Product Spotlight: Nosefrida Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator

So….this product.

Click on image for source.

Don’t be fooled by this lame picture of a kid SMILING while this is happening. This isn’t real life…

Click on image for source.

But no kid is happy when you are sucking crap out of their nose. I’ve seen a few blogs give a bad rap until a bunch of angry, Nosefrida loving people (myself included) bombard their comments with how awesome it is and they back down.

It sounds really gross in theory, instead of that bulb syringe that they give you in the hospital (which is so gross btw, how can you clean the inside from boogers and snot and mold!) to get out boogers and gunk when they are stuffed up, this awesome invention uses the power of your mouth to suck that snot out.

Anyone’s first reaction is that they will suck the snot right from their kids nose into their mouth. NOT TRUE. First of all the snot never makes it like 1/2 an inch past the point that’s inserted into your child’s nose but there is a sponge like guard at the base of the blue part (see picture above) that will suck of moisture or anything else before it makes it into the white tub that’s connected to your mouth.

I think parents love it because they know how much it blows to have a kid constantly sniffling and being super stuffed up and this just gets them cleared up better than any bulb syringe ever could. Especially at night time, putting down a kid who can barely breathe blows and you know they’ll just wake up in a few hours just because they are super stuffed. I was skeptical of this product but man, it’s awesome. ESPECIALLY if you are one of those people who love popping zits because it’s so satisfying, this is like that expect its snot.

Have I grossed you out enough? I was prompted to write this post since Ori just developed a sort of cold/stuffy nose the past few days. I try not to terrorize her too much with snot removing techniques so the day time is generally relegated to tissues and a rinse under the faucet. But nap time and post bath time, you best believe this snot sucker comes out and gets the job done. I seriously can’t explain how awesome this product is. I recommend it to every new parent I know and make them buy it. It’s that awesome.

I don’t do this, but many people will spray some saline solution into each nostril before using any nasal aspirator. Ori to me has never been that stuffed that I felt this was necessary but people swear by it. You can buy saline nasal spray but you can just make your own too.

Anyway…buy this please. K, thanks.

Wishing everyone as little snot and grossness this fall and winter season as possible!

SNOT!

 

Travel With a Toddler

It’s been 6 days since we returned from our second trip to Israel since Ori was born. When I thought about what to write in my ‘advice on traveling with a kid’ blog post the only advice that came to mind was: “don’t”. Because really…traveling with a kid BLOWS so why do it if you don’t have to?

Jet lag!

Unfortunately for us, we do have to so the option of banking vacation days for 15 years while our kids are selfish little creepers (just kidding, sort of) we use them up every year to travel 10 hours outside our time zone. Not that I’m complaining…that much. We’re lucky to travel, we’re blessed to have an entire family and group of friends who love Ori (and us I guess) enough to welcome us with open arms when we come…

Based on two trips to Israel, one at 4 months and one at 17 months, I have to say traveling with a 4 month old is way more awesome. Below are some general tips that I found helpful, for air travel, jetlag and beyond…

1. Check with your airline for all the benefits they offer and to know the territory before you show up to the airport with a million things!

Every airline is slightly different but our airline allowed 1 car seat AND 1 stroller to be checked, plus a small bag for Ori (she was a lap infant so she didn’t have a seat and therefore didn’t qualify for one full size bag).

A separate seat for baby can be awesome if you get it!

While having a lap infant and not an extra seat was awesome for our bank account, trip 2 with 17 month old Ori definitely sucked more with no extra seat. She is on the go and it would have been nice to have an extra seat so if you have the benjamins…spring for the child fare. If you have a small enough child, many airlines offer a bassinet in the bulk head seat, but you have to request the seat in advance. This was an amazing perk for our 1st trip when she was 4 months. We didn’t miss having an extra seat for her since we were able to do diaper changes and put her down for eating time, etc in the bassinet. I cried tears of dread when I called before our most recent trip and they said she was too old for the bassinet. Some airlines though still offer the bulk head seats to families. Ours were already booked for our trip because of so many babies, but you might luck out and get that seat, which is nice when the kid wants to get up and move around.

Most airlines will of course gate check a stroller, but we preferred to leave behind more crap to carry so we just used a carrier to lug Ori around. This was slightly more annoying this trip since she wanted to get down and walk, but it still contained her and it was one less thing to carry during our connections and in general during our trip. If you need a stroller where you’re going, I’d suggest checking it completely (not gate checking) unless you really want to lug the stroller through the airport, break it down and wait forever at your destination for them to bring it off the plane. They make really nice and padded bags for your car seat and stroller which I think are a great investment. We have the car seat bag and it’s served us well on both international and domestic flights (I fly to LA every few months to visit family…). Plus it can fit a few extra things that I sneak in, like my boppy, etc which is an added bonus.

Check out the bags here.

2. Pack a well stocked bag for the flight and for your trip.

Don’t be the person who has a kid who vomits everywhere with no change of clothes for you or the kid. Thankfully this hasn’t happened but I’ve read too many horror stories to not be prepared. I packed a ton of snacks, water, toys, iPad FULL to the brim of shows that Ori likes and survived just fine. Both times we also flew with 2 extra changes of clothes for Ori, a fleece sleeper (it gets chilly on the plane), extra underwear and shirt and pants for me, socks for everyone and a sweater for everyone. It might have been slightly annoying having a full to the brim bag but it was worth it.

Dont’ forget to charge your electronics too! And diapers…lots of diapers and a cover for this nasty plane changing tables!

If I had to make a list of the most used items I use when I travel (or the things I NEED to bring from home since I can’t get them when we’re traveling) they’d be…

- White noise machine! We use this at home and it is SO helpful to carry over ‘comfort items’ or things that are a part of your normal sleep routine from home. I would cry buckets if I didn’t have this.

- Black out curtains. Judge away but I make a noisey and dark environment for Ori to sleep in which is sometimes hard to recreate when traveling. When I go to my dad’s house it’s easy to just throw up the curtains since there is already a rod but when we were in Israel this wasn’t an option. Lots of hotels have black out curtains as a default, so if you are traveling that way this might be taken care of. And if you don’t use the blackout curtains at home, you might appreciate having them in a hotel while adjusting to a new time or just in general, getting good sleep while on vacation.

- Video monitor. Depending on where you are staying, this can be helpful to have. When we visited Israel the first time, we stayed in a house that was large enough that we wouldn’t necessarily hear Ori cry when she woke up, especially if we were eating dinner since everyone was talking, etc. This time around, we stayed in a small apartment so it wasn’t necessary but consider bringing one if your living situation would benefit from having an eye and/or ear in the kids room.

- My boppy. The boppy just makes nursing easier and more comfortable, both on the plane and in your destination. Worth the bulkyness it brings when carrying on the airplane, etc.

- Toiletries! Don’t forget baby soap, comb, toothbrush and paste, etc.

- Crib! Most hotels offer a crib or pack n’play that they can give you, which is all well and good. In this case, I’d call ahead and see what they offer and bring the appropriate sheets from home (pack n play vs crib are different sizes). The smell and comfort of home can be found in the same sheets plus the sheets (if they even give you any) from the hotel can be sketchy. When staying with family or friends, having a pack n’play is a lifesaver for a smaller kid. I bought one and left it with my in-laws just so we didn’t have to schlep it this time around!

3. JET LAG

Oh the dreaded jet lag. It wasn’t so bad when Ori was 4 months because she was basically eating and sleeping all the time. She had for sure a longer night time stretch but after a few nights she pretty much went back to that routine. Since she couldn’t stay away more than 2 hours at a time, we didn’t have a huge problem at night time and she was fine during the day.

But fast forward to 17 months old. Holy crap man. It took her about 5 days to get used to the time in Israel and another 4 days once we returned. Below are all the tips I got from reading several blogs and articles about kids and jet lag. I can’t say anything really worked, I think just time is what worked in the end but it’s worth at least trying to implement them. You never know…

  • The biggest tip we got was SUN! Once you land, stay in the sun and outside in general as much as possible, be outside during dusk and the next morning, MORE SUN. We produce the hormone melatonin at nighttime but when you are jetlagged your body hasn’t caught up with when nighttime actually is (or something like that, science!). So by spending time in the sun you are showing your body it’s not nighttime yet and your melatonin will release when it should, once your body doesn’t detect sun anymore. I guess spending as much time in the sun as possible helps to jumpstart the hormonal shift.
  • Eat during mealtimes in your new destination. So many people suggested if you get off the plane in the morning, sit down for a nice big lunch at 12, eat a nice big dinner at 6 (or whenever dinner time is) and do bed time at the time you’d do it at home, etc. Kids especially crave a routine, so setting one up in the new time zone helps to put them on track. Plus the eating times will help your body acclimate quicker. Or so they say…
  • I read that you should also wake up kids by a certain time each morning (a normal wake up time or the time you’d like them to wake while you are on vacation). Especially those first few nights when night time wake ups are happening and even night time party sessions (i.e my kid woke up at 1am and didn’t go back to sleep until almost 5am), some articles I read suggested still waking the sleepy kid up by 8 so they get on a schedule quicker.
  • I’ve also heard about a few products that can help with jetlag. One is called “no jet lag“. I haven’t personally used it but know someone who swears by it for him and his family. I’ve also heard of catnip (a naturopathy solution) to insomnia being a remedy for jetlag, to help the body relax and becoming drowsy. A naturopath suggested it to me, and recommended taking a dose a few hours before bed, at bedtime and anytime you wake at night. I would have LOVED to give this to Ori and tried but she vomited it up the first time I tried to give it to her and then refused every other time. Sigh. I took it the first few nights we were back but I was so dog tired as it was, not sure if it did anything (like keeping me asleep longer, etc). I’m always willing to try natural remedies to things since it can’t really hurt and why not and I’m a looney toon.

The only other advice I have is…just roll with the punches. Nothing will work besides patience when it comes to adjusting with little kids to a new time zone.

Adjusting to a new time zone sucks man!

Whether you are traveling a short distance or across the world, sticking to your routine from home is the most helpful. As best as you can, try to recreate the routine your kids practice at home…from wake up time, nap time, meal times and bed time. When kids (and you!) know what to expect everyone is happier.

Having fun toys that are both new (because this is exciting and might occupy them with the toy longer, especially on a plane) and old (to remind them of home), giving time to rest/nap and good food is a surefire way to both enjoy your travel as well as adjust the kids to a new way of life while you are on vacation.

Passed out in the hotel after a long day in Manhattan…

But really…if you don’t have to travel, just don’t. ;)

Good luck, God speed.

Baby Led Weaning

Usually when I mention ‘baby led weaning’ people assume I mean I will let Ori wean from the breast on her own (this is usually followed by some quizzical looks, but whatever). While I fully intend to let Ori dictate our nursing relationship going forward in toddler hood, what I mean by “baby led weaning” is how we chose to feed Ori solid foods.

 

The general ‘way’ of things, from all of my research before Ori was even born, was you feed some sort of rice cereal or oatmeal or pureed veggies as baby’s first food. Gradually you begin to add fruits and veggies, pureed of course, one at a time so you know if they are allergic. You can start rice cereal as early as 4 months old or whenever your baby is sitting up and interested in food.

After digesting all of that information (see what I did there?) I started branching out to other ways to feed baby. Purees sounded all fine and good, but I’d prefer making my own over the cost of pre-made stuff you buy as well as to control the ingredients. It also seemed like a lot of work.

 

Then I read this post, by Young House Love. They are now famous DIY bloggers (and the stuff they create is AMAZING) but they are also parents to a 3 year old girl and have written some parenting posts on both this topic as well as cloth diapers. They are actually where I first heard of cloth diapering and started my research journey that ended with me cloth diapering Ori. But I digress… “The” book on baby led weaning is Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater. Quite a mouthful of a title but it’s really an approachable and easy to read book. You can skip around as well depending on when you’re starting the book. I read it all since I read it before Ori was born, but if you wanted to start practicing BLW at any point in your infants life, you can find the chapter of where they are age wise/eating wise.

Anyway, what IS baby led weaning? The idea is that you skip purees all together and begin giving your baby age/developmentally appropriate chunks of food from the beginning of their solid food journey. You follow the same principle of introducing foods one at a time to figure out allergies if they have one, but otherwise you just allow your child to slowly learn to pick up their food and eat it themselves. The beginning of course starts with very soft and mushy chunks so once they make it into a toothless baby’s mouth it can easily be smooshed around and swallowed easily. As they grow, especially around 9 months when the pincer grasp develops (using the thumb and index finger to pick up pieces) and they get more teeth and better able to swallow and process food in their mouths, you give more solid pieces of fruits and veggies, pieces of cheese, meat, beans, etc.

 

Baby led weaning begins with the idea that solid food before 1 year of age is just a compliment to breast milk (preferably) or formula. I think the term weaning is probably used since the second solid food touches a baby’s lips you have technically begun ‘weaning’ from breast milk or formula but it shouldn’t be interpreted as a form of weaning. It’s just part of the natural progression of baby’s food journey. BLW also encourages parents to wait until at least 6 months to start solid foods as in general the gut isn’t ready for solid foods anyway until after 6 months and can actually cause some GI problems in some babies by starting early. It also suggests that rice and oatmeal cereals aren’t nutritionally beneficial and starting with fruits and veggies is best.

 

The idea behind BLW is that purees take time (parents have to feed baby instead of feeding themselves, say at the dinner table) and teaching baby from the beginning to self feed sets up a better relationship with food for each child. They can pick and choose what foods they enjoy, how much to eat, when they want to eat more and when they are full. Babies are constantly mimicking those around them and they will learn to pick up their foods, chew, swallow etc both at their own pace but also by copying what mom and dad are doing.

I was “sold” on the idea of BLW because of tons of parents who have said their babies became such great eaters with such a varied palette by following BLW. Now, that isn’t to say that starting with purees will somehow make your kid a picky eater or that it isn’t the right way to feed, but in theory BLW gives a good head start for setting up a great relationship with a wide variety of foods. I just liked the idea that they taught themselves to feed themselves without my needing to spoon feed or make purees. I could just feed Ori what we were eating  for the meal with some modifications here and there.

She became so good at chewing and swallowing and also knowing her own limits I never worried about choking or other issues (which some people bring up as a negative of BLW). By 1 she was comfortably eating harder foods like nuts without issue and if she starts to gag on something, which is rare she just spits it out herself. Only twice have I had to fish out a broccoli stem that didn’t get chewed up well enough and that was my fault for not trimming the end short enough.

 

I also read that using this method of feeding could result in babies choosing the foods containing nutrients they are lacking. Since you are giving them a choice of a few items ideally with every meal, and baby is choosing what they want to eat, they might gravitate towards, intrinsically, what their body needs. This can’t happen of course with purees since you are making the choice of food for them. Do I think this is true? Maybe. I definitely think kids go through phases of food and it’s very possible that it isn’t just taste based but an innate albeit subconscious recognition on a biological level of the vitamins and minerals their body needs at that moment.

The biggest “pro” to BLW was that this form of feeding would encourage and support motor development for Ori and basically support the motor development for each child, at their own pace. BLW claimed this method would make meal times stress free and I have to agree. While it was messy at times (thank god for having a dog!) feeding solid foods the more ‘traditional’ way is messy too, I’ve really enjoyed being able to put Ori in her high chair and put a few bites of a few different foods down and have her eat what she wants.

 

Many times she throws to the floor something she isn’t interested in but what kid doesn’t? And while I’ve made an effort to always introduce and give her healthy and good foods, she is an amazing eater most of the time and I can’t help but wonder if her control over what she eats and how much, has been supported by the style and way in which solid foods were presented to her. She happily eats lettuce, sauteed spinach and kale, pasta, bread, tons of fruits and other veggies, beans, lentils and cheese. And funny thing…she hates soups and purees! I’ve tried giving her applesauce, yogurt, etc and no such luck. She is the opposite of interested. Funny how that works out?! BLW also suggests waiting to introduce solid foods until baby shows signs of being ready. Sitting up unassisted is a big one as well as general interest in solid foods. I know some moms who have chosen to wait until 9-10 months to start solids. We started at 6 months because I was too excited but I might consider waiting a little longer. She didn’t even really “eat” anything until 8 months or so but hey, she had fun so it wasn’t a waste of time. Just a waste of food. She was however at 6 months able to sit up unassisted which, despite my excitement, is why I comfortably began serving her. I would have waited if she wasn’t sitting well.

BLW and the principles in the books were more like guidelines for me than anything. I tried giving her some purees sometimes because there is nothing wrong in my mind with purees as part of a general solid and whole food diet. She wasn’t into them but the BLW ‘rules’ say no purees at all. My advice to parents who ask about my experience with this method is just to take some of the principles they talk about and do what works best for them AND for their kid. I might do things differently with the next kid depending on how he or she is and reacts to food.

I’m always for the ‘unconventional’ way of doing things but I also appreciate learning about different ways of child rearing and adapting several different methods into what makes the most sense for us. And bottom line: Ori is happy and healthy. So no matter how you choose to feed your kid, so long as they look like this when they’re eating (at least most of the time) then you’re doing something right!

Check out my Amazon store with all of my feeding favorites.

Pregnancy Reading and Stuff List

I was blessed with a pretty easy and pain free pregnancy. Besides reading a ton of books and websites, I didn’t use much in the way of ‘pregnancy’ items. Below I highlight the best books I read to prepare for labor and life with a baby. I also included a few items I’ve read about several times from mom’s who have sworn by them, like the snoogle pillow and ginger candies/lollipops, etc to help with morning sickness. I end the post with a few words of advice for the final weeks of pregnancy based on my experience.

**I’d love for readers to share books or items you loved while pregnant to add to the list!**

So over being pregnant @ 38 weeks

Books 

I started off reading a bunch of books about labor and finally in like week 34 realized I should probably read some post delivery books,  you know since labor is temporary but kids are forever! The books on delivery are more skewed to the natural side of things since that was the type of birth I was having (at a birth center with a midwife and doula staff). Perhaps I’m bias but I think even if you are open to or are sure you want drugs, you should read these books. They offer great advice about dealing with pain for the early stages of labor and give a great background on the stages of labor, what to expect, what the normal physical flow of labor is, etc. I found them very informative and enlightening and it made me feel more in control while I was in labor to understand fully what my body was doing. You can find all of the books in my Amazon store here. But the list is below as well…

Stuff

1. Snoogle pillow

Doesn’t she look comfy! HA!

People are OBSESSED with this thing. There are about 1300 reviews on Amazon and it has 4.5 stars. So I mean….I would have totally bought this if I had been living in the US for my entire pregnancy. I moved back at 32 weeks and I was too cheap by then to buy a huge pillow for a few weeks. I think though that I would not have loved this pillow. I liked having 3-4 pillows in bed with me that I could place however I wanted depending on what position I was most comfortable in that day. I think it’s worth trying though and perhaps next pregnancy if I’m that uncomfortable in our measly queen sized bed I’ll probably try anything including this pillow to relieve some discomfort. For $45 it isn’t cheap but for those who have had drastically improved sleep probably say they’d spend a million dollars for the pillow. I would also totally try to find this on Craig’s List. 2. babycenter/babble (3d videos by trimester) snoogle pillow ginger chews tucks rings (swollen)

2. Tuck’s Pads 

Man oh man do I love these things. I wrote about them in my post partum post as well, but they can be really helpful during pregnancy. I used them post partum just to help calm and cleanse my down there region but these pads are technically for hemorrhoids and for those who have them (I’m so sorry!) they actually work to soothe and heal!!!

When reading about treatment for hemorrhoids or other moms suggestions for post partum pads/treatments Tuck’s was the only brand I read about so I think they might be popular ;)

3. Ginger Candy

So thanks be to Hashem (that there’d be the Jewish G-d), I avoided feeling nauseous during my pregnancy. I suffered from extreme fatigue and a general feeling of not having an appetite but thanks heavens I didn’t feel sick. I HATE VOMITING. Seriously. I think I prefer catching Ori’s vomit in my arms (true story) than vomiting myself.

That being said, there are tons of ginger candies, chews, lollipops and teas that many a pregnant mama I know have sworn by to help with that upset tummy feeling. The link above is just one brand but I bet at Whole Foods or a local store or even on Amazon there are tons more options.

It’s good too that I didn’t get sick since I basically loathe ginger almost as much as I do vomiting. Baby #2 better watch out, because if he/she gets me sick there will be HELL to pay. More hell than Ori will pay (one day, I will surprise her so she won’t know when it’s coming) for putting me through 35 hours of labor. Moving on…

4. Prenatal Vitamins

So duh, these are important. I still take mine actually since despite the word “pre” in the prenatal, nursing mama’s are advised to continue taking them. There are TONS of choices out there but I chose the Rainbow Light brand since it’s a whole foods based (vs synthetic) vitamin and that’s just my jam. They are kind of pricey compared to say, the Trader Joe’s brand (but not by much). Thankfully I belong to a co-op with my holistic mom’s group so the price is incredibly awesome.

Random Advice

Jewelry and Swelling

So of course everyone is going to experience pregnancy differently. I never became too swollen or had issues with puffiness, etc however I did end up having to have my wedding band CUT OFF in week 37 since my hand swelled up overnight. So I’d for sure recommend, especially if you start to notice water retention or any swelling, to remove any jewelry that might not come off. Obviously you will deflate after you give birth, but my ring was actually incredibly uncomfortable and I’m not sure I would have made it another few weeks.

Week by Week Newsletters

So the first thing I recommend any newly pregnant friend to do is sign up for  a few week by week pregnancy newsletters. I was obsessed with these things and waited rather impatiently every Sunday for my next addition. I am a knowledge freak so having any and all info about what baby was doing inside of me, what vegetable she resembled that week, etc was like crack. But seriously, they are really informative and it’s so fun to learn about the development of a fetus, especially when it’s happening inside of you! And they are dad friendly too, not too long that he can’t spend a few minutes reading and connecting with you about what your baby is doing in there!

They also help to alleviate some concerns you might have since they tend to talk about common issues you might be experiencing with links to forums and other helpful articles from their website with more details.

My two favorites were Babycenter and Babble but I know there are more about there. Google around and find a site that speaks to you. Babble has a great blogger series as well, with a whole host of moms talking about pregnancy, babyhood, toddlerhood and beyond. And even better, the newsletters continue with weekly updates once your baby is here. I still get them every week and love them!

Belly Pictures

So I totally copied several other bloggers and moms by taking a picture of my belly every week. Oh how I wish I was as creative as some people with my picture taking, but alas I took one a week in the same position thereabouts. I’m SO glad I did this because it’s fun looking back and seeing my growth. I even made an album and printed over every picture the date and week #. Overachiever right here!

 

This was also a fun thing to do since I was living in Israel for most of my pregnancy so my close friends and family were able to see how I was growing even though they weren’t with my in person. I highly recommend doing this, even if you don’t share it with anyone, but just keep them for yourself. I would LOVE to do it with my next pregnancy and include Ori every week as well to watch her grow too :)

Final thoughts…

Enjoy your pregnancy. Heartburn, puking, swollen feet and all it still boggles my mind that a HUMAN can grow and survive inside my uterus. Wishing you a safe, healthy and happy delivery :)

*All images link to original source. 

Post Delivery Decisions: Skin to Skin, Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping and More

Even though I gave birth at a birth center with a team of midwives and doulas and not in a hospital (read my birth story here), I still read up on the ‘choices’ you have once you push that baby out. Especially when giving birth in a hospital, I think learning about and considering these issues as part of your birth plan and/or things you communicate to your doctor and the nurses on staff before you deliver, is important. Among these choices are…

  • Skin to skin
  • Delayed umbilical cord clamping
  • Vitamin K Shot, Hep B shot and Eye ointment
  • Baby bath
  • Your placenta

Part of why I actually chose to give birth outside of a hospital setting, aside from wanting a medication free birth, was because of my feelings about all of the above topics. A birthing center and a midwife/home birth setting default to practicing skin to skin immediately after birth, delayed umbilical cord clamping, optional medicines (vitamin K, vaccines, etc) and a respect in general for the natural way of birth. That’s all for another post but I digress…

So many hospitals these days however are becoming more and more on board with and advocate for skin to skin, which is AMAZING. Also many doctors are becoming more and more aware of the research surrounding delayed cord clamping and the benefits to baby. However usually things like the vitamin K shot, eye ointment and giving your baby a bath are common practice. There is nothing WRONG with these things but if you feel strongly about not giving baby a bath say, or not receiving a shot or the eye ointment, while some hospitals might be ok so long as you say something, some you might have to fight.

That’s why, despite my personal feelings on all of these topics, I write these posts partly to share my own feelings and the decisions I made but also to educate others who might otherwise be unaware that there are “issues” surround common practices in the hospital and perhaps, once understanding the issue, can make a more informed choice when it’s their turn to push.

Skin to Skin

As I said above, this practice is becoming more and more common in many hospitals after tons of research showing the benefits of immediate skin to skin contact. When I say immediate, baring any problems with baby coming out and needing immediate attention, baby comes out vagina and directly onto mom or dad’s chest (preferably mom obviously but in the case of a problem with mom, a c-section (though a mom could still do this) or say, a surrogate birth, any warm body will do.

The effects for baby (and mom!) are amazing. Even post birth, if breastfeeding is problematic or even if it’s not but you just want to connect with baby, skin to skin works like a charm. It’s calming and soothing for baby and can help baby relax. Think about it…they are warm and can hear a heartbeat, a familiar sound from the time they were a little tadpole in the womb. But immediately after birth, skin to skin can help regulate baby’s body temp, heart rate, breathing and even blood sugar. Skin to skin will also colonize baby’s body with bacteria from mom which is thought to improve allergy prevention (breastfeeding does this too!). There is tons of research that skin to skin is a huge part of care for premature babies as well. The reasons above only amplify in importance for a little one who wasn’t quite ready to make an appearance.

Skin to skin is also the best way to start a great breastfeeding relationship. Studies show that skin to skin helps babies to latch better and earlier. It’s also plain and simple, the best way for mom and dad (or mom and mom, or dad and dad!) to bond with baby immediately after birth. It’s also why I’m a big babywearing fan, since especially at the beginning it’s another way to have awesome skin to skin time with baby. One reason I think babies are so relaxed when being held/carried (especially in the moby as newborns since it’s all tight and womb like) is they hear the familiar heart beat from when they were on the inside and are extremely comforted by this.

*I would highly recommend ensuring with your doctor and the staff on hand at the hospital (great job for your partner since you might be otherwise distracted when you come in) that they know you would like immediate skin to skin once the baby is safely delivered. I have even heard of hospitals allowing skin to skin with mom or partner immediately after a c-section, which is amazing.

Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping

So what does ‘delayed’ actually mean? Some people might get the image in their head of those ‘weirdos’ who keep their placenta and baby attached for a few days (called a lotus birth). For the record, I don’t think these people are weirdos though I personally would not choose to do a lotus birth. But anyway, delayed cord clamping in this case just means keeping baby and placenta attached (while the placenta is still inside mom) for a few minutes until the blood stops flowing, usually for only 2-3 minutes, at which point it is cut.

There has been a TON of research, especially recently, on the benefits of delayed cord clamping. The biggest “pro” of this practice is that the iron stored in the placental blood (I don’t know if placental is a word, but just go with it…) is enough for the baby to ‘stock up’ for up to 6 months. This also means a lower risk of anemia after birth as well. Delaying cord clamping, again assuming nothing is wrong with baby and doesn’t need immediate attention goes hand and hand with skin to skin. If baby is put on  your chest immediately and hangs out for an hour or two, who cares if you wait another 3 minutes to cut the cord.

I don’t remember from my own birth how long it was before they cut the cord though I know they waited until the blood stopped pulsing. Time wasn’t really fixed at that point for me since I just pushed a baby out of my vagina…but anyway, it’s not long. Before I knew it Ori was resting on my chest and I was being tortured with uterine massage to get my placenta out. That was fun times.

Anyway, this trend of delayed cord clamping, in my reading, has become very popular and accepted by many doctors as beneficial for baby and baring any problems immediately after birth is something so simple to do in a hospital setting.

Vitamin K, Hep B and Eye Ointment 

So this of course is a heated topic so I’m just going to say pretty much why I decided to do the vitamin K shot and why I opted out of the eye ointment and hep B shot. I can’t say enough that I think these things need to be RESEARCHED instead of just blindly accepted by parents. There is no right or wrong but I think everyone should know the pros and cons of each treatment and decide for themselves and their child what is best for them.

Hep B Vaccine

First off, hep B. While I have chosen to give Ori some vaccinations she is not getting all of them and hep b is one of them. I would really encourage EVERYONE to read Dr. Sears’ “The Vaccine Book” before you decide whether to vaccinate, vaccinate some or not at all. It is pretty unbiased and gives a great overview of each vaccine, each disease and the stats on deaths, transmission etc. so you can make your own decisions. I actually follow Dr Sears’ alternative schedule, with the full blessing of my pediatrician. But anyway, not only will I not do the hep b ever, giving my kid ANY vaccine at birth just seems wrong to me. They are so little and so not ready for synthetic things going in their body. But that’s me. Que the “I’m a hypocrite” when I tell you that I gave Ori the (synthetic) vitamin K shot.

DO YOUR RESEARCH since I think this is an important topic and even if you chose to do it which is fine, do it knowing you read about it and feel comfortable with that decision. I feel like so many things happen to babies, not necessarily bad but not necessary, that many parents might not want happening but they are ignorant. Not in a “stupid” way they just have no idea that there IS research on these issues to know to read up on them.

Vitamin K Shot

The vitamin K shot, after much research I decided not to do. I felt like nature had made our bodies work pretty well and after a full term pregnancy, the gradual production of vitamin K in Ori’s body would be just fine to see her through her necessary clotting. However after a huge bruise on her head after birth from the midwife helping to work her head out, I was totally fine with giving her the shot, especially when my midwife said it would be a good idea. My midwife isn’t a big vitamin K or ointment giver but will do if the parent wants. She explained in cases where there is obvious trauma or bruising it is a good idea whereas if nothing is visible, then it’s not necessary. Again do your research and do what you feel comfortable doing.

Eye Ointment

Lastly the eye ointment. When I read that it helped prevent blindness from bacteria passed from mom to child in the vaginal canal, I thought… I’m a terrible parent if I don’t do this. Then I realized blindness can only maybe occur if they the mother had gonorrhea and then I was like SAY WHAT? So because I don’t have gonorrhea and because it’s been said that the eye ointment stings and makes vision blurry for a few hours after birth and um, IT’S TOTALLY UNNECESSARY UNLESS YOU HAVE GONORRHEA, we went ahead and declined this.

Sadly in some states eye ointment is the law, so you might be stuck getting this no matter what, but be sure to talk to your doctor.

Giving baby a bath, yea or nay? 

So every time I tell a pregnant friend, don’t let the nurses give the baby a bath and don’t bathe them for a while, I see the judgey look in their eyes. It’s ok, I’m used to it by now. True story: when I went to the hospital after Ori was born to have her foot prick test thingy done, the nurses were so hostile towards me when they realized I birthed outside a hospital “ON PURPOSE” (direct quote) and then decided to be unhelpful in helping me find the lab to get the test done. But anyway….

The idea behind not giving baby a bath is that the vernix (that white stuff on baby) is actually an amazing substance to help keep baby’s skin healthy, temperature regulated and even acts as an antibacterial. I think I read somewhere that nurses love the stuff and rub it on their hands when babies are born since it’s so moisturizing. But don’t quote me on that.

Obviously baby is rubbed down/wiped off so no more blood and yummy birth stuff is left, but the vermix can and should stay! I think after the first day it didn’t even look like much vernix was left so it’s not like we had this weird gooey baby hanging around. I noticed too that Ori didn’t have much skin peeling and falling off in the first weeks after she was born like many babies, and I attribute this to waiting to bathe her.

I think her umbilical cord stump fell off after a week and a half (true story: it fell off and Jack ate it before I could get it off the floor where it fell when I picked her up. Disgusting). I think that day we bathed her for the first time.

Obviously not bathing the baby for a while and not bathing frequently once you do start bathing in the newborn times is predicated on the fact that you are thoroughly cleaning baby’s vagina/penis and butt well at every diaper change.

Placenta Encapsulation 

So I’ve written a separate post about my decision to encapsulate my placenta here. But I will say that if it’s something you are considering doing, make sure you speak with your doctor before hand AND with the nurses on staff at the hospital to make sure they save your placenta and handle it properly. Ideally I believe (and ask your encapsulation person but they will tell you anyway) that the placenta should stay cold, and can stay in the fridge for a few days before being frozen. The woman who encapsulated for me came after 2 days so it just stayed quadruple wrapped in plastic bags in the fridge until she came.

I think some hospitals have a problems or might fight you on letting you keep it but as far as I know there aren’t any rules or laws against you taking your placenta, so fight on momma!

I was motivated to write this post since I have a friend due in a week and asked her recently if she had done her research on skin to skin and delayed cord clamping, etc. Since I read up on it this week so I could chat with her intelligently about it I thought I’d write it up since these topics are really important to me and seriously a huge initial reason I even considered a midwife birth — knowing that the things I was learning and wanted during and after my birth would be second nature, respected and the norm in a midwife environment.

Baltic Amber Necklaces for Teething

When I first read about amber teething necklaces I thought it was a great idea! I try to live as naturally as possible and limit the amount of conventional drugs that enter my body as well as the body of my daughter and husband. Amber necklaces came with amazing reviews, parents who say that when the necklace went missing so did their calm and pain free teething babies. My logic was that even if it didn’t work and it was all a hoax, at least it was cute. But I had a feeling that while it might not work 100% it might help, and the “might” when it comes to kids and things making them feel better and sleeping better, was way worth the investment and trial.

My review after Ori having worn the necklace for the past year is that…I don’t know if it works. But I WILL NOT EVER NEVER take that necklace off to find out. I will say she has barely had any drooling and the only time teeth coming in have bothered her and noticeably affected her sleep is when she gets more than 2 teeth at a time. When she got her first few teeth, one at a time, she didn’t seem to notice. When she got all 4 molars in at the same time….I’m not sure anything could help that poor girl (or me).

I love supplementing the amber with Hylands and Boiron teething products as they are homeopathic remedies that I really believe work as well. The times too that her teething has seemed to affect sleep and her mood, she just wakes more but doesn’t have that hard of a time going back down. She doesn’t wake and scream and cry and show she is in pain it’s just probably bugging her. But what do I know? She doesn’t talk so I’m just insinuating.

But back to the necklaces….

There is one big negative to this necklace…safety conscious husbands! Ha! Ari had some concerns about the safety of the necklace but after some research he acquiesced and the more she’s had it on, the less stressed and worried he’s become.

So how does it work?

Amber is said to contain succinic acid, which when against the heat of the body is released from the amber. Succinic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Amber has been used for a long time with arthritis and other aches and pains. My understanding is that the closer you wear it to the pain, the better. So for teething, a necklace is perfect. For arthritis in the hands/arm, a bracelet works, etc.  

Raw or semi polished amber is supposed to contain the most succinic acid, as well as lighter colors of amber. This doesn’t mean though that a darker color or polished amber can’t be effective.

Shopping for a Necklace

When shopping for a necklace, make sure of two things:

1. You are buying for a reputable seller who uses only real Baltic amber.

2. They construct the necklace by knotting the string in between EACH amber bead. This ensures that if baby becomes hulk and pulls the necklace off that only one bead will be set free. This was Ari’s biggest issue with the necklace…that it was a choking hazard.

Choking

As I said above, finding a necklace that is knotted in a specific way to prevent a break from sending a bunch of beads everywhere is important. What I told Ari when he said he was fearful of her choking, after much research this was my answer:

The necklaces are made to, if broken, only release one bead and each bead is too small to become a choking hazard. Also, we are always supervising her, especially the younger she is, so I don’t fear that something could happen in such a short period of time that we wouldn’t notice and be able to respond.

Some people feel uncomfortable keeping the necklace on at night since the baby isn’t “supervised”. My personal feeling is, if we, as adults, can wear a necklace to bed and not suffocate ourselves, I really feel like a kid can too. But that’s me. Many people loop the necklace around the ankle and put a sock over it. We didn’t. We just left it on all the time and honestly Ori hardly ever notices that it’s there since its a constant thing for her. Occasionally she’ll find it and chew on it, but again we are always with her so we just remove it from her mouth and give her something else to play with.

I obviously can’t make this decision for you but I felt comfortable keeping it on her 24/7. We just remove it for baths since submerging the necklace in water isn’t recommended.

Where to buy?

I purchased my amber necklaces from two different places and recommend both stores. I included a 3rd link from another online retailer that everyone recommends as well.

I also wear an amber necklace since I suffer from headaches and I hoped it would help. Again, it can’t be measured if it helps or not. Do I still get headaches? Yes. Do I get as  many as I would without the necklace? Who knows. Everyone always comments, “Aw how cute you and your daughter have the same necklace” while giving me a slightly judgey look like how lame can you get. Whatever suckers. If it helps even a smidge for my daughter and myself to feel better than I’ll try it. Plus they’re cute :)

They offer different sizes for babies and toddlers and adults. I got a 13-14 inch for Ori and it’s sitting pretty still on her neck with tons of room to grow. I have a 17-18 inch and it’s perfect.

The one thing that is most surprising to me about amber necklaces and their use in children for teething is HOW many people use them for their children. When I first heard about them I thought it was the crunchiest and most hippy dippy thing ever. I, after all, had heard about them through my holistic moms group. However after doing research and reading posts on mainstream mom forums on Facebook, etc I realize it is become a common practice. Obviously I think this is awesome since I believe there is a lot of value in alternative medicine and more people should be considering natural medicine as part of treating issues they may have. But it also just made me feel more confident and comfortable with the idea of Ori wearing the necklace since so many people are doing it without issues (choking, etc) and who report back with positive experiences.

Links to purchase: 

Nicki’s Diapers

Inspired by Finn

Nova Natural

Why I Breastfeed

So…breastfeeding. Ever since becoming pregnant, I was sadly introduced to the “Mommy War” frenzy. If you haven’t heard of it, sorry that I have to slay your ignorance about the subject. Listen, we all judge. We judge other moms, we judge other dads, we judge other women, we judge other men, we judge others houses, their choice of dress, and on and on. It’s human nature. I LOVE judging people. But I usually keep it to myself and don’t spew my negative judgements everywhere. Mommy wars tends to be about these things… cry it out vs. not; breastfeeding vs formular; c-section vs vaginal birth; epidural vs. no meds, etc etc.

Nursing 2 month old Ori. Lake Tahoe, CA 2012

Now I’ll preface this post and it holds true for pretty much everything I’ll say on this blog, that every choice I make for myself and for Ori is because I think they are best FOR US. Please don’t tell me what I should be doing (that I’m not) because you aren’t me and you aren’t the mother of my child and you don’t know her better than I do. And that’s a two way street. I don’t know your kid, I don’t know you. All you can do is what your gut tells you is ‘right’ for you and your kid. So while I think breastfeeding is awesome and wonderful (which I’ll go into detail about below) if you chose to formula feed, fantastic! I’m not you. You’re not me. I feel like Dr. Seuss…

I HATE it when people tell me what I’m doing wrong or that I should be doing this or that. I love however, talking to other moms and learning about what they do so I can kind of pick and choose things I might try or ways I might go about parenting. It was several blogs that spoke so highly of their breastfeeding experiences that motivated me to be so passionate about breastfeeding and became such a huge support to me in the those hard, long early days of newborn hood. A friend of mine emailed me today actually and said “You were right, breastfeeding has gotten so much easier!” and I was so glad to hear this. I sent her a version of this post when she was pregnant and hoped it was a part of deciding to breastfeed and I also hope it helped when it was tough in the beginning for her. So many women start to breastfeed with all the good intentions but it gets hard or frustrating and they don’t have adequate support to continue. So while I would never judge a mom who tries and doesn’t continue (I hesitate to say fail because that word seems judgmental) I’d hope that writing this might tip the scales in favor of continuing instead of stopping.

And now I’ll start the actual post where I talk about my experience and why I feel so passionate about breastfeeding since apparently I’m incapable of writing a short intro.

Nursing —-> passed out.

Some lessons…

1. BREASTFEEDING IS HARD IN THE BEGINNING. And then its not. Stick with it, it’s so worth it.

2. In the beginning (or ever) if you ever need advice, support or to just complain find someone to talk to. Breastfeeding rarely goes well or easy in the first few weeks and having a support system truly makes all the difference. I swear. I went to a La Leche meeting when I was pregnant and only because I met one of the leaders did I feel comfortable calling when I was having latch issues with Ori. Everyone is different and you might feel comfortable calling a stranger but I didn’t. Find a community, a person, a resource, something that you feel comfortable talking to. In those early days you feel all sorts of things, including maybe annoying, So you rationalize that you are different, you are doing something wrong, you suck, whatever. BUT YOU DON’T. Someone is there to help, to listen, whatever and there are very rare cases where no solution can be found. After a few weeks Ori was latching and nursing fine without pain on my end and at the time it felt like FOREVER but in hindsight, obviously, it was only a few weeks.

3. While I truly believe breastfeeding is the best thing for baby, dont get sucked in to the pressure (if you do) to continue if it just isn’t working for you. In the end, what is best for your child is going to be what makes you happiest and the least stressed. That slightly contradicts the whole idea that breastfeeding is hard at first but stick with it, but you’ll know what feels right. Give breastfeeding some time, but if its not for you after trying, then that’s okay. Let go of the “guilt” of parenthood.

But if you do chose to breastfeed…you get to look at this all the time. Post nap on the breast in hot weather.

4. I said this already but it deserves its own paragraph: if you can/have time, find a La Leche League group near you. I ended up having some issues which Ill talk about later but I never NEVER would have called for help if I hadn’t already met a leader or two. I would have felt too weird or embarrassed but those phone calls improved my situation and solved my problems. They literally were amazing. It’s nice also to have a group, even if you only got a few times after he’s born, so you can ask questions and get advice from other moms who are in your position or have been. Once you get breastfeeding off to a good start you might find, like I did, that the meetings weren’t necessary anymore. Or you might meet your best mom friends there and go because it’s a great way to socialize.

So I read before I had Ori that breastfeeding can be difficult. It can be uncomfortable in the beginning but that its worth it blah blah. Nothing can prepare you though. Some women skate by without any issues. God bless them. But breastfeeding has a learning curve for both you and baby. But once you both figure it out, it’s great.

A few days into this whole “nursing” thing. I had NO idea what I’d gotten myself into! ;)

Basically my issue, and I wont go into detail since it may never happen to you, was that her latch was off on my left side. I wasn’t holding my breast right and a few other things and my nipple started bleeding and got cracked. It was so painful, especially then when they are nursing non stop and for long periods of time (ie. always). There were times when she’d latch on and I’d burst into tears. Poor Ari. If I hadn’t had advice and help, I’m not sure what I would have done. But between advice on the phone from a La Leche leader and my midwife (and Ari who paid close attention to the midwifes suggestion and then helped me implement them at home), I figured it out and at around 3 weeks ish (it was A VERY LONG 3 WEEKS) everything was fine.

But in general if you have no latch problems and everything is A-OK you will still have some soreness, usually slight discomfort when they first latch and then it feels fine, for a week or two.

The one thing I wasn’t really expecting and caught me off guard was engorgement. Basically once your milk comes in it takes about a month (up to 6 weeks) for your body to figure out how much milk to make. Its supply and demand so the more baby sucks (eats) the more you make. It’s a whole other topic but I say suck because if you exclusively pump or think you can/should pump to relieve engorgement you shouldn’t (unless a lactation consultant recommends it). The body responds best, when it comes to supply and demand, to an actual baby sucking on your boobs, since babies are the most efficient and train your body ‘correctly’. (That isn’t to say exclusively pumping instead of nursing is a bad idea, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have to).

So after 6 weeks or so your body gets the idea that baby eats x amount of times and x amount of ounces every day so it will kind of level off and be much better. Even now I see my body messing with my supply, based on how Ori’s needs change. For a few weeks she was waking up twice a night instead of once and when she returned to waking once a night, I would wake up before her only nighttime feeding COMPLETELY full since my body had gotten used to 2 feedings. After a few days though it leveled off again.

How can you care that your boobs feel like they will explode when you get to stare at this for a few hours!?

Anyway being engorged those first few weeks was really painful. It sucked ass man. Some women even end up getting mastistis which is like a small infection in the milk ducts because milk isn’t being drained fast enough (that is why a good latch is important so baby is getting what he needs but also emptying you effectively as well). I had hot compresses on my boobs all the time to relax the pain and I’d wake up at night before her because my boobs were so full it was painful to lay down/sleep.

I was convinced that it would be like this forever. It’s funny when I think back to all of this because its SO long ago and in the scheme of things it didn’t really last that long. But when you’re in the thick of it, it seems like forever. Which brings me to my biggest piece of breastfeeding and mom advice:

THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Just when you have a routine or schedule, baby changes and everything changes. Just when you think your nipple can’t hurt anymore, it stops hurting forever. Just when you think your boobs might explode, suddenly all is balanced. So just remind yourself that nothing is forever, and it will always get better.

Finally after around 5 months I was able to nurse by side lying and sneak off the bed while she stayed sleeping. VICTORY!

That goes hand in hand with the other best advice which is TRUST YOUR INSTINCT. Dont listen to annoying people (like me) with their “you must do this” and “don’t do that” advice.  You and ONLY YOU (sorry Dad!) know your child the best and your gut will always tell you what is right, what works and what is best for both of you. Always trust it, always follow it. It’s wonderful to learn about what others do, the choices other moms make and why but YOU have final say. Whenever I make a decision, big or small, that feels slightly not ok in my gut, it always turns out like crap and I end up doing what I originally wanted to do in the first place. Even if what you want to do (like say a sleep training method or when to start nap time, whatever…) even if it turns out like crap, you don’t then have to deal with the guilt of “I knew I shouldn’t have…” or “I should have done this instead”.

I would highly HIGHLY recommend reading “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and keeping it on hand post baby. I never look at it anymore but I read the entire thing before Ori was born and constantly in the first 3 months I reread relevant parts. It really explained to me the mechanics of breastfeeding, like supply and demand. It put me at ease about the fear that she wasn’t eating enough, and all those silly things (which aren’t silly really, but they seem silly now that I really understand everything). I began to understand the science behind it so I understood better how to take care of myself and how to create my breastfeeding relationship.

I have NEVER gotten mastitis or any other yeast related breast infection. I took probiotics, which might be something to consider to help prevent any yeast/thrush issues. I initially started taking it since I was Group B Positive and had to have antibiotics during delivery. But my midwife said to just keep taking them because WHY NOT! Part of why I never had problems might be because I got lucky and am not prone to it but I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that I read and understood how it all works and made sure to prevent things before they happened. A few times I felt a hard spot in my breast and I understood that was milk probably getting a little backed up, so I massaged it and fed Ori while rubbing it to loosen it up. That would have caused an infection if it didn’t clear or I didn’t know to be aware of it. So it was really helpful. It calmed me down as well when my boobs were full and heavy and disgusting. But I truly began to understand the relationship of milk, breast, etc and how the relationship changes and evolves at different developmental times, etc.

In conclusion, breastfeeding is great. They say that formula is easier than breastfeeding but I have to disagree. It’s easier in the beginning and breastfeeding is harder, no question, but formula always stays the same. you ALWAYS have formula, anyone can give the baby food but you have to carry around stupid bottles and warm water and it’s expensive. Breastfeeding starts off hard and then becomes the easiest than formula. You always have milk ready, at the right temperature and there is always enough. Baby will eat until he’s done not when the bottle is empty.

Chunky delicious breastfed baby!

And even more than all of that (and the nutrition and natural immunities you give through the milk) it becomes the BEST parenting tool. Baby upset and you dont really know why, the breast will solve it 9 times out of 10. Ori starting to get fussy because she’s tired but we’re out and wont be home for another 30 minutes, thebreast calms her. It’s an amazing thing. You can read a million times about studies that show that breastfed babies have higher IQ’s and even formula companies will tell you breast is best (but if you chose to give formula consider their brand). Listen, is someone not going to get into Harvard because they had formula instead of breastmilk, obviously not. For me though, knowing all of the wonderful benefits of breastmilk and the relationship it fostered with Ori was what HELPED me to keep going when it got tough. I would think about losing that closeness and special relationship only I get to share with her. I thought about our credit card bill and how expensive formula would be when I make the good stuff free of charge.

Two small practical bits to conclude…

1. I’ve read to not introduce a bottle until around 3-4 weeks or when breastfeeding is starting “well established”. That’s what all the books say. But also INTRODUCE A BOTTLE before 6 weeks and give him one or two a week at least. Not just because you might be going baack to work (Womanly Art of Breastfeeding has a great chapter about pumping/working moms). Ori had a hard time taking a bottle after we gave her one at like 5 weeks and concluded “Great she takes a bottle!”. And then a month later when I wanted to go to dinner with Ari, she wouldn’t take the bottle and we had to come home. So just giving the bottle once or twice a week to keep him in practice, is a great idea ESPECIALLY since you are going back to work. And hey, if you have to give a bottle just to keep it up, WHY NOT GO OUT AND ENJOY YOURSELF Grandma or Dad or whoever is giving it. Yea so you have to pump and really have no where you “have” to be. But go get a pedicure, grab a drink with a friend, take some time for yourself. It’s so important. And it will be a much easier transition for everyone if he isn’t fighting the bottle because he isn’t used to it.

2. Also, if you are engorged in the beginning DON’T PUMP. Supply and demand, if you keep taking milk out, your body will make more to replace it. I was tempted to pump it out when I was miserable but it would just prolong the problem. But do start pumping according to a schedule you find for working moms. It’s good I believe to start buliding up a stash slowly after the first month so you have a buffer for when you start going back to work. I also read some women who if they were very engorged, would pump just a little off the top (for a few minutes) just to relieve some of the discomfort. I think this really depends on you and your supply. Get to know yourself for a few weeks before you start messing with things. I learned after like 4 week around how long Ori would sleep for, so looking back I feel confident I could have pumped a little off the top and then fed her within 20 minutes and it was no big deal. But while I didn’t have an oversupply I definitely was producing a healthy amount of milk. If you don’t have as strong of a supply pumping like this might affect you negatively.

Breastfeeding is so much about just learning about your body and baby. There is no “normal” or “general” way of how things work. What worked for me was reading a lot and seeing how so many different people “did” it and then adapting all of that to my own experience, taking things here and there as it suited me and Ori.

If you look closely…you can see a nursing pad! No leaks here!

Resources:

Both of these sites offer AMAZING information when you have a question, concern, etc. Plus you can like them on Facebook and see questions moms are asking. Reading answers and being able to ask questions yourself can be so helpful. Built in community without leaving your house.

KellyMom

Leakyboob

 

In conclusion…

I hope this was somewhat helpful. I tried no where to talk in absolutes. I hate when people gave me advice that made me feel like if I didn’t follow it I was letting them down and disrespecting them. This is my experience. I think breastfeeding is amazing. I think it takes work and will. I think you need to make sure your partner knows it can be hard in the beginning and it’s his/her role to support you, comfort you, let you cry and tell you that you are amazing and are doing great!

But whatever you decide, however things work out, remember that you are amazing! You will be an amazing mom. You will learn very quickly how to comfort and care for your child. And like I said, and never forget it, no matter what anyone says they are not an expert. You are an expert on your own child and no one else.  Trust that you will be amazing because you will be and whatever is best for you, that is what is best for you child.

And just remember that it does get easier. So easy, breastfeeding becomes effortless. It definitely is not though, in the beginning. One day you won’t be engorged. One day your boobs will always be soft, and yet it will fill with enough milk to satisfy your child. You’ll

find a routine and a rhythm that works for you and your baby. In the beginning each feeding will last an hour or more. But then, it will last 5 minutes and you’ll be done. In the beginning there is some pain. And then one day (and forever after) there is none.

Breastfeeding is a time to cuddle together and be close with your child. I can always count on it if rocking or singing or whatever isn’t working to get her back to sleep if she wakes up. I know that if she eats and then leaves me but is still fussy she’s probably just still a bit hungry and I put her back on and a few minutes later she’s happy as can be. I know that, once she started eating solids, if she barely ate anything at lunch but then nursed to sleep for her nap that she got all the nutrition she needs and one day she’ll eat solids with reckless abandon and pass on the milk. 

Whatever you chose, I hope the joy you get from nourishing your child brings you happiness and peace. 

Happiness and Peace.

Link

Ergo Baby Carrier on Sale!

Ergo Baby Carrier on Sale!

What a great deal!!! I wish I needed yet another carrier because I would snatch this up in a second at these prices!!

The Ergo is one of the few baby carriers that I recommend in my store and I talk more about the benefits of this type of carrier (vs. say the baby bjorn crotch dangler) in a previous blog post.

This makes a GREAT baby shower gift and just a gift for yourself, whether you’re expecting or already have a kid. Does someone have $65 a can borrow so I can buy one myself? I think my husband would kill me if I charged this ;)

Placenta: To Eat or Not to Eat

This is a really hot topic these days and I want to write a complete separate thing about it, but I’ll just mention it here because I think it’s something everyone should at least research and consider.

I had my placenta encapsulated by a woman who does this for a living. She came to my house 2 days after I gave birth, prepped and dehydrated it and then came back 24 hours later and made them into pills. There is tons of research and a history dating back hundreds of years of communities eating their placenta.

In fact, we are the only mammals that don’t as a norm, eat the placenta after birth. The claim is that when you give birth you go from a total hormone high to a hormone low, which can cause post partum depression as well as other unpleasant side effects. Taking your placenta in pills over the course of 6-8 weeks post partum lessens the blow of the hormone loss, helps your milk supply, makes you happier and more rested.

While I obviously can’t compare to not taking them, I can tell you that I had a great post partum recovery. My swelling went down within 2-3 days and I was completely feeling normal after maybe a week and a half. My bleeding lasted for weeks but my heavy bleeding only 1.5 weeks. I wasn’t depressed and while I had some tears over my bleeding nipple situation (a latch issue) I was in general not super weepy or hormonal. Many women complain of intense sweating post partum (due to hormone loss) and I never experienced this. My milk supply was in full swing and I had no doubts or issues with my supply or Ori’s eating. Lastly, this story is what convinced me there was something to it…

When I went in to see my midwife 3 weeks post partum she was going through her checklist of questions and got to the line about my placenta. She said, I didn’t write down whether you took yours or not but just looking at you I can see that you are taking it. I asked her what she meant by that and she said every mom that comes in after 3 weeks that looks tired, ragged, worn down and speaks of feeling overwhelmed by everything is usually a mom not taking her placenta. On the other hand, moms who come in looking of course tired but not exhausted, who are getting 6-7 hours of (broken) sleep a night (meaning they aren’t suffering from insomnia or worried thoughts keeping them awake), who look pretty healthy and are in general in a positive mood are usually the ones taking their placenta. That sounds all well and good, but the fact that she could look at me and tell I was taking it meant a lot.

You can learn more about the history of this practice on the website of the woman who encapsulated my placenta for me. It was $250 but I felt it was worth it at the time, just to see if it made a difference. It was worth the risk I guess. After my experience I won’t hesitate to do it again for baby #2.

http://placentamom.weebly.com/

Baby Registry Advice: Post Partum For Mom

These were the items that helped so much post vaginal birth for me. 

Some of these items are for vaginal births only. I have not had a c-section and therefore haven’t included items that might be helpful after having one. Feel free to comment if there are products that helped you after having a csection!

Spray bottle/Perineal Irrigation bottle

My midwives gave me one and I believe if you’re at the hospital they send you home with one too. But if not, GET IT. And fill it with WARM water the first week and spray anytime you pee. (If I went #2 I took a shower the first week, it was just easier).

http://astore.amazon.com/mrsavn-20/detail/B000J5KOIE

Speaking of poop…stool softener: I read that this could be helpful, especially if you have stitches (which thankfully I didn’t) since too much pushing might be painful, etc. I used them for a few days until I felt the swelling had gone down and wasn’t scared to “push” anymore. My mom also scared me shitless (ha! punny!) that your body could get ‘addicted’ to them and it was best to quit after a few days, which I did.

Diapers/Pads

I had purchased seventh generation overnight/heavy pads since I knew I would bleed for a few weeks (or more) post partum but after a DAY of really heavy gross bleeding, I just had my mom go out and buy adult diapers (and stool softener, my mom was really excited to check out at the store!). Honestly it wasn’t the most eco friendly decision but for like a week I had really heavy bleeding and it was just so much easier to have the diaper. I didn’t bleed on my underwear (I bought crappy cheap underwear anyway but still) nor did I bleed through my underwear onto my pants, etc. After about a week the bleeding went down considerably so I just wore pads with underwear and after maybe 3 weeks or so, I was wearing my cloth pads (which I wear for periods normally but I’m a hippy). I suppose at that point you could just go down to like regular pads instead of the more bulky heavy ones. NO TAMPONS!

Tucks pads

These are made for hemorrhoids but man, they are awesome. After my swelling went down and I stopped showering after going to the bathroom, these were awesome for “clean up” when I was too scared to wipe hard with dry toilet paper. Baby wipes would work too I guess but these have witch hazel which is soothing and healing when you’re swollen and stitched up down there.

http://astore.amazon.com/mrsavn-20/detail/B000GG850U

A friend who is pregnant is dealing with hemorrhoids and on my advice started using these pads and said it helped in less than a day, so they really work for their intended purpose as well as their non intended purpose post partum (well you could have hemorrhoids post partum too but you know what I mean…)

Nipple cream

I can’t even describe to you the pain your nipples undergo those first few weeks. NO ONE can until you experience. Nipple cream is awesome and was so helpful, especially before going into the shower to kind of shield the water from beating down on your poor raw nips. I have an organic hippy one which wasn’t helpful in the earlier days (lanolin for the win!) and the lanolin based one. After I became a breastfeeding pro the organic one was nice just to soothe my nipples if there was a particularly long day and they were red or irritated, like during growth spurts or when Ori got some teeth.

Organic: http://astore.amazon.com/mrsavn-20/detail/B000JVCBBG

Lanolin: http://astore.amazon.com/mrsavn-20/detail/B005MI648C

(This is the one recommended by La Leche League)

Ice pack/Warm Compress

If you’re breastfeeding your breasts become engorged after your milk comes in. MAN THIS FUCKING HURTS MAN. I didn’t even read that much about it and was really overwhelmed when it happened and wasn’t sure it was normal (it is, sadly). It goes away after a few weeks but when you’re not sleeping over a few weeks is a really really long time. I read about cabbage in your bra to help with the swelling. I did this a few times but eh, not helpful. I used one of those heat up pillows, that have rice or some grainy thing that warm up. I think a combo of hot and cold is helpful to just deal with the pain/help with the swelling. I would put cold washcloths and then the hot pillow during the day when someone could take Ori while she slept and I could get some relief. There isn’t much you can do but just nurse nurse nurse and wait for things to regulate. They will, I promise!

This is totally unnecessary but my mom had some because of our ailing cat who had accidents on the bed and they ended up being great. I put them under the sheets in my bed for when I leaked milk at night and since I fed Ori in bed and she slept there at times, to catch any blowouts or diaper issues. They make disposable ones but in an effort to be more green, these were great. They are easy to launder and again, you’re doing laundry all the time anyway so…

http://astore.amazon.com/mrsavn-20/detail/B0002DMPFS

Nursing bras and shirts

Nursing bras are ESSENTIAL. They are awesome. They are also expensive. If possible, I’d recommend going to a store and being fitted for one. I know nordstrom is supposed to have nice ones but I have the bravado and have no issues. I got two, since they were $50 each (yikes), one in nude and one in black and they’ve been going strong for over a year now. I used to leak in them like crazy but I was always doing laundry so whatever. I don’t’ think you need more than a few…

http://www.nickisdiapers.com/bravado-body-silk-seamless-nursing-bra.html

While I don’t use them anymore, nursing pads were so necessary the first few months. You can get disposable but I got cotton ones and they were perfect. I ended up buying 12 since my first 6 were soaked too often and, shocker, I wasn’t doing laundry enough (once a day!) to keep up. By the time I finally bought a second set I wasn’t really in need of them but they’ll be great for #2.

http://astore.amazon.com/mrsavn-20/detail/B002MN3JY2

Nursing friendly tanks or shirts are helpful too, but really you can just find shirts in the regular store that can be pulled to the side, you don’t need special clothing. I never bought a nursing tank but others love them. This isn’t a fashion blog so wear what is functional and you like. I found fun vneck shirts that were cheap at Target and they pull down and stretch easily over one boob or the other to nurse without interference. Button down shirts are also great!

http://www.nickisdiapers.com/nursing-tank-tops.html

And other things I didn’t use personally but were recommended by others…

Sitz bath

I considered buying this and then thought, if it’s really bad I’ll buy it. I was at the end of my crap for baby buying spree + paying for the delivery so I was trying to not buy things that weren’t necessary.

http://astore.amazon.com/mrsavn-20/detail/B000E3FHYM

A few moms I know swore by this. I didn’t have hemorrhoids but this could also help if you do pre or post partum.

http://astore.amazon.com/mrsavn-20/detail/B0000533DY

These were the items that helped so much post vaginal birth for me.