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Breastfeeding... While Pregnant.

>> Friday, August 31, 2012

So I never quite expected I'd be here.  But here I am.

18 weeks pregnant and yet still nursing my first, who is a year and a half old.  (*I'm of the camp that believes a good mother is a mother who feeds her baby in a way that meets her needs and the baby's needs. If that be formula, great!  If that be breastfeeding, great!  To me, happy mamas = happy babies, so this is what I'm personally doing, and not a reflection or indication of what anyone else would or should do, as you make decisions based on what is best for your family in your eyes, just like I do, and that is perfectly fine!)

Breastfeeding was something I started to do because I'd read it was a good option to try for myself and little man, and it was cheap, to be perfectly honest.  It wasn't always easy, in fact, sometimes, it was downright miserable and hard.  However, I don't like to quit, at anything really, and this was no exception.  (Did I mention also that I'm cheap?  I mean, um, thrifty, right!)  So we kept going.

As time went by, things became much easier.  Breastfeeding my older babe was pretty easy.  We began to try to get pregnant again, and after a few months of trying, luckily I was able to get pregnant while still nursing.

So then, there I was, pregnant, and still breastfeeding.

At that point, while I knew I wanted to continue, because it just worked for us, there were those thoughts of doubt in the back of my head.  Should we still be doing this?

Some days, I do think to myself, the old me- the pre children me- would have been utterly confused and possibly somewhat unwilling to accept what I'm doing now.  It makes sense to me that it doesn't work for everyone.

But it works for us.  We both still enjoy those quiet moments together- that time during the day when we just get to relax, put our feet up, and exchange a few smiles back and forth as he snuggles up to me.  If you have a toddler, I'm sure you realize how lovely those moments are when you have a child who no longer wants to sit for an instant in fear of missing something really fun going on in the other part of the room :)

You can share closeness in a million other ways with your child.  There are probably more ways than I can name, and everyone has their own different ways of doing it.  This is part of ours, and- while the former me would be somewhat shocked- the mama me is just thankful that we're both able to share something we enjoy together.


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Eating Well (or trying to!) During Pregnancy

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good nutrition is important at every stage of life, but something about pregnancy drives many women to take extra care of themselves, including how they eat.  Whether it is realizing you are no longer just taking care of yourself or wanting to keep your body in the healthiest shape for your eventual labor and delivery, many a pregnant woman takes a second look at what she eats.

However, as a second time mama, sometimes it isn't as easy to keep focused on your nutrition as well as you do your first child's!  Here are some quick tips to help you eat healthy during your pregnancy, whether this is your first, or one of many children:

- Drink tons of water!  Water intake for pregnancy recommendations vary based on your source, but drinking somewhere from 64 to 80+ ounces per day seems to be a common finding.  Water intake decreases dehydration related contractions and aids in your blood volume and baby's amniotic fluids, even if it does keep you running to the ladies' room!!!

- Take your prenatal vitamins.  This may seem like a no-brainer for some women, but for others, it can be hard to remember, especially if you take no other medications, or if you have other children at home on which you are focused.  I've found personally that setting a smart phone alarm with the label of "Take your Vitamin!" tends to work well for me :)

- Vary your colors.  Watching the colors of your food intake can, in many cases, help you to increase the vitamins and minerals you are obtaining.  When you eat a meal, you want to try and eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables to gain more of your nutrients from your food than from relying on vitamins and supplements.

- Think about the overall picture.  When my son began to eat solid foods, we were given the advice to judge his intake over a week's time, instead of a day.  This helped my husband and I to not obsess over every meal he ate.  Overall, by the end of each week, his intake is widely varied and covering all categories.  This can be a helpful outlook to have while eating for your pregnancy as well.

What are some things you do to eat well during pregnancy?


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Breastfeeding Fashion Tips

>> Monday, August 27, 2012

The baby is born, you can't wait to start getting back into your old things and then you realize that all those fashionable pieces you had before aren't going to work. AH! Here's a few tips on how to get the most of your old fashion while breastfeeding and what can help while breastfeeding out in public.

1. You absolutely must have a bra that fits and works correctly. There are many different kinds to choose from, try them on and get the right fit. Make sure it's not too tight or anything.. oh and make sure those girls are where they need to be. Yes all this can be done when you find a good nursing bra. A good bra can make breastfeeding a lot easier.

2. A secret I figured out.. my belly is flabby many months after having a baby and I definitely don't want anyone looking at it. Wear a stretch camisole and pull the top down and your shirt up. Keeps your belly hidden, gives you a slimming look and helps you stay a bit more discreet with a shirt on top and bottom.You can start wearing your old pieces and still be comfortable nursing.

3. Find nursing tops that open right under your breast, you can lift up and pull down allowing for discreet, comfortable nursing.

4. Nursing covers, they're amazing when the baby is small and you're still finding that niche of not revealing too much but still satisfying that little love. However once baby gets older (in my experience) they don't like the cover.. the camisole idea works great at this time.

5. Don't wear super tight shirts that are going to be hard to get over your breasts. Something comfortable but still slimming, cute and what you like. Just like when you're pregnant, you don't have to wear boxy, big huge shirts to breastfeed your baby.

 I hope these tips are helpful too you. Breastfeeding should be a happy time, feel good, look good and nourish your baby!


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The Miracle of Birth Captured Through Child Birth Photography

>> Thursday, August 23, 2012

When my first daughter was born, I fell in love with the miracle that is child birth. I had such a fantastic experience birthing her and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that miracle as often as possible. Of course, having dozens of children myself wasn't exactly what I had in mind so I started pondering the different career paths I could venture into that would allow me to be a part of birth as often as possible. I toyed with the idea of becoming a doula, I thought about going into nursing with the intention of becoming a labour and delivery nurse. I even briefly entertained the idea of going as far as to become a midwife. But then I discovered the world of child birth photography.

My best friend gave birth to her second child in October of 2008 and a mutual friend of ours was in the delivery room and photographed the birth. The pictures moved me to tears and I instantly knew I had found my calling, the way I could be involved in the miracle of birth on a regular basis. I had always been interested in photography and had already toyed with the idea of starting my own photography studio and after seeing the images from KJ's birth, I was sold. I told my husband I was ready to go into business and he supported me 100%.

I often get funny looks when I tell people that I am a photographer who specialize in child birth photography. For a lot of people, their first thought is “ewww! I don't want pictures of that!”, but more often than not, once I share some of the images from my child birth photography sessions, they change their minds, or at least recognize the fact that birth photography isn't necessarily what they think it is.

Birth photography really can be a beautiful thing when done right. It captures all the emotions of a huge day in a family's life. It captures the concentration on mom's face as she puts all her energy into pushing. It captures the concern of dad as he watches his wife work so hard, knowing there is little he can do to truly help bring baby into the world. It captures baby's first breath and mom and dad's reaction to seeing their little one for the very first time. It is highly emotional and I can't think of one birth I have photographed where I haven't shed at least a tear or two at being given the opportunity to witness such a beautiful, miraculous and intimate event.

All that being said, I completely realize that hiring a birth photographer isn't for everyone. For some people, having a photographer capture every moment of something as intimate as child birth just does not appeal. Even my husband has been leery of hiring someone to photograph the births of our children, and I've been working in the field of child birth photography for over three years now! He is only just comfortable with the idea now that we are a few weeks away from having our third child. I am so excited to finally be having my own birth experience photographed.

I am grateful for those who do allow me into such a special moment in their lives. Each birth I attend takes my breath away, regardless of the circumstances... natural birth or c section, home birth or hospital, induction or completely med free, each birth is incredible and I feel so blessed to be apart of them.


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Preparing for Your Second Pregnancy and Baby

>> Tuesday, August 21, 2012

After the initial overwhelming recognition that you are pregnant again, there are often some realizations that a second pregnancy can be very different than your first pregnancy.  No pregnancy is the same, and during your second or third+ pregnancy, there are many factors you didn't have to consider the first time around.

One of the very quick realities many pregnant mothers face is being sick.  Seeing as how my first child is still a toddler, something that I did very quickly was determine a safe place for him to be when I was having morning sickness.  We are lucky enough to have a space near our bathroom that is large enough to store a pack and play, and this was the safe spot I'd put him in when I was sick.  It was already stocked with toys and books to keep him occupied, toys that he only got to play with during those specific times, so he was happy just to sit and play.

A second consideration as the pregnancy progresses is where your first and second child will reside.  Do you have enough space for them to have their own rooms?  Do you co-sleep or roomshare, thus this being a non-issue?  Do you want them to share a room?  Do you re-decorate all over again?  Personally, we designed a unisex nursery the first time around, so we only had to plan/design/implement our son's toddler room.  

If your child is old enough to understand, you also may spend some time addressing the topic of preparing your child mentally and physically for their new brother or sister.  How you choose to approach that topic will vary greatly based on your child and your relationship with your child, as many children learn and process in different ways.

Last but not least, you have to prepare yourself.  Many mothers have fears and trepidations about bringing a (much-wanted!) second child into their lives.  There are few mothers who don't worry about how it will affect their first child, change their current lives, and try their patience or ability as a parent.  After having a few of these fears as a first time mom, however, most second time moms realize that you will get through these fears and get to the other side.  The second time mom realizes that everything is a phase, there is always enough love to go around, and cartoons are amazing on a rough day :)

What is something you are doing to prepare for your pregnancy and baby?


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Raising a Redhead

>> Thursday, August 16, 2012

One thing I never anticipated about being a mother was having a child with red hair. My third son was born with fair skin and, instead of being blonde like his brothers, he has red hair! Although I never anticipated it, I adore his red hair. It is so unique, and fits his little beautiful personality perfectly.

As Baby E is getting older, (he’s almost 15 months), not only is his hair getting brighter and brighter, but I’m realizing how much of a parenting shift this will require. Going outside to play without thinking twice about sunblock is a thing of the past. We had a family photoshoot a couple months back, and although it was completely overcast, Baby E got sunburned in the hour we were outside! This was when it full hit me how attentive I was going to have to be with him and his exposure to the sun. We play outside all the time, all year round. I had to do something to help avoid this in the future.
Photo from HERE

I have two favorite products that I am (almost) always with during the summer months. 1. A Sunskinz swimming suit. I got it on sale at Costco, and it has been well worth the money. It even has a hood so I can cover up his head when the sun gets really hot. And, it helps that he's stinkin adorable in it.

Product #2 that is a must-have is Supergoop. (Rad name, right?) It's free of parabens, fragrance, and oxybenzones. It uses completely natural and skin-compatible ingredients, meaning not only is it safe for my baby, it's safe for the entire family, on a regular basis! I don't have to be grossed out by sticking the chemical stuff on faces and around eyes. Nice!

It is definitely an adjustment having to accommodate Baby E’s specific needs, but I’m grateful for the opportunity that I have to learn what I can do to make his life more comfortable. I feel in doing so, I am getting more educated on products like sunblock, and am able to utilize that knowledge with all of my children. I’m grateful for modern advances like UV protective clothing and chemical free sunblock that make it possible to not have to alter our outdoor-loving lifestyle.


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Toddler Summer Activities

>> Monday, August 13, 2012

As my oldest is about to enter Kindergarten, I’m making extra special effort this summer to cram in as much fun as possible. With a 5, 3, and 1 year old, the list of things we can do and all enjoy isn't very big, Since the oldest and youngest have hardly any of the same interests! I've come up with a few ideas that have, or will keep us occupied with lots of summer fun!
  • Water kickball- Each base is a 5 gallon bucket. There is a slip and slide between third base and home, and a sprinkler by the pitcher’s mound. We obviously do this one when friends are over so we have more kids to play with, but it is so fun to be active, and stay wet and cool in the meantime! Even if the 1 year old can’t play kickball, he sure can have a blast toddling through the sprinkler! 
  • Sidewalk chalk- It took a couple times of doing this to convince Baby E that it wasn’t okay to eat chalk, but after that, this is an activity that we love doing as a family. We practice spelling words, numbers, draw outlines of our bodies, hopscotch and make up fun games.   And Baby E has a blast scribbling in 5 different colors.  Another fun twist is to wet down the concrete before we sidewalk chalk. It makes it a little more messy, but the colors are much more vibrant! And let's be real, who doesn't like to get a little dirty?
  • Library Story Time- Our local library has a fantastic children’s summer program. They have activities every week for all different ages. They are versatile enough that all of my kids can enjoy them. A benefit is that it’s fun to be able to check out new books on a regular basis.
  • Family Exercise Time- Every day we decided to do family exercise time. We all run (or ride in the stroller) to the park that is 2 blocks from our house. When we get there, we do a 5 minute workout session, complete with jumping jacks, monkey bars, and stretches. Then we get to all play on the play structure for a few minutes, before we run home. It’s fun to burn some calories together and encourage family laughter and togetherness
It has been such a fantastic summer with more outings and experiences, and I hope that we can continue making memories like these because we’re having a ball. I can’t wait to see what other fun activities we are able to add to our list as my children grow and start contributing ideas of their own!


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How to look cool in all this heat

>> Thursday, August 9, 2012

Whether you are a pregnant mother-to-be or a mother already (or both!), this summer heat can put a huge damper on your personal style.  Well, unless your personal style includes 80's style sweatbands :)

Especially now that I am pregnant and running after a toddler, I find it hard to spend a ton of time on my personal style.  And the heat really makes me want to just put on a bathing suit and lay in a pool and forget going anywhere looking nice anyway!

Here are a few tips to keep your style fresh during those hot summer months:

- Purchase a few light, summery dresses.  I find the Adelina dress from MM on the left to be a great option for a pregnant mama because it is easy to be dressed up or down.  Summer dresses are perfect for mothers additionally because it is one piece.  Grab it from your closet, throw it on, and go.  No messing with finding something to match it to a top or a bottom!

- Choose simple, basic pieces that are wardrobe staples.  Solid color shirts, khaki shorts, and lightweight everything.  Having the basics of your wardrobe covered can really take you far.

- Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!  Adding a brightly colored necklace, pair of earrings, or fun pair of printed flats or sandals can really make those basic wardrobe staples stand out, and save you a lot of time in putting together an outfit!

- Experiment with your hair.  Braiding has been pretty popular the past few seasons, as well as the new trend of ballerina buns.  Both of these styles can lend to being very functional in this heat!  And, as a mama of one already, I can personally attest to the fact that a braid can be done the night before and only needs light tweaking in the morning before heading out the door.  Such a time saver!

Hope these tips help and you're dealing well with the heat!


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Wearing Baby While Pregnant

>> Monday, August 6, 2012

Babywearing, or the act of carrying your child on your body, with a little help of some simple and not so simple contraptions/cloths, can be a part of motherhood that some women enjoy.  There are many benefits to babywearing, and it's something I've done consistently with little man since he was born.  However, now that I am pregnant again, wearing my child has become a totally different ball game.

Early in pregnancy, babywearing is just normal business.  You put your babe into a sling, wrap, carrier, etc. and go.  No changes in your body yet, no additional reasons to be uncomfortable... yet.

However, shortly after hitting my second trimester, some of my typical carriers for little man just did not seem comfortable any more.  It seemed that a lot of carriers I LOVE when I am not pregnant just began to hit me in the wrong place, sit in an odd position, or just generally hurt in ways they had never made me feel before I was pregnant with baby number two.

Here are some tips to try if you plan to babywear while pregnant:

- Invest your time first!  Read, research, and then read some more.  There are TONS of reviews on the internet about all different kinds of baby carriers and babywearing devices.  It may seem overwhelming at first, but if you read a few different reviews, you can get an idea on how that carrier is to wear while pregnant.

- Know yourself.  When I first had little man, I loved to use lots of wraps, because I had the time to do different types of wrapping and only a happy, smiley baby waiting for me in the swing to be picked up.  Now, I know that the most important thing for me as a pregnant mama in the middle of a ridiculously hot summer is to not be spending 20 minutes in the parking lot of a store wrapping little man up, only to stop in for one item.  Knowing what you want out of a carrier first can help guide your choice.

- Try them out!  As I mentioned above, some of my favorite carriers from pre-pregnancy are completely uncomfortable now, and I've had to adjust what I use.  There are many babywearing groups and libraries you can join to rent, borrow, or just test out different carriers and how you specifically like them.  I've also had good luck borrowing wraps or carriers from friends and likewise have loaned out some of my own and taught others how to use them.  The best way to know what you like is to actually use it.

- Be open minded.  The logistics of carrying around a toddler while pregnant are not very appealing to many, but it can be done if you find the way that works the best for you.  However, if you don't seem to find something that works, a stroller can also be a great option for use during pregnancy.  I haven't met a wrap yet that has a cup holder for a cool drink!

Babywearing is something fun to try out and, if you like it, you've just found a new way to tote around your tot.  Leave some babywearing love in the comments if you have a favorite carrier or wrap and let us know what it is!


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It's Just A Phase...

>> Friday, August 3, 2012

The other day, I didn't give little man a toy as fast as he wanted me to get it there.  When he did get the toy in his hands, he threw it up in the air, threw his hands up in the air, and then proceeded to lie down face first on the floor and wail.

Uh oh.

My first thought was to laugh, because it really was pretty cute.  But, knowing that would probably encourage the behavior, I tried to stifle the laugh and not let him see the half smile on my face.

My second thought was, "Oh no!  Have we hit the toddler meltdown stage?"  (Cue scary music here.)

Turns out, as I recognized very shortly after, little man was just really tired and nearing the end of his awake time before he was ready for a nap.  However, it got me thinking a little bit about all of the different stages and phases we've been through in his little life so far.

When he was really little, my husband and I went through what every new parent goes through, the crazy high emotions coupled with the utterly devastating lack of sleep.  It passed.

When he got a little bigger, he would love to sleep, but wanted to be rocked for hours before he would let us put him down.  While my arms and back took a small beating, he was content.  It passed.

When we thought we'd never be able to eat a real meal because he'd never feed himself, those dinners were cold and often returned to in several installments on our part.  It passed.

Altogether too soon, I'll probably be saying, "Do you remember when he....?" to my husband about what he is doing right at this moment.  Hopefully, while the stage moves on, the memories will stay.

Part of motherhood for me has been realizing that it is a journey.  No matter what stage or phase we go through, it passes.  Some of it not as quickly as we'd like, and some of it too quickly.  It is a process of holding on while letting go.  If you mamas figure out that balance, let me know how you do it :)


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Happy World Breastfeeding Week, 2012!

>> Thursday, August 2, 2012

August 1st marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week 2012, which just so happens to be the 20th anniversary of this breastfeeding celebration.

As a huge advocate for breastfeeding, and having spent over four of my five years of motherhood as a breastfeeding mom, I had never heard of World Breastfeeding Week until last year. And when I did finally hear about it, I had no idea what it was!

World Breastfeeding Week is a celebration of breastfeeding that occurs August 1st-7th of each year. Over 170 countries join in the celebration which commemorates the Innocenti Declaration, a document drafted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United National Children's Fund (UNICEF) that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding. For additional information on the purpose and goals of World Breastfeeding Week 2012, be sure to check out www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org. The site contains a wealth of information about why this week is so important.

World Breastfeeding Week 2012 will be celebrated in various ways across the United States over the coming week. This is a great week to stock up on breastfeeding supplies as many breastfeeding stores will celebrate with discounted products and giveaways. There is also a large event, The Great Nurse In 2012, being held in Washington DC. The Great Nurse In is the first event of it's kind, being held on the West Lawn of the Capitol where organizers are hoping to draw at least 500,000 supporters of nursing. The goal of this event is to let law makers know that breastfeeding moms and supporters of breastfeeding would like to see improved breastfeeding laws and policies, including more protection for public breastfeeding.

On a local level, nursing moms are invited to participate in the Big Latch On 2012, a two day event where moms across the world will breastfeed simultaneously in hopes of breaking the world record. Last year, the Big Latch On results tallied in at 5687 mothers nursing in 412 locations in 5 different countries. The events scheduled for this year's Big Latch On already include 567 locations in 23 countries. To participate, go to www.biglatchon.org and find the location nearest you. This event will take place on Friday August 3rd and Saturday August 4th at 10:30 in the morning on both days.

For those of us unable to attend either of the events celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2012, I like to think there are other ways we can celebrate. I know that I for one will be nursing my daughter throughout this week and using the time to reflect on what a blessing my time as a breastfeeding mom has been. I will try to use my knowledge of World Breastfeeding Week to bring up nursing in conversation and educate others on the need for breastfeeding reform. I also plan to brush up on my knowledge of the laws in my area and write letters to government officials urging them to improve the laws to protect the rights of breastfeeding moms and babies everywhere.

MM is celebrating by offering 20% off all nursing pieces until Saturday, August 4th with code "NURSING". Don't miss out on a chance to get one of those nursing pieces you've had your eye on!
Happy World Breastfeeding Week 2012! What are you doing to celebrate?  If you find any great deals on breastfeeding supplies or products, please share!


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Teaching Toddlers About Good Nutrition

>> Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photo via HERE
One thing I’ve learned as a Mom is that getting your toddlers to eat healthy is an uphill battle. From my experience, it doesn’t matter how much healthy food you set in front of them, they are always going to prefer pizza and chicken nuggets. Being raised in a family with 9 kids, we always ate casseroles and soups. Our palettes didn’t get a lot of variety, and we weren’t really taught about nutrition. We ate what was in front of us. I did not want my kids raised this same way. I want them to know what seafood, fresh artichoke, and quinoa taste like. The struggle though, is actually getting them to taste the variety of goodness set in front of them.

I love vegetables. All vegetables. But I haven’t always been that way. It took a lot of forcing myself to eat what my mouth hated, but my body craved. I wanted my kids to feel the same way about vegetables. My pediatrician told me that it takes children 7-10 times of eating something they don’t like before they learn to like it. Their taste buds are growing and developing just as their little bodies are.

Photo via HERE

I did 2 very distinct things with my children to encourage them to eat healthier. The first was to sit down with my boys and have a conversation about how we don’t just eat food because it tastes good. We eat food because it provides our bodies with energy and nutrients. Sometimes we have to eat things our mouths don’t like because they make our bodies healthy and strong. This seemed to really resonate with them, and it definitely made a difference. The 2nd thing I did is I always incorporate a lot of vegetables into meals. I make a lot of stir fry and pasta primavera. I’ll throw in 8 to 10 vegetables per meal, even if it’s just small amounts. I allow my boys to pick one vegetable each that they pick out, and they have to eat the rest. I taught them that instead of picking out each vegetable and eating it by itself, if you eat everything all together, it has really good flavor!

Making nutrition a priority in our home has definitely been a challenge, but it has more than paid off. My kids love eating fruits and vegetables, and that is something that will stick with them through their lives.


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