There have been more pregnant people around me in the last month than ever before. This isn’t going to be a post about whether I should have a second child – I’ll save that for later because honestly, I don’t even know where I stand on the subject. This post is about new mom advice. The minute you find out you are pregnant a new world is dropped into your lap that you know nothing about. You don’t know what you’re doing and all you do know is that your body is quickly changing.
It’s a crazy time which is why it is only natural to turn to those that you trust. Your person could be your best friend, your mother or someone you follow on social media – it’s whoever you think will provide you with sound advice. I frequently have people come to me and say, “Help me! I’m pregnant. What do I buy? What do I do? How do I have a seamless delivery?!” When girlfriends ask me this I always tell them the journey is different for everyone because everyone has different pregnancy priorities.
After I found out I was pregnant I had lunch with a girlfriend who was also a mom. She gave me my first piece of pregnancy advice and told me to get a doula. What the heck was a doula? It sounded like I needed to go eat granola and wash my clothes by the river. It didn’t sound very me but then she explained that a doula is like a publicist for the delivery room and I walked out of lunch knowing that I needed one. I began doing a little research and found out it was exactly like what she said it was. She gave me her doula’s name and told me this person would take out all the background noise that comes along with pregnancy and delivery. She would be the voice of reason throughout the entire process.
FIND A DOULA
Soon after that lunch, my friend’s doula Rita DiRito became my doula. She made my pregnancy amazing and most importantly, made my delivery a dream. When you view my birth video you can see her right there with me. I trusted her completely and she made my journey mine. She didn’t make the delivery about her or about anyone else in the delivery room. It’s always important to remember that you are in control of your delivery. It is an awesome day that shouldn’t be anything short of amazing. Do not turn your delivery into a horror story by allowing other people to control it. Of course, unforeseen things can happen but the more prepared you are the calmer you will be. As part of the preparation process we took at-home birthing classes with our doula. We did all the classes in one day (that’s about all my partner’s attention span could take) and honestly, I didn’t want to know too much. The more I knew, the more anxious I became.
I only wanted to know the basics like where the baby was coming out of, what could happen and what I needed to know. The doula provided me with everything. Additionally, one of the key reasons I hired a doula was to have a familiar face in the delivery room. I didn’t know which doctor would be on call at the time Zelda was born, but it most likely wasn’t going to be our doctor. I wanted someone there as my personal advocate. There is nothing wrong with doctors and I’m not trying to discredit them in anyway, but at the end of the day they are at work and they are performing a transaction. I knew I didn’t want a C-section unless it was necessary so it was important to have someone in the room who was always keeping my best interest at heart.
My doula also gave me a life changing piece of advice: she advised me to create a birth plan. I needed to decide what that day was going to look like for me. It’s important to create that day in your mind so you know what it will include (other than screaming). I told her I wanted my day to look like Beyoncé. I wanted to remember it forever so I hired a videographer and a photographer. I had met Hallie Duesenberg a few weeks prior when she photographed my nursery. God bless her because we got to know each other REALLY well. I am also forever grateful to Emily Hard, the videographer who captured Zelda’s birth.
Aesthetically, I made the day mine by bringing in my own bedding. I put my own sheets from The Land of Nod on the hospital bed (which you can also see in the video). Unicorn bedding isn’t the standard at Prentice. I purchased my own birth gown and brought in six dozen cupcakes from Sprinkles for everyone that came through our room. I wanted her birth to be a celebration surrounded by positivity. I made my own playlist so I could listen to music that I enjoyed. My doula told me to distract myself once I began having early contractions and that is exactly what I did. I went and got a blow out and had my nails done, which made the day even more fun. (Until those major contractions started which were quickly followed by an epidural. We’ll talk more about that later.) In summary, my first piece of advice to first time moms is to think about your journey and how you want to make it yours. Personally, I think securing a doula the perfect place to start. (Unfortunately, my doula has since moved but I’ve heard really good things about Doulas of Chicago!)
FIND A PEDIATRICIAN YOU ADORE
Next on the list is something and someone who is so important: your pediatrician. This person will play a huge role in your child’s development and it is so important to develop a positive relationship with them. Your pediatrician is a piece of your family puzzle and they should fit perfectly. Don’t force them to fit if they don’t. When it came time to find a pediatrician I had no idea how to go about it. I didn’t have a ton of friends with kids so I asked my doula. When you’re trying to find a doctor, it is important to ask people around you. Typically, referrals work well in these types of situations because you get honest feedback. If you don’t have anyone you can ask, do some research online but always remember every family has diverse needs. Your girlfriend’s wants could be completely different than yours.
My doula recommended Dr. Weissbluth at Weissbluth Pediatrics. At the time, it was a newer practice and I was immediately drawn to it because it was located right by Northwestern, was walking distance from my house (a big deal if you live in the city) and the doctors were extremely accessible. The office is open seven days a week and during the first hour of every day they allow patients to come in without an appointment. It was comforting to know that I had that window. Before visiting, I had also heard it was very easy to get a hold of them by phone or email and this was important to me. I decided to make a prenatal appointment to see if they were truly a right fit for us (you don’t need to sign up before you meet them).
I met with Dr. Dan and Dr. Asha and we had a spectacular first meeting. I loved the office because it was bright, clean and located just off Neiman Marcus (just a quick walk through the handbags!). I think Spiro left shaking a little bit after our first meeting due to this proximity (just kidding!). Right off the bat it felt like a solid fit and I instantly felt comfortable in the office. The evening after our first meeting I received an email from Dr. Dan thanking me for coming. He told me that if I had any questions I could email him at any time. He reassured me that he was always available. As a new mom, this was crucial because I knew if I couldn’t come in for an afternoon appointment I could still speak to them. It made me feel like they were always there and it brought peace of mind.
You should never feel like you can’t get ahold of your pediatrician or like you are bothering them. You should also NEVER turn to a forum of 50,000 moms that you don’t know to ask them what a rash is on your child. Send the picture to your doctor and get a real medical opinion – I cannot stress the importance. It drives me crazy when I see other moms turning to strangers to help diagnose their children. Weissbluth Pediatrics helped me prepare for the birth of my child and when Zelda was born a doctor came to the hospital to give her a physical exam. Additionally, the doctor met with me to answer all my questions. Weissbluth Pediatrics has been with me since the moment Zelda was born and that was so important.
Whether you’ve had a child before or are going through your first pregnancy, don’t ever feel like you are going to miss something important — your pediatrician will guide your through the process. Regardless of what happens on your journey, the current will move forward any carry you with it and everything will fall into place. The pediatrician will let you know when to make your next appointment. At my first post baby appointment, we selected Dr. Asha as our primary doctor. I absolutely adore her and if she had a personal cheerleader it would be me. I cannot say enough good things about her – she just gets us. She is also incredibly responsive via email and our personalities meshed right from the start.
If you select a doctor and don’t feel like you’re being heard, you don’t need to leave the practice. Simply switch doctors because you have the power to do that. When you find a doctor you love, make them your primary. When people get frustrated with their pediatricians, they typically leave the practice entirely which is so unnecessary. Most of the time, it simply comes down to personality and switching is simple (a whole lot simpler than finding a new practice). We were fortunate our first time around when we landed with Dr. Asha and I have a feeling if you request her you’ll get lucky too.
The first doctor’s visit typically takes place around three days after the baby is born with a one week follow up, but this wasn’t the case for me. I was having tremendous difficulty breastfeeding. I met with a lactation consultant, spent hours trying to pump and my milk never dropped. (Weissbluth has a spectacular resource center that includes birthing classes, lactation consulting, baby sleep and more.) At our three-day-old visit Dr. Asha noticed Zelda was losing weight and told me we would have to come back the next day. They informed me that if she continued to lose weight I would have to supplement with formula or readmit her to the hospital.
This news came at a time when I had crazy postpartum hormones coursing through my body and it scared the shit out of me. I felt like someone was trying to take her from me. Obviously, this was not the way they were intending to make me feel but I took her in my arms and carried her the entire way home. As we walked I told her that I wouldn’t allow anyone to take her from me, all while Spiro pushed the stroller behind us. I went home and cried for hours. I beat myself up over breastfeeding because I felt like I was failing. I tried to pump hundreds of times – my nipples were chapped and the situation was horrible. We went back to the doctor’s office the next day and she had lost another ounce. My six-pound baby was still losing weight and that is when they presented me with formula.
All I could think was, “OMG. I can’t do this.” They told me they recommended formula because it would keep me from having to readmit her to the hospital. As I was crying, Spiro looked at me and said, “Why baby? Who cares. It doesn’t work for you. Why are you stressing out over it?” Through the entire process Dr. Asha was incredibly supportive and reassured me that it would be fine no matter what decision I made. That is when I realized it was silly that I was beating myself up over this. Breastfeeding just wasn’t working for me and it was okay. Millions of kids have been fed formula and they are fine. That night I began supplementing with formula and after 24 hours I felt so much better.
When we went back for next checkup, Zelda had gained weight. Weissbluth Pediatrics really helped me get back on track all while making sure everything was the right choice for me. Dr. Asha’s reassurance was invaluable. She helped me through one of the most difficult periods of being a new mom and having a pediatrician that makes you feel secure is so important. You should never feel like your pediatrician is working against you and if you do, go somewhere else.
A pediatrician should always be there to guide you through milestones. For example, at the four month mark we were instructed to introduce Zelda to a routine that included naps. At six to nine months, Dr. Asha told us to baby proof our house since Zelda would soon begin to crawl. Your pediatrician should also guide you through vaccinations (whatever your choice might be – it’s very personal and I’m not touching that one!). You should be able to discuss these milestones and developmental skills with your pediatrician – the lines of communication need to remain open.
Zelda’s three-year visit was probably our most challenging which is funny because at three years old there are no shots. It should really be the easiest! However, we all know that once you have a three-year-old you officially have a toddler and toddlers have opinions. Zelda knew she was at the doctor and wasn’t having it. She thought everything looked like robots. Why? I have no idea, she is a toddler! Dr. Asha was instrumental in calming her down (which you can see in the video below). She wanted to comfort Zelda so she wasn’t anxious or upset. It was important to Dr. Asha that Zelda was comfortable, which is important to me.
I mentioned earlier that one of the things that caught my eye about Weissbluth was their accessibility. If your child is too sick or you simply don’t have time, the doctors also make house calls. Another amazing feature about the practice is that they do online appointments so you can see your doctor from anywhere. They really try to do what works for you and having a fantastic pediatrician makes parenting so much easier.
BUY WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
When you’re pregnant everyone is going to have an opinion about what products you should buy. You’ll hear about the stroller you “have to have”, what diapers to use, which lotions are the best and so much more. Here is the real deal: you don’t HAVE to use anything. These decisions are up to you and believe me, when it comes to products, every child is different. You might find yourself registering for a ton of items because you think you NEED them but before you do this, talk to the people are you. Take a survey and see what worked for the people you trust. I had twenty items that I loved and would buy again if I had another child. These are things I recommend to my friends and tell them that they “have to buy”. It’s an extensive list but I give my real reasons for keeping them around.
You can see the full list here but just know at the end of the day when you bring your baby home they only need a place to sleep, a few onesies to hang out in and a bottle to eat (if you’re bottle feeding). Your baby will never know what kind of stroller they used or what kind of mat they slept on. Baby products are meant to make life easier for moms and dads. If you find something you love, run with it. Having a child is one of the coolest things in the world and you should never feel as if you need to “over-prepare”. At the end of the day you have no idea what you are preparing for except for your world to change. Enjoy every minute of it! In conclusion, if I can give you three pearls of wisdom it’s get a doula for your delivery, find a pediatrician you adore and use the baby products that work for you. If you have any questions please ask me in the comments below or simply share your experience with me. I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
Lots of love to Weissbluth Pediatrics for sponsoring this post! It is partners like this that make documenting our journey possible.