Before I had my son, Nolan, I knew a little bit about breastfeeding from my sisters. One of my sisters is a labor and delivery nurse, so after watching her feed three babies and give me endless tips, I felt confident I would breastfeed my children. Breastfeeding is difficult for any new mom; I can only imagine what women go through who do not have as much background knowledge or support as I did.
“There are three reasons for breastfeeding: the milk is always the right temperature, it comes in attractive containers, and the cat can’t get it.”-Irene Chalmers
After two babies and almost three years of successfully breastfeeding, I have been asked by numerous friends about tips and tricks that helped me stick with it. To help make your breastfeeding journey successful, these are my tips:
1. Prepare for the beginning. If you are about to have a baby and want to breastfeed, please do not let it scare you. Before you give birth, read about breastfeeding or talk to a lactation consultant so you do not walk into it blindly. As soon as you have your baby, try to get him or her to latch on. Babies’ senses are heightened in the first hour after birth. They are neurologically wired to find the breast. By letting them nurse right after birth, it helps them get a better latch. If you need help, do not be fearful to call a nurse; they are there to help you. Also, if at any point you have questions, call the lactation consultant, call the national hotline at 1.877.4.LALECHE (1.877.452.5324), or you can even email me and I will answer your questions the best way I can. Ask for help if you feel like you are not getting a good latch or if you just have concerns. It is very normal to have questions.
2. Drink water. Drink so much water that you feel like you can’t drink water anymore. Breastmilk is 90% water, so it is really important to stay hydrated. This is a common mishap that can be fixed easily. Any time I feel like my let-down is taking longer to happen than normal, I will go drink two glasses of water, and I can almost immediately see a difference in how full my breasts get. When or if you get sick, know that it is common for your milk supply to drop due to dehydration, so be especially mindful about staying hydrated during illness. You can drink lactation tea (I buy from Mrs. Patel’s) to boost your supply during that time.
3. Take cues from your baby. When you see your baby rooting, view that as your cue to get the boob juice ready. Once your baby goes from moving around chewing on his or her hands, crying will soon follow. it is way easier to nurse without a baby screaming at you to do it faster. The easiest way to see that babies are full and ready to unlatch is to check their hands. When your baby’s hands change from clenched tight to relaxed and open, your baby is telling you he or she is full.
4. Prep for Pumping. If you want to pump and start your milk bank, do research before you start.
-Pump in the mornings right when you wake up. Your milk is most plentiful then, and you will pump more.
-Pump before you nurse. The female body KNOWS that your baby wants more milk, so you will produce more milk if your baby nurses 15 minutes after pumping. If you try and do this the other way around, your body knows the pumping is not your baby, and you will not produce as much milk.
-count the number of times your baby nurses, that’s your magic number. when you go back to work, the number of times you pump at work and the times you feed your baby at home should equal your magic number.
5. Take lactation supplements to produce more milk.
I use Mrs. Patel’s lactation products because I hate taking capsules of fenugreek and smelling like maple syrup. I’ve found eating a peanut butter fenugreek lactation bar from Mrs. Patel’s in the morning boosts my milk supply and gives me a sweet treat to snack on that is HEALTHY! I love how the sweet peanut butter mixes with the spiciness of the fenugreek when I eat it. HEAVEN IN MY MOUTH. They have two other flavors, chocolate and original, and you can get them in a combo box with 12 bars.
Another one of my favorites from Mrs. Patel’s is the Munch Crunch. I sprinkle it in my smoothie bowls, yogurt, cereal or oatmeal (good for milk boost) in the mornings and go about my day. Not only does it help with lactation, but it aids in digestion as well. You can also eat this in salads, whisk it into your dressings, or eat a teaspoon by itself. || Want to try it yourself? Get 20% off of your first order by using code: FIRSTORDER at checkout. ||
I encourage all moms to try breastfeeding. It is such a magical experience to be able to make your baby grow from what is created in your body. GOD created mamas to feed our children our breastmilk and the benefits both mother and baby get from it are enough reason to try it. Some of my most favorite moments are moments I have breastfed Nolan or Harper to sleep. I want every mama to experience that sweetness at least once in her life.
When Nolan started eating actual foods, I was so excited! He could suck down a food pouch in no time! We researched about baby-led weaning and started introducing thicker foods a month or so after purees, and he loved that, too. He started out just holding things like broccoli florets and scrubbing his gums with them and evolved into avocado fingers and banana splits. Introducing him to foods this way has led us to notice a significant difference in him and other children his age who just ate purees. He is not a picky eater and is willing to eat more healthy options than not. Don’t get me wrong, if you show him where the candy bars are he would go to them, but he actually asks for avocado and cucumbers throughout the day.
After a few months of fruits and veggies and shredded meat, I started getting bored with our breakfasts. I found myself fixing oatmeal every morning because it was super easy, and I am simply not a morning person. I was playing on pinterest one day and found this easy pancake recipe! It only has two ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to make. When I would do weightloss consultations, I would give this as one of my breakfast recipes because it is so good for you. Now that Harper is eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she enjoys this too! You can also put whatever ingredients you want in them to make stuffed pancakes! I added this amazing and simple raspberry chia seed jam instead of syrup, but you can top with local honey or organic maple syrup for a healthy breakfast. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
Two Ingredient Pancakes
All organic ingredients
1 ripe (or overripe banana)
2 farm fresh (or organic) eggs
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1. Crack eggs into bowl and beat with a fork.
2. Add banana and mash until broken down.
3. Add 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil.
4. Mix until smooth.
5. (Optional, you can add: cinnamon, sliced bananas, strawberries, blueberries, vanilla extract, pecans, chia seeds or/and chocolate chips.)
6. Heat sauce pan on medium and coat with coconut oil.
7. Add half mixture to pan and cook until bottom is golden brown (lift edges to see).
8. Flip pancake and do the same.
9. Transfer to plate and enjoy (top with honey, maple syrup or chia seed jam).
Raspberry Chia Seed Jam
All organic ingredients
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup filtered water
1-2 teaspoons raw sugar or honey to taste
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1. Place water and raspberries in pot and turn on medium.
2. Once it starts bubbling, turn down to low stir.
3. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Take pot of of stove and add chia seeds.
5. Pour into bowl, mix and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Eat over pancakes, enjoy alone (great for kids to snack on), add to toast with almond butter or with fruit. You can also try subbing raspberries for blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or peaches.
I have been a little disheartened these past few weeks over some issues lying heavily on my chest. I struggle with being extremely tenderhearted; I let what others do and say rock me to my core. Being stuck inside due to the cold weather has only intensified those feelings, and I have been feeling the need to get out of the cage I’ve been in. Being outside always recharges my batteries, and the minute it warms up, I make a beeline for the door. We spent some time outside the other day, and it was obvious that everyone really needed and enjoyed it.
That morning, I woke up extra early and packaged all of the orders we needed to ship out, answered emails, posted on social media, and fixed breakfast for the family. People don’t realize how incredibly hard and time consuming it is to work from your home with children running around you. I do not lounge around all day while Derrek feeds me grapes and fans my face (only in my dreams). Being a SAHWM has its pros and cons, but I would not trade it for this world. You have to work for what you want, and you have to adjust your schedule to accommodate all of the many balls you juggle.
After the work was done and everyone had full bellies, we ventured outside. South Carolina weather can be absolutely gorgeous, and it was exactly that outside. Almost 86 degrees in March with the perfect amount of breeze was what we were given to enjoy and everyone truly did. It is amazing what just being outside can do for your soul. Mother Nature has a way of showing you how great our God truly is to have created all of this for us to enjoy. My problems seem so small and trivial compared to the greatness around me.
Nolan enjoyed being a typical boy by riding his bicycle and playing in a big dirt pile his Papa Jack built for him.
Harper enjoyed running around after Nolan. She is his shadow and never leaves his side even when he doesn’t want her tagging along.
Later that afternoon, Derrek and I took the kids to play tennis uptown. Playing tennis has been my favorite form of exercise during my pregnancies. During both of my pregnancies, we played a lot, and I plan on doing the same thing in the future. Harper and Nolan ran around on the court beside us, and Derrek and I playfully hit back and forth for a little bit. Everyone left with smiles on their faces and warm spots in their souls!
After we left the courts, I paused for a moment and thanked the big man upstairs. I unloaded all of my troubles to Him, and although He didn’t make them disappear, He gave me a clear head to understand my journey better. I encourage anyone and everyone who starts feeling discouraged or overwhelmed to take a break from what is causing the stress and head outside. If you can take a walk on the beach, go to a park, sit next to a pond or a lake, DO IT! The cheapest therapy is right outside your front door.
As Harper’s first birthday gets closer and closer, I have finished my prep for her party. However, the people we have invited all want to know what the birthday girl wants for her special day. One-year-olds are really simple to please. Some days, Harper could play with Nolan’s racecar all day long, and other times, the toilet paper roll can entertain her. As a second child, she plays with hand-me-downs without knowing any differently and enjoys the toys just the same.
Birthdays are my favorite day to celebrate. Picking presents to fit that person’s personality is always fun! Harper is such a sweet soul; I cannot wait to see her face when she is at her party. When kids are a year old and growing a lot, I think it is completely appropriate to give clothes as gifts (as long as you research the recipient’s style). A one-year-old doesn’t need 20+ toys—that’s a little excessive. I’ve put together a few of my favorite toys and clothing for a little girl’s first birthday gift guide!
1. Freshly Picked Moccasins– I suggest this gift for every baby shower, birthday, Easter, and Christmas for all of your littles and their friends. I have never seen a pair of FP moccs I did not love, and everywhere we go while the kids have theirs on, everyone gushes about how cute these shoes are. They are soft-soled which actually helps walkers keep their balance better and crawlers from having to pull around a heavy shoe. These are the only shoes I have ever been able to keep my kids from pulling off, and these shoes don’t fall off when the kids are running around. I cannot say enough good things about this company (and I am hosting a giveaway with them in April). I love their new Utah collection. The colors are my favorite neutrals and perfect to pair with spring and summer clothes! Harper and Nolan both have an extensive collection, but I am really digging the Beehive State and Timp-colored moccs. $60 might seem like a lot to spend on a pair of shoes, BUT if you buy a pair you can color coordinate with a lot of their wardrobe, and they hold up so well, you can pass them down to your next kids or resell them online. Freshly Picked also has sales every few months, and at those times you can get moccs for $45.
2 Sweet Whimsy Designs Peg Dolls– I discovered this company after stumbling across their Instagram account. I scrolled through countless pictures and was obsessed. The time and attention to detail that Leandra, the owner, puts in to each piece is extraordinary. From Powder Puff Girls to Spider Man, she can design them however you want and even make custom peg dolls that look like your family! We have a few “space monsters” (an astronaut and alien) as Nolan calls them. The ones I really think are super cute for little girls are the princess collection. Disney princesses were always a part of my household growing up, and Harper already dances with her Ariel wand when I sing “Under the Sea.”
3. Stapley Dolls Handmade Doll–
Every girl should have her own doll baby. Handmade dolls always make my heart skip a beat. There is something so sweet about a little girl holding a doll baby that someone made for her. I found this company on Instagram, and I enjoy seeing all of their doll posts. The one I am currently eyeing is a blonde mermaid doll with a flower in her hair and sequined tail. The owners of the shop have the best eye for designing these dolls and can even create custom dolls for your littles. The price point on them is $33 which is A LOT better than most dolls that I’ve seen online.
4. LexyPexy Eco Wooden Teether–
The designer behind this company faced the same problems that other natural mamas are confronted with when buying baby gifts. All of the plastic BPA and “made in America” products contain harmful chemicals that not only affect the human body, but also the environment. By working with all-natural maple wood, she eliminated the chemicals and bacteria that lurk in regular toys and teethers. The wooden teethers come in really cute shapes like boats, purses, and, my favorite, the sunglasses! These make the perfect gift for one- year-olds because every single thing they come in contact with goes into their mouth. Harper has the Lexy purse, and she carries it around everywhere. She has even thrown it into my bathtub, and we dried it with a towel for her to go back to play with it all over again. These little wooden teethers would be a great keepsake to save for when they are older.
5. Melissa and Doug Toy–
One of Harper’s favorite games to play is peek-a-boo. She plays with her hands, blankets, towels, washcloths, sheets…anything she can get her hands on! I saw this cute wooden peek-a-boo house with flaps that open and close as you play, and I knew this would be a good gift for her. We have a book that has flaps for peek-a-boo, but it is made of paper and some of the flaps have ripped over time. Knowing that these flaps cannot come off or rip makes this toy even better from a mama point of view. The price point is around $10 for this, making it a super easy gift to pick up for the birthday girl.
6. Fin First shirt–
We have featured this local company on the blog before, and we are featuring them again because they make the Best. Shirts. Ever. These hand-drawn shirts have gotten so popular that they are now worn by kids all over the world! We love each and every single Fin First shirt we have! I plan on letting Harper wear Nolan’s shirts when he grows out of them. Harper has the long sleeve raglan Sunny the Mermaid shirt, but she definitely needs the short sleeve version for spring and summer. Now that she is walking everywhere, it is easier for me to style her in a top and leggings. The Fin First shirts can be styled so many different ways, I know any birthday girl would love one of them added to her wardrobe.
7. Bounce Along Buddy Moo Moo Cow–
Nolan got a green horse shaped bouncing ball last year for his birthday. We found it at Toys ‘R Us, and he has been obsessed with it since. Harper is his little shadow and sees him bouncing on his horse around the house, so of course she wants to join him in the fun. I spotted this cow-shaped bounce ball and knew Harper-girl should get one. These toys are toys that they can grow with. As they get older they will use their imagination and bounce around playing cowboys and cowgirls. It comes with a pump which makes it super easy to blow up and start hopping around.
8. Honest Swim Diaper–
We started using Honest company products shortly after the company introduced their eco-friendly diaper line. If you research what is in regular diapers and the side effects they can cause your children, you might soon join the Honest movement. As the weather warms up, we spend more time outside. Last summer Harper was not really ready to play in the pool or the ocean, but this year she is, and I had to pick up this watermelon-printed swim diaper from Honest. These make cute gifts for birthday girls and Easter baskets! These are great because you can throw them in the wash before your next adventure outside. There is nothing cuter than a cloth-diapered, fluffy-bottomed baby, and as hot as it gets in South Carolina, a shirt and diaper are the perfect summer combo.