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Baby-Led Weaning

Hi Lovelies!

It seems like forever since I have posted, and well, I guess it has been. I took a little mental break, but can’t wait to catch you guys up on all we have been up to! Eli is now seven and a half months old, and I can hardly stand it! I’m putting together a few six and seven month highlights for those of you who don’t get to see the little man often and will post that this week. But, the most exciting new development with him has been baby-led weaning.

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We started introducing food at six months. We wanted to wait until he was able to sit up on his own, and was dexterous enough with his hands to handle finger foods. Banana slices in a mesh teether was his first taste of real food, and he devoured the entire banana…through the teether…we figured he was quite ready.

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I had heard about baby-led weaning through the grapevine of bloggers and youtube mommies I follow. It seemed like an interesting concept, so I decided to read into it (I highly recommend Baby-Led Weaning by Tracey Murkett and Gill Rapley). For those of you who aren’t familiar with this concept, let me give you a brief summary:

Baby-led weaning is based on the idea that babies are able to feed themselves whole food from six months of age, when they naturally begin to reach for food (they still full time breastfeed for all of their nutrients).

Under careful supervision, they should be able to explore suitably sized pieces of food in their natural states. The colors, textures, smells, and pure tastes are all important when introducing a new food because that is what makes it exciting. You lose a lot of these experiences when you puree food.

BLW fosters independence-babies are able to choose which foods they wish to eat, how they want to eat it, and when they are finished. (This was a biggie for me because Eli has always been breastfed and I was not used to “measuring out food” for him. He let me know when he was full, and he now does with food as well.)

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And, that’s pretty much it! It is really simple, and has been one of the most fun things I have done with Eli. I love cooking for him, and he enjoys exploring, and making an utter mess. You get to learn what your baby likes and dislikes, and watch their little minds, mouths, and hands learn each time they are placed at the table.

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In my next few posts, I will share a bit more on how we operate around here at mealtime, so look out for those posts in the next few days!

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You know you’re a SAHM when…

This week I ventured out into the cold. It was 40 degrees and the sun was nowhere in sight, but Eli and I needed to get out and do something other than play with ring-o-links. I bravely loaded up the car and headed to the mall, thinking, I’ll just look around. Any woman out there knows it’s near impossible to just “stroll the stores” of the mall without trying SOMETHING on!

I never have had to try on clothes, I knew my size and I could grab it and go. Since having baby, my body is all kinds of crazy; one day I’ll feel confident and skinny, other days I feel like a saggy, bloated mess. Needless to say, I have to try clothes on now because I range anywhere between a 2 and 6 depending on the store, item, fit, and material.

Back to my story…so I am in the dressing room, stroller and all, and Eli decides that it is the absolute perfect time to cry. I’m sure the women helping and surrounding me thought I was in there torturing my son, but I kept my cool and tried on my clothes. I felt somewhat like a circus clown hopping into my pants using one hand to pull them up, while my other dangled various toys in front of my child trying to make him stop fussing. I don’t know what possessed her to ask, but the saleswoman politely inquired if I was “still doing ok?” Ummmm, lady, unless you want me to come out there and start whacking you with my chain of ring-o-links, I suggest you mosey on outta the dressing room and leave me alone! Of course I replied, “Yes, thank you.”

I threw my clothes back on as quickly as possible, grabbed the stuff I thought fit, and headed for the checkout. As the saleswoman began ringing up my items, I felt something itching the front of my neck. I indiscreetly grazed my chest, and felt what I was hoping was not my shirt tag-it was. My shirt was on backwards, my child was crying, and I could feel my neck, cheeks, and ears getting hot. The lady was cordial and wished me a pleasant day, and I zoomed my stroller out as fast as I could.

When I calmed down, and got to my car, I started chuckling at the situation. It made me realize just how humbling being a stay at home Mom can be. It brings out the best and worst parts of you, but it is a beautiful unveiling of sacrificial love and patience…much like our heavenly father’s love for us.

I want to always look back on this time as a learning experience and be sure to laugh along the way. Here are a few more honesties about being a stay at home Mom!

 

You know you’re a SAHM when…

You’re the last one to bed and the first one up.

You wake up in the morning and start counting down till “nap time”.

You don’t know what day of the week it is, or the date.

You microwave a cup of coffee countless times and finally get to drink it for dinner.

You’d rather stay in your pj’s than create more laundry.

Getting the dishwasher unloaded and the clothes washed in one day feels like a heroic accomplishment.

You crave adult conversation more than food.

You’re asked by someone you meet, “What do you do?” and you reply, “Everything!”

Your house looks like Toys R Us, without the maintenance workers…cleanup on isle 4 please!

You never have a lunch break, potty break, sick day, or vacation day.

You have buff arms-not from working out, but from picking baby up, down, up, down.

Getting puked on, pooped on, peed on, or snotted on does not even faze you.

You have to decide between “me time” and “sleep time” after the baby is asleep.

Dressing up for you means matching your t-shirt to your pajama bottoms.

A quiet, hot shower becomes your idea of “a day at the spa”.

You don’t carry a purse anymore because everything you need fits in the diaper bag.

You can type, read, cook, clean…and do just about everything else with one hand.

Your big outing for the week is going to the grocery store.

You read an article on housecleaning tips and consider it quality “me” time.

You can rest your eyes at the end of the day knowing that your child is getting the best love and care possible, something that only their Mom can provide.

 

 

 

 

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Nipple Know How

Yea, I said it. I’m referring to breastfeeding, but lets face it, your nipples are the ones that endure the actual battle. Before my memory fails me, I want to write a post ENCOURAGING new moms who are choosing to breastfeed. I know how hard it can be in the beginning, but trust me, it does get easier, I promise. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you survive until then!

Breastfeeding Takes Practice

Let’s just clarify one thing…breastfeeding, while it is instinctual for mom and baby after birth, it is not an ingrained behavior. You and baby LEARN to breastfeed together. Before I had the experience of breastfeeding, I thought, seriously? How hard could it be? You put the baby near your chest and they do the rest, right? WRONG. Babies have a rooting reflex as well as a sucking reflex, this helps once they find the nipple, but you are the coach teaching them how to position it in their mouth so they can get the most milk, with as little discomfort to you. While the lactation consultants in the hospital meant well, and did their best to offer assistance, they weren’t much help to me. I remember being exhausted, and really just wanting privacy with my new baby to figure things out on our own. Absorb any information you can while you have access to professionals, but keep in mind that you know what is best and most comfortable for you and your new baby. Try different holds and latch techniques. Then, practice, practice, practice. Do not be discouraged if you and baby don’t get the hang of it right away, MOST moms don’t.

Latch Suggestions

I can’t stress this enough, if the baby has a bad latch, use your finger in the corner of their mouth and remove the suck to take them off. I know how frustrating this can be because you think, I just got the baby situated and latched, re-latching is too much work. But, a bad latch will only make things more painful, and not allow your nipples to heal.

A few learned tricks that I didn’t find on breastfeeding websites are these: When latching, cup your breast using a C shape with your hand. Use your breast to gently push the baby’s chin down to open their mouth wide. Then insert your breast deep into their mouth so that the nipple is far back. Make sure your baby’s lips are positioned properly on your nipple and pursed out like a fish, this will help prevent dented nipple (not a pretty sight). If your baby’s lips are curled under, and not pursed, gently  use your finger to un-curl them.

I found the best indicator that the baby was getting enough milk was the way the nipple looked once in the mouth, and the sucking motion of the baby. The nipple should be mostly covered, and the chin should move down and pause for a moment before coming up again. This means the baby is swallowing big gulps of milk. *Note: the baby will make smaller, quicker sucks at the beginning of the feeding session until your milk lets down (you will feel a tingling, dropping sensation). Then, the big gulps will begin.

The good news is, I found that focusing on latch was really only important for the first 2-2.5 months. After that, the baby learns how to latch themselves with little to no help. If they get a shallow latch, they most likely will take themselves off and re-latch until they are comfortable and have the access they want.  Meanwhile, you can just sit back, relax, and let them do their thing. And by then, all the latching and re-latching won’t hurt because your nipples practically become numb.I remember Eli hitting this milestone round 8 to 10 weeks.

Pain is Normal

You may get red, dry, cracked, or blistered nipples…and maybe all of the above. This is completely normal and expected from a first time mom. Think about all that your nipples are enduring. Moisture, pressure, and sucking, ALL DAY LONG. This is probably the most action they have faced to date. Be patient, they WILL soon heal, taking on the form of seasoned leather!

It is a common misconception that you will not have pain if your baby is properly latched. THIS IS NOT TRUE. I received help from numerous lactation consultants in the hospital, all of which observed Eli’s latch and confirmed that it was a good one. It still hurt like the dickens. Again, pay attention to the way your latch looks, and the way the baby is taking in the milk, not the pain factor. It’s gonna hurt.

I remember dreading nursing sessions because of the pain. I would clench my jaw and have to breath slowly to try and relax my muscles. Eli was nursing every hour for 45 minute sessions…yes, do the math, I had 15 minute breaks in between. But, take heart! All this work and pain is for a reason! With every session, your body is adjusting, learning, and adapting to this new thing called sustaining another human being. Your baby and you will find a rhythm, your milk will regulate, and the pain will subside.

Pain Management

You might be saying, ok, I get it will eventually get better, but what do I do with this gutwrenching pain in the mean time? Here are a few products that helped me get through those 2 months.

Boob-ease Soothing Therapy Pillows– these packs can be heated to help open clogged ducts, or cooled to help sooth sore nipples and breasts. I preferred to use them cold, and would keep them in a quart sized ziplock baggie in my freezer. I would pop these in my sports bra any chance I got, and they really would ease the pain. *Warning: you may resemble Dolly Parton when wearing these!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large, Soft Sports Bras– My favorite bras are actually from Wallmart. They come in a pack of 3 and are 100% cotton. I tried other traditional nursing bras, but none were as comfortable as these. Plus, they don’t have a bunch of clips to fiddle with when your hungry baby is screaming to be fed. I would just lift up the bra before I nursed. I recommend getting 1-2 sizes up than your pre-pregnancy cup size. I was a 34 B, and ended up finding a 36 C most comfortable. Account for engorgement, breast pads, and the pillows mentioned above when purchasing.

 

 

 

 

 

Motherlove Herbal Nipple Cream– this cream is simply wonderful. It is all natural and does not have to be wiped off before nursing your baby. It helped heal my nipples and was much better than traditional lanolin, which gave Eli a rash on his face. It comes in a tiny 1 oz jar, but a little bit goes a long way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breast Pads– you will have a stretch of time where your milk regulates based on the frequency of your baby’s feeding and the amount consumed during those feedings. Breast pads will become your new BFF during this time. They are wonderful at soaking up those unexpected leaks, and helping to avoid public embarrassment. I prefer these over disposables because they are cheaper in the long run and are much more comfortable. They are made with soft, organic cotton, not itchy plastic like disposables. After use, you can toss these in with your regular laundry and use them again. I would stock up on these and carry a few extra sets in your diaper bag for emergency change outs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Breast Pump– Even if you are choosing to breastfeed, there are times when you will need to prepare a bottle for your baby. Having a reliable breast pump is a good idea for this reason alone. However, another reason to have a breast pump is to relieve unbearable engorgement when baby decides not to do it for you. I remember the first time I used my breast pump. It was 3:00 am, and Eli had just fed from one breast, but refused to feed from the other. After putting him back down to sleep, I rushed to the closet where my pump was (still packaged in the box) to relieve the pain. I sat on the closet floor, squinting through tired, contact free eyes to read the instruction manual. I fumbled through the setup, but eventually got that sucker working and boy was I glad that I had access to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Tip: While showering, avoid washing your nipples with soap, this will only further dry them out. Instead, simply rinse and clean with hot water.

Last but not least…

Support

It is so important to have someone, or even a group of people supporting and encouraging you to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is such a wonderful bonding experience that you and your baby will share, and it is the best nutrition you can give them (more on that in another post). When you have someone reminding you of why you chose to breastfeed, and cheering you on through the process, you will be more likely to stick out the hard months.

Got more in-depth questions? Visit kellymom.com, this was my go-to site for breastfeeding information.

Please let me know if you have any questions, I would love to help in any way I can!

 

 

 

 

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Splash of Grenadine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting a pedicure is one of my all time favorite things. There is just something about having your feet rubbed…poor things are probably the hardest working parts of our bodies, yet they get the least love, ya feel me? This past weekend, my dear husband gave me a much needed 2 hour break from baby-land to have a little “me time” and get my piggies all pretty.  Red is so predictable, so I decided, in the spirit of Valentines, to go with a pinky-purple. It’s called Splash of Grenadine, and it almost made me feel like one of the regulars who were blissfully sipping on glasses of wine at 2:00 in the afternoon. This breastfeeding lady relished in the name of her polish, and tried to focus on something other than the baby.

This 2 hour break reminded me of how important it is to carve time away for myself as a mom. It allowed my mind to rest, and  focus on things that I am interested in (I was able to read up on my favorite blogs, and a couple chapters of a book). It made me feel normal again, back to myself. Not to mention, a little prettier once my chipped, overgrown toenails were handled!

The process of pregnancy, birth, and having a baby is an enormous blessing. However, there is a lot of sacrifice that comes with it. This sacrifice is one I am honored to make, but I realized that I cannot fully make it if I am not whole. I was reminded that I need to intensionally feed myself in areas of my life that bring me joy. In doing this, I will be a better wife and mother. By making sure that I am physically, mentally, and spiritually well, I am then able to give more of myself to my family.

When I left the salon, I was eager to hold, smell, and kiss my baby. I was rejuvenated and ready for the challenges I would face when I got back home. It was a simple lesson, learned in a simple way, but I was grateful for God providing the clarity right as I needed it.

How do you balance being a mom and doing things for yourself?

 

 

 

 

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Makeup to the Rescue!

As a blogger, I am always seeking out other great blogs to read. I love being inspired, motivated, or encouraged by women who have mastered their passion and are willing to share. When I find a truly great blog, it is almost like finding a diamond in the rough…one URL amongst so many in the internet ocean. Ok that’s a little dramatic. But seriously, it gets me excited. I recently came across this one and just have to share!

Maskcara

She is a makeup artist with tons of amazing tips on how to look your best! I am amazed by this HAC technique she describes, and am definitely going to try it out! You should too, and go ahead and spend the next 2 hours browsing her blog, like I did!