IS A DIAPER PARTY TACKY?

Showering a mom-to-be with gifts is a tradition that dates back to ancient times. In modern culture, the baby shower is a staple for a first-time-mom. Though recently, some millennials have started throwing diaper parties for dads. As with all things related to gifting and soliciting gifts, this begs the question: Is a diaper party tacky? Should I have a diaper party, and if so, what is the accepted etiquette?

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Is a Diaper Party Tacky

What is a diaper party?

A diaper party is a new social gathering gaining popularity among young parents. The goal of a diaper party is to stockpile diapers by requesting each attendee contribute a case of diapers. Diaper parties are typically for men only.

I’ll make no bones about where I stand on this issue. A diaper party is tacky.

First, stockpiling diapers before your little one is born is not beneficial, and you can read all about that here.

Second, soliciting gifts from and friends is never a good look. Society is shifting such that more people are becoming increasingly centered around themselves and meeting their own needs. This shift has become so pervasive and widely accepted that people behaving in this way don’t see themselves as acting selfishly because it has become the norm in some circles.

Having a diaper party or having a raffle-style donation at a baby shower is like asking people to buy you more gifts.

Many people love to give gifts, but that quickly vanishes when the person receiving the gifts seems greedy, ungrateful, or expectant. Giving gifts is an act of love, not an act of obligation. If someone wants to gift diapers, they will. And if they don’t, it is in poor taste to conjure up a situation in which they are expected or outright asked to gift diapers.

The very worst thing you could do is throw a diaper party for yourself (or your dad-to-be).

This feels icky just writing about. It would be like throwing your own birthday party or baby shower. It is just tacky. There’s no way around it.

If someone offers to throw the dad-to-be a diaper party, there is a lot to consider.

Can you politely decline and explain your reasons for not wanting a diaper party? (Try “That is such a generous offer! We are actually going to hold off on stockpiling diapers until we can see which ones our baby tolerates the best.” Or, “That is so thoughtful! We are so overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and family who have already showered us with gifts for our baby, and we cannot possibly accept anything more!” Or, “The most important thing to us is having loving family and friends to support our baby! Instead of a diaper party, let’s have a gathering once the baby is born, so everyone can spend time together and get to know our new little bundle!”)

If there is no way to politely decline the offer of someone else throwing your dad-to-be a diaper party, you must consider the guest list. Just as with a baby shower, you should invite only close family and friends with whom you normally exchange gifts (birthday gifts, holiday gifts, etc.). And of course, be sure to follow all of the standard party etiquette below.

If you have a diaper party thrown in your honor

  • keep the guest list small
  • make it clear on the invite that diaper donations are much appreciated but not expected
  • convey your sincere thanks at the party to each guest who attends
  • send hand-written thank you notes to each guest who attended regardless of whether or not they gifted diapers

What can be done instead of a diaper party?

  • Encourage the new dad to have a celebration with his friends that would have attended the diaper party. They can trade advice or funny stories about being a dad.
  • Have a small party after the baby is born so family and friends can meet them. If people are organically moved to give a gift, they will give one.
  • Use the opportunity to promote the idea of time over money. Start expressing to friends and family early that you value them spending time with your little one over giving them material gifts.
  • If the new dad feels excluded, throw out the the idea of a female-only baby shower and have a unisex baby shower instead.

I hope this helps you navigate the difficult social waters surrounding gifting!

Mom on!
Jillian

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MINIMALIST PREGNANCY PREP SERIES: WHY YOU SHOULDN’T START A DIAPER STOCKPILE

MINIMALIST PREGNANCY PREP SERIES: WHAT DO I REALLY NEED ON MY BABY REGISTRY?

THE WEIRD EARLY PREGNANCY SYMPTOM NO ONE TALKS ABOUT

EPIDURAL BIRTH STORY: WHAT I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN IN ADVANCE

HOW YOUR MARRIAGE AFFECTS YOUR CHILDREN

MINIMALIST PREGNANCY SERIES: DIAPER DON’TS

Welcome to the second post in our Minimalist Pregnancy Prep series. If you missed the first post of the series, click here to read about what you ACTUALLY need on your baby registry. Let’s discuss all the details of preparing disposable diapers for baby and all of the diaper don’ts.

Here’s a thought to get us started: Would you order a year’s worth of coffee you’ve never tried just so that you didn’t have to be bothered to buy coffee for a year? Of course not. Substitute any important product into that scenario and you’ll likely come up with a similar answer.

The bottom line is: most of us would not stockpile products that we are unfamiliar with. Things we stockpile tend to be items we love and things we know we will use. Usually, the reason for stockpiling is that you come across a fantastic bargain on a product you love at an abnormally low price, so you buy a whole bunch. This makes sense because you’re saving money on something you would buy and use anyway. Or maybe there is a specialty store that you don’t visit often, so you stock up on their items a few times a year. This makes sense because you’re saving yourself time and aggravation by preventing the need to make an extra trip out of your way. But creating a stockpile of items you’re unfamiliar with and are easily obtained (can be purchased at most grocery, pharmacy, and big box stores) isn’t an efficient task.   

Minimalist Pregnancy Diaper Don'ts

Diaper Don’ts

Don’t stock up on diapers or create a complete “diaper stockpile” before your baby is born. I have seen countless articles and infographics on Pinterest advising you on how many of each size diaper you need to stock up on before your baby is born.

That is not sound advice for every mom

I don’t believe that that there are moms out there purposefully passing on bad information. Things probably went smoothly for those moms and their babies, so they aren’t aware of the issues other babies and moms face with diapers. This is great for them, but not great for the mom who may spend hours couponing, shopping, stacking, and organizing a year’s worth of diapers because someone promised her that diaper stockpiling was a genius idea only to find out those carefully prepped diapers won’t work for her baby.

What IS sound advice for every mom preparing for a new baby is to keep your options and your mind open. Wait to see what products will work for your baby before purchasing anything in bulk.

Downsides of diaper stockpiling

Fits of different brands or different product lines of the same brand might not work well for your baby. In general, all diapers have give and stretch to them. But some have more or less stretch, some fit higher or lower up back and belly, and some have more or less room built in for expansion of the hydrogel.

Also your baby may grow out of sizes quickly or stay in some sizes longer than the average baby. In which case someone else’s chart of how many of each size diaper worked for their baby will be completely different for your baby. No one’s baby is average in any way. Certainly there is a general growth curve that most infants follow, but by no means does every baby grow at the same rate. This makes it difficult to accurately predict how long your baby will be in each weight range for diaper sizing. There is also an average amount of wet and dry diapers that babies tend to produce by age, but you might have an above average producer of dirty diapers (congratulations!).

Another diaper variable is that certain brands are better than others for your baby in terms of absorption and containment. Blowouts are inevitable, but some babies constantly blow out in certain brands but not others. I believe this is probably all tied to the fit of the diaper on your precious individual’s bottom, and whether your baby tends to hold it all in and go at once or go frequently in smaller amounts. You won’t know this until you meet your little pumpkin.

A less likely downside of diaper stockpiling is that your baby could be allergic to a certain ingredient in disposable diapers.

Ingredients in diapers that can cause an allergic reaction on the skin (diaper dermatitis) or other irritation:

  • diaper fibers (although cotton-specific allergy is rare)
  • hydrogel (absorbent gel used to soak up liquid – also goes by the names Super Absorbent Polymer [SAP], sodium polyacrylate, Absorbent Gel Material [AGM], and others)
  • plastics
  • dyes
  • fragrance
  • preservatives

A baby’s symptoms of a diaper allergy can include redness, swelling, itching, pain, fussiness, raw skin, and general discomfort. Allergic reaction to ingredients in disposable diapers is not very common. However, in some ways it mimics the symptoms of diaper rash which can make it hard to identify. A process of trial-and-error with different brands usually takes place until a non-allergy-inducing brand is found.

More likely than a full-blown allergy is just the simple fact that different brands work for different families, and you will very likely find a brand that you love that works better for your baby. And you probably won’t know what that brand is until you’ve tried a few different ones.

Exchanging and returning diapers

Most stores will exchange unopened diapers if you need to swap out sizes. For this reason, I never open a box of diapers until I’m ready to use it.

Some stores will offer store credit if you return unopened diapers without a receipt. The tricky part here is that you often need to know what store the diapers were purchased from. Grocery stores, pharmacies, baby stores, big box stores, and club stores sell different pack-ups of diapers. For example, you might only find a 236 count box of size 3 Pampers Baby Dry only at Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club or similar club stores. (Also you usually need a membership to exchange merchandise at a club store). Target might only sell Pampers Baby Dry size 3 in boxes of 180 or smaller. Store will not take a return or exchange unless the item is absolutely identical to the item they sell.

Being stuck with boxes of brand new diapers you can’t use or exchange is a real bummer. Diapers are expensive! You don’t want your hard-earned money or someone else’s sitting in a box in the closet waiting for your guilt to dissipate enough to donate them. 

If you are trying to return or exchange diapers that you received as a gift, you could try downloading an app like ShopSavvy which allows you to scan the barcode and then lists a number of online and local stores that sell the product. I have found that this is not reliable 100% of the time, but it does work to some extent.

More products to hold off on stockpiling:

  • diaper cream
  • lotion
  • baby wash or shampoo
  • healing balm
  • wipes
  • baby’s laundry detergent

It’s very likely that you will identify your favorite products for you baby through trial and error. Don’t invest yourself heavily into a ton of product you may end up not using. 

HOWEVER, I am not an unrealistic person. I realize that you both want and need to be prepared.

My suggestion is to buy a small pack of size 1 diapers in a brand that is sustainable to you (cost-wise). Don’t buy a small pack of the most expensive organic, environmentally friendly diapers to try out if your budget won’t allow you to continue to buy that brand. Buy ONE each of the items above (diaper creams, laundry detergent, etc.) and then wait and see how your baby reacts to it. Use it and see if it’s effective and if you like it. THEN after the brands have passed your scrutinizing mom test, go ahead and stock up to your heart’s content!

Many people want to have every. possible. thing. ready for their baby, and that is fine. Just be sure you’re not setting yourself up for more aggravation down the road! 

Mom on!
Jillian

 

More articles for you

IS A DIAPER PARTY TACKY?

THE WEIRD EARLY PREGNANCY SYMPTOM NO ONE TALKS ABOUTMINIMALIST PREGNANCY PREP SERIES: WHAT DO I REALLY NEED ON MY BABY REGISTRY?HOW YOUR MARRIAGE AFFECTS YOUR CHILDRENSHOW AFFECTION TOWARD YOUR PARTNER IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILDRENHOW TO PREVENT TODDLER TEMPER TANTRUMSTODDLER ROAD TRIP ACTIVITIES

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

BABY REGISTRY TIPS FROM A SECOND TIME MOM

Welcome to the first post in our Minimalist Pregnancy Prep series. Every expecting mom loves planning for their baby’s arrival. Getting a baby registry together with all the items you’ll need is a fun and exciting way to prepare for your baby. Read on to find my top baby registry tips from a second time mom who’s been there and done that.

Baby registry tips form a second time mom

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The absolute essentials:

  • clothes (launder only a few outfits and leave the rest with the tags on and receipt attached just in case)
  • bibs/cloths
  • crib
  • crib sheets
  • car seat

Red light: What you really don’t need and won’t use:

Wipe warmer

Hear me: YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR BABY GETTING ACCUSTOMED TO WARM WIPES. Trust me on that. This will cause all sorts of fun changing-room drama when you’re out and about and dare to put a room-temperature wipe on your little one’s butt. DRAMA. No thanks. My babies both survived on room-temp wipes (shocking, I know) and your baby will, too!

Bottle warmer

Bottle warmers are super aggravating to me. They take up valuable counter space and they really are not worth their weight. The thing I disliked most about my bottle warmer was that it took a ridiculous amount of time to heat up the bottle to the “perfect temperature.” It also made the outside of the bottle pretty warm. Too warm, in my opinion, to put near my infant. I ditched the bottle warmer fast and never looked back.

Diapers

SAY WHAAAAATTTT? Yes, I am telling you not to buy diapers. Don’t register for diapers. Don’t have a “diaper party.” I hear you. You’re saying, “Why in the hell would I not stock up on those expensive little disposable butts????? Do you know how much those things cost?!?!?” Yes, I know. I have 2 in diapers right now. I KNOW. HOWEVER….. I have a lot of good reasons, and you can read in depth on why you shouldn’t start a diaper stockpile here.

Formula

Even more than my (excellent and convincing) reasoning above for diapers, do not buy formula in advance! Formula allergies and sensitivities are even more prevalent than diaper allergies and sensitivities. I don’t even remember how many types of formula we tried with our first son before settling on the only one he would tolerate: Enfamil AR. We threw out A LOT of basically full containers of formula because our son couldn’t eat it and we didn’t have anyone to give them to. Luckily we found that our pediatrician had sample cans of a bunch of different formula brands and types and would give us one to try so we weren’t constantly buying cans to try and then ultimately throw out.

Crib bedding and bumpers

Don’t do it! Babies should sleep alone in their crib without crib bumpers/pads, bedding of any kind, or stuffed animals. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines say a baby should be in a crib with a firm mattress and well-fitting fitted sheet ONLY. NOTHING ELSE!!!! I know crib bedding and bumpers are adorable and can make the nursery look just so, but the beauty of it is not worth the risk to your baby.
We see gorgeous nurseries on Pinterest and in magazines all the time with bedding and bumpers. I see crib bedding and bumpers in all the baby aisles. But I have never owned any and never will. God forbid something terrible ever happen, I would never forgive myself. The potential risk is far too great for me to even consider using any of these products. I have adorable fitted sheets, and that’s perfectly good for me.
I also don’t think you need to buy waterproof crib mattress pads. Almost all crib mattresses are waterproof and can be cleaned off with mild baby-safe cleanser. Or my favorite: castile soap.

Boppy or other nursing pillows

I won’t try to hide it: I really loathe the Boppy pillow. It seems like every pregnant person in the last two decades has put this on their registry, but I am not sure why. When I was breastfeeding in the hospital, the lactation consultant didn’t come waltzing in hailing the Boppy pillow. We rolled up some hospital pillows and called it a day. Once I was home, I actually found that a rolled up throw blanket worked the best for me and was easier to manipulate to the exact shape I wanted when I was nursing. The Boppy has been upstairs in a closet where I move it around every so often and swear about the space it takes up.

The Cadillac of portable cribs

Portable cribs come with some crazy stuff these days! Adjustable heights for newborns, newborn changing tables, mobiles, mirrors, diaper caddies, newborn napper, etc. You honestly don’t need any of these things. Plus when your newborn outgrows all of it and you just want the actual crib part, you are going to have to find some place to store all of that crap. I do recommend having a portable crib, but just something basic like this. 

baby registry tips

Yellow light: Not necessities, but things you may want to consider:

Diaper Genie

I’ve heard people say you can just throw diapers in the garbage. That is absolutely true, but if you don’t want to live in a house that smells like baby poop 24/7, I highly recommend making the small investment into a Diaper Genie.
These things really do contain the odor (and I don’t even use the odor-neutralizing pouches). Plus they have a small footprint and are easy to use. Replacing the refill bags is super easy and if you have a BJ’s membership, you can almost always get at least a $4 coupon off the refills. Also big box stores like Walmart and Target sell store brand refills that fit the Diaper Genie on the cheap.
This is something with a relatively low cost that is worth every single penny. That coming from a mom with 2 babies in diapers. Check out the one I use here.

Baby Breeza

It’s expensive. I’ll give you that. But the convenience cannot be matched (especially at 3am). I am an enormous fan on my Keurig, and the Baby Breeza is basically a Keurig for babies. It has a water tank that keeps the water constantly heated to the perfect temp for bottles, and it has a 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 ounce setting. You can put the powdered formula in a reservoir in the top, and it will mix the right amount of formula and warm water and pump out the perfect ba-ba. You can also use spring water or filtered water if you don’t like using tap.
To be honest, I don’t put the formula in mine simply because I don’t feel like cleaning it. We use our Baby Breeza just for the perfectly warm water on demand. This means no waiting for tap water to heat up in at 3am in the dead of winter, no microwaving spring/filtered water, and no bottle warmer. It is absolutely fantastic, and if you can afford it or are lucky enough to receive it as a gift, you will love it, too. Check it out on Amazon here. 

Something to set your baby in

I am not big on swings at all. I think they are a waste of money and space. We were gifted a swing that has been used MAYBE 10 times across two children. If you can get a swing on the cheap, then go ahead and try it, but I would not recommend spending $250 on a Mamaroo. Although in total transparency, I’ve never tried the Mamaroo, so who knows, it could be amazing. But it would have to be pretty great to justify spending that kind of money.
With that said, you will want to have something you can set your baby down in. With my first, we put a baby blanket on the floor and set him on it, and it worked perfectly. However, if you have other children or pets, you will want something more secure and out of the way. With our second, we set up the portable crib downstairs in the family room which worked perfectly. We already owned one that we used as a travel crib, and I am big on getting as much use as possible out of one purchase. That was a win for us.

Green light: The A List. The PLEASE-TAKE-MY-MONEY list:

Halo Sleepsack

There is a reason they give these out in hospitals and you hear parents raving about them: they are fantastic! With my first baby, I used a different brand which I liked, but after trying the Halo, I am officially converted. This sleepsack is amazing quality and most importantly: helped my infants sleep!
There are many things that contribute to great infant sleep and this is definitely one of them. Everyone knows swaddling babies helps them sleep better, but blanket swaddling takes some skill, and even then babies tend to wiggle their little arms and legs out. The shape of the Halo is perfect for keeping tiny limbs contained (which also helps calm a baby’s startle reflex), and the Velcro is plentiful and high quality. I have washed all of my sleepsacks a million times and they hold up perfectly.
These are also made in a variety of materials so you can get lighter or heavier weight fabrics depending on your climate and needs. This is my number one recommendation when people ask me what they should put on their registry. SLEEPSACKS! Lots (OK maybe 4 or 5) of sleepsacks. Check them out on Amazon. 

Halo Sleepsack Wearable blanket

I feel very strongly about abiding by The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines which state you should not put anything in baby’s crib including blankets. However, we live in a cold climate and I am always worried about my baby being too cold. 
This wearable blanket is the perfect solution. It is just like the Halo Sleepsack but without the swaddle. When your baby starts rolling, you don’t want to swaddle them anymore because it could pose a risk of suffocation. However, once you ditch the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle, you lose all of that comfiness and warmth it provides. Don’t be tempted to put a blanket in your baby’s crib at this point. Just switch over to the wearable blanket.
It keeps them nice and cozy warm and is available in different fabric weights just like the swaddle. It’s the perfect balance of safety and comfort. Check it out here. 

Amazon Echo Dot

When you have a new baby, there are a lot of things to keep track of. If you formula-feed, you will need to track feeding times, time between feedings, and feeding amounts. If you breastfeed, you will need to track feeding times, time between feedings, and how much time is spent nursing on either breast. Your hospital and pediatrician will also ask you to keep a count of wet and dirty diapers. And if you’re trying to adapt your baby to a specific schedule, you will want to track their nap times and length.
This is A LOT of information for an exhausted new mom to keep track of. I remember being so exhausted as a new mom that it was starting to affect my vision. Tracking so much important information (about 12-20 times a day) with paper and pen is a real challenge. It’s inevitable to forget to log something or lose the papers all together. After a few weeks, we found the most amazing (and cheap – about $35) solution to this problem: the Echo Dot.
I formula fed both our babies (the first one due to breastfeeding impairment because of my epidural) and we took shifts switching on and off to feed the baby overnight. Now let me tell you: when you are an exhausted, EXHAUSTED new mom and you get a few hours of sleep in a row because your amazingly fantastic, dedicated (and hot) husband is getting up to feed the baby, you do not want him waking you up to ask the time of the last feeding. And really, he doesn’t want this either because tired new moms can be cranky to say the least.
The newborn phase (especially for new parents) is this exhausted haze where you have no idea what time of day it is, you haven’t left the house in a week, and everything starts to blur together. Eat, wake, sleep, repeat on what feels like an endless cycle. 
We used the Alexa Skill called Baby Stats to track everything (IT’S FREE!). Put the Echo somewhere convenient either in the kitchen where you make the bottles, in the baby’s room, or next to where you will be doing your feedings (or buy multiples and put them everywhere). Then you just ask Alexa to add a feeding or ask her when the last feeding was. It tracks it to the minute.
The Echo Dot is completely controlled by your voice, so you don’t have to keep a physical log.
Baby Stats skill tracks:
  • kicks
  • pumping
  • breastfeeding
  • bottle feeding
  • wet/dirty diapers
  • sleep
And you can get weekly pregnancy updates tailored to your due date. The Echo Dot has to be in my top ten list of things I have ever purchased. Trust me, just go to Amazon and buy it now.
I hope these tips help you craft the perfect registry for your baby! Keep in mind that you don’t need to own every baby product in existence to be a great mom and have a happy baby!
Mom on!
Jillian

More articles for you

EPIDURAL BIRTH STORY: WHAT I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN IN ADVANCE

IS A DIAPER PARTY TACKY?

MINIMALIST PREGNANCY SERIES: DIAPER STOCKPILING

HOW YOUR MARRIAGE AFFECTS YOUR CHILDREN

THE WEIRD EARLY PREGNANCY SYMPTOM NO ONE TALKS ABOUT

HOW TO PREVENT TODDLER TEMPER TANTRUMS

TODDLER ROAD TRIP ACTIVITIES

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

THE WEIRD EARLY PREGNANCY SYMPTOM NO ONE TALKS ABOUT

There are a whole lot of commonly known pregnancy symptoms, but with all of my pregnancies, I have had one weird early pregnancy symptom no one talks about.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

During my first pregnancy, I noticed very early on that I constantly had this horrible metallic taste in my mouth. Whether I was eating or not, this taste just would not go away. It was extremely similar to the bad taste you get when taking certain antibiotic medications like Flagyl.

Actually it tasted like pennies. The only thing I can think to compare it to is if you soaked a boatload of pennies in water for 4 years and then drank the water. It is seriously gross and VERY distinct.

I learned with my first pregnancy that this is a lesser-known symptom in early pregnancy called DYSGEUSIA.

Medical professionals suspect that dysgeusia is caused by early hormonal changes in pregnant women. And while for me the taste was unmistakably metallic, for others, it can present as a bitter, salty, or just plain bad taste that isn’t improved by eating or drinking.
This was tough for me because it made it very difficult to drink water. Every time I drank water, it just tasted absolutely horrible. I had to force myself to constantly sip water throughout the day so I could make sure I was staying hydrated. After all, we all know staying hydrated is so important especially for pregnant women.

For me, nothing improved my dysgeusia except for chewing mint-flavored gum.

When I wasn’t eating, I was constantly chewing gum to mask the nagging metallic taste. While that was the only thing that gave me relief, I have heard other suggestions for masking the taste such as:
  • drinking lemonade or other acidic juices

  • eating foods with high vinegar content (such as pickles….. double pregnancy win!)

  • eating spicy foods or foods with very bold flavors (my stomach could NOT handle any of that!)

The good news is with each of my pregnancies, dysgeusia disappeared for me sometime around the second trimester. Good bye and good riddance! (Just another reason why the second trimester is the best).

I am not sure if certain people are prone to dysgeusia, but it was actually my tell tale signal to take a pregnancy test with my second child.

After trying for a few months to get pregnant, one day out of the blue I noticed the metallic taste. Immediately after, I took a pregnancy test and the saw most beautifully faint line on the test. I was pregnant!
I had the same experience with dysgeusia in my second pregnancy and again, nothing seemed to help except for minty gum.
Next time I should try to muddle some mint leaves in my water and see if that makes it easier for me to stay hydrated! Has anyone tried that? Did it work?
All my prayers for you and your pregnancy! If you’re currently suffering from dysgeusia, it will get better!

 

Mom on!
Jillian

 

More articles for you

EPIDURAL BIRTH STORY: WHAT I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN IN ADVANCE

IS A DIAPER PARTY TACKY?

BABY REGISTRY TIPS FROM A SECOND TIME MOM

HOW TO MAKE EXTRA MONEY IN ONE WEEK

HOW TO PREVENT TODDLER TEMPER TANTRUMS 

TODDLER ROAD TRIP ACTIVITIES

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

THE DARK SIDE OF EPIDURALS

I would dare say almost every adult person in Western civilization has heard the word epidural. And while most probably don’t know a lot about it, I would bet most everyone would say it is used to relieve pain during childbirth. This seems to be common knowledge. But there is a dark side of epidurals that seems to be much less common knowledge. It seems to be the kind of knowledge you need to actively seek out because people hardly talk about it.
I am not trying to convince anyone to use or not use an epidural. That is a decision only you can make for yourself. I am simply putting my experience out there in hopes that it will help you become more informed so you can make the best decision for you and your baby.
The proceeding information is my own knowledge and personal experience. I am not a doctor, so please consult with your own doctor before making any decision regarding your labor and delivery!
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
The first time I was pregnant, I was pretty sure I was going to get an epidural. I had no adversity to using the miracle of modern medicine to relieve the excruciating pain of natural childbirth. All along, my plan was to continue through labor as long as I felt able, and then request an epidural when things became too painful.
Months before my due date, I went through the childbirth preparation class that my hospital offered. Among other things, one of the topics covered in the class was pain relief options available during childbirth. The options that were offered at my hospital at the time were epidurals and Nubain.
Nubain is an opiate narcotic pain reliever that is administered through an IV. It falls in a class similar to Morphine and Demerol. It seemed like most people in the class had not ever heard of Nubain, so the instructor spent some extra time talking about it. Some of the things we learned:
  • Nubain does not stop pain as an epidural does. Instead, it takes some of the edge off to make it more tolerable.
  • Nubain can cause unwelcome psychological effects on the mother such as dysphoria, increased anxiety, and confusion similar to being intoxicated.
  • Nubain should not be administered if you are close to pushing as it has serious side effects on newborns such as complications with breathing, central nervous system function, and neurological effects.
None of those things sounded appealing to me, and as a person who suffers from anxiety anyway, I did not need anything else to be anxious about. I didn’t need to have anxiety about possibly having anxiety, and especially didn’t need anxiety about potentially putting my baby at risk. I decided then that Nubain was not going to be an option for me.
We also learned about epidurals and how they block pain via medication pushed through a catheter inserted into the epidural space in your spine. Some of the things we learned:
  • Your husband or support person will have to leave the room while the anethesiologist is placing the epidural
  • It is not uncommon for women to experience intense headaches after having received an epidural
  • Once you get an epidural, you will be required to stay in bed and will not be permitted to walk around or birth in any position except on your back
  • You will receive fluids through an IV if you get an epidural
At this point in the class I was thinking: yes. Yes, please. None of that sounded as bad as the Nubain and definitely not as bad as what I was imagining natural childbirth pain would be.
I had a birth plan, a hospital bag check list, I attended the childbirth and breastfeeding classes, I read labor and delivery stories, and watched childbirth videos. In my mind, I had a plan, and I was prepared to see it through.

*Insert laughter and head-shaking of moms everywhere*

After my water broke (while I was eating dinner in a crowded restaurant on a Friday night), I went to the hospital and was induced with pitocin. After 18 hours of labor, I was ready for the epidural. I had to wait a while for the anesthesiologist to get to me because he was called in to an emergency C-section. When he arrived, my husband was asked to leave the room (which we were told in advance was going to happen).
The nurse had me sit on the edge of the bed with my feet on a stool and then asked my to reach down and hug my legs. This is obviously challenging for an enormous pregnant person with a huge round belly to navigate around. As the anesthesiologist inserted the needle into my spine, I heard in my ears the most distinct, unforgettable crackling, crunching sound. To this day, I have no idea what that sound was or if it is normal, but it thoroughly freaked me out then and still does now.
After that joyous experience had come to an end, the nurse had to insert a urinary catheter which was just the icing on the cake. After a while, it was evident that I could no longer feel my contractions on the left side of my body, but could still feel them on the right.

FUN FACT! It turns out that it is possible for epidurals to affect only one side of your body.

Who knew? Not this girl.
Yep. I had no idea that was possible. You would think maybe if you were only feeling contractions on one side of your body that would mean you’re experiencing less pain. False. That was actually much worse for me. On top of being in pain, I was confused about what was happening with my body. I had a million thoughts racing through my head: What is going on? Is this normal? Is my baby OK? How is this affecting my baby? I am not going to be able to do this without pain relief. Of course all of that caused my anxiety to escalate.
The anesthesiologist came back and removed the epidural and placed a new one. Which was the same song and dance as before except I was in so much pain at that point that I was shaking uncontrollably. My body tensed with every contraction. The nurse and anesthesiologist reminded me 400 times to try to stay still and finally it was done.
Not long after, I finally had some relief. Thank you, God. My contraction pain had basically disappeared, and I thought to myself: Awesome. I can rest a little bit, try to get myself back together, and proceed with getting this baby out.
Less than an hour after the second epidural was placed, my nurse came in and had me lay on my side. She said they were seeing some concerning numbers with my baby’s heartbeat on my fetal monitor. Shortly after that, an incredible number of people came rushing in to my room. I was immediately scared and had no idea what was going on. An oxygen mask was urgently placed on my face, and I remember staring up at my bewildered husband who was searching the room of frantic nurses and doctors to figure out what was happening. Someone in the room stated that I was being taken back immediately for an emergency C-section. Nurses started disconnecting cords and moving my IV pole to wheel me to the OR.

That was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

I knew something bad was happening, but I didn’t know what. Something was wrong with my baby. Something extremely serious was happening, and my husband and I were powerless to stop it.
After what felt like an eternity, things in the room calmed down a little and I heard someone say “It is bouncing back. Let’s give it a minute.” At this point, there was still no time for anyone to explain to me or my husband exactly what was happening. The nurse flipped my on my other side again and then it seemed the danger had passed.
The nurse explained that my blood pressure had suddenly plummeted and my baby’s heart rate slowed significantly. Apparently this is a very common side effect of epidurals that I was completely unaware of.
After that, the doctor turned my epidural off, and I was thrust into the next terrifying situation: I had to deliver my baby with no pain relief and was completely unprepared to do so. Remember when I said my plan all along was to have an epidural? That was true. So I never looked into natural birth. I did not research coping mechanisms, tips, or anything at all regarding birth without an epidural. It was NEVER part of my plan.
Not researching all options was my biggest mistake. I didn’t think my epidural plan would fail, so I never prepared for a back-up plan.

HUGE ROOKIE MISTAKE.

After several more hours of labor, I was in rough shape. I was in excruciating pain, exhausted, and terrified. I was begging – literally sobbing and begging to anyone who would listen – for a C-section. The good news is that while I was in absolutely miserable shape, my baby was doing well and all of the numbers were steady. Over my sobbing, begging, bargaining, and screaming, my husband and nurse reminded me that I did not really want a C-section and there was no medical reason to have one. I was going to have to ride it out.
After realizing that despite how much I pleaded I would not be getting a C-section, I begged for pain relief. I was in such bad shape that despite my previous terror about taking Nubain, I begged for the Nubain. BEGGED.
The nurse gave the Nubain through an IV and I kept waiting and waiting for it to have some effect. My contractions were horrendous and there was almost no break in between. I would barely catch my breath from one to the next. I remeber screaming that it was not working and I was still in extreme pain.
Less than 30 minutes after, (felt a lot like 3000 minutes), I had an unstoppable, unmistakable urge to push. It was truly just my body tensing and pushing almost completely on it’s own. I thought about the Nubain because I knew it had been only a short while since it was injected. I screamed that I was pushing and the nurse told me to stop immediately. There was no stopping it.
My nurse said that my doctor was not there yet and all of the hospital doctors were in other deliveries. She checked my cervix and announced that the baby was crowning. She then told my husband that it was likely she and him would have to deliver my baby without my doctor.

Enter even more terror.

One nurse held one of my legs, my husband held the other, and my nurse stood ready to catch my baby when my doctor and the NICU team came running in. Three pushes later my baby was out, and I was waiting to hear that beautiful newborn cry that signals everything is OK. My baby was taken immediately for evaluation because he was slightly premature and because I had been given Nubain too close to delivery. Thank God he was perfectly healthy and did not show signs of respiratory, neurological, or central nervous system distress.
I have almost no memory from the birth until the following day. Now thinking about it years later, and after having gone through a second birth with no pain medication and no Nubain, I strongly feel the Nubain was the reason for my almost complete memory loss.
Another issue we suffered through after delivery was problems breastfeeding. Impaired breastfeeding is another side effect of epidurals that I was unaware of. I attended breastfeeding classes while pregnant, and I was determined to make it work. The issues started immediately when my baby would not latch during the Golden Hour after being born. It continued to be a problem during our stay at the hospital. We met with lactation consultants regularly but finally had to give my son formula in a dropper to supplement because his latch was almost nonexistent.
After bringing him home, we visited our local lactation consultant’s office (which was a 50 minute drive from our house) almost every day. Nothing seemed to help. I took supplements, I avoided certain foods, I pumped after breastfeeding, drank tons of water, bought Mother’s Milk tea. I did absolutely everything I read about online, and followed the advice of others. Nothing helped. Meanwhile we continued to supplement formula with a dropper which was an exhausting task because our son just did not want to eat.
Meanwhile, our baby was not working back up to his birth weight as expected. This meant taking him to the pediatrician everyday so he could be weighed and checked. This was obviously an extremely stressful time for my husband and I. First time parents, not getting much sleep, constantly trying to work any small amount of food into our newborn, driving to the lactation consultant, the pediatrician, and me trying to nurse and pump. Actually I want to cry now just thinking of it. On top of all of that I was experiencing a shocking and difficult bought with postpartum anxiety.
After 3 weeks of miserable stress for all involved, I finally stopped trying to nurse. It was a weighted, difficult, and heartbreaking decision for me. I felt like a failure. A failure as a mom, a failure as a woman. I was devastated, but I could see it was not working despite every possible effort.
The fantastic news is that my son eventually started eating well from a bottle and began to grow as expected. He is now almost three years old and thriving. He is an amazing, joyous, sweet boy that I thank God for everyday.
I love my son more than life itself, but I have serious regrets about his delivery.
I don’t blame you if you skimmed a bit through that long story. To recap everything and to help you understand why I made the decision to go all natural with my second pregnancy, here’s the short version:

Side effects I experienced from pain management medications:

  • Epidural placement sound (very disturbing to me…. has anyone else experienced this?)
  • Inadequate pain relief of first epidural (worked on only one side)
  • Enduring a second epidural placement
  • Hypotension (serious drop in blood pressure)
  • Baby’s heart rate slowing significantly (due to hypotension)
  • Close call with emergency c-section (due to the above)
  • Inadequate pain relief from Nubain (had no notable effect)
  • Memory loss from Nubain
  • Impaired and ultimately failed breastfeeding (common epidural side effect)
And on top of all of that, the pure mental trauma that experience left me with. I deeply regret that I had not done more research on epidurals. I also should have read more women’s stories who had an epidural birth, and I wish I would have put in the time to become more informed about the potential side effects of epidurals.

My biggest mistake was not formulating a back-up plan just in case.

That entire experience affected me so much that when I became pregnant with my second baby, I went though with natural childbirth free of any pain relief medications. I did not have an epidural or Nubain. I would not consider it. That turned out to be a much better experience all around. I now have enough information on both experiences to say going without the epidural and Nubain is absolutely, unequivocally the best choice for me.
I hope this helps you gain some real-life insight on experience with pain medication during childbirth. Above all else, remember: you’ve got this!
Mom on!
Jillian

 

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