leakage.

I kind of hated using these suppositories and the mess of them, but I was pretty much willing to do anything that might help. And since things were slowly improving as I was using the suppositories along with other home care treatments, I do not want to discount them. 

Witch Hazel and Aloe Medicated Wipes

Rough toilet paper is a big no no when it comes to taking care of postpartum anal fissures. And if you have hemorrhoids as well as a fissure, it can make cleaning everything down there a delicate process.

So witch hazel and aloe wipes that are gentle on the bum and help with inflammation are a must. The Up & Up brand from Target are affordable and work well. 

Peri Bottle or Bidet

I also used a peri bottle with warm water for a while to help with the cleaning process. Most hospitals will provide one of these little squirt bottles after delivery. You can also buy them online or in stores like Target. 

And if you are using a bidet (which can be quite helpful), just make sure you are not using a full pressure-powered setting on that delicate skin and fissure. 

Stool Softeners

I was prescribed docusate sodium (Colace) as a stool softener after giving birth, and I have continued to take this to manage my fissure. 

Postpartum constipation can cause or make fissures worse due to straining and hard stools. So keeping those poos nice and soft is important!

Update: After stopping taking Colace for quite a while, and then starting again when my fissure reopened, I realized that I was having some bad side effects from it. 

I had been getting horrible abdominal pain early on postpartum, but I figured it was just my body in postpartum recovery mode. When I stopped taking Colace, I did not initially make the connection that my abdominal pain stopped around then too.

Fast forward a few weeks when I started taking it again after my fissure reopened, I started experiencing that same unique abdominal pain. I stopped and then started taking Colace another couple of times, and that distinctive abdominal pain always coincided with taking Colace and always went away a day or two after cutting it out. 

I wanted to share that in case anyone else might be among the unlucky who experience those kinds of side effects from Colace or another stool softener. 

On a similar note, I also recently learned that I can not tolerate pain medication like ibuprofen or Tylenol very well either. And I was taking those around-the-clock postpartum, as many postpartum women are prescribed these medications. After a bit of experimenting now at 9 months postpartum, I am fairly certain that ibuprofen causes diarrhea and Tylenol constipation for me (I’m sure it doesn’t for the large majority of people, but those are side effects for an unlucky few). Neither of which are good for fissures!

Prunes or Dried Figs

In addition to taking docusate sodium, I started eating prunes. No more than 5 in a day, usually less. Web MD explains that prunes are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as sorbitol and chlorogenic acid. All of these components help move things along in the digestive tract.

And important to note when talking about prune consumption, Web MD warns against eating too many prunes. This is because they can cause diarrhea and GI upset. And excessive diarrhea, just like constipation, can cause and/or prolong a postpartum anal fissure. 

I have also taken to dried figs when I just can’t stand to look at or eat another prune. I love the dried Turkish figs from Trader Joe’s and they seem to work as well or better for me in terms of keeping things soft and moving along. 

Drink Plenty of Fluids

I thought I was drinking a lot of water while pregnant, but I am drinking even more now as a breastfeeding momma and one with postpartum bum problems to boot. I have noticed that when I keep up with a good water protocol though, in addition to consuming a high-fiber diet, my body is much happier and it is easier to go to the bathroom. 

It’s especially important to drink water when adding fiber to the diet so that everything stays nice and soft as it’s moving through the digestive tract and out the rear end. When fiber doesn’t have enough water to absorb, stools are dry and hard to pass. And a bout of constipation and certainly chronic constipation will not do your fissure any favors.  

I share some fiber-rich snack ideas in My 12 Favorite Snacks for Nursing Moms that have helped manage my postpartum fissure and hemorrhoids along with lots of water. 

Relief From My Postpartum Anal Fissure

After what felt like a million years and a billion sitz baths later, I started to gradually have less pain while pooing. It was a long process and required a lot of commitment, but the pain from a fissure is very motivating when it comes to doing everything in one’s power to support healing!

And I will say also that it was not easy or always possible to do as many sitz baths as I wanted to or salve applications. That’s just life. And especially life with a baby and a preschooler in my case. But we do the best we can. And that has to be enough.

I also asked my OB at my 6 week postpartum appointment what she might suggest. She prescribed Rectiv, which is a nitroglycerin ointment. Aside from being extremely expensive, my hubby who is a surgical nurse said that nitroglycerin can be a gnarly drug. I did not think I could deal with any potential negative side effects on top of my searing bum pain, so I decided to wait on filling the prescription. I continued with my home remedies and as it turns out, never needed any topical nitrates. 

So I am happy to report that after a horrible month with a postpartum anal fissure (and a few months later with a reoccurrence), I can now poop pain-free! I can tell things are still a bit delicate down there, so I am continuing to try and do a sitz soak when I can, but I can’t tell you how relieved I am overall! 

And I can enjoy my time with my baby so much more now.

If you are suffering from a postpartum anal fissure, know that you are not alone. And if you are feeling completely consumed and bummed out by your fissure, I think that is normal and that there are lots of other ladies out there experiencing the same thing. 

To help other mamas out, feel free to share your experience or any products and strategies that have helped you in the comments below ♡

Nipple Pain When Breastfeeding And How To Manage It

Nipple Pain When Breastfeeding And How To Manage It

After going through Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom with my first baby, I am happy to report that I have successfully managed nipple pain when breastfeeding with my second. I still experienced sore and painful nipples this second time around, but it never got anywhere near 

When Should Family Visit Your Newborn Baby? Tips and Rules

When Should Family Visit Your Newborn Baby? Tips and Rules

Topics Considerations – When Should Family Visit Newborn Baby?     1. Know Thyself     2. Protecting Immature Newborn Immune System     3. Establishing Breastfeeding     4. Processing Postpartum Emotions Establishing Boundaries with Newborn Visitors     1. Give Yourself Permission to Have Boundaries     2. Practice Clear 

C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom and Baby

C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom and Baby

 As far as my hospital bag was concerned, I was wildly unprepared after the birth of my first child. I had not yet prepared a bag when my water broke at 37 weeks, and I had not anticipated staying in the hospital for 5 days (I ended up needing a c-section, plus my son needed to stay under the bilirubin lights). So I definitely felt a little grungy by the end of my hospital stay. 

newborn during hospital stay

While having the right clothes or comforts isn’t that big of a deal relative to bringing a newborn into the world, I do think it can set the tone for the start of parenthood. Plus, those first few days in the hospital can be overwhelming, and the last thing you want to be thinking about is stinky socks. 

So this time around, as I sit here pregnant with my second child, I am determined to have the best hospital bag packed ever!

I have thought long and hard about what I want in my bag, and I plan to pack it a month or so in advance of my scheduled c-section date (just in case). And whether a woman is having a planned c-section or not, I think it’s a good idea to pack for an extended stay just in case something unexpected comes up during labor and delivery for you or baby.

My hospital allows patients to go home 2 days after a c-section if all is going well with recovery. So I am really hoping I will only be in the hospital for those 2 days, but know that I could possibly be staying an addition couple of days as well.

Mount Sinai explains that women typically stay in the hospital 2-4 days after a c-section. And based on my 5 day hospital stay with my first born, those 5 days felt like an eternity! A few extra comforts from home would have really made a difference! 

What Should I Pack in My C-Section Hospital Bag?

Below is a list of items that I plan on having for my hospital stay post c-section. And following the compiled checklist is a more detailed discussion on each item (quantity, considerations & product recommendations). These are my personal suggestions, but every woman likely has her unique needs and preferences. Hopefully though, this checklist provides a helpful starting point!

Keep in mind that hospitals provide essentials like swaddles, diapers, wipes, disposable undies for mom, pads, peri bottle, towels and snacks. So unless you have particular preferences in regards to these items, you will more likely than not be covered! You can always check beforehand with your labor and delivery department to see what they do or do not provide. 

For Mom

Clothing

✓ Underwear/Postpartum Mesh Undies
✓ Socks
✓ Bras
✓ Sweatpants
✓ Zip up sweatshirts
✓ T-shirts/tank tops/long sleeves
✓ Slippers or easy slip-on shoe
 

Toiletries

✓ Toothbrush, toothpaste & flossers
✓ Hairbrush and hairtyes
✓ Shampoo, conditioner & soap
✓ Deodorant
✓ Tweezers
✓ Shaving razor
✓ Lotion or cream
✓ Towel or bathrobe
✓ Pads
✓ Over the toilet sitz bath or travel bidet
 

Snacks

✓ Fruit
✓ Chips/crackers
✓ Peanut butter packets
✓ Juice boxes
✓ Apple sauce packs
✓ Granola bars

* Notes on snacks

Comfort Items & Tools

✓ Cell phone with camera and charger
✓ Feeding and diaper tracker app or notes app or journal
✓ Journal/iPad/laptop
/book
✓ Soothing music or guided relaxation app or audio downloads
✓ Favorite blanket
✓ Pillow
✓ Water bottle

* Notes on comfort items & tools

Breastfeeding/ Pumping Supplies

* If you plan to breastfeed and/or pump *

✓ Reusable or disposable breast pads
✓ Nursing pillow
✓ Nursing cover
✓ Nipple shield (note: not always recommended by lactation specialists)
✓ Silver nipple cups
✓ Pumping supplies (funnels/flanges, pump and pump parts, bottle soap, baby bottles) – see notes
 

For Baby

✓ Baby blanket
✓ Swaddles
✓ Socks
✓ Onesies
✓ Anti-scratch mittens
✓ Beanies
✓ Going home outfit

✓ Portable sound machine

* Infant car seat for the ride home – You can contact your local police or fire station, and they will help you install your car seat and give you a safety walk through. Some retail stores also offer this service. 

You may also want to consider packing a nice snack item for nursing staff! I’ll be taking a big box of chocolates to give them 🙂

Considerations, Quantities & Product Recommendations for Hospital Bag Checklist Items

Clothing

✓ Underwear
✓ Socks (2 pairs)
✓ Bras (4)
✓ Sweatpants/pajamas (2)
✓ Zip up sweatshirts (2)
✓ T-shirts/tank tops/long sleeves
✓ Slippers or easy slip-on shoe
✓ Going home outfit

Underwear and Sweatpants

If you want to be comfortable, these items must be postpartum friendly! This means, loose and comfortable material. And especially for c-section mamas, we don’t want any bands or fabrics that are going to cut into or irritate our c-section scars. Plus, your tummy will probably still be pretty big for a while as your uterus works on shrinking back down.

Kindred Braverly joggers for hospital bag checklist

As far as underwear are concerned, the hospital will almost certainly provide you with some disposable mesh underwear. So you probably don’t really even need to pack any undies. You will be bleeding after a vaginal or c-section delivery, so the mesh undies are nice because they can hold a big old pad really well. Plus if you get them a bit gooey, no harm done. 

I plan to take a couple pair of seamless underwear plus a couple of pairs of “period panties” anyways, just in case. The hospital disposable mesh undies are surprisingly very comfortable and functional though!

For sweatpants, I’ll be packing some lightweight soft and loose under the belly joggers from Kindred Braverly/also sold on Amazon (2 pairs). I have worn these joggers throughout my pregnancy, and think they will be great postpartum as well. 

I’ll also throw in a pair of over the belly Motherhood Maternity leggings as well. 

seamless bras and underwear for postpartum life

As far as bras are concerned, I’m taking 4 different kinds. I love these Calvin Klein seamless bralettes from Amazon (they are often on sale!). While not specifically designed for nursing (no clip on the front straps), I think they will work well and be easy enough to simply pull down. They are lightweight, stretchy, silky feeling, and have removable pads. I have been wearing these throughout my pregnancy, both to sleep in as well as wear during the day. One thing to keep in mind, is that these are not super hefty bras. But for those who may be on the smaller side or for those who just want comfortable minimal support, they’re perfect.

I also like Kindred Braverly’s Ultra Comfort Smooth Classic Nursing Bra (can also be bought on Amazon). This one has nursing clips, removable pads, comes with a hook and eye extender, and is made of a super smooth fabric (polyamide and spandex). And best of all, it feels more like a second skin rather than overly bulky like other nursing bras I’ve tried. It also comes as either a “busty” fit or a “regular” fit. 

In addition to the Calvin Klein bralette and Kindred Braverly nursing bra, I’ll be packing another old nursing bra and bralette. I’m not entirely sure what to expect this time around as far as breastfeeding goes and my milk coming in (it’s pretty wild how much your boobs can change in a day or two), so I want to have a variety. 

Shoes and Socks

Your feet may swell after delivery (mine certainly did), so socks and shoes with plenty of room to easily slide into are nice to have. They pump a lot of fluids into you during the labor process, and WebMD explains that water retention and postpartum swelling is common after delivery.

And for c-section mamas, getting up and walking around a bit as soon as you are able to is supposed to help with recovery. So having easy shoes to slip into for this can be one less barrier to getting some movement in. 

I plan on taking my roomy slip on crocs to wear around the hospital, along with a pair of sneakers or slip on boots that I will probably wear on my way into the hospital. 

shoes on hospital bag checklist

Shirts, Zip Up Sweatshirts

If you plan on breastfeeding, packing shirts and sweatshirts that will allow your newborn easy access to the boob are preferable.

I’m not a big fan of nursing bras or shirts, so I like having regular bras and shirts that are also nursing friendly.  

So, I plan to take 3 regular cami tank tops with 2 light drop armhole tanks to wear over them (I’ll also be taking 1 nursing tank, just in case I end up finding that easier for the hospital). And when it’s cold, a zip up hoodie as a top layer I can keep on while feeding (2 zip hoodies). This way I can simply unzip, pull the top layer tank to the side towards my center, and then pull the cami down or slip my arm out for easy access.

I’ll throw in a couple of t-shirts as well. 

Toiletries

✓ Toothbrush/toothpaste/flossers
✓ Hairbrush and hairtyes
✓ Shampoo/conditioner/soap
✓ Deodorant
✓ Tweezers
✓ Shaving razor
✓ Lotion or cream
✓ Towel or bathrobe
✓ Pads (optional, usually provided by hospital)
✓ Over the toilet sitz bath, small bag of epsom salts, and travel bidet (optional)
 
Not much to say about these items, other than staying on top of personal hygiene during a hospital stay can do wonders for a positive mindset. Having a newborn can feel quite daunting, so smelling bad or having itchy dry skin is just an annoying distraction!


Sitz Bath, Epsom Salts & Travel Bidet 

As far as a portable toilet sitz bath and travel bidet are concerned, these will just make everything down there feel nice and clean and comfortable. Constipation can be very very real post delivery, and if you have been struggling with hemorrhoids during pregnancy, those first few poops can be quite uncomfortable.

Taking a little sitz soak in warm water with some epsom salts mixed in can hep soothe the bum. Or if you only have a moment to spare and don’t want to pack a portable toilet sitz bath, a quick rinse with the travel bidet helps keep things clean and reduces irritation.

So I plan on taking a small portable “bidet” (you can purchase a little squirt bottle like this on Amazon), and having my over the toilet seat sitz bath waiting and ready to go at home. This way if I end up needing it, I can ask my hubby to bring it to the hospital. 

The hospital will also probably give you a basic peri squirt bottle if you don’t want to get your own. 

Snacks

✓ Fruit
✓ Chips/crackers
✓ Peanut butter packets
✓ Juice boxes
✓ Apple sauce packs
✓ Granola bars

I was ravenous after my c-section, so below are some snack ideas to have on hand in your hospital room. Keep in mind, it’s a good idea to have some non-constipating snacks, since your first poop can be hellish! 

The hospital will also most likely have snacks available for you, so it’s not necessary to have your own. With my first born, the nurses brought us an endless supply of turkey deli sandwiches and juice. The first couple tasted great, however, after 5 days of those sandwiches, I was pretty much over it. 

The above suggestions are all non-refrigerated items, but you can ask your labor & delivery department if they have a refrigerator available if you want to have refrigerated items as well. 

Comfort Items & Tools 

✓ Cell phone with camera and charger
✓ Feeding and diaper tracker app or notes app or journal
✓ Journal/iPad/laptop/book
✓ Soothing music or guided relaxation app or audio downloads
✓ Favorite blanket
✓ Pillow
✓ Water bottle

Cell Phone with Camera and Charger

It’s a good idea to make sure you have cleared plenty of space on your phone for pictures. You will want to take a lot of photos to capture those first few special days, and there is nothing more annoying than having to go through your phone to delete old photos in order to make room for the new ones and missing precious moments. 

Feeding and Diaper Tracker App or Journal

I like the free app Baby Feeding Tracker and Log by Newborn Feeding and Care. This is to help you keep a log for feeding and peeing/pooping for your newborn. Before my son’s birth, I had no idea I would need to breastfeed every couple of hours in the beginning. I also didn’t realize I would be expected to keep track of his wet and dirty diapers, to make sure his health was on track. So having a convenient and easy way to track these things is important, especially if you’re not quite thinking clearly as you may be exhausted and sleep deprived. 

Journal/iPad/Laptop/Book

These items are useful in the event you want to write down any thoughts, feelings or special moments, or just relax with a tv show/movie or read up on newborn care in any spare moments. There probably won’t be much spare time, but you never know. So I’m leaving these items on my list, but I may or may not take one of them. 

Soothing Music or Guided Relaxation App or Audio Downloads

I was incredibly wired after my son arrived. I was anxious, excited and terrified all at the same time. Those feelings combined with those postpartum hormone shifts means that winding down and sleeping was difficult, despite total exhaustion. So having a little help with some guided meditation or calming music can provide some gentle grounding. 

Favorite Pillow, Blanket and Water Bottle

There’s nothing like having some comforts from home when you are tired and feeling a bit (or a lot) out of sorts. I plan on taking a throw size cotton muslin blanket, maybe a cozy pillow (depending on how big/many bags I end up with) and a big water bottle to help me feel a little more in my element.

Breastfeeding and Pumping Supplies (If You Plan to Breastfeed and/or Pump)

✓ Reusable or disposable breast pads
✓ Nursing pillow
✓ Nursing cover
✓ Nipple shield (note: not always recommended by lactation specialists)
✓ Silver nipple cover
✓ Pumping supplies (funnels/flanges, pump and pump parts, bottle soap, small milk storage bottles)
✓ Bottles
 
breastfeeding and pumping supplies for c-section hospital bag checklist
pump, reusable and disposable breast pads, nipple shield, flanges, milk storage bottles and baby bottle

Reusable or Disposable Breast Pads

Even if you’re not profusely leaking milk right after your baby is born, you may have some of that early colostrum seeping out and getting onto your bra those first few days. Better to have some pads you can change out as needed rather than have to wear an old stinky milk bra.

Nursing Pillow

If breastfeeding is a struggle at all, having a good nursing pillow is essential for a good latch. Once I got the My Brest Friend nursing pillow, I found breastfeeding much easier. I share more about this nursing pillow in my post on Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom

Nipple shield

Many lactation specialists may refrain from suggesting a nipple shield, but in my case, I ended up needing to use one for a couple of weeks. You can read about my experience of Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom for more information on breastfeeding challenges. So while I am not a lactation consultant or medical professional and cannot advise anyone one way or another, I plan to use one temporarily if my nipple pain gets so bad that I’m not able to nurse or pump. 

Among the reasons nipple shields can be problematic, The Cleveland Clinic explains that prolonged use can negatively impact milk supply, the amount of milk your baby is getting, as well as lead to mastitis.

Silver Nursing Cup

I just recently discovered these Silver Nursing Cups, and while I have never used them, I definitely plan on taking them with me to the hospital and trying them out. According to reviews, they are wonder workers and can help within a day of using them. And if you have ever dealt with Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom, you know it’s no walk in the park and any small improvement is a big deal.  

silver nursing cup shells for sore nipples

These cups go over sore nipples in between feedings (held in place by your bra) and prevent anything from rubbing against them. I’m really looking forward to using them for this purpose, because it was so painful pulling away bras or breast pads that were stuck to my nipples due to dried colostrum or milk that had leaked in-between feeds. Additionally, Play Nourish Thrive explains that silver helps nipples heal because it “contains ions which have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antibacterial benefits”. 

I’ll update this post with a review once I have tested out the silver nursing cups. 

Nipple Butter

The hospital will likely give you a little supply of some sort of nipple cream, but if you have skin sensitive or allergies, you may want to select your own nipple butter. For example, a commonly provided cream at hospitals or available at retail stores is lanolin nipple cream. Since lanolin is made from wool, I always avoid lanolin creams because wool products tend to make me very itchy.

I’m taking the Calm Your Nip Balm by Honest. It’s organic, unscented, hypoallergenic and you don’t need to wipe it off before feeds. It has a bit of a greasy texture like vasoline, but not a big deal in my opinion. Plus I just love all products from Honest

Note: Instructions with the silver nursing cups state not to use nipple creams with the cups. 

Pumping Supplies

While I’m not going to take my pump and pumping supplies to the hospital with me initially, I’m having them all ready in a bag at home in case I need to have my husband bring them to me.

This is because I wish I had my own breast pump at the hospital when my son was born. I was planning on breastfeeding, however, I ended up dealing with some extremely painful breastfeeding issues and ended up needing to pump as well. I was able to rent a pump from the hospital, but it would have been less hassle and money if I just had my own (along with appropriate sized flanges*). 

On a side note, the lactation consultants during my hospital stay with my son did say that the hospital grade pumps are superior to most pumps people have at home though, so that’s something to consider if your milk supply ends up being low. Getting on a pumping schedule with a good pump can help boost your supply. 

It’s also worth checking with your insurance to see if they will cover the cost of a pump for you. Mine did, and we got a nice Medela brand pump and paid nothing for it. It was a bit of a process getting the authorization for it (you will probably need to ask your doctor’s office to send paperwork), but ultimately it worked out.

different sized flanges for pumping breastmilk
Different types and sized flanges for pumping. You will want to choose the right size flanges for your nipple size. I used all these different sizes, as my nipples were sometimes quite swollen and other times not. On the far right are silicone flanges I got from a lactation nurse, which feel much nicer than the hard plastic ones.

Baby Bottles

We exclusively used these Comotomo Baby Bottles with my first child, and plan to also use them for this second baby as well. For newborns, you can get the slow flow nipples for the bottles. Even though I planned on exclusively breastfeeding, I ended up needing to express and pump a little bit in the hospital, so I definitely plan on having one of these bottles handy in case I need to do the same again with this next baby.

como tomo baby bottles on hospital bag checklist

Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby

✓ Baby blanket
✓ Swaddles
✓ Socks
✓ Onesies
✓ Anti-scratch mittens
✓ Beanies
✓ Going home outfit

✓ Diapers and wipes (optional – usually provided by hospital)
✓ Formula if you don’t plan on breastfeeding or pumping (the hospital may provide formula and bottles)

Swaddles & Diapers/Wipes

An endless supply of swaddles and diapers/wipes are items that the hospital provided for us after the delivery of my first child. I imagine this is the case with most hospitals; however, I still plan to pack a couple of swaddles from home (one muslin cotton swaddle and one zip up swaddle).
 
baby swaddles and blankets for c section hospital bag checklist
 
I’ll also be packing 2 full body zip onesies, 1 short sleeve onesie, 1 long sleeve onsie, a pair of pants, a beanie, 2 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of anti-scratch mittens and one warm full body fleece onesie to go home in and 1 baby blanket.

My first baby was mostly just wrapped in a swaddle for our entire hospital stay, but I want to have some additional clothing options this time around. Newborn clothes are so tiny that they barely take up any space so not a big deal to pack but not end up using them.
 
Some people also have personal preferences as far as the types of diapers and wipes they want to use with their babies, so you’d want to pack your own if that’s the case for you. 

I hope this c-section hospital bag checklist is helpful on your journey into motherhood! Please share any comments with items you plan to pack that have not been listed above to share with other mamas ♡

Is it Good for Kids to Get Sick?

Is it Good for Kids to Get Sick?

Over the past couple of months, I have had some sort of flu, a stomach bug and most recently covid. There have been a few days of reprieve in-between viruses and bugs, but for the most part, I can’t remember the last time I felt 

When Does Morning Sickness End?!

When Does Morning Sickness End?!

My second pregnancy was brutal in terms of morning sickness. Or should I say 24/7 sickness. Why it’s called “morning sickness” makes no sense to me. In fact, I often felt the worst in the evenings and in the middle of the nights. In the 

Sandwich Generation Planning

Sandwich Generation Planning

According to Pew Research, the “sandwich generation” describes, “those who have a living parent age 65 or older and are either raising a child under age 18 or supporting a grown child”. And they explain that the sandwich generation often is providing financial and or emotional support for both their children and aging parents.

This can be a lot for sandwich generationers to manage. So what can be done to minimize some of the pressure and stress that comes with being sandwiched between older parents and young children? And how can sandwich generation adults make sure that everyone is taken care of in the event of declining health? Or in the event of an unfortunate accident or medical emergency, whether it be their own or their aging parents?

Below are some terms to become familiar with as you plan for your future security, as well as for your children’s and your aging parents. These terms are not covered in depth here, but below is a simple entry point to get started.   

Planning for the Future and Unforeseen Life Altering Events 

Putting plans in place that can be easily and quickly referred to in the event of a serious accident or physical or mental health deterioration is important. And this includes plans not just for aging parents, but for adults with young children as well.

Planning for tragedies and physical or mental decline in our parents or ourselves is certainly not any fun. And all of the legal processes to ensure everyone is taken care of can be confusing and complicated. But it is so important. Because as we all know, life doesn’t always go as planned. We are mortal human beings and vulnerable to all sorts of misfortunes. What we can do though, is plan and prepare. 

So talking with your spouse, with your parents and with your children (if they are old enough) about the future and managing any unfortunate events is something that can benefit everyone. It may take many conversations and quite a bit of paperwork to work out all the details, but doing these things sooner rather than later can help everyone avoid a lot of stress in the future. 

Establishing a Power of Attorney

A Place for Mom explains that a power of attorney is essentially someone that is legally assigned to make decisions for someone in the event they are unable to make those decisions for themselves. There are different types of power of attorney that can be designated, so those decisions may be related to financial, legal or medical decisions. 

So for an aging parent, issues that their power of attorney may encounter include things like dealing with medical treatment decisions, signing consent forms and making financial decisions about their assets. 

A Place for Mom recommends hiring a lawyer to set up a power of attorney (vs using an online document) so that there are no complications if the need to exercise power of attorney rights arises. And caring.com recommends all adults set up a power of attorney and that older adults address the issue immediately. Because if something happens that incapacitates a person (eg they receive a diagnosis of dementia), it will be too late for them to agree and sign their consent to assign a power of attorney.

Considering Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care can be very expensive. And Market Watch states that 7 out of 10 seniors need some kind of long-term care. This could be care from a “nursing home, assisted living facilities, in-home care providers, and adult day care centers”. 

So, it makes sense for aging adults to seriously consider a long-term care insurance policy. Because unless older parents and one of their adult children agree to a co-living situation, an elderly parent may need a good deal of care at some point. And Market Watch explains that nursing home care can be upwards of $100,000 annually, and that insurance like Medicare does not cover these costs. 

Other numbers Market Watch shares include $4,576 per month for a home health aide and $4,300 for a room in an assisted living facility (according to the 2020 national average costs). So those are some big numbers to contemplate. 

And the thing about long-term care insurance, is that if older adults waits too long to apply, they may not be eligible or will end up paying huge premiums. So in line with the theme here, is to plan ahead whenever possible. For yourself and for aging parents and for the benefit of your children. 

Setting up Advanced Directives

In the event of terminal illness or a major medical event, Nationwide explains that living wills and advanced directives are important to establish beforehand. A person’s living will describes what they would want done in terms of medical treatment and life prolonging measures in the event of incapacitation due to terminal illness.

Nationwide explains that an advanced directive is more broad in its scope, and would also include incapacitation from medical events other than terminal illness. 

Making a Last Will

A last will dictates who will receive your assets and property once you are deceased. You can also assign a legal guardian for your minor children, as well as name an executor. An executor is responsible for managing things like property and assets once you have passed. 

And once you have passed, your will goes through probate. Trust & Will explains that this is a legal court process that verifies and approves your wishes as outlined in your will. Your property will likely go through probate regardless of whether you have a will or not when you die, but having a will makes the process much easier. Avoiding a complicated probate means less estate taxes, legal fees, as well as greater privacy (as probate is public record). And if you don’t want the courts to decide what happens to your property, then making a will is a very good idea!  

Trust & Will also explains though, that there are ways to get around or at least make the probate process easier when it comes to wills. Making sure all of your assets have titled beneficiaries is one way to do this. 

Making a Trust

Unlike a last will, a trust does not go through probate. Nolo explains though, that a trust can be a little more complicated and expensive to make compared to a will, and also usually requires some maintenance. But like a will, you can assign beneficiaries for your assets. With a trust though, a beneficiary may start accessing those assets before you die if that is your wish. 

Nolo shares an article on when you might want to consider a trust over a will. For many people, a will would suit their needs just fine, but Nolo explains that factors like how wealthy you are and how old you are can help dictate if a will or living trust is more suitable. In general, a trust may be more advantageous than a will the older you are and the wealthier you are.

Sandwich Generation Planning

As a mother of a young toddler, I have seriously started thinking about planning for unforeseen events. I want to make sure that my toddler will be taken care of in the unlikely event that my husband and I were to become incapacitated or deceased. And I am also getting clear on terms like “power of attorney” and “advanced directives” so that as my parent gets older, I know what to expect and can make sure all is in order for his wellbeing. 

I think almost all parents hope that they never become a burden to their children. And dealing with these legal and logistical issues sooner rather than later is one way to ensure that we do not become a burden. So while most of us probably despise trying to figure out how to go about all of these legal documents, we know that it is well worth the time and effort.

Fighting Stay at Home Mom Shame

Fighting Stay at Home Mom Shame

After meeting someone new, I always dread that question, “What do you do?” This question used to be a source of pride for me when I was working (in a paid position) and/or was studying in school. Now though, I feel a touch of shame 

Healthy Homemade Granola Bars: Soft, Chewy, and Easy to Make

Healthy Homemade Granola Bars: Soft, Chewy, and Easy to Make

Jump To Recipe The concept of store-bought granola bars is great – easy, convenient grab-and-go snacks. The taste of them, however, is often overly sweet and unappetizing in my opinion. And there’s just something about unwrapping a commercial granola bar from shiny plastic that doesn’t