January 31, 2013

From One Mom to Another....

Today I'm sharing some new mommy advice over on one of my favorite blogs, The Vintage Apple. Michelle is such a sweetheart and has become such a great friend. Now that we are both new mommies it is so great to have someone to share this crazy experience with! I think it is SO important that moms build each other up and support one another. I would LOVE for you to check out the post! (and I'm also sharing more photos of my little man....couldn't resist!)
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And a big thank you to everyone for your support of The Breastfeeding Diaries series.....you all are the best!

January 30, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries Part 3: Getting Established



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Are you sick of me posting about my boobs? I hope not. My hope is that these posts will help someone who needs some encouragement in the breastfeeding/being a new mom category. I know I sure did...and still do from time to time. 

If you are new to my blog...welcome! Please feel free to email me at any time with questions (my email is under "contact" at the top). Also, remember this is a judgment free zone. You can read more about my breastfeeding journey in Part 1 here and Part 2 here
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Last week I talked about my first awkward attempt at breastfeeding. But what was it like after those first days? Once my milk came in and I actually saw it I cried out of relief. It was really working! And then I instantly felt empowered with a side dish of overwhelmed. It felt good that my body was doing what it was supposed to do...but overwhelming because feeding that sweet precious baby was completely up to me. And I took that job seriously. I fed Hudson on demand whenever he was hungry. When in doubt, I put him to the boob. And now that he is 21 weeks old that is still our routine...and it works beautifully!

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Here is what worked for me:

1. Feed on demand. During those first weeks I fed Hudson whenever he was hungry....usually every 2-3 hours. He still eats every 2-3 hours during the day, but will go 6-8 hours at night between feedings. It's a lot of work but gets so much easier once baby learns how to breastfeed. I think those first few weeks Hudson took about a hour to eat! Now he's down to 20 minutes.

2. Drink lots of water. Remember how you were chugging water like a pro when you were pregnant? Well, that was nothing. Have a water bottle on you at all times....you never know when you'll suddenly be dying of thirst. A good job for your husband is to fill up several water bottles and stash them in your favorite nursing spots for you before he goes to work. That way you'll always have one handy!

3. Eat protein. Your body needs the energy to support you during those long days and nights....and it helps you maintain your supply too! Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories, so make sure you are eating enough.

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4. Say no to pacifiers until breastfeeding is well established. This usually takes about 3 weeks or so. I know you are probably anxious to try out all your new pacifiers with your baby (or use them to STOP THE CRYING) but try to resist. Baby needs to learn he gets his nourishment and comfort from you. Once you have established nursing then you can try a pacifier. Hudson didn't care much for his.

5. Don't pump just yet. Unless you have to, obviously. You may be anxious to start pumping so that you can get a break from all the feedings.....but try to resist until you have established breastfeeding. Pumping can be overwhelming. I waited until Hudson was 4 weeks old and I felt a little more like myself to give it a go. Our wedding anniversary was coming up and I wanted to be able to go out to dinner with my husband. I gave myself a week to learn how to pump so that I wasn't too stressed. I'll talk more about pumping next week.

6. Don't skip a feeding. If your baby has a bottle of pumped milk your body still needs to replace that feeding. You may think it's awesome that you can sleep in one day while your husband feeds the baby. Don't get me wrong...it is totally awesome....but you need to replace that feeding. Any time you skip feedings your brain is sending a message to your body that you can make less milk. It's probably not a big deal if this only happens occasionally, but if it is frequent then your body may start to make less and less milk. So....either nurse the baby or pump. Your choice.

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7. Wet and poopy diapers + weight gain = getting enough. At some point during those first weeks you will probably worry about if your baby is getting enough to eat. Baby should have at least 5-6 soaking wet diapers a day and about 3-4 yellow poops a day. If your baby is peeing and pooping enough it is totally a sign that he is getting enough to eat. Hudson always had way more dirty diapers than this so I never really kept track. Also, talk to your pediatrician about how much weight your baby should be gaining. If the numbers on the scale are going up it means baby is also getting enough to eat. No need to measure ounces in a bottle!

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8. See a lactation consultant. This is one of the best things I did. Even if you are not having difficulty breastfeeding, it's always nice to hear that you are doing it right. Also, a lactation consultant will weigh your baby before and after your feeding...so you'll know roughly how many ounces he is eating. Husbands usually like to know this type of info!

9. Don't give in to formula unless medically necessary. Most pediatricians are not very educated in the area of breastfeeding. Their focus is on the health of your baby...not the ins and outs of breastfeeding. Pediatricians know breast milk is best for the baby, but usually they are sort of wishy washy about it and may suggest supplementing with formula before you really need to. Obviously if your baby is struggling this does not apply. Make sure you see a lactation consultant asap. They know more about breastfeeding and can help you.
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Now for some things that happened to me....that are totally normal:

1. Rock hard boobs. My husband told me it looked like I had gotten a bad boob job. This is totally uncomfortable! You may be tempted to pump a little to relieve the pressure....and that's fine. I didn't though and eventually my body adjusted and I wasn't so uncomfortable. This took about a week.

2. Drip, drip, drip. I leaked milk everywhere. On my clothes, on my sheets, on Hudson, on the floor....I was a hot mess. But this also eventually got better.

3. Sore nips. I know it may seem impossible during those first few days but really this gets better! Breastfeeding absolutely did not hurt one bit once Hudson and I both knew what we were doing (about 2-3 weeks). I sometimes fall asleep while nursing...it's that easy now.

4. Holding baby's head. When you and your baby are first learning you'll need to help hold his head to your breast. Eventually he will learn to do this himself....once that happens breastfeeding is so much easier!

5. Plugged duct. Ouch, those babies hurt! You can read more about these in your breastfeeding book (I recommend The Nursing Mother's Companion). This has happened to me twice and my best advice is to use your baby! He is the best at drawing milk out of your breast....so put him on the side that hurts often (I know it's hard) and in a day or so your plugged duct should clear. While you are feeding your baby it also helps to use your hand to put a little pressure on the sore spot to help empty it out. Plugged ducts are more common in the winter and more common when you are sick (both times this happened to me when I had a cold). Also, drink lots of water to help your body flush it out. Plugged ducts, if left untreated can lead to mastitis, which can be serious. Call your doctor asap if you have any symptoms associated with mastitis.

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A few more thoughts about pumping: Your baby is more efficient at getting milk out of your breast than a breast pump is. So for all my exclusively pumping girls......first, you must be commended because that is a LOT of work, but second, your body may not make enough milk simply because your pump is deceiving you. Please try nursing your baby if you can. It really is amazing...it's a bond that you can only understand once you've tried it. Trust me....I wouldn't be posting about it so much if I didn't love it!

Part 4 of this series next week is all about pumping and going back to work....oh how fun. Please leave a comment below if you like this series....sometimes I still need a little encouragement too!

January 29, 2013

A bit of POP

Did you know I used to be a cheerleader?

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Yep. Four years in high school and one year in college. Some of my favorite high school memories were made in cheer.

My very first year as a cheerleader I met one of the sweetest, most genuine girls ever.....Erin from a bit of pop.

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(Nice bangs ladies....good thing we now know better!)What I remember most about Erin was not only did she have an infectious smile, she also was one of the kindest, funniest,  most encouraging girls I have ever met. And the same can be said about her now. Erin recently started blogging about fashion, style, dressing her cutie-pie husband, and that ever important piece of "pop" that sets you apart from everyone else. 

Check her out now.....this girl is beautiful on the inside and out.
hello girl in the red shoes readers! i'm erin from a bit of pop, where i blog about the latest style trends when it comes to all things fashion and home decor. 

while providing a glimpse into my little world, my focus is finding affordable pieces that will add something extra fantastical to any look, a 'bit of pop', if you will. :) 

once a week, i feature men's fashion as well and on fridays a 'pop of the week' which is usually an item i've found that i just can't live without. you can read more about me here.

i am so thankful for this opportunity to share a little of me on sweet julie's blog. i adore her style, her crafty nature, and her gorgeous family. here are a few pictures of some of my recent posts. enjoy, cheers, and i hope you'll follow along!

Um...isn't Erin GORGEOUS? And her husband???? Those two have some cute babies in their future!

Thanks Erin! Be sure to check her out at a bit of pop! I think her "pop of the week" just may be one of the best things about my Fridays.

Are you interested in being featured on my blog? I love to promote fellow bloggers and would love to chat with you and show you off! Send me an email!

January 28, 2013

I'm One Step Ahead of You, Pottery Barn

The other day my mom called me and told me to check out Pottery Barn's new catalog.
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I cheerfully obliged. 

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When I opened it up to the very first page, something familiar caught my eye.

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Here let me show you......

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Oh that's right! Pottery Barn is using the exact same Hudsonville wire milk crates that I put in Hudson's nursery months ago!

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Totally patting myself on the back for being ahead of a Pottery Barn trend!!!!

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I found these Hudsonville milk crates at an antique fair when I was pregnant and just had to have them. I knew at the time we were most likely naming our baby Hudson....and if we didn't I figured they would still work in our nursery because Hudsonville Creamery is a local Michigan establishment. 

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Instead of storing old bottles in them like Pottery Barn, we use them on his changing table to store diapers, jammies, and burp clothes. 

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Have you ever been ahead of a trend? You can see more of Hudson's nursery HERE.

January 24, 2013

Valentine's Day Heart Garland

Today I'm linking up with Katie and Stephanie for Saw it, Pinned it, Did it! Between the holidays, being sick, a sick baby, and being a working mom it's been hard to find time to make any Pinterest crafts...but I'm so glad I did this one! It's super easy and looks great on our chalkboard.
Will you be mine????

Source: etsy.com via Julie on Pinterest

Here is the original pin...super cute paper heart garland.

For this garland I used items I already had on hand, which means this cost me $0. Here's what you'll need: red and pink craft paper, a heart punch, and red baker's twine. If you don't have any red baker's twine go out and buy some right now. I've used it for so many things and just love it!

Punch out your hearts.

Line them up on your twine...I just eyeballed the spacing. Oh, and you'll need a glue gun for this too. Place a dot of glue over the twine on the back side of one heart.

Then sandwich it closed with another heart. That way your garland is double sided. Keep going until you've reached your desired garland length. Or you run out of hearts. Whichever.

And then hang it up! See, I told you it was super easy!
Love

I love how it looks on my chalkboard. (This chalkboard was made by an antiques dealer...I've seen similar ones at HomeGoods....or you could make your own).

You can see other things I've pinned on Pinterest here.

January 23, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries Part 2: First Days

First, thank you for all of your sweet comments and emails about my first Breastfeeding Diaries post. I think it's important for moms to support each other through this baby raising business. It's tough work and sometimes we just need to hear that we are not alone. If you have questions or are struggling, please do not hesitate to email me at ANY time.
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So last week I talked about the supplies you need to get started with breastfeeding but now let's get down to the really good part. What was it really like those first few days? Please see my previous post about this being a judgment free zone. Remember, this is about what I did to start breastfeeding....I am not an expert, this is just what worked for me.

First, create a birth plan. I totally rolled my eyes at my doctor when he suggested I do this. My "plan" was to go to the hospital, get an epidural, and get the baby out as quickly as possible. HA. That totally didn't happen. I was thrown for a loop when we discovered that Hudson was breach. So, I started doing my research....which basically meant I called my mom. You see, my mom is a Clinical Nurse Specialist and just so happens to specialize in Mother-Baby care. That means she has a masters degree in this stuff and is super smart. Lucky me. She is my go-to person for all things pregnancy, baby, and breastfeeding (and like a zillion other things only moms do best too). Here are a few important things I learned:

During the first hour of your baby's life he or she is the most calm and alert, which means it is prime time for your first breastfeeding session. Here are two important things you'll want to do during that first hour:

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1. Skin-to-skin contact. This means that you'll want to make sure your doctor and nurses know you want to hold your baby skin-to-skin as soon as he is born. Like right when he comes out you'll want that baby snuggled up on your bare skin. There is TONS of research on why this is best but the basics are: your skin temperature will rise to naturally warm your baby, it helps baby regulate his heart rate, and it promotes breastfeeding. My mom told me there are even studies where a newborn baby is placed on the mother's chest and without any prompting that baby will find it's way to the breast and start feeding ALL ON IT'S OWN. God knew what he was doing.

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Now....if you have to have a c-section, like I did, you can still do skin-to-skin! You'll most likely have two nurses: one for you and one for your baby. Make sure you tell both of them your wishes before hand. Don't ever be afraid to speak up and ask for things. My nurse worked with my mom and was totally prepared for me to ask for skin-to-skin. I, however, did not do skin-to-skin with Hudson right away. They offered him to me while I was being stitched up but I was feeling sort of out of it at the time. But they did wrap him to my chest when they wheeled me to the recovery room!

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2. Ask to delay the vitamin K shot and eye antibiotics. Most hospitals administer a vitamin k shot and eye drops to your baby within the first hour of life. Both are important to your baby's health, but neither need to be done until after you've had your first attempt at breastfeeding. Shots and goop in a baby's eyes make him MAD....so why not wait until after you've tried to breastfeed to do them? Remember, you want to take advantage of that calm and alert state...it's the best time to start breastfeeding. Usually the only reason for doing the shot right away is because it is convenient for the nurse. So...speak up! You may be asked to sign something stating you didn't want these performed until after breastfeeding.

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So....now it's time to breastfeed. If you are anything like me you have built this moment up in your mind to be awkward and scary. It's not....well maybe it is, a little. After all you've been through (birth!) this is the easy part....bonding with your baby. Have your nurse show you what to do. Stick that baby on the boob and let him take the lead. As you can see I was almost flat on my back during my first attempt (because I just got out of surgery) so my husband had to help me. Luckily Hudson was awesome and went to town right away. I'm not gonna lie...it felt a little....strange. But it wasn't totally awful. 
If you've done your research and attended a breastfeeding class you'll know how tiny a newborn baby's stomach is. Those first few days before your milk comes in you'll be feeding your baby colostrum. So although it may seem like nothing is coming out when you feed him...there is. Trust me. Plus baby doesn't need a ton of milk right away because his stomach is super tiny. The most important thing that is happening during this time is that you are bonding with your baby and you are practicing breastfeeding.

Tips for successful breastfeeding in the hospital:

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Make sure your nurses know you have a breastfed baby. That means: 
No Pacifiers
No Formula Supplements
Tell them these things! The hospital where I delivered Hudson had a form for me to sign where I checked a box next to the things I didn't want him to have (pacifiers etc.). Don't worry...as long as your baby is healthy, he does not need these things.  

Practice makes perfect. You will want to breastfeed your baby, on demand, every two to three hours. Your nurse will most likely give you a chart to record each attempt you have at breastfeeding, but if she doesn't you can make your own or use an app on your phone (I used the baby nursing/baby breastfeeding app). You should have at least 10-12 attempts every 24 hours. You'll want to record what side your nursed on and for how long. This was hard for me...sometimes I would just finish feeding Hudson and I couldn't even remember what side it was on! Recording this information is a great job for your husband. Guys like charts.

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 All this practice at breastfeeding also means that your baby should "room-in" with you and not be sent to the nursery. Your nurse may offer to take your baby to the nursery so that you can get some sleep. Don't let her take your baby (obviously unless you are alone and need to shower or can't get out of bed etc.). You won't sleep regardless of where your baby is!!! Trust me on this one! I had nurses, doctors, nurse's assistants, residents, lactation consultants, hospital photographers, food service folks, cleaning staff, visitors, and you name it interrupting me every hour or so. (Can you tell I wasn't a big fan of being in the hospital?) So keep your little one with you. This will also help you learn your new baby's feeding cues.

Now, with all that said, remember that the things mentioned above are all meant to promote breastfeeding. Birth can be unpredictable so if something happens and you are not able to do these things it does not mean that you can't breastfeed your baby. They are meant to be ideal situations for starting breastfeeding.

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Be prepared to freak out over your baby loosing weight in the hospital. 
Crazy hormones + no sleep + feeling overwhelmed + baby weight loss = Mom has a breakdown
I cried. I freaked out. Breastfeeding was hard and even though I knew Hudson was fine I was still worried I wasn't doing it right. I knew going in to this that all babies loose weight in the hospital. But nothing prepared me to actually see those numbers on the baby scale go down. I knew it was supposed to happen. But that didn't keep me from freaking out and thinking he wasn't getting enough to eat.

There is no way to avoid this freak-out other than to surround yourself with rational people who will support you and remind you that THIS IS NORMAL. Make sure your mom, husband, friends....someone knows something about breastfeeding so that they can reassure you when you feel this way. Also, this is an excellent time to request a visit from a lactation consultant. They will come to your room, help you with your latch, watch you feed the baby, and answer your questions. Please please please take advantage of this service ladies!!!!

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It takes a few days for your milk to come in. So don't freak out. I had Hudson on a Wednesday and my milk didn't fully come in until Saturday. That's 3 days!!! And that is totally normal. Once I saw that milk I cried because I was so relieved! So trust me....it will work. Sometimes it felt like I had Hudson on the boob all the time....but putting your baby to your breast is what tells your body to start making milk. So, when in doubt, try again. And again. Eventually you and your baby will get it. The important part is that you keep attempting breastfeeding. Try not to worry about your latch and how much your baby is eating and instead focus on bonding with your new little one. It is the most precious experience of my life.

Breastfeeding a newborn baby is hard...but it gets easier! If you are struggling please see a lactation consultant asap.

Thanks for reading! Next week in part 3 of this series I'll discuss getting breastfeeding well established and part 4 will be about pumping and going back to work.  So stay tuned!
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