Tag Archives: labor and delivery

What to Pack for the Hospital

One of the first things you’ll learn as a mom is that you need to be prepared for everything. Along with planning your baby registry, organizing and stocking your nursery and baby proofing your home, one more thing you need to prepare if you plan on a hospital or birth center birth is your hospital bag.

To stay ultra-organized, have your bag packed before you hit full-term, which for most moms is 37 weeks. Before you stock up on nursing pads and newborn diapers, ask your hospital or birth center what supplies they provide — you might be able to save a few dollars!

Hospital Bag Must-Haves

Paperwork: Most hospitals and birth centers require you to have all of your insurance information and hospital forms filed prior to your delivery. Some will offer you the opportunity to preregister, while others will give you the forms to fill out at home. The last thing you’ll want to do when your water breaks is fill out your medical history!

Comfortable Clothing: Even though you’ll likely be issued an ever-so-stylish hospital gown, some moms prefer to labor in their own t-shirt or nightclothes. Some SmartMoms chose to get a 3-in-1 labor/delivery/nursing gown to make the hospital stay more cozy. You’ll also want to have a warm robe or sweater on hand, as well as two or three pairs of warm, non-skid socks in case you need to walk the halls during labor.

A supportive maternity bra and nursing pads. If you plan to breastfeed, come prepared. Though many hospitals and birth centers have lactation consultants who will help you navigate those early days of nursing, it’s better you come equipped with the proper gear than have to send your partner on a last-minute store run.

Toiletries and personal items. Though your hospital stay might feel a bit like a weekend getaway, your bathroom won’t be equipped with hotel-sized shampoos and lotions. Pack your lip balm, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, contact lens case and solution. You might not care what you look like during labor, but afterwards, you’ll want to feel human again!

Headband or ponytail holder. If you have longer hair, you’ll want to bring something to keep it away from your face. Avoid clips or anything metal, as you won’t want any additional pain or distraction with a baby on the way.

Cell phone and charger. Hospitals aren’t known for having the best cell phone service, so be sure to bring your charger. You might want your smart phone to time your contractions — and to send your baby’s first photos to friends and family after the birth.

Camera, battery or charger. Even in the midst of your post-birth bliss, you’ll want a few snapshots of the special moment. If your partner is your labor coach, delegate the photographic responsibilities to a nurse.

Clothes and basic hygiene products for your partner. Even though the focus will be on mom and baby today, dad might want to take a shower and freshen up for the onslaught of visitors who want to meet your newest addition.

Clothes for your baby. Bring a few outfits for your baby, even though they’ll probably be fine in a diaper for the first 24-36 hours. Bring at least one “going home outfit” and then one or two more changes of clothes. If you’re planning on using cloth diapers, bring those along too, as most hospitals will provide disposables.

Hospital Bag Nice-to-Haves

Extra pillow. Hospital bedding isn’t the most luxurious, so if you’re in for a multi-night stay, you might want a few comforts of home. Outfit your pillow with a case that you don’t mind ruining or leaving behind. 

Comfortable going-home clothes. Contrary to what you read about celebrities amazing post-baby bodies, it can take some time to get back into svelte shape. Bring maternity clothes to wear home, in six to nine month maternity size. Even if they’re too big, you’ll want to feel comfortable.

Birth tools or supplies. If you’re planning a natural childbirth, bring along anything that will help you focus, like a labor playlist loaded onto your iPod or an exercise ball for bouncing. Your labor room may be equipped with these, but if they’re essential to your birth plan, better that you come prepared. 

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Natural Methods to Induce Labor - SmartMom

Natural Methods to Induce Labor: Nine Tips for New Moms

Photo by The Blog is Found

The end of a pregnancy can sometimes feel like it drags on forever. You’re bloated, tired, achy and you just want to meet that little person who has been kicking you for nine months. Luckily, there are many natural methods to induce labor that can help speed things along.

Although none of these methods are medically proven to kick start your labor, they are all safe and harmless. Whether they’re old wives tales or they prove to be effective, why not give them a go?

Take a Walk

The most simple way to induce labor naturally is to go for a walk. Taking a relaxing walk around your neighborhood or even walking around the house can help the baby’s head to drop against your cervix, thus releasing oxytocin, a hormone which helps induce labor.

Walking every day in the weeks leading up to your due date is not only one of many natural methods to induce labor, but a good way to condition yourself for labor and delivery. Not sure where to start? Check out this article on How to Walk to Induce Labor.

Eat Spicy Food

While it may be an old wive’s tale, many mothers swear that eating spicy food sent them right into labor! Why could this be? Spicy food stimulates the digestive system, helping move the bowels, which in turn could possibly help the uterus start to contract. Go for some delicious curry recipes, Chinese take-out, or Thai food.

Have Some “Alone Time” with Your Partner

If you’re up for it (and with your doctor’s approval), shut the bedroom door and go for it with your partner. Semen has natural prostaglandins, a hormone produced by a woman’s body to help induce labor. After sex, lay horizontal for a bit and relax with your hips elevated to try to thin and soften your cervix. Plus, the uterus contracts during orgasm, a great way to jump-start labor.

Try Acupressure

An age-old Asian practice, acupressure is the act of using finger pressure over certain places of the body to help the body relax and relieve pain. There are certain pressure points on the body which have been known to not only help induce labor, but also to help with the pain associated with childbirth. For some tips and safety measures of acupressure, check out this article.

Eat Pineapple

Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme from the stems of pineapples which is said to stimulate muscle contains and soften the cervix. The proteins in bromelain are known to stimulate chemical activity within the body, therefore, hopefully helping the body kick into high gear for labor.

Pineapple is also an anti-inflammatory and therefore a digestive aid, bringing about bowel movements, and hopefully inducing labor. Can’t stomach pineapple straight up? Sip on one of pineapple smoothie recipes and wait for that baby.

Go Dancing

Shake your groove thing, mama! Not only is dancing one of the perfectly natural methods to induce labor, you can have fun while doing it.  Swaying your hips while dancing can help the baby descend into the pelvis. Just like with walking, gravity will help the baby down, so that the head is up against the cervix, thus releasing the oxytocin that can induce labor.

Bounce on a Ball

Many women use an exercise ball during labor to help ease the baby down the birth canal, but did you know you could also use it to induce labor? Squatting and bouncing on a large ball will open up the pelvis and help the baby’s head down near the cervix. By bouncing, you are allowing your pelvis to engage the baby. Again, let gravity do it’s thing!

Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

While red raspberry leaf tea, an old Native American pregnancy tonic, may not actually naturally induce labor, many women drink it throughout their pregnancy because it helps tone the uterus.

It also helps strengthen the contractions, so once actual contractions begin, red raspberry leaf tea is thought to help the process along.  If the uterus is toned, it is prone to be more ready to go at the right time. Furthermore, many women continue to drink the tea after delivery because it helps tone the uterus back into shape.

Try Swinging

Find your local playground and go for “a swing.” The small G-force which results from swinging could possibly encourage your little one to come out. Further, a ride on a swing will help the baby’s head down into the cervix, thus stimulating the oxytocin as it does during walking and dancing.



How many of you mamas have been induced and had it lead to having a c section?

I would much rather have my baby naturally but..wondering how many of you got induced & how was the experience?

Any moms out there have any successful ways to naturally induce labor?

Wondering how you all feel about being induced..Is it dangerous for it not to happen naturally?

Any natural ways to induce labor? I’m scheduled to be induced..don’t want to resort to that..

Do you think induced labors are more intense/painful than natural?

39 weeks and doc scheduled me to be induced..my mom told me being induced hurts way more than having naturally.

Any tips on how to naturally induce labor? I’m so done being pregnant!

Tips on how to get labor started naturally (besides castor oil)?

Shouldn’t I wait for natural labor to occur or should I consider having the induction?


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jamie's birth story

Jamie’s Birth Story

Whenever I talk to people about labor and birth photography (or birth stories, as they are more commonly called) I get one of two reactions. Either people love the idea, or they are completely mortified by it.  In my experience, I have found that those who are repulsed by the idea of a birth story are those who haven’t actually seen one.  So today, I’d like to share mine with you.

Bringing a baby into this world is HARD, and I’m not just talking about labor and delivery. I’m talking about the 9 months of eating nothing but dry cereal and vanilla ice cream because it’s all that sounds good to you, and then throwing it up 20 minutes later. I’m talking about the extra pounds and inches which, I’m sorry to say, get harder and harder to work off after each pregnancy. I’m talking about the aching bones, the creaking hips, the sleepless nights, and the I’m-so-tired-I-can’t-remember-my-last-name moments that every pregnant woman battles at one point or another.

Oh yes, having a baby is hard work. However, it’s also one of the most exhilarating, and rewarding mountains you will ever climb, and when you reach the summit, you will realize you are a different person than you were when you started your journey. It is a monumental accomplishment that should be celebrated and remembered.

My son’s journey into our family was a difficult one. I had lost three babies in a row prior to getting pregnant with him, two of which were 16 weeks along when they passed away. I had a very difficult pregnancy, which ended with me on bed rest at 36 weeks due to a separated pelvis. Life had been hard for a while. One thing I learned over and over again is that you can’t always count on tomorrow. You never know how much time you have with the ones you love. One of my biggest regrets is that I don’t have any pictures of myself during my prior pregnancies. I kept saying, “Oh, I don’t feel well”, or “I look terrible right now… I’ll do it tomorrow.” Those babies left an imprint on my heart that will last forever, but there’s no physical evidence that they were here, or that they were a part of me.

That was one of the reasons I began thinking about doing a Birth Story.

At first, most people thought I was crazy. They couldn’t seem to wrap their minds around why I would want a stranger shooting graphic, text book shots of my baby crowning. (Which FYI, is NOT what a Birth Story is!)  They told me all about their labor and delivery stories, and how they did everything possible to avoid the unforgiving lens of the camera.  After all, puffy and swollen isn’t a great look for anyone! They didn’t understand how I could actually WANT, and PAY FOR pictures of myself, looking like I had been hit by a bus.  Thankfully, my husband understands me and my compulsive need to document everything in my life, so we went ahead and booked a photographer.  It was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

Birth Stories

Cascio Photography

Birth Stories

Cascio Photography

Birth Stories

Cascio Photography

Birth Stories

Cascio Photography

You can view the rest of the photos from that day here

I love these pictures.  They are absolutely priceless. Every time I look at them, the memory of that beautiful day flows through me as if I’m experiencing it all over again. I’ll never forget looking through them with my husband for the first time.  He turned and looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “this was worth every penny.”

So what do you think? Have you ever done a Birth Story? If not, would you do one in the future?


Q: I don’t like pictures of myself on a normal day, why would I want pictures of me puffy, vulnerable, and exhausted?

A: I’ll admit labor isn’t beautiful in the typical definition of the word. However, I think it is the epitome of beauty in it’s truest form. Sacrificing of yourself to give life to another human being is a miraculous and powerful experience. A good photographer will know what angles to shoot from, and how to capture the moments that will make you feel beautiful, powerful, and strong, both inside and out.

Q: What about the doctors and nurses? Aren’t there hospital rules about who can be in the room with you? 

A: Always check with your doctor first before hiring a professional photographer. My doctor didn’t mind at all, and the nurses at the hospital were great to work with.

Q: Having a baby is such an intimate experience… didn’t it feel awkward to have a stranger in the room with you?

A:  I don’t know if I’m the best person to ask about this because I actually knew my photographer pretty well, so it wasn’t awkward at all. When I was first admitted into the hospital things were light and fun. The excitement in the air was tangible. We laughed and chatted with our photographer during those first few hours, but as things got harder, I noticed her less and less. There was a palpable change in the energy of the room as I tuned out my surroundings and turned inward, finding my inner strength. For a while the world became very still, and my photographer respected that. For the majority of my labor she was a fly on the wall, quietly clicking away. And my nurse was sweet to make sure that my husband and I got enough alone time, which was important to me.

Q: I have seen some shots I really love. How to I make sure my photographer will meet my expectations?

A: Don’t be afraid to speak up! When you book your session, tell your photographer if there are any details or shots that are important to you. Which moments do you want to capture? A little communication goes a long way!

Q: Birth Stories seem to be kind of pricey. Why is that? 

A: I think Birth Stories, just like any other kind of photo session, vary greatly in price depending on who you hire. Just remember that you get what you pay for. Labor, as you are well aware, is unpredictable. Your photographer has to be ready to go at any moment, and will spend an average of 12 hours with you. Keep in mind, a good photographer is going to document so much more than just the actual delivery. They’ll capture the little details that you are going to be too busy to even notice. For example- one of my favorite shots from my session is of my husband and his mom, wrapped tightly in each other’s arms, with tears of joy in their eyes as they watched me hold my baby boy for the first time. It is absolutely beautiful, and yet I didn’t actually see it happen… I was a little preoccupied. I am so grateful my photographer captured that moment for me.

Most photographers will also include post-birth pictures, such as family and friends holding the baby, or older siblings meeting the baby for the first time. Those shots are priceless! My baby was born during cold and flu season, and the hospital wasn’t letting any siblings visit, but my photographer knew how important it was to capture my girls interacting with their new little brother, so she offered to come to my house when we were released from the hospital and took family pictures of us there. She was amazing!

Now, that being said, I understand that hiring a professional photographer may not be a possibility for everyone. In that case, you can have a friend or family member snap a few pictures for you. After all, any picture is better than no picture at all.

Q: So now that I have all these great pictures, what should I do with them? How much is too much to share?

A: Here’s the thing ladies, we live in a world where the word “Selfie” actually exists in day-to-day conversation. We are living in a time where people love to document and publicly share everything that goes on in their lives, from what they had for dinner, to their dog’s new hair cut. I get it- it’s cool! But when it comes to your Birth Story, think long and hard about how much you really want to share. Even though my pictures are all rated PG, they are still very personal. A good picture can stir emotion in others, and make them feel as if they were there! But you’d hate to have people feel like they were there against their will. As beautiful as it is, not everyone wants to be there. Nor should they be.

Obviously, I’m not a shy person.  After all, I’m sharing these pictures with you, a total stranger. But I didn’t post these pictures on Facebook or Instagram. I just didn’t want them popping up unexpectedly on my friends’ newsfeeds. That being said, I have loved ones spread across the globe, and I wanted to share this experience with them. So I uploaded the pictures onto my personal blog, and then posted a link to my blog on Facebook so that people could choose whether or not they wanted to see them.

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