Information Sources: Pre-Pregnancy to Introducing Solids

July 30, 2012

Here’s a list of the resources I found most helpful from pre-pregnancy to introducing solids.  It’s broken down into the “waves” of reading I did/am doing.  I read lots of other books, but these are the ones that were key for me.  Also, some of them are good resources or skimable.  You don’t actually have to read them cover to cover with a highlighter in hand.

Do I actually want to be pregnant/give birth or will we adopt?

See this previous post.

I’m pregnant.  What is happening?

I found out I was having twins pretty early on, so I read the books below to learn about twin pregnancy, but if you didn’t do research ahead of time to make sure you wanted to be pregnant and give birth, see books referenced above.

Yikes.  We’re having twins!

  1. When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein– #1 tip, gain as much weight as possible as soon as you can and drink at least 100 oz of water a day.
  2. Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada – See below.

The following are non-essential, but quick, skimable reads with helpful tidbits:

  1. Twins!: Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Life by Connie Agnew, Alan Klein, Jill Alison Ganon
  2. Double Duty: The Parents’ Guide to Raising Twins, from Pregnancy Through the School Years by Christina Baglivi Tinglof
  3. It’s Twins: Parent to Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence by Susan M. Heim
  4. Twins 101: 50 Must-Have Tips for Pregnancy Through Early Childhood from Doctor M.O.M. by Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin
  5. Twin Sense: A Sanity-Saving Guide to Raising Twins — From Pregnancy Through the First Year by Dagmara Scalise

If nursing is natural and best for my baby, why is it so hard?

  1. The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins – This is a good resource when you’re nursing and are trying to problem solve or self diagnose
  2. Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada – I recommend every mom of multiples put a copy of this in her hospital bag just in case her babies are born early, she has a c-section, or experiences any complication that impacts milk production.  I didn’t have it and wish I had.

What about the other “fun” stuff?

  1. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth – You don’t actually need to read this book other than the two or three pages on which he describes how to do sleep training.  The graduated extinction method described here is what worked for us, but I think sleep training is an area where you have to pick the method, including no sleep training, that suits your family.
  2. Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods – and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett – We haven’t started feeding our babies solids yet, but we plan to use this method and I know a handful of parents who do this and love it.  The book is a quick read and handy resource.  Who knows if it will help my babies avoid the we-will-only-eat-french-fries stage, but for ease of introducing foods and maximum cuteness, it can’t be beat and makes a lot of sense.

I’m not a tiger mom, but I want my child to be a well adjusted genius.  What do I need to know?

  1. The Wonder Weeks: How to stimulate your baby’s mental development and help him turn his 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward by Hetty van de Rijt – An easy to read, very straightforward summary of what to expect during growth spurts.  You can skip all the quotes from other parents.
  2. Your Baby’s First Year by the American Academy of Pediatrics – Another very straightforward summary of what to expect during your baby’s first year.  My pediatrician recommended this and it’s been a useful resource.
  3. Gymboree – The Parent’s Guide to Play by Wendy S. Masi and Roni Cohen Leiderman (or any gymboree book)
  4. Rockabye Baby Lullaby CDs – These are so much more bearable than many lullaby CDs out there.

A note on moms’ groups

I attended a moms of multiples support group that I loved for three reasons: 1) it forced me to leave my house, which is not so easy with two babies, 2) I could get advice specific to twins, and 3) I met cool, new people I can imagine being friends with for a long time.  So, if joining a moms’ group will do these things for you, join one!  That said, I think if I just had one baby, I’d probably just hang out with my friends who have babies.

I also feel very fortunate that I have twins because my local moms of multiples club listserv is invaluable.  Since there are parents on the listserv who have twins of all different ages, you can better prepare for things that will arise in the future and also get advice from people who are months or years ahead of you.  So, for example, if you have questions about sleep training, you hear the details of how to do it from people who just did it recently and also hear from people who did it a couple years ago and can reflect on how it’s impacted their kids’ later sleep habits and what they wish they had known or done differently.  If you don’t have twins, I think online forums are a good option, but they feel more impersonal since you’re communicating with people you’ll never meet.

Happy reading!

The Real Deal: Helpful Labor and Recovery Tips from Moms Who’ve Been There

February 21, 2012

As my partner and I have been preparing for labor and recovery, I’ve been talking to a lot of friends with babies and have realized that most books and even childbirth classes don’t tell you about the gory details of what it’s really like. 

Since I want to know what to expect, I have surveyed my mommy friends and come up with the top unpleasant things no one told them about that they experienced during/as a result of childbirth, and on a more positive note, the most useful things for recovering from childbirth.  I think the most important disclaimer is that experiences varied widely and it is impossible to know exactly what your labor will be like, but I like knowing what the range of possibilities are, so here goes.

Things to Know About Labor

  1. Epidurals are not always 100% effective.   One friend could feel everything on one side.  Another could feel the area where she tore (ouch!) and had to stop the doctor while he was stitching because she could feel it!  The good news is that I think it’s more common to not feel anything, but you never know!  Also, a friend with an epidural said she actually liked having a catheter because having contractions in the bathroom was terrible, which is a good lesson in trying to be open-minded during labor even when it isn’t going according to you birth plan.
  2. You will probably bleed during labor and you will have a LOT of post-birth bleeding.  My friends’ responses on this ranged from “Expect to waddle around wearing enormous pads for weeks.” to “When I tried to use the restroom post-delivery I left the bathroom looking like a scene from a slasher movie. There is no pad big enough to control that mess.”  I guess the lesson here is just remember it’s temporary.
  3. You will probably poop when you’re pushing.
  4. Hemorrhoids suck.
  5. Many friends remarked about not realizing how long recovery would take.  Specifically regarding sex, one friend noted that sex was impossible for six months post baby and very painful for six months after that.

Recovery and Generally Helpful Survival Tips

  1. For faster recovery, do lots of kegels and perineum massage pre-birth to avoid tearing.
  2. Bring sweats, bathrobe to the hospital.  You are not going to want to wear nice clothes.  Another friend recommended a stretchy v-neck cotton dress for ease of nursing.
  3. Prearrange friends/family to be on call who can bring you food, fill prescriptions, give you hugs.  Basically, people who enable you to focus on your baby.
  4. Eat and sleep as much as you can even though you’re overwhelmed with everything because it will speed up your recovery (but don’t expect any miracles).  Keep healthy and protein packed snacks near your nursing stations.  A water bottle with a straw is great, especially during nursing (someone else can “feed” you water if your hands are occupied.)
  5. The disposable underwear and big frozen ice packs they give you at the hospital will be your best friends.  Ask for extras at the hospital to bring home with you.
  6. Make sure you have super soft toilet paper and multiple peri bottles (put one in each bathroom and one in your diaper bag).
  7. It helps to have an inflatable ring to sit on.
  8. A smartphone is great for lots of things (camera, videocamera, reading while you’re nursing, keeping track of feedings and diaper changes).
  9. Snuggling with your baby will help you forget the pain you’re feeling … or at least remind you why it’s worth it.

Good luck to all your mommies-to-be out there!