What's in my hospital bag - What to pack for baby

What to pack for for hospital for baby-01.png

I have T-minus 10ish days until my little boy joins us in the world (unless he comes early like his sister did, in which case I may only have 1 or 2 days to go!!!!), and I have finally finished packing his bag for hospital! They always say you should have your bags ready early, as you just never know what might happen, but I’ve really been rather late to the party with this second pregnancy. But, after a couple of really achey days and loads of cramps and contraction like symptoms, I decided enough was enough and washed everything that needing washing, and packed everything into it’s place. I had packed my own bags a little while ago (click here to read) and I can officially say we are ready! To be fair, babies don’t care whether you’ve taken the perfect photo of their bags before they decide THEY are ready to be born, but it does feel good to have packed everything I’ve wanted to pack, as well as photograph it all and write this blog post.

What you pack will largely depend on what hospital you go to, and what that hospital provides you with during your stay. Some hospitals give you a baby bag with lots of essentials (like nappies, cotton wool etc) and others don’t. Your hospital also won’t provide clothes for your baby, and if you’re anything like me, you might be quite particular about the nappies & products used on your newborns skin. I will be having my baby at Mediclinic in Pietermaritzburg (if all goes according to plan and I am able to have the VBAC delivery I am hoping and praying for, and if I need to schedule a caesar for any reason, I am hoping to book in at Life Hospital in Hilton) and they give new moms a lovely baby bag upon delivery which contains one pack of newborn nappies, as well surgical spirits for the umbilical cord, cotton wool, and a few other sample sized versions of baby wash/shampoo/lotion. Even though these are really lovely extras, I will be packing everything baby needs from the nappy & skincare side myself, and then will share below what blankets and clothes I’m packing too.

what to pack for baby for hospital citygirlsearching blog

Here is the basic guide I was given by my hospital:

  • Five sets of clean baby clothes: vest, babygro, wrapper/receiving blanket, socks, beanie

  • One warm blanket

  • If you are bottle feeding, our milk kitchens are fully stocked and equipped. You are welcome to bring your own bottles, teats, formula milk and sterilising unit if preferred

  • Dummy and holder (optional)


Here is a breakdown of what I’m packing for baby, as well as the brand names in case you like what you see and want to now where I got each item from. I also am pretty sure I’m going to add things to the bag last minute (like more swaddles/receiving blankets) but I am trying not to overpack like I did with Everly:

Blankets:

  • 1 soft cotton receiving blanket (Woolies)

  • 1 soft cotton swaddle blanket (Giggle & Beans)

  • 1 bamboo muslin (Kapas Baby)

  • 1 fluffy fleece blanket ( Not packed or pictured yet)

what to pack for baby for hospital citygirlsearching blog

Nappies & Wipes

We used cloth nappies from the newborn stage with Everly (I started cloth from about Day 5, just after we had gotten home from the hospital) and plan on doing the same with BabyBoy. But I’m not going to pack any cloth nappies for hospital, opting to rather use bio-degradable disposables which I had family bring over from the UK.

Eco-friendly/bio-degradable nappies are unfortunately really pricey here in South Africa, but they are available online from places like Faithful To Nature and The Organic Shop. I love the Kit&Kin range of nappies (from the UK) and luckily had family go there on holiday who could bring them back for me. I’m packing 2 packs (40 nappies in total) for our hospital stay. In case you’re wondering what I do with the packs of disposable nappies I get given (like for example the packs that come in the Dischem Baby Bag (click here to read about how to get your free baby bag) and the Mediclinic Baby Bag) I either donate them or re-gift them to friends. I do keep a couple on hand in my nappy bag for emergencies, but haven’t bought a disposable nappy for Everly in over a year!

As for wipes, I absolutely LOVE Pure Beginnings, and always to stock up on their wipes at the MamaMagic Baby Expo as they are always at a really good price. I also buy a pack here and there when I am in BabyCity or Dischem, as it hurts less to buy them gradually rather than all at once. The Pure Beginnings baby wipes are biodegradable (but please try not to flush them down your toilet…although the odd one won’t hurt, flushing wipes…even the ones that say ‘flushable’ can really wreck havoc on your drainage system! These wipes are so soft and gentle on the bum, and smell wonderful…I highly recommend them!

what to pack for baby for hospital citygirlsearching blog

Skincare

I really, really, really love all the Pure Beginnings baby products I’ve used. And I especially like their Probiotic range for newborns. I used the cream wash and the body cream on Everly until she was about 5 months old, and still use the cream wash every now and again. For hospital I”m packing their travel sized products (where I can) even though we know we will only bath baby once during our stay, choosing to only do this right before leaving the hospital. I think it’s so important that baby. You can read up yourself as to why some parents choose to delay their baby’s first bath, here is a nice article.

Here is what I’m packing in a little toiletry bag:

  • Baby Wax (Oh Lief) this was a sample from Everly’s baby shower, and I just love how smal and compact it is and it does a great job at moisturising dry patches.

  • Wecsin Powder (for the umbilical cord…this all natural antiseptic powder is AMAZING for wounds, and so much nicer than the Surgical spirits traditionally used…it’s also amazing to use on your Caesar scar).

  • Probiotic Baby Cream Wash (Pure Beginnings)

  • Massage Oil (Pure Beginnings) I’m not sure if we will even use this as I prefer to use the Pure Beginnings Sensitive range for the first few weeks at least, but I love this oil and want to have it on hand, just in case.

  • Bum Cream (Pure Beginnings) & a small tub of Sudocream

Something else you might want to pack is a pair of nail scissors. Lots of babies (especially if they arrive past their due date) have really long fingernails. I personally just used to bite Everly’s nails while feeding her (they are so soft and easy to bite) and although it sounds weird, I was too scared that I would hurt her with the scissors and found I was able to be far more careful with my teeth. I only started using nail scissors from about 6 months or so.

what to pack for baby for hospital citygirlsearching blog

Clothes

Eeeek this was really hard.

When Everly was born it was the beginning of September, and as the weather was more on the cool side, it was easier to pack for that than I’ve found now that I’m having a baby in the height of Summer. Hospitals are generally kept at a pretty standard temperature, but I’ve never been very good at gauging what I should dress Everly in. I have gone with what friends recommended, and that is long sleeve baby vests and long sleeve baby grows:

what+to+pack+for+baby+for+hospital+when+giving+birth+citygirlsearching+blog

I have also packed each outfit in it’s own ziplock bag to help keep things organised:

  • 3 x outfits consisting of long-sleeved vests with poppers, long sleeve long leg baby grow/onesie, socks) and beanie (not pictured)

  • 1 x going home outfit consisting of sleeveless vest, long sleeve top with poppers, footed leggings and a beanie

  • Extras: 2 long sleeve vests with poppers, footed leggings, socks, beanie

Long-sleeved white vests: Woolworthes

Socks: Woolworthes & H&M

Onesies: Next UK & Woolworthes

Going home outfit (green & cream): H&M

Goodness me I can’t get over the size difference between certain brands. The two mostly white onesies above were Everly’s, and came from Next in the UK. They are TEENY TINY compared to the Woolies (blue) onesie and the other newborn outfit from H&M (green and cream). On the other hand, the newborn sleeveless vests I bought for Everly just before she was born only fit her for about half a day as they were SO tiny. I ended up having to use scissors (I kid you not) to cut them off her. It does seem that Woolies has adjusted their sizes to be more appropriate these days.

what to pack for baby in hospital when giving birth citygirlsearching blog

Extra’s

I’ve also packed a dummy, a Blue NUK Silicone Size 0 Soother (part of the Blue & Rose collection). It comes in a set of two and also comes with a handy sterlizing/carry case to keep them clean. These are the same dummies Everly used, and the same brand she uses now. We didn’t ever have any problems with nipple confusion etc, and she took to a dummy pretty easily (thank goodness!)

I plan on breastfeeding, and so won’t be taking any bottles along with me, but you might choose to pack your own preference of bottles and teats. I was given a set of TommeeTippee Closer to Nature bottles for Everly’s baby shower, so I will have these on hand at home. We didn’t really do much bottle feeding with her, as I work from home and was around to feed her 99% of the time (click here to read more about our breastfeeding journey).

Sleep association/teddy/fluffy toy of some kind is also a nice extra to take with you. I won’t be packing one as I’d rather not worry about it getting lost in the nursery during our stay, and let’s be real, newborns are pretty much allllll about sleeping and feeding at this stage of their lives. Everly LOVES her Nattou Mini DouDou (you can buy these from Kids Emporium & Hamleys here in SA) but word of warning, whatever cuddly toy you choose for your baby (or whichever one they choose for themselves) make sure you rush out and buy a back up to have on hand for wash days/the times you forget it at Granny’s house ;)


There you have it, the items I’m packing in my hospital bag for my baby boy.

Here is a link to the post on what to pack for mommy (I have packed a bag for labor & a bag for recovery…just to help keep things organised and so hubby knows where everything I might possibly need is)…click here to read.

Please let me know if I’m leaving anything out, or of there’s something you wish you had packed. And as always, feel free leave any questions you may have in the comments below, I love hearing from you!

x

What's in my hospital bag - What to pack for mommy

what's in my hospital bag - what to pack for labor and recover after birth-01.png

The photo below shows what was in my hospital bag for when I gave birth to Everly in September 2017.

I wasn’t sure how hot or cold the hospital would be (although I was told to expect all sorts of ‘seasons’ even during my 3 day stay due to the aircon working/not working). I had Everly at Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg, and had my husband and doula present through the entire labor (it ended up being an awful long time….nearly 36 hours!) and unfortunately ended up in an emergency ceasar. I feel as though I pretty much experienced both types of births (i.e. went into labor and laboured naturally, with no pain meds and then had the recovery for an emergency caesar) and would like to share what I packed and found useful, as well as the things I will definitely be packing this second time around.

I’m now 35 weeks pregnant, and have been told it’s probably a good time to get all my bags together (you know, just in case things start happening earlier than expected). So whether you are hoping for a natural birth or planning on having an elective caesar, this post should give you a good idea of what to pack. I

What to pack for hospital.jpeg

Not everything I packed last time is pictured above, as I had two separate bags, one for labor and one for my stay in the maternity ward afterwards. It helped separating everything and not having to dig around in one huge bag, and it really helped Farmboy and my Doula find things when I wasn’t able to be very coherent. I’m also going to mention afterwards what I plan on packing this time around, so you will be able to see what I actually ended up using, what I wished I had, and what I would highly recommend packing in your bag.


What I’m packing this time around:

As I’m not sure how this birth will go (I’m planning on/hoping for a natural delivery and spontaneous labor) but have learned from my first birth to be prepared for everything. Because of this I’m going to make sure to pack for both a natural & a caesarian…what you would pack isn’t very different, but if you have a natural delivery you might only spend 2 nights in hospital, whereas a caesarian is generally a 3 night stay.

You still need ALL of those maternity pads (I thought you only needed them if you had a natural delivery!) and those mesh panties WILL become your new best friend.

I am also packing two bags again, one for labor and the other for the time I spend recovering in the maternity ward.


What I’m packing in my ‘recovery’ bag:

  • Feeding bras (I actually only ended up wearing one when I had visitors, and the rest of time was far more comfy without one). My favourite ones are the soft nursing bras from H&M. I also really like their nursing tops (strappy tops that have a built in bra that you can lower the straps down to breastfeed). These tops are amazing for layering under your clothes and give your tummy more support, while also making you feel less exposed when feeding.

  • Comfy Pyjamas: last time I packed about 4 different sets of cute pyjamas, and ended up wearing the same one. I packed long night dresses that buttoned up the front, but found the buttons to be a pain to keep having to do up. This time around I am packing one ‘nice’ sleep shirt that buttons up, a soft cotton/viscose nightie (these ones from Woolies are my favourite as they are easy to pull down to feed) and this top and bottoms from PerryWinkle…see below:

  • Breast-pads: Generally your milk only comes in around day 3 or 4, and before that your body is only producing colostrum and so you don’t generally need to worry about leaks. My milk came in when I got home, and from the very beginning I had a very forceful let down. What this means is your milk pretty much comes gushing out (of both sides) as opposed to it flowing in a slower, more manageable way for baby to be able to drink nicely. Often, women with a forceful let down have problems with baby having lots of wind as they are trying to drink as fast as the milk flows and end up gulping lots of air. There are lots of things you can do for a forceful let down (different feeding positions etc) and it’s generally considered a positive problem to have. But one of the effects of having such a strong letdown was a lot of leaking, and so went through boxes and boxes of breast-pads (the Pigeon ones were my favourite disposable ones, and the Biddykins Breast Pads were my favourite washable/re-useable pads). Having to wear breast-pads was always such a pain, and the worst was forgetting to pack a stash of them when leaving the house. I always make sure to keep a whole stash in the car for those ‘just in case’ moments.

  • Breastpump & Nipple Shileds: While it isn’t advised to start pumping before your milk supply has properly established (usually around 6 weeks) I highly recommend taking a pump with you to the hospital. I had a few moments when my boobs were so full and uncomfortable, and while I didn’t really know what I was doing with the pump, it did help relieve them a little. Ideally you would want to pop baby straight onto the boob rathe than pump, but Every was placed under the lights to treat her mild case of jaundice for a couple of hours a day, and so it was during that time on our last day in hospital that I found the pump really handy. All that I was able to pump was a teeny bit of colostrum, but it did help.

    What pump you buy is a very personal choice. I didn’t want to invest in a really expensive pump as I didn’t know how my breastfeeding journey would turn out. Personally, I would recommend buying a manual pump in the beginning, and then depending on how your breastfeeding journey goes, and if you have to go back to work, then perhaps you can invest in an automatic one if you find the manual one too time consuming/frustrating. I did pump quite a bit of milk and ended up building quite a large stash of milk in my freezer that I didn’t ever end up using. I donated my frozen stash to one of the Doula’s in the area who was helping a new mommy and her very prem baby. This was so special for me.

    The reason I didn’t end up using the stash I had so lovingly built up was because I work from home and so was always around to be able to feed Everly directly. When she got older and I did leave her with Granny, she didn’t every really take to a bottle (I didn’t force this issue because I realised I didn’t really need to and while it may have been nice and convenient to have hubby feed her, I really cherished our special time together). Once baby gets older they go longer and longer between feeds, and so you do end up being able to leave them for longer periods of time without needing to worry about feeding. In these instances it was me that ended up suffering more, as my boobs adjusted to not being ‘drained’ and so I made sure to pack my pump in the car with me just in case I needed to pump for my sake. This is another bonus of having a smaller, more compact manual pump as you can pop it in your bag for emergencies. I really liked the Avent Manual pump, but have heard from loads and loads of mums that the Clicks Manual pump is just as good and about half the price. I have also heard amazing things about the teeny tiny and compact silicone breast pump (you can buy this one online from Biddykins or Faithful To Nature.

    Before having Everly, I had no idea what a nipple shield was. It just sounded like some sort of weird kinky object, but now, after using them, I would recommend them 100% and strongly recommend friends pack them in their hospital bags for just in case. While a lot of the very ‘pro breastfeeding’ groups don’t recommend the use of them (they say they can cause nipple confusion and make your breastfeeding journey harder when it comes to weaning baby off them) I just feel that if they help you continue to breastfeed (even if they require effort to wean baby later on) they are 100% worth it. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, and doesn’t always come naturally to a lot of moms. I wrote a post on my own 13 month breastfeeding journey (click here to read it) and offer lots of tips and encouragement for new moms. I say pack a set of nipple shields in your hospital bag for just in case. You don’t have to use them by any means, but if you have them then at least you have the option if things get off to a difficult start with your little one.

  • Gown & slippers: definitely pack a comfy gown & slippers to wear while wondering around the hospital. Just bear in mind the time of the year (in Winter you might want to wear a fluffy gown and fluffy slippers vs Summer…although the hospital will be temperature controlled). As with all the clothes I packed for hospital, I washed everything in a baby friendly detergent. Newborns have such a sensitive sense of smell, their teeny little bodies haven’t had any time to adjust to their new life outside of your tummy, and so you want to try and ensure they aren’t going to get a rash/reaction to the smells on your clothes (the same goes for body washes, perfume etc). My favourite baby detergent is the W.LAB brand from Woolworths. I washed all of Everlys clothes in it until she turned a year (she only officially started crawling then and so before then her clothes didn’t really get very dirty) and after that started washing all her clothes and blankets in the same washing powder we use for everything else in our home (Ariel). You don’t have to use a baby washing detergent, it all depends on how reactive your baby’s skin is.

  • Pads & Panties: whether you have a natural or a caesarian birth, you will bleed (for up to 6 weeks postpartum) and so will need to have a stash of pads on hand. I am so thankful to my sister-in-law who told me about this, as I had no idea. Maternity pads are your best bet (the Carriwell and Dr White ones are great) and then I recommend having a smaller stash of regular pads for later on when the flow lightens up. You will be given a pack of pads to use during your hospital stay (I was also given a pack in my Dischem Baby Bag and in the Baby Bag given to me when I had Everly in hospital) but if you want to stock up, you can buy maternity pads at most pharmacies, and then Clicks and Dischem have a really good selection. You can also buy lots of the Carriwell range on Takealot. Then I have to mention the mesh panties…these bad boys will become your best friend! They are gently on your tummy (especially if you’ve had a caesarian) and are big and stretchy enough to be comfortable. They are basically designed to hold your maternity pad in place, and while they aren’t the most glamorous of things around, they are super comfy! They come in packs of two, and you can either throw them away after each use, of you can gently handwash/machine wash them and re-use. I gave them a good wash in the shower between uses and then they dried really fast as they really are just a soft mesh material.

  • Pillow, extra pillow cases, a couple of dark coloured face cloths & 3-ply toilet paper: I really, really, really loved having my own feather pillow in hospital. If you do pack your own pillow, make sure to pack an extra pillow case (it’s so nice to put a clean and fresh one on) make sure they are brightly coloured so you don’t loose it during your stay. Dark facecloths are so you can freshen up nicely in your first few showers postpartum (you won’t want to use a white facecloth during that time, trust me!) and then my absolute MUST PACK is soft toilet paper. Maybe it’s just me, but having something soft to use when on the loo felt like a HUGE luxury after my long labor. My mom was the one who thoughtfully brought me a small pack of 3 ply paper for my stay. Needless to say it’s not something I would have thought about before hand, but it makes such a difference to use that instead of the horrible and scratchy 1-ply that is usually in the hospital loos.

  • Snacks: while you will get a good 3 meals a day during your stay (as well as tea/coffee mid morning and afternoon…gosh those first few cups of tea were heaven sent!) I was hungry ALL of the time, and often just wanted something handy to snack on and drink. I really enjoyed those small juice boxes from Woolworths, home baked bran and raisin muffins, biltong, nuts and those yummy oat bars from Nature Valley. I made sure to stock up on all these things for home (we stay about 1.5 hours from the nearest grocery store) but while in hospital, it was easy for hubby to pop out and grab me snacks and drinks during my stay.

  • Comfy going home outfit: I packed one of my Cherry Melon maternity dresses to wear for the car ride home as it was loose fitting and nice & cool. Bear in mind you will (probably) still have a tummy for the next good while (I read somewhere that you still end up looking about 4-5 months pregnant after baby) and so I knew I wouldn’t want to wear anything tight. If you have had a caesarian, you will especially not want to wear anything that is tight on your scar. A dress was really comfy.

  • Toiletries & Makeup:

    • wet wipes: my absolute favorite are the Garnier Skin Active Micellar Oil Infused Cleansing Wipes as they are super soft, gently, smell amazing and leave my skin feeling wonderfully soft and moisturised) .

    • Face Cleanser, Cream & Tonic from Skin Creamery. Their all natural & organic range of facial products smell amazing, and are really gentle on the skin. I love that they contain no nasty additives and leave your skin feeling wonderful. Just what every new mom needs. I also use the Oil-Milk cleanser & Everyday cream on my body.

    • Shampoo & Conditioner

    • Concealer/BB cream, Pressed Powder, Blus, Lip balm & Mascara: just a few of my favourite makeup products so I feel a little more like myself, especially for photos during my hospital stay.


What I’m packing in my labor bag:

  • 2 Big fluffy towels: during my labor with Everly, I was in and out of the hot shower constantly. The hot water really helped with the contractions, and I really didn’t enjoy using a wet towel every time I came out the shower. The hospital did supply one towel, but I really liked having my own.

  • 2 gowns: I wore one gown while things were ‘easier’ in the beginning of labor (this is the same pink gown I had packed and used for my stay in the maternity ward), and then really liked having my fluffy gown on hand to use in between showering. It also was the only thing comfortable enough to wear that actually made me feel covered up, and at the same time was easy to take on and off when needed.

  • Slippers: I packed one pair of slippers that I had in my labor bag, and then used those same ones once I was in the maternity ward later.

  • Dark coloured face cloths: these were absolutely essential during labor, and my Doula used two for cooling me off and keeping me comfortable when things got tough later on in labor.

  • Snacks: I didn’t want to eat much while in labor, but devoured a whole bag of Woolworth’s soft gummy sweets. I also enjoyed being able to drink apple juice in the beginning, but later on only wanted to suck on ice chips and drink water. Having some of your favourite snacks and drinks on hand (this is hospital dependant and not always allowed especially if you have an elective caesar booked but pack them anyway, you’ll get to eat them afterwards in any case).

  • Music: having something to listen to when things really started heating up was essential. It helped me to stay relatively ‘out of my body’ and focus on my breathing. Make sure you pack your charger for your phone/ipod and that you have comfy headphones too.

  • Nice smelling candle: this was another MUST have for me. I had a very special candle from South Korea which I just love and always makes me feel nice and calm when lit. Some ladies prefer some essential oils for massage or their favourite hand cream.

  • Toiletries: I’ll have my toiletry bag with me during labor with everything packed as specified above. As I was in and out of the shower, it felt great to be able to put cream on every now and again, and to use face wipes as the time went on.


There you have a full run down of what’s going into my hospital bags this time around. It’s on my To Do list to make a video of the above, and if I get around to it I’ll post it below. I am also writing a post on what to pack for baby next, so keep an eye on the blog for that. I’ll link it below when it’s up.

Please feel free to leave me a comment below if you have any questions or comments, I love hearing from you! Also, let me know if I’m leaving anything out!

x

34 Weeks pregnant with Baby#2 & an update on my hopes for a VBAC

34+Weeks+with+Pregnancy+%232+and+my+VBAC+dreams-01.jpg

Well, this pregnancy sure has flown by, and yet in some ways it feels like I have been pregnant for forever. And what they say about your second pregnancy being a bit of a blur, is completely true! I’m doing my best to capture this pregnancy, and to keep up Baby Boy’s journal ( bough both Everly’s and BabyBoys journals from Typo!), but there are only so many hours in a day and when most of them are spent running after a busy toddler, it doesn’t leave much time to daydream about what life is going to be like when he arrives. In some ways I’m almost glad, as the moments I do have to sit and wonder about what life will be like, I’m left pretty much terrified (in a good kind of way haha). I have zero idea of what life is going to be like with two under two, and as Everly isn’t walking yet (she’s 16 months old now and although she’s cruising along everywhere, pulling herself up on everything, pushing her trolley around everywhere & has taken quite a few steps on her own…she is still not officially walking). While I’m not worried about this from a developmental point of view (I mean, she only started crawling just after her first birthday) it’s more of a worry for me as she is so darn heavy and I’ve already got nearly 20kg’s of baby weight on my front…and so picking up another 12 - 15kg’s in the form of a squirming toddler is not my idea of fun. I’m not up for that kind of cross fit session every time we have to go anywhere ;)

She’ll get there eventually, I just hope it’s before her brother is due to arrive in +-6 weeks time!


Today I wanted to share a bit more about my hopes & dreams for a VBAC.

A VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarian…aka a natural birth after a caesar) has been my dream ever since Everly was born via emergency c-section in September 2017. I do plan on sharing her birth story (if anyone is interested in that) but to sum it up I went into labor naturally, and after 36 hours of unmedicated labor, my cervix started hardening (I was already 7cm dilated) but she just wasn’t progressing any further. I have a lot of ‘what ifs’ and ‘If onlys’ but after that amount of time, as well as my doctor and the nurses worrying about her being in distress (not to mention how exhausted I was) and so I was rushed off to theatre and my little girl was born a mere 30 minutes later. It wasn’t what I had planned, but she was born healthy & safe, and even though it was not the sort of birth I had hoped for, I don’t feel any remorse about it. I just feel a lot of determination that it will go differently this time.

IMG_0027_2.jpg

In saying that, I have come a long way in the past 7 & a half months with regards to my mindset and I’ve realised that what is most important for me, is just to go into labor naturally. I want my baby to choose his own birthday, to be ready to join the world, and for my body to be ready too. I’ve realised that in some ways a Caesar is ‘nicer’ if I can put it that way (no tearing/cutting, a longer stay in the hotel ahem I mean hospital) but the recovery time is much longer than a natural birth, and trying to recover from a second c-section, feed and care for a newborn AND look after a busy toddler is not going to be easy.

VBAC’s in South Africa

Just a little note…these are my own thoughts & perceptions from months and months of research & spending time chatting to care providers and other moms, I am in no way bashing the health system here, but rather sharing my own personal views.

South Africa, in general, is not very VBAC friendly. Most gynaes are not very keen on the idea (I say most, because up until recently I didn’t even know that it was an option to try for a natural birth after having a ceasar as it’s not something the majority of gynaes support). I am generalising, as there are some incredible VBAC pro gynaes out there, but they are few and far between, and there are lots of reasons for this.

First of all, most gynaes will tell you that the biggest risk of a VBAC is your uterus rupturing. While there is a chance of this happening, the actual statistics are soooooo tiny (it’s less than 1%), and there is only a slightly lower risk of this happening even with a regular, first time vaginal birth. Anyway, this post is not supposed to be a rant on gynaes and their choices to avoid ‘risk’, but rather to share my feeling and decisions in wanting to pursue a VBAC.

There are also lots of factors that affect a positive outcome for a VBAC, and a lot has to do with the reasons why you may have had to have a Caesarian in the first place, as well as the type of scar you have (these days its most common for a Low Transverse Incisions to be done…this is from the top left and across). If you had an elective caesar the first time around, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to birth naturally. If, like me, you had an emergency caesar, it can change things a bit as your doctor would worry about whatever happened to prevent a natural delivery the first time, happening again.

If you are wanting to explore the option of a VBAC further, I would HIGHLY recommend joining the VBAC in South Africa facebook group. There are loads of wonderful ladies in that group sharing their experiences, their VBAC successes and failures, as well as LOADS of information of VBAC’s here in SA.

Did you know that Government hospitals will push for a VBAC due to the immense cost & labour (ie staff required) of caesarians, preferring for the mom to rather attempt a natural delivery than have a repeat caesarian. This really should highlight just how normal the idea of a natural delivery after a c-section is.

Here in South Africa, most gyna’es have a very strict tick box list for a VBAC in hospital (these may vary slightly, and some gynaes may differ/be open to changes but these are the general guidelines:

  • Baby must weigh 3.5kg’s or less at birth

  • You must go into spontaneous labor (ie your body has to go into labor naturally) by 38/39/40 weeks

  • Labor has to progress by 1cm an hour

  • There should be at lest a 2 year gap between your last birth and your current due date

From what I have read and from the many, many ladies I have spoken to about this, the highest chance of a successful VBAC is to have a home birth with a midwife & a doula. While I love the idea of a home birth, I’m not sure it would be something I would actually pursue, and the fact that I live 1.5 hours from the nearest hospital basically rules out that option, especially for a VBAC, when most midwives wouldn’t attempt a home birth for a VBAC as if things do go wrong, you need to be able to get to a hospital as fast as possible.

Your second best chance for a successful VBAC is a hospital birth, but with a midwife as your primary caregiver, and a Gynae as backup. This is a tricky one, and unless you really strike it lucky with a Gynae who agrees to be ‘on stand by should things go wrong’ it’s not easy to make happen. It’s different if you live in Joburg or Cape Town, as then you have the option of a clinic like Genesis, which is midwife led, and whose whole focus is on a natural delivery. I visited Genesis in Joburg for my second trimester abnormally scan, and it was just the most incredible place. I even considered moving in with my family in Joburg for the last few months of my pregnancy, just so I could give birth there…but then came to my senses when I had to ask myself if would really be happy being away from my husband for those months, and also would he be happy to be away from me and his little girl during that time.

Third option, and the one I have had to settle for due to my own personal circumstances (basically, the fact that I live out in the middle of nowhere!) is to have a hospital birth with a VBAC pro gynae. There are not a lot of options for VBAC pro gynaes in Pietermaritzburg, and in my months of research, have realised there is a big difference between a VBAC pro gynae and a VBAC friendly gynae. A VBAC friendly gynae is open to the idea, but they are far more risk adverse than a VBAC pro gynae, and the chances of a successful VBAC are much lower. Anyway, beggars can’t be choosers, and I have found a VBAC friendly gynae (she was the gynae who actually delivered Everly as my doctor just so happened to be overseas when I went into labor) and so as she actually did my surgery, I decided to go with her for my second pregnancy. She was very blunt with me in the beginning, not saying no to a VBAC, but not being very hopeful either. She just told me we would have to see how my pregnancy progressed, and gave her strict list of labor protocol. I left every check up with her ( up until about 28 weeks) feeling despondent, and not at all hopeful for my VBAC. I even considered changing gynaes several times…I just wanted someone to give me the chance and to be encouraging and positive about a VBAC. I wasn’t looking for anyone to make any promises to me (after all…I have first hand experience of how things can change during labor) but she was very honest and pragmatic about the whole thing, and I really respect her for this now. She didn’t want to give me an false hope, and I’ve realised it’s not her job to feed into my birthing fantasy, when she knows there is no actual way to know what will happen during your pregnancy, never mind during the actual birth.

I think the guidelines above make it pretty much impossible (if followed 100%) to have a VBAC. First of all, the weight scans during check ups are estimates…Everly was estimated to be 3.5kg’s at birth and was born at 3.085. Not many women (generally speaking) actually go into labor naturally before 40 weeks…many are induced (something that is not recommended for a VBAC as labor can progress very quickly once induction has taken place, and this places a greater stress on your scar tissue. For labor to progress by 1cm an hour is pretty much ideal textbook stuff, and not likely that most women’s bodies would follow this ideal. The age gap stated is to give your body and scar an adequate amount of time to heal, but some women heal faster than others, some scars heal better than others, and so this is a very hard guideline to follow. I have heard most midwives prefer an 18 month gap, and no less. But then again, there are always exceptions and I have read about amazing mommies who have had successful VBAC’s with a 11/12/13 month gap. My gap will be about 17.5 months if baby arrives at 40 weeks.

It was at my 28 week scan when my Gynae told me that although she does elective caesars at 38 weeks, she was willing to make an exception and allow me to go to 39 weeks for spontaneous labor. I was happy to compromise on this, and considering Everly arrived at 38 weeks (and apparently second time labor is likely to be early too) I felt confident that my labor would begin before then. If not, I agreed to set a date for my repeat caesar. I have just gotten back from my 33 week check up, and Doctor was very happy with how things are looking and has told me, that as long as everything is else is in order (ie no complications, baby is in the right position etc) she is happy to let me go to 40 weeks. I am delighted with the news! So, according to my original due date, I’ve got until the 22nd Feb to go into labor naturally. I will be doing ALL the things to try and ensure this happens, but as I mentioned above, I am far more at peace with a repeat ceasar that I was before and now will just have to wait and see what happens in the next 6 weeks.

I’ve got my wonderful Doula, Clare, at the ready (Clare was by my side through my entire labor with Everly and I know I would not have been able to make it as far as I did without her) and was one of the first people I told I was pregnant this second time, and told her to make sure she had a note in her diary for mid/end Feb! All that I can do now is wait, stay healthy, keep active (do my kegels, bounce on my Pilates ball) and be patient.


If you’re still following along after the above very long VBAC related discussion, here are some more general thoughts and feelings on how the last 10 weeks of my second pregnancy have been. Click here to read my first post on how this second pregnancy has been.

My Body

Following on from the tummy comparison I shared above, here is a comparison of me at 33 weeks with Everly (on the right) and now with BabyBoy (pictured left).

I am also absolutely amazing at how different women gain weight in their pregnancies. I gained 18kg’s with Everly, and am already at the 18kg mark now with BabyBoy and I still have +-6 weeks to go. I was lucky in that I lost all (and then some) of my pregnancy weight within about 8 months (thanks to breastfeeding and following our regular low carb lifestyle). It’s still rather shocking when you think that baby only weighs, in my case, about +-3-3.5kgs…where does the rest of the weight come from!? I do like to remind my pregnant friends not to worry about their weight gain during or after pregnancy, because you just never know what your body is going to do, or how it will respond afterwards. Rather worry about getting back into shape once you and your baby have had a good chance to get to know each other. Don’t let it consume your thoughts, your body goes through an incredible transformation, and we need to be kinder to ourselves.

My skin started clearing up around the 6 month mark (thank goodness!) but I’ve still got cracked heels (apparantly this is from the weight gain). I’ve been lucky enough not to get any stretch marks again (holding thumbs it stays this way for the rest of my pregnancy) but have been religious with lathering BioOil on after each and every shower.

I am sleeping better, but it doesn’t help that I’m awake at 04:30 every morning when Farmboy goes to work, but I usually wake up that time to go to the loo. I have also had less round ligament pain this time, but I think that’s only because I now know to sleep with 4 pillows (one at my back, one at my tummy, one between my legs and one for my head!).

This boy is SOOOO active compared to Everly. I barely felt Everly kick, and every time she did it would be a wonderful little surprise. This guy hardly ever keeps still! He has hiccups none-stop, pushes and prods me with his legs/arms/bum and uses my poor organs as punching bags regularly. I’m hoping this is’t a sign of things to come, as Everly was the most contented baby & toddler, happy to sit around and play with her books and toys by herself for ages. I have a feeling this little guy is going to be a real busy body…who knows, maybe he will be walking before his sister haha #ImOnlyHalfJoking.

My Mind

Gosh, it’s still not real that a second little human is going to be joining our family soon. And to be very honest, I haven’t given it too much thought as my days revolve around Everly. We also moved house at the end of November (this was incredibly hectic!) and so most of the past 2 months have been spent sorting and organizing our home. Having said all of that, I am SLOWLY adjusting to the idea of being a boy mom (although I’m really struggling to come to grips with all the blue!) but I am excited and I just know Everly is going to adore her little play thing ahem, I mean brother.

IMG_0171.jpg

Everly

Thanks to the advice of lots of friend and family, we bought Everly a little doll and gave it to her a little while ago. Oh my goodness if this hasn’t just been her absolute favourite thing in the whole world. She calls it her Baba (she has stopped referring to everything under the sun as ‘Baba’) and now the only Baba’s she talks about are her doll, and my tummy. She will often sporadically point at my tummy and say ‘baba’ and loves to lift my shirt up to see my tummy, after which she will give it a little cuddle (or rather a headbut sort of thing which is her version of a cuddle) and then carefully pull my top back down again. It’s the cutest thing!

Her little doll came with a magnetic dummy (genius!) and is just the right size for her. I found it at PicknPay after hours of looking around all the shops and feeling totally overwhelmed by the sheer variety of dolls. So many of them were really plasticky looking, and I wanted something simple…and small enough for her to carry herself. I have also been absolutely amazed by how she has started caring for her baby. She insists on wrapping her in a little blanket (I never showed her how to do this!) and will often share her milk with it, and puts the dummy in and cuddles it while giving it bum pats. I’m amazed at her natural mothering instinct.

Do you have any tips for introducing a young toddler (Everly will be about 17 months old when her brother arrives) to their new baby sibling? Friends have suggested getting her a special present that comes especially from her brother, which I love the idea of (any ideas of things that would make good presents for her?). I’d also love to hear any tips you may have for the actual first introduction, as I have no idea if there is a ‘best way’ to go about it.

Everly is still in her cot, but we plan on taking down the sides of it this week to convert it into a toddler bed, and are holding thumbs the transition won’t be too hard on her.

Ideally she will be sleeping in the single bed that’s in her room now by the time BabyBoy is here. But we aren’t going to rush that just yet, as he won’t need the cot for a good while still.

The Nursery

While BabyBoy is going to be using most of Everly’s nursery furniture (compactum, feeding chair, bassinet) there are a few things I’m changing, the first being the general ‘theme’ of his room. We are doing a constellation theme, and as I have really struggled to find beautiful decor items that match our theme so far, I’ve been in touch with the lovely ladies behind Riley & Fox Bespoke Nursery Linen and have had some custom linen items made just for him.

Here are some photos of how the nursery is looking so far, and of course Everly has had a ball ‘helping’ me get his room ready:

Still to be added:

  • the family bassinet

  • custom prints on the wall next to the compactum

  • floating shelf of some kind in place of the bookshelf

  • a nightlight (we used and still use a beautiful pink Rose Quartz lamp in Everly’s room) and I’m planning on getting a white salt lamp that will also give off a lovely soft glow

  • and when he gets a little older, he will go into Everly’s cot (although I haven’t quite figured out where the cot will go in the room as right now there really isn’t any space. There’s still lots of time to worry about that though, and we might take the bed out when the time comes for him to go in the cot, and put the cot where the bed is now

What I AM sorted with though is all his cloth nappies! While I did try to buy mostly gender neutral nappies with Everly, I have gotten a little carried away with boy prints this time around and have a beautiful stash of both newborn and OSFM (One Size Fits Most) nappies for when he gets a bit older. I’ll share more on his nappies in another post soon.

IMG_0172_2.jpg

I hope you enjoyed this update.

Thanks for following along! Feel free to ask me anything/leave a comment below, I love hearing from you.

x

6 months in with Pregnancy #2 and what has been different this time around

my second pregnancy 6 months in and what has been different this time around-01.png

Today marks the 24th week (or 6 month mark) of my second pregnancy, and I thought I’d share a post on what has and hasn’t been different this time around.

The first, very obvious thing for my loyal blog readers, will be the fact that I documented my first pregnancy (click here to read those posts) quite a lot, sharing every month or so, what was going on with my body and how I was preparing. This time around my time is spent running after Everly, long gone are the days of lying in bed, watching series, and day dreaming of what life would be like when she arrived. Now it’s all hands on deck making sure she doesn’t get into too much trouble and she beetles around the house. Because of this, I have still tried hard to capture this pregnancy with photographs, and with my baby journal, as I would be heartbroken if he (yup! we are having a little boy) grows up and is feels left out of the whole memory capturing process. So although it takes a bit more effort to remind myself to photograph my growing belly, I am still making the time to do so.

My body

Well…the saying that your body is like a balloon after having a baby is 100% true. It blows up a whole lot faster the second time (as it has already stretched once before!) and I am MUCH bigger this time and my belly popped out a lot sooner that it did with Evs. This makes sense, I guess, but still leaves me feeling a bit nervous for what I’m going to look and feel like closer to the end.

Here’s a little size comparison between 22 weeks with Everly, and 22 weeks with #2:

My skin has also been a lot worse this time around, and this may have to do with the fact that I am carrying a boy this time around, but who really knows. Each pregnancy, just like each baby, is so unique, but I really only battled with a few pimples until about the 10 week mark with Everly, and this time my skin is only going back to normal now, 24 weeks in. It is also a different time of the year so there is that to consider too (I was mostly pregnant through Winter with Everly, and this little guy is due in Feb…so basically a peak Summer pregnancy…you’ll find me in the pool whaling around from here on out!).

I also seem to have picked up weight a lot faster too. I put on nearly 20kg’s with Everly (that’s a WHOLE lot of extra weight on my usual 52kg frame) and I’m already on the 12kg mark with another 3 or so months to go. It always boggled my mind that baby ends up weighing +-3kg’s so where does the other 17kg’s come from! Anyway, I was delighted to be back at my pre-baby weight within a few short months after Everly (mainly due to breastfeeding and following a semi low-carb high fat way of eating) and I’m hoping my body will do the same this time around.

What I am struggling with at the moment is picking up and carrying Everly around. She’s only 14 months old and not walking on her own yet….although considering she only started crawling at around the 12 month mark it might still be a while…and this means I need to pick her up and carry her everywhere. She weighs about 12kg’s, and my poor body is struggling with that and the baby bump to haul around. But, I guess it’s keeping me relatively fit so I should be thankful.

Photography by  Dillon Kin Photography

Photography by Dillon Kin Photography

My Mind

As this pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, it took a while to wrap my head around the fact that another little bundle would be joining our family. A lot of people I’ve spoken to have shared the same worries as I have, and have even gone so far as to say that didn’t bond much with their growing bump throughout the whole pregnancy. While I definitely felt like that in the beginning, as I’ve gotten bigger and felt him move and kick, I’ve definitely grown closer to him and am really starting to look forward to him being here. At the same time I’m still absolutely terrified with how I’m going to manage the 17 month age gap, but there ain’t no going back now and I guess no matter the age gap the adjustment is always a hard one in the beginning. I think Everly is going to LOVE having a sibling, and the nice thing about the small age gap is the fact that she probably won’t ever remember her life before her little brother. I hope this helps them grow closer together and that they don’t end up spending each second of the day fighting.

On that note, if you have any tips for adjusting to two-under-two please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear from other mommies who have/are navigating the same waters. I have been told that it’s super helpful to try and get them on the same schedule/routine as quickly as possible, so that they are both napping at the same time (that’s the idea anyway) and so that leaves mom with a bit of breathing space amongst the chaos. I also wonder how Everly will cope with me feeding her bother, and whether she’ll have any regressions on that front. She didn’t even bat an eyelid when I weaned her at just over a year, and she didn’t fuss for the boob at all. Hoping this means it won’t even phase her in the slightest, but who knows how they will react when the time comes.

Everly

A lot of friends and family have asked me whether Every is aware of what’s going on. I don’t think she really has any idea and although she uses the word Baba all the time, this has come to mean the dog, the chickens, the sky, my belly button and about a million other things. I think maybe closer to the time she might start to have more of an idea of what’s going on, but right now she’s very content playing with ALL her baba’s :)

What is going to also have to change very soon for her will be her bed. We haven’t quite decided what the next best thing is for her, but as her baby brother will be needing the cot relatively soon after he is here (although we do plan on using the family bassinet for the first couple of months) we will need to think carefully. I have been toying with the idea of turning her room into a Monessori style room, with a mattress on the floor. This is great in that we don’t need to worry about her falling out as she would just sort of roll onto the floor and I would put carpets underneath the bed. But this would mean she would be free to move/get out of bed when she wants to. I really like the idea of her having the freedom to get up when she wakes up and encourage her independence, but this could also have the opposite effect and mean she just won’t sleep because she can play with her toys whenever she wants to. So we will see what happen a little closer to the time and see how she manages in her cot once we’ve taken the sides down and converted it in the toddler bed it is designed to be.


I hope you enjoyed this life update!

Thanks for following along.

x

Someone's going to be a big sister! Baby#2 Arriving February 2019

I am officially 14 weeks pregnant with Everly's little brother/sister, and thought it high time I start documenting this pregnancy before it's all over. Gosh it's VERY different with a second pregnancy, and I am determined to not let time slip by without at least attempting to do everything I did while pregnant with Everly. I'm pretty sure this is not going to be easy, as life with an-almost-toddler is pretty crazy, and some days I feel as though all I've accomplished is keeping my child fed and watered...like a good plant haha. But even if that's all I have been able to do, I still give myself a pat on the back, because let's face it fellow moms...no one else is going to!

So, let me start at the very beginning.

Everly 11 Months Chakas (37 of 38).jpg

I had an inkling that I was pregnant about 10 weeks ago (just like I did with Everly...click here to read more about the start of that pregnancy). Again, just the same as what happened with Evs, I took pregnancy test after pregnancy test, because I just 'had a feeling' and all 5 of them came back negative. Then I waited a few more days, took one last one (well, I actually did another 3 after this next one came back positive) and there was no denying the double line. This was just before the Creighton Aloe Festival, where I was going to be setting up and selling Gin cocktails...needless to say I was unable to actually sample any of my exciting homemade cordial concoctions and had to rely on the repeat customers and cheesy gin smiles as the day progressed to know that they were indeed good!

My mom came to visit from Joburg, mainly to babysit Everly while Farmboy and I worked our little bums off day and night at the Aloe Festival...me doing Gin and setting up the stalls etc and Farmboy who worked many a late night smoking enough pulled pork to feed 1000 people! My mom arrived armed with a ClearBlue Week Calculator pregnancy test and, thank goodness no morning sickness had hit me yet, as I was surrounded by meaty smells and alcohol! The test maxes out at 3-5 weeks so I knew that, 1. I was definitely pregnant, and 2. that I was about 3 -5 weeks pregnant. 

I decided pretty early on that I wasn't going to go for as many scans as my first pregnancy, and only popped into a GP with a very old scan machine to do a very basic check up. She struggled to find baby, and eventually found a little blob and a which was a bit of a dissapointment to be honest. She thought I was actually not as far along as I had thought, but still, it was nice to get a visual confirmation and see the strong and healthy heartbeat.

From about weeks 6 - 10 I had terrible morning sickness, something I didn't have at all with Everly (could this be a sign that this little bundle is a boy???) and I've also had all the same symptoms as before...spots on my back, dry and cracked heels, having to go to the bathroom CONSTANTLY, and feeling incredibly tired around weeks 6 - 8. My tummy also POPPED around week 10. I have done very little exercise (I'm going to blame those weeks of nausea but in reality, now that i feel back to my old self, I've just been plain old lazy). I am determined to get back to Pilates, and keep up with walks around the farm. I have also not been very good about drinking water, and have been AWFUL with snacks and junk food (again, I want to blame those weeks of nausea but in reality I know I've just been lazy to cook healthy meals) but I am suffering because of it and it's not fair on the little growing life inside of me. As of tomorrow it's back to low carb/Banting (mostly) and no more sugary drinks!

This week I went along to a Gynae for my first official scan and check up. Baby is doing well and was so lively on the scan, waving his/her hands about and kicking up a storm. She estimated my delivery date to be the 22nd February, but if I end up having a cesar (I am hoping to be able to make my VBAC *vaginal birth after cesarian* dreams come true as I ended up having an emergency cesar with Everly, after a VERY long 40 hours of labor...blog post to come on my birth story soon) then baby will be here around the 8th Feb. I went into labor at 37+6 days and Everly was born exactly on the 38th week. So, this new little one may also arrive early.

Everly 11 Months Chakas (9 of 38).jpg

Finding out that I was indeed pregnant, was a HUGE shock for both Farmboy and myself. While we both wanted more kids (and the fact that I wasn't on any form of contraceptive....mostly because I didn't want to put my body through any more doses of hormones after being on the Pill for 15 years before Everly). It's just that we hadn't planned for their to be such a short gap in-between our little ones, or that I would fall pregnant so quickly. I am in no ways complaining, it's a 'hashtag' blessing (sorry, I couldn't hep myself with that '#' considering how it gets bandied about these days) to be able to fall pregnant without any complications and I am in awe of what a woman's body is able do...carry and grow a life...but at the same time, I was filled with so many mixed emotions. Just before I found out I was pregnant, I was feeling fantastic, I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight (and then some!) and was just feeling so healthy! I was just getting used to my body again, feeling strong. This definitely contributed to the feelings of shock.

Another reason for the shocked emotions was because up until that time I was still breastfeeding Everly, like, a lot! I was feeding her 4-5 times a day, and while I have always known that breastfeeding is definitely not a hard and fast form of contraception, it is more on the unusual side to fall pregnant when feeding so frequently. I only had one period (when Everly was about 7/8 months old) and then I guess the next month I fell pregnant. I think around the 7 month mark I had dropped her night/early morning feed and so my body must have started getting ready to make more babies. In case you're still wondering, I am still breastfeeding Everly, but am slowly weaning. She has had absolutely no issue with dropping feeds so far (since a week ago I now only feed her twice a day, when she wakes up in the morning, and when she goes to bed at night). I had initially planned to breastfeed until a year (she will be a year in just under 2 weeks time!!!) but I've loved our journey so far (click here to read our breastfeeding story), and if I wasn't currently pregnant, I would probably carry on until she decided she had had enough. I still seem to have enough milk for her, but she eats her solids really well and has even continued to sleep through on the od occasion I haven't been around to feed her at bedtime, so I know she probably isn't needing the feeds much anymore. I know that its going to be a very bittersweet moment when I give her her last feed, but at the same time, I would like a few months of my boobs back before the next little one is here and I am back to being the in-house dairy cow :)

Everly 11 Months Chakas (8 of 38).jpg

I also had a lot of up and downs in the very beginning, mostly because I felt like 'I already have a baby' and Everly really was just a baby at that time. And she is still pretty much going to be a baby (in my eyes at least) when her little sibling is born. But I am encouraged by all the moms I know who take the small age gap in their stride. And it's happening either way, whether I am mentally prepared or not! I'm just going to have to roll with the punches, I mean nappies (because boy oh boy are there going to be a lot of them! Although we are hoping Everly will have started potty training by them...she has been in cloth nappies since the very beginning and from what I have read, it seems cloth nappies really help with potty training...we will have to wait and see!).

You can read more about my first pregnancy, as well as all my pregnancy posts by scrolling through the images below (just click and you will be taken to the full post). I'm hoping to make some more videos like I did for my first pregnancy, so please do keep me accountable for those!

As always, thanks for following along.

x