Welcome. Are you pregnant? Or are you figuring out your way through new parenthood? This is the blog for you! As a mother to a 3 year old boy and 1 year old boy/girl twins, I've been there, done that. From breastfeeding to potty training. From natural labor to c-section. And from swaddling to car seats. I have advice and I'm not afraid to share it! If you have a question, just ask me!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Late Pre-Term Babies? What's that?

It seems like I'm always hearing about friends or friends of friends who are getting induced or having scheduled c-sections before their due dates.  There are obviously good reasons to do this. The fact that it is becoming more and more common seems concerning.

First let me say a "due-date" is not when you are DUE.  It's a guess as to when your baby might arrive.  It's not an exact date, and people look at that date as if your belly is going to explode if the baby is not out by then.  A due date is 40 weeks gestation.  The problem with this is that 40 weeks is NOT the average gestation of women who go into labor naturally!!!  The average gestation of a healthy first-time mother is 41 WEEKS, 1 DAY.  So if inducing 1 week early, you could be inducing 2-3 weeks early in reality (your baby may have wanted to wait until 42 weeks!)

Many mothers are anxious to see their babies, and when a doctor suggests delivering early, they say "Yes!"  Unfortunately, they don't take the time to research if that is a good idea or not.  Babies even born a week early can have symptoms of a "Late Preterm" baby.

Photo by Natalia Wilson ~ Copyright: February 25, 2010.

Feeding:  Babies may be more slow to eat.  If breastfeeding is important to you it may be good to discuss the necessity of an early delivery.

Breathing:  Babies can need help breathing.  Especially if you are carrying a white boy, this can be an issue to consider.  It's called "Wimpy White Boy Syndrome."  When we toured our NICU before our boy/girl twins were born, we asked the NICU nurse about this.  She said it is a very real occurrence.  For some reason, male Caucasian babies' lungs seem to develop later.  My doctor suggested a scheduled c-section for my twins at 37 weeks.  I asked for another week, since I knew we had a boy in there.  He asked that I come in for two visits that last week instead of 1.  He wanted me to have non-stress test AND a BPP that last week.  I was OK with that.  That week proved to be very important.  My baby boy was having trouble breathing, and my husband said the nurses were having a discussion as to whether he should go to the NICU.  Luckily he figured it out and didn't have to go, and we were able to get him breastfeeding right away!

Temperature:  Like other preterm babies, late preterms can have trouble regulating their body temperature.

In the last weeks of gestation, babies put on about 1/2 pound each week.  That is a lot when you're talking about baby weight!  Late preterm babies may also be more likely to get jaundice and infections.

For more information:
Awhonn Late Preterm Infant Initiative - What Parents of Late Preterm (Near-Term) Infants Need to Know.
About:  Late Pre-term Babies
March of Dimes - Premature birth
When Research is Flawed:  Management of Post-Term Pregnancy
Westside Doula - Due Date

You have chosen your doctor because you feel comfortable making decisions WITH him or her.  If that is not true, then switch doctors!  You need to do your own research, so you are able to have a discussion about these things with your doctor.  Let's face it...doctors are human.  I'm sure they'd like to have your baby come M-F between the hours of 9-5 if possible.  Maybe not all of them...but some.

I wanted a natural birth with my kids.  My first child I was uninformed, was not prepared and did not know my options.  After 30 hours of natural labor, I went w/ what my doctor and hospital nurses were telling me was best.  It was not, but everything turned out OK.  With my twins, I was OVER prepared, and knew all my options.  Unfortunately, my twins were both breech.  I did my research and made decisions WITH my new doctor that made both of us comfortable with our plan for the end goal:  healthy babies.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Boppy Pillow v. My Brest Friend Pillow

Why does everyone get and/or register for the Boppy pillow?  I have to say, I found it not very helpful when it came to nursing.  It did come in handy taking photos of my babies.  (See my photography post.)  I would put the blanket over the Boppy sometimes to put the baby on.  It also helped provide a little support when my son was learning to sit up.  What I hated about my Boppy was while nursing my child, there was nothing to keep it in place.  The pillow would start to inch away from me, and my baby would fall down in between me and the pillow.  I also found it too soft.

When it comes to nursing, the My Brest Friend pillow is great.  It straps around you,  is not too smooshy, and stays in place. It also has pockets for things like the phone, a pad of paper, a snack, or whatever you find useful.  I like that you can strap it on and stand up without it falling off.  It also offers padding around your lower back, which the Boppy does not.  I used mine with my oldest every day until we stopped nursing at age 2.  And now I use it every day with my twins.  When I tandem nursed my twins, I actually used the My Breast Friend Twins pillow.  I originally had the EZ2Nurse Twins Pillow, but again, it didn't stay put, and didn't offer great back support.  I didn't realize that My Brest Friend had a twins pillow (I had heard the EZ one was the only one out there.)  When I heard that they did, I ordered it w/o hesitation. and it too is awesome!!!

If I was registering for baby items, I would skip the Boppy, and make sure My Brest Friend was on my list!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New baby and your marriage

No one ever talks about how a new baby can affect a marriage.  Well, I'm telling you a new baby can put A LOT of stress on one.  I have a wonderful husband, whom I love very much.  We have been together for several years before we had our first child.  I was not expecting how angry I could get at him over our child.  And I'm sure he was just as angry at me.  What causes all this?  LACK OF SLEEP!  We just aren't in control of our emotions when we do not get those 7-10 hours of sleep our bodies need on a daily basis.

When our twins arrived I wanted to avoid all that anger.  We didn't need to add MORE stress to what we had in store for us.  I had been recommended a book titled "Babyproofing your Marriage."  It was a great read.  I will say, it is slightly female biased, as it's written by all women, but they do have plenty for the men too.  It really opened my eyes up to how my husband viewed things.  My husband read it too (I made him.)  And I immediately saw a difference in how we were acting together.  We were no longer "keeping score."  I was thanking him for emptying the dishwasher, instead of thinking, "He should, I've been nursing 2 babies all damn day AND recovering from a c-section."  The book also discusses sex after baby.  We had way more sex the first year after the babies, compared with the first year of my oldest.  I think this book has a lot to do with that.  And yes, it even talks about how to deal with grandparents. 

I have a friend whose husband didn't want a 3rd child, because he didn't like the person she became with an infant!  How funny is that?  We mommies can get feisty on little to no sleep!  But Daddy's can do a little to help Mommy get a little more sleep, and maybe Daddy can get a little more sex! 

How did a new baby affect your marriage?  Any tips for new moms?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Expecting a baby? DEAL ALERT!

The Woombie.  I've not used them, but I've heard they are a great alternative option to the Miracle Blanket.  They do look pretty cool.  You do have to buy sizes though, which is why I like the Miracle Blanket - One Size.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Flying with an infant!

It makes everyone nervous!  Flying with an infant.  I will start by saying flying with an infant will be much easier than you probably expect.  The key is to stay calm, leave yourself plenty of time, and to be prepared.

Stay Calm:  I truly believe that babies can sense when their parents are stressed.  They don't like it!  So before you embark on your journey, say out loud that this will probably not be fun, but you will roll with the punches.  My husband can get irritated by small things very easily.  Our first time flying w/ our new baby, as soon as he parked the car, I looked at him and said, "Know this is not going to be fun, but try to stay calm, we'll get there."  Sometimes hearing it, can help the stress a little.

     The first time I flew alone w/ my 2.5 month old, there were all sorts of problems.  Our connecting flight was hours late, and then our gate got changed last minute, and everyone had to take a shuttle to a different terminal.  I luckily had my baby in a baby carrier (I was using the Moby Wrap at the time), and the carry-ons went in the stroller, so moving was fairly simple.  Another mom, I felt bad for her, was trying to push a baby in a stroller while pulling luggage too.  Why someone wouldn't offer to help, is beyond me!?

Leave Plenty of Time:  This sort of goes without saying, but make sure you leave yourself plenty of time getting ready to leave the house, so you can get to the airport w/ plenty of time to park the car, check in, etc.

Be Prepared:  If your ready to deal with situations, it will help your baby stay happy and you less stressed.  A week or so before flying figure out your baby's favorite SMALL toys.  Pick a few and take them away at least a week before your flight.  That way, on the plane the toys will be new and lots of fun to play with.  Most babies love playing with water bottles.  Just BE AWARE OF THE COVER!!!!  Either take the cover away, or make sure it's on REALLY tight.  Covers can be a choking hazard!!!
     Pack a travel size baby cornstarch (or just put some in a baggy).  We were stuck on the runway once for an hour, and they were not running the A/C.  It was HOT.  I calmly stripped DS down and used the cornstarch to keep him comfortable.  Crisis averted!
     Put your baby in a cloth diaper cover and pack an extra.  You want to put it on OVER the disposable diaper.  Do this especially if your baby is exclusively breastfed!  You don't need to deal with a diaper that has leaked poop and gotten all over baby's clothes, or possibly worse.  A diaper cover will be sure to keep it all contained.  I recommend a diaper cover that has leg gussets.  Thirsties brand is great.  They're about $10/each.  Or if you know a cloth diapering mom, ask if you can borrow one or two.  Also, you can always resell them on diaperswappers.com when you're done.  Changing a poopy diaper on the plane is tough, so if you are landing soon, with a diaper cover you can just wait to change it  There were two times flying I was very glad I had a cover on.  Along this line, pack an extra 3 or 4 onesies, and plenty of diapers.
What to do with the car seat?  Carry it on with you!  Even if you are not paying for an extra seat (which I never did.)  If there isn't a spare seat, then you can check it at the gate.  If there IS a spare seat, then GREAT...use it.  When you get on the plane, ask the attendant for a pillow.  That way if you have to hold your baby the whole time, you have a little something to put under your arm if you need it.

Know that babies will most likely sleep on the plane.  Keep them up in the airport if you can, then once those jets start, you baby will probably sleep.  Concerned about air pressure?  If your baby is awake, nurse during take off and landings.  My son never seemed to have a pressure issue.  If your baby doesn't sleep, you have those "new" toys you pack to keep him/her happily entertained!

When I flew alone with my baby, I used the combination stroller.  I put the car seat in the stroller, and put 1 carry on in the car seat, and one under the stroller.  I wore my baby in my Moby Wrap, so I could have my hands completely free.  But know that you may have to take your baby out going through security.  One person made me take him out, but others let me keep him in.  You just have to go with the punches.

Control what you can.  Let go what you can't.

Happy flying!  Please share any tips that you have also!

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Breast or Two?

It's a common question of new breastfeeding mothers.  Should you feed a baby from both breasts at a feeding, or just one?  I had the same question.  This is what worked for me with my first child:

In the beginning, I nursed from both breasts, something like 15-20 minutes on each side, depending on how hungry he seemed.  (I burped between breasts.) I was so engorged, both of my breasts needed the relief.  As my son got a week or two older, I noticed that he started to have some green poops.  My research showed that it probably wasn't a concern, but could be a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance?  Well what the heck is that?  I learned that the milk at the beginning of a feed is more watery, allowing it to come out faster to satisfy the baby when (s)he is super hungry.  Toward the end of the feeding, the milk gets fattier and richer.  This is the milk that can really help the baby gain weight.  If you feed from both breasts, the baby will mostly be getting foremilk, and never get to the rich hindmilk.  So, I switched to feeding from only one breast.  The green poops were gone immediately.  Wow!  Our bodies are amazing, aye?  If you are pumping, you can see the difference between foremilk and hindmilk.

I personally like feeding from one breast better anyway, and it is what most professionals recommend now.  Who wants to unlatch a hungry baby and make him cry, just to switch breasts?  Just let the little one eat.  That's my opinion.

One more thing:  when feeding from one breast:  If that breast gets completely "deflated," and after say 25/30 minutes your baby still seems hungry, go ahead and offer the other side.  The next feeding you would then start on that breast (the second breast from the previous feeding.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Do Your Own Baby Photo Shoot!

Wondering how to photograph a baby? I am by no means a professional photography. I'm not even an amateur. But I'll tell you, when it comes to getting some nice shots of your baby, it's not as hard as you think. All you need is a camera that you can set to "portrait" mode. If your camera can be set to a "continuous" release mode, that is even better. By continuous release, I mean you press and hold the button, and it just keeps taking tons of pictures. You want continuous release, because you want to be able to get those great shots in between potential crying. I've gotten some amazing shots in the middle of a complete fit, because the camera can shoot so fast. Portrait mode will give a blur to the background, which will put focus on your beautiful baby. You will also want to make sure you turn your flash OFF. I can't set my camera to portrait AND no flash, so I set it to portrait, and before I press the button all the way done, I close the flash. A flash will not give you a natural looking photo, so it's better to choose No Flash over Portrait if you have to make a choice. If you don't have a camera like this, ask some friends, you're likely to find someone who would be willing to let you borrow it for a few days.

The great thing about taking your own photo shoot, is you can do it when your baby is happy and ready. Be sure to set up your background and props before your child wakes up. Be sure to set up your shoot near a bright window or door. If you don't have one, you can set it up outside or in a garage, just don't do it in direct sunlight if you can help it.

I have had the best luck in the morning or afternoon, depending on when the sun hits the window/door you want to use. 9AM or 3PM are good times to shoot for. (no pun intended.)

The key to taking a nice picture is GET CLOSE. Don't be afraid to GET CLOSE!

I have found for small babies/newborns, it's best to use a bouncy seat with a blanket over it. I bought a twin size white throw style blanket from TJ Maxx for $20 and have used it a lot. You want plenty of blanket behind the bouncy seat. You then want to use whatever you have to drape the left over blanket up. So I set a chair behind the bouncy seat and draped the white blanket over the chair and the seat. You then put the baby in the seat and you have a nice backdrop:

You can also drape a blanket on someone, and have them hold the baby. In this picture we had the blanket also draped on the couch behind the baby.

You can also put the blanket right on the floor (or couch if good lighting there.) to get some tummy time or back photos.

You can also put the blanket all around the face for a peek-a-boo look.

For older babies who can lift their head, you can put a cushy blanket on your coffee table, and put the table right next to the couch. Then drape the white/solid blanket over the coffee table and up the sofa back (over the cushy blanket so it's soft for baby.) Here is a picture using this technique:

Then you can get creative. Here is one of my favorite shots I've taken. It's got $1/yard black fabric that is draped on furniture near a bright window. I used a bucket and some pillow filling. Under the filling, I put some throw pillows to prop the boy up. I actually took this picture w/ a canon point & shoot!

If you having trouble getting a smile for your little one (6-18months or so), try a feather duster.  "Dust" their face and pull the duster away.  It's sure to make them smile!

If your shot is not quite right, you need to edit something out, or you want to blur out the background even more, download GIMP.  It pretty much does what the WAY too expensive Photoshop does, but it is free.  The above picture needs to be edited...see on the right where I didn't have enough black fabric?  GIMP can easily fix that.  There is a learning curve to this software, but I've found lots of tutorials online, which has helped me do what I want to do.  With GIMP, you can even do some Anne Geddes style pictures (like a naked baby out on a tree limb or flower petal.)  Some of my favorite tutorials are Here.  Check out this one that I haven't tried, but think is pretty cool. 

Here I used GIMP to blur out the background just a little.  You can see the before and after:

The key is to not expect too much! If you want to try different setups or different outfits. Just do one thing a day. Otherwise, you and baby could get frustrated. This is a great way to save some money on newborn portraits. Will you get 50 great shots? Probably not. But you will get enough for announcements or to print into wallets, etc.  DON'T FORGET TO GET CLOSE!  :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No Sunscreen for Newborns!

I don't know why it's not standard for pediatricians to tell parents certain things. When my first son was born, I had no idea that you weren't supposed to use sunscreen on a baby under 6 months old. At around 3 months of age, I had started using it, and then a few weeks later, I happen to stumble on the subject on an online Moms' forum. So I researched it, and sure enough. A baby's skin is thinner, and their body to weigh ratio is higher, so they absorb more. (per Dr. Sears) It's recommended to wait until 6 months of age before slathering sun protection on the skin. So until then, use sun shades, and lightweight long sleeves and pants if you need to.

But if you're going on vacation and the baby can't be under shade, then it might be better to use sunscreen, so check with your own pediatrician.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Night Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

Oh my! During my twin pregnancy, I had HORRIBLE leg cramps in the middle of the night. So bad I had to get out of bed and would end up flopping around the floor like a fish out of water. They were completely debilitating, and lasted several minutes. Even after the episode, my calf was left hurting.

My doctor said that it's not really known why leg cramps during pregnancy happen, but it's common. He said taking extra calcium seem to help some women. My doula (also an RN and homebirth midwife) also advised calcium. She recommended an extra 1200 MG. Don't take calcium w/ other vitamins, as it can block their absorption. 1200 MG needs to be broken up, since the body can only absorb 600 mg at a time. So, I broke it up into 2 doses, with my last dose right before bed. It didn't stop them, but it GREATLY reduced the number of episodes I had, and they definitely were not as severe. My doula recommended BlueBonnet liquid calcium, because she claimed it absorbed better. It seemed to work, so I didn't dare try anything else.

I also found that if I could catch the cramp before it really took hold, and flex my foot (point toes UP), it could curb the cramp. Your reaction is to point your toes, but do the opposite!

So if you find yourself with awful cramps during pregnancy, ask your doctor about taking calcium!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pregnancy and Sleep...Great Sleep!

If you are 7+ months pregnant, you just won't sleep well, right?  Not necessarily!

Amazingly enough, with my twin pregnancy I slept full nights of sleep right up until the very end at 38 weeks.  On top of having 60+ pounds on me, I was due in July.  And it was the hottest summer on record for where I live in the hot south.  How was I getting such amazing sleep?  Hypnosis!

No, not hypnosis like you've seen as an entertainment act.  I used the Hypnobabies Self Study course.  I listened to a hypnosis track every night going to bed, and it helped me relax and feel good and if I got up in the middle of the night and wasn't asleep after 10 minutes, I just turned my ipod back on and listened some more and would soon be out again.  And yes, I can boast that I was well rested going in for my c-section at 38 weeks and 1 day!

If you'd like to try this for free, Hypnobabies offers a free "Relax Me" track.  This track has nothing to do with pregnancy.  So if you're not pregnant, but just need a nice way to fall asleep, try it!  If you are pregnant, try it too.  And if you like it, I recommend looking into Hypnobabies for childbirth course.  It made my twin pregnancy such a positive one.  There is also a free track that explains what Hypnobabies for childbirth is all about. 

Happy sleeping!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Favorite Newborn Gifts/Items

So everyone wants to know what to buy for a baby shower. I can tell you not to buy baby blankets. It seems I got about 10 and used only 1 or 2. Also pacifiers. We got a ton, and none of my kids took them, so what a waste. Here is a list of what I think are the best baby gifts.

Happiest Baby on the Block - I got the DVD from our local library for births.  DH and I wanted a refresher when our twins were born.  This DVD will show you how to sooth a fussy baby.  The tricks take some practice, but they work.  The DVD is by Dr. Harvey Karp, a well known pediatrician.

The Miracle Blanket - We swaddled DS1 for 4.5 months.  DS2 for 5 months and DD for 3 months.  I have tried 3 or 4 different swaddling blankets.  This is the best one hands down.  Babies will find their way out of other types leaving parents to believe "my baby just doesn't like being swaddled."  Well, get the Miracle Blanket, and this will work wonders for your baby's sleep!  Note:  The first month I just used a regular blanket from the hospital to swaddle.  That seemed to work then best.  We used a very different method than what is taught by most nurses.  We had one nurse who showed us a different way, and it was MUCH easier.  I will try to get a video w/ a doll to show you that method.  Swaddling is something Dr. Karp says is ESSENTIAL in the first 3 months, or "the fourth trimester."

Sound Machine - We like the one we have from Brookstone.  You could also get a CD like "Infant Calm" and just play one of the sounds on repeat.  Babies are soothed by constant white noise.  But make sure it isn't too loud or right on the baby's ear.  We don't want to hurt those little eardrums!  White noise is another tip from Dr. Karp.

Triple Paste and Aquaphor - Two types of diaper rash creams.  Aquaphor is cheaper and great for a daily ointment for those little red spots that come up every now and then.  Triple Paste is THE BOMB when it comes to the bad rashes that won't go away.  If Triple Paste doesn't clear it up in a day or two, check w/ your doctor to make sure your baby doesn't have a yeast or other type of rash that would require a prescription.  Triple Paste is EXPENSIVE, but worth it.  Sometimes you can find a coupon for it on coupons.com.

The Moby Wrap - May not be the best if your baby is born in the summer months in the south, but otherwise, The Moby Wrap is a wonderful wrap to hold your baby.  It truly is hands free.  Surf the web, do laundry, but DON'T cook, while you cuddle your baby.  I would often take my shirt off and undress the baby down to their diaper and wear them like that, so we could have some "skin-to-skin" time.  DS1 often napped while I wore him.  I also found baby wearing to be a great alternative grocery shopping.  Screw putting the baby in the cart!

Ear Plugs and Sleep Mask - You're probably laughing at this, but I'm not joking!  Let's face it, if our baby is crying, we aren't sleeping.  So, when another person is on baby duty, like your husband, a grandparent, or friend, put some earplugs in, put on a sleep mask, and go take a nap.  The first time I did this was around 6pm, when DH was handling the baby.  I woke up w/ drool down my chin and my DH shaking my shoulder waking me up and telling me it was time to breastfeed the baby.  It was AWESOME.  Please DO NOT use ear plugs, if you are needing to hear the baby.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - This book, written by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, has been a godsend to me and my family.  I won't talk much about it here, as I will talk about it plenty in the future.  But if you read nothing else, read the first 2 chapters during your last month or two of pregnancy.  If you follow this book from the beginning, your child will have wonderful sleep habits, and you will be well rested to be the best mommy you can be.  If you follow this book from the start, you will not have to deal with "Crying It Out."  (You may have some what I call "fussing it out")  This book is right on the money as to the sleep cycles from infancy to 6/7 years of age.  It even worked for my twins.  (I also have a copy of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Twins" too.)  My DD was sleeping thru the night 1 month of age, and my DS2 was sleeping thru at 5.5 months of age, and they haven't looked back.  10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-3 hours of napping during the day.  The best part of keeping a good sleep schedule is that it eliminates "The Witching Hours" in the evening.  I had those w/ my first DS (before I knew about this book.) and trust me...you don't want to deal w/ The Witching Hours.  They're awful!  And it's nice to have a child wake up from a nap happy, instead of screaming...you know they're well rested.

So there are my favorite newborn items.  Hope you enjoyed the post.