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Newborn

Creating space

Ok so if you have recently had a baby you will know just what I mean but if you are still waiting store this one away for later.  After giving birth your hormones are raging, your body is healing and you are a little tired. And by “a little tired” I mean exhausted! As for me I am not an expert sleeper. I mean to say, some people fall asleep quickly, nap well without it interrupting their ability to sleep etc. I am not one of those. I’m pretty sure that my punctuation is all wrong even in these first few sentences but hey there is grace for the exhausted right? But I digress.... let’s talk about a need for you to have “you time”. My husband rocks at knowing when I need to just disappear and have “me” time.  In fact he often notices that I need it way before I do. So tonight he made dinner, bathed the kids and put them to bed and sent me to the Frothy Monkey to have some me time for which I am so grateful.  Certainly while your baby is very little and you are running around a 3 hour schedule it’s harder to create space for you to have some “me time” but it’s important.  Even just getting out of the house to do groceries without kids is sometimes refreshing. 

If there are things at home that give your heart and mins space to recover from the day then plan those into your day. I love to cook new foods, paint (on canvas) and read.  Thankfully those are all things I can do at home so it doesn’t matter that we only have one car. I can still create some me space by spending time actually being creative. 

So here is your mission (should you choose to accept it) ... Make a list of things that bring you life and restore your soul :-) I would make the list according to the amount of time required to accomplish them, for example:

15 Minute activities:

  • Coffee and browse a magazine
  • Spend time soaking in God’s presence (in early weeks this might become napping)
  • Browse some favorite recipe websites
  • Burst training (yes, exercise! :-) See burstclub.com it's awesome!

30 minutes:

  • Read a book
  • browse pinterest for recipes (sensing a food theme yet?)

60 minutes:

  • Cook a new recipe
  • Paint
  • Watch a favorite TV show
  • Meet a friend at the frothy monkey for coffee!

You get the idea! Make a list of things you enjoy and estimate the amount of time it takes to do it. Then when you find you feel depleted and need a “pick me up” you can refer to the list and pick something suitable for the amount of time you have free that day.  If you happen to be very good at being spontaneous then perhaps you don’t need the lists... I’m typically fairly planned so lists are my friend! :-)

8 Weeks In

I can hardly believe it’s been 8 weeks since I gave birth to our son, Micah-John.  He is such a lovely little baby and very cuddly which is always nice. I am reminded of all the emotions and craziness that comes with recovery from birth and having a new baby in the house and thought I might talk a little about that today.

Let’s talk about Mommy first and then we will head onto baby! Mommy you are amazing! Seriously! You have done an amazing thing whether you had medical assistance (ie epidurals) or gave birth on your bedroom floor.  For most of us the role of Supermom is familiar at some point; we are trying to manage the kids, cooking meals, keep a house clean, work, etc. Having said that Supermom needs to dial it back and recover for the first 2 weeks at least. Your body has been through trauma and it needs to heal so be nice to it! Sleep when you need to, keep your feet up, drink lots of water, rest, let people come to you if you want company. If people offer to help, let them! If you take care of baby and concentrate on taking care of yourself you will thank yourself later. For the first few weeks you will likely feel exhausted and emotional due to lack of sleep and hormones flooding your system.  As you get a few weeks into nursing your hormones will start to settle. The first week really is the hardest and each subsequent week gets a little easier. By the time you get to 4-6 weeks you are usually in a pretty good rhythm and if you are doing babywise by week 8-10 they are sleeping 8-10 hours at night and you feel like a human being again.

Tips to help in the first 6 weeks:

  1. Nursing is a skill and it’s one you learn. Very few babies just latch on and away you go like they show you in the movies. My advice is make use of the lactation consultants while in hospital, or midwives to help you and baby learn this new skill.  It can be painful at first but if you are getting a good latch the pain fades quickly and again by about 10 days in it’s not very painful at all. 
  2. Enjoy all the firsts! Since MJ is our last baby I have especially determined in my heart to enjoy each moment even if its in the middle of the night and I’m exhausted.  I saw his first big smile during a 4 am feed and it melted my heart. Now I’m not saying I love being sleep deprived but I do things to help me get up and stay awake and I’m trying to enjoy each moment. Having said that I still sometimes fall asleep while feeding and am afraid I might head butt my son before I wake up:-) 

What do I do to help myself with the night feeds? Especially the first 6 weeks when it feels like you just got to sleep and now you are up again? I tend to portion out little snacks for myself for each night time feed and make sure there is plenty of water within reach. Since MJ was born close to christmas I would have a little snack of dark chocolate and a clementine ready for each feed.  In addition I pick a new TV show on Hulu or Netflix and watch it only at night during the feeds so there is something else to concentrate on rather than the time and the fact that I am awake!

  1. Plan things to look forward to during the waking hours like a nice coffee date (Decaf:-) with a friend, a favorite food, a little shopping date etc. I spent the first 2 weeks basically in pajamas and rested tons but after those first weeks I found it helped my state of mind to shower and at least get dressed even if I didn’t plan to go anywhere just so the days and nights don’t bleed together.
  2. Give yourself loads of grace. Like loads and loads of grace. And ask questions! If there are moms around that are wise and have parenting styles that you want to emulate then ask them if you can text or call when you have questions.  They say it takes a village to raise children and there is truth to that! Let the wise ones around you help and encourage you. 

Ok Let’s talk about baby...

You are no doubt in love with this tiny little person. Part of you wants to hold them every minute and cover them in kisses and that is completely understandable and normal.  The thing is if you do hold them every minute they never learn to sleep on their own and you will pay the price later on.  I cannot recommend highly enough reading and following babywise. Don’t do your own modified version (I haven’t seen that work) Just do what they tell you to do. If you follow what they tell you to do it will work.  In addition you end up down the road with kids that are easy to put to bed, pleasant to be around and kids that people want to babysit.  You will be able to plan your days because you know when feeds, naps and play time happen. 

I will post on this site a cheat sheet for Babywise to help you stay on track and for quick reference. I still recommend reading it at least twice before your baby comes if it’s your first and then I do a “recap” read between each baby.

For the first 3 weeks just concentrate on getting good feedings going. You are aiming for at least 20 minutes per side. Try for 2.5 to 3 hours between feeds and try not to assume that because baby is crying after an hour and a half that the issue is hunger.  In the NICU they have all the babies on a 3 hour schedule. (Well at least the 2 NICU’s my babies have been in because of being premie) If premies can do a three hour schedule so can your baby! They are rare feeds when all of my babies “shorted me” on the feed because they were just extra hungry or hadn’t fed as well as they could on the previous feed but it’s not a regular occurrence.  If my baby is legitimately hungry and is not just struggling with a burp or has been awakened by noise then I feed them but I still try not to go below 2.5 hours to avoid colic.  Again if you read babywise you will see that adding new milk on top of old milk (which is still processing) is a huge contributor to colic as it creates gas. 

Tips for the first 6 weeks:

  1. Babies cry. They are supposed to and even need to to strengthen their lungs.  Now I am not saying I love to hear them cry at all, It’s incredibly hard on the heart. My point is that just because your baby cries doesn’t make you a bad parent. Crying will not hurt your baby or his/her psyche.  Babies cry for a number of reasons; gas, burps, wet diapers, overheating, noise, or just because they are babies! 
  2. Babies like to suck on things, it doesn’t mean they need food.  Babies comfort by sucking. Just because they are making a sucking face (or hungry mouth as I call it) doesn’t mean they need food.  That’s where the schedule comes in handy because it help you assess if this sucking face is due to hunger or because they just like to! Babies also make the sucking face if they have burp they need to get out. The challenge is to learn your baby and what his faces and body language is saying and that takes a few weeks. I know that sucking face feels like it needs a response but I highly advise not getting in the habit of using pacifiers. The reason for this is explained in babywise more thoroughly but basically anything you teach them to need to be able to settle or sleep means something you have to have with you all the time and they always need to sleep. So you end up with a baby who needs a pacifier to sleep, but when the baby falls asleep and it falls out the baby wakes up and cries until it is replaced, and you get to reenact this horrible 10 minute replacement dance all night! I have 2 pacifiers that I use only in situations like being in a car and trying to get home to nurse when baby wakes and starts crying so to comfort and hold him over until I get home I *might* use a pacifier.

Remember to be kind to yourself! You really are doing well.

What else do I need?

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Well you likely want one of these! Especially if you will be breastfeeding and plan on leaving the house! This lovely thing is called a hooter hider! No, I am not joking that is really what it is called.  I didn’t have one of these with Abi and as Abi was an active nurser (liked pulling of the burp clothes I had cleverly wedged under my bra strap to provide some privacy) I often found myself more exposed than I might have liked! When I had Tia someone lent me a hooter hider and embarrassment free public nursing ensued! I’ll attach a link below but the website has all kinds of colors and patterns and also hosts another brand of nursing covers.  As long as the nursing cover has the boning across the top it’s useful. It enables you to be able to see the baby, help it latch, know if it’s sleeping and make eye contact all the while maintaining modesty.  I happily nursed Tia on the front row at church with one of these covers with no problems!

http://www.bebeaulait.com/products/hooter-hiders-nursing-covers/avignon

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What about wipe warmers? Do you need one? Ummm.... NO! They are a gimmick and tend to just dry out your perfectly useful wipes and make them useless.  In addition, I bank on the changing of the bum and the coolness of the wipe to wake the baby enough to feed. If you loose that little bit of cold discomfort that wakes the little one up enough to feed, then you have to take more drastic measures which never feels kind.  Having said that, if the baby is due to feed you may have to do tricky things to maintain motivation to stay awake and feed like cold wash cloths on the feet and head and such! I know it sounds horrible but especially for the first few weeks they are not always as motivated to eat as the are to sleep.

What about Pacifiers? Well if you read Babywise they would have you not start to use them or you will need to keep using them.  That means for some babies when they fall out that the baby wakes and screams which makes it much more difficult to establish and good sleeping pattern early.  I usually had one or two around and typically I only used them in emergency situations like when you are driving, still need the baby to wait 10 minutes until you get to where you can nurse and want to help him/her stay calm and comforted rather than cry.  I didn’t use them for naps or the night sleeping sets and I also never had to get up in a groggy stupor (which is me at any time during the night) and try and replace the little thing! Bother of my girls “found their thumbs” early because they didn’t have something else to use. This meant when they did wake and wanted to suck something to go back to sleep I didn’t have to be part of that scenario and often they do it without even fully waking up.  Granted it might be harder to get them off of sucking their thumbs or fingers than removing a soother but from what I’ve heard it can be easy or hard either way.  For Abi the dentist told her at 3.5 years old that she needed to work at stopping sucking her fingers. He suggested she only suck them at night when she went to bed and that at 4 years old would be a good time to fully stop. She took the dentist seriously and at 4 he said he thought it was time to stop completely. At the same time I told Abi that when it had been a whole week of not sucking her fingers then we would start painting her finger nails in pretty colors. Well that did it and she stopped that night. Now perhaps bribery and corruption with nail polish promises isn’t your thing but al that to say it wasn’t difficult but I have a sneaking suspicion that Tia might be slightly tricker to convince! Ok sorry rant over! I like the Avent soothers or pacifiers (same thing) they have a cover that keeps them from getting dirty in your bag.  They are BPA free and sized by month so you can fit it to your wee ones face! 

Well that’s the end of my thoughts for tonight! Our son is kicking so hard that I think he might be launching some sort of escape plan. So I think I will get to bed and give him some extra room to move around. 32 weeks and growing....

More wonderful stuff for newborns & moms

Well this first item that I want to let you know about will only work if you have an iPhone.  This app is called “iBaby feed timer” and you, needless to say, buy it from the app store.  The usefulness of having an app that helps you track and remember feed times, length of feed, which side to start on first, bottle feeds, time intervals between feeds and so on. With both Abi and Tia I kept a log manually and because of tiredness was often guessing or approximating to the best of my knowledge.  With this app you can set your regular feed times so that it sends you a little reminder that you are going to need to be ready to feed soon or wake you child if he/she is still asleep etc.  The app only costs $1.99 and is well worth your sanity.

Here is another one of my travel and everyday outing type things.  It’s called the “metoo” and it’s made by Phil and Teds. I love Phil and Ted’s stuff and if you order of of their site they ship anywhere in the USA. They do tend to be more expensive with some items but I also think the build quality of everything I have gotten from them is superior and tend to be better designed than other companies. The “Metoo” folds absolutely flat for packing in a suitcase or diaper bag for a day trip to a friends house or restaurant. The weight limit on it is 38 pounds and by that time your child is practically able to drive a car (not really) and is unlikely to still need a hanging seat.  It attaches to most tables or solid surface counters and doesn’t damage the finish but cannot be attached to a light weight or pedestal table as as soon as you place your child in the seat the table with come over on top of them! :-) 

philandteds.com

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How about Diaper bags? This one is going to come down to preference.  Here’s some things you want to think about. 1) You will need space! Especially for the first 6 months you need space for up to 10 diapers a day when they are new born for a full day out to 6 or 7 (larger sized diapers) for later months.  You will also want to bring 1 to 3 changes of clothes with you for a full day out depending on the poo-ing skills of your child! :-) 2) Pretty is good but sometimes not practical.  It is very likely that things will get spilled in your bag, shoved in your bag, and possibly remain in your bag for longer than expected due to the business of having a newborn. My advice would be to find a bag that is plastic lined so you can dump out liquid spills and it’s easy to wipe out. Also I don’t mind a diaper bag that doesn’t look like a purse and is very obviously a Diaper bag because Alyn doesn’t want to carry something for me that may look to purse like but is fine to carry something that is very obviously not a purse but a diaper bag and screams I am a DAD! Having said all that there are still so many to choose from and I just happen to like Kalencom bags.  I like the quality of the build and how easy they are to clean. They also come with matching changing pads and wipes carriers so it’s all the same theme. (If you care about that.)

This lovely thing is called a Moses basket.  It is really only useful for the first 4-6 months but boy is it useful.  Essentially it replaces the need for a pack-and-play which the baby still fits in it which will depend on the size of the child. The advantage of it is that all of the linens are easily washed in the washing machine and there is no set up required so if your baby needs to go to sleep the second you arrive at a location you have a bed ready to go without hassle or set up.  You can use it beside your bed for the first couple weeks or months if you prefer to have the baby sleeping closer rather than in his/her crib as well. My only thought for you on Moses baskets is you don’t want a used one unless you know where is came from.  Because they are all made from natural materials if a previous baby had some sort of sickness that is capable of laying dormant then there is potential for the new baby to acquire the sickness. They sell the one  like the best at USA baby but you can get them on amazon and many other places as well.

What about toys? Well there is a reason they are brightly colored and have lots of black and white parts.  Really you are just looking at build quality and choking hazards.  One of my favorite toys is the Whoozit.  It is a soft toy with lots of things to look at and later play with.

Meals

So most of us when we bring a baby home feel like we have our hands pretty full just with baby feeding the baby, changing the baby, etc. so the last thing we want to think about is feeding ourselves or our families. When we moved to Nashville and had our second child Tia one of the ladies at the church organized wonderful meals for us.  So about 3 times a week someone from church would drop off dinner and we would get to rest and enjoy.

As a new Mom often you have people who are close to you who ask if there is anything they can do to help as the baby approaches, this is one of those things. If you know your friend to be organized ask them if they would mind helping to organize for meals to be brought for the first 6-8 weeks after the baby arrives.

When I am organizing meals for others I use a website called www.TakeThemaMeal.com. This website is remarkably easy to use and it allows for those people who do want to be involved to sign up and then Takethemameal.com sends them reminders and updates for you. So for the most part the work is at the front end for the organizer. Typically I will send the Mom-to-be and email that looks like this so I can get all the information I need:


Hi ________,

I would love to organize for you to have food provided for you and your family for the first month or two after the birth of your child.In order for this to be effective and a blessings I am wondering if you would mind giving me some information to help in organizing these meals?

Do you have the email addresses of family and friends that might be interested in providing a meal? These might be cell/small group people, church people, friends, family, work associates or anyone else you can think of.

Can you tell me if you or your family have any food allergies, preferences or favorite things to eat.

Are you expecting family to come and stay for any extended period of time after the baby arrives and do you know the dates? This information just allows for those bringing the meals to plan for any extra adults that might be there for the meal.

Can you put together a short list of 3-5 restaurants where people can do pick up orders for those that are less confident cooking or have less time but would still like to bless you with meals. Typical restaurants that people use are either ones close to their house or chains like Chipotle, Five guys, Burger Up, Blue Coast, Wendy’s etc.

Typically after the first week or two depending on the amount of people able to participate I plan for meals to come every other day as there tend to be lots of left overs and people typically don’t have room for all the food.

Lastly, Can you give me your address for the meals to be dropped off at and any gate or door codes that might be needed. I also need a drop of window of time that you would prefer to receive the meals to ensure they are there by the time your family prefers to eat as much as possible.

If you have any questions or thoughts please go ahead and shoot me an email.We are so excited to bless you during this time.

Blessings,

_________

Then when I have the email addresses back I start to plan.  For the first baby I usually ask for people to start signing up for dates on or up to a week after the due date with the provision that if they have not heard that the baby has arrived then they let their arranged meal date pass and go on-line and pick a new one or two.

Your email out to those who are being asked to participate will need to include the address of the mom-to-be and a drop off window. Some people like to eat earlier then others so it's good to have that information from the start. You will also want to neatly communicate the food restriction and preferences info and to go order info that you got from the mom. Point form stuff that is simple and easy to read is usually better as far as not overwhelming those people you are asking to sign up. Through the website you can send reminder emails to those who don't seem to have resounded or if you have their cell numbers shoot them a text and ask them to check their junk mail for an email regarding an opportunity to bless _______. 

The first 6-8 weeks are the hardest interns of recovery, sleep and figuring things out which is part of why this is such a HUGE blessing.

Takethemameal.com

Getting Ready

I don’t know how you like to greet life but I like to have a plan.  Life is busy and being as prepared as possible is the goal.  So there are some things you can do to get ready that will make baby’s arrival a little less bumpy! Here are some thoughts:

You want to have lots of diapers and wipes! Newborns go through 10 diapers a day on average. I have been told that Huggies work best for girls and pampers for boys but I haven’t noticed a huge difference although they do fit differently.  Huggies tend to last a little longer in each size because they seems a little wider around the waste. I like Huggies and I never had any trouble with leaks. They also have a new “pure and natural” line that is made with organic cotton and hypoallergenic. Seventh generation also makes a diaper that has no chlorine, petroleum based lotions or latex in it.  I don’t know if they work as well as I only bought them once but they seemed fine.  I would say you want to buy them on amazon as they are more expensive. As far as wipes I think Huggies wipes work the best.

I call them onesies but most people call then bodysuits.  If your baby is due in the fall or winter you will likely use them everyday and go through quite a few a day as babies often have diaper blow outs or drool issues that make changing them often in the day a necessity. On average in any size (especially in colder months) you want to have 10 for under 6 months and then more like 5 from there per size.

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How about baby blankets? How many do you need? Well it depends on what you use them for! I usually have a couple in my diaper bag as I use them for burp clothes, laying down t change the baby on anything other then the changing table, occasionally covering them up in a car seat with them and swaddling them. There are cotton ones that are fairly cheap and come in three packs and that’s what I typically use for the burp, change, spit up scenarios but for wrapping, swaddling or a little extra warmth I like the muslin ones as they are more breathable and typically bigger which makes it easier to get a tight wrap. So how many do you need? I would say about 10.  You will lielly mass up 3 to 4 a day so as long as you are doing laundry at least every other day you should be fine.  If you don’t plan to do laundry that often then double the amount of onesies and blankets:-)

So let’s talk laundry! Your skin and your babies skin is the largest organ on your body. Our skin absorbs not only the things we put on it like creams and lotions but also the toxins in our detergents and fabric softners that are in our clothes after each wash. Many of the baby friendly products out there have just as many toxins in them as the regular ones. And while I certainly don’t want you to live in fear of toxins as a mom one of the best things you can do is to cut down the amount of toxins that are in your environment.

Currently the largest contributors to toxins in your home are

  1. Your dishwasher (both the stream full of toxic chemicals that it pumps into the air, and the residue of cleansers left on our dishes that we then ingest)
  2. Your laundry detergents and
  3. Our household cleaners. 

When I first started using non toxic cleaners in my home and laundry I tried all different kinds and wasn’t happy with many of them.  I then found the brand that I use now for all of it and that is Shaklee.  Shaklee is a multi-level marketing company that I do not work for, or get any financial gain from on purpose so I can freely recommend their products without ulterior motives. Shaklee is a company that not only is concerned about clean packaging and the environment but with almost all of their household cleansers if one of my girls were for some reason drink it, I wouldn’t need to be worried as they are non-toxic but they really work! The Laundry detergent and fabric softener or dryer sheets are also great! Here is a link to their sight and the products that I recommend.  They have a package where you can basically turn your house non-toxic over-night and then just refill products as needed. We bought this package 3 years ago and still have not had to buy more of the basic G as it lasts that long!

www.healthyoates.myshaklee.com

Look at the get clean products and laundry products under “Healthy Home”.

Breast Feeding

Let’s talk about breasts shall we? Am I a breastfeeding fan? Yes, I really am. I would say for a number of reasons, that we will look at, that breastfeeding is the best choice for Mom and baby.  What was interesting for me is all the ideas that I had about it before I had Abi. I mean I really had no idea what to expect. From watching movies or seeing mom’s breastfeed that are more practiced I just thought it would be easy. That I would just know what to do and that Abi would. Well I have since discovered that there is a reason that there is an entire profession revolving around learning to breast feed! These wonderful angels of hope are called lactation consultants and there is a reason they exist.  God did absolutely make your body to be able to breast feed, and certainly some mom’s have babies that just take to breast right away and feed wonderfully from the beginning, but other’s of us get to press through a little. 

I had been told that breast feeding, and pumping, can be painful.  That after a few weeks I would feel much better.  The thing is that’s true but uncomfortable and extremely painful are to different things! But I didn’t know that, so when things were hurting (particularly the pump) I just thought that was normal and had no idea I was actually damaging my breasts. It was hurting, like really hurting so I thought I was doing something right!  When Abigail was born premature by nearly 6 weeks she was not able to breast feed to begin with. She was in an oxygen dome for the first several days and then moved to an incubator as her oxygen levels improved.  As a result she was being fed through a tube into her nose for the first 10 days before we could even start trying to breastfeed.  So during that time I was pumping to make sure she got the colostrum and breast milk instead of formula as the nutritional value of breast milk cannot be matched.  So there I am sitting day after day in the NICU watching sweet Abi in an incubator and pumping through the pain every three hours.  The day before we were about the start breast feeding in the NICU a nurse was checking up on me and I mentioned that it was really hurting to pump.  I told her I knew it was supposed to hurt but I wasn’t sure how much. She looked at my breasts and realized I had blistered and damaged my nipples and that we needed to switch pumps and get some ointment.  It was fixed in a day or two (and we began bottle feedings her the pumped milk) and then I was able to start breast feeding sweet Abi. Because she was premie and her suck was weak it took some work to get it down but I was determined. Abi preferred the bottle as the milk was easier to get out so for a few days she fought the breast but then she realized this was her only option and she started doing much better. I breast fed every feed but also pumped off the extra until I was comfortable on the first morning feed each day. Having said that I do produce an enormous amount of milk!

So then with Tia I had problems as well.  Tia was premie too, but only by 3.5 weeks, and this time I knew how to latch but again I didn’t notice that I had managed to damage my nipples with a pump before I got to take her home.  For those of you that are getting worried about pumps I have posted a good one in the blog marked “A few of my favorite things...” and I will tell you in this post how to avoid my mistakes! I have every confidence that with what I know now I will not have these issues again.  So back to Tia ... I went home from NICU and Tia stayed for a few days.  I went in first thing in the morning and stayed into the evening and fed her every three hors but then pumped when I was at home so there was food for her during the night.  It was during those pumping times that I actually managed to tare my nipples (on the underside where I couldn’t see the damage).  So fast forward to two days after we get Tia home and I’m in so much pain while feeding that I almost pass out and I am bawling my eyes out.  When Alyn came in the room and saw that I was crying, white as a sheet, and punching the bed next to me to get through the feed he booked me to see a doctor.  We were going to the children’s clinic anyway that morning and so we mentioned it to that doctor that I was in extreme pain and was needing to see a lactation consultant.  The Dr then said I was likely not latching well and was suffering from postpartum depression.  I explained the tears were from pain, not depression, and I did know how to latch and I didn’t think that was the problem. We went back and forth and he called the consultant to book an appointment for later that day and finished the conversation by trying to prescribe me meds and telling me that once I learned to latch the baby I would be fine. I was so frustrated!!! In the afternoon I had my first appointment with their lactation consultant named Robyn. When we got in the little room Alyn was holding Tia (who was hungry and waiting to feed) and Robyn asked what was happening. I told her and she asked to see my nipples (how many times can I say nipples in one post?). When she looked at me she said we would not be breastfeeding for a few weeks, wrote me a prescription for a special cream, sent me home with their Medela pump, the correct size of breast shield and specific instructions for healing.  Apparently I had managed to rip one nipple half off and the other three quarters of the way around. She feared if I nursed again the worst one would actually come off.

Now my experiences were extreme! I have’t heard of others that have done the kind of damage I did so please don’t worry.  The only reason I am telling you all of that is to say both times I recovered, the girls learned to feed well, and we fed for a year each with no problems and it was really awesome.  If you do have a rough start, or need help to begin with from a lactation consultant, don’t get discouraged that just makes you normal! 

Here are some tips I wish I knew the last 2 times! With pumps I would only recommend the Medela just because of the bad experiences with some other pumps. They do not have a seem in their breast shield (the part that fits against the nipple) and that seem is what tore me.  In addition to using a good pump don’t pump on to high a speed but actually build up to what you can handle.  If it hurts, not just a little uncomfortable but actually hurts then you are using it on too high a speed. Each time you use an electric pump rub a little coconut oil or olive oil on the inside of the breast shield especially where it goes from being wide and flat to tube like. That will stop any damage to your nipple by eliminating friction. If you do those things you should never have an damage! Coconut work is also antibacterial and anti-fungal so it stops potential infection and is totally safe if some gets in the breast milk.

As far as the health benefits of breast feeding there is a known correlation between a decreased risk of breast cancer and breastfeeding moms. In addition I read a report a few years ago about the decreased risk of Cancer in breastfed kids. (i’m still trying to find where I read that so I will post when I do).

Please read this article by Dr Josh Axe on what is in breast milk and it’s nutritional benefits.

http://www.draxe.com/breastmilk-original-fast-food/

In addition to what Dr Josh has written there are other useful things you can do with breast milk!  (breast milk shakes, ice cream... totally kidding of course!) Because breast milk has it’s own antibiotic properties thanks to God’s design it can clear up infection. Abi had an eye infection in the first few weeks of life and my midwife said to “squeeze” breast milk into it and let it sit for a bit. I did this a few times a day for 2 days and the infection was completely gone. It can also be sponged onto scratches or diaper rash to clear things up! Breast milk is amazing stuff and is totally God designed! I loved breast feeding both girls, I loved the bonding and the eye contact while we shared time only we had together.  I’m excited to do it again with the wisdom I now have (and you have now) and am looking forward to bonding with my son!

More stuff that I love...

Let’s talk car seats! My vote is for the Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio car seat.  Now this is for a couple of reasons:

  1. The car seat itself is one of the lighter ones you can get.
  2. It has side impact and more protection then most other infant car seats.
  3. The base that sits in your car is MUCH smaller then any other brand and it’s easy to get in and out of the base. 

The size of the base particularly matters if you are driving a regular sedan and not a mini van or SUV but it also means that if your bench seat normally fits three it still will. It does come as part of a “travel system” (with a stroller is essentially all that means) and I will chat about the stroller when we get to strollers.  

If you want to check it out click here: http://us.pegperego.com/babyproducts-catalog/2012/Primo+Viaggio+SIP+30_30

Ok let’s talk strollers! The stroller that goes with the Peg-Perego car seat we used for many years.  Because we travelled so much we wanted one that folded easily, was tough (because it got thrown on and off planes) and wiped up well.  The Pliko P3 served us well and survived planes, trains and automobiles well.  We didn’t move to the next stroller I will tell you about until we had Tia and therefore wanted a double stroller.

Here is a link to the Pliko 4 which they just replaced the P3 with:

http://us.pegperego.com/babyproducts-catalog/2012/Pliko+Four

OK so here is my current favorite stroller! It’s made by Phil & Ted’s which is based in New Zealand and builds incredible quality stuff! All but one of their strollers have a single wheel at the front and the wheels are much bigger. Both of those features make it easier to push especially on non-paved surfaces. The stroller that we got was called the Dash and they still sell it but they also have newer ones! Now I’ll warn you that these strollers are more expensive but you get what you pay for and it will make it through all your kids. Our Dash is three years old and has travelled quite a bit and still looks brand new. It’s easy to fold and you can choose where you want to have the second seat (for a second child) with you or not depending on the days adventure! We took this stroller to Disney and Tia didn’t miss a single nap during the day as it folds down flat with little light getting through to wear she was, and Abi still had a seat she could see from! We love this stroller. We purchased the travel bag for flights to protect it and it works really well. I’ll attach a few pictures to give you an idea of what it can do and also a link! They have some smaller one now as well which are even more compact and you can wait until #2 is on the way before you buy the additional seat if you want to!

http://philandteds.com/us/products/push

A Few of my Favorite Things

My Breastfriend - breastfeeding pillow. This feeding pillow rocks. I had something similar to a Boppy with Abi and because it was rounded and also continuously pulled away from my body it constantly needed to be adjusted.  The difference with My Breastfriend is that it not only has back support but it also has a belt that is adjustable and clip to the front of the pillow so it never moves away from your body.  It also has a flat soft surface that the baby lays on that help him or her stay in a perfect feeding position. The cover is also removable and machine washable which is great.

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The Medela Breast Pump. Again with Abi I had a different pump and it wasn’t great. Pumping took an age and the pump actually damaged my nipples (ripped them in fact) quite badly.  The lactation consultant recommended the Medela and I borrowed one from a friend.  It was awesome and you can get it with different “breastshield” sizes as not everyone has the same size nipples! This particular electric breast pump comes in a back back and is quite compact.  It can run on batteries or be plugged in and works like a charm.  Little tip for you: With any breast pump if you put a little coconut oil on the inside on the breastshield or cup that fits against your breast (Especially where it transitions from being wide and flat to a tube) it minimizes the pulling in the nipple tissue and lessons or eliminates the risk of damaging that tissue. Also coconut oil is anti bacterial and anti fungal and will not do any harm should any of the oil make it into the milk.

The Summer Infant Best View handheld color video monitor.  You do not technically need a video monitor I just prefer them.  There is something comforting about being able to check in and see that little sleeping face and know everything is OK. It is also helpful when baby start doing things like rolling over or might have escaped it’s swaddle and is cold to be able to quickly access the needs of the baby without disturbing it. It’s also really helpful as they get older to be able to look in without going in the room and see what they are up to in the crib!!! In addition the handheld unit can redirect the camera on the fly so if you have a mover or a shaker you can follow him/her around the crib. You can also zoom in!

Grobag - These sleep sacks are the best. They come in several different weights (in terms of warmth) and from newborn to 6 years old if you can believe that! Newborn babies love to be swaddled and usually tightly but when they transition out of wanting to be swaddled into wanting a little kicking freedom these bags are great for knowing that your baby will stay warm and comfortable!

On Becoming Babywise

When we were expecting Abigail I started paying attention to the kids of my friends and family and how things seemed to be going for them.  I found the moms who seemed to enjoy being a mom were less stressed, their kids were a pleasure to be around, and life just seemed more at peace for them. When I asked them for mommying advice, without fail, every single mom said "Babywise! Read it and do it." So I did. I read it, followed it, and it worked great for us.  Now, having said that, Alyn and I are both left-brained, scheduled types so it really appealed to us. We asked the grandparents to read it so they understood what we were trying to achieve when they visited and we stuck to it like glue.  For us, it worked great! We travelled the world with Abi and with Tia (to a lesser extent) and were able to easily switch them into new time zones with sometimes more than a 12 hour difference. 

My advice is to read the book through at least twice before they baby arrives and then download the cheat sheets I have posted on this site to help with quick reference.  The reason I say read it at least twice is because for any new adventure that is going to make your whole world different it's wise to know what you are trying to do and why.  That's why it's so important that, in the tough moments of parenting (and there will be some)  you don't loose focus or give up. You and your spouse both need to do this and agree to do it because, that way, you can support one another in moments of weakness and you are headed in a direction together with knowledge of the goal and the prize.

As with any book or program there are contrary opinions on what is good for a baby and what program is the best. I have observed many people who were into demand feeding and Dr Sears but it just didn't appeal to me, and many (not all) of the families I observed doing demand feeding seemed to struggle a lot more than the Babywise families and got a lot less sleep! Did I mention I both like to sleep and need it?  My cousin's four girls began sleeping through the night (7-8 hours) by 7-9 weeks. My girls were both premature (one by 5.5 weeks and one just under 4) and they managed to start the longer sleeps of 7 to 8 hours by 9 weeks.

My girls are now 5 and 3 years old. We can take them anywhere, to any restaurant, and not worry abut bad behavior.  They are both very cuddly, well adjusted, know they are loved, and rarely fight.  I honestly think a lot of it came from starting them off with Babywise.  Babywise babies never learn to run the home, they are part of a family.  They don't dictate the schedule or cry to get their own way because that behavior is never rewarded. When you do Babywise and read the book  thoroughly you learn the difference between a hungry cry, a tired cry, a frustrated cry or just a cry because babies cry! (They are supposed to cry incidentally... it's how God designed their lungs to strengthen!) I have also never seen a Babywise baby that ever had colic which in itself is enough of a reason to do it! So, yes, I am obviously a big fan and yes we will be doing Babywise with our son.