Hi there. Irene again from designstiles. Since I began contributing on Spearmint Baby, I’ve only really shared pretty baby and kid things and never anything too personal. I was newly pregnant when I first started here and for the most part, my pregnancy went by pretty smoothly. Even my actual labor was less scary than I had imagined, but the thing that has brought me to tears multiple times has been breastfeeding.
There was a point in my life when I actually thought breastfeeding came natural to all women and was quote easy. Ha! I don’t think it was until friends started having babies that the real stories started coming in and was surprised by the issues and or difficulties some of them experienced. Many pushed through and promised it gets easier. I’m not quite there yet. From sore and cracked nipples to engorged breasts and plugged ducts, I’ve been able to keep going, trying to reach my goal of at least 6 months. I’m just barely getting to six weeks and there are definitely times when I wish the finish line was closer. I feel guilty when I think, oh, no not again, when it’s time for another feeding. Feels like those 2-3 hours between feedings come in 30 min intervals, thinking it’s pointless to even wear a shirt.
I didn’t realize the physical toll it takes on your body as well. I always pictured this great bonding experience but for the most part, I feel like I’m just too tired to fully enjoy these moments. A few days ago I was completely caught off guard when I started feeling intense joint pain in my knees and ankles, resulting in bursts of tears and swearing. My entire body felt severely sore, even more so than it did after labor, and I was sure it was due to lack of sleep. The pain progressed and it hurt to walk, bend, and even attempting to get up from my chair was a challenge. I suddenly went from being 31 years old to feeling like someone in their 80s. I didn’t put the correlation together that this could be a result of breastfeeding until I went to Dr. Google. Out of all the stories my friends told me, this was not one of them. I didn’t expect something like this to be an issue, and it worried me when I read that these muscle and joint pains don’t go away until you stop nursing. It hurts too much to think you can keep going but I for sure don’t want to throw in the towel now. I woke up a bit rejuvenated this morning, some pain still present, but if this continues, I’m faced with, what do I do? Slowly but surely I was starting to get the hang of it. I’d feel defeated if something like this got in the way now.
I’m seeing my dr and lactation consultant later this week but if any of you have experienced anything similar, please share. I’d love to know of any treatment.
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image via Stacie Turner
I struggled so much with what to wear while I was pregnant, but of course, now that I’m not any more, I keep seeing great, easy, comfortable but chic pregnancy clothes!
I love this pregnancy outfit with a dressed down maxi skirt and layers. I think Hillary Duff’s look is super cute and looks so comfy and practical.
Here’s how I would do it:
- The Ultimate Cardigan by Hatch Collection. A wrap/shawl-style cardigan is the best thing to have around with a newborn (PERFECT as a cover for nursing on the go!) so why not invest in a pretty one while you’re pregnant. This one by Hatch Collection is cashmere and it looks gorgeous.
- Foldover Maxi Skirt by Asos. I think you could dress this skirt up or down throughout your pregnancy and really get a ton of use out of it. It’s on sale too!
- Maternity Scoop Neck Vest by TopShop. Some of my best maternity buys while I was pregnant with Louis were from TopShop (here are some of the pieces I loved the most) and this tank looks like it has a great shape
- Diane von Furstenberg Zebra Ballet Flats. Flats are a (pregnant) girl’s best friend and these ones from DvF would be super cute with jeans too!
- Quilted Shopper by Zara. You’re going to be lugging around a huge diaper bag everywhere you go for a looong time, so enjoy some funner bags while you still can! This one is big enough to carry the essentials even if you have a toddler to take of while you’re pregers.
- Rhinestone Bangles by Isharya. Bangles are cute but not very practical with a newborn – wear them now!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – fashion is not my forté. I struggled while pregnant and only really managed to pull it together a little at the very end.
And in my opinion, nursing fashion is even more of a challenge than pregnancy style. Not only are you probably not the size and shape you were pre-pregnancy (nor are you a size and shape you would want to shop for since you’re not planning to stay that way), but you might have a sensitive c-section scar to consider, your boobs might be huge (or at least huger than usual) and you need quick and easy access to them at all times. There is also a lot of spit-up and other goo to contend with when you have a newborn attached to you at all hours.
And though it seemed impossible just a few months ago, the truth is that there is one stage of life where the clothes you can buy are actually uglier than maternity clothes. I have yet to see any nursing clothes that I would care to sport outside of the comfort of my own home.
Needless to say, I am struggling a little.
On Friday we went to some close friends’ for an “Aprés Nursery School” get-together. It was rough and rainy out and I got caught off guard by how late it was in the afternoon and how little I felt like getting myself all dolled up. But in the end I found the perfect alternative to sweats:
- A Jumpsuit. Mine is a black jersey jumpsuit by Filippa K that I have had for a few years. There are a ton of fun jumpsuits available and if you can find a strapless version and wear it with a cardigan, it’s actually very convenient to nurse out of. Mine has straps that you can just tuck into the top if you want to go strapless. It’s soft and comfortable and it was easy enough to just pull down one side of the jumper to breastfeed.
- A Shawl-style Cardigan. Nice and warm and cozy for a chilly day, it is also the perfect thing to wrap around your baby like a blanket or to cover yourself while nursing. I have a BCBG hand-me-down from my ver stylish sister that I am loving so much right now.
- A Good Nursing Cover. If you’re not comfortable nursing completely out in the open, there are some great covers available. I love my Hooter Hider in Camden Lock (though I could do without the ruffles). It’s pretty, it’s convenient, I can see down to Baby really well, it’s not too heavy and it gives us some peace and quiet for nursing on-the-go.
- A Good-Looking Diaper Bag. I love my Kate bag from MZ Wallace. It carries everything I need but doesn’t look too mommyish.
- Flats. After whining for months (here) about not being allowed to wear heels, I find that I’m not exactly dying to don my 3-inch favorites. On Friday I opted for comfy J. Crew ballerinas. Even for shorties like me who really should wear heels 24/7, there are so many great ballerinas out there now.
Even though it’s not actually that long ago that I finished nursing Little A (just eightish months ago), I was wondering if it would be a similar experience nursing this time around, or if it would be different – maybe even harder? So I was happy to find that it really is just like riding a bike.
Baby L was just as quick to latch on and get into as Little A was and I was happy to find it was less painful for those first couple of weeks than it was last time. Luckily, both of my babies have been great nursers, since they both had a lot of weight to gain in their first days, weeks and months. Alec because he lost a ton of weight in his first days, and Louis because he was born teeny tiny.
Producing enough milk is something that I think all mothers think about, especially in the beginning. And I was determined to be more conscious of my production this time around, knowing that it would be harder to think of myself with two little ones around. I would also like to be able to build up a better freezer stash of pumped milk to last through weaning this time. For me, this simply means making sure I am getting enough nutritious food to eat and that I am staying really really hydrated. Also, I am eating lactation cookies like it’s my job.
Lactation cookies are built on the concept of “galactogogues” – substances that promote lactation by increasing milk supply. I think they work. Here is my recipe for lactation cookies. Have a couple with a glass of milk and enjoy!
- 6 tablespoons water
- 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal (Also known as Linseed meal) – found it at Whole Foods
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 5 tablespoons of brewers yeast – Whole Foods
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
- Mix flax seed and water and let stand for 5ish minutes
- Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and flax/water mixture.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, brewers yeast and cinnamon and add it to the rest.
- Stir in chocolate and oats
- Spoon onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 mins, just until golden brown. They’ll firm up once they are cool. (Makes 4-6 dozen depending on how big you make them)
These pads are super easy to make! I used cute cotton prints that I found at a quilting section of a fabric shop. I nursed my daughter for six months, and I needed a ton of these pads. The cute prints on the pads really brightened my days.
You will need:
- flannel (you can also reuse flannel shirts or blankets if you have them!)
- Some fun cotton print fabric
- vinyl or thick zip lock bag (or shower curtain) – (This is not necessary if you don’t want to use it. This is to avoid milk leakage)
- bowl or cup, 4-5 inches in diameter (mine is 4 inches in diameter)
1. Using the bowl, cut out 4-5 inch diameter circles of flannel, vinyl, and cotton. For one nursing pad, you will need 3 flannel, 1 vinyl and 1 cotton circles. Vinyl will prevent leaking.
2. Pin the circles in the following order – 3 flannel, 1 vinyl and finally 1 cotton on top.
3. Sew them together with sewing machine. I first sewed with straight stitch and then serge the edge.
4. You are done!
Baby #2′s arrival is nearing and we are starting to feel ready. I thought we wouldn’t really need much new stuff this time around since we had our minis so close together, but there were a few things we did have to refresh. And some things we ended up selling when we moved from Atlanta and they have to replaced now that we are back in Europe…
Here’s what we’ve got:
CLOTHES, SLEEP & CARE
1. BABY CLOTHES. We have everything we need. We stocked up on a bunch of Gerber’s fabulous side-snap long-sleeved shirts that we loved so much for Alec, and his old ones have held up remarkably well and are actually even softer and more lovely now. We replaced Alec’s old Halo Sleepsack Swaddles with new sets in cotton, velboa and fleece. We have added a couple of colder climate essentials like this Polarn o. Pyret fleece newborn overall/wrap blanket and this wind fleece baby overall. Even though this baby will be a summer arrival, evenings can get chilly in Sweden, and autumn will be here before we know it.
2. WUBBANUB PACIFIERS. Alec still loves his Wubbanub pacifiers even though we are trying to get him to use more teeth-friendly pacifiers instead. The other day he actually chewed through one of the nipples so we need to do something fast. We’ve ordered a couple of giraffe wubbanubs for the new baby but this time we’ll try to transition onto a more tooth-friendly pacifier at around the six month mark.
3. SOPHIE. Alec doesn’t really use his Sophie anymore but we’re still going to get a new one for the new baby since it was such a constant must-have for those first eight or nine months or so.
4. CRIB MOBILE. I’m DIYing this one – stay tuned!
5. SLEEP SHEEP. We have a Sleep Sheep and a Mini Sleep Sheep (for travel) that we still use for all of Alec’s sleep (except in the stroller) every single day. At first I thought we would just use the Mini Sleep Sheep for the new baby, but I think we’ll get a proper new one for the crib so that we have the mini one easily available to pack for trips. Who knows, maybe we’ll need a second mini sleep sheep as well if our kids end up sleeping in separate rooms when we’re in the country etc.
6. BABY BATH TUB. We had a simple baby tub with a sling which we found so useful for newborn baths with Alec. Then we switched over to a Hoppop toddler tub which we loved. It got damaged in shipping to Sweden and now we don’t have a little tub at all. Hoppop also makes a bucket-style tub for babies, but I have a hard time seeing how it would work for a newborn. Since we couldn’t find a good sling option and are trying to find things that don’t take up too much space, we ended up buying the very cool Boon Inc. Naked tub. Read more here.
8. BABY MONITOR. We had an Angelcare baby monitor for Alec in Atlanta and I loved the peace of mind that it gave me to know that an alarm would sound if he stopped breathing. I realize it’s a little over-zealous, but until we got it set up, I just could not relax about Alec sleeping in his crib. So it was a must for us. Once he started rolling off the sensor causing false alarms, we just stopped using the movement alarm, but it was still a great baby monitor. We sold it because we didn’t want to deal with voltage adapters etc (and actually don’t need a sound monitor in our old, thin-walled flat in Stockholm) when we moved back to Sweden. But we ordered We bought another Angelcare for the new baby too and now they make one that has video as well! Yay!
9. SIBLINGS WITHOUT RIVALRY. This is the one new parenting book I will be reading specifically in preparation for the new addition to the family.
STROLLERS, GEAR & FEEDING
2. HIGH CHAIR WITH NEWBORN SET. Since we’ll need another Tripp Trapp for the new baby when it’s time to start solids, we decided to just buy one now and use it with a newborn set for the first months. This will provide a safe place for baby to hang out when I have stuff going on in the kitchen, and will also allow our new addition to join in family meals from the start.
3. BREAST PUMP. We also sold the Medela Pump in Style Advanced breast pump that I used in Atlanta. It worked well for me so I wanted another one of the same. Medela seems to be phasing out the Pump In Style in favor of a (more expensive) pump called Freestyle but it seems to be getting mixed reviews, and since the Pump in Style worked for me, I was quick to order one of the Pump in Styles that were still available on Amazon.
4. PUMP & BOTTLE PARTS. Most pump and bottle parts shouldn’t be re-used, so we’re getting new bottle nipples and extra sets of valves etc for the new breast pump.
5. DRYING RACK. The Boon Inc. drying rack that we already have seems always to be full so we got another one for Baby #2′s pump and bottle parts.
6. CAR MIRROR. We still have Alec’s infant car seat that we’ll be re-using for the new baby. We just a need a second EasyView mirror so that we can see the little one in the back seat from the front seat.
7. PLAY MAT. We had two for Alec – a Baby Einstein Baby Neptune one which we kept tucked away in the nursery because I thought it was too ugly, and a cute IKEA one. At the moment we’re using the bottom padded mat of the IKEA one as a play mat in Alec’s room (tucked into a SWOOP bag) so we bought a new one from IKEA for the new baby. The ones they have now have a circus theme and a really plushy soft play mat which is nice.
8. BABY CARRIER. We have the BabyBjörn Original Organic Baby Carrier that we used for Alec but it’s not one of the things we got a ton of use out of last time around. I found it a little too bouncy to use a whole lot with Alec while he was really little. And then by the time he really felt stable enough for us to take walks with it, it was quite heavy to carry. Admittedly it was indispensable when we travelled and for a hike we did once. I think we will be doing more baby-wearing this time around – just because we will need more hands-free carrying since we’ll have our hands full with Alec, and because we live a much more urban lifestyle in Stockholm than we did in Atlanta. We won’t be driving much, but we will be managing the logistics of a teeny tiny elevator and inner city living. So we bought a Dreamy Dot sling/carrier hybrid to start and will probably be considering an Ergo carrier in the future.
9. TRAVEL CRIB. We love the BabyBjörn Travel Cot that we have for Alec. For any travel we do the first few months, we can just use the stroller bassinet and/or a baby nest, but after that, we’ll need a second travel cot for the new baby if Alec isn’t really be done with his yet.
10. TRAVEL STROLLER. We keep a Baby Jogger City Mini in the trunk of our car so we don’t have to lift our main stroller in and out of the trunk unnecessarily. We also use the City Mini for travel since it’s so easy to fold and carry and so we don’t have to worry about travel damage to our main stroller (read about our city mini and how we like it here). With two babies, I think we will end up using a carrier a lot more for the little one and probably make do with our single City Mini for shorter outings. But for travel, we think we’ll probably end up buying a City Mini Double Stroller in the end.
I’m currently off working on artwork for the opening of my Etsy shop and have some fabulous guest bloggers filling in for me over on my blog, with two cats, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite past children’s posts with you this week:
Children’s Party Ideas:
We’ve had a lot of issues with our daughter Violet when it comes to eating solids due a rare condition called FPIES, or Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. Sounds complicated, but basically it means that she is allergic to the proteins in certain foods. (If you’d like a little more detail, see the longer version of this post over on my blog, with two cats.)
Although I doubt that many of you have the same issues that we’ve experienced with Violet, a lot of this can pertain to any kid who is picky with food, dislikes certain tastes, or has issues in general with eating solids, so I hope some of you find it helpful! Here’s what has worked for us:
Tips for Little Eaters:
1. Start with something bland. Violet’s prescription formula is very VERY bland, and we made the mistake of trying to start solids with apples. Let’s just say it was a LOT more flavor that she was used to and it didn’t go well. We went back to the drawing board and tried potatoes instead. Although she still wasn’t thrilled, it went much more smoothly than apples. We then slowly built up to carrots, apples, and so on up the taste ladder.
(Violet is currently eating plums, broccoli*, carrots, blueberries**, potatoes, avocado, prunes, and freeze-dried apples. Why no meat, grains, or dairy? No, we’re not vegans. FPIES kids react least often to fruits and veggies, although we may be trying a meat next.)
*Okay so she just bites it and then spits it out, but it’s progress! **She eats the insides and spits out the skin. I’ll take it.
2. Stick with what works. Once you’ve found a food that gets good reviews (Violet eventually decided she really loved freeze-dried apples and pureed carrots) stick with that for a little while in order to build basic eating skills (chewing, swallowing, and the like) That way they’re not focusing on the taste or texture as much and are really able to just get the basics down.
3. Patience is key. For a long time Violet would put freeze-dried apples in her mouth, but didn’t seem to realize that she was supposed to swallow them. We’d always find little apple bits all over the place, which was frustrating, but we knew we were making progress based on the fact that she wanted to put them in her mouth at all. After a LOT of patience, one day it eventually clicked and she realized that those apples were FOOD and that she was supposed to eat it. That was such a huge milestone – it was the first truly solid thing that she swallowed and that opened up whole new doors for us.
4. Discover your inner model No matter how much you DON’T want to eat prunes or broccoli or freeze-dried apples (which are actually surprisingly good), this one is really important. If you won’t eat it, most likely neither will they. Over exaggerate chewing and swallowing so that your child can observe eating skills and hopefully imitate them.
5. Use peer pressure to your advantage One of our huge breakthroughs came on a day when we went to visit Violet’s babysitter and her kids They were gobbling down Violet’s freeze-dried apples like they were candy, and Violet realized that not only were those things a hot commodity, but also that the other kids WEREN’T SPITTING THEM OUT. It was after that day that we really noticed that she started to chew and swallow. I also will play YouTube videos of other babies and toddlers eating. She really watches and imitates what she sees in the video. This is how we got her to start taking bites of larger bits of food and she also tries to use utensils now as well. Seriously, what did parents do before the internet?! Here are her current favorite videos:
Cute Baby Eating Peas (Good for eating finger foods)
Baby Eating (Good for biting pieces from larger bits of food)
Toddler Eating Strawberries with a Spoon, Very Silly! (Good for using utensils)
We also recently started to take Violet to feeding therapy. We would have started sooner, but it took THREE MONTHS to get in! Here are a few tips that the therapists shared with us:
- Provide your child with at least two preferred and one non-preferred food at each meal
- Limit distractions
- Eat as a family at the table and serve family style at all meals
- Allow your child to help with food preparation and setting of the table (Violet seems to eat more when she sees me chopping up her food for whatever reason)
- Set mealtime routine with breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner
- Allow child to ‘play’ with food and get messy. (This one surprised me as parents are notorious for telling children NOT to play with their food, but apparently studies have shown that children who are allowed to play with their food become better eaters in the long run. Playing with foods has allowed Violet to get used to new textures and to learn that eating is fun and not just a chore. It’s definitely a LOT more work, but it’s working and that’s what matters.)
- Do not hide foods in other foods, ‘trick’ you child into eating a food, or force feed your child. (The idea is to gain your child’s trust. Mostly I place the foods in front of Violet and allow her to decide what she wants to eat and doesn’t want to eat. I model and encourage certain things, but don’t force the issue. Usually she will eventually try everything on her tray.)
- Don’t strap your child into the high chair. (Obviously if you have a very squirmy child and feel that it’s a safety issue, by all means use the straps, but this kind of goes along with the trust thing and making eating fun and not a chore.)
And although this post has gotten (quite) long already, I have one more thing I really want to add. The next time you see a mom feeding her child formula, please don’t judge. I nursed Violet for nine months and would probably have gone longer if it hadn’t been for her GI issues. After months of her reacting to my breast milk and an elimination diet that caused me to lose too much weight, we finally ended up with a prescription formula that has done wonders for my baby girl. She’s like a totally different, much happier and healthier girl now that she is on something that doesn’t irritate her little body. She sleeps better, feels better, and I can’t thank formula companies enough for making these products for kids who need them. You never know for what reasons a mom is scooping powder and shaking up bottles, but know that they are most likely good reasons and that she is doing what is best for her and her family.
Thanks for letting me get up on my soapbox for a minute there. I really, truly hope that this post is helpful to some of you – whether your child is just a picky eater or something more serious.
And if you have any tips for getting your kids to eat solids, I’d love to hear them!
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