POST PARTUM AND AXIETY / MOTHERHOOD:EXPECTATIONS VS. REALITY


THE MAMA SERIES X EMILY KASEL

Mary Clare-83.jpg

I am honored that Emily decided to share her story with us, she is one strong individual. Thank you Emily. I know you are going to help so many other women that might be suffering in silence. Emily will take it from here.


I am a 30 something girl from Long Island who once sold ad space, taught kindergarten and now spends her days raising kids and then writing about it. I have a tiny dictator toddler and a newborn arriving in a few weeks. I am wildly obsessed with my children and overwhelmed by them every day.


I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety 6 weeks after my daughter’s birth. It brought me strength and passion I didn’t know I had. I began sharing my story on Instagram and later launched my blog to document my journey. My dream now focuses on redefining the expectations of motherhood and shedding light on the realities of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. 


Motherhood: Expectations versus Reality

Learning to manage my own expectations is one of the most important tools in managing anxiety. Though for much of my life, I didn’t know how to do that well. I’ve always had this way of building things up in my mind, only to be very let down. Alternatively, I’d worry about how something might turn out, particularly things out of my control, only to be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I don’t think I am alone here. This kind of “future tripping” is very common. Motherhood was no different. I expected that I’d take to motherhood like a fish to water. I was sure that nothing would come more naturally. Motherhood was in my bones, I was sure of it.

Then I became a mother and all of those dreams and expectations came crashing down. After giving birth to Mary Clare in September 2017, I found myself in a very dark place. I felt little to no connection to my daughter. I didn't want to be with her while simultaneously wanting to control every aspect of her life. When Mary Clare cried, I panicked. When I left the house without her, the anxiety was crippling. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety about 6 weeks after giving birth. I received treatment under the care of my primary care doctor and my longtime therapist. Recovery was a process that took time. The hardest part was not blaming myself but with the support of so many I started to make progress.

After a few weeks, the fog slowly lifted. By the new year, I was having more good moments than bad ones. I began to hit my stride as a mother around February 2018. Then under the care of my doctor, I weaned off my medication in May. I finally had my happy ending.

Then when Mary Clare was about 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant. I remember when I got the positive pregnancy test with Mary Clare, I was overjoyed, this was what I had been wanting for so long! I did not have those feelings the second time around. When I saw the positive test, the walls started closing in all over again. I was having panic attacks. I felt my connection to Mary Clare slipping away. The anxiety seemed inescapable. I never expected to feel this way while pregnant. Yet there I was, again, experiencing a reality that was vastly different from my expectations.

I would soon find out, I was experiencing a relapse which is extremely common. This time around, I knew right away something was not right. I sought treatment immediately and discovered an incredible specialized program right in my backyard – The Perinatal Psychiatry program at Zucker Hillside Hospital. Perinatal mental health care focuses on the unique behavioral and mental challenges women may experience during and after pregnancy. I saw a doctor who specializes in perinatal psychiatry, it was through her I learned more about perinatal mental health and the safety of taking medication while pregnant. I went back on medication and began group therapy. Little by little, I came out on the other side of this episode.

Currently, I’m doing really well. I still take SSRI medication and will continue to do at least one year postpartum in order to avoid a relapse. I continue to see my psychiatrist and regularly attend group therapy. We are excitedly expecting Mary Clare’s little sibling in just a few weeks. Mary Clare is curious, perseverant, funny and sweet. We have so much fun together and the love I have for her cannot be captured in words.

Even still, I have days where I wonder how I’ll make it through the next hour. It’s on those days that I feel the expectations starting to take over, so I do my best I use the tools I have to help me cope. The way I cope with the anxiety that my expectations cause is through a reality check. I ask myself, “what is real right now?” The answer is always, “this moment, Mary Clare and me.” Seems simple but honestly, that’s all we’ve got. The moment we’re in and the people in it with us. When your mind is running away with itself, you must find a way to ground yourself, to bring yourself back down to earth. This reality check helps brings me back to the present. It reminds me that we have no way of knowing what the future holds and that focusing on made up expectations will only do one thing for me. It will steal my joy. I am reminded that enjoying life is about living in the here and now.

I didn’t expect to have postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn’t expect to get pregnant again so quickly. I didn’t expect that pregnancy could cause me to relapse. In a lot of ways, those unmanaged expectations made me really angry. They caused a lot of sadness and pain for me in my first year of motherhood. 

However, those unmet expectations also lit a fire inside me, one that drives me to help and educate other women. Historically, the realities of motherhood and childbirth are not part of the mainstream conversation. I believe this has set womankind up with unrealistic expectations of motherhood and ultimately makes it so much harder for us. That’s why, I believe, as a community of mothers, it is up to us to change the conversation. It is us, the ones who know what it is really like, to shed light on the truth of motherhood. 

It feels like a big task but each of us doing little things each day makes a big difference. It can be as simple as speaking honestly when a friend asks how you’re doing. It’s okay to say, “I haven’t pooped in days and my nipples are bleeding,” or “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, the baby is always crying.” It’s okay to keep it real and say how you really feel. Motherhood is really really hard but it is also the best thing you will ever do. We need to create a space where those two realities can exist in tandem. So let’s make sure we keep it real so we can make the transition to motherhood easier for our sisters!

Motherhood is so much harder than I expected. It has made me so much stronger than I ever imagined I could be. It has brought me the deepest joy I have ever felt and brought me more peace than I ever knew possible. That is my reality. It’s a reality I love and wouldn’t change.



Tips for Easing Anxietythese are immediate actions you can take right now.

  • Get out: go outside in the fresh air, a simple walk around the block will do wonders.

  • Reach out: do not sit alone suffering. Call a family member or friend, express how you feel and if you can, ask them to come over. 

  • Breathe out: when I have a panic attack I place both hands over where my neck and chest meet, I breathe deeply in my nose and out my mouth then say the mantra, “I won’t always feel this way, it’s going to be okay.” Repeat. The hands placement physically center me, the mantra and breathe work focus my mind.


Resources – use these resources to seek help at the first sign of any symptoms. 


If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety, DO NOT WAIT, please seek help immediately. Thank you for letting me share my story. You can find me by heading over to my blog, click here.

SUPPLEMENTING & PUMPING THE MAMA SERIES


THE MAMA SERIES X ELIZABETH CLEMENTS ON SUPPLEMENTING + PUMPING


This is a beautiful and raw piece that I think many women will be able to connect with. I love Elizabeth’s outlook at the end of her story and I could not agree more with her on her thoughts around supplementing with formula and pumping. At the end of the day we need to do what’s best for our babies , what is best for our relationship with our children and for our well being. I also think it is important to point out the real unexpected challenges that can occur after birth. Not only is this a sensitive time in a mother’s life but add in the physical and mental exhaustion and it is not hard for self doubt to enter the equation. Elizabeth you are one strong mama! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Elizabeth will take it from here:

Throughout my pregnancy, I received a lot of well-meaning but intrusive questions and advice, including assumptions about my plans to breastfeed. I fully intended on breastfeeding but that was the extent of my planning. I knew that my mom had breastfed me for over a year and I figured we would be equally as successful. I naively assumed that since breastfeeding was the most “natural thing in the world,” it would come, well, naturally to us.


After a happy, healthy pregnancy and a relatively uneventful labor and delivery, I welcomed a beautiful, baby girl. The following hours were a blur as we got to know our sweet girl and tried to process all the procedures and information being thrown our way. Multiple lactation consultants (LCs) came to visit us in the hospital and my husband diligently listened along to their tips and suggestions so that we could both be armed with the requisite knowledge. I really only clicked with one of the LCs - the one who taught me how to pump, which would ultimately became our saving grace.  I remember starting to get stressed that my milk wasn’t coming in yet (I vaguely remember manually expressing a few precious drops of colostrum every few hours), but everyone reassured me that it would come in any time now and then we’d be off to the races.


By the time we were ready to be discharged, our daughter was losing weight, but we weren’t within the window of concern just yet. We were eager to get home and start our new normal, and assumed things would fall into place as we found our groove. My milk finally came in once we got home and I set up a little nursing station with my trusty breastfeeding pillow. My husband stood by, eager to help, and tried to coach me through the positions the LCs had taught us. After that, however, the wheels started to come off pretty quickly.


Still running on a swirling mix of adrenaline and anxiety, I swore I would stay up all night to watch her sleep. While my husband talked some sense into me and convinced me to get some sleep, our daughter would only stay down for ten minutes at a time before erupting in heartbreaking wails. We frantically tried to follow the 5 S’s and everything under the sun to soothe her back to sleep. I kept trying to nurse her around the clock, but each attempt ended with both of us in tears. I stood helplessly as we resorted to my husband finger feeding her via syringe with my small but growing stash of pumped milk.


At our first post-discharge pediatrician visit, we learned she had lost even more weight and were told to come back in 48 hours for another weight check. We headed back home feeling even more exhausted and dejected and decided to start operating in two-hour shifts so that we could each grab a few minutes of sleep. The next few days were awful - I dreaded feeding her, I was terrified of having to do this alone when my husband went back to work in a few days, and we were running on fumes. By the time we made it back for her next weight check, we were desperate for good news.


Our daughter had lost even more weight at this point and I completely broke down in the doctor's office. The pediatrician was kind but frank with us, telling us that our baby was quite simply starving and we were trapped in a vicious cycle where she was too hungry to sleep but too weak to nurse. We were hours away from having to take her back to the hospital to be hooked up on an IV. She instructed us to go straight to the grocery store to buy formula. She also told me to take a break from nursing since it was only causing me more distress and suggested I continue pumping each time we fed her. I flashed back to the doctor on call screaming at the nurses to get the formula samples out of all the recovery rooms and I broke down again in the baby care aisle, sobbing that I would be setting our baby up for a lifetime of health and academic failures by having to supplement. My husband brought me back to earth and reminded me that the most important thing we could do for our daughter right now was to feed her, any which way we could.


As we slowly but surely started to make progress with her formula and pumped feedings, I felt torn and conflicted.  When I was given the “freedom” to take a break from breastfeeding and just pump, I felt like an enormous weight had finally been lifted off my shoulders. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel like a failure. This beautiful, magical, natural experience that we were “supposed” to have wasn’t ours and therefore there must be something wrong with me.


I knew that I should be celebrating each weight milestone (she stopped losing weight, started gaining, and finally climbed back up to her birth weight) but instead I was wracked with incredible guilt for not being strong enough to give her what she needed on my own. Our pediatrician didn’t try to force the issue of switching from pumping back to nursing, but I agreed to get help from the LCs at our hospital once more. It was an exhausting evaluation throughout which I still felt like I was doing everything wrong, but it did confirm an underlying tongue and lip tie (this experience requires an entirely separate post, you can read Mrs. Nipple’s experience with that HERE ) was preventing my daughter from effectively transferring milk. Again, this should have brought me some relief but I was almost too overwhelmed to process it.


Shortly after that consultation, I took a step back to consider our options, keeping in mind the ultimate goal, feeding our baby. I could suck it up  and try to power through nursing, despite the anxiety it caused us both, or I could choose a different feeding journey of supplementing and pumping that seemed to alleviate tensions all around. Close friends shared similar experiences with me, and their reassuring words and guidance convinced me we could choose this path instead. My supply was steady enough that we were able to stop supplementing within a few weeks and I furiously tried to research everything I could find on exclusively pumping (“EPing”). I tried not to get discouraged by the limited research and naysayers, and forced myself to take it one step a time - could I make it to the end of the month? Her 1 month birthday? 2 month birthday?


I soon became a pumping machine, scheduling pump sessions around her feedings, appointments, and outings, and quickly grew to love my pump time. It forced me to slow down and stop trying to do everything at once - the extent of my multitasking was playing with her or catching up on Instagram if she was napping. When it was time to go back to work, I mastered my new pumping schedule and schlepped all of my gear back and forth. I pumped at the airport, in the car on long roadtrips, and put my “PackIT” freezer bags to the test safely transporting milk across town and up and down the East Coast.


I had set an arbitrary goal of making it to her 6-month birthday and as at that date grew nearer, my love for pumping started to turn. It was the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did before I went to bed and it was growing tiresome and somewhat isolating. I mapped out a weaning timeline and gradually started decreasing my pump sessions. I worked out a (perhaps unnecessarily complex) system for working through my freezer stash and reintroducing formula. I started to beat myself up again, feeling guilty that I was stopping pumping for selfish reasons and nervous that she wouldn’t adjust back to formula. My last pump session was filled with mixed emotions - I remember feeling proud of myself for having made this option work for us for as long as it did, relieved that I could go about my day without factoring in pumping logistics, and sad that this particular chapter was coming to a close. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at this point, but she handled the transition like a champ and happily gobbled down whatever bottle was given to her.


I still cringe when I hear comments implying that the only way to bond with your baby is by breastfeeding. While I have no doubt that breastfeeding your baby is a unique, strengthening experience, I also know that pumping and supplementing allowed me to be the best mother to my sweet girl. I gained confidence with each pump session and I loved holding her while feeding her - two things that eluded us in our early days. Further, it provided a wonderful opportunity for other family members to bond easily with her, a win for everyone.


My daughter is days away from her first birthday and as I watch her thriving now, our early struggles seem like a lifetime ago. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that we were doing an amazing job and everything was going to be okay. Since time travel is impossible, there are a few suggestions I’d like to pass along to others who may be in the same boat.

  • Be Kind to Yourself: One of my friends who gave me the courage to try EPing shared a phrase that really stuck with me: Motherhood =/= Martyrdom. No one was going to win if I stubbornly (and unsuccessfully) insisted on breastfeeding just because that’s what every other mother did. I became a different mother when I stopped beating myself up and I firmly believe that my relationship with my daughter fundamentally shifted for the best when we chose to supplement and pump.

  • Lean on your Partner: My husband has long been a partner in every sense of the word, but I’m eternally grateful for the way he jumped in to try to understand the mechanics of feeding. He knew that even though he wouldn’t be the one to physically nurse her, he could follow along with the instructions and support me from the side. When we had to try other forms of feeding, he was right there trying to figure out the best position for holding her. He listened to my frustrations, encouraged me when I was too hard on myself, and kept us focused on getting our daughter healthy and strong, and it really helped me feel like we were in this together.

  • Talk About It: Whether it was because I was feeling vulnerable or too exhausted to filter myself, I was brutally honest when friends would check in on us. If I had swept our challenges under the rug, I don’t know that our friends would have been equally as honest with me in sharing their own challenges. I had felt frustratingly isolated until I learned that other women had been in this exact same position. Their words of support and reassurance brought me to happy tears and gave me the push I needed to choose our own feeding path.

  • Trust Your Gut: This is easy for me to say with nearly a year of parenting under my belt now, but I do wish I had spoken up sooner and more forcefully. One of the LCs who first met with us (and later the first pediatrician) made a passing reference to the tongue tie, but it didn’t really register. I wish that I had flagged that (or at least asked more questions) when we were still in the hospital, since we could have had it addressed on the spot. There were a few other warning signs in those first few days that I wish I had pressed as well.

Focus on your Journey: I wish I could have spent less time worrying about what we were “supposed” to be doing and more time focusing on what worked best for us. How other moms were feeding their babies is frankly irrelevant. Their opinions of how you are feeding your baby is irrelevant. We got there eventually, but it took a lot of pep talks from our doctor and my husband to remember that fed is best. Period.

FINDING A NANNY THAT FEELS LIKE FAMILY


Finding a nanny that feels like family!


Where to start

I’ve successfully found two nannies that I fully trust with my children. I know I am very blessed that we were able to find someone we love not only once but twice. Leaving your baby with a complete stranger is not only sad but it can be very terrifying for a new mother. We struggle with mama guilt. Will my baby still love me? What if he cries when the nanny leaves? Will our relationship be affected? Am I a bad mother for leaving my child? I want every mom out there that’s reading this to know all of these feelings and questions are NORMAL. Almost every mother before you who has left her new baby to go back to work has felt the same exact way. Know that as a mother you have a bond no one will ever be able to take away.

As long as you find someone you trust, before you know it you will be in a wonderful routine. You will go to work, come home and be able to spend a few precious hours with you babe. The key is to find someone you fully trust. I’m here to help you with that part.

Though I am going to share some tips and tricks I used to find both of our nannies just remember this is just as much about mommy intuition. You might find someone that fits the Mrs. Nipple criteria, but if it doesn’t feel right, DON’T hire them. TRUST YOUR GUT.

care.com

If you are a new mom, I would suggest you sign up for your town mom facebook group. Most towns in the country have a mom Facebook group and it’s a great way to find someone that comes recommended by someone in your town. This would be my first recommendation.

Also sign up for care.com. It’s very easy to use and you can do a monthly package. I do not use care.com for our weekend or vacation babysitters but I did use it for both of our nannies. You can create an “ad” around what you are looking for and post it. You will start getting many responses, but now what?!

Start responding to get a better understanding of what they are looking for. If they align with hours, pay, and any other non-negotiables you can ask for a phone interview.

QUESTIONS

There are a number of questions I ask before I even think about inviting the caregiver over to my home. We’ve only interviewed four nannies (face to face) total for both of our hires. Here are the questions I ask before I invite them into our home to meet our children.

  1. Why do you think you would be a good fit for caring for our children?

  2. What has your past experience been? I like someone that has at least 5 years of experience with babies and infants. Experience with twins is a bonus!

  3. What was your last job, and why are you leaving? I always like to talk to the family of the job they are leaving. Sometimes the timing works perfectly and the other kids are grown but you want to make sure they were not fired.

  4. How many sick days have you taken in the last year? Are you on time? I look for under 3 sick days in a year. Both of our nannies took zero sick days when I asked. Their references even told me stories of them coming during snow storms. You need to first find someone that you can trust with your children but you also need to find someone that is reliable. You need to set yourself up for a smooth transition back to work and this is a non-negotiable. You can’t have someone taking multiple sick days per quarter or being consistently late. Our nanny called out sick one day in over a year.

  5. Are you comfortable wearing multiple hats? As a working mother you need someone that can wear multiple hats. You can’t be running around after work trying to be it all. That’s the time you have to spend with you baby. Find someone that is comfortable running to the dry cleaners or to the grocery store if needed. The more flexible you tell them they need to be up front the better. That way when you do need help you will feel 100 percent comfortable asking. Remember…again…YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL AND IT’S OK.

  6. Do you drive and do you have a safe car? Our first nanny didn’t drive and it was ok because we lived downtown, walking distance to everything. For the sake of your nanny’s mental health and your baby’s, you need them to have their license. Even if you don’t want them to drive your children in the car at first, after you get to know them you will get comfortable with the idea. I didn’t want any one to drive Charlie around but when they get a little older they should be going to classes and socializing and to get to classes in your community they need a car. It’s also important to make sure they are not relying on anyone else to get to your home on time.

  7. What is their fee? Get this out of the way. Don’t accept a range. Ask for a specific weekly or per hour amount. Also ask them how many hours they are expecting per week.

  8. What are some things you would have changed about your last position if you could? This gives them an opportunity to share what they disliked about their old job. I think this is an important one to ask so even if they say everything was perfect push a touch to get a better understanding of their likes and dislikes, etc. This will help get a sense if you will be a good fit

  9. Are you CPR certified? If not will you be willing to take a class before you start? Can I run a background check? or driving record? Non- negotiables

  10. How many years have you nannied on average for families? Take me through the last ten years. I look for at least 3-4 years with each family unless one of the parents decided to leave work and stay with the kids full time or the kids were in school most of the day and they were not working enough hours during the day to stay with the family.

If you feel great about the above then invite them over for a face to face interview. If you are on the fence let them know you will follow up with them in a few days and keep doing phone interviews. If you are still thinking about them after the other interviews then invite them over. If not then you can send them a note on care.com or text letting them know it won’t work out.

In person interview

This is where your mama gut plays a large role. Try and have two people at the interview so someone can hang with the kids and you can focus on the interview. Invite them over to your home. Really watch their every move and pay attention to anything and everything from their eye contact to their tone to their hand movements.

Shirley, our first nanny, was the only interviewee that came in immediately washed her hands and asked to hold the baby. Those were the first things she did. She was a natural and even began cooing to him. She didn’t care how she looked to us (making baby sounds) she was just trying to connect with him. I knew I wanted to hire her from the moment she interacted with him. I just had this over whelming feeling she was perfect. 

During our nanny #2 interview, Charlie was 1 1/2 years old and I knew he would try and interrupt our interview. I made a conscious effort not to help him if he needed help. I wanted to see if the interviewee would get up and help him on her own. When Charlie was getting frusterated as he tried to pull out a chair to sit with us, she got up immediatly asked if I would mind if she helped him. She gently placed her hand on his arm and said “I’ll help you” in a soft tone and pulled out the chair. I mention how she touched him and spoke to him because remember this person will be with your child many hours each day. You need to make sure they speak to your child and act in a way you would want your child to speak and act because things they do will rub off on them. I wasn’t as sure about this nanny as I was our first. This is where the reference call is key.

REFERENCES

Having a call with the employer of their last job is so important. The conversation I had with the two families about both nannies really sealed the deal. They could not say enough good things about them, and kept ME on the phone for 30 minutes before I could even get a word in. This made it very clear that they were not doing this as a favor but really truly wanted both of their nannies to find another long term family to be a part of. I was very confident with both women after my reference calls.

I hope this helps you mamas going back to work or just searching for help find someone special. Don’t settle. I know it’s a very emotional time but I promise it gets better.

xx

Mrs. Nipple



WHEN YOUR BABY HAS A DAIRY ALLERGY AND YOU LOVE CHEESE!


TIPS FOR CUTTING OUR DAIRY AND WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD, MRS. NIPPLE X MAMA SERIES


Welcome to the mama series! Today Mrs. Nipple is featuring Jenny, just a mom that loves cheese :)

JENNY WILL TAKE IT FROM HERE:
I remember exactly when I discovered that my daughter, Maple, had a dairy allergy. She was five weeks old and we were at the zoo alleviating some of the guilt that I had been feeling over taking my son’s only child status away. While changing her in the less than clean bathroom, I saw a small amount of blood in her diaper. From my weekly trips to our hospital’s New Moms group, I knew that it meant, dairy intolerance. That being said I wasn’t surprised when the nurse from our pediatrician’s office told me to cut out dairy and monitor her diapers.

The thought of cutting out all dairy from my diet was daunting. Never being much of a meat eater, I have always relied on dairy for a large part of my protein intake. And I also loved cheese. Like really really loved cheese. All kinds of cheese. Warm brie with toasty bread. Sharp cheddar on a crispy cracker. A salty tortilla chip dripping with queso. Fondue. Nachos. The perfect grilled cheese sandwich….and pizza. Ohhh pizza. I wondered how I going to give up so many of my favorite foods but I was determined. Nursing my first baby had been such a rewarding and wonderful experience. Cheese could wait because nursing this baby wouldn’t.

I never saw blood in Maple’s diaper again, and a rash that she had had for weeks disappeared within days of me cutting out dairy from my diet. Seeing these positive changes made me realize it was time to buckle down for the long haul of dairy free living. I joined a helpful Facebook group and reached out to my vegan friends for recommendations on substitutions.

I quickly learned that sometimes in life, there are no substitutions. So I’m here to share some of my tricks for navigating dairy free products and avoiding getting dairy-ed while you’re out.

As far as the grocery store, I’ve found that cheese cannot be replaced, unless you really do your homework and know which brands are best. TIP: Someone told me that you should wait a little while to even try “fake” cheese so that you’ve forgotten how good the real thing is but you can find some great alternatives below.

I’ve seen such an increase in dairy free products over the two years that it does make dairy free living much easier. I was never a milk drinker and have used Almond Milk for years. I use it in my coffee and oatmeal, and did you know it’s even froth-able? I have played around with different milks and discovered that coconut milk is great for baking and using to make pasta sauces.

If you’re having a sweet tooth, there are so many choices. Enjoy Life chocolate chips are great for baking and their cookies aren’t bad either. Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups are my go to treat. I have a recipe on my website for lactation boosting, energy balls that are sweet, healthy and will increase your milk supply, too! You can find the lactation boosting energy balls, HERE.


The biggest tip I have is to read all labels. Many products that you wouldn’t think have dairy in them do. It can differ from brand to brand. Our local grocery store’s brand of English muffins are dairy free, but most other brands have dairy. you should check every time. Sometimes brands change their recipes, so something that was once safe, may not be the next time. While companies are required to list allergens, you still have to read the ingredients. Sometimes the allergens will just be in bold in the main list of ingredients rather than highlighted underneath the ingredients. Thankfully, most of the time the latter is the case.  

A great place for recipes, both dessert and main dishes is the Minimalist Baker. You can find her website, HERE. Her recipes are easy, have minimal ingredients and are always yummy. Her recipes are also gluten free!

When you’re eating out, you really can’t be clear enough. Sometimes people don’t think of butter as dairy. Or if you ask for no cheese on something, it could still arrive with sour cream on it. A friend of mine got baked fish and didn’t think of the butter that was hiding in there. You have to be vigilant. It’s hard to be that person at a restaurant but it’s for your baby, so that should help. Servers handle these requests interestingly. I had one ask me if it was an allergy or a preference, with a lot of emphasis on preference. I made sure to tell him exactly why it was not a preference, thank you very much. He also got a little lesson in breastfeeding.

Giving up dairy feels very overwhelming at first but you’ll start to get the hang of it and you’ll notice that your baby’s symptoms start to dissipate. You will feel like the rockstar mom that you are: feeding your baby through a little bit of adversity. So maybe you’ll be dreaming of being reunited with a margherita pizza with the perfect amount fresh mozzarella. But just think of how amazing that first bite will be. You got this.  

Jenny’s Bio: Jenny formerly used her quick wit to charm people at parties but now she mainly uses it to trick her children into eating vegetables. She can be found pondering mamahood on her blog, HERE and on instagram as JennyRadish. 


A big thank you to jenny for sharing!!

One of my friends, Stephanie Trotta, who also happens to be a blogger lives a dairy and gluten freeish lifestyle. She is the force behind, The Girl Guide. You can read her post about being dairy free, HERE. Many of her go to recipes are found on GOOP. She uses some really good dairy free alternatives which include,

Califia Farms Almond Milk

Follow Your Heart Parmesan style shredded cheese alternative

Kite Hill Ravioli made with almond milk ricotta

Kite Hill Chive cream cheese

LAVA original whole food plant based yogurt

Follow Your Heart soy-free Vegenaise Better Than Mayo

Thanks for sharing your go-to DF products Stephanie xx








A MOTHERS JOURNEY FACING A RARE BREASTFEEDING CONDITION


MRS. NIPPLE SPOTLIGHT SERIES ARTICLE 4 X JESS HOHMAN


mrs. nipple

Many times being a new mother can feel isolating. There are certain situations you might find yourself in and not know if what you are experiencing is normal. I hope the story below will shed some light around DMER, Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. I had never heard of the condition and now feel like I would be able to identify the condition if I had a friend going through this. The more educated we all are around certain postpartum conditions the more likely we will be able to be a resource for other moms. We all need to look out for each other, during this fragile time. So read on.


jess hohman will take it from here.

DMER - That Millennial Momma.jpg

Breastfeeding has always been a hard subject for me. 

Let me start from the beginning – the birth of my first son, Brooks. 

During pregnancy and after delivery, breastfeeding exclusively was the plan.  I was fine with deviations from that plan. In my mind, fed is best. 

I was ecstatic that Brooks took to nursing like a pro.  While nursing him in the hospital, I noticed that I would get nauseous every time that I fed Brooks.  I suspected it was the pain meds or other side effects after having an unplanned C-section, so I let it go. 

To my displeasure, the feeling continued after we settled in at home.  In addition to the nausea, I started having intense emotional reactions when breastfeeding.  Not in the soothing, basking in the sunlight rocking your precious newborn way.  Rather, I felt terrible unhappiness and irritability, but only when breastfeeding.

For the 30-45 minutes that Brooks nursed I was unpleasant to be around.  I snapped at anyone who came into the room or dared to speak to me.  It became known that if I was nursing, I was in my room alone to save everyone the pain of being around the monster that I became.  And then, once Brooks was done eating, I morphed back into my normal, albeit tired, self.

I had brought up the nausea with my OBGYN, which had been a nonissue to them.  I figured this new emotional development would be the same, so I toughened up and powered through…for months. 

Once I made it to 6 months nursing my son, which was the goal that I had set for myself, I decided to wean and introduce formula.  I was thrilled.  I had associated this insurmountable heaviness with nursing, and that feeling was almost gone. 

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We successfully weaned, and I didn’t think about it again until I got pregnant with my second son when Brooks was just 9 months old.  After another relatively uneventful pregnancy, breastfeeding was the goal again.  The anticipation of sitting in that darkness for months nursing haunted me.

This time around, my second son, Vance, struggled to nurse a little, eventually figuring it out on his own within a few days.  Once again that gloom came every time I popped Vance on my chest for a meal.

I dreaded nursing.  I dreaded working through the negativity. I dreaded holding my perfect newborn and feeling anything but pure glee.  I felt a terrible guilt associated with my fleeting mental state while nursing.  Why could I not feel the way I was “supposed” to feel when I was given the gift of a healthy baby and a body physically capable of feeding him? 

One morning 3 months later when I was skimming Instagram stories, I heard someone mention D-MER.  A blogger was discussing her breastfeeding triumphs and failures, and mentioned that she knows that there are some women who feel intense negative emotions when their milk lets down.  Her message was that breastfeeding shouldn’t be something that you dread, hate, or that makes you feel any less than.

My ears perked up.  She was talking about me.  Breastfeeding had made me feel less than the perfect mother.  During each feeding, I was filled with an irritation that would later fill me with guilt. 

After some power-googling that morning, I discovered that D-MER stood for Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.  It is an anomaly that affects a very small percentage of breastfeeding mothers with irregular dopamine activity.  This means that this condition is 100% hormonal.  It is neither a mental illness nor any sort of psychological issue. 

I should have talked to my doctor once these symptoms became the norm.  However, there is such stigma associated with any sort of mental manifestations that I was instantly shameful.  I had already begun to wean Vance because I felt hopeless.  I knew that having a happy momma was more important than having an exclusively breastfed child.  It devastated me though – I  (irrationally) felt like I was starting Vance out in the world with an instant disadvantage. 

I learned from my research that this stigma is a large part of why D-MER is not well known even amongst medical professionals.  Women are ashamed to speak up about unpleasant things in general, too often opting to appear polite and quiet.

In addition to stigma, every sign in the hospital, OBGYN, and pediatrician’s offices clearly delineate the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child – decreased risk of certain cancers for mother and decreased risk of allergies and future infections for baby, and passing along antibodies made specifically for your child.  What kind of selfish person wouldn’t want to give all that to their child when they are physically able?

I felt an overwhelming guilt.  I was so lucky to be able to produce milk efficiently and to have a child who was a good eater.  With all that being the case, in my mind I should nurse regardless of the mental toll it takes on me.  I should have been strong enough to overcome my side effects in favor of feeding my children. 

In reality, I should do what is best for my family as a whole.  I am not an island alone whose needs are disregarded now that there are more mouths to feed.  I now realize that my well-being contributes to the wellness of the family.  And that is something that is not on signs in the hospital. 

I hope that this admission of D-MER and all the nasty symptoms that come along with it encourages others to talk to their doctor’s openly.  Bring this, or any other condition that makes your well being take a backseat, to your doctor’s attention.  Once more people come forward; there will be a stronger justification for research into this condition. 

And finally, to the mom struggling through D-MER:

You are doing your best – trying to breastfeed your child and give him the milk that your body perfectly made for him. But if you are feeling depressed, angry, anxious, or generally unhappy ONLY when you’re nursing him, don’t overwhelm yourself by ignoring those warning signs.

Speak to a doctor, and develop a plan for your family.  If that means medicine, good!  If that means weaning, good!  Prioritize yourself so that you are capable of giving that beautiful child all he needs.

This is your journey, and it is beautiful no matter what. I know you’re trying your best, and so does that sweet baby staring up at you.


some more information around DMER

“Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, or DMER, is a condition marked by an abnormal chemical and hormonal reaction that causes a brief but abrupt emotional response at milk letdown. “It seems to be a small chemical reaction that causes a huge emotional reaction,” Alia Macrina Heise, anInternational Board Certified Lactation Consultant in Naples, New York, who pioneered research on the condition.

For milk letdown to occur, the hormone dopamine — which controls the secretion of the hormone prolactin — must fall so levels of prolactin can rise. Yet for mothers with DMER, a chemical imbalance or dysfunction of dopamine prevents that from happening.

Symptoms of DMER vary, but they typically include anxiety, irritability and sadness.  Some women may even have suicidal ideations. “This is like being zapped by a dark cloud — it can be very overwhelming and scary,” Diana West, an internationally board-certified lactation consultant and director of media relations for La Leche League.” FN


DUDLEY STEPHENS X MRS.NIPPLE


Maternity & Postpartum


I know many of you are on the hunt for that perfect fall piece to add to your mom uniform. In my opinion Dudley Stephens is it!

Co-founders Kaki Mcgrath and Lauren Stephens created the idea for Dudley Stephens when endlessly searching for fleece that could be used in a fashionable way. Growing up in New England towns they lived in fleece jackets year round. "Fleece was the perfect solution for warmth and comfort, while being easy to wash, environmentally friendly and stylish." Dudley Stephens designs and creates stylish silhouettes using fleece fabric that are comfortable, easy to wear, and that look and feel good. Kaki and Lauren are both local moms and as a team they have a wealth of experience in both the fashion and marketing world.

Though the Dudley Stephen’s line is not maternity/postpartum specific every one of the pieces works well for both pregnant and postpartum moms. They even have the most adorable little girls fleeces as well.

Before I get into why I love Dudley Stephens I wanted to share a 20 percent off code that the co-founders agreed to make available to you for today only. Use the code MRSNIPPLE20 for a one time discount of 20% off your ENTIRE order

You can find out a few reasons below why I love Dudley Stephens but I would like to take a minute to talk about how certain features are very important for pregnant and new moms.

When I was pregnant I lived in leggings, my main concern was comfort. The Dudley Stephens Cobble Hill Turtleneck is perfect during pregnancy and beyond. It is super slimming and gives you the perfect amount of coverage hitting below both the butt and upper thighs. The upper thighs seem to be my problem area post baby and this cut does wonders for my confidence.

I also love the Pacific Vest in Double Layer Vello Fleece, Chrissy from In My Closet Blog, is it wearing below. You can throw it over anything and still accomplish both that slimming and pulled together look. It’s also perfect during pregnancy and will take you from pre-pregnancy through delivery to post baby.

The Brooklyn Bomber jacket is another one of my favorites. It’s perfect for both breastfeeding and baby wearing. It also happens to be the most comfortable thing on earth. The brushed fleece is so soft.

As a mom with young kids I always think about the fabric! My boys have sensitive skin and wearing something soft that’s made right here in Brooklyn makes this line that much better. “It’s crafted there with sustainable, non-iron vello fleece (read: super soft, non-wrinkling, easy wash) spun from recycled yarn.”-ds

Check out some styling tips from Chrissy (In My Closet Blog) & myself below. Take advantage of the discount code at the end of this post! Dudley Stephens very rarely offers a discount this good.




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“As a busy mom with one more on the way, I get dressed on the go, which can be quite the challenge—so I have a few go-to pieces I can throw on and walk out the door feeling put together. The Cobble Hill is definitely one—the length is perfect for moms and easily fits my growing bump. I love how I can wear it with leggings and sneakers one day and skinny jeans and cute flats the next." -Chrissy, In My Closet Blog


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"Another favorite: the Pacific Vest. Talk about the perfect layering piece, especially over my large belly. It effortlessly pulls an outfit together; I love pairing it with a button-down top and jeans. The best part about my DS pieces is that I can continue to wear them post baby!"  -Chrissy, @inmyclosetblog



“Confidence after giving birth can be a struggle, but the Dudley Stephens line is the perfect postpartum uniform. Not only does the material hold up incredibly well after spit-ups and other mishaps, but the pieces are just as functional (pockets!) as they are beautiful, something every new mom needs."

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"Many have a length that’s extremely slimming for the postpartum body, while still providing easy breastfeeding access—and your newborn will always feel cozy against the soft fleece."


If you will be baby-wearing this fall, the Brooklyn Bomber is a must! My five-month- old fits perfectly, all warm and cozy underneath, and I had both hands free during our recent apple picking trip.

More bump-friendly fleece here and here.

HERE ARE MY PICKS:

You can click on anything in bold to check that specific product out.

The Brooklyn Bomber jacket: Caramel brushed fleece

The Cobble Hill Turtleneck ( for a little more coverage) or the Park Slope Turtleneck for a short look, perfect for tucking. My favorite colors are, navy, red, island coral, heather grey, marigold, green, burgundy and natural blush…I love them all!

Pacific Vest in Double Layer Vello Fleece: I love this for layering. Both the navy and brushed black fleece are on my list.

Remsen Blazer in Double Layer Vello Fleece: Love this look and the Tilden Turtleneck Dress especially for the holidays and the office.

SIZING

PREGNANT MAMAS: I would size up at least one size. Doing this will allow you to grow into the fleece yet you will still be able to wear it postpartum.

EVERYONE ELSE: Think about how you want the fleece to fit. I ordered the Brooklyn Bomber jacket in a small and it fits perfectly. I also ordered the black Cobble Hill Turtleneck in a small. I don’t mind the more fitted look with the black but when I order my next few (today) I’m going to go with the medium because I like to have some room. I’m usually between a small and medium because of my broad shoulders.

Use the code MRSNIPPLE20 for a one time 20% off your ENTIRE order from 6am-midnight today only.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Now for my fun announcement! As I mentioned earlier Dudley Stephens is run by two moms and they are an inspiration to other moms trying to create something in the entrepreneurial space. That being said, I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to announce the name for something I will be launching in February. I did an instagram poll last week presenting both names for my future business, Mom Friends by Mrs. Nipple vs. Mrs Nipple & Co. Many of you also gave me your ideas which cracked me up! Some of my favorites, Nipple Nation and The Daily Nip. It was a landslide and it seemed like everyone wanted to keep the nip front and center so it will be called, Mrs. Nipple & Co.! As always thank you for your continued support on this journey.

xx

Mrs. Nipple

PPD AND THE LOSS OF A BEAUTIFUL SOUL


This is kara’s story through her sisters eyes


This is such an important topic and a checklist in the doctors office is not enough for diagnosis. Postpartum depression is a real mental illness. There is a need for educating families, loved ones and mothers around what to look out for and for being able to differentiate what are normal emotional fluctuations from what should be addressed by a professional. There is a real lack of education from our medical system. Please read this and help Lauren and her family spread the light.

Here is kara’s story told by one of her sisters, Lauren.

Lauren will take it from here.

You can’t change the past, you can’t change the future and you can only change the present one moment at a time.

Never have I wanted more than to change the past, to go back and undue what was done. To wake up every morning and just for a second before I open my eyes try to imagine that things were different. To go back and do things differently, to see things differently, but we can’t, we can only move forward. 

My sister, Kara (Morrow) Kovlakas was a vibrant, outgoing and loving mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, teacher and friend. No one loved life more than Kara, she was always the brightest light in any room. She was born 22 months after I was and as children we fought like most sisters do, but as adults she was my best friend, my closest confidant. We were each others maid of honor, we drove cross country twice, traveled too many times to count, we share a lifetime of memories. 

Already a mom to her daughter, Aydan who was born in September 2012, she had her son, Ari on January 14th, 2016 and it was one of the happiest moments of her life. For the first few months after Ari was born, Kara seemed so full of life and energetic. As any mom/parent knows, juggling two kids under the age of 4 is a difficult task on all days.  She had doubts and moments of struggling but seemed to be able to pull it all together.

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Then in early August 2016 that all changed. Kara’s thoughts became jumbled and confused. She would talk herself in circles and have endless doubts about what kind of parent she was. There was a cloud of sadness/darkness that was following her everywhere. She couldn’t see past her current mood at most times, she was only seeing the negatives in life. She was taking out her pain on her husband and children. Kara struggled with anxiety her entire life, she was seeing  therapists/doctors to seek treatment/medication but to what extent that played into the end result I am not sure we will ever know.

By September, Kara had returned back to teaching her 3rd grade elementary class after having been on leave since having Ari. We thought this would help, she thought it would help. She was talking about the future and how things would be better when the kids were older, when they had more money, etc. She continued to express positive thoughts about a future time but couldn’t find happiness in the present day.  We thought she was getting better, trying to find a happy place again.

On October 13, 2016, Kara left the house in the morning, kissing her husband and sending Aydan off to preschool with her Mimi (Kara’s Mom) and then dropped Ari off at daycare like it was any normal day. She waited for her husband to leave the house before going back home and ending her life. She would have turned 33 years old the following day. I don’t want to refer to it that she ‘committed suicide’ - she resorted to suicide, which she perceived, in her unwell mind, to be the only possible solution to her tremendous suffering.

We found out later she had called out sick from work the night before. She had planned this. The day before she had a great day with her children and seemed happy. I live 3 miles down the road from her house and I was home all day. Kara and I have 4 other sisters who are her best friends. We had been supporting her as a family. My mother was helping her get out the door every morning by taking Aydan to school. Anything we could do to ease the burden she was feeling. We offered to check her in somewhere, but she refused. We had wanted her to seek more treatment but she convinced us she could handle this. She convinced us she was getting better. Her husband was supporting her every step of the way in whatever choices she was making. She was seeking outpatient treatment. She had a lot of support, more support than most people ever receive.

Kara’s story needs to be shared so that people understand postpartum depression is a real mental illness. I am not sure what Kara was feeling or going through but she was depressed and had anxiety. From what I have since learned about postpartum depression, in extreme cases it can lead people to have psychotic thoughts - the term is postpartum psychosis.  I don’t know if this is what she had, she was also taking medications so that could have added to her compounding issues.

If I were being honest with myself I know that the depression and anxiety was present long before Kara was a mother.  I have spent everyday since she left us struggling to understand why she chose this and trying to move forward in this world without my sister and best friend. I am a new Mom also and have needed to call her a million times to ask her advice. She was an amazing mother; she always seemed to know what the right thing was when it came to her children. I will never understand how she could leave them.

But here we are. This is the new world we all live in. As a family, it is our job now to help her husband take care of her children. To make sure they grow up surrounded by love and security. To make sure they know how much their Mom loved them. To share our memories of her and keep her alive in the only way we have. We need to figure out how to live the rest of our lives without her. We are all forever changed by her decision, we will never be the same. We will never take a picture of the 6 sisters again.

 It is our job to talk about Kara and share her story in the hopes that we can try to help other families from not going through a tragedy like this. This can happen to anyone. You never know what someone is struggling with on the inside but new mothers in particular are vulnerable and we all need to be more aware. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. How are we really feeling? How are you really doing? What are the signs that you should be on the lookout for? This is a great place to read up on postpartum depression if you aren’t sure. Click, HERE.



“Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.” – Unknown



Shortly after in August 2017, my family and I launched ‘Light for Kara’, an advocacy and informational website, with the hope that by spreading awareness and sharing Kara’s story we can prevent another family from suffering the tragedy of losing a loved one to this treatable mental illness. If you would like to read more about Kara’s story, and my family’s journey to spread awareness about perinatal mood disorders, please visit our website: LIGHT FOR KARA.

 

In continuing with our mission, we are hosting the first annual Light for Kara 5k for Maternal Mental Health, a 5k/1 mile walk/kids fun run, on Saturday, October 13 (full details below). We have partnered with Postpartum Support International - CT Chapter (PSI-CT) to raise money in support of the wonderful work they do throughout CT helping both mothers and their families. We also plan to donate a portion of the proceeds to Malta House, a Norwalk based women’s shelter that supports pregnant and parenting mothers. Both groups are registered non-profits and donations are tax-deductible.

 We would love for you to join us as a runner, walker, or even as a volunteer. In the event you are unable to attend but would consider making a donation, you can do so through our 5k website. If you know of anyone who may be interested in participating in any way, or even learning more about Light for Kara, please feel free to forward this email.

 

  Light for Kara 5k for Maternal Mental Health

Saturday, October 13, 2018

7:30am Registration | 9am Race

Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, CT

Register | Volunteer | Donate

 

 Thank you for your unwavering support,

Lauren Morrow Shrage

on behalf of Kara’s Family - August 2017

BREASTFEEDING WITH INVERTED NIPPLES


THE MRS.NIPPLE SERIES X VOL. 1 RUBY


Kicking off the Mrs. Nipple new series with our first article coming from Ruby @Rubixcube17 with her experience around breastfeeding with inverted nipples. I really love this piece and hope it spreads awareness. 

Enjoy!

Xx 

Mrs. Nipple 

Ruby will take it from here:

It's not something that's spoken about often, to be honest I didn't even know it was an existing issue until I realized I in fact owned a pair of breasts with flat/Inverted nipples. Let me start at the beginning. When I found out I was expecting I was over the moon, and immediately started reading all the "what to expect" books. I wanted to be prepared, and succeed in things important to me, the main one being Breastfeeding. I knew it was going to be hard, I was prepared for the sleepless nights and long feedings, but I had also read countless times it was natural act between mother and baby and of course, breast is best. I was determined, I was ready - I was not prepared to be let down by my own body. My breast feeding journey only lasted 4 weeks, and was full of challenges. Cracked nipples, multiple bouts of Mastitis, undiagnosed lip and tongue ties, small baby who struggled to latch and put on weight and finally, one flat nipple and one inverted nipple. Believe it or not, I didn't even know until I had already given up Breastfeeding. How did this happen you ask? It's because NO-BODY speaks about  this affliction! A flat nipple is where you have no protruding nipple from the areole and an inverted nipple is where it is pulled in towards itself- basically the baby has nothing to grasp on to.

 

I had noticed during my life my nipples never seemed to "stand out" as I had noticed other women's do so through their tops, but to me this was a good thing, convenient even as I could go bra-less in outfits no worries- never did I think I would see the day I was jealous of how much a women's nipple would protrude. 

Our first feed after my daughter was born she wouldn't latch, and when she did it was hurting like hell. The midwives weren't worried and told me she would get it. Next 3 feedings I had to be hand expressed for colostrum as my daughter still wasn't latching, and even then the midwives did not mention that anything was amiss with my breasts. I persevered an eventually got her latching, despite how much it hurt I was determined. 12 hours later I already had 2 cracked nipples, by 3 days old I was already at the GP for mastitis, then a lactation consultant. It was here I was introduced to nipple shields. These are basically very thin pieces of silicone that suction your nipple in and created more of a shape for your baby to latch onto.

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I later learnt (too late) nipple shields are a great tool for people with flat/inverted nipples however they were given to me to give relief from the cracks. Again, nothing mentioned about my breasts, I was oblivious. They put the mastitis down to my daughters shallow latch (again, due to undiagnosed lip ties, these two problems made breastfeeding next to impossible) and told me she would learn to latch with the shields, and then I would need to wean as they were only a short term solution.

And so we entered 4 weeks of where I would use the shield, my breasts would drain, my daughter would feed and the mastitis would go. I would try and wean the Shields as advised, and 3 days later mastitis would return. The reason for this was because my daughter had nothing to grip on to she would either be clamping down with a very shallow latch, causing the ducts to block, or she would consistently fall off and get tired, not draining the breast.  It was hell, I was depressed, stressed, frustrated, my baby wasn't gaining weight, my nipples were bleeding and damaged, and worst of all I was not enjoying the newborn stage and slowly resenting my daughter every time she wanted to feed. Enough was enough, at her 4 week check she was a mere 26 grams (0.9oz) above her birthweight, I had had mastitis 5 times, and I finally made the decision to formula feed. I had attempted pumping to see if I could pump exclusively and my body just doesn't respond to pumps, I felt I had no choice and something had to give.  

My daughter thrived on formula, she gained weight, I started to enjoy her. I went to my 6 week post partum check and was asked about BF. I explained what had happened and the Gp examined me and said "I'm not surprised you had challenges with your flat and inverted nipple". I was gobsmacked. I asked what that meant. He explained and showed me pictures and it all started to make sense. I was so upset and felt so let down by the professionally trained lactation consultants, He was also shocked it hadn't been mentioned to me.  It was also here my daughters lip ties were found. Two separate issues that, had they been diagnosed, we might've had a successful breastfeeding journey. 

My daughter is now 18 weeks old and I still have many regrets about the whole experience. After doing research I have found videos with techniques on how to BF with flat and inverted nipples, information that says continued use of nipple shields are sometimes needed in cases of flat/inverted nipples, and have looked into private lactation consultants who can specialise in this area.  I would hate for anyone to go through what I went through, ASK for help, push for answers, check your nipples and ask the questions!  I hope to try again with a second baby when the time comes, and I will be armed with the knowledge this time to hopefully succeed. It is POSSIBLE to breastfeed with flat and inverted nipples, however it is more challenging and you will need help and support. Good luck ladies, breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done and we deserve all the support and help we can get!

 

Thanks,

Ruby (Rubixcube17) 

The Lollipop Baby Monitor


Mrs. Nipple's Review of the Lollipop baby monitor


I was so excited to try out the Lollipop monitor. I've had my eye on it for months. I am always drawn to innovative products and at first sight you know this camera is going to be different. 

I registered for the Nest when was pregnant with Charlie. Though I still think it's a great product I was not willing to pay the steep subscription fee allowing you to see the recorded footage of your child. I loved using the nest as a nanny cam and would always check on Charlie and our nanny when I went back to work. For that purpose, the Nest is wonderful. Now that I have the Lollipop camera as a baby cam I would choose the lollipop over the Nest every single time and I’ll tell you why.

 

When we had Ford I started thinking of which camera would work the best with our lifestyle and needs. Somethings that were important to me were getting a good view of him on any of his many contraptions. Now that we live in a home, a much bigger space, being able to see him in different areas of our home was important to me. Being able to place the camera pretty much anywhere is a really great feature.

 

Another great feature is how clear the picture is. I can get such a clear view of Ford that I can actually see him breathing and making little movements which is very important to me.

 

I also wanted a camera that could offer us smart data. I didn't want to scroll through a whole nights worth of footage to see if Ford woke up. I wanted to be able to glance at a summary of how the night went. I love how the lollipop monitor has crying detection and then captures the clip of the footage when he was up and saves it for you. 

 

SOME OTHER THINGS I LOVE

Option to keep the Wifi connection private- This is a big topic. It's scary knowing others can get access to your baby’s live video. This is an important feature as It significantly reduces the risk of hacking. Outgoing video streaming will be blocked in that configuration.

 

MOBILE APP FEATURES:

Easy to use

Intuitive navigation when using multiple cameras

Audio and video quality is excellent

 

 

CAMERA FEATURES:

Infared night vision - Such a clear picture even at night

VOX - The Voice Activated Alert (VOX) feature allows you to conserve power on the video monitor. For example, you may want your video monitor to shut off when your babyis sleeping, and turn on when your baby cries. Adjusting the VOX sensitivity levels determines how sensitive the camera is to your baby's cry.

Multiple cameras- especially important with multiple kids

Two-way talk

Noisemaker & lullibies- LOVE this feature. Especially for traveling. There are so many different options from blow dryers to Mozart. If Ford wakes up from a nap early I put one of the options on and he drifts back to sleep. 

video recording & snapshot

zoom

You can view camera from outside of the home

You can send access to other people

128 degree view

720p HD-  I don't even know what this means but it is SO clear

Audio only mode - If you don't want to keep your phone on the whole night you can do the audio only version. Your phone screen will be turned off, but you’ll still receive the audio feed from your baby’s bedroom and you can easily turn on the video stream if needed. It basically acts as a baby crying detector in that mode.

Very well priced- $134 

 

 

The only two things I will point out.

 

1- I had to lower the sensitivity level of the background noise because I was getting way too many alerts. Once I did this it fixed the problem

 

2-I'm kind of over using my phone as a monitor when I'm home but I love the flexibility it offers when we are out and when we are traveling. I also can’t see myself walking around the house with a baby monitor. I've come up with the perfect system for our lifestyle. 

 

I use the lollipop monitor paired with an "old school" V-tech audio only baby monitor. The audio only monitor was very cheap and came with two bases. I leave one in the kitchen and one next to my bed. When I go to bed I put on the V-tech audio monitor and use that throughout the night. If Ford wakes up, I can hear him through the V-tech monitor and can look right on the lollipop monitor app to see what’s going on. When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is check my lollipop monitor app. My favorite feature is that it shows me how many times Ford woke up and I can review the clips. Before I had this monitor I could never remember how many times I got up in the middle of the night to feed Ford because of the exhaustion I was experiencing. I wish I had this monitor because I know I was overfeeding him. This is by far my favorite feature. I am even considering purchasing another one for Charlie’s room. 

You can purchase the Lollipop baby monitor, HERE. 

You can purchase the V-tech audio only monitory I use paired with the Lollipop, HERE

 

 

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DAYTIME VIEW

DAYTIME VIEW

NIGHT VISION

NIGHT VISION

AUDIO ONLY MODE

AUDIO ONLY MODE

MY FAVORITE V IEW 

MY FAVORITE V IEW 



Pacifier Weaning


mrs.nipple & weaning

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Pacifiers are such great tools for the beginning of a child's life. They offer so much comfort and help free up some time for us mamas! They also reduce the risk of SIDS, satisfy the sucking reflux, and help them self soothe. When your baby hits age 2, it's time to start thinking about weaning. This is because all of the negatives start outweighing the positives between age 2-4. Though it is a wide range I have decided to stay on the safe side and wean early. 

“Before age 2, any problems with growing teeth usually self-correct within 6 months of stopping pacifier use,” says Evelina Weidman Sterling, PhD, MPH, co-author of Your Child's Teeth: A Complete Guide for Parents.

After the 2-year mark, problems can start. Your baby's top or bottom front teeth may slant or tilt, Sterling says. And the problem can worsen as time goes on.

“Pacifier use after age 4, which is when permanent teeth start to come in, can have major long-lasting effects on adult teeth,” she says.

Charlie is 22 months old. He uses his pacifier during naps, at night, and for car rides. He also uses it here and there throughout the day for comfort. I did not want to do anything "cold turkey" since he has such an attachment to his pacifier and I wanted him to be very much involved in the weaning  process. He also has been caught removing his 4 month old baby brother’s pacifier and putting it in his mouth. This is another reason he really needs to be part of the process. Charlie and Ford use the same type of pacifier. I really love the Natursutten pacifiers and I'm just not willing to give his brother any other brand for long term use. 

We just started the weaning process and my goal is to remove it from his routine completely by mid October. I am doing it in stages. 

Stage 1: Focus on Charlie taking his pacifier out of his mouth and leaving it in his crib without removing it myself. I think I’ll give him up to 20 minutes before I would eventually intervene. My goal would be for Charlie never to use his pacifier when we are in the house or out & about unless we are in the car. 

Stage 2: Once he starts taking the pacifier out of his mouth on his own when he wakes up before we go downstairs and leaves it in his crib without me asking for at least 7 days in a row, I will then stop the pacifier use in the car. For the first week I plan on giving him a new little toy or something to distract him in the car and hopefully he will not miss it. During this time I will also stop using it for naps. I am going to introduce a new stuffed animal and book during this time.

Stage 3: After napping successfully without his pacifier for seven days I am then going to remove his pacifier during nighttime sleep. I again will introduce a new stuffed animal and book. 

Stealing pacifiers: If and when Charlie takes his brother’s pacifier out of his mouth and puts it in his own, I am going to use those as teaching moments stressing the fact that he is now a big boy and big boys don't use pacifiers. I will also remind him pacifiers are for babies and Ford is a baby. If this doesn't work (I have a feeling it's not going to be a perfect transition) I will use the 123 Magic/timeout theory where he may spend a few minutes in timeout if he doesn’t obey after 3 tries. 

This is my own plan and I have not tried this in full yet. I will share our progress on instagram so please follow along if you are interested. Stay tuned! Wish us luck. 

If you want a three day plan read below:

Your child can be binky-free in just three days, says Mark L. Brenner, author of Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles & Thumbs: What Every Parent Should Know About Stopping and Starting (Fireside). Here's how to do it.

Day 1: In the morning and at bedtime, tell your child that you can see she wants to do lots of things that make her older. Tell her that's a good idea, and that in three days it will be time for her to say goodbye to her pacifiers. Tell her you know she can do it and that you'll work together on it. Keep the talk to 30 seconds and don't sound as if you're asking permission. If your child responds, reflect back her feelings—"I know you don't want to"—then move on. Don't worry that your child will become anxious if given advance warning. "That's a myth," says Brenner. "Like adults, children like to prepare themselves physically, psychologically, and emotionally for change."

Day 2: Repeat the same 30-second talk twice daily, only replace "in three days" with "tomorrow." Don't try to sell her on the idea. Keep your tone and manner matter-of-fact.

Day 3: Remind your child that it's day three and time to gather up his pacifiers. Act as if you're going on a scavenger hunt and ask your child if he'd like to help. Even if he refuses and protests, proceed to collect his pacifiers, place them in a plastic bag, and put them on the front step for "pick-up by the recycling truck." Explain that the pacifiers will be made into new tires or toys. "Children recognize that recycling is purposeful and intelligent, and will be far less upset than if you throw their treasured pacifiers in the trash," says Brenner. Which is not to say your toddler won't have a meltdown. Be empathetic, but firm, Brenner says, adding that most children get over losing their pacifiers within 48 hours.

 

 

 

Willow Pump Review....Too good to be true?


Mrs. Nipple's honest review of the Willow Pump


Too good to be true?

I'm writing this blog post while pumping in a coffee shop. Yup, you heard me correctly. I'm writing this blog post while pumping in a coffee shop. From the moment I announced I was trying out the Willow Pump, the DMs came streaming in. So many mamas out there were just as intrigued with this new pump, which seems to be first in class in the hands free "discrete" category. I received so many questions about the Willow Pump. Is it really actually quiet? Will I be able to attend a business meeting while wearing it? Can I get things done around the house while pumping? The number one question being, is it worth the money? It's like that unicorn...you've heard of it but you've never actually seen it...so does it actually exist? 

First I'll start with the set up...

This pump is simple to put together. It's just a few pieces, a quick charge, downloading the Willow app and you are ready! I also recommend watching the educational videos so you know exactly what you are doing. Then like anything else it takes a little practice. 

Learning curve

Willow advises that you pump at least 7 times within the first 7 days. That's because with Willow, it does take a little time to master it. It is not your average pump. Willow offers the option of a coaching call to help you during those first few days. I highly recommend jumping on this call. I think those that like the Willow don't mind putting in the extra effort upfront to then get the benefits of using the Willow vs. your traditional pump. A few things to focus on during this time is mastering placement of the pump on your breast, emptying the remainder of the milk from the pump into the bag, and changing bags mid-pump. I picked these because these were the three areas that took a little time mastering for me personally. You really have to get your nipple lined up correctly. With this pump, you can not see where your nipple sits while pumping like you can with the traditional pumps. The bags are also different than your traditional bags. You have to get a good seal (with proper alignment!) to prevent air from filling the bags and you also need to turn the pump a particular way to prevent leakage of your liquid gold after you pump. The customer service was great and having a coach to walk you through these areas was super helpful. It still takes practice to get these new skills down, but the benefits of the pump can be worth it to some.

Parts and way less of them

One of the things I hate most about another pump I’ve used and most traditional pumps is the amount of parts: the bottle, the flange, the plastic piece that goes on the outside of the back of the flange and the rubber piece that goes on the inside.....times two. Pumping on the go is not easy for a number of reasons and one reason is this...so many parts! Willow clearly has the traditional pumps beat here. There are 3 pieces plus the bag, but when you're done pumping you just take the bag right out, it's presealed. There is no question that it is easier to travel with the Willow vs a traditional pump. You only have to wash 2 parts and they are dishwasher safe. 

Time

I did find I was pumping for longer periods of time with the Willow pump vs. the traditional pump. I think this was due to the fact that the Willow bags only hold 4 oz of milk each. For some this is fine but I like to pump as much as my body will allow when I'm pumping which is over 4 oz. The Willow app alerts you that you reached 4 oz of milk and you have to take the bag out and insert a new bag. I get into a grove while pumping so this kind of messed with that grove a bit. I eventually ended up deciding to stop at 4 oz unless my breasts were engorged. 

 

Is it really silent?

The Willow Pump is definitely quiet but it does make sounds. It makes the most noise in the beginning while it is in the stimulation phase, before switching to expression, but even during that time it is so much quieter than your average pump. Would you be able to hear it in the quiet section of the library? YES!  But not in a coffee shop. 

How discrete is it?

Can you pump while holding your baby, cleaning the house, folding laundry, sitting in the corner of a coffee shop or driving? YES!! Are you going to pump with the Willow while you are walking around town? I doubt it. I wear a 34 B and it look like I have DDD or even bigger....I can't remember what comes after DDD like maybe X or something like that?! Well, then my boobs are XX while wearing the Willow. There's no way you will catch me walking around town looking like this, but it sure does help while driving or cooking dinner. I actually wore them while eating dinner with my parents and it was so nice not having to spend an extra 30 minutes I didn't have to pump with the door closed. It also feels nicer. I often feel like I'm pumping myself as if I am a cow when I use a traditional pump. These slip right into my bra and that's it! 

Cost

There's no question that the Willow is expensive. On top of the price of the pump, the bags will also cost you a pretty penny. That being said I know many mamas will spend the money on a pump that could really fit into their lifestyle. Willow now offers financing, with payments starting at $43/month. You can also use your FSA/HSA funds as well.

Would I recommend the Willow?

I think it really comes down to what your needs are and how motivated you are to learn to really use the Willow correctly. If you occasionally pump and you can usually find time to sit down in a discreet place while  pumping, then this may not be for you. If you are always on the go, have multiple children, can't find a second during the day or constantly traveling and can't always find a discreet area to pump, then the Willow is a wonderful option. It's not perfect. I'm going to say it again, it's not perfect which you will usually find with something so innovative, but because I spend 60 percent of my time in my car because of my job, it's an easy choice that the Willow works with my lifestyle. That being said, if I'm home on a Thursday night and the kids are asleep, I will reach for my traditional pump because it pumps the milk in less time and can hold greater than 4 oz of milk. 

To learn more you can find a link to the Willow Pump website, HERE. 

If you have any specific question please ask them on instagram under comments or send me a DM. 



MAMALOGUES


#MAMALOGUES  & A FEW OF MY FAVORITE REGISTRY ITEMS 


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I have a feeling if you are reading this then you are either a new or expecting mama so CONGRATULATIONS! I'm going to be sharing a few of my favorite registry items along with some mamlogues of how these products help me bond with my boys.

Two issues that stand in the way of bonding with my babies is when they are over stimulated or colicky so these products help with those two issues. If I were to recreate my registry these would be top on the list.

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First, the Phillips Avent anti-colic bottle. Not all babies will be colicky. My first wasn't but my second had all the signs of colic and was very fussy. He ended up actually being diagnosed with a lip & tongue tie at 2.5 months. When Ford (my second) would feed he would get air in his little tummy which is very painful. This bottle helps limit the amount of air that gets into a babies stomach during feedings and therefore helps with colic. It's not a bad idea to have a few of these bottles on hand just incase you too end up having a colicky baby. In my experience my favorite memories of bonding with my boys are when they are happy! This will help get you that happy baby if he/she is sensitive to extra air in their tummies. You can find these bottles, HERE. 

Second, a sleep cover! This was a lifesaver. I'm not a mama that likes being inside all day prisoner to my boys nap schedule. That being said my boys do have strict nap schedules because they are happiest when they get their sleep. This cover has a universal fit. It actually fits on every stroller (umbrella & full size) even on bassinets! It creates the perfect sleep environment. It blocks out 97% of light, it's completely breathable and has UV protection. Whether I have errands to run or we are at the beach this beach cover is my go-to. Since young babies can not wear sunscreen I like using this all summer long. You can find it, HERE.  This sleep cover paired with this travel noise maker make the perfect pair. You can find the travel size noise maker, HERE. These two products help create balance in our relationship. Finding ways to to create a peaceful sleep environment for your kids on the go is very helpful. 

Last but not least, my favorite on the go play mat. This play mat is perfect to use until your babies start walking. It folds up into a bag for easy transport! This is one of my favorite travel items. You unfold it and all of your toys are right on the mat! You can find it, HERE. Some babies get bored when you are at lunch or events...even at the airport. This is so fun for babies. When we travel I put new toys in the bag so it's a surprise when I open the bag and the new toys are sitting there....it also helps keep the boys occupied. 

You can watch the video below to see all the items! I run through each one. Head over to instagram to comment on what products helped you bond with your babies and share your #mamalogues 

Mommy Knows Best Lactation Cookies & Mrs. Nipple


Low Milk Supply & Lactation Cookies 


Having a low milk supply can be both stressful and frustrating. When I was pregnant with Charlie,  my supply dropped significantly in the first month. I think it was due to the fact that Charlie did not have a good latch as well as during those first few weeks, I was going too long between night feedings. No matter what I tried, Charlie was impossible to wake up for his night feedings. Some nights I was up for an entire hour just trying to get him to feed. Wet wash cloths, undressing him, changing his diaper...nothing seemed to work.  Waiting these long stretches without feeding effected my milk supply. I finally learned about lactation products. I started eating prepackaged lactation bars. However, they were not practical because of how expensive they were and their short shelf life.

This time around I wanted to be prepared. Before Ford was even born, I discovered Mommy Knows Best Lactation Cookies.

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MOMMY KNOWS BEST LACTATION COOKIES

  • They are SO DELICIOUS
  • You buy the mix and can make them at home (so easy) 
  • An entire bag of mix is only $20.00 which is significantly less than other lactation products 
  • The ingredients include many herbal galactagogues (a substance that increases milk supply)
  • They are #mrsnippleapproved 

THE GOOD STUFF, GALACTAGOGUES

Mommy Knows Best Lactation Cookie Mix contains a powerful blend of ingredients designed to optimize breast milk production. The combination of Oats, Flax Seed, Brewer's Yeast, and Blessed Thistle Herb, packs a powerful punch when it comes to increasing milk supply. Additionally this cookie mix is a great source of Calcium, and Folic Acid, along with vitamins B6, C, D & A.

OATS are a nutritional powerhouse, providing whole grains, fiber, iron, and an abundance of healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

BLESSED THISTLE is a powerful galactagogue, well known as a common ingredient responsible for milk production.

FLAX SEED provides an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids necessary for baby’s brain development.

BREWERS YEAST is a traditional remedy, rich in B-vitamins and amino acids essential for nursing moms.

  •  MADE WITH BLESSED THISTLE HERB: The only lactation boosting cookie available with blessed thistle herb baked into each cookie to help boost breast milk quickly.
  •  PERFECT COMBINATION OF BREWER'S YEAST, FLAXSEED & OATS: Already measured and mixed for you, these ingredients have been used for generations to aid with breastmilk production and replenish key nutrients mothers need.
  •  EXCELLENT SOURCE OF KEY VITAMINS & MINERALS: Each cookie is jam-packed with healthy amounts of calcium, folic acid, iron, plus vitamins B6, B12, C, D, & A. Enjoy a lactation supplement that you can eat.
  •  TASTY & EFFECTIVE SOLUTION FOR LACTATION SUPPORT: These delicious and convenient lactation cookies are a healthy alternative to lactation tea & bars that can help provide the extra nourishment lactating moms need.
  •  SAFE, CONVENIENT – WON’T UPSET BABY’S SENSITIVE TUMMY: While many lactation tea, lactation bars and breast feeding pill alternatives contain fillers that upset little tummies, this TASTY & EFFECTIVE SOLUTION FOR LACTATION SUPPORT provide all the nourishment, without the common allergens found in many breast milk pill supplement products.

 

MY PLAN

In addition to eating the cookies, here are a few other tips to increase that priceless milk supply for your baby:

  • Never hesitate to contact a certified Lactation Consultant for advice from a professional. 
  • Increase frequency of breastfeeding and/or pumping sessions. 
  • Try pumping for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, for a total of 60 minutes. This can be done a few times a day and will help stimulate milk production. 

You can find the Mommy Knows Best Lactation cookie mix, HERE. 

 

 

Ford's Newborn Shoot with Classic Kids Greenwich

NEWBORN SHOOT 


I highly recommend getting newborn photos done with your infant. Having a professional capture those first few weeks is a MUST, they will never be that tiny ever again. Most newborn photographers like to shoot the baby within the first two weeks of life. 

Classic Kids Studio on Greenwich Ave knows how to work with these precious newborns and very calmly captures the miracle of the little ones. I’m happy to report that Ford slept the entire time! A great tip they gave me was to feed Ford right when I got to the studio so he would be as comfortable as possible for the shoot. Michelle from Classic Kids was a baby whisperer. She got Ford into the perfect positions and the few times he almost woke up she gently lulled him back to sleep. She really had the magic touch!

For Ford, this was a piece of cake, but not so much for Charlie.  They had a basket of toys to keep Charlie occupied between shoots.  They also helped distract him and get him into position during picture time. Charlie had never held Ford before the shoot and only interacted with him when Ford was in his rock n' play. I am still shocked they were able to get a few great pictures of the two of them without someone holding Charlie's hands down :) 

I really LOVE how the prints came out. They really softened the photos which is much needed, especially for a newborn that just came through the birth canal. It's also nice for the mamas going through sleep deprivation. I went to the shoot post workout with zero make up on. My plan was to have my mom in a few photos with the babies for Mother's Day. On the other hand, at two weeks postpartum, I wanted to stay as far away form the lens as possible. However, Katie, the head photographer, talked me into getting into a few photos.  I was wearing a bright orange tank top so she found a piece of fabric to wrap around my bodice. With the magic of her photography skills and the softening of the pictures, you’d be hard pressed to guess I had been to a morning workout. I can not ever thank her enough for reminding me to forget about what you look like and just enjoy the moment with your newborn. I'm so happy I did :) 

Here are a few of my favorite photos: 

CHARLIE AND HIS LITTLE BROTHER 

CHARLIE AND HIS LITTLE BROTHER 

BABY FORD JUST SNOOZING THROUGH THE ENTIRE SHOOT 

BABY FORD JUST SNOOZING THROUGH THE ENTIRE SHOOT 

SHOWED UP AT THE STUDIO POST WORKOUT. I WAS NOT PLANNING ON JUMPING IN A PHOTO, BUT I'M HAPPY I DID. 

SHOWED UP AT THE STUDIO POST WORKOUT. I WAS NOT PLANNING ON JUMPING IN A PHOTO, BUT I'M HAPPY I DID. 

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THe BIG FAT lie about breastfeeding


Breastfeeding & Weight loss


While reading this post, please keep in mind ALL women are different. Breastfeeding will help many women drop the postpartum weight quickly. However, that was not my experience. That being said, I also want to point out that it might have taken longer to get my post pregnancy body back if I was not breastfeeding. What I do know is that it wasn't until I was done breastfeeding that I dropped the last ten pounds that my body was holding onto.

HERE IS MY STORY... 

After I gave birth to my first son, Charlie, I expected to bounce back to my pre-pregnancy weight in no time at all.  I figured since I had worked out my entire pregnancy and was in great shape, and even more importantly, I was now breastfeeding, those calories should have been burning away!   I've heard it a million times, "Oh, you’re breastfeeding? The weight will melt off."  However,  that was not the case. Though I have friends that were both breastfeeding and eating whatever they wanted with weight melting off their bodies, I am not one of those mamas.

I was shocked that with all my efforts of eating right and excersizing, I was not even dropping the 1 pound a week that I was told I would. I was finding when I would compare my healthy weeks vs. my unhealthy weeks, there was no difference on the scale. 

OVERVIEW OF MY POSTPARTUM BODY WITH BABY #1

Two week check up: My uterus was totally healed and back to its original size which is one of the many benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding releases hormones that trigger your uterus to heal quickly and return to its pre-baby size which is the size of a pear. I got the all clear and was able to start working out. My body heals very fast since the average time for this is around 6 weeks. My first question to the doctor was, "Well, if my uterus is back to its original size, then what's this?", pointing  to my stomach. He answered,  “You can only get rid of that with exercise."

Five weeks: I started working out and eating healthy but nothing was excelerating my weight loss. I was dropping a few pounds here and there but still felt like I was wearing a coat of extra fat. 

Five months: At the 5 month mark, I felt like myself again. I still had not dropped all of my weight since I was holding onto the last 6-10 pounds, but I felt like that coat of extra fat feeling had faded. 

14 months: Interesting enough, I didn't drop that last few pounds until I stopped breastfeeding which was at 14 months. During this time, I was pregnant with my second baby and  still breastfeeding Charlie. Even though I was in my first trimester, I still dropped those pesky pounds. 

I was so confused. I was told all these years that breastfeeding would help me drop weight but in fact it was the exact thing that was preventing me from getting my pre pregnancy body back. So I did some research and it completely makes sense.

First, I want to point out I'm a huge supporter of breastfeeding. Having children is one of the most selfless things you will ever do and breastfeeding/pumping is as well. It's time consuming and breastfeeding really limits how much independence you will have for that first year. However, the benefits for both you and your baby  are endless and well worth it. Some extra weight for some mamas during that first year really sucks, but your baby will benefit from your milk supply for the rest of their life. 

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? 

"Breastfeeding Does Burn Calories, but….

If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you’ve probably heard that nursing will burn 500 calories a day. This is surely the reason the experts tell us that breastfeeding will help us lose the baby weight, that’s like a killer workout!

However, so many other factors that come into play when discussing ANYONE’S metabolism, but especially a woman during her postpartum period. Including:

  • Lack of Sleep: A decrease in sleep, typical of just about every new mom, can cause metabolism to slow by causing a hormonal change that can interfere with your hunger signals, causing you to eat more than you actually need.
  • Less Activity, More Eating: In the first few months postpartum, most moms are sitting with baby more and may have less time for regular activity while they adjust to a new routine (even if they’re working out). In addition, the increase in energy needs for milk production can make you feel ravenous, causing you to eat more than normal, and possibly more than needed.
  • Not Enough Eating: Some moms are so busy and overwhelmed in the first months of their baby’s life or mistakenly think they need to cut calories severely to lose weight and don’t eat nearly enough, which can cause the body to believe there is famine and actually store fat as an energy reserve.
  • Stress: Stress releases cortisol, which slows metabolism, and if you’re also not sleeping much, the cortisol is not being removed from the body at night during restorative sleep. I think we can all agree that even if we are blissfully joyful, most new moms are also highly stressed.

Even with all of these factors at play, studies found that breastfeeding moms tend to start to lose MORE weight around the 4 month mark, and even more when they finally wean. Why is this?

One word: HORMONES

Hormones During Breastfeeding

 

During breastfeeding, hormones are very different than any other time in life. Breastfeeding mothers experience a drop in testosterone and estrogen, which are both fat burning, and an increase in prolactin.

Prolactin is the hormone that causes your body to produce breastmilk (prolactin = pro-lactation). It is elevated during pregnancy, but is kept in check by progesterone and estrogen levels, which both drop right after the baby is born. This allows the effects of prolactin to begin and the milk to come in for the baby. Prolactin levels rise every single time the baby nurses, signaled by nipple stimulation. So what does this have to do with fat loss?

Prolactin hormone is also linked to fat storage. It makes sense that our bodies would put some sort of safeguard into place to protect baby’s milk supply, and it seems that prolactin may be that safety net. Prolactin seems to keep the nursing mother from mobilizing fat stores, so that there is always an energy reserve in case of famine.

Sometime between the 4-6 month postpartum mark, breastfeeding mothers experience a drop in prolactin. Suddenly, metabolism may begin to increase, and studies show that these mothers will generally start to see more fat loss at this point. Again, once the baby weans, within 24 hours prolactin levels drop again, and this might explain why those stubborn final 5-10 pounds suddenly disappear as fat metabolism returns to pre-lactation/pre-pregnancy levels.

Interestingly enough, prolactin also affects sex drive and fertility, usually causing a low libido, and cessation of periods and ovulation. After the sixth month mark, your periods may return and you might be feeling like your old sexual self – this is a sign that your fertility has returned and prolactin has dropped." - fit to be pregnant 

My Thoughts...

There are so many articles written on this topic and many that contradict one another. I was specifically trying to find answers related to my personal experience. This all makes complete sense to me and aligns with my specific situation. I wrote this post for the women out there who are also struggling to lose weight while breastfeeding.  

I am writing this article five weeks postpartum with baby #2 and have a fun 20 pounds to drop to get down to my pre-pregnancy size. It will be very interesting to see if I still run into the same issues with this postpartum experience. 

I want to point out how important it is to relax for that first month or two after birth and just focus on enjoying your baby. Looking back, I put so much pressure on myself and had a tight timeline in mind to get the weight off. Remember, it takes 10 months for your baby to fully grow in your womb and in many cases that extra weight can take just as long to lose. As long as you are healthy and get outside and move a few times a week your body will hopefully shed the weight when ready. 

15 fun facts about breastfeeding HERE

Sources:

 

 

Fighting Allergies


Spring & Allergies 


This week has been miserable for me. I'm fighting a terrible reaction to all of the pollen in the air. I've recently been tracking the conditions and have been trying to stay in during "high" pollen days. I use this tracker HERE.  I spent most of my day on the couch with cold compresses on my eyes. I reached out for advice around fighting allergies through instagram stories and received such great feedback around successful solutions others have actually tried. After doing some of my own research it seems the instagram universe is in tune with what works! I wanted to share, please find the results below. 

Natural remedies 

Essential oils: You can use peppermint oil if you are not nursing but if you are nursing it will affect your milk supply.

A blend of lemon, lavender, and peppermint or cedar wood oil (if you are breastfeeding) is supposed to work wonders! You can apply the oil right onto your pressure points as needed. You can use everyday as a prevention method. 

OR

A blend of lemon, lavender, & peppermint mixed with a carrier oil (grapeseed, avocado, olive oil) To apply just swipe it across your sinuses and down your nose. 

Sabadil: A homeopathic medicine that temporarily relieves one or more of the symptoms of hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies: itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy throat and nose. You can find it, HERE. 

Neti Pot: Neti pots are a great, natural way to relieve nasal congestion and allergies, as long as you use sterile water and don’t use it too frequently. They have been a part of Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years.  

Local honey: Ingest 1 tsp of LOCAL honey in the AM and PM. When a person eats local honey, they are thought to be ingesting local pollen. Over time, a person may become less sensitive to this pollen. As a result, they may experience fewer seasonal allergy symptoms.

MEDICATIONS 

If you are breastfeeding like I am you can also use Claritin which falls under category L1. There are 4 Lactation Risk Categories L1-L4, L1 being the safest. 

Claritin and Breastfeeding

Claritin – L1: Claritin is considered safe for breastfeeding. Only 0.3-1.2% of the medication will be transferred through the breast milk to the baby. It is important to note that this is for plain Claritin only. Claritin D is not recommended for breastfeeding because of the decongestant that has been added to the allergy medication. If buying the generic brand, look for the active ingredient Loratidine.

Other Allergy Medications and Breastfeeding

Zyrtec – L2: This has a higher risk level than Claritin because there hasn’t been enough research. However, studies done on dogs suggest that 3% is transferred through breast milk. If buying the generic brand, look for the active ingredient Cetirizine.

Allegra – L2: It is believed that 0.5-0.7% is transferred through breast milk. If buying the generic brand, look for the active ingredient Fexofenadine.

Benadryl, Aller Clore, & Dimatapp – These allergy medications are not recommended for breastfeeding mothers. They can make you sleepy, which means they are sedating. That sedation can be passed on to the infant and may cause breathing problems.


 

 

My love for DockAtot


My full  Dockatot review 


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 DockATot®

 DockATot® is a multi-functional lounging, playing, chilling, resting and snuggling dock you can take anywhere. If I had to pick ONE yes ONE must have baby item for the first 0-8 months,  it would be the Dockatot.  No question. At first glance, it’s just a docking station for your baby, it docks your tot. It’s so much more. Your baby has been living and growing in such a cozy tight space for the last 10 months, and they are thrust into our world, gravity and all. The 4th trimester can be tough on everyone, but the Dockatot makes this time period that much easier. The Dockatot creates a womb like space for your baby to lounge, sleep, get his/her diaper changed and even do tummy time! It’s one of the most versatile products on the market. Let’s talk about SLEEP. The Dockatot is breathable, it doesn’t harbor heat, it reinvents the womb, and it’s portable. Maternity leave can be tough and we would frequently escape to my parents’ home for some TLC. I never had to worry about Charlie sleeping in new environments because the Dockatot went wherever we would go. We also didn’t have to haul the pack n play for overnighters because the Dockatot is approved for co-sleeping.  I’m not sure if this is proven,  but I also praise the Dockatot for Charlie’s perfectly round dome! Did I mention the very fun prints & accessories? Dockatot offers accessories for their loungers. The toy arches and Toy sets clip right onto the Dockatot and will keep your babies occupied. 

 For $10 off your purchase, click HERE 

To visit Dockatot.com click, HERE 

For a co-sleeping safety review click, HERE 

Overview of the Dockatot:

-DockATot is a multi-functional lounger, co-sleeper and playtime lounger
- Two sizes (Deluxe for 0-8 Months, Grand 9-36 months) 
- Made in Europe, designed in Sweden
- Tested for breathability
- OEKO-TEX certified
- All natural, 100% cotton
- Handmade in Europe
- Ideal micro-climate for babies and tots
- Grand is perfect for toddler bed transitions

Anti-inflammatory eating plan


Anti-inflammatory Eating 


I tried these recipes for the first time over ten years ago. The great thing about this anti-inflammatory diet is that you never feel like you are on a diet. The meals are so delicious, even when I don't stick to this plan I will still cook recipes from this book because they are that good. You will see significant results after 14 days but you will start feeling the mental and physical effects after just three days. Give this eating plan three days and you won't be able to stop! Charlie also loves all of the food so there's no need to make separate dinners for your kids.  I'll add each day onto this post after I complete the day for a total of 7 days. I also will add a line item on the end of each day that goes over what else I ate because I'm breastfeeding and need the extra calories. As always DRINK TONS OF WATER. If you would like to purchase the book you can find it, HERE. 

Slim chai tea:

You are  supposed to drink a slim chai tea upon waking and after lunch every day.

  • 2 green tea bags
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnmaon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom 

Bring three cups of water to boil. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags and cloves, and let steep for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bags and cloves. Add the cinnamon & cardamom and mix well. (serves 3) 

 

EXAMPLE PLAN

Day 1:

Breakfast: Smoked salmon frittata over greens with an orange

Lunch: Cottage cheese bowl with apple, walnuts, cinnamon & lemon

Dinner: Pomegranate chicken over greens with asparagus with red bell peppers & garlic. Dressing for the salad: Extra virgin olive oil & lemon juice

Snacks: Small case of blackberries, grapefruit  & 12 raw almonds

Breastfeeding calories: smoothie & I doubled the breakfast and dinner servings. Serving of dark chocolate after dinner. 

Day 2:

Breakfast: Fresh herb frittata & grapefruit

Lunch: Turkey thai lettuce wraps

Dinner: Ginger infused salmon with garden salad

Snacks: Small case of blueberries, 8 walnuts, orange, & carrot and celery sticks with 1 tablespoon of almond butter

Breastfeeding calories: Smoothie & doubled breakfast. Frozen mango and dark chocolate for dessert. 

Day 3:

Breakfast: Fresh herb frittata: See recipe above

Lunch: Thai Turkey Wraps: See recipe above

Dinner: Grilled sirloin with garlic & herbs and string beans

Snacks: grapefruit, blueberry yogurt cup (1/2 cup blueberries & 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt), 12 almonds

Breastfeeding calories: Protein smoothie & doubled breakfast. 

RECIPES 

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FOOD Photos 

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POSTPARTUM LEGGINGS


Leggings for the NEW mamas 


It is not only important to wear some support around your midsection after delivery,  but it also can do wonders for your confidence. Having clothing that holds you in during those first few weeks and months can make all the difference in the world. I use a variety of items including high-rise underwear with built in support, a belly wrap, and high waisted compression leggings. I linked the underwear below, however I received the belly wrap at the hospital. My leggings are not postpartum specific but just leggings I purchased pre-pregnancy that happen to have a good amount of support in the abdominal region. 

Research is now showing that pretty much every woman will have some degree of diastasis recti (that pooch that doesn't disappear when your baby weight does). It also leads to strangers asking you when you are due... while you are holding your 3 year old!!  Studies show that the first 8 weeks after your baby is born is when any spontaneous healing of the abdominal wall occurs. Beyond the 8 weeks, change can be made with exercise. I believe the abdomen needs some help as it heal and extra support around the stomach offers this. 

Learn more about the dreaded diastasis recti, HERE. 

My Postpartum Go-to Items 

For all of the leggings below, I was wearing my pre-baby size. These are the most comfortable leggings ever. I purchased them before I became pregnant and have worn them through both of my pregnancies and postpartum. I love that they are high waisted. They are supportive but still soft and comfortable. They come in cropped and full length. These are a go to of mine. Shop them, HERE. 

For something with even more support, THESE offer a high waist + zoned compression. They really provide support focusing on all the right areas. I have very similar ones and they really help make me feel more confident during those first few weeks post baby.

Here's a pair of super high rise leggings to give you even more support in the abdominal region. Shop them, HERE. 

Check out other options below that offer high rise support that you will also be able to wear once you get your pre-baby body back. I also added a pair of high rise underwear, a belly wrap, nursing bras, and some beauty products that come in handy during those first few weeks. 

 

 

 

The Uppababy vista


UPPAbaby & Mrs.Nipple's double stroller pick


I wasn't always an UPPAbaby mama. I tried the Nuna stroller for the first few months of Charlie's life but I didn't love it. I honestly didn't love the color choices for the UPPAbaby line of strollers. They were bright and bold, but I was looking for an all white or gray look vs. red and yellow. 

Then UPPAbaby upgraded their fabrics and colors and even added leather detailing to their strollers. I bought the Loic UPPAbaby Vista the next day and I've been a huge fan ever since.

THREE THINGS I LOVE:

-The over all look of the stroller. I just love the colors, fabrics, and leather detailing.

-The HUGE storage area beneath the stroller. I didn't realize how important this feature was until shopping with a baby.

-The option to make it a double stroller and you can even carry three kids with the skateboard attachment. 

 

MY COLOR PICKS 

Loic White

Gregory Blue Melange

Emmett Green

 

HOW TO MAKE THE UPPABABY VISTA A DOUBLE STROLLER

You do need additional parts to turn your single stroller into a double. You need two sets of attachments that will raise both the bassinet & the seat. When your second baby grows out of the bassinet you will need to purchase an additional toddler seat, the RumbleSeat. If you don't have the UPPAbaby car seat, you will also need carseat attachments. When I raised the UPPAbaby seat that Charlie had been sitting in for months so I could fit Ford in the bassinet, I realized I loved the new height of his seat. I actually wish I had raised the seat when I originally bought the stroller, it gives you even more room for storage. 

UPPAbaby VISTA Lower Adapter HERE

UPPAbaby VISTA upper Adapter HERE

UPPAbaby Rumble seat for 2nd toddler HERE 

UPPAbaby car seat adapter for the Nuna Pipa & Maxi Cosi HERE