Cause and Effect Play

As Archer grows older sometimes we struggle with new games or activities to keep him challenged and learning. My Mommy & Me instructor gave us some suggestions to group types of play and then introduce one type for a few weeks then switch. For example there is Cause and Effect play, there’s reading, there’s stacking, there’s “balls”, there’s hike and seek, etc…

Archer loves anything that makes noise — whether by shaking it or slamming it on the ground. Such a boy! I bought these toys for him as his first set of “cause and effect” toys. He LOVES them! Especially the drum. He has figured out how to use the drum stick but mostly chews on it. It’s so cute though to watch him try to coordinate hitting the drum and when he does, he gets so proud of himself. He also loves to shake the bells and smiles doing it and the maracas, those are his second favorite behind the drum. Not only are they interesting shapes, but they make a nice sound and are fun to clack together (if you buy two).

 

Teething

It’s so cute to see a baby with two little teeth sticking out, but it’s not so fun being the parent dealing with a teething child! Well, some parents are lucky and their kids have virtually no symptoms when their teeth begin to come in. We weren’t so lucky.

Archer got his first two bottom teeth in around 5 months. It started with night waking. He was sleeping through the night and then started waking several times a night. We figured out it was his teeth once we could feel them breaking through the gums. This night waking lasted 3 weeks! Now again around 7 months his two top teeth are coming in and not only have we had night waking (up 3-4 times a night) we also have had low grade fevers. I’ve since done lots of reading on teething symptoms and what you can do to help your baby. Here’s what I learned:

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News: German Ruling Puts Stop to Circumcising Baby Boys

A discussion has been brewing over the last few days about a German court which ruled circumcising baby boys to be unlawful. There are several articles out covering the topic, NY Times and Babble both have their take. While the ruling won’t make circumcising illegal in all of Germany, it made me wonder what you all think about this topic.

I know this is a sensitive subject, so please share your own thoughts and opinions. Here’s my opinion.

Before I had kids or met my husband I always just assumed we’d circumcise our children. It wasn’t even a real decision, it was just the way it was. Then one day I was visiting with a friend who had a few day old baby boy and while changing his diaper I saw what a newly circumcised penis looks like — that right there changed my mind. I would not circumcise my son.

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Article: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Now that summer is here many of us will spend our weekends splashing in a pool. Whether it be with our babies or older children like nieces and nephews, it’s important to practice water safety. If we don’t, the unthinkable could happen.

Recently a friend of mine shared an article called “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning” and I thought it was an important article to share. The article tells a story of a nine year old girl that almost drowned just feet from her parents. Her parents had no idea she was drowning. It then goes into how to recognize swimmers in need. The basic rule: if kids are quiet in the pool then go make sure they’re ok. Kids in a pool aren’t quiet and drowning is actually very quiet, not full of yelling and thrashing around.

While not the happiest of topics, it’s important to be educated so you can recognize the signs and help or get help if needed.

You can read the article here. Please share with family members and friends so everyone is educated!

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July Mommies! How lucky and blessed we are that we live in a country where we have control over our bodies and can have as many children as we want!

Enjoy teaching your babies how to be patriotic and to be proud to be an American!

Products: Starting Solid Foods

To get started with solid foods for your baby you really don’t need much: high chair, bibs, spoons, sippy cup, lunch box. Here are my favorites, details below:

High chair: It’s recommended that when buying a high chair you take your baby with you and actually try them out in the display models in the store — advice I was given by a friend who runs a baby club/website. Other questions to ask yourself: Is it important that the high chair is easy to store because you have limited space? Do you want the high chair to pull up to the table or have its own tray? Do you care if it matches your kitchen? I had researched a bunch of different high chairs and we ended up with the Peg-Perego Siesta. It was a splurge, but we figure it’ll be used 3+ times a day for years and for several kids so it was worth the $300 price tag. We also loved that it collapses, saves us space by fitting right next to the refrigerator. We also found when Archer was still a bit small for the high chair the Bumbo with tray worked well — a great option for anyone starting solids from 4-6 months.

Waterproof bibs: You’ll ask yourself why you need waterproof bibs, but trust me, you do. Baby food at the start is very watery and certain foods stain cotton. We were recommended Bumkins Waterproof Superbibs and they’re awesome! The pocket at the bottom catches any drips and the nice large size covers the entire front of the baby. They also sell some that have sleeves, which is also great for when your baby starts eating with their hands. Note the bibs with sleeves are bigger and won’t fit most 6-8 month old babies.

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Constipation — Keeping your baby regular

If you’re like my husband and I you will be in awe of the amount of time you’ve spent talking about poop over the last six+ months! Well, here we are again talking about poop, but this time what to do if there’s a lack thereof!

Constipation can happen once you start your baby on solids. If you notice a change in your baby’s bowl movements, no movements, or if they become firm and pellet like, you need to help your baby getting things moving. Here are a few tips that we’ve gotten to help:

  • water: give your baby some water while they’re eating solids
  • flax seed oil: you can put a few drops (very little) in your baby’s food (check with your pediatrician first)
  • foods that start with a “P”: peas, pears, prunes
  • prune juice and water: be careful with this one, if you give too much you can have an explosive situation on your hands. I wouldn’t give this at night, you’ll be up all night if the prunes kick in.
  • belly massage: you can do some belly massage in the share of an I, L and U (I love you!): with two fingers down their left side (inside of ribs on belly), then across top and down left side, then up their right side across top and down the left side of their belly.

Have any other tips!? Please share them here.

Of course, if you have any concerns or if your baby seems to be in pain call your pediatrician!

Starting Solid Foods — The “Rules”

I’ve been procastinating on writing this post because there are so many rules and I’m not really sure how I feel about any of them! I’ll share the “rules” that I learned for starting solid foods and then share what we’ve done. Please note that food is not a replacement for nutrition or breastmilk/formula until after your baby is over 1 year old.

1) Start baby no earlier than 4 months, but many pediatricians (including mine) say to wait until 6 months. There is some research that says allergy development and starting solid foods too early are tied. Another reason to wait is that baby should be able to sit up mostly by themselves and must have good head control. Losing the “extrusion reflex” is also key, which usually happens soon after 4 or 5 months. This allows them to keep solid food in their mouth and then swallow it vs. using his tongue to push food out of his mouth. Some people say your baby is ready when they show interest in food, but to be honest they’ll show interest in anything you’re doing once they can start to reach for things. I think it was great that Archer watched us eat for a few months, when we started him he was so ready and already knew how to bit and chew and drink from a glass just from watching us!

2) Start with rice cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula and make the consistency pretty liquid — once your baby is used to eating you can increase the consistency. Rice is the least allergic food and mixing it with breastmilk or formula will help your baby’s interest and transition. I didn’t like the idea of giving my baby processed rice as his first food, so his first food was actually mashed avocado. We do however give him Oatmeal cereal every morning for breakfast. We use Happy Bellies Organic baby cereal. Other good starter foods: banana, apples and pears.

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The most important purchase you can make for your family

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. Many people don’t know they are suffering from CO poisoning until its too late since symptoms of CO poisoning are like the flu, you might not even know you’re in danger at first. That’s why a carbon monoxide alarm is the most important purchase you can make to help protect your family from CO poisoning — it can detect the CO you can’t see, smell or taste in the air.

We bought this plug in version, but you can also buy battery operated if you prefer or nicer digital versions. This model was $18.50 on Amazon, follow link below. We have one in Archer’s room and in other main rooms of the house. I’m not exactly sure how much area each alarm covers, so we probably have more than you need, but better safe than sorry! Also make sure your caregivers have devices for CO detection.

When you travel you should also bring CO detector with you, who knows if the hotel or apartment you’re renting has CO issues. I suggest battery operated when traveling abroad to avoid any risks because of non-compliant electrical outlets.

Don’t wait, get a few in your home today!

Amazon.com: First Alert CO600 Plug In Carbon Monoxide Alarm: Home Improvement.

Article: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

If you are a working mom you most likely were sent or saw this article published in The Atlantic: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.  It has been a hot read with over 75,000 shares on Facebook and was the most trafficked article in history for The Atlantic. There is a reason why this article resonates with so many women, evoking passion and anger about the challenges with trying to “have it all”. The article is long, but a great read.

The author, Anne-Marie Slaughter, asks “Has the older generation of feminists sold younger generation a fiction?”  The answer is yes. The older generation of powerful and strong women have paved the way for young women today to blaze the trail of  upper management and executive leadership, but weren’t explicit that in order to get that you’d have to put family time on the back burner. Many of us who are really ambitious and career oriented struggle with actually saying we want to be home with our kids. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to work, many of us do, we need a balance of both.

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Article: When moms criticize, dads back off of baby care

Do you have a partner who is withdrawn from helping with baby care? If so, you might be to blame. Yes, one more thing to consider when raising your children.

This article on MSNBC states “Moms’ words of criticism or encouragement directly affect how involved their husband or partner becomes in the day-to-day care of their infant, finds a new study published in the June issue of the Journal of Family Psychology. When a mother criticized her partner’s child-care efforts, it often caused him to lose confidence, and even withdraw from caring for the baby. But when a mom praised dad’s efforts, he took a more active parenting role.”

Moms feel pressure when a new baby is born, like the well being of that child is all on them. They are supposed to be the ones to soothe, the only ones to feed and let’s not forget moms have already had 10 months of bonding time with the baby before Dad.

Before our son Archer was born I was given some really great advice: “You will most likely fight like you never have during the first few months of your child’s life. Don’t worry, it’s natural and it’ll go away. Most importantly remember that neither you or your husband really know what will work and what won’t — you are both new at this. So listen to each other and take each other’s opinions seriously.”

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Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads out there!!

Your role in your kid’s life is so important — your dedication to setting the best example and showering your kids with love and kindness will make them great great parents, wives/husbands and friends.

Enjoy the day and be reminded of how important and loved you are.

Product: Aden + Anais 100% Cotton Muslin Burpy Bib

When registering I had heard how awesome Aden + Anais products where, specifically the muslin light receiving blankets (perfect to drape over the car seat to block the sun or to keep germs out when out and about). I never heard about this product however, until last week at my Mommy and Me.

The Aden + Anais muslin burpy bib is perfect for drooling and spit up prone babies! From 4-6 months we experienced the most drool and spit up — teething causes excess drool and spitting up becomes most problematic around 5 months. This burp cloth and bib is super absorbant and as you can see from the photo below you can wrap it around your baby’s shoulders, secured in the back with a simple button, and it soaks up everything that drips and splats from your baby’s mouth. You also can turn it easily when one section gets soaked.

Oh how I wish I registered for this instead of the Aden + Anais washcloths (which I think are too big and bulky). Make this a must have item! You’ll save yourself a lot of time changing outfits!

Amazon.com: Aden by aden + anais 100% Cotton Muslin Burpy Bib, Oh Boy: Baby.

Article: How to Raise a Happy Child

Recently I was given an article titled: How to Raise a Happy Child. It occurred to me that I never really thought about this as a goal, raising a happy child, and always just assumed that it was out of my control whether my children ended up being happy. It was their job to make sure they live and participate in activities that make them happy.

It was interesting to learn that as early as 6 months of age you start impacting whether your child is set up to live a happy life. Simple things like smiling a lot at your baby so the act of smiling is imprinted in their brain or acting calmly and loving to an upset baby helps the baby learn that there is calm and soothing world around them.

You can read the article for all the details, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Learn to Read the Signs:
    • Learn their reactions so you can better address them when their emotional intelligence develops.
    • “While the youngest infants don’t really feel happy when they look happy, the good news is they’re not emotionally aware when they’re screaming, either. Eliot explains that the “cortical emotion centers” of your baby’s brain don’t begin to function until he’s 6 to 8 months old, when he starts to feel the emotions that seem so vivid on his face.”
  • Make Room for Fun:
    • “Connect with your baby, play with her. If you’re having fun with your baby, she’s having fun. If you create what I call a ‘connected childhood,’ that is by far the best step to guarantee your child will be happy.”
    • Unstructured play will allow her to discover what she loves to do — build villages with blocks, make “potions” out of kitchen ingredients, paint elaborate watercolors — which can point her toward a career that will seem like a lifetime of play.

What To Do If Your Child Is Choking or Not Breathing

It is important to know what to do if your infant begins to choke, especially once you start feeding them solid foods. I found these videos which gave a great overview on how to respond.

Conscious Baby is Choking:

Unconscious Baby is Choking:

Infant CPR — in this video they don’t state it, but when giving CPR to an infant your mouth should cover their mouth and nose.

Guest Blogger Leigh: Career Woman to Stay at Home Mom

A friend of mine at Mommy & Me decided to quit her job and become a stay at home Mom — something a lot of us think about or thought about doing at some point. I asked her to share her story so that all of us who still work can get a first hand account of what’s it’s like transitioning from a career woman to a stay at home mom. It has its joys and its challenges. Here’s her story:

“When I got pregnant last year I would only allow myself to be consumed with the actual pregnancy…not what happens after the baby was here. I was going on four years working for a great company with fantastic benefits, however in the few months prior I had gone from loving my position to just tolerating it. As my due date approached, I could no longer ignore the fact that I needed a plan for when my maternity leave was up. In my mind, I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom, but I didn’t think it was realistic for my family. I looked around at daycares and explored the nanny option as well – maybe I was just naive but I could not believe how expensive they were. Many of the daycares cost just about as much as I was making – and the hours didn’t match my job at all. I work(ed) in the entertainment industry and I know there was no way I could sneak out of the office at 5pm everyday in time to pick up my child. Nannies were just as much money, if not more. I wanted to make sure I was being ‘financially responsible’, so I really did my homework and weighed all my options before coming to terms that it didn’t make sense for me to give my entire paycheck over to someone to watch my baby while I was at a job where I wasn’t happy.

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The Best Baby Swimwear for Summer!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day! We spent the first half of the day at the beach, under our awesome Shade Shack (see previous post, it’s a must buy for parents!) and Archer enjoyed a little dip with Daddy in his new swimwear.

If you’ve taken your little one swimming you’ve most likely used a disposable swim diaper. We did that too the first few times. They soak up with water and practically act like a floatation device, not to mention they’re not too attractive. They do their job though. I wasn’t looking for any alternative until I stumbled upon these adorable reusable swim diapers from iPlay. I decided to give one a try, mostly because they were cute, reusable and  less bulky. I am happy to report they worked great! Archer is 6 months old and on the thin side and the 9-12 month size fit fine, even when wet, and will still fit as he grows. I highly recommend buying a few of these if you’re a water family like we are.

These diapers also won a 2012 Cribsie Award — I am not surprised. I definitely would have voted them the best swimwear as well.

They also sell rash guards and we did get a matching protective sun hat as well. Both worked great for our pool and beach outings.

Mix ‘n Match Ultimate Swim Diaper – Swimwear – Swim & Sun – i play.

The Must Have Baby Item…

Washcloths! I am sure you would never guess that one items you’ll need the most for your newborn are soft small washcloths. Yes, you heard me washcloths. You want them extra soft for baby’s sensative skin, small so you can easily wipe down baby without getting their clothes all wet and a lot of them! We go through 4-5 a day. Basically after each feeding, before bed, in the morning and during baths we use a washcloth to clean up Archer.

My mom was the one who said we’d need a bunch of them and gifted us about 20. I never thought I’d need as many as she said I would, but boy am I glad we have them. I use them several times a day and even stick one in my purse or pocket when heading out the door. Much less bulky than a burp cloth and just as effective while on the go.

We have some similar washcloths as those pictured below. These are from Babies R Us, but be sure to feel them beforehand to make sure they’re extra soft!

Babies R Us 8 Pack Washcloths – Boy – Koala Baby – Babies “R” Us.

Products: Itzy Ritzy Infant Car Seat Cover

A woman at my baptism class had this adorable car seat… I had never seen one so cute. When I asked about it she said it was just an adorable car seat cover! I hadn’t seen ones for infant car seats before. This brand Itzy Ritzy makes all sorts of reusable products, including sandwich and snack bags, breast pads for nursing moms and burp cloths.

This car seat cover is not only adorable (they have several patterns and styles) but it’ll keep your car seat looking like new! Don’t worry about that occasional blowout, drool or spit up getting in all those impossible to clean folks and seams. Now your car seat will stay clean for many kids to come! This cover isn’t cheap, about $100, but I’d say it’s worth it if you have it from the start.

 

Amazon.com: Itzy Ritzy Infant Car Seat Cover, Social Circle Blue: Baby.

Play: 6-9 months

Today in my Mommy & Me class there were a few of us that said we were running out of tricks! Our babies who were 6-8 months old were getting bored of our usual games and their usual toys. We joked that we better buy more toys and our instructor gave us many ideas that are pretty much free! Now that got our attention. Here were some of her ideas for babies that around 6-9 months old:

Hide & Seek is a really great game during this age because it helps babies understand that even if they can’t see you, you’re there which is important to understand when they start getting separation anxiety. Here are a few iterations:

  • Put your baby in their car seat and step out of the room saying “Where’s Mommy, Where’s Mommy [insert your baby’s name]?” Then jump back in “There she is!”
  • Get a cloth napkin and drape it over you head saying “Where’s Mommy?” and revealing “There she is!” Once your baby is getting it then put the napkin over your baby’s head and say “Where’s [insert your baby’s name]?” and them removing it “There she is!”
  • Hide and seek with food! Get 3 dixi cups and place a piece of rice cereal or a piece of fruit under one of them. Ask Baby where it is and reveal it. Later you can move the cups around to see if they can track which one has the food.

Sleep: What Should Baby Wear

I am not sure why, but this topic has been a concern of mine from the beginning! How do you keep baby warm when you can’t place blankets over them when they sleep? I know the optimal room temperature is supposed to be kept at an optimal 70-72 degrees for SIDS prevention, but just a cotton onesie during the dead of winter doesn’t seem like enough. Especially as the room cools throughout the night. If babies are supposed to be dressed in one layer more than you are and I sleep under a down blanket what is the equivalent for them?

We found two types of products that worked well for us, both at different stages of his growth.

As a tiny newborn we’d dress him in a onesie and then swaddle him. The swaddle blanket was thick enough to provide enough warmth. We also had him wear a little hat for the first few weeks when he slept. (he was born in December, so use your own judgement for your child based on the weather/temperature where you live).

Then during the next few months (1-3) we preferred to use a footed fleece sleeper. This you can put over a onesie or just by itself. If it was a colder I’d put over a onesie, if not then just by itself. This was great until Archer was a few weeks shy of 3 months old. You can also swaddle in a fleece sleeper, but I’d use a light swaddle as the sleeper is already warm. (As a reminder, you should only swaddle until 2 months old).

Carter’s Micro Fleece Jungle Animal Footed Sleeper

Once he began to move around more the 0-3 footed sleeper was getting tighter and because it’s micro fleece it doesn’t stretch. He simply outgrew this so we moved to the next item… the sleep sack! We loved the sleep sack. We would dress Archer in a cotton footed onesie and then put the sleep sack of that. It was warm and gave him freedom to move about. At this point he wasn’t being swaddled so he needed movement. Size small fits babies 10-18 lbs. It was also great in that if he diaper leaked, we had two layers of protection before it hit the mattress sheet. The issue with sleep sacks is they should only be used until the baby is 6 months old — according to physical therapists it’s not good to inhibit their leg movement even slightly, which the sleep sack might do. After 6 months it’s best to transition back to a footed fleece sleeper or just use a cotton onesie if it’s warm enough in your home.

Amazon.com: HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Wearable Blanket, Baby Blue, Small: Baby.

Now that it’s summer Archer just wears a traditional cotton footed PJ. When it gets cold again, we’ll have to get some bigger footed fleece sleepers… sad to say goodbye to the sleep sack… just one more thing he’s grown out of!

Infant Care

For first time parents it can be nerve racking to think about taking care of a newborn during those first few weeks when you are sure exactly what you’re doing. This is especially true for those of us that are the youngest in our families or who were only children, we were always the babies!

So what are all the dos and don’ts? We took an infant class at our local hospital and here are the not so obvious things we learned:

  • Do not use baby wipes for the first month, use soft cloth or paper towel and warm water only as wipes can irritate the babies skin. Wait until they’re at least 1 month old to use baby wipes. We still use Sensitive Baby Wipes and have never had an issue.
  • Do not use baby powder. The powder gets in the air when used and if inhaled is bad for the baby’s lungs. I don’t know why they even sell the stuff anymore!
  • Diaper rash is from the production of ammonia which comes from pee and poo mixing. This is why it’s so important to change the baby’s diaper often and really make sure to get everything wiped clean.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all those soon-to-be moms and new moms!

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  She didn’t know what kind of mother she would be and now she knows the only kind of mother one can be — full of love, support, admiration and forgiveness for her child.”

Within us all things are possible. We birth the doctors, the teachers, the leaders, the inventors. This world would be nothing without the fruits of our wombs. Enjoy today and revel in how important you are in your kid’s life and in the ecosystem of the world.

xoxo

Attachment Parenting

Today in the news there was controversy over a Time cover photo of a young woman breastfeeding her 4 year old son who was standing on a chair just to reach her breast. That is extreme, but the article was using it as a reference to the philosophy of attachment parenting. I myself believe in attachment parenting and like a lot of what Dr. Sears has recommended (he one of the biggest advocates of attachment parenting). He has come under scrutiny for his extreme beliefes. One example being that co-sleeping with your children isn’t bad and is actually prefered.

I wanted to take the controversy over Dr. Sears out of the equation to really explain what attachment parenting is. There was an article today on Yahoo that listed the 8 basic priciples of attachment parenting from Dr. Mayim Bialik. It’s a quick and accurate summary of attachment parenting:

“So what is attachment parenting really about? Attachment Parenting International (API) identifies AP as guided by eight principles. The practical application varies greatly but it often looks something like this:

1. Birth: Prepare for birth and become educated about natural birth options and their benefits for baby and mother.

2. Breastfeeding/breast milk: A human mother’s milk is the optimal food for human babies, and bottle feeding should mimic as many aspects of breastfeeding as possible.

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Guest Blogger Marylouise: Becoming a Grandmother

As new moms we know how exited our mothers got when they knew we were expecting, but have we checked in since our babies have been born to ask them what’s it’s like?  I asked my mom and here’s what she had to say about becoming a Grandmother:
 
“Everyone always says it is the greatest thing in the world–becoming a grandmother, but it’s one of those things that you hear but don’t understand until it happens to you.  It is still hard to describe but there’s an understanding among other grandparents about how you feel and what you are going through.
 
I am in the early stages of being a grandmother; grandsons are 9 months and 5 months old, but I already think my grandsons are the cutest and smartest children ever born!  I see the way other grandparents look and feel about their grandchildren and they feel and think the same way.  How can we each have the smartest and most beautiful babies?
 
Something I enjoy already is the acceptance (by one grandson) that I am fine and interesting the way I am.  He is old enough to be observant and curious and he loves finding the brown spots on my skin, feeling out the wrinkles, and he doesn’t care that I have rolls or flabbiness around my mid section.  For him, grandma is a place to explore, climb on, and relax on.
 
Finally, the best thing for me is to see a child grow and develop, almost like a plant growing or a flower blooming.  As a grandmother I can afford to sit back and relax and observe.  I am not caught up in the daily worries of getting to work, making sure there is food and clean clothes for everyone, and I don’t have to always wonder whether I am doing the right thing in raising my child.  As a grandmother I realize that each child is born with a set of dispositions and tendencies and it is a marvel to see how these unfold.  The challenge is always how to cope with certain personalities and how to enhance or encourage the child to develop into a happy, well rounded, secure child.
 
I am so excited about this adventure!”
 
With Mother’s Day coming up, it might be fun to ask your mom what it feels like to be a grandparent. Great Mother’s Day brunch conversation topic!
 
 
Marylouise with her grandchildren, Archer 3 weeks old and Christopher 5 months old.

Working Moms: Pumping at Work

When you head back to work on your first day, you’ll likely have one extra bag with you — a bag with your breastpump! You arrive thinking all you need is your equipment, ice pack and storage bags or bottles. Think again! Here is a list of what to pack in your breast pump bag from someone who more than once was caught without something I needed:

  1. Breastpump and accessories: this seems obvious but make sure to double check that you have everything before you leave for work
  2. Paper towels: there will be all sorts of drips and drops that you’ll want to catch so they don’t mess up your clothes
  3. Cleaning wipes: medela sells some breastpump “quick clean” wipes for your equipment. A must if you don’t have a sink where you pump
  4. A sharpie! Important if you are pumping into bags or containers that you will store, make sure to date each one.
  5. Frozen ice pack: don’t forget to put in the freezer the night before! No one wants to put their breastmilk in the work refrigerator.
  6. Nursing cover or shall: on a normal day you won’t need this, but those few times you have to pump on the go (yes, I have pumped while driving in the car on the way to a meeting) you’ll wish you had it
  7. Extra breast milk storage bags: just incase you have to stay longer than you thought, you want extra storage containers on hand
  8. Hands free nursing bra: you’ll be upset if you forget this! The nursing bra is essential for a productive or at least entertaining pumping session (you can use your hands to check email, read, make calls, etc…)

Here are other tips in terms of making time for pumping at work:

  1. Schedule time on your calendar to pump. That way no one will book meetings back to back and not allow you a 30 minute break to pump.
  2. In a long meeting, don’t be shy to speak up and say you need a 15 minute break. People who know you ‘re pumping will respect it and for those who don’t, everyone appreciates a break in a several hour meeting.
  3. Plan ahead. This is the single biggest bit of advice. Look at your calendar to know when you will pump based on your schedule. Sometimes you’ll need to pump 45 minutes earlier than you would have because of meetings.

I am quite busy at work and usually have several meetings a day, sometimes all day meetings. I have always found time to pump you just have to plan ahead and make it a priority. One more thing to manage I know, but totally worth it.

Happy pumping!

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Working Moms: Traveling With Breastmilk

For many working moms, our jobs include travel. That can be quite difficult when you’re nursing and need to pump every 4 hours. That plane flight cross country that’s 5 and half hours long, plus 30 minutes to pre board and 30 minutes to deplane, that’s almost 7 hours. When to pump? Where to pump? Where to store the milk?

These are all questions I had to figure out on my first business trip to Denver when Archer was just 4 months old. I was nursing and was going to be gone for 2 days and 1 night. The good news is the flight is only 2.5 hours long so I didn’t have to get too crazy with pumping on the plane… or so I thought. (stay tuned)

The way there was quite simple. I pumped right before I left and had my breast pump with me as a carry on. Included in my breast pump bag was the frozen ice pack that came with my Medela pump. Security was fine with it because it was frozen solid. Once I landed I headed to the airport bathroom, washed my hands, found a stall and pumped for 10-15 minutes. The ice pack was still pretty cold so I easily stored the milk in my little portable cooler. Pumping in an airport bathroom is less than glamorous — they actually had shut of my side of the restroom for cleaning while I was in it and all you could hear was the cleaning person mopping and my pump going “urr urr urrr urr”. Hilarious. Oh well, assume she figured out what I was doing in a stall for that long with that humming sound.

Once I arrived at my hotel I asked for a freezer/refridge. They had one available for $10 a day and had it delivered to my room. Most hotels have fridges or freezers you can have brought to your room. I was able to store all my milk in it over the next few days.

While at the conference there were no private rooms, so during lunch and the afternoon break I would head to the ladies restroom, pick a stall and pump! More bathroom pumping, not idea, but you got to do what you got to do. Stored it in my portable cooler until I could get to the hotel.

Next morning was full of the same, but then when it was time to leave I had to pack up all 30oz I had packed, keep it cool during the last few hours of the conference AND have it cool and safe through airport security.

This is where things got funny. I had brought 2 ziplock freezer bags with me. I filled them with the bags of breast milk, then went to the ice machine to fill up each bag with ice. The breatmillk was surrounded in ice so I figured I could at least keep it cool until I went through security at the airport.

Almost made it… security pulled me over for a few reasons:

  1. My ice pack had partially defrosted . Since it wasn’t frozen solid they weren’t going to let me take it through.
  2. My breastmilk had to be inspected, but both machines to check the breastmilk were broken.
  3. The ice I had around the breastmilk had partially melted so there was liquid in the bags.

Long story short, they poured out any water from the melting ice and they made me open every single breatsmilk bag so they could test it with a vapor strip (two breastmilk bags had burst and were now wasted) —  all of this was in front of the entire security line! It was quite embarassing, but I made it home with 20-25oz of breastmilk so it was worth it.

Lessons from this experience:

  1. make sure your ice pack is frozen solid when you go through security and pour out any liquid from melted ice. Ice though is ok.
  2. make sure to tightly seal any milk bags so they don’t leak, seems obvious, but check each one to be sure.
  3. make sure to head to the airport early! I was held up in security so long that I didn’t have time to pump before my flight, so I ended up having to pump on the plane. Just imagine standing in a small, windowless plane bathroom for 15 minutes while everyone outside wonders what you’re doing in there for so long. I was so over it all by that time I just didn’t care.
  4. bring a few large size ziplock bags. You’ll need this to hold any ice for the trip back

What we mother’s do to protect the liquid gold we produce. Of course now I have no future plans to travel without a baby, but if you have to travel it can be done.

Happy Travels!

Toys: Bright Starts Rattle

We were gifted this rattle and just gave it to Archer to play with a few weeks ago (around 4 months old) and he just loves it! It definitely is his favorite rattle at this age. He loves to shake it and chew on it.  At only $4.99 it’s a cheap and entertaining toy!

Amazon.com: Bright Starts Start Your Senses Rattle A Round: Baby.

Gear: Shade Shack Sun Shelter

Donavan and I live just 1 mile from the beach and can’t wait to take Archer this summer. That said, we all know how strong the sun can be on the beach and it makes me nervous to not have shelter or a place for him to take a nap when needed. A friend at mommy & me just bought the Shade Shack Beach Tent and Sun Shelter. It’s very portable, twists up to the size of a car sun shade, and is big enough for the whole family to fit under. I just order this from Amazon and am looking forward to giving it a try some sunny weekend soon!

Amazon.com: Shade Shack Instant Pop Up Family Beach Tent and Sun Shelter: Sports & Outdoors.

Products: Medela Calma Breastmilk Feeding Nipple

Another mom in my mommy & me class recommended this new feeding nipple from Medela. Her son wouldn’t take a bottle and she only had 2 days before she had to return to work — in desperation she tried this nipple and it worked upon first try! I haven’t personally tried this nipple yet, but it sure looks more like a real breast shape and her rave review would make me try it if Archer ever has issues taking a bottle.

 

Amazon.com: Medela Calma Breastmilk Feeding Nipple: Baby.

Gear: Cloud B Sleep Sheep

We use our Cloud B sleep sheep every night! It’s been a lifesaver when putting Archer to sleep. We attached it to his bassinet and now have it attached to the crib. When we put him down we turn it on to one of the four nature sounds, we usually choose the ocean waves, and it helps him sleep. I think this was more important during the first few months when he still was used to being in the womb and therefore needed white noise, but now it’s a habit and he seems to like it. We actually bought the travel version, the Cloud B Giraffe, for his carseat.

Amazon.com: Cloud b Sleep Sheep Four Soothing Sounds From Nature: Baby.

When Two Become Three: Marriage After Baby

I know every relationship is different and all couples react differently to changes in their life, but one thing that seems to be common for new parents is arrival of new arguments and disagreements with the arrival of a baby.

Donavan and I never argued more than the first 2 months of Archer’s life. We were both so protective of him and both thought we were right, even though I did all the research, Donavan had his own ideas of how things should be done. We also were both operating on little sleep and since we both were home all day we were around each other 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, couped up in our condo. That is enough to drive any couple nuts. On top of that there is little to no intimacy during the first 6 weeks, doctors orders, so connecting as a couple sexually is also not an option to help regain that spark.

After weeks of almost daily arguing, we just looked at each other and said this has got to stop. We must start working together and being supportive. We both wanted what was right for little Archer and neither of us really knew if we were right. I am not sure how we turned it around in a matter of one conversation, but I think we both just realized arguing wasn’t going to help anything and we were just tired of it. We missed our lovey dovey snugglefest relationship.

We just communicated how we felt. I felt like he was questioning my mothering. Did he think I was a good mom? And he felt like I was over reacting and not listening to him. After discussing we both realized that we were overly sensitive — he thought I was an amazing mother and I thought he was right more than he was wrong (not easy for me to admit).

Later once Archer got a bit older, the disagreements were a lot fewer but they were different. More about one of us feeling like we were doing more than the other. Like washing bottles vs. washing cloths vs. picking up toys etc… Our solution was to delegate tasks so each of us had things we were responsible for — this method has worked well for us. I also happen to have a super helpful and supportive husband so I didn’t have to deal with feeling like I do everything and he does nothing. Many of the moms in my mommy and me group discussed how their husbands wouldn’t do anything unless they asked, they didn’t want to have to ask, they just wanted their husbands to see what needed to be done and do it. The solution was to devise a chore list so each person has their chores every day and that way things get taken care of without one person always directing the other. Seems like an easy solution if you have a partner willing to do half the work.

In general, don’t worry if you argue a ton in the first few months. You will get passed it and all will return to normal once you figure out your rhythm with this new person as part of your life. Make sure to find time as a couple, say thank you and flirt with each other. We still send silly flirtatious text message, pinch each other’s butts and tell each other how much we appreciate the family we have created. [getting your sex life back also helps :)]

Here is a great article with more structured and differentiated advice: The Marriage Factor

Maternity Leave: What It’s Really Like

For most of us, maternity leave is the first time in a long time where we wouldn’t be working for an extended period of time. For me there wasn’t a time I didn’t work — since college I had a job and I never took more than 1 week between jobs. Vacations here and there sure, but not 3 months of no work. Of course I had all sorts of plans for maternity leave… finish scrap books from vacations past, clean out my closet, try those brunch spots I never seem to make it to. Ya right. As you know or will soon find out, if you have any time you’re bathing, eating or getting some much needed rest. And then If you have a few extra minutes outside of taking care of your basic needs, you are so freaking tired and worn out that all you want to do is lay on the couch and veg out.

You will live in PJs. You will not wear makeup. You will live in flip flops and tennis shoes. You will look in the mirror and think, “Wow I look 10 years younger than I feel”.

Then as your baby grows and starts sleeping longer and longer stretches (maybe 4 hours) giving you some well deserved reprieve you finally find some energy to start the baby book, or write thank you cards or maybe even get your nails/toes done and put something on other than sweats. You start really enjoying your new life hanging out with your baby, going to the grocery store mid-day during the week when no one else is there and never sitting in traffic because you can make your own schedule. You become very busy taking care of the little one while doing whatever side or house projects you have lined up.
This is the time to get out and start exercising, taking mini trips with your baby to meet family or just to getaway. Trust me, once work starts up again there will be no time to work out (without sacrificing time with your baby or sacrificing sleep) and weekend travel you want to spend with your baby not in a car or plane.
If you have high hopes for a productive maternity leave don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get anything done but take care of your baby, that is all you need to do. Cherish every moment because before you know it you’ll only be seeing your baby mornings and evenings during the week and you’ll wish you had days full of staring at each other just watching them grow.

Transition from Breast to Bottle

For those of us who plan to return to work and who are breastfeeding, we will need to make sure our babies can feed heartily from a bottle before we return back to work. That means getting our little bundles of joy to not only accept a silicone nipple over our luscious nipples, but we also have to get them to accept being fed by someone other than us. This isn’t always easy, depends on the baby really. Some have no problem while others protest. Archer was somewhere in the middle.

Experts say that breastfed babies shouldn’t be introduced to a bottle before 4 or 6 weeks or until baby has established a proper latch. Once you introduce the bottle to the baby, you should give the baby a bottle (of breastmilk) once every few days to help baby practice and learn. I delayed giving a bottle until around 8 weeks. Mainly because I was too lazy to start the whole process and I also was emotionally adjusting to the first man-made object being put in my babies mouth. Dramatic maybe, but you just wait and see how you feel.

Here are tips that I read about and what ended up working for us:

  • Don’t try to introduce the bottle when your baby is really hungry. This might be contrary to what you might think, but hungry babies has less patience to figure out a new way to get their food. Try to introduce the bottle at the tail end of a feeding session or an hour earlier than the baby would normally eat. We did this and found a lot of success by offering the bottle after I breastfed Archer on one breast, giving the bottle for the second half of his feeding.
  • The books say have someone other than you needs to give the baby the bottle. Father, grandmother, caregiver, etc… We tried that several times, but Archer wouldn’t take the bottle from Donavan. So I ended up feeding him his first bottle after breastfeeding him a bit and he took it from me. After just a few minutes of him taking the bottle from me, I had Donavan come over and take over the rest of the feeding. It worked! Archer from then on took a bottle from Donavan.
  • The position baby is held in matters. Some must be in same position and place in the house where you breastfeed, others need opposite. Archer always is placed in his boppy lounger to eat.
  • Use nipples that resemble the real thing. choose a nipple that has a wide base and have low flow (small hole). We used Dr. Browns wide neck bottles and loved them. Some people find that they leak, but we didn’t have that issue.
  • To get baby to latch on to rubber nipple use the same techniques of rubbing their lips and letting a few drops of milk drip onto their mouth. Your baby should open wide and try to latch just like on the breast.
  • Make sure milk in the bottle is room temperature or warm and warm nipple under faucet. This really helped us at first with Archer, much easier to get him to feed when the milk wasn’t cold and the nipple warm.

Once Archer started taking the bottle from Donavan we were set and I was relieved. For every caregiver that now needs to give Archer a bottle, we always make sure Donavan or I are there to help with the transition. Once Archer takes a bottle from someone one time he has no issue doing it again, just at first it might be a little difficult.

Hope you found this helpful! Share your stories on what worked for you or what challenges you had.

 

Working Moms: Going Back to Work

Going back to work after maternity leave is a transition. Some moms look forward to getting back in the swing of things and getting a break from ‘baby world’ and others — like myself — there isn’t any longing to return to work. I knew it was inevitable that I’d have to face the transition back to the daily grind, but for good reason I managed to keep these thoughts out of my head during maternity leave.

Then… all too soon… it’s the call or email from your boss. “We look forward to seeing you on Monday!” You spend the next few days mentally preparing for taking back work responsibilities and trying on all your clothes to see what actually fits (not too much).

Sunday night comes and you’re in tears. Monday morning comes and you’re in tears. You arrive at work, everyone is so happy to see you, but you’re just fighting back tears every time they ask you about the baby.

It’s a big transition. Expect tears, expect fear and anxiety, and of course expect a little guilt. Maybe you’ll be lucky and will not have any of this — I wish that for you! — but the majority of moms I’ve spoken to do. I had all these feelings and really wondered if we should make a drastic life change (i.e. move somewhere cheaper) so I could stop working and be home with Archer. We are very lucky that Donavan’s job allows him to work from home and take care of Archer. I know not every family is able to have a stay at home parent, but no matter your daycare situation you still will miss your baby, wondering if what you’re doing is right and wish you had more time at home.

I was so desperate to spend more time with Archer after the first few weeks of going back to work that I came up with some ways to spend more time with him, even if it was just 15 more minutes in the morning, it was worth it. Here’s what we did to help with my transition back:

  1. Frequent picture text messages
  2. Calls mid day to check in
  3. Shortened hours for the first few weeks (left a little later for work and promptly headed home at 5:15 or 5:30 to get another hour and a half with him before bed).
  4. Lunch visits once or twice a week (Donavan would bring Archer to the office for a lunch date)
  5. Videos saved on my phone to view when I needed a pick me up
  6. On my way home from work, mentally transition off of business Lizzie to mommy, by singing his favorite song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Sounds weird to sing this in the car by myself, but I needed something to get me out of my traditional work role. It’s a mental shift that takes some practice.

If you have an at home Nanny all of this is doable. If you have daycare, you should still be able to get a phone call check in and at least one picture text message during the day. If you work close by, you should be able to go in for lunch once a week. (my sister does this with her son) Tell them you need it for the first few weeks to help you with the transition. If they refuse… maybe that’s a sign of needed a new daycare!

Now I’ve been back at work for 2 months and I am over any anxiety, fear or major guilt. Now I do have a different type of guilt, guild that I enjoy work and don’t miss being home. But I remind myself that I am doing what’s best for my family and I work hard to spend as much time I can with him. While I’m not there all day, I am there when he wakes up and to put him down for the night.

I’ve spoken to other Moms who have quit their jobs to stay home and almost all say “The grass is always greener.” You have to make the best decision for you, but I will tell you wait a few weeks before making any big changes. Try these tips and it will get easier. You’ll be surprised how quickly you fall back into a pattern. I don’t know if that is good or not, but if you have to work then know it gets easier with each week that goes by. It’s important that your boss and caregiver are flexible and supportive. The number one reason women quit promising careers is because their bosses are inflexible — don’t be one of those bosses — and I hope you don’t have one of those bosses. I had a conversation with my a week in and asked him to be patient with me as I transition back to full time work. He was supportive and even suggested bringing him in the office for lunches. You may be surprised what they offer if they know you are struggling a bit.

At the end of all this I asked myself, If I could stay home would I? I am not sure I would, I might prefer to work 3 or 4 days a week instead of 5 but in the end, I am proud to be a working Mom and to teach my son that his Mom is a hard working and successful woman — women can be mommies, wives and executives. That has to count for something!

Here I am getting ready in the morning with Archer. I spend as much time with him as I can, even if that means doing my makeup with one hand!

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Play: 4-6 months

By this time your baby is getting a lot more fun and responsive! They should be smiling back at your, trying to talk and able to grasp toys — albeit clumsy they’re working on their hand to mouth sills. The games below are all things we’ve been playing to help Archer develop his muscles, coordination and start to better understand language and interaction. During this time they are also start to roll over, first from tummy to back then back to tummy, so their movement needs to be encouraged.

  • Toy wagon wheel: this is just how it sounds. On the floor we lay a blanket down and place his toys all around him in a circle, all slightly out of reach. This encourages him to look around and try to move (roll) to reach something. You can place your hands behind his feet to give him something to push off on so he understands he can push himself forward. We do this every day with Archer, however it wasn’t until the last week or so (he’s almost 5 months) where he became interested in reaching for his toys on the ground. Before that he was only interested in people. Timing on this depends on your baby.
  • Pull ups: you may have already started to do this or notice your little one flexing his stomach to try and sit up. You can help them along by holding out your fingers and saying “up” then wait until they pull with their arms and flex their neck until you slowly pull them up to a seated position. Then lower them down and do over again. Eventually they’ll learn to pull their legs up too which helps them sit. (sitting up on their own doesn’t happen until 6-8 months) Archer loves doing this, he gets so proud of himself when he’s sitting!
  • Scanning: when babies are on their tummies they scan the room. When they’re on their back and you’re dangling toys, it’s important to dangle the toys across their body, from side to side, passing their midline. Not only does this help with coordination, but it helps their brain develop properly so they understand full cross body range of motion. We just learned this important tip so will make more effort in this area.
  • Peek-a-boo: we all know this game. This is a great game to help them learn their name. Take a thin slightly see-through scarf and hold it up between you and your baby. Call their name. When they look at you drop the scarf and say peek-a-boo!
  • Patty cake: Archer loves this game! It’ll turn him from crying to smiling in 10 seconds flat. Basically start by holding up your hands in patty cake stance, fingers wide and exaggerated, then start tapping their hands and singing Patty Cake. Eventually your baby will mimic you and open their hands, hold them up and sing along.
  • Tickling: around 4 months you may have gotten your little one to laugh. Some do it on their own others need to be prompted. Usually you can start tickling them under their arms or on their sides and get all sorts of giggles and laughs. It shows playful human interaction and “cause and effect”.
  • Reading: you may wonder what your newborn is gathering from books at this point, but it’s important to start showing them pictures and getting them acquainted with books. Sit them up in your lap, hold the book in-front of you and show them the book while singing or reading in an animated fashion. I will do a separate post on reading books to your newborn, we just learned about this in class today.
  • Of course all teh games in 0-3 months also can be played during this phase as well.

Have fun playing with your little babycakes. They won’t always be willing or able to sit and play with you so enjoy it while you can. They’re little sponges and you’ll see them learn and develop so fast!

Here’s Archer and I playing patty cake. He didn’t always hold up his hands this way but learned quickly!

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Here I am playing peek-a-boo with Archer:

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Wagon wheel set up where Archer plays:

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Hair Loss, Your Baby and You

When it comes to hair, there are a lot of questions — Will my baby be born with hair? What color will it be? Will it fall out? Will my (mom) hair fall out? When the babies hair comes back in will it be the same?  — and there really are no answers. You won’t know for months how everything will pan out.

Some babies lose their hair around 3 or 4 months, but can happen up to 6 months of age. The drop in hormones in a babies system usually is the cause of the hair shedding and within a few weeks you’ll notice peach fuzz coming in of the  hair they’ll keep.

Mom also loses hair around month 4 after giving birth. Again, this is caused by a drop of hormones. Eventually I’m told hair thickness returns. I have very thin hair to start with and additionally during my pregnancy suffered from hair loss. My OB said that some women experience hair loss during pregnancy, but most experience thicker than average hair while expecting. I was not so lucky. Tben around 4 months postpartum my hair started to really fall out. Now it’s thinner than ever and I just hope it’ll grow back when my  hormones level off. We’ll see. Unlike baby hair loss, almost all moms will experience a shedding of hair around 3-4 months.

Archer lost his hair around 3 months. I remember picking him up from his bassinet one morning and it looked like a cat had slept in his bed! It was that much hair all over the sheet. There’s nothing you can do about it and usually there’s nothing wrong. If you see red patches, bumps, bald spots vs. overall hair shedding talk to your pediatrician. Now at four and a half months his hair is really coming back in. He was born with wheat colored hair and now it’s coming quite blonde!

Again it’s those darn hormones that cause this, but rest assured both you and baby should have your manes back in no time!

Creating Your Birth Preferences (Not a Birth Plan)

You may have read about creating a birth plan to discuss with your doctor or mid-wife. If you haven’t, it’s a list of preferences for your doctor, nurses, husband/partner or other care givers. It’s important that others know what you want so they can be advocates for you if you’re not able to answer for yourself. I prefer to call this your Birth Preferences vs. a Birth Plan as you never know what type of labor you are going to have. You can’t control how things unfold, all you can control is the decision you make once different options are presented to you.

Here’s a list of all the things you should think about and decide on beforehand. Make sure that you review this with your doctor and anyone else present at the birth. Some of the decisions you make below will affect what type of medicine you can be given or how your doctor will perform the birth, so again, make sure you go over it with them so you can discuss what you want and they can advise on any effects of those decisions.

Labor:

  • walking while in labor (yes/no)
  • changing positions at will throughout labor (yes/no)
  • music (yes/no, type)
  • quiet environment (yes/no)
  • lighting
  • number of vaginal exams
  • IV hep lock (yes/no)

Monitoring:

  • continuous fetal monitoring (yes/no)
  • internal monitor (yes/no)

Labor Augmentation/induction

  • Break water artificially (yes/no) If yes, under what circumstances?
  • Pitocin (yes/no) If yes, when is it ok?

Pain Medication

  • Epidural in Standard / Low Dose / None
  • Injection of narcotic (yes/no)

Delivery

  • Delivery Positioning
  • Mirror to see baby coming out
  • Touching baby’s head when crowning
  • Delivery room environment
  • People allowed in delivery room (relatives, coach, medical students)

Episiotomy

  • Episiotomy or natural tearing (your doctor might do an episiotomy if they think you will tear, would you rather tear naturally or have them cut you so that you won’t tear?)
  • Perineal massage
  • Guidance when pushing
  • local anesthetic to repair a tear or an episiotomy

Cesarean

  • How do you feel about a cesarean? Avoid at all costs? Indifferent?
  • Request cesarean second opinion (yes/no)
  • The presence of partner or labor coach in OR
  • Screen (lowering to see the baby?)
  • If the baby is not in distress, but my labor has slowed then ______

After Delivery

  • Cord cutting, who?
  • Cord saving?
  • Holding baby after delivery for how long before/after examination
  • Pitocin post delivery to aid in placenta delivery
  • Eye medication
  • Hep B shot
  • Vitamin K shot
  • Placenta, discard or keep (some people keep the placenta and get placenta pills made to take postpartum)

Breastfeeding & Postpartum

  • Breastfeeding or bottle
  • If bottle is ok, formula, glucose water, water. What is ok.
  • Pacifier
  • I do or do not plan to breastfeed my baby
  • Lactation consultant
  • Baby in room or nursery

Circumcision

  • Circumcision (yes/no)
  • If yes, performed in hospital?

I am sure this seems like a lot, but you probably already know how you feel about most of this stuff. If you aren’t sure what something is on this list, just post a comment and I’ll explain. Here was my birth preference list and what really happened:

Labor:

  • walking while in labor – yes
  • changing positions at will throughout labor – yes
  • music – yes, rythmic or drum beats. Ended up with no music bc labor was so fast, I didn’t miss it!
  • quiet environment – yes. This ended up being very important. I couldn’t have anyone talk while I was having a contraction
  • lighting – low
  • number of vaginal exams – as few as I need.
  • IV hep lock – no. I ended up getting one because my doctor strong recommended that I do. I am still annoyed that I was requested to get one. It wasn’t used and hurt!

Monitoring:

  • continuous fetal monitoring – yes
  • internal monitor – no, unless needed because baby’s vitals can’t be found

Labor Augmentation/induction

  • Break water artificially – no, not unless emergency
  • Pitocin  – no, only OK if labor slows and a cesarean is being considered.

Pain Medication

  • Epidural – none
  • Injection of narcotic – no
  • If no medication, still offer medication? – no

Delivery

  • Delivery Positioning – not sure, how ever I feel at the time
  • Mirror to see baby coming out – no
  • Touching baby’s head when crowning – no
  • Delivery room environment – tranquil
  • People allowed in delivery room (relatives, coach, medical students) – husband, mother, doctor, doula, nurses and any medical staff

Episiotomy

  • Episiotomy or natural tearing – natural tearing
  • Perineal massage – ok
  • Guidance when pushing – yes
  • local anesthetic to repair a tear or an episiotomy – yes

Cesarean

  • How do you feel about a cesarean?  – Avoid at all costs
  • Request cesarean second opinion – yes
  • The presence of partner or labor coach in OR – partner only
  • Screen (lowering to see the baby?) – yes
  • If the baby is not in distress, but my labor has slowed then _I want to keep progressing naturally, wait, do not perform cesarean. If we must, I’d take pitocin to help get labor going again.

After Delivery

  • Cord cutting, who? – father
  • Cord saving? – no
  • Holding baby after delivery for how long before/after examination – 1 hour before exam
  • Pitocin post delivery to aid in placenta delivery – no, but ended up being given it without my knowledge.
  • Eye medication – no
  • Hep B shot – no
  • Vitamin K shot – yes
  • Placenta, discard

Breastfeeding & Postpartum

  • Breast feeding – yes, right away
  • Pacifier – no
  • I do plan to breastfeed my baby
  • Lactation consultant – yes
  • Baby in room

Circumcision

  • Circumcision – no

Hopefully that helps give you an idea of all the things you need to consider and think about beforehand. You will not be in the proper state to think things through when you’re having strong contractions. If you want to try and do a non-medicated birth, have a “secret word” with your partner that you say only when you want pain medication. Ours was cupcake. If I said cupcake 3 times that means give me the pain medication. I never used our secret word or even thought about it really, I was so set on delivering naturally. My labor was pretty smooth but I have many friends who weren’t as lucky — make sure you go in with an open mind and that in the end a healthy baby and healthy mom are most important no matter how you get there.

Lastly, you have the right to say no. Just because you’re in a hospital or at a birthing center with doctors doesn’t mean you have to do what they say. You can refuse any treatment and you can ask for second or third opinions. Don’t let them bully you into doing something you don’t want to do — just know that you have the power over what is done to your body AND your baby’s body. For example, we refused the eye ointment (used to protect the eyes from certain STDs, if you don’t have those STDs then your baby doesn’t need it) and hepatitis B shot (we are delaying this vaccination until Archer is a bit older since neither his father, I nor any of his caregivers have hepatitis B). We had to sign a waiver saying we refused these standard post delivery medications for our baby, but I am so glad we did!

Happy Laboring!!

My Labor & Delivery Story

It was a Friday morning, around 7:30am, and I was getting ready for work. I started to notice some slight cramping in my lower abdomen, like menstrual cramps. I didn’t think anything of it. I had those types of cramps a week earlier and my OB said it was a good sign that my body was getting ready. Archer wasn’t due for another 11 days so I figured more progress was being made toward labor.

I headed into work and throughout the day noticed the cramps getting stronger. They started to wrap around my hips and the cramps became progressively stronger — by 4:30 I couldn’t talk during the cramp so I figured it was time to go home and rest. I was so busy at work I didn’t really realize that they were coming regularly. Once I got in the car to drive home I started timing the craps. They were consistently 4 minutes apart. Still didn’t think anything of it and even stopped to get gas on the way home.

Once home I took a bath and tried to relax hoping the cramps would subside. The cramps kept coming. My Doula advised to rest and if the cramps kept coming regularly to go to the hospital to get checked. I then called the OB on call to get her opinion. Once a cramp came on and I stopped talking, she said, you need to go to the hospital to get checked.

My husband and I gathered our bags (we had everything we needed packed already) and headed out in rush hour Los Angeles traffic to the hospital. For some reason neither he nor I thought we were in labor. I assumed contractions would feel like tightening of the belly. That is what I remember being told in our Labor class. I didn’t have any belly tightening.

Finally after an agonizing drive, we make it to the hospital. We said, “We’re not here to get checked in, I’m just here to get checked.” As they had me sign papers at the front desk they noticed how much I was dancing around and trying to breathe. They decided it was time for me to get checked and my husband stayed behind to fill out paperwork. A few minutes later the nurse checked me and said, “Yup, you’re 4 cm dilated and having contractions every 3 minutes.” I said, “So we’re in labor?” She looked at me confused, “Yes, you’re in labor!”

They moved me right away to the Delivery room. I should say that we wanted an all natural non-medicated birth. I wanted to feel what it was like to have a baby. I didn’t want to be numbed or confined to my bed as you are with an epidural. I wanted to be able to move around and go with what my body wanted.

Long story short… I was in the delivery room at 8:15 and by 10:13 Archer was born. My OB didn’t even make the birth. A mid-wife from down the hall had to come deliver the baby. All the nurses were amazed at what a fast labor I had for my first baby. I am convinced that all the walking and squatting I did while laboring is what helped. I never sat down until it was time to push.

What I learned though this experience is how amazingly equipped and intelligent our bodies are. They will birth a child with your help or not. To feel my uterus pushing the baby out without my help was an amazing feeling (they told me not to push, ya right I told them, the baby is coming whether we’re ready or not). While definitely painful, it was the most exhilarating experience and I’ve never felt a bigger sense of accomplishment. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

While natural non-medicated birth isn’t for everyone, I encourage you to consider it. I read about the benefits of baby mother bonding with natural birth, nut honestly I was more curious than anything on what birth was like. What was I supposed to experience as a pregnant woman?

Any birth plan that ends with a healthy mom and baby is what we want so no matter how your birth ends up, be proud of yourself and amazed at the little joy your body created.

Weight Loss Postpartum

During my pregnancy I purposely tried not to gain too much weight — I didn’t want to have to deal with losing it later! Still after only gaining 30 lbs I still have 10 lbs. to lose 5 months later. If you’re breast feeding it helps you lose weight faster than if you don’t. Some people are lucky and end up losing all their post baby weight within the first 3-4 months just from breast feeding – you need up to 500 extra calories a day.

I haven’t been so lucky and found that I have been even hungrier than when I was pregnant. At just 5 weeks postpartum I tried to go running. Big mistake. I ended up tweaking my ankle and knee. Your ligaments loosen while you’re pregnant (to allow for child birth) and mine hadn’t firmed up yet. In the end I injured my leg and just finished with physical therapy. Don’t rush back into working out! start with walking and slowly work back into your normal exercise routine. It’s also important to note that if you exercise too much you can build up lactic acid in your muscles that can be transfer into your breast milk and cause your baby to reject it. Another reason to take it easier and focus on being healthy and raising a happy loved baby.

The purpose of this post is to tell you not to worry! In time I am told all will go back, or mostly go back, and more importantly if you’re breast feeding you need to eat a healthy balanced diet — not a low fat diet. Babies brains are over 60% fat so eat some good healthy fats and help it develop!

Reusable Diapers

When I read an article that babies in reusable diapers potty train up to a year earlier than those in disposable diapers I was ready to embark on the reusable diaper path. Then after further reading, I learned there really isn’t any hard research that proves cloth diapers help you potty train your baby sooner. That said, it makes sense to me that a baby in a reusable diaper can feel wetness more than in a disposable diaper, so therefore they’ll know when they’ve gone potty and doesn’t that help with potty training? I am not sure, but I was still convinced that cloth diapers were something I wanted to try and now almost 5 months in I am so glad we did!

Benefits:

  • environmentally beneficial
  • cost savings (over long run)
  • non-toxic
  • less diaper rash
  • possible earlier potty training
Once we decided we were going to give cloth diapers a try we needed to find the right kind. There are many different types, pocket diapers, AOI (all in one) diapers, fitted diapers, one size diapers, prefold diapers… it can be very confusing. Then of course there are many different brands of reusable diapers, BumGenius and Fuzzibunz seem to be the most popular.
With some help from a friend and neighbor who is an expert in reusable diapers, I narrowed down to two types I wanted to try. All in One Bum Genius and gDiaper reusable insert diapers. After a few days of testing we found th gDiaper worked best for us. What I liked is I could just replace the insert if the cover of the diaper didn’t get wet, I could use reusable or disposable inserts (if it was a big poop day I’d use disposable inserts) and best of all they were fitted (xs, s, m, l, xl) so they weren’t super bulky like the AOI Bum Genius diaper under Archer’s clothes. They also didn’t leak. I found the Bum Genius to leak through the leg opening — if your baby has really chunky legs this might not be an issue for you.  I also really liked the hemp inserts lined with micro fleece that come with gDiapers, they are soft and very absorbent. I love the idea of natural fibers against him vs. synthetic material.
My advice is to give it a try if you’re at all curious. Just buy 3 covers and one 6 pack of inserts and give it a try ($100 investment if you buy new, but you can often find used almost new reusables online). If you don’t have a washing machine or hate doing laundry this might not be for you. You will do laundry every day or every other day at least to clean the soiled inserts and diaper covers.
We used 5 diapers when Archer was a newborn and did the wash 2 times a day. Spend more money and buy 10 diapers or so and you can do the wash every other day! Here’s your shopping list to get started:
Diaper Cover ($17-$19 each)

Amazon.com: gDiapers Little gPant Diaper Covers Gooseberry Purple, Medium: Health & Personal Care.

Diaper Inserts

There are two sizes, small and m-xl, make sure to get the right size! Can buy on Amazon.

As I mentioned earlier, Archer had skinny legs and isn’t a chunky baby so these worked best for us. The BumGenius get rave reviews from people, they just didn’t work for us. Grovia is another brand that my neighbor uses and loves. You can always buy one of several different brands and give them all a try to see what works best for you! Share here what you find so we can get some other findings.

Books: Your Baby and Child

The other general reference guide that was recommended to us was Penelope Leach’s Your Baby & Child, from Birth to Age 5. This book covers the more traditional ways of parenting and has nice color pictures to help illustrate things. I use this book less often than Dr. Sear’s Baby Book, but I do reference it to see what advice Penelope gives for certain situations. Depending on the type of parent you want to be will probably sway which book you get, you can’t go wrong with getting either or both!

Amazon.com: Your Baby and Child (9780375712036): Penelope Leach: Books.

Books: The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two

Dr. Sears is a well know expert in the field of baby rearing. His approach however is different than the norm — he believes in attachment parenting. That means no crying it out, no forced separation, no pacis, etc… It’s all about being there for your baby, bonding with them, teaching them love and compassion while letting them develop on their own time. Of course that doesn’t mean if you don’t follow his methods your baby won’t be taught love and compassion, but his methods are a bit more homeopathic and old school if you will.

I loved this book and reference it often whenever I have questions. It’s a great resource to have on hand. It’s huge so you don’t need to read the whole thing cover to cover, I just referenced sections I was interested in.

Amazon.com: The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition) (9780316778008): William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears, James Sears: Books.

DVD: The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD

This is a must watch in my opinion for any new parent. It equips you with 5 soothing techniques that help calm the fussiest of newborns. They’re called the 5 S’s:

  1. Swaddle (see my post on swaddling)
  2. Shush (mimic the white noise in the womb)
  3. Side (baby on their side)
  4. Shake (no really shake, more wobble so their head wobbles a bit)
  5. Suck (every babies sooth all, either on boob, finger or paci)

There is also a book you can buy, but what I love about the DVD is you can watch all the soothing techniques which leads to better understanding and I also had my husband watch with me — better than trying to get him to read a book about baby soothing!

Amazon.com: The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD: Dr. Harvey Karp: Movies & TV.

More Posts Are Coming!

I am still updating the 4-6 month section, more posts will be coming. I am writing this blog as Archer grows and we’re in month 5 now!

Gear: Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier

I didn’t buy a pumping bustier for the first few weeks while I was pumping. I just couldn’t bear the sight of them! Well, let me tell you. Holding the breast pump securing to your breasts for 12+ minutes is no fun — not only do your arms and shoulders get tired but you can’t do a thing while pumping. A friend convinced me to just get this hand free bra so I did and it was the best decision.

It’s not cute, it might make you feel like a milk machine, but it’s so wonderful to have both hands available while you pump. I also found I got more milk out when I wore this, maybe it was the pressure on my breasts. Just bite the bullet and get one!

Amazon.com: Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier for Medela Breast Pump L/XL/XXL: Baby.

Sites: Amazon Mom

I don’t mean a freakishly tall and strong woman when I say Amazon Mom, I’m talking about Amazon.com’s program for moms (and any caregiver really). It’s an awesome program that is FREE to join. You can buy all your diapers and wipes easily online and if you sign up for the reoccurring auto-delivery you get 20% off your diapers and wipes. That’s a huge savings when you go through these baby products so quickly.

You also get 3 months of FREE Prime 2 day shipping which is a God send during the first few months. You won’t be leaving the house much and this is the perfect easy way to get what you need quickly. If you spend enough money through Amazon on baby products, including toys, furniture, etc…, you will get a whole year of FREE Prime 2 day shipping. It’s amazing… I bought our baby furniture through Amazon so we quickly qualified. I suggest you do the same!

http://www.amazon.com/mom

Finding a Pediatrician

We interviewed 4 pediatricians in our area. Most take interviews some make you pay for them. We wanted a homeopathic pediatrician. It’s important to know what kind of pediatrician you want and how you feel about vaccinations, treatments, etc… Here are some questions to ask yourself or your doctor when interiewing:

  • What are the office hours?
  • Are they flexible in accommodating your schedule?
  • Is the office staff friendly, courteous, helpful?
  • Were you kept waiting on the phone or at the office?
  • Is the office environment clean and comfortable?
  • Is the waiting area child friendly?
  • Is there convenient parking available? Is it free?
  • How are routine appointments scheduled?
  • Is it hard to get an appointment?
  • What are the procedures if your baby is sick? Can you be seen same day?
  • What is the after hours policy? Can you talk to your doctor or do you need to talk to a doctor on call?
  • Will the pediatrician come to the hospital when your baby is born?
  • Who will cover if your pediatrician isn’t available?
  • What is the vaccination schedule?
  • Is the pediatrician flexible or do they stick to their way of doing things?
  • Did you fell rushed during the interview?
  • Do they have kids of their own? Do you care?

I am sure there are many more questions to ask, but these were the main ones we asked. In the end we chose the doctor that had the same beliefs we did on health and medicine. It also doesn’t hurt to read reviews of each doctor before you meet with them online (e.g. via Yelp.com).

It may take a few weeks to get an interview lined up with a pediatrician so make sure to start your search early, around 7 months pregnant.

Tummy Time

Tummy time will be a topic of many of your first doctor’s visits. I always found our doctor asking if we’re doing tummy time, how much of it, etc… Friends of mine also got this question every time they went in for a check up in the first few months. The reason doctors ask is because most babies hate it and therefore parents don’t want to do it. It’s important to do so that your baby develops muscles to help support their head and back. They also want to prevent flat head syndrome which is more common now that babies now sleep on their backs.

We did tummy time every day and several times a day. In the beginning Archer would only last 5 minutes at most on his tummy. We’d keep trying throughout the day and slowly he became more comfortable. Still, at almost 5 months, he doesn’t like being on his belly, but we still do it.

The play gym was where he did most of his tummy time. Get down on the floor with them so they can see your face and so they know they’re not alone. Encourage them and pick them up when you think they’ve reached their limit. When your baby can see better you can dangle some toys or put a mirror below them for entertainment — it might help them stay longer on their bellies. You can also place a small rolled up towel under their armpits across their chest to help prop them up until they become stronger.

According to my Mommy and Me instructor it’s very important that your infant gets plenty of time on the floor. Whether on their belly or not! I don’t think we did this enough and it something I would change next time around. So get used to sitting on the floor with them and encouraging them to move — it’ll help them develop strong muscles and research shows that they’ll be more athletic and active when they grow up.

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Sex Postpartum

This was the one thing no one told me — sex will hurt for months after you give birth. What?! I thought a regular vaginal birth wasn’t crippling. Guess again.

I am sure people’s experiences are different and whether you tore or not during delivery will have a lot to do with it — I did a bit so maybe that’s why sex was so painful at first — but the standard 6 weeks the doctor says you need to heal and therefore can’t have sex doesn’t come close to how much time it takes to really heal.

I’ve surveyed 3 other friends and they all say it took them months, some up to 6 months postpartum, for sex to become pleasurable again. For me it took just over 3 months for sex not to be painful and about 4 months for it to be pleasurable. I was so worried that it’d never feel good again, thank goodness the pain has stopped and it has become pleasurable. I will say it still isn’t the same as before. I also hear from a few friends that it really isn’t the same ever again, but I’m sure that is a case by case… or at least I hope so.

Since I had a natural birth I didn’t associate that area of my body with pleasure, it felt like a big wound, so it took some time before I was even in the right mindset. If your husband is like mine then he’ll be ready for you on the first day past 6 weeks. Tread lightly! Use lubrication! Go slow! And it’s ok to stop the whole thing if it’s just too painful, don’t feel bad, you just had a baby! Maybe it is nature’s way to make sure you don’t get pregnant again too fast. Ha.