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To the new mother of 2, here’s my advice

You’d think as a seasoned mama with 1 kiddo under my belt that having numero 2 would be like riding a bike. But let me tell you ladies, you forget a lot in the time between having babies. The amnesia of what happens when we give birth is the only way we could give birth, again and again, to carry on the human race. Many mothers imagine having a home birth as a beautiful experience with candles light a tub. Birthing at home is beautiful, but it is also hard work, messy, trying, and at times filled with doubts.

Baby Brooklyn June was born in July. Some things were different this time around.Mother and baby

Summer baby versus winter baby

I hit 185 lbs with both babies when my water broke. Elvis was a winter baby born in January and Brooklyn was a summer baby, born in July. Both were difficult in their own way. With Elvis, there were 3 snowstorms in the first 3 weeks and I was holed up in the house. I didn’t actually leave until day 21 post partum and the outside world was overstimulating and overwhelming. I had cabin fever but I was too anxious to take him outside in the cold. Could I? Would he be ok? Should be in the stroller or strapped to me in the carrier to stay warm?

Brooklyn, born in the summer, made it harder to slow down and heal properly. I wanted to get out of the house and walk around but if I walked more than 3 blocks in the first 2 weeks, my pelvic floor ached and my pubic bone throbbed. I was pushing too hard too fast.

Early baby versus late baby

What is a due date really? An estimate from a sizing on an ultrasound combined with an estimate of conception based on the date of your last period. Elvis was 8 days early, Brooklyn was 8 days late. The difference this time around with a “past due” baby was all texts of “is she here yet” creates a mild anxiety that something if wrong. Even though your body knows everything is happening just as it was meant to be. Solution: just stop answering the texts, FB messages, IG DM’s, emails and phone calls.

Half the delivery time for number 2

Here’s the timeline of Baby Brooklyn’s arrival:

  • 3:22am: Wake up and know I have to go pee, as pregnant women do multiple times a night. I knew this time it was different. Waddling to the toilet, my water breaks.
  • 3:45am: Early labor contractions start, 10-15 seconds, 5 minutes apart.
  • 4:00am Crawl back in bed which wakes up DJ, I tell him my water broke an hour ago
  • 4:20am Sit in a recliner to work thru contractions, trying to sleep between contractions to conserve energy. To all my ladies who are pregnant, get good at napping, it will serve you well while in labor to sleep between your contractions to conserve your energy for when you really need it, aka pushing.
  • 6:00am Call my doula then call my midwife. My midwife Marcy tells me she’s coming over right now.
  • 6:20am I jump in the shower to “relax” and hope the hot water makes my contractions less intense. The opposite happens, my contractions go from 0 to 100 and I’m calling DJ but he’s fast asleep. I bang on the shower wall that shares a wall with our bedroom to wake his a** up.
  • 6:45am Midwife Marcy arrives and says “we’re gonna have a baby!” Its go time and she tells me 3 or 4 pushes and she’ll be out. Knee on the floor, arms on the recliner, pseudo squatting.

*first time around Marcy gave me her magic position to knock me out when I was laboring hard early on with Elvis. I tell her I want to sleep and to knock me out. She tells me to get centered.

  • 8:00am It time to push, I move to the bed on my hands and knees. The Doula arrives. Elvis wakes up and is quickly ushered downstairs to watch Paw Patrol.
  • 8:52am Brooklyn arrives and I swear the first sounds out of her are a long slow mama
  • 9:05am Placenta arrives with Elvis joining the watching party. He’s unphased and climbs in bed to read Brooklyn his books. He asks, “mommy why isn’t she looking at my book and why her eyes closed?”

Mother of 2 - Elvis and Baby Brooklyn after Birth

Placenta: Are you coming?

With Elvis, my placenta was stubborn and would not deliver. I had to transfer to the hospital and was given an epidural. It fell right out. It’s amazing how trauma manifests in the body, Major anxiety and fear arose waiting for it to deliver this time around. Luckily one push and out it came.

Supplies I wish I had on hand for after the birth

  1. Depends- mamas you know what I mean, the birth and after birth is messy.
  2. Sitz bath– a plastic tub you put on top of your toilet after lifting up the seat to soak your bottom.
  3. Sitz bath herbs-a life saver for the raw bottom, done 2-3 times a day. Hemorrhoids from pushing are something few people tell you about.
  4. Squirt bottle to spray your bottom because that first bowel movement after giving birth can be terrifying and the last thing you want dry toilet paper to wipe across your sore tender RAW bottom.
  5. Reusable Straw- you are super thirsty when you are a milk machine but holding a baby or side breastfeeding is not conducive to drinking water out of a cup. Reusable straw for the win here.
  6. A stocked fridge of warm food and smoothies. My go-to smoothie was coconut water, coconut meat, white peaches, and placenta.
  7. Postpartum Doula- You should never be left alone with the baby, not because you don’t know how to take care of her, but someone needs to take care of you. Even if you are on the couch, you look like normal you, but you sure as hell don’t feel like normal you. Even holding the baby and reaching forward to get your glass of water can feel like too much. We used to raise babies in tribes and women supported the other women, and we no longer live in this kind of community. We need someone to take care of us as women. The postpartum doula is that women that is of service. Whatever you need, someone to hold your baby so you can shower, brush your teeth, or sleep. A really good doula I met strapped the baby on her chest and got to work doing the dishes, the laundry and sweeping the floor.
  8. Ice packs for nipples- ouch! I forgot how much breast feeding feels like razor blades at first. I bled down my stomach for the first week because I made the mistake of letting baby Brooklyn go to town the first day she was born. I had forgotten what a good latch felt and looked like.
  9. Night Nurse- We had our dear Zelva for 10 days with Elvis, this time around she was busy on another job. The first week, baby sleeps a lot, but after that, a night nurse sure would have been sweet to help DJ and I sleep and not be a zombie around Elvis,
  10. Vitamix to grind up that placenta and drink it. That’s right, not encapsulated because it loses its nutritional content, just grind it up in a smoothie and drink it down.

What I wish I had remembered:

  1. Stitches take a while a heal, longer than you think.
  2. OCD goes into full effect. I wanted to clean and pick up everything and have things in their “right place.” This is not the best use your energy and not conducive to healing.
  3. Mastitis is a B*tch. I had a 103.7 fever for a week, a sore boob so tender I couldn’t lay on my side in bed, and sweats that soaked the sheets. I was resistant to the first antibiotic and had to switch. I had so much anxiety around taking antibiotics because I didn’t want to f*ck up my kids gut micro biome since they get a small dose as well. All I could think was her good bacteria will never go back to the same number is it at now. Evivo, a baby probiotic, for the rescue.
  4. Postpartum Depression- I think this is so prevalent because women are not given the time to heal. There’s so much pressure to go back to work, to continue to take care of the family, the toddler, and the new baby. There’s a reason the Chinese have a tradition of 40 days in bed. You breast feed the baby and someone else does everything else like changing the diaper, burping, making food, and cleaning the house. As women we have someone helping take care of the baby but we need someone to take care of us.
  5. Skin to skin- Perfect for beating postpartum depression. All the love hormones get release when we do skin to skin with our baby, good for them, good for us.

Things I’m pleasantly surprised about:

  • Diastasis recti aka abdominal separation was 4 fingers width when my water broke. The width went down to 1 finger width by 2 weeks postpartum. I attribute this to all my good breathing moments, rolling out of bed instead of “sitting up” out of bed, and a solid strength training program leading up to birth.
  • Placenta delivered like butter- just slipped right out with 1 push. Again, PTSD is real. After Brooklyn was born, I had mixed emotions. Joy that she had arrived healthy and fear, would I have a repeat of my placenta not delivering and having to be transferred again?
  • Bouncing back quicker to working out-10 weeks post, deadlifted my body weight. When I had Elvis, at 10 weeks I went to a kettlebell class, overdid it, and gave myself pelvic floor dysfunction with pain pulling down my leg. This time around I saw my pelvic floor therapist Rachel Parrotta at 6 weeks and it made all the difference in my healing.

Hold your babies close, snuggle them in. With number 2, I realize I may not do this again and everyone tells you “they grow up so fast.” Hopefully, these insights can help you get to enjoy every moment because they really do grow up in the blink of an eye.

If you need help healing your diastasis recti, your tight neck from breastfeeding, or just need an ear to share your new baby struggles, we are here for you, give us a call or shoot me an email,

In good health,
Dr Emily Kiberd