new parent

WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE? (AND CHANGE THE BABY’S DIAPER?)

It’s almost here, folks! Valentine’s Day: the hallmark holiday filled with cutout hearts, chocolates galore, witty candy hearts, and sexy underthings. A lot of people have a very specific idea of what Valentine’s Day “should” look like since it’s the stereotypical holiday of couples. But it’s no secret that becoming a parent changes everything. From relationships to your daily routine, fatigue level, hobbies (or sometimes lack thereof), alone time, sleep cycle, diet, finances, and all things in between. You just created a whole human being, and it’s hard work! Who has time to stop at Victoria’s Secret when your life is currently consumed by a crying baby, a mountain of dirty diapers, an endless sea of baby clutter, and a little one that feeds around the clock?

For all of you new parents out there looking to cherish or rekindle the romance while also keeping up with the new routine you have finally fallen into, have no fear! 

These are our tips and tricks for having a stellar Valentine’s Day as a new parent:

Keep it Simple If You Need To. 

Take the pressure off. If all you want to do for Valentine’s day is take a nap, THAT IS TOTALLY OKAY.

Self Love.

Whether you have a partner or not, give yourself the gift of self love this Valentine’s Day. You matter and you are important!! Take moments throughout the day to appreciate YOU and how far you’ve come. Not only did you make a tiny human, but you’ve also managed to take care of that tiny human! Congratulations!! Self love and self-appreciation often falls to the way-side for a lot of parents. So this Valentine’s Day, be intentional about acknowledging your needs, making peace with them, and reaching out to your support system to make sure those needs get met. No shame or guilt whatsoever. Self love is all about working towards a healthier you. You deserve to be healthy. Even just honing on one particular aspect of your life that you’ve been neglecting can do wonders for creating a sense of calm and self-appreciation.

Reinvent Romantic Dates.

It’s time to nix the notion that something only counts as “romantic” if it’s a giant gesture with dramatic swelling music, hundreds of roses, shouting from the rooftops, and a fancy restaurant dinner. Especially now that there’s a new baby around, it’s time to mix things up! Romance can absolutely still exist (and be within your budget!) as a new parent. Even amidst the dirty diapers and spit-up. It might just look a little different! A few ideas to try out:

  • A chill movie night with your partner. Even if you only have time for an episode of your favorite TV show, that little bit of quality time with your partner can go a long way. And if you don’t have a significant other, a movie night with friends is just as effective for getting the good feelings flowing 🙂
  • DIY restaurant date. This is a great one if you love the idea of a dinner date but don’t have the resources for a babysitter (or just aren’t ready to take that step yet!). Clean your eating space to set your mind at ease, light a bunch of candles strategically around the room to set the mood, and order some Take-Out to minimize preparation and clean-up. You now have your very own homemade restaurant date.
  • A nap date. Not only will you both be catching up on the Z’s that you need and deserve, but you really can’t go wrong with some good old fashioned big spoon-little spoon cuddle time 🙂
  • A nice cup of something. Whether you’re a tea drinker, coffee drinker, or neither (grab a cup of orange juice!), the time it takes to savor a beverage is plenty of time to just be in each others’ presence and appreciate one another.

It’s the Little Things.

Normalizing everyday romance is so important, and it can really be a godsend when it comes to bringing back some of those ooey-gooey coupley feelings. Small expressions of appreciation can sometimes mean even more than enormous gestures because they show special attention to your partner’s likes, dislikes, daily routines, and what puts them at ease. For example: cleaning the bedroom, doing a load of laundry, bringing your person tea in bed in the morning (or any other beverage/food they enjoy), a massage, or little valentine’s notes all over the house. All of these things let your partner know that you’re thinking about them, care about them, and are cherishing them through every day actions. Especially if your significant other is stressed and you have the ability to take care of something on their To-Do list. That’s one less thing they have to worry about and they’ll likely feel super grateful.

Gift Inspiration.

If you and your Honey are gift-givers, this section is for you! Keep in mind that not all gifts have to be material items, and they certainly don’t have to be expensive.

  • The gift of timeA lot of hobbies and small (but important) forms of self-care often fall through the cracks when caring for a newborn. An amazing gift you can give your partner is the uninterrupted time to do something they love while you watch the baby for an hour or two.
  • The gift of sleep. The same goes for this gift! Your partner will be eternally grateful when you surprise them with the chance to take a nap or sleep in without having to worry about a diaper change.
  • The gift of relaxation. Few things can beat a massage or a relaxing homemade herb bath.
  • A family photo. The early days of raising a baby often fly by faster than we expect. A family photo or photo album of the memories you’ve made with your little one is the perfect way to preserve those beautiful moments.

Sexy Time? Who knows.

If sex is just not on your radar right now (especially if you’re still recovering from a physically and/or emotionally traumatic birth) that is TOTALLY okay. Expressing love and affection in ways that you feel comfortable is all that matters!

But if you ARE feeling in the mood for a little sexy time (solo or otherwise), open up a conversation with your partner ahead of time so you can set time aside to get that need met. And honestly,  if you’re in the mood, why wait until Valentine’s Day? You’ve been exhausted, stressed, and working hard to raise a beautiful new human since the second they were born into the world. Sexual needs are needs too, and you don’t need a Special Occasion as an excuse to get that Big-O. At the same time, it’s super common for parents to feel self-conscious about sex after having just launched a baby out of their bodies. A lot of new parents struggle to feel sexy when their attire consists mainly of  nursing bras, maternity wear, and whatever bodily fluids their baby chooses to eject on them at the time. Plus, the “bounce back” culture of postpartum body standards has brought so much unnecessary anxiety to the lives of new parents. But we’re here to remind you that those expectations are pure garbage. Your body is perfect, sexy, beautiful, and powerful in all of its postpartum glory. It might take some time to get used to your body again (now that you’re its sole occupant), but please don’t let that stop you! Sex and intimacy of all forms can be wonderful for nurturing that spark with your partner and rediscovering what feels good for YOU. Not only will your stress fade away for that period of time in the bedroom, but it’ll also remind you both that you’re individual humans outside of being diaper-changers. So if your partner is game, go get ’em Mama 😉 

Love on Each Other.

If your schedules are conspiring against you and there is absolutely no time for anything other than your normal routine this Valentine’s Day, you can still make the day special by loving on each other. Even if you’re just ships passing in the night. Whether your texting your boo how cute they looked this morning or complimenting them on how they handled the baby’s 2AM meltdown. Never underestimate the power of words, gratitude, and affirmation.

And when all else fails, you can’t go wrong with some classic hugs and kisses 🙂 XOXOXO

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! 🙂 

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

Sound of Music (1965) Julie Andrews

If you have tried creating a baby registry lately, you have probably noticed that there are an overwhelming number of baby products.

So what do you actually need for your little one?

The truth is, that it is really hard to know what your little one will actually like before he or she is actually here. You might find that that swing, pacifier, or swaddle that you thought you needed is never used by your little one. You might find that the stroller that your friend raved about just doesn’t quite fit in the trunk of your car. What works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for others. With that in mind, I still wanted to put together a list of some of my favorite products.

These are the things that have made my life easier in the fourth trimester: 

Haakaa silicone breast pump

The Haakaa is unlike any other pump I have ever used. First there is the price point. At under $20, this is something that I thought would be worth it even if I only used it for a couple weeks. I was under the impression that the Haakaa just caught the milk that would otherwise leak out of the other side while I was nursing. Although that is largely true, just squeezing it a bit more will create a suction that pulls more milk out. I started using the Haakaa when I was about a week postpartum. I was quite engorged, particularly on one side, and my little one was having trouble latching on. I suctioned the Haakaa to the engorged side and sat down to feed my little one on the other side. By the time he was done with that side I had 3 ounces in the Haakaa and he was able to latch on to the other side. I started using the Haakaa for the first couple feedings of the day and it didn’t take long before I realized that I was starting to have a nice stockpile in my freezer. I wouldn’t say that the Haakaa replaces the electric pump. I haven’t had any luck using it without my baby nursing on the opposite side. It wouldn’t do me any good if I had to pump at work and it certainly isn’t discreet. It is, however, a game changer for those of us that find ourselves leaking or engorged. 

Aden and Anais knotted gown

There are a lot of opinions on what kind of baby pajamas are the best. The options are generally snaps, zippers, or gowns. I judge all of them on how easy it is to change diapers in the middle of the night. I love the ease of a gown, but I often find that my little one ends up with cold little feet. The knotted gown solves this issue. You literally just tie a knot in the bottom of the extra long gown and those cute little feet are kept warm inside the super soft pajamas. The only downside to this gown is that Aden and Anais only makes it in a 0-3 month size. I was very sad when my little guy outgrew it.

Halo Sleepsack Swaddle

 Swaddling a baby can help to sooth them and makes it less likely that they will wake up due to their startle reflex. Although you can certainly swaddle a baby in a blanket, it makes me nervous to leave them unattended with blankets. My oldest was like Huidini and no matter how well we swaddled him he would always work his way out of it. With my second and third I discovered swaddlers that had snaps or velcro to keep them secure. I have several different brands, but the Halo is my favorite. Halo’s genius design includes a zipper that appears to be upside down. The benefit of that is that you can leave your little one swaddled while you change their diaper. They make these sleepsack swaddles in a few different fabrics so you can pick something warmer or lighter depending on your needs. I also have Halo Sleepsacks (without the attached swaddles) in several sizes. These are perfect for keeping little ones warm when they are still too young to have loose blankets 

Reusable breast pads  

If you are breastfeeding you will probably need to have some kind of breast pads. At 3 months postpartum I leak a lot less than I did at 3 weeks, but I still find that I need to wear the pads in my bra. I still leak a bit from my right side while breastfeeding my little one on my left. I also will occasionally leak if I hear him (or sometimes other babies) crying. Although there are disposable options, it seems silly when they are so easy to wash. I have bought them from Target, but I prefer to support small businesses. You can absolutely find great reusable pads on Etsy, but my favorite are from Goddess Homemaker, a Michigan woman that also happens to make absolutely adorable baby clothes. How many you will need will depend on how much you leak and how often you want to do laundry. I have six pairs and it works well for me.

Evenflo EveryStage DLX

I do a lot of research on car seats and I have found that most people have strong opinions about the best seats. With my first two I had one of those infant bucket seats that everyone seems to get. There are a lot of benefits to being able to quickly remove the car seat from your car, but it just isn’t something that I did that often. I do a lot of babywearing and my car seat stayed in the car 90% of the time. When I realized that most convertible seats can hold a newborn as small as 5 pounds, I decided to skip the newborn seat with baby number 3. So far the only time that I have found this inconvenient is at restaurants. I have become really good at either eating while holding a baby or laying him on a blanket in the booth. When he can sit in a high chair this won’t be an issue any more. The EveryStage DLX has been wonderful. It quickly adjusts the height, so that in 3 seconds I can make it fit my friend’s three year old. The DLX is so easy to install that I am confident that my 8 year old could get a secure fit. I am hoping that I will be able to keep my son rear facing in this seat for at least a couple years in this seat. There are so many car seat options out there. I highly recommend finding a local store with knowledgeable staff that can help you work through the options that fit your car and your family best.  

Arms Reach Co-sleeper Mini

This is the best bassinet that we have found for our family. Two things about the design work very well for us. First of all, it securely attaches to the bed. This means that no matter how much I lean on it or trip getting out of bed. I will never tip this bed over. Secondly, the side of it can be lowered so that you can easily reach over and grab your hungry baby to feed him/her at night. This is a huge improvement from a traditional bassinet which I found awkward to reach into in the middle of the night. I suspect that the regular size co-sleeper would allow your little one to remain in it a bit longer, but the smaller footprint of the mini size co-sleeper works well for us. At 3 months old, my little guy is still doing well in the mini, but we will probably have to move him to his crib within the next month. 

Wrap-strap Meh Dai

It is no secret that I am a babywearer. My babies have been worn in just about every carrier out there. In the first 3 months of this little one’s life he has been in a woven wrap, a Moby, a Wrapsody Hybrid, a couple different ring slings, and a HopTye (a meh dai made by the German wrap manufacturer Hoppediz). The HopTye is by far my husband’s carrier of choice. It is soft, flexible, and there are no straps that need to be adjusted. It is also extremely comfortable. I can wear my little guy in this carrier for hours without it affecting my back at all. No matter how you choose to wear your baby, it allows you to meet their needs while also having your hands free to take care of your own needs. For me this means that I can grocery shop, play with my older sons, and feed myself while my little guy naps on my chest. The other big advantage of this carrier style is that this carrier that is working so well in these early days will also work on my back when he gets older and should be able to comfortably support him when he is a toddler. I got a great deal on this carrier on the second hand market, but they aren’t the only manufacturer of this style. Two others that I like a lot are Fidella and Didymos. I have a lot of experience and opinions about baby carriers. If you want help finding the right carrier for your family, consider setting up a babywearing consultation in your home or visiting a local babywearing group.

I hope that my list of my seven favorite baby products is helpful for you. Although some of the things I have came from reading a ton of reviews and asking a lot of questions, the majority has just been trial and error. Some things that I painstakingly bought (like our stroller) we have never really used. Other things, like the Co-Sleeper, were gifts we didn’t think we needed that have now become staples in our lives. You will find the things that work best for you.

Just remember that the only things your baby absolutely needs are love, warmth, and milk. Everything else is just to make your life a little easier.

 

FOOD FOR THE POSTPARTUM MOOD


The clock strikes 3PM. The tiny, warm, newborn bundle of joy in your arms has finally settled down and dozed off to sleep. A moment of peace surrounds you when all of a sudden you realize you haven’t had anything to eat all day! No wonder you’re exhausted! (you know, aside from the fact that your bundle of joy was only seconds ago a bundle of screaming). If you’ve ever been so busy that you’ve forgotten to indulge in your basic physical needs, you’ll completely understand this phenomenon. And now with a newborn it’s even easier for this to happen! Well have no fear.

Here are a couple tips and tricks to keep up on your postpartum nutrition even when your tiny bundle is keeping you busy: 

  • Eat when you can! Parenthood can be incredibly hectic, especially those first few months postpartum while you’re getting used to your new role and routine. So whenever you have a moment, whether it’s while baby is napping or skin-to-skin during feeding, try munching on a snack. Not only will that keep up your energy for when baby’s especially fussy, but it’ll also improve your milk supply if breastfeeding/chestfeeding is part of your plan!
  • Snack snack snack! With a new baby it’s common not to have the time or energy to prepare full meals on a regular basis. We highly recommend snacking many times throughout the day, not only out of convenience, but because it’s more effective at keeping your blood sugar up as the day goes on. Parents that breastfeed/chestfeed are much more likely to have blood sugar crashes due to so much of their bodily nutrients going to their milk supply, so please make sure to snack if your tiny human is suckling away!
  • Overstock your favorite foods. If there’s a food you’re always in the mood for, don’t be afraid to overstock! Your body will be working overtime to heal after your baby’s birth. So this is a fool-proof way to make sure you’re providing your body with the energy it needs to heal, especially if your appetite is being funky as you adjust.
  • Foods that are easy to eat with one hand. Convenience is key! Leaving some one-handed snacks on the counter so you can grab a few grapes as you walk by can make things SO much easier.
  • Stash non-perishables around the house so you don’t have to get up. End up having an unexpected moment of peace but don’t want to disturb your little one by moving? Good thing you stashed those granola bars in the drawer next to your sofa so that you don’t even have to move to grab a bite!
  • Stock up on foods that require minimum prep. Again, convenience is key. Save your energy for those times when your baby doesn’t want to settle down! Protip: precut fruits and veggies are a godsend.
  • Have your support people (e.g. your doula, significant other, friends, family, etc..) prepare food for you!
  • Prepare and freeze meals before you go into labor. Meal planning before your tiny human arrives can be a lifesaver. By making and freezing nutrient-dense meals ahead of time, you’ll be able to just throw that healthy meal in the microwave while folding clothes or changing baby’s diaper. Easy peasy!

Need some ideas for low-maintenance healthy postpartum snacks? We got you 🙂 

  • Precut fruits and veggies
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Crackers
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Popcorn
  • Pre sliced cheese/ string cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Granola
  • Protein bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Hummus

 Here are some additional postpartum nutrition tidbits to keep in mind to ensure you’re on your way to feeling your strongest: 

  • Nutrient dense foods for the first few months. A healthy, nutrient-rich diet is one of the biggest deciding factors in healing and gaining your strength back after birth. Instead of defaulting to quick and easy processed foods (although a little dessert never hurt anyone 😉 ), make sure you’re doing everything you can to nourish your body with each bite! You just carried a baby in your body for 9 months, and now it’s time to take care of you too. If nursing is part of your postpartum plan, it’s also important to remember that your baby eats everything you eat, and you both deserve the absolute best in your tummies.
  • Protein-rich foods: Eating more of these foods will not only help strengthen your body, but will also facilitate tissue healing/repair which is vital after birth. This is especially the case after C-sections or physically traumatic births. Examples of these foods: cheese, yogurt, meat, beans, nuts, eggs. 
  • Healthy whole-grain carbs. After your little one has arrived it’s super tempting to switch gears to losing that “baby weight” as soon as possible, but losing it too fast can interfere with your ability to produce milk and leave you feeling fatigued. Investing in some whole-grain carbs is an easy way to keep your energy up as well as provide that extra boost to your milk supply if your’e breastfeeding/chestfeeding!
  • Foods that promote collagen-formation. When it comes to collagen-formation Vitamin C, beta carotene, and zinc are must-haves. Collagen promotes the healing of skin and tissue. Vitamin C and zinc also boost your immune system to prevent common illnesses! Examples: carrots, sweet potatoes, red meat, citrus fruits. 
  • Leafy greens. Let’s not forget those leafy greens because they’re a fantastic source of iron and Vitamin A! Vitamin A promotes the formation/maintenance of bones, teeth, soft tissues, mucus membranes, white blood cells, and the immune system. This is especially important for new parents, and even more so for new babies. Don’t worry, nursing babies get all of this good stuff from breast milk!
  • Vitamin B-12. This one’s a biggie. Vitamin B-12 is involved in the metabolism reactions that occur in every single cell of the human body because it helps break down nutrients and enhances nervous system function. Making sure you’re getting adequate amounts of B-12 can improve your postpartum healing experience 10-fold, and also  decreases the likelihood of postpartum depression and anxiety. Breastfeeding/chestfeeding parents also need extra B-12 because it facilitates healthy brain and red blood cell function/development for both the parent and baby. Examples: lean beef, yogurt, cheese, eggs. 
  • Fiber. In your postpartum life you will find there will already be a lot going on down there. No need to add constipation to the mix 🙂 
  • Iron. Anemia is pretty common during and after pregnancy because extra hemoglobin and red blood cells are needed to bring oxygen/nutrients to your baby before they’re born. By getting enough iron, you’re also replenishing your red blood cells! Examples: lentils, leafy greens, lean beef, dark beans. 
  • Hydration nation. Your body is mostly water, so drink up! Plus, water decreases constipation. Need we say more? 🙂 

Now let’s nourish that postpartum body!