Pump Ease: Hands Free Pumping

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in New Mom Experience, Other Recommendations, PRODUCTS

So when I was writing the breastfeeding products post, I didn’t mention the one thing that has been invaluable during these times. It has so been a part of my routine that I didn’t even think of it as a product.
That thing is PUMPEASE hands free pumping bra.

It’s a simple concept: a band of stretchy fabric with holes in it for pump cups. Ok, I admit it looks darn funny, that’s the sole reason why you won’t see a picture of me pumping here. But… it has saved me from boredom and helped me get things done. If only now they could invent a battery powered double electric pump (I am sure there is one on the market, if we look).

I had PumpEase back before Alexis came along. So I never had to deal with pumping without one. Until one day I thought, “Well, it can’t be that bad! I only need one breast pumped. Rather than put the bra on, I’ll just hold the pump”.

Yikes! It was uncomfortable! I didn’t know how much pressure to put on it, my arm kept getting tired, I was restricted in what I could do. I am sure women who pump like that from the beginning are just fine pumping while holding the cups, but it’s like wine. Yes, wine! If you have drank bad wine all your life and you try a really expensive bottle, it seems good, but not THAT good. But it’s when you have to go back to that bad wine after having indulged for a bit in the good stuff that you clearly see the difference. Well, I clearly saw it. I am never pumping without PumpEase again! Seriously.

If I wasn’t so into organic everything ( and to be fair, I didn’t really need an organic pumpease, but it seemed right since it was one of the options), I’d totally go for one of those 50’s red polka dot bras. I might have even done my hair all Merilyn Monroe-ish and put one red lipstick while wearing it. Ok, maybe not. Just please say no to leopard! That’s just…. Just please say no!

;

So here’s how it works:

It’s a band of stretchy fabric that has clasps all the way down the front, along with two holes where you put your pumping cups through. You get the cups through, position them on your boobies and fasten the band. Then you grab your laptop ( well, if you’re smart, you did that before attaching yourself to the pump), sit back down and hit “Go!”. Voila! Your hands are free, your milk is going and you won’t believe how fast the time goes. It’s absolutely essential for working moms.

So this is a MUST on my list of breastfeeding supplies. Register for it along with a pump, you won’t regret it!

;

WHY BUY IT: Um…. did you just read all that I wrote above?
WHY NOT BUY IT: Because 20-60 minutes of your time daily aren’t worth 38 dollars. Mine is!
***
BUY IT: $38. USE FREESHIPEARTHDAY to get free shipping on organic bra today only at snugabell.com
WIN IT: PumpEase will give away the bra to one lucky reader. Giveaway open internationally. For details and to enter, see below.

BELOW ARE THE GIVEAWAYS RULES
and Mandatory Entries: {read carefully}

There are two mandatory entries , after which you will have additional entries available,
and 2 daily entries for which you can come back to enter daily.
The winning entry will be verified and the winner disqualified if the action is not found or if the mandatory items are not fullfilled.
Make sure to notate how you’re following the blog in the extra info field (entry #1). The entry won’t count if that information is missing.
Each giveaway has specific rules, so read them on the widget (including which countries are eligible). See the rafflecopter widget for additional terms and conditions.

UPDATE: You can now log into the Rafflecopter through Facebook OR just by using your name/email.

If you have a blog, there’re 2 entries each worth 10 points ( post our button on your blog’s sidebar and blog about the giveaway)

{If you’re not sure how to use to enter, feel free to watch this video tutorial or email me at contact {at} prebabyblog {dot} com
Otherwise, make sure to read everything carefully. Click the DO IT link first, then I’VE DONE IT once the action is completed}


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. Snugabell sent me a sample of this product for review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Today I cried…

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, New Mom Experience


I cried because when I looked at Lexi lying on the bed all naked and chubby and cute, smiling at me with her gummy smile, I realized she is changing. She is growing and changing and she will never be this sweet, this small, this innocent. In that moment I realized how much I need to savor every moment, spend every waking second with her.

And also how vulnerable that love for her made me!

In that moment I realized that nothing else matters, not my work, not my hobbies, not “me” time. What matters is that I don’t miss out on tight snuggles, and soft limbs, and fingers in her mouth, drool all over her shirt, those heart melting post-nap smiles, the look on her eyes when she’s nursing, the way she opens her mouth when I kiss her, the way she is happy to see both of us, the serious thinker’s  face when we carry her around, her little face and chubby cheeks. I hope to keep those memories via thousands of photos and videos that I take of her every day.

I am not of the emotional kind, but it makes me extremely sad thinking that every moment with her can’t be re-lived, it’s gone.

And at the same time I am over the moon thinking about the moments we are yet to have. And I’ll be damned if I miss any of them.

I am not an emotional person. I do not cry. But today I did.

Our Failed Easter

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, FUN TIMES, New Mom Experience, PHOTO

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Ok, so it wasn’t too bad in retrospect, however it could have definitely been better.

Featured in these photos:
Elena’s outfit
Nursing top: Boob Design
Skirt: Victoria’s Secret
Sparkly flats: Yosi Samra from MyHabit
Tree of Life  Bracelet: Tal Jewelry from Gilt
***
Stroller: Mutsy 4Rider
Carrier: Boba Soho
Alexis’ onesie: Boob Mama and Baby twin set

Challenge #1: Mommy’s “brilliant” idea to drive 40 minutes to the Botanical Gardens to see the Bunny and walk around and take pictures.

Result:

The gardens were absolutely beautiful and Alexis was initially very interested in surroundings (clue #1: overstimulated baby). By the time we got there, the Bunny was waving goodbye (which was fine, because I wasn’t crazy about putting Alexis in his paws anyways).

I really wanted Alexis to wear this cute dress that my friend Olga from France sent her, but my little girl had other plans, which were “pretending” to be falling asleep when we arrived, so we let her wear her owl onesie rather than change her into the cute Easter dress.

After a quick very distracted on Lexi’s part nursing, we strapped Alexis into her Mutsy stroller and went to enjoy the gardens, or so we thought…


A few minutes later, she started fussing because she couldn’t see anything due to the cover we had to put on the stroller, since it was very sunny. I figured I could get her into my Boba carrier with a hat and carry her so that she could look around.

That’s when everything started breaking down.

Challenge #2: Fussy baby who needs to sleep hourly and doesn’t just fall asleep, because there’s just WAAAAY too much stuff to look at (girly girl, how did you grow up so fast that you are already having problems sleeping due to being afraid of missing out on stuff?)

Result: Me having to rock and shush and try to calm Alexis down after she missed her nap time and had a meltdown.

After what seemed like an eternity and what, I am sure, were a few incredulous looks from people around ( I didn’t pay attention and I don’t really care, but before Lexi, I remember always thinking “Why did they bring such a young baby to a place the baby can’t enjoy?” Silly me thinking Lexi would just go along with it. So lesson learned. I tried. I failed. I’ll wait until she CAN enjoy it. Until then I’ll put my life on hold, what else is new? )


Challenge #3:  Florida heat of 90 degrees, eternal sunshine and no shade to speak of.

Calming a overtired baby in the 90 degree heat – not an easy task. Finally I found some shade and calmed her down. We put her back in the stroller with the cover and tried to pretend to enjoy ourselves and look at some plants. I don’t know how Andrew and my mom felt, but all I could think of is how upset Lexi was (I hate it when she cries!).

Pretty cool statue, huh?

So we finally got to an area with some chairs and a nice shade and we camped out there for a bit.

Soon Lexi woke up and we hung out taking pictures.

Do you see how cute she is post-nap, clinging to her mommy? :)

After a nap and a boobie, Alexis seemed to be  in a pretty good mood and pretty co-operative. We finally got ourselves some pictures with all three girls.

I really couldn’t resist posting all of these “daddy and Lexi” photos. They’re just too adorable together.

I thought this photo was hilarious. Andrew looks mad and Alexis looks scared :) He was just goofing around for the camera, he wasn’t really mad and Alexis wasn’t really scared, of course.

We also had a lot of mommy snuggles, along with a stretch session. She loooves a good stretch and makes the funniest monkey face.

Once we were headed back, and had to cover the stroller again, Alexis started crying, so I had to race to the entrance, so that I could find some shade and pick her up. *sigh* It’s really not easy being out with a 2 months old in these conditions.

Pediatrician Appointment and Vaccinations {2 Months}

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Monthly Updates, New Mom Experience

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Last week was our 2 months check up. We struggled with the idea of having to give Alexis her vaccines. 5 in one visit, doesn’t it sound ridiculous?

A while ago we decided that we would vaccinate her. We’re pro modern {safe} medicine, pro vaccine people. However, we are also pro “educate yourself before you do anything” people. For once in my life I wanted to do something blindly, without the research that I normally do. Just follow what’s accepted, rather than challenging the norm in favor of what’s best for us. I totally get the people that vaccinate and I completely understand the people that choose NOT to vaccinate. I had ignored the looming vaccination appointment and then finally gave in the day before. I sat at the kitchen table with my husband and asked: “Are we really vaccinating her?”

I absolutely love that my husband is health conscious as well. And he’s SUPER protective of Alexis. “Let’s figure out whether we should and what the dangers are”, he said.

Breastfeeding Products That Helped

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in New Mom Experience, Other Recommendations, PRODUCTS

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Also read:

Birth Story Part I
Birth Story Part II
Reflections on Birth Experience
Breastfeeding Journey
Follow Up to Breastfeeding Journey

Finally, the post so many people asked about. Breastfeeding Helpers: What I used that I found helpful during the initial weeks of breastfeeding.

You always have to try things out before you find what works for you, so here’s what worked for me. Pay attention to the section WIN IT or scroll down to the bottom of the page for  4 different giveaways of some of these products.

Let’s start with

BOOKS

Before I gave birth to Alexis, I read a few books on breastfeeding to be a little more prepared for what I was about to do. As I wrote in my Breastfeeding Post, they were a huge help.

The two books that I liked the most and found the most valuable were: The Baby Bond (The science behind what’s really important when caring for your baby) and Breastfeeding Made Simple (Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers).

The first book (The Baby Bond) isn’t a breastfeeding book per se, but it talks about breastfeeding A LOT. The benefits, the studies, the science, the bonding- it’s just an amazing resource that I recommend anyone pregnant read. It talks about the benefits of breastfeeding BEYOND what everyone has heard of. It cites amazing studies on how cow’s milk is creating long lasting problems in our babies due to their leaky intestine in the first few months of life. Problems that we can’t exactly see or can’t connect to dairy until you look at the long term studies. This book is the reason I gave up dairy until Alexis is 6 months old ( aside from the fact that I plan on going fully vegan once I am no longer breastfeeding)

Breastfeeding Made Simple is a 100% breastfeeding book that covers the early weeks along with the rest of breastfeeding, problems, issues- EVERYTHING! This was my favorite breastfeeding book. It’s simply written but not dumbed down. I read it before Alexis came, to be ready, and went back to it multiple times during the initial weeks of breastfeeding. As a matter of fact, I need to read it again to see if it has any tips for babies who are in that stage of distracted nursing, because we’ve been “battling” that for a few days.

BUY THEM:

The Baby Bond  $11.35
Breastfeeding Made Simple $11.67

PUMP

The pump I used is a Simplisse Double Electric Pump. I am actually very happy with it. I remember being somewhat terrified picking pumps during pregnancy. Admit it, they look kinda scary! Little did I know that pumping would be kinder on my nipples than my baby itself. You can read about Simplisse pump here, but here’s the jist.


The inside of the cups are made out of this nice soft and almost “fuzzy” plastic that feels good on your skin and isn’t cone shaped, so  the sucking is much gentler than I expected, yet does the job.  You can select 10 speeds and 5 different pressures and adjust them after you elicit a let down based on how comfortable you are. To me, the cups felt so soft and gentle that I would just stay on speed 10 the whole time to get it done faster. I know it varies from person to person but the pump would empty my breasts in less than 10 minutes on speed 10. You can pump both breasts or choose to only pump one. The cups are super easy to assemble and clean ( I throw them into a steam sanitizer, but you can use your  dishwater, or plain old soap and water as well). It also comes with a portable bag full of stuff that would be AMAZING for moms who have to pump on the go:

  • 2 Extra Collection Bottles w/ Storage Caps
  • Insulated Cooler Bag
  • 2 Ice Gel Packs
  • Wet Bag for used parts
  • 10 Breastmilk Storage Bags
  •  4 Disposable Breast Pads

I actually really like their storage bags and have used them all up already. And for what it’s worth, the bag is not all that bad looking, like some, so you won’t be embarrassed carrying it around.

Simplisse actually has a ton of other great products and I am very happy I discovered them.

BUY IT: Simplisse Breast Pump $181.77

WIN IT: FREE Simplisse would like to give away a free pump to one of  The Art of Making a Baby readers. See Rafflecopter Giveaway at the bottom of the post for details.

NIPPLE CREAMS

I tried and used 3 different nipple creams and found all three very good for different stages of breastfeeding and different preferences.

One of the most important things for me was to make sure the nipple cream was safe for my baby to ingest and preferably with organic ingredients.

Motherlove nipple cream

PROS: Organic, incredibly soft and smooth, smells good and is very moisturizing.  It feels like a cloud on your finger. Comes in a small convenient jar. I love using it when my nipples feel dry and when I know I can walk around topless for a bit. Received ZERO toxins on EWG Database.

CONS: The only problem I found is that because of how moist it is, if you put a bra on immediately, most of it gets transferred to the bra. If you can wait a few minutes, then it’s not an issue.

WHO SHOULD BUY: If you prefer a soft feel of a moisturizer, this cream is for you.

BUY IT: Amazon $7.35 for 1 oz

Zoe Organic Nipple Balm

PROS: Food grade and organic. It is a VERY thick cream, so it’s perfect for protecting your nipples from clothing. I found that once my nipples healed a little bit and I didn’t need to walk around topless so that no fabric touched them, this cream was awesome. I put a thick layer of it and put a bra on immediately. It protected my tender skin from rubbing on my clothes, but because of how it stuck to your skin, it didn’t really rub off on it.
CONS: Because of how thick and sticky it is, I’d be worried about putting it on cracked raw nipples, because you really need to rub it in. But it’s awesome, once your nipples have healed a bit.

WHO SHOULD BUY: If your nipples aren’t rubbed raw and cracked, this will protect them and moisturize them at the same time without sticking to clothes.

BUY IT: Zoe organics $18 for 2 oz
USE CODE prebabyblog to get 15% off till Friday

WIN IT: Scroll down to the bottom of the post for details and enter in Rafflecopter giveaway of Zoe Organics Nipple Cream

Simplisse Nipple Cream

PROS: Very very light, comes in a pump which is the more hygienic way of using a nipple cream (reduces risk of infection from changing diapers), lanolin free and safe for baby and mom, glides on smooth and fast, dries off really well.
CONS: Not organic like the two above, maybe too light for some women.

WHO SHOULD BUY: If you don’t like the idea of sticky, gooey or wet creams and want something light that will dry off immediately, this is it.

BUY IT: Simplisse Nipple Cream  $10.37 for 60 pumps.

 

NIPPLE SHIELDS

I had to use a nipple shield for the first 5 weeks and was really afraid I would never be able to breastfeed without one. Here’s what worked for me:

Initially I was given a nipple shield at the hospital. It was the Medela brand 20mm shield. I did like the shape of it and how well it stuck on the breast, but it did have a few issues. First of all, it has a MASSIVE nipple. Alexis would sometimes choke on it and I saw that she didn’t enjoy having such a big nipple in her mouth. She would end up sucking on the nipple itself, rather than learning how to latch properly. However, it is very thick, so it does a good job protecting the nipple from the pain. So if you have extreme pain, you simply have no choice but to use it. It beats breastfeeding without it.

 

However after the initial few weeks, as my nipple were getting better, I started using the Simplisse Nipple Shield. It is very thin, paper thin, so it doesn’t reduce the pain as much as Medela, but if your pain is not severe, you’ll be better off using the Simplisse one. It feels more like skin, so the baby enjoys it more. It doesn’t have a humongous nipple, but I wasn’t crazy about the square shape (I wonder if there’s a reason for it). It has many more holes in it than Medela, and they are much smaller. All in all, it felt much more natural breastfeeding with the Simplisse nipple shield. So I’d recommend getting a Medela one for the first week  of breastfeeding and then try to switch over to the Simplisse one when the pain starts getting better, if you do end up using a nipple shield. I also read that some LCs recommend the Simplisse one as a way of weaning yourself and the baby off the Medela shield.

BUY THEM: 

Medela 20mm shield $10.20

Simplisse Nipple Shield $5.52

BOOBIE CREAM

While I am a huge fan of Boob Tube by Mama Mio and am planning on using it religiously once Alexis gives me 3-4 hours between feedings, so that it would get absorbed before she goes to feed again, I did struggle to find a moisturizer for my breasts that I would feel comfortable with Alexis accidentally ingesting it. Boob Tube is 100% pregnancy safe, but I just don’t know that it’s ok for a baby to EAT IT :)

For the first several overwhelming weeks I didn’t even think about a need to moisturize anything but my nipples. That is until I looked in the mirror one day and realized that what I thought were veins on my breasts were actually stretchmarks. (Gasp!) I luckily avoided any stretchmarks during pregnancy and still cannot believe my belly and thighs are 100% free of stretchmarks ( thank you Tummy Oil from MamaMio).  However, I just didn’t think I had to worry about my boobs past the time when my milk came in ( and to be fair, with a baby that would wake up every hour at night to eat that was the last thing on my mind). I didn’t want to use any moisturizers because I didn’t really find  a 100% safe one aside from the Tummy Oil, but the Tummy Oil has SUCH an amazing scent that would totally mess with my mommy scent and it’s recommended that you keep yourself free of fragrances so that baby could recognize you better in the beginning.

So one day, I was in a hurry and my boobs felt so dry that I grabbed the first thing on the counter that happened to be the Extreme Cream by Zoe Organics. It’s meant as a intensely hydrating cream for baby’s sensitive skin and eczema that’s so common at that age. Alexis didn’t have any dry spots aside from the initial dry skin on her eyebrows that this cream promptly cleared up, so the jar was sitting on my counter barely touched.  I thought: “Hey, it’s organic, meant for babies and smells nice like the nipple cream I am already using. Why don’t I use them for my breasts?” OH-MY-GOD! It was heaven! The cream goes on like butter. Like take a stick of butter out of your fridge ( you shouldn’t be eating butter anyways, lol) and smear it all over your dry skin- that’s how it feels. It just dries a lot faster than butter would. It’s smells amazing and yet doesn’t have any added fragrance. And Alexis loved it the first time she nursed. She just kept running her fingers back and forth on my buttered boob in a very purposeful manner. It was so cute! I became a quick convert and used it every day until I ran out yesterday. Now I’m really upset I didn’t order it sooner, because it’s not sold on Amazon and I can’t get it with Prime, like I usually do.

BUY IT: Zoe Organics Extreme Cream $18.00 for 2 oz
USE CODE prebabyblog to get 15% off till Friday

WIN IT: Scroll down to the bottom of the post for details and enter in Rafflecopter giveaway of Zoe Organics Extreme Cream

BREASTFEEDING PILLOWS

I use two different breastfeeding pillows. Here’s my take on them.

MyBrestfriend

 

The very famous MyBrestFriend pillow is everything you’d want a breastfeeding pillow to be once you’re a seasoned pro. It’s shaped nicely to fit around your midsection and supports your baby’s curves.  It has a pouch for a bottle of water or your precious cell phone that will save you from boredom during sleepy midnight feedings. It comes with an organic cover for those who are health conscious, as well as an array of cute colorful conventional covers. It has an adjustable clip to fit any shape and size. It flips backwards for easy access to whatever it is you need to do in between feedings. Basically, it’s a well thought out pillow that has been created to help nusring mothers feel more comfortable while breastfeeding. If your baby eats for very long times, this is a MUST HAVE.

BUY IT: Amazon $34.88

WIN IT: MyBrestFriend would like to give away a nursing pillow to one of the readers. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for details.

 

SIMPLISSE GIA PILLOW

 

This is more of a quick feeding pillow for me. Alexis was never a slow feeder. She was in, she ate, she was out. No sucking for comfort, no taking too long. Her initial feedings were 12-15 minutes at most and now she goes for 5-8 minutes on average. So at this point I need a pillow that  I can grab on the go and not mess around with, and throw it aside when she’s done eating so that I can burp her and, if lucky, put her to sleep. Gia does the trick. I love that it’s machine washable, so that’s the first thing I did to remove any kind of residue from the manufacturing. It has a sloping egde to raise your baby’s head a bit, which also helps with reflux. It’s soft and curvy and light. I would take Alexis, grab the pillow, put it on my lap along with Lexi, and then when it wasn’t comfortable anymore ( Lexi tends to squirm a lot), I’d toss it aside. So I found it very convenient especially considering the quick feedings Lexi would have.

BUY IT: Gia Pillow $33.30

BREAST PADS

I tried cloth re-useable ones, a few different brand ones that I don’t remember the names of and finally ended up using Simplisse Pads that I liked the most. They are thin, they have a rougher side to stay put on your clothing and a soft cotton side for your breast. They hold a surprising amount of leaked breast milk, while staying somewhat inconspicuous beneath the clothing. I just ran out of a box of 60 of them and I’m definitely buying more.

BUY IT: Simplisse Breast Pads $9.99 for 60

BREAST SHELLS

LOVED THESE THINGS! When my nipples were at their worst, any touch of clothing to them meant agony, but I couldn’t walk around topless because it was uncomfortable without some sort of support. I even cut out holes for nipples in some of my bras but somehow that didn’t do it (plus I wasn’t digging looking like a cheap hooker). These things saved me! These are basically cups with a hole for a nipple in them and holes for air, so that your nipples weren’t rubbed by clothes and were able to air out. I would use the Motherlove nipple cream and put these things on under my support bra. They are a bit visible under clothes and my husband called me “Robo-boobs”, but it was such a relief to be able to wear a bra and not deal with nipple pain, that I didn’t care. Plus, when I was breastfeeding, these cups would catch the leaked milk from the other boob. Definitely recommend. Supposedly they help small and inverted nipples too, and I do seem to remember it making a difference for my small nipples.

BUY IT: Simplisse Breast shells $11.79 for 2 pack

MILK SUPPLY HELPERS

This is my favorite category, because it’s TASTY! I used two things to help raise my milk supply during the time when Alexis was feeding a lot and didn’t seem to get enough.

Of course, the traditional Mother’s Milk tea that I drank religiously every day. The taste is kind of funky, but that was the least of my troubles at that moment, so I didn’t even notice. What “sweetened” the strange taste of the tea were my favorite Milk Makers Cookies. I had read about them on a blog months ago, back when I was pregnant, and thought it was a great idea. I am actually salivating right now just writing about them. The idea of these lactation cookies was started by a mother of  three, who needed help keeping her milk supply when she went to work. So after experimenting with different recipes, she finally found one that tasted delicious and contained oatmeal, brewer’s yeast and flax seed that are known to act as galactogogues. Just 1 cookie a day can increase your supply, but, let’s be honest, who can limit themselves to 1 cookie a day. I know I couldn’t. Not at the time when I was in pain, a new mother and hungry as a wolf. Milk makers come in a dairy-free version which is really cool of them. So I had a few bags of the dairy-free oatmeal raisin cookies and, not being a fan of oatmeal, I loooooved these. They had a touch of cinammon, I actually liked the faint taste of brewer’s yeast and they were so perfectly chewy. Oh man, today is NOT a good day to write about cookies, since it’s the first day that I am watching what I eat and exercising, which means I am dying to cheat and have something sweet.


So back to the cookies, I think they also make for a great excuse: “Honey, but I need them for my MILK SUPPLY!”. You know I used that line on my hubby!  I will order more when I need a boost in my milk supply or if we ever have another baby, that’s for sure.
BUY THEM: 1 month supply $49, starter pack$19.99
WIN THEMScroll down below for details and enter in Rafflecopter giveaway of 1 month supply of Milk Makers (YUM!)

 

 

 

 

So these are the things I used in the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding and still use some of them. Feel free to enter the 4 giveaways below to win the pump, extreme cream, nipples cream, nursing pillow and lactation cookies.

BREASTFEEDING GOODIES x 4

BELOW ARE THE GIVEAWAYS RULES
and Mandatory Entries: {read carefully}

There are two mandatory entries for each giveaway, after which you will have additional entries available,
and 2 daily entries for which you can come back to enter daily.
The winning entry will be verified and the winner disqualified if the action is not found or if the mandatory items are not fullfilled.
Make sure to notate how you’re following the blog in the extra info field (entry #1). The entry won’t count if that information is missing.
Each giveaway is open has specific rules, so read them on the widget (including which countries are eligible)See the rafflecopter widget for additional terms and conditions.

UPDATE: You can now log into the Rafflecopter through Facebook or just by using your name/email.

If you have a blog, there’re 2 entries each worth 10 points ( post our button on your blog’s sidebar and blog about the giveaway)

{If you’re not sure how to use to enter, feel free to watch this video tutorial or email me at contact {at} prebabyblog {dot} com
Otherwise, make sure to read everything carefully. Click the DO IT link first, then I’VE DONE IT once the action is completed}


a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are 100% my own. Some of these items for sent to me for a review

 

 

Newborns

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, New Mom Experience


{Alexis at 1 month old}

I always thought newborns were like almost everything in life, by the numbers. I guess I never really gave babies a thought, never wondered what people who just have had a baby go through. But I just assumed that it would be the exact same experience like everything else in life. Everything I’ve encountered has made sense, has been about the effort and knowledge you put in: high school, college, relationships, work.
Newborns are a whole different breed. Newborns aren’t by the numbers. Newborns don’t make sense.

They sleep less than every book says, they eat more, they fuss the rest of the time. They smile and coo at the most random things, like the picture of you and your husband on a cruise on the wall behind the glider. They are the hardest to put to sleep when they want to sleep.

For us practicing AP style parenting has been what works. Do what she wants, give her as much love, food and attention as she will ask for and then some more.

{Alexis at 2 weeks old. Onesie by Eva Spin Dress:}

It’s not always easy and ALWAYS exhausting but it’s the only thing that makes sense to us.

We’ve been able to keep crying to a minimum. She’s generally a very happy baby, but when she needs something she lets us know.

The most difficult thing for me about a new and more importantly first baby is the constant second guessing yourself if you’re doing it right. Cry isn’t the best communication tool even if you learn to disipher it a little bit. Newborns are SO extremely vulnerable that you worry about everything.
You worry about supporting their head, about not overheating them or leaving them too cold, about swaddling too tight or not tight enough, about keeping them comfy, about them being upset, about spending enough time with them, about their sleeping and eating patterns.

{Alexis at 3 weeks old. Sleeper is from Finn+Emma}

These are not conscious worries, but they are always in the back of your mind. And with that you become just as vulnerable yourself.

The first month was tough, emotionally, mentally. But once all the questions were more or less answered, came pure enjoyment of our baby. You know what she wants and when she wants it.

We’re not out of the woods yet. From what I’ve gathered, I don’t think we will
ever be. You enter the Forbidden Forest the day that stick turns blue and just hope that you can navigate and deal with the things it throws at you well enough.

Alexis is sleeping better nights. MUCH better nights. 3-4 hour stretches at a time. A good night means going to bed at 10pm, waking up at 2-3pm to eat, then again at 5 am and then waking up for the day at 7:00-7:30am. A bad night means waking up every 2 hours.

{Alexis at 1 week old}

It’s been incredibly hard to put her to sleep though. Most of the times, I spend 8pm to 10 pm just rocking her and shushing her until she finally passes out around 10. The whole two hours is squirm and fuss central.

About 2-3 weeks ago she became very interested in her surroundings. She’s always been a very alert baby and wanted nothing but to be carried around to look at things ever since she was born. But 2 weeks ago she took it to a WHOLE new level. If she’s not being stimulated, it’s the end of the world. However, with her being only two months old, her nervious system isn’t mature enough for all this stimulation, so she ends up OVERstimulating and going into a HUGE inconsolable cryfest. This is exactly what happened the few times I was gone and my hubby and my mom couldn’t calm her down. Back then we didn’t know about this new development of hers. We had no clue what was wrong.

{Alexis at 4 weeks old}

Nowadays, I have learned that with the amount of stimuli she gets, she needs to go to sleep within 50 minutes of waking. If I don’t start rocking her around that time, if I get to the point where she starts fussing, it’s way too late. So recently, we’ve had a nice little routine going: wake up, eat, play play play, sleep, wake up, eat, play play play….and on and on and on.

She started spacing out her feedings to 2 hours this week, which is freaking me out, because every time she’d fuss I’d try to give her the boob but she won’t take it :) So after I figured out the day sleep issue, I now know that if I hear a peep, she needs to sleep :)

Oh and she slept for 5 hours the other night. I think that’s considered sleeping through the night. So weird to think of that. I am so used to my little Alexis waking up often.

{Alexis at 3 days old.  Sleeper is from Finn+Emma}}

So this has been very disjointed, I realize. I cannot write “short” spur of the moment posts like these without them being a mess of thoughts.

I have to say I’ve been in a very good place lately, in a sort of equilibrium. Work is good, Lexi is good, I’m enjoying blogging like never before, I’ve gotten time management down, I don’t feel I’m slacking on anything I should be doing, I feel good. Now if I could only get into a work out routine, the world would be a happy place. I think I’ll start working on squeezing some Pilates in first thing in the morning. Vsemu Svoe Vremya! (“everything in its own time”)

Follow up to the breastfeeding post.

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH, New Mom Experience

Also read:

Birth Story Part I
Birth Story Part II
Reflections on Birth Experience
Breastfeeding Journey
Breastfeeding Products that Helped 

First of all, I’d like to thank you all for such awesome comments on the breastfeeding post! One day it will be an invaluable resource and support  for some new mom who’s struggling just like we all struggled in the beginning.

As expected, there were a few things I forgot to mention in the main post, so I am going to address them here, along with some of your questions. If you asked a question about products and supplements that helped me, that will be covered in the next breastfeeding post, so hang tight. If I somehow missed your question, please let me know.

Nipple Shield

 

As I was trying to recall my first few weeks of breastfeeding, I COMPLETELY forgot about the nipple shield. The hospital LC reluctantly gave me one after Alexis so quickly destroyed my nipple and warned that it has the potential to diminish my milk supply. At that point I felt I had no choice but to use it. For the next 4-5 weeks I kept trying to get off the nipple shield, but as soon as I went a few nursings without it, the cracks and bleeding  would come right back and I’d have to use it again. I have to admit using the nipple shield and knowing it can mess with the supply definitely added to the whole “supply worry”. I kept thinking that was the issue: because I used a nipple shield, she couldn’t get enough milk and had to nurse every 30-40 minutes and was fussy because my supply was dropping due to the shield in addition to her bad latch. (that was wrong btw). So after we finally called a Lactation Consultant and she visited us in our home and showed me a few tricks, I was more determined to stopped using the shield. She also confirmed that my supply was absolutely fine ( I was spraying and Alexis was one heavy baby) and that I just needed to keep trying and get off the darn shield. I used 3 different brands of shields and will talk about them in the next post, each one was good for a certain stage. Finally, I was able to nurse on one side without a shield, with pain but bearable enough not to be deathly afraid of nursing. It took me A LOT longer to wean my other boob off the shield and I kept going back and forth. I’d use the shield, then try to take it off for a few nursings, decide it just wasn’t worth it, go back on it. Until soon enough I was nursing without. All in all, I don’t think shields are all that bad, IF your baby is nursing frequently and for a decent amount of time.

Attachment

I wanted to clarify a bit what was happening with Alexis when I would leave her for longer than 2 hours. It’s not exactly a bottle issue. We introduced a bottle early on ( despite my fear that I’d mess up her latch even further), when we wanted to figure out my supply and why she was feeding so often (I’d pump, we’d feed her and see how much she’s taking and whether she’s hungry after). Whenever I left her with Andrew, she’d take the bottle just fine, maybe reluctant at first, but well enough. She is also perfectly happy hanging out with her father, who she has a really good bond with, since she spends at least 2 full days during the week with him exclusively. She’s never had any issues spending a whole day with him and my mom as long as I am home (but doing work or otherwise occupied with something important). Now, I have a few suspicions for why this was happening. I think it’s a new development and it has more to do with her getting overstimulated and overtired, because both events happened at 7:30 pm and I noticed she is now getting very upset around that time if we don’t put her to sleep promptly (a nap, she goes to sleep for the night at 10pm). And once she’s THAT upset, noone but me AND the boob can really calm her down. That’s my theory in short and we’re going to test it out and see. I’ll update in one of the future posts.

Reader Questions:

“From what I read in the internet, there is a very very long list of products that you are not allowed to eat, and very short one of what you can eat while breastfeeding. What’s your menu? I’d appreciate to read about someone’s actual experience.”

There was only 1 change to my diet that I made prior to starting breastfeeding (2 weeks before, to be exact). I eliminated all cow’s milk proteins (dairy). It takes about two weeks to clear your system. There’s a multitude of reasons for it with the simplest to explain being, that if your child is going to have allergies, reflux, colic, tummy pain, the most likely culprit is cow’s milk. So why not be proactive and not  have to test to see if your child is the one sensitive to it? My full reasoning is a lot more extensive and serious than that. Cow’s milk is just a really really bad thing (especially the way it’s currently produced) and with infants having a “leaky” intenstine in order to let mother’s immune factors through, milk proteins really mess with their system. Once the intestines close up, going back to eating dairy shouldn’t be a problem ( around 4-6 months).

Once Alexis arrived and we discovered that she has a bit of reflux, I went ahead and eliminated foods that tend to make reflux worse, like tomatoes, fried foods, onions, citrus and garlic. I noticed that her reflux acts up if I eat fried foods, not sure about the rest, but I am not willing to test it out yet.

So basically, since I don’t eat any meat, but  eat salmon and sardines for their DHA content, my meals are pretty much vegan with the exception of above mentioned fish. Lots of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, salads and vegan soups.

“This is question coming from someone who currently has no children but I am just really curious about the whole breastfeeding issue as having children is something in my near future. How does it hurt? That is to say, what is the baby doing that is causing the pain? Or is it your body just recovering from having a baby and your body just getting use to producing breastmilk so in turn your body just hurts and no matter what baby does it’s going to be painful? I have heard it can be painful so I am not doubting anything you (and the other commenters) are saying. I am just curious as to why. One would think with a newborn having no teeth they can’t bite you, but clearly that is not the issue. I know I’ll never truely understand until I am doing it myself but I’m just kind of curious anyway.”

I didn’t have any contractions or body pains (except for the first day in the hospital but those were very mild), however I have heard of women who have them REALLY BAD. The pain that most women are referring to is a searing type of pain on the surface of your nipple. Basically, imagine skinning your knee and then applying salt to it and pressing down and rubbing it in, then transfer that feeling onto something a lot more sensitive like your neither regions or your nipple. The baby’s tongue and lips rub your already sensitive nipple raw and then the continued suction and rubbing make it even worse. And it goes on for about 6 weeks. If you have a baby who tucks their top lip in, they give you a hickey on the nipple or areola which is really painful. And then add to that the fact that the pain doesn’t go away when you’re not nursing because you have to wear bras that rub on your nipples. If the latch is correct, after the initial pain, it should be fine, because the nipple would be positioned where it doesn’t rub on anything. But rarely can a newborn baby latch on perfectly, so the nipple ends up being rubbed by her/his tongue, the roof of his/her mouth, gums, etc. Many times the nipple is rubbed so bad, it gets cracked, you can see little “holes” and open cracks in it ( it was that way in my case). I don’t want to scare you though, it’s not that bad for everyone. Some women are lucky and end up with a baby who can latch well and a big well defined nipple.

There’s also pain during let down ( when your milk starts to come out/spray) in some women ( me including). It can be mild and prickling or strong and ache and feel like little tiny needles are poking through your nipple! Fun, huh? :)

Sarah: “Also, and forgive me if you have already answered this and I missed it, are you using nursing pads? If so, what kind? I’m small breasted/small frames and everything I try is too bulky and annoying, But I need something to stop the leaks!”

I tried a few nursing pads, including reusable washable ones and the only ones I liked were Simplisse ones. They’re thin enough and don’t tend to stick to your nipples like others. I was leaking in the beginning, then the leaking stopped, and now I’m back to leaking. In general, I find breastpad too much of a pain to worry about and since I’ve been staying home most of the time, I just change my clothes often :) lol

Lara: “Just have a question about pumping, cause it sounds like you did some of it quite early on. When did you pump? How many times a day? Did you pump on the side that Alexis didn’t feed from, or on the same side? (I’m hoping to introduce a bottle for occasions when I have to go out so I’m just seeing what others have done/do)”

Initially, I wanted to stay away from pumping because I knew it would lead to engorgement, possibly mastitis and oversupply. I didn’t need to build a milk stash urgently since I work from home, so I took it slow. I wanted Alexis to set my supply naturally.  At first I would pump because we were trying to figure out my supply and whether Alexis was getting enough. I’d pump until nothing would come out and feed it to her. Not much would come out at first: 1-2 oz from each breast.  Later once things started settling down I was pumping to have enough for me to go to my doctor’s appointment or dentist without having to drag both my hubby and Alexis with me, because she was eating every 30-60 minutes. Also, honestly, I didn’t have time to pump between her frequent feedings. The few times I tried when my supply was still establishing, she would end up wanting to eat literally 10 minutes after and I would have no milk for her. So I stopped until she started spacing out her feedings a bit more at night. I’d wake up with my breasts full, feed her on one side and pump on the other (in the middle of the night). After a while I collected about 20 oz by just pumping once at night, but I do believe it created a bit of an oversupply that I am somewhat struggling with right now. I don’t want to keep pumping since I really don’t enjoy being engorged and it’s a slippery slope. Plus she keeps chocking from the milk coming out too strong, so it’s not exactly great. I think for moms who mainly stay home, doing occasional pumping after the supply is established is the best way to go. Though, I’m sure it’s different for everyone, so see what works for you. If you can handle not going anywhere for longer than 1-2 hours in the first 8 weeks, then don’t worry about pumping. You can do that once your supply is good and set.

Also, I never got to mention it, because I haven’t done another postpartum post, but even though I avoided stretchmarks everywhere during pregnancy, after I started pumping and obviously getting too full, I developed stretchmarks on my boobs. I completely forgot that it can be an issue and didn’t moisturize at all (I couldn’t really with Alexis). Then around 8 weeks I started noticing them. It sucks that I didn’t pay attention to it, but at least they’re only on my boobs which are always covered up in public. So keep that in mind and don’t make the same mistake as I did :)

Engorgement

-I got a question about engorgement but I couldn’t find it for some reason. I didn’t struggle with engorgement much. It became very uncomfortable when my milk first came in, almost painful, but mostly very uncomfortable. I was saved from engorgement by Alexis’ feeding habits, which were a lot more frequent than normal, so I didn’t have time to get engorged. That is until recently when she started sleeping longer stretches at night. I am not bothered too much by it, but I know some women really struggle. It can be painful, uncomfortable and it definitely prevents the baby from getting a good latch or sucking effectively. Now that I think of it, I do remember being engorged in the beginning and Alexis having trouble sucking on anything but my nipple, which hurt like hell. The problem with engorgement is that the breast is so big and full and almost misshapen that the baby has trouble getting a good latch and removing the milk effectively, which can lead to more engorgement initially and an early weaning and low milk supply later. That was a big reason for why I was very careful with pumping. A few times when I’d wake up at night feeling too full, I’d pump for just a minute or so, because that doesn’t perpetuate the problem by stimulating the breast too much, but brings some relief.

Alyssa:  I do not want to start an argument, not at all. I think it’s neat to be able to provide food for your child without cost. However, with everything you said, why oh why oh why do you breastfeed??? It sounds so incredibly painful, it sounds hard, it sounds like you are trapped in your house until you are “no longer the only source of food”.Other than $$ that it costs to purchase formula, why NOT use formula? Anyone can feed the baby then, no pain on your part, baby still gets nutrition it needs (formula is not poison!). Win. Win. Win.I honestly am not trying to post just to create an argument, I legitimately do NOT understand women who go on and on about how painful it is and how you are the only source of food, and are engorged, and can’t leave the house, etc; I do not understand why not to use formula.For the record, I have two kids (1 and 2 years old), both drank formula 100% except for baby #1?s first 3 days. I “tried” to BF but I knew right away that it wasn’t for me. And there’s no question about “is baby getting enough?”  And no reason to change your diet (ie. eliminating milk products)

-No, formula isn’t poison, but it is definitely not the OPTIMAL nutrition for a baby, just look at the ingredients: corn syrup solids as one of the top ingredients. It also doesn’t have nearly enough DHA in it which is very important for synapse myelination in early childhood. We were made to feed our babies, our milk is created in a way as to give the perfect nutrition for human babies along with perfect emotional bonding. Our brains and system is developed specifically to thrive on breast milk and with breastfeeding emotional connections and closeness. Formula is a great answer for women who for some reason cannot or chose not to breastfeed, because without formula the baby would starve or be fed solids (cow’s milk, cereals, like in the days before formula) and possibly die from that. I don’t know the reasons for why most women breastfeed, but I would guess they are somewhat the same. For me it was never an option NOT to breastfeed. We went to such an extent to ensure  that during pregnancy I got the absolutely best nutrition and care possible, that it was just a no brainer to do the same once Alexis arrived.  I don’t need to bring up studies for why breast milk is beneficial and that very benefit is why women struggle and live in pain for the first 6-8 weeks. Then, of course, there’s the bonding experience like no other, the idea of giving your baby sustenance, the convenience, the savings- but all these were trivial to me, compared to the health benefits, emotional benefits and developmental benefits breastmilk has the potential to bring. As far as diet changes, the biggest one is giving up dairy and most women don’t do that, so in most cases that’s not an issue. If I were to feed Alexis formula, I wouldn’t give her standard formula that has cow’s milk, anyways.  I would feed her elemental formula that has all the proteins broken down into amino acids so there are no issues with cow’s milk sensitivity. Hope this explains it. I’m sure there are a lot more other reasons and benefits I have no time to think of right now.

Oh and also the question of “Is the baby getting enough” is not necessary. It’s only in our heads. I think if ALL women were to share their stories and experiences with honesty and in detail, and we had more of  breastfeeding society, the issue of “Is the baby getting enough” wouldn’t even come up, because we’d be confident in knowing how breastfeeding works and what’s normal and what’s not. I bumped into an awesome article about this syndrome of “low milk supply” that I would recommend anyone read.

Lindsey: “Random question, What carrier are you nursing alexis in, in the photo?”

-It’s the LilleBaby’s Nordic carrier. I’ll be writing about it and doing a giveaway sometime in the next month or so. I LOVE IT! It has a great head support, lightweight and not too hot. And as you can see, easy to breastfeed in.

Gina: “When you say she still sometimes chokes and has milk come out of her nose, do you know what that’s from? My son does the same thing (sometimes), I’m thinking it’s an over supply issue.”

-I’ve looked into this and have come to two conclusions. It’s either from reflux and their immature esophagus or from oversupply or both. I know she often chokes when the let down happens which is from oversupply. Milk comes out of her nose mostly when I am feeding her while lying down and I think it can be due to esophagus not closing properly and due to chocking from fast let down ( kind of like “went down the wrong pipe” deal).

Allyssa: “So are you a NIP without a cover mama or was the first photo just for the blog? I think it’s awesome when women do that. I’ll have to see how I feel when I have my baby. What is the carrier in the first picture? Do you have any other carriers that you BF in?”

None of the photos in the breastfeeding post were taken for the blog, I was really breastfeeding at those moments. I definitely have NO problems with nursing in public with or without cover. As a matter of fact, there were 3 golf carts passing by at that moment with people waving at us and saying hi (LOL). Breastfeeding is natural, boobs aren’t dirty or need to be overly sexualized, a baby eating the way it was supposed to isn’t gross but should be encouraged.  That being said, I am not going to walk around pulling my boob out wherever I want, but if Alexis needs to eat, I WILL feed her immediately. I have a few nursing tops and dresses, most from Boob Design, others are just nursing friendly (low neckline and stretchy), so I will always be discreet, however I make no bones about it, if I am not wearing a nursing top and I need to pull my shirt down and feed her where we both are comfortable, I will do so without trying to hide somewhere. I don’t think I will be using a nursing cover, I actually don’t own one. The carrier I am breastfeeding in is LilleBaby’s Nordic carrier. I also use Beco carrier to BF in, and plan on BFing in Moby and Balboa sling.

Next post: Breastfeeding Products that helped me get through 8 weeks and some breastfeeding goodies for you, guys.

Also read:

Birth Story Part I
Birth Story Part II
Reflections on Birth Experience
Breastfeeding Journey
Breastfeeding Products that Helped