Saturday, February 27, 2010

Practical, Quick Tips for First Time Moms like Me!

I started this blog to share practical tips to save time and money for a healthy lifestyle. Since I'm a first-time mom (38 wks today and there's my pic; 2 weeks to my due date), I've collected an amazing amount of practical advice from my friends, coworkers and family and I'm happy to share. I woke up early this morning thinking about all the advice I've been given and have taken, which made me realize that I should share it with you! Being very pregnant now, my bump is a conversation starter! It's a common link that so many parents enjoy remembering the time when they were expecting the arrival of their children.

Twitter is such a great resource for me! If you build a following of other Twitter users, you can ask them for resources and tips. Since you can respond so quickly with messages, people are willing to share! A couple weeks ago, I posted a tweet about wanting advice on what to put under my desk to relieve my swollen feet. After a minute, my coworker (who follows me on Twitter), turned around and said, "why don't you request a footstool?" Sometimes, you're moving a mile a minute and don't think of the easiest solution, right?! I asked my facilities manager and, boy, did she deliver! The next day, I had a really nice footstool under my desk to prop my feet up!

A midwife I follow on Twitter told me this morning to enjoy the "lull before birth now" and says that I should rest up, nest down and relax. That's tough to do for a high energy girl like myself, but my body is telling me to do it.

Aaron and I are on the same page that we only want to have the right amount of "baby stuff." We live in a family-size house now, but we want to avoid clutter of stuff that we'll never use. Our plan has been to prepare in stages. I'll give you a perfect example. Most expectant moms at this point in pregnancy have their nurseries COMPLETE (or nearly done). Not us....on purpose. Our baby is going to sleep in our room in the beginning so we're preparing what we need to bring her home: car seat, co-sleeper (bassinet for the side of the bed), a glider to nurse, a changing table. We have started by painting the nursery, but we're more focused on the essentials.

First-time mom/dad practical advice: So now, here is wonderful gems of practical tips that I've received from my coworkers, friends/family, and Twitterverse. My goal is to ask for referrals and tips from experienced parents because these are road-tested, right?!

  • Prepare you and your partner for birth with a Doula and Lamaze classes: Hiring a doula, birth attendant, was very important to both of us because I'm planning to avoid medical interventions during labor and birth. Doulas are skilled with comforting techniques that can help you through a more efficient labor (by using gravity and movement to your advantage) and help you avoid c-sections. My doula will come to our house so I can labor at home as long as possible. My doctor suggested laboring at home where I'm most comfortable until I'm in active labor, since I'm having a normal and healthy pregnancy (here's what I did to prep). Aaron came with me to Lamaze class, which was taught at my hospital by a mid-wife/nurse. I feel very confident and empowered to have this knowledge and support. One dad of 2 kids told me that he and his wife were surprised how much time they were alone at the hospital during their baby's births. Being first-time parents, we feel reassured having a doula there to helps us through the process.
  • Don't overbuy until you know what your baby prefers: I heard this from a mom (of 4) about bottles, but I think it applies to many things! This experienced mom says to buy several different single bottles to see what your baby will prefer before you buy the 10-12 bottles you need! I got a bottle from a friend and she said that her son never liked it. Babies are finicky I've heard they refuse some bottles all together. Instead, I'll confirm which bottle she likes and then buy more. I plan to buy a total of 10-12 bottles. I verified this by more parents and asked ahead by how much daycare wants on-hand so that is my total number.
  • How many bed sheets do you REALLY need? 3: This way you have sheets for (1) on the bed, (2) dirty, and (3) clean and ready. I've heard this consistently from friends - thank you Twitter and Facebook!
  • Buy diapers in moderation: A dad of 3 told me that kids grow so fast that you might get too many of a certain size before you can use them! I'll have to judge how many my baby will go through in a day and estimate how many to have on-hand without overdoing it.
  • Check with your daycare provider before you invest in cloth diaper supplies: This one came from my hubby. He was right! Our daycare will only allow disposable diapers and wipes so thankfully we waited to buy the cloth diaper supplies that I was planning originally.
  • Figure out your maternity leave plan at work EARLY: This was my mistake! I should have pressed my HR admin to tell me ALL the specifics for our company's maternity leave in the beginning instead of a few weeks before my due date. It turns out I had many misconceptions from the website and from conversations with her early on so now I'm reworking my original plan. I found out that my company's Short Term Disability that is posted on the benefits section of the Intranet has a key phrase "up to" 12-weeks benefits and we don't get the full 12-weeks for maternity. They told me that their insurance provider relies on HR to explain the actual benefits (in my case 6 wks). Big difference! The good thing is that my company's culture is extremely flexible and supportive of parents and my manager and I have come up with a plan that works for both of us! My lesson was to push HR to get all the details very EARLY in your pregnancy so you have time to prepare financially for the leave.
  • Ease your baby (and yourself!) into daycare before you go back to work full-time: I thought this was great advice from moms and my daycare! I'm planning to work from home 4 wks before returning to the office. I will take the baby to the daycare at about 6 wks for a visit and then for the last 2 wks, I plan to take our baby to daycare for 2 days to ease her into her routine so she's not shocked in on the first day. The daycare provider also advised me to take a blanket that has "my scent" on it so she can smell me while I'm not there. BTW, I got a REFERRAL for this daycare from Aaron's coworker who has had 3 kids there. We evaluated two referrals and found this one was more affordable, but still flexible with different work schedules (part-time and full-time options).
  • Try your daycare route/schedule "pre-baby" while you're still working: Since I haven't gone on maternity leave, I tried the evening routine. Our daycare closes 6pm and while it's only 10 minutes from our house, I work across town in downtown Indy. I went twice this week to take a tour and sign up for the daycare and drove there twice after work. It made me realize that it's more practical to do an earlier work day (drop off at 7am) so I can be sure to leave at 5pm to be at daycare before they close. On the occasion that I have a later meeting, I'll pick up the baby earlier and then settle at home for the meeting or have Aaron pick up the baby. He gets home before me anyway so we should arrive at home at the same time to have "family time" at night.
  • Errands with a little one: A mom suggested to park close to the shopping cart return area so you can pull the baby out of the car and directly into a shopping cart. Then after shopping when you have to load your car and pack the baby, you won't have to go far to return the cart. That shopping cart can be used to your advantage. Great idea!
If you have tips to share or questions that you want me to find answers to for first-time moms, please add your comments here!

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