Baby Solids: What we cook

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Cooking, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, Life as a Toddler, New Mom Experience

What our Toddler eats

If you missed previous BLW posts, you can visit them here:

BABY LED WEANING
SOLIDS: GEAR 

I’ve been emailed and asked about what we cook for Alexis in terms of BLW and how our whole feeding process goes. So here is the breakdown.

First thing you have to remember is that we don’t really eat like a typical American family.  You almost never see green beans on our table, or green peas, or corn. No mashed potatoes (no reason for that, we just never get around to making them), no meats, no dairy. What you will see is mostly other types of vegetables, fruits, grains and fish. My husband was vegan for a couple of years, but I think we’re slowly starting to permanently introduce fish. I would always eat certain fish, because of its benefit when pregnant and now, but my husband used to stay away from ANY animal products (except for trace amounts in baked goods on occasion). But I think we have decided that the benefit outweighs the disadvantages. I do eat eggs once a month or so now, my husband doesn’t. We’ll occasionally “cheat” if we have to or want to. So at this point our family is a bit of a smorgasborg of vegan/pescetarians/vegetarians/whatever. However, our eating habits are constantly changing and I am not exactly sure which direction we are going with them.

Our goal is (and of course that doesn’t always pan out) to make sure that Alexis has a protein source at almost every meal (beans, fish), a few vegetable servings every time, whole grains (which can also be considered high in protein if you stick with quinoa) and fruit/berries for breakfast.

My sister had a preemie in Russia

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH

Up until recently, Prematurity Awareness month would have been as far from me as a Leukemia month or something equally unrelated. I do know a few people personally who had premature babies, but I never actually heard exactly what they went through. It can be tough and heartbreaking. But I doubt that most mothers who had premature babies had to worry about their baby’s wellbeing IN RELATION to how the doctors are treating them. We all know, doctors are there to help and we put our trust into them.

This is different from the experience some people have in other countries.

Today I wanted to tell you the only premature story that directly affected my family.

SAFE TOYS FEATURE: LAMAZE

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Best for Baby, HEALTH, PRODUCTS

If you missed the Toy Safety post, go back to read it here.

Today we’ve got Lamaze toys by TOMY brands. Lamaze toys are pretty mainstream and aren’t known for being “green” in particular. However, the company, that also owns my favorite Boon, is obviously set on making safe products.

First of all, all Lamaze toys are made primarily out of fabric with a few small plastic components.

What Lamaze toys DO NOT HAVE:

Fire Retardants
PVC

Now that’s that out of the way…

SAFE TOYS FEATURE: APPLE PARK

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

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APPLE PARK

{Read the first part about toy chemicals here}

I remember when I first got our Apple Park toys when Alexis was still little, I became obsessed. I had never seen organic toys that were SO COOL! I never even hoped I’d find something like that. A company that carries a good assortment of organic toys that don’t look like they’ve been sewn by hand ( though that look can be cute).

Take this crawling ladybug critter. It has a wood teething ring, a soft body and a cute little leaf to suck on. But that is not what kept ME playing with it. If you pull on the teething ring and let go, the ladybug vibrates and moves towards you. Wicked cool! So it’s a teething toy that later would be turned into a cool moving toy that even a toddler wouldn’t be bored of.

Toy Safety {In Time for the Holidays}

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, New Mom Experience, PRODUCTS

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As we are approaching the most important holiday of the year (at least from a little kid’s standpoint), one might wonder if all those bright colorful toys that are routinely bought for babies and toddlers are safe. I mean, OF COURSE, they are safe! The government makes sure of it, right? Right?

Apparently wrong!

While 65% of people believe that toys that contain toxic or potentially toxic chemicals wouldn’t be allowed on the shelves of baby stores, the reality is more grim. In fact, our government has long since subscribed to the philosophy of “safe unless proven otherwise”. That is where we, as parents, are forced to do the due diligence before buying a cute toy.

It is true that we cannot protect our babies from every danger, no matter how hard we try – we can’t live in a bubble. But we CAN take certain steps to educate ourselves about, let’s say, toy safety, especially considering that aside from food (more on food safety in another post), this is the one thing that gets put in their mouths constantly in the first few years of life. I also won’t be talking about “fringe dangers”, like plastics that are yet to be found dangerous (all those millions of new chemicals, plastics and materials that get made and discovered in labs all the over the world have not been proven dangerous and thus are by default “safe” as far as our government is concerned). So even so called safe plastics are not necessarily safe. Wood is, of course, the best, but wood can have hidden dangers, as well as natural rubber.

What makes it even more dangerous is our current standards for levels of toxic substances in children’s toys are based on a 180 pound adult male. As you can imagine that makes a huge difference when the same amount of toxins is ingested by a 20 pound infant whose body and brain are developing and don’t have the same capability of processing toxins.

The issue also comes in when these toxins “interact” in our body and create different reactions all together than they would if they were simply ingested alone.

I would like to list all the common dangers, as well as the materials that are considered somewhat safe, ways to find out what is in your toys, hidden dangers of “safe” materials to watch out for, and finally a list of companies that are committed to making toy safety a priority and have been found to be more consciences and safer than others. What I will NOT cover is the physical danger of toys, like making sure they are age appropriate, can’t be choked on, as well as can’t cause bodily harm. Those are more common sense things.

The shape of you. The shape of me.

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, GET FIT, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, LIFE, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience, PHOTO, PREGNANCY

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The title of this post might give you an idea of how much Dr. Seuss I read on daily basis.

Ok, so I’ve been asked to write about this multiple times and I have looked forward to writing about this, as well. Kind of. Sort of. The only but is that I don’t really have much to say on the topic of postpartum body and getting in shape. I have done absolutely NOTHING. :( So I’ll write a bit about what changes my body went through from pre-pregnancy to now and what I am planning on doing about it.

There are a few “quirks” about my body that need to be known to understand where I am at after giving birth.
Number 1: My strong spot is my abs. It’s virtually impossible for me to gain fat in my tummy. And when I gain weight, my belly is the LAST thing to grow (after boobies) and even then it still has some definition to it.
Number 2: My weak spot is my legs. That is the first place where I gain weight and it shows immediately. So the rest of my body will be fine, but my legs and face will show whether I am heavy or thin.
Number 3:

Your postpartum hair and make up questions

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Daily, Fashion and Outfits, HEALTH, Health and Fitness

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As I was writing the postpartum beauty routine post, I realized how much it changed from before and during pregnancy and how I was struggling to find new routines that were faster but more effective.

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I’ll be talking about what I personally arrived at and what products I use to make my life easier and how it differs from before.
I would also like to ask you, guys, if you have any problem areas or questions and what you’ve found to be most challenging when it comes to postpartum hair care and make up.

I’ll have 2 pros answer your and my questions (one for make up, one for hair) about what we can do to look beautiful and polished when our lives as new (or old) moms are far from it.

Ask your questions in the comment section. The questions should be about styling and applying make up and techniques or routines. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to answer questions about green/safer products to use (it’s sometimes I will try to discuss a bit in the actual post)

7 activities to do with your infant {0-6 months}

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

7 Activities to do with your baby to help development and add sensory input: 0-6 months


Looking back to the early months of Alexis life, one of the hardest things for me ( and my husband even more) was thinking of age-appropriate activities to do with Alexis. I wanted to make sure her awake time counted, that it helped her develop, socially, physically, emotionally, as well as bond and spend as much time interacting with us as she needed at that age. And considering that unlike most newborns, Alexis barely slept during that time, we had A LOT OF awake time to contend with. As I was reading various books on baby development, I was making note of beneficial activities I could do with Alexis that would help her develop as well as create some quality fun time with her, aside from all the typical things you do with a baby.  So I’d like to share with you 5 different non-traditional developmentally beneficial and fun things you could do with your infant.

None of these are “filler” activities, they all help your baby develop an important part of their system. And from experience, babies tend to enjoy them very much.

Please exercise caution and common sense when using these tips.  I am not a physician, or an expert of any sort. These are just the activities I read about and are/were doing with Alexis that I wanted to share. Also keep your baby’s age in mind. It has to be appropriate for your baby’s level of development. I’ll explain how to do it, what it does for a baby’s development and how Alexis liked this particular exercise, but it’s always best to read from the source, because I can’t fit all the valuable information into a short post.

Also feel free to watch the video for examples.

1. Rocking on a beach ball

HOW: Get a beach ball or an exercise ball, deflate it slightly, place your baby on the ball TUMMY DOWN. While supporting him (you can hold his sides, legs or thighs depending on how well he/she can control her body), roll him back and forth and side to side. You can sing or talk at the same time.
WHY: Strengthens the neck, is good for head control, provides muscle tone development. You can do the same but on his back, this helps his balance reflexes to develop as he will slowly tense his tummy muscles to keep himself balanced.

{Alexis: She loved this one from the get go. She’d get her head up high and look around while being rocked. I could see how her core was working trying to stay balanced and how she was figuring out how to move her body in response to the ball. I wasn’t happy about using what appears to be a vinyl ball, but in all my search for non-toxic things, I haven’t found one that isn’t made of vinyl.}

2. KICKING a BALL

HOW: Use the same beach ball to let your little one kick and roll it with her feet. As she gets older she’ll be able to pass it up to her hands and back to her feet. They love the feel of something different on their toes and what baby doesn’t like kicking.
WHY: Babies will learn about their legs and feet and how to move them at will. In addition, these exercises stimulate muscle tone, especailly knee flexibility for later bobbing , climing and walking
{Alexis: at first she didn’t really get what she was supposed to do with the ball, but after she kicked it a few times accidentally, she started getting the idea. Eventually it progressed to her moving it to her hands. It’s definitely a fun acitivity.}

3. Oil leg rub

HOW: Put some olive or vegetable oil on your baby’s inner thighs and while holding her/him by the ankles, GENTLY rub her/his inner thighs together ( back and forth).
WHY: Excerpt from the book: It is “beneficial because it provides sensory input that is familiar to the baby from his experiences in the womb and helps organize his nervous system. It will also facilitate the baby to release […] any tight hip muscles. Since this is a sensory experience that baby had in the womb, it can be started soon after birth. The main focus of this activity is for baby to relate to skin sensations. If you make eye contact with baby or do this in a high visually stimulating environment, such as under a mobile, the baby’s nervous system may pay more attention to the visual input than the skin input. […] This activity only lasts a minute and afterwards smiles, praise and songs would be great.”
{Alexis: You could see the “newness” of the feeling in her eyes when we first started it. I haven’t done it as much as I should, but the few times that I did do it, it was kind of fun to watch her reaction.}

4. Tub/Pool Play

One way around the whole “no swimming till 6 months” issue (see why) was to get a kiddie pool and let her splash there. But believe it or not, it took me THIS LONG to find a kiddie pool that wasn’t made out of PVC or with Phthalates (I’ll be writing about why it’s important and listing items that I found that don’t contain either). At some point I gave up the search after calling and emailing numerous companies that sell/manufacture baby pools and striking out. And then finally, I FOUND IT! A pool made out of polyester and with a pop up shade, to boot! Ta-da! So today (7/17) we’ll be filling it up and having some fun time. Alexis loves splashing and playing in the water and I am sure spending more time doing it will foster her love for water activities. You can also do the same in a bathtub, but with a baby who does doesn’t reliably sit up yet, you’d have to get into it, as well, since it can be very slippery.

Alexis seems to really love touching running water. I assume that the sensation of strong pressure is new for her and is something she likes to explore, so I often get into a tub and let the water run for her to grab (see video). It’s especially useful after she has had some food (we are doing BLW), because she usually needs a bath at that point. She often accidentally splashes water into her eyes, at which point I laugh and make fun sounds to show her that it’s not scary. Though she still look to me for reassurance when it happens, she’s become quite adventurous with water.

5. Leg support crawl

HOW: This one is a bit of a no-brainer if you ask me, but it was and still is a very important part of our day. From about 2 months of age ( it might have been 3 months, I don’t exactly remember), Lexi would make swimming movements whenever she’d get put on her tummy. She wanted to move and crawl. We would naturally place our palms to her feet so that she had some support to push off of and she’d be happy to move forward. It’s still something that we do on daily basis, as she whines and whines until she feels some support and can scoot forward. Once she starts crawling this will no longer be needed, but for the time being it helps her feel like she is getting somewhere. {see video}

WHY: Repetitive movement on the floor, forward or backward, stimulates the neurons in the brain to interconnect.

6. Infant massage

HOW: Some literature suggests that doing infant massage or deep pressure massage three times a day is optimal, however most recommendations are at least once a day which I think is more manageable. According to some books, if your baby seems uncomfortable during the massage, you need to do it frequently and very slowly, stopping as soon as the baby fusses. The irritability,according to Building Babies Better, comes from lack of total understanding of the sensation from the prenatal experience. Obviously, do not do deep pressure on the abdomen, and biceps and calves seem to be sensitive ( or better yet read a book about Infant massage).
I showed a few simple techniques in the video below, but it’s really about you touching the baby and showing the love. Some books recommend concentrating on the massage and not interacting with your baby, I choose to talk to her and sing to her, because to me it’s as much about bonding as it is about the massage. Doing it after a bath is usually easiest, but it’s important not to rush through it. Also, try cheek massage, Alexis loves that part. Since they use those muscles to suck milk, they need an occasional massage.

WHY:  It is well known and researched what amazing benefits infant massage produces for babies. A few proven benefits that are worth mentioning are: higher IQ, healthier digestion, improved weight gain, improved immune system (in a study of babies whose mothers gave them back massages at 10 weeks, there was a lower incidence of colds and diarrhea four months later), better sleep, enhanced muscle tone and coordination, more developed sensory awareness, better ability to handle stress, better bonding, self soothing, self-esteem, etc. Massage is very effective to do before a floor activity. It helps them use their muscles more efficiently afterwards.

For very small babies:

7. Leg Twist

HOW: You take your Little One’s legs and swing them to the side. Pause, then swing them to the other side. Take care not to twist them too much or make it too abrupt or scary. Basically, follow your baby’s cues. Of course, it’s always important to talk or sing to them while doing that.

WHY: Rocking stimulates the organs of muscle tone and balance as well as strengthens them. Poor muscle tone frequently equals poor coordination, as the body parts cannot put movements together. Helps your infant learn about different types of movements. Vestibular activities like this one are “essential for the inhibition of the primitive reflexes and the development of balance. Vestibular sensations are vital for posture, movement, and a sense of position in space , motion, depth and self.”

Alexis still loves this activity and smiles/laughs every time I do it.

You can see the video for examples of these acitivies

{in the first 3 activities Alexis is 3 months old, the rest are recent}:

 



Sources:
Some of these activities, along with explanations and some quotes were taken from the following books: Active Baby Healthy Brain  and Building Babies Better. For a list of all the books I recommend, please visit the books section.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN OTHER POSTS, FEEL FREE TO VISIT THE FOLLOWING PAGES:

NEW BABY POSTS (SAFE TOYS, BABY CLASSES, BEST PRODUCTS, BABY LED WEANING, VACCINATIONS, ETC)

NEW MOM POSTS ( BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY, BEST APPS FOR NEW MOMS, MOMMY PHOTOGRAPHY, POSTPARTUM, PARENTING DUTY, PP BODY, CLOTH DIAPERING)

PREGNANCY POSTS (HERB SAFETY, SAFE PREGNANCY, ULTRASOUND DECODED, GENDER PREDICTION, BELLY PROTECTION, TRIMESTER RECAPS, BIRTH STORY, ETC)

Cloth Diapering: Part II

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

{the photos in this post were taken at 3 months}
So if you read this post, you know that we started cloth diapering Alexis in the beginning and then decided for multiple reasons to switch to disposables for a bit and revisit cloth diapers a few months later.

Well, I am starting to think those few months later is now. As expected, I REALLY missed cloth diapering. At first, the ease of disposables and their lack of bulk was refreshing. But soon I would be catching myself almost wishing Andrew would put her in a cute cloth diaper (Andrew is who changes her 90% of the time). However, I wanted her to grow just a bit so that  the bulk of the diaper wasn’t too much for her frame, as well as be in the right frame of mind for cloth diapering and make sure Andrew was fully on board as well.


I think one of the reasons why cloth diapering became too much for us was because we didn’t have a set of one brand. I thought it was a great idea to buy different brands of cloth diapers and use those to see which ones worked best. However, that worked to our detriment because there was a constant struggle of matching up the inserts with the diapers as well as not wanting to use the less favorite ones when the preferred diapers got dirty. And a big  thing that made us go “Ah! Screw it for now” was the fact that at that point we needed to decide which diaper brand we liked most and buy a whole set or two of it, but we STILL didn’t have clear favorites. Couple that with a newborn, that’s just not something we wanted to think about at that moment. It was just all a bit too overwhelming.

So fast forward to now, I feel I am ready to jump back on the cloth diapering wagon. I keep seeing babies in cloth diapers and it’s just so cute and I can’t help but think about how much better cloth diapers are for her, especially if we decide to go with organic ones. I talked it over with hubby and he seems on board too ( and bit less excited than me), but with one condition of buying ALL THE SAME cloth diapers. Which means we now have to decide which ones. But at least there isn’t a factor of a demanding baby anymore. Alexis is demanding of our attention but she’s a lot more easy going now than she was 2 months ago.

In addition to that, she has grown quite a bit and the cloth diapers that I do occasionally use on her  fit her really well and don’t overwhelm her body.

Taking some time off of cloth diapering was important. I actually think it was crucial to being able to come back and start using them again. Sort of a reset button. I feel like had I pushed on for whatever reason and didn’t stop using them, we’d continue growing resentful of them, until we’d decide to never use them EVER again. Instead, we stopped cloth diapering at the point where the minuses for our family just outweighed the pluses, but I still liked the idea of cloth diapering. For the same reasons I wanted to cloth diaper in the first place. So that left a door open to come back to it again.

In the meantime, we tried Honest diapers. While the patterns are cute and the fit is pretty good too, I just wasn’t convinced it was the best thing for her. So during these two months we went back and forth between chlorine free WF diapers and Honest diapers with occasional cloth in the between.

{Sidenote: the absolute weirdest thing was that I sort of *missed* doing diaper laundry. Having an extra load of diapers never bothered me or Andrew, probably because we have used cloth wipes exclusively since the day she was born, so we had to do that separate load anyways. But there was just something wrong about throwing in a load of wipes ONLY, when we didn’t cloth diaper. It kind of bothered me. lol}


So my first step in getting back to cloth is this:

I want to find a good organic diaper first, and if none of them work for us, then try to figure out which of the remaining cloth diapers work the best and order 2 sets of those. I received an Organic Kushies diaper from Amazon a few days ago (the toddler ones are just a bit too big for right now) and will look into other options { if you have suggestions for organic diapers, please leave them in comments. I’d appreciate that.}.

I am a little bit excited about going back since I was never really happy about not using cloth.

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