Giving Birth & Bouncing Back

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I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t feeling (or looking!) my best a mere 8 weeks after giving birth to my son. Heck, 8 months later and I’m STILL NOT back to normal. I saw this article about Kristin Cavallari and couldn’t believe how awesome she looks only 8 weeks after giving birth to son Jaxon in May.

Why is it that some moms, especially celebrities, can look so amazing so soon after having a baby? Is it because they feel “pressured” due to the media? Maybe. Regardless, there’s no way I could have felt so amazing and looked so beautiful in so little time after having O.

It’s been just over 8 months since I gave birth and, although, a lot of the weight has come off (I gained a lot!) and my emotions and hormones are back in check, I still don’t feel like I did before I was pregnant. It will probably take at least another year for me to get the baby weight completely off (but I’m striving to lose more!), and I’m totally okay with that. Sure, I have days where I just wish the pounds would melt away or days when there isn’t enough makeup in the world to make me feel beautiful. But, again, it’s ok.

If you’re a mama struggling to get the weight off quickly after having a baby, take your time! Of course Kristin and other celebrities look and seem to feel beautiful, I’m sure they have their days where they would rather not leave the house – we all do! Plus, don’t even get me started on airbrushing (in magazines)! We all know they do it. Regardless of probably airbrushing on Mrs. Jay Cutler, she looks amazing.

Tell me about your struggle (or success!) in losing those pregnancy pounds in the comments below. I’d love to hear your story. If you feel more comfortable emailing me, please feel free to do that instead.

Stay healthy and fabulous, Mamas! -themidwestmama

Top Ten Tuesday: Pregnancy Books

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While I was pregnant in 2013, I read A LOT of pregnancy books, blogs, magazines, and articles. There was so much literature out there, it was nearly overwhelming. I’ve compiled a list of pregnancy books I found most helpful during my pregnancy and I hope these will work for you, too!

  1. What to Expect When You’re Expecting. This book was awesome because it chronicled the entire nine months of pregnancy week-by-week and included information on trying to conceive and labor & delivery. It was an all-in-one pregnancy necessity! This book is probably the most well-known and most-read pregnancy manual. What to Expect is not only a book series, which includes What to Expect the First Year among others, it’s also a brand! Heidi Murkoff created the books, a website and social media accounts for expectant mothers (and moms in general!) to refer to as needed. It’s a one-stop-shop for everything pregnancy, baby and motherhood! **Be sure to obtain the latest edition of the WTE books to get up-to-date information!** (WTE Before Expecting, WTE Eating WellWTE Expecting, WTE First Year, WTE Second Year)
  2. The Pregnancy Journal: A Day-to-Day Guide to a Happy & Healthy Pregnancy. Some may not consider this a book, but it really IS a book + journal! I used this throughout my pregnancy and I was able to journal about my experiences AND read information day-by-day on my growing baby! It’s a wonderful daily guide to your baby’s growth! Highly recommend!
  3. Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week. I used this book from the start as well. It was fun to read each month and learn how my baby was developing and how my body was changing – and what to expect in months to come!
  4. The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy & Early Parenthood. As I said, I ready A LOT of pregnancy books while pregnant. Even though this book mirrors a lot of other month-by-month pregnancy books, they’re all different. This one contained information the others didn’t. I really enjoyed this read!
  5. The Mother of All Pregnancy Books. As their tagline states: “The Ultimate Guide to Conception, Birth & Everything in Between.” That’s what this is – an all-in-one guide to getting pregnant, being pregnant, and giving birth. I read this from cover-to-cover as well! Definitely recommend!
  6. The Pregnancy & Postpartum Anxiety Workbook. Although I didn’t find this book until after I gave birth, this would have been at the top of my must-read list during and right after pregnancy. I suffered from a bit of PP anxiety in the month following O’s birth and this looks like a great tool to assist with anxiety before and after birth. This is a book I would definitely purchase in the future!
  7. Your Pregnancy & Childbirth: Month-to-Month. This is a great read, written by The American College of OB/GYN. Another month-to-month book, it gives information on every month of your pregnancy from experts!
  8. Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother’s Soul. This is a great read for when you’re expecting. It tells stories of expectant mothers, expectant fathers, veteran moms and more! Warning: emotions may become uncontrollable while reading this book. 🙂
  9. Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. Written by the pregnancy experts at the world-famous Mayo Clinic, this book chronicles the ways in which to have a healthy pregnancy. It provides tips on exercise, eating right & which medications are safe for pregnancy – among many other topics relating to pregnancy! A wonderful read!
  10. Relieving Pelvic Pain During & After Pregnancy. As I’ve already mentioned in a previous post, I suffer from Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction. Unfortunately, I was not aware of this awesome book until recently. If I had this book during pregnancy, I may not have suffered such a painful labor and continuing pain thereafter (and still today!). Most women DO suffer from some kind of pelvic or pubic pain during pregnancy, but generally it goes away or is relieved after birth. A small percentage of mother’s continue to suffer for months and years after pregnancy. This book is a great resource for relieving pelvic pain and maintaining a healthy pelvic area.

Which books on pregnancy did you enjoy reading while pregnant? Let me know! I’m always looking for amazing pregnancy reads to pass along to friends, family & my readers! -themidwestmama

Healthy Children’s Expo 2014

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Our family and some friends attended the wonderful Healthy Children’s Expo in Chicago in early March and we had an absolute blast! I had been to other children/baby expos in the past and was less than impressed. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but because it was put on by the American Academy of Pediatrics, I had high hopes. Boy, were those hopes met! Not only did the have excellent exhibitors, they offered several seminars and talks on different topics relating to safety (baby proofing), teething/dentistry and general health for kids and moms. We received a lot of informative literature, great samples, freebies, and tips on keeping our baby healthy as he grows.

There were so many great exhibitors who took part in this expo, including:

  • Enfamil
  • Chicco
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Happy Family
  • American Dental Association
  • Family Circle
  • Feeding America
  • Meredith Parents Network
  • Parents

We attended a talk on baby proofing and were blown away by the new information we received. We have read up on baby proofing in the past and thought we were pretty knowledgable on the subject, but there really was a lot of information we didn’t know about. For example, magnets (specifically bucky balls) are a horrendous hazard to littles because, if swallowed, the two magnets can attract one another and cause a blockage in the esophagus, intestine, stomach, etc. I knew magnets in general were bad, but having that happen is scary! There won’t be any magnets around for O to find, that’s for sure!

The best part of the expo? Meeting Heidi Murkoff, the author and creator of the What to Expect brand! She was so welcoming – she hugged us upon meeting, loved on O, talked to us like we’ve been friends forever, and even signed my “What to Expect the First Year” book! It was such a blessing to meet her and connect. She even follows @themidwestmama on Twitter! What an honor.

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I would highly recommend attending this expo or something similar if it comes to your area. It was well worth it for the samples and information alone! A wonderful expo I will visit year after year with O to keep up on the ever-evolving information that is childcare/healthcare.

Have you attended this expo, or one similar? Have you met the amazing Heidi Murkoff? Tell me about your experience! -themidwestmama

Top Ten Tuesday: Diaper Bag Essentials

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At first, I thought I needed everything from home in my diaper bag when going out. It was stuffed to the gills with way more than I ever needed! After several outings in those first few months, I realized that I really only need the essentials to get by. I could always purchase something I needed more of or didn’t have, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve always been fully stocked and I’ve never run out of anything. In my experience, the items below are the absolute essentials to stock in your diaper bag. Of course, this is in my experience and your needs may differ. 😉

  1. Diapers + Wipes (the obvious, but definitely necessary!)
  2. Diaper Cream
  3. Changing Pad + Liner (swaddle blankets work well for this!)
  4. Change of Clothing for both baby and mama (or dad!)
  5. Baby Food (either bottles + formula or pumped breast milk with bottles – just in case!)
  6. Snacks and beverages for mom + dad (and baby if old enough!)
  7. Toys (great distractions from diaper changes or for when they get fussy!)
  8. Pacifier and/or Teethers.
  9. Hand Sanitizer and Clorox Wipes (great for cleaning on the go!)
  10. Bibs (we usually pack at least 5 – we have a drooler!)

I also think, though perceived as a luxury item by some, diaper sacks are a necessity because they come in handy, not only for dirty diapers, but also for soiled clothing and dirty bibs! These will also come in handy if you use cloth diapers – they make a great place for those soiled diapers to go until you’re home.

Until next week! -themidwestmama

Bottlefeeding Is Not Wrong

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Reading this story from The Guardian today has left me fuming. Saying that “Baby formula has no place in a sustainable future” is like slapping all bottle-feeding moms in the face.

First of all, yes, I 100% agree that breastfeeding a baby is healthier for both baby and mama. BUT, it’s not always possible. In fact, a lot of times moms just aren’t able to do it – for a variety of reasons. That top reason? CHOICE. It’s horrible when a news outlet basically says those who don’t breastfeed are shitty moms. Yes, they have freedom of the press and free speech, however it’s very unclassy to single out a group of mothers who aren’t able to or don’t wish to breastfeed. If there’s going to be a story about breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding, at least make sure all the facts regarding BOTH sides are included in the article and don’t single out a group of women negatively.

I agree, the United States has seen an upturn in breastfeeding in recent years and I would have loved to continue to breastfeed my son. Unfortunately, after 3 weeks of attempting to sustain supply, it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I tried it all – Fenugreek, massage, relaxation techniques. Nothing. Nada. Therefore, we had to bottle-feed with formula. Even while in the hospital I was never instructed on HOW to bottle-feed. Everything was BREASTFEED, BREASTFEED, BREASTFEED. Not once did anyone in our baby classes mention anything regarding formula or bottle-feeding. It was all pro-breastfeeding. I had planned on breastfeeding from the get-go, but what if I hadn’t? Would I have been judged? Criticized? The answer is yes. Especially at a hospital that advocates breastfeeding-only practices.

Another problem I have? The Guardian making statements that ARE NOT TRUE. Including this one:

the free formula sample bag given in many hospitals includes an ice-pack to help stop milk flow in new mothers.

The ice pack is for use in a cooler to keep breast milk or formula cold while away from home. There are molded ice packs out there for mothers who choose to stop breastfeeding to soothe painful and engorged breasts. But, the packs included in formula company freebies are not marketed for use on breasts.

This statement also makes absolutely ZERO sense in regards to formula:

a sustainable future will require certain industries – not just tobacco and fossil fuels, air travel and automobiles, even baby formula – to become much much smaller to sustain a population of nine billion human beings.

Why will the BABY FORMULA industry need to become smaller to sustain a population of 9 billion? I understand the others – tobacco and fossil fuels, air travel, and automobiles – but what does baby formula have to do with sustaining the environment?

I by no means consider myself a “green mom,” however I recycle and do what I can to help the environment. I understand formula-feeding does promote the use of plastic baby bottles, rubber nipples, and the materials (generally cardboard and plastic) used to distribute the formula to stores. But, once again, shrinking the industry may hinder the access some moms need to feed their child.

Questions to be answered in response to this article:

  • What do moms who adopt do? They aren’t able to breastfeed.
  • What about moms who can’t sustain an adequate supply for their child?
  • Breastfeeding moms who return to work pump a supply to be fed to their child by a caregiver IN A BOTTLE. How is THIS helping the environment? Bottles are still purchased and used.
  • What about moms who have an ailment or disease and can’t breastfeed because of it?
  • What about mothers who aren’t okay with feeding their baby “donation breast milk?”

Just some things to think about when promoting a breastfed-only world. It isn’t possible – AND THAT’S OK. Freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of choice is also important and moms should not be criticized for formula-feeding their baby.

Oh, and one more thing. This article was WRITTEN BY A MAN.

I was reading the comments on this article and I really enjoyed this one by user EDavMA:

I strongly believe that the mother’s mental health is more important to a baby than her breast milk. Even without reading the author’s name, I would’ve known instantly that this had been written by a man. I agree that everything should be done to help encourage and facilitate breastfeeding but not if it risks the mother’s mental well-being. Breastfeeding is hard – as much as it sounds natural on paper, some babies won’t take to it, it hurts like you wouldn’t believe (something the author of this article will never experience) – from bleeding and peeling nipples to engorged breasts and blisters, some mothers’ bodies just aren’t physically equipped properly and others will find it mentally difficult. After a tough 2 weeks of the above mentioned side effects, I could physically breastfeed very well, but I was finding it mentally very hard. I managed 3 months and then started moving to formula. Now my baby is on formula exclusively and I’m in a much better place mentally and stress wise. I’m not stupid, I understand the benefits of breastfeeding but I just couldn’t sustain it. This article should be re-written by a woman, a mother, who has experienced the difficulties of breastfeeding.

I, too, struggled not only physically to breastfeed, but mentally. This article should have been written by a woman who has experienced the ups and downs of breastfeeding. Men have no idea what women go through, therefore have NO OPINION on the subject.

Do what feels right FOR YOU! Don’t let ANYONE make you feel like less of a mom because you choose not to or can’t breastfeed. You know what’s right for you and your baby. -themidwestmama

After Birth: Taking Care of Mama

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After giving birth, everything is about the baby. But, you need special care too! While in the hospital, you’re taken care of, provided necessary supplies and instructed on what to do. Then you’re sent home, likely after just two days, and then what?

First, before baby arrives be sure you’re stocked up on the “new mom essentials” necessary to get you through the first few weeks at home. Taking care of yourself is just as vital as taking care of baby, especially if you’ll be breastfeeding.

In my experience, you may need:

Maxi Pads

These are absolutely essential. You will need them. At the beginning,  I used Always Maxi Overnight Pads without Wings and they worked well for me. I bled for 6-7 weeks after birth, but each time it tapered off I’d switch to a lighter pad. I went from the bulky overnight pads, down to regular pads, then light pads, and ended with just a panty liner. I recommend purchasing at least 2 packages of the overnight pads and one of each of the others.

Cheap Underwear

Unless you want to ruin your good underwear, I recommend buying at least one package of cheap underwear. I purchased a 10-pack of Fruit of the Loom Cotton Briefs and they came in handy! There will be accidents while bleeding and having cheap underwear on hand saves your good underwear from stains! After you’ve stopped bleeding, you can just toss the ruined pairs in the trash.

Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads

Although these are technically for hemorrhoids, I was given them in the hospital to soothe and cool my nether regions. I was able to take the remaining pads home, but I ended up needing more so I’m glad I had purchased a tub of them prior to giving birth.

Peri-bottle

The hospital provides one to you for the duration of your stay, and you will be able to take it with you upon discharge so you probably don’t necessarily have to purchase one of these. But, be sure to take it home with you because you will need it the first week or two! They are an amazing little invention and I am seriously considering putting in a Bidet because of them!

Padsicles

These are wonderful little DIY inventions that are highly recommended by me and many other “mommy blogs.” I made 20-25 of these babies beforehand just in case I needed pain relief and soothing comfort when I got home from the hospital. Luckily, I didn’t need to use them but I am glad I had them just in case.

Stool Softener

The nurses will give you this twice daily while in the hospital, but I suggest purchasing a bottle for home use. Luckily, due to these awesome little pills, I was able to “go” the day after coming home! I’m partial to the Walgreens brand myself. I have heard horror stories of mommies who weren’t able to go for weeks and it made me wonder if they weren’t taking their softeners. They DO help!

Freezer Meals

A must if you don’t have a ton of family and friends nearby. My husband and I don’t have any family within 100’s of miles of us and most of our friends were preoccupied with other things, so we were happy to have a freezer full of pre-made food to consume! Trust me, you will not feel like making an elaborate meal and it’s a must to eat healthy after having a baby, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Make some casseroles, slow cooker soups & stews, and other freezable goodies to have for the first 2 weeks. You’ll be glad you did.

Dermoplast

Dermoplast is a lovely numbing spray that really helps with aches and pains in the vaginal area after giving birth, especially if you’ve torn or had an episiotomy. They will provide this in the hospital, but may not give you a can to take home. I hadn’t heard about this prior to birth, so I didn’t have any to take home. I asked if I could have a new can to take home and they gave me one (but the nurse said it isn’t typical to supply a 2nd can). Pick some up just in case!

Preparation H

This will come in handy if you develop hemorrhoids during delivery or after. They do supply a tube in most hospitals.

Pain Reliever

If you’ve had a C-Section, you will be provided with a prescription for heavier pain meds, but if you delivered vaginally they generally won’t supply prescription pain relievers after you’re discharged. Pick up some ibuprofen or acetaminophen to have on hand.

Snacks

Trust me, after going through the energy-zapping experience of giving birth, you will want to devour everything in sight. I ate so much after having Owen, it was insane. After coming home, I was glad to have snacks on hand for the middle of the night and anytime I breastfed in those early weeks. I recommend Nutri-Grain Bars, Pop-Tarts, Nature Valley Crunchy Peanut Butter Bars, Powerade, and water. I know these aren’t the most nutritious snacks, but if you’re breastfeeding you will need the extra caloric intake.

Heating Pad

This helped during pregnancy, but also helped postpartum for pains in my back, lower back & hips, and the pelvic region.

Robe

This isn’t always necessary, but I’m glad my mother-in-law bought me one. Prior to her arriving (and prior to having the robe!) I would come downstairs and clean my pump parts and/or prepare formula in my underwear and a t-shirt. Not something everyone wants to see. After my MIL came, I was happy to have something to cover up with in the middle of the night.

Toilet Paper

Although you won’t be using toilet paper for the first week or two, your husband will appreciate having a stockpile so he doesn’t have to run out in the middle of the night because you ran out. Toilet paper is not something you want to run out of. Trust me.

A Good Water Bottle

This is especially important if you are breastfeeding because you have to drink A LOT of water to keep up your milk supply. Of course, it’s also healthy to stay well-hydrated after birth even if you’re not breastfeeding. I remember waking in the night and chugging an entire pitcher of water – every single night! I was so thirsty all the time! Plus, having a good water bottle on hand makes it easy to take with you – anywhere!

Chapstick

For some reason your lips will become super dry and chapped after delivering a baby. I don’t know if it’s because you’ve just spent two or more days in the hospital (they’re always so dry!), or because you’ve just been through a life-altering event, but you will need your favorite chapstick to keep lips soft, supple and hydrated.

Are there products not on this list that you used or needed after giving birth? Please share them in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. Have a Super Day! -themidwestmama

Top Ten Tuesday: DIY Keepsakes

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I am a very sentimental person. I love to make and purchase keepsakes to document every moment of my son’s life. I found most of the DIY Keepsake ideas below on Pinterest and I can’t wait to make them myself! If you’re a crafty person, or even if you’re not, these DIY ideas to showcase baby are super simple and FUN!

  1. Week or Month in Review Binder – This would be cool to document baby’s firsts and milestones each month!
  2. Monthly Photos – Document baby’s monthly changes and growth
  3. Newborn Shadowbox – Showcase baby’s first pictures, going home outfit, hospital bracelets and more
  4. Mommy and Me Handprint Art – Can do this with baby and anyone! Mom, Dad, Papa, Grandma, etc.
  5. Safety Pin Wall Art – Cutest thing ever.
  6. Onesie Quilt or Memory Quilt – What a great keepsake to make for you or your baby!
  7. Baby Yearbook – Make a photo book for each year!
  8. Wall Art from Baby Shower Cards – Instead of just storing those cards from your shower, cut out a heart shape from each and make wall art for baby’s nursery or even your living room!
  9. Baby Keepsake Box – Create a keepsake box of baby items – first onesie, baby shoes, baby cards received the first year, birth certificate in neat holder, etc.
  10. Baby’s First Christmas Ornament with Hand or Footprint – You can do this yearly! A special set of keepsakes for your son or daughter’s tree in the future!

I have many, many more ideas for DIY keepsakes I’ve found online or done on my own. There will be a separate post on this coming in the future. Happy Day! -themidwestmama