Babymoon for Postpartum Benefits + Lunabar Giveaway

The popularity of the pre-birth babymoon is rising, but I think that the Babymoon that takes place immediately post-birth is even more important. In order for Moms to heal and bond with baby, the best thing to do is rest. This is even harder when an older sibling is involved, but I look back fondly at the two weeks I spent with Audrey after her birth doing as much resting and relaxation as possible. After that, I was quickly thrust into the fast pace of life as a Mom of two, so I couldn’t have done it unless I had maxed out on rest and allowing my body to heal.

There are quite a few things you can do to prepare for a relaxing babymoon at home. First and foremost, no matter how much preparation you do or don’t do, all you have to do to be a great Mom is love your baby! Feel comforted knowing that any Mother has been through the same things physically and emotionally. We also LOVE teeny weenie babies and will do anything to help you care for yours. Some Moms have trouble ‘dictating’ helpers and find that making a list of simple household chores that anyone who comes over can do is a helpful way to get more time relaxing with baby. For other suggestions on how to handle the post-partum phase, check out this post: https://ecoincognito.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/how-to-handle-physical-postpartum-symptoms/

prepare for new baby postpartumWith all that in mind, these are my top 5 ways to prepare for a new baby:

1. Cook for 4 – anytime you cook something easy to freeze, make extra and save it in reusable storage containers. There are lots of great resources for recipes online, or just stick with your favorite comfort foods. Accept any offers for food and make sure you know how to properly store it so there is no waste. This is also a great reason to join your local MOMS club. Often, the mothers will arrange to bring you food to help ease the strain of a new baby on the family.

2. Install your carseat – The main reason to install your carseat early is in case the baby comes early. It’s a good idea to do this by 35 weeks. An additional benefit is that you can park in the “Families with Small Children” spaces without feeling guilty. Also, my company offered handicap spots to pregnant women, so don’t be afraid to ask. Even though walking is important, I was afraid to navigate the parking lot in extreme weather conditions.

3. Plan to drink A LOT of Water – You’ll need even more than the recommended 8 glasses of water each day. A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass whenever baby nurses. I love the CamelBak Groove because it comes with a filter in the straw so that you can refill it in any tap. This is perfect if you have an en-suite bathroom. Otherwise, consider keeping a gallon jug near your bed so that you don’t have to ask for refills often.

4. Stock Snacks – Nursing consumes huge amounts of calories and you’ll be awake at times that might not fit a normal meal plan. I kept plenty of LunaBars on hand because they were so tasty and fulfilling. Fresh fruit is also a perfect snack.

5. Diapers – Even if you are planning to use cloth diapers, you may want to use disposables for the early days. Unless someone you know and trust is doing your laundry, getting rest is the most important thing to do for the first two weeks. When you are ready to switch, just do it. Your system will quickly become second nature and it is much harder to go back and forth between disposables and cloth diapers than to use only one type.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

To help one lucky Mama stock her post-partum survival kit, I’ve asked LunaBar to sponsor a giveaway of their healthy snacks. One winner will receive a 15 ct. case of LunaBar’s newest flavor, Peanut Honey Pretzel. To win, simply leave a comment below letting me know a great book to read while pregnant. Also, check out http://www.lunabar.com/products to let us know your favorite flavor in the comment.

CONTEST CLOSED – Congrats Stephanie from Latte and Legos!!

Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. LunaBar is furnishing the giveaway item.

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Lessons from Aunt Jeannette

My namesake is one of the best Moms I know. She loves all children, encourages other Moms, and sets a great example with her own family. When I was a child, we called the time I spent with her “camp.” Now that I’m a Mom, I think of it as Motherhood Bootcamp. Aunt J does everything right, to the fullest extent, and offers helpful lessons to anyone she meets.

She’s conscientious about not being wasteful, but she’s also a resourceful consumer. On the eco-friendly spectrum, she is poised somewhere near the middle. Her cleaning and cooking methods are easily adaptable. Plus, they always save time, money, and energy so I would encourage you to use them in your own household. You’ll often hear her say, “I am the cheapest American” with pride. It’s a family mantra that she passed along to me. By being cheap on the day-to-day home operations, you can loosen the purse strings when it counts. A generous gift to a child is a much better way to spend money than an item you would throw away. By the same token, enjoying a meal outside of the home beats paying full price for groceries any time. She has shown me that you can have it all even if you don’t have all the money in the world. Prosperity through creativity can yield a very happy home.

As the lucky recipient of some of the wealth of her knowledge, I have hand picked my favorite tips to share with you!

Helpful Household TIps

Helpful Household TIps

Top 5 Priorities for Natural Living

Natural Living encompasses a huge variety of topics and lifestyles. The range of efforts that families make in order to have less of a footprint is as broad as the characteristics of the families themselves. The more people that try to use sustainable practices at home, the better off we will all be so I applaud everyone who attempts to be green. As consumers, these decisions also impact corporations and that is where we can truly see large-scale changes. For that reason, I’m listing my top 5 priorities for Natural Living and I would encourage you to do the same. Feel free to leave a comment to let us all know what is most important to you!

Using Reusable Products

Diapers, pyrex, and kitchen towels are all items that can easily be used and reused in the home. Every time paper goes in the trash, it’s a waste of money. Instead, try to clean and reuse the most popular items in the house and you will instantly see savings! It’s important to be conscious of your water use, but in the long run the toll on the environment is much smaller. Stores that encourage reusable bags by offering perks or simply not carrying them are doing a great job to change our expectation of getting a bag. If you do take one, try to use it again at least once.

Practicing Physical Fitness

A healthy home and physical fitness go hand in hand. Regular exercise is so important for the whole family. Turn a leisurely trail walk into a hike, play with the kids on a swingset, or start a running routine outdoors to allow time to appreciate nature for all it has to offer. As often as possible, go barefoot and set free the kid inside. My husband likes to say that in life we must crawl, walk, and then run. If you’re not running, you’re missing a key component of living. In my short four weeks running, I’ve realized that I wholeheartedly agree.

Promoting Natural Birth

Choosing a drug-free birth plan didn’t happen overnight for me, but I’m so glad that I took that route. As with everything else I do, my goal is to make a better future for my girls. I want them to have access to skilled midwives and to feel confident that their bodies are built for birth. If you’re curious why I had a home birth for Audrey, you only need to read her beautiful birth story to understand. There’s No Place Like Home. 

Eating Healthy Foods

Cooking at home is the norm in this house, but I’m not a stickler for organic foods at this time. I would love to add more locally sourced produce into the mix, but for now the important thing is offering a tasty variety of foods for the whole family. By making a protein-starch-veggie combo and enough for leftovers whenever I cook, I can put dinner on the table and rest easy that there is an easy to assemble lunch available for the next day.

Minimizing Exposure to Chemicals

Before Motherhood it was easy to ignore the constant banter about chemicals and carcinogens, but it is in important topic now. We’re minimizing our exposure by using Green cleaning supplies and stainless steel cookware. It is time consuming to swap everything at once, so the goals for next year include making our own candles and assessing beauty products for issues.

It is helpful to reflect on what works and what doesn’t as you’re going green. I’m really proud of the steps my family has taken to lessen our footprint, but I know we can continue to strive to do better.

What are your Green Goals and what can I do to help you achieve them?

Home Birth Rights

@Mom101 said it best:

I’m still amazed that my own uterus is a bigger concern to American voters than oh, say…everything in the world.

A lot of people are probably wondering why I’ve been so forthcoming with the details of my recent home birth. On one side, I’m sharing because I had a great experience and I hope other healthy mothers will consider this option for their births. However, it’s more important for me to share merely so that this stays an option for mothers. In this era when politicians batter women’s rights by making ill-educated statements and judgements on both sides of the spectrum, it should come as no surprise that the very right to choose home birth is under attack in certain jurisdictions. Not only do we often pay for these expenses out of pocket while the costlier and more invasive hospital alternatives are covered, but certain states bar the right to a home birth altogether. The unfortunate thing is that no one has turned home birthing into a large corporate practice that funds study after study to prove the benefits of the practice. You merely have to take my word for it and the word of others willing to share. (Although compelling research is beginning to come forth comparing home birth to hospital birth, it is slow in reaching the masses.)

You may not agree that a home is the best place to give birth for some mothers, but I can tell you it was 100% for us. I had an empowering labor, followed by two restful weeks of bonding with my baby. Now I’m nearly fully recovered and getting back into the swing of Motherhood with both my girls. Because of this, it was the best choice for our whole family.

The reason why any mother should feel comfortable considering a midwife to be the prenatal care provider is that midwives are able to recognize and test for issues that might inhibit a safe home birth. In rare cases, they can even facilitate a transfer to a hospital. You can hire a doula for post partum care if you’re concerned how you would function without a nurse.

Once you take the time to understand the benefits of natural labor and home birth, it’s hard to argue that there is a better way to have a baby. However, it is important for Mothers to have access to hospitals for emergency situations. Unfortunately, the tradeoff for having access to important, life saving, procedures is that hospitals can’t accommodate the needs of a mother who desires to labor at her own pace without interference; the way nature intended.

The trouble with the male-influenced practice of obstetrics is that the primary goal is to eliminate pain in labor. However, pain is what opens our body and moves the baby through it. When given the freedom to work through contractions and harness the effects of the pain for the relatively short duration of active labor, a woman will benefit from a less painful and potentially shorter recovery period. I chose to labor without fear, without a restrictive “birth plan,” and without medication in order to reap the benefits for my baby and myself. I’ve learned so much about childbirth and my body over the past two years, but the most important thing I learned is to trust myself. We can appreciate science for skillful doctors, but we should trust that all mothers are miracle workers. Why else would we be built to do such great work?

Back in Baby’s Arms

It’s been a great week, folks! I’m having a hard time believing that it has barely even been three weeks since I gave birth. Physically, I feel terrific in comparison to my first post-partum experience. The Babymoon was definitely a success in getting me back on my feet. More importantly, I am so happy because I got to spend the week with both my girls. On Monday Hannah walked into my lap and threw her arms around me for the best hug I’ve ever received.

It’s funny to call Hannah a Big Sister at such a young age, but there’s no denying that she is a great one for Audrey. From the first time she met Audrey and tried to put a hat back onto her head she has been alert and sensitive to our new family member. She’s very curious about the baby when she is within reach, but often she simply comes close for a kiss (which melts my heart.) Since Hannah is so good at independent play, she has been very understanding that the baby spends so much time in my arms. I’m having a lot of success with the K’tan baby carrier, with the exception of my husband’s concern that I’m squishing Audrey. I guess he forgot where she spent the last nine months?

Now that Audrey is getting more alert, I’m trying to make sure she gets some “playtime” during the day to help her sleep through the night. We’re slowly going to move towards the same EASY routine I used on Hannah. EASY stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep, Your Time and it worked like a charm last year. Today I nursed Audrey and then the three of us laid down in the play room and Audrey squirmed on her back and her belly for a few minutes each. Hannah moved around freely with her toys, but paused for a minute in the middle to lay down and look at her sister. After that, Audrey got a new diaper and then I snuggled her into the carrier and she rocked right to sleep. I’m not anticipating that “My Time” will actually happen this year, but I love being able to give my undivided attention to Hannah for some stories and songs.

I’ve heard that I’d have my arms full like a broken record over the last year. It’s true that they’re always full with one baby or the other and sometimes both and that’s the way I’m starting to like it!

Why Birth at Home?

I haven’t always been a hippy. In fact, I’d hardly consider myself one now if not for the recent home birth endeavor. For most of my life I thought that I would have a c-section merely because that’s the way I was born. I heard bits and pieces about “being stuck” during an excruciatingly long labor and I assumed that since my Mom and I have a similar small frame that a cesarean would be the only way to extract a baby. It seemed much simpler to envision a small cut that produced a baby than to contemplate hours of pushing and pain. Plus, I was a wuss when pain was involved with anything.

I walked into my first prenatal visit with Hannah practically ready to schedule my c-section. However, the nurse put that plan on hold by letting me know that all women and all pregnancies are different. I left with my fears slightly eased since I knew that the c-section recovery was not something to look forward to. That was the kickoff of my quest for knowledge about how to give birth and become a super Mom. I started to read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but quickly swapped over to books about baby care because I couldn’t stomach the birth stories with my morning sickness. Over the Holidays a series of events unfolded that got me thinking.

First, I sat next to a Father of 3 on a flight who tolerated my frequent use of the sick bag and eased my nausea by sharing his wife’s birth stories. I listened in shock about the hospital birth, then unmedicated birth, and finally their birth at home. The man reminded me a little too much of my husband, especially when he started to equate the home birth to a challenge like climbing Everest. I began to realize that the baby I carried was just as much my husband’s child and I could hardly imagine that if given the opportunity to have a baby he would take the challenge lying down.

Coincidentally, I spent the vacation lying down reading. After racing through my baby books, I raided my Mother-In-Law’s bookshelf and read a book about a young pioneer woman who gave birth on her own in the kitchen. It blew my mind and when I brought it up I was surprised to find out that Moms I knew (including my husband’s) had also had natural deliveries.

When I reached the second trimester, my renewed energy allowed me to exercise, eat well, and connect with my baby by being healthy. I began to feel Hannah’s strong kicks and I quickly realized how much she would be like my husband. I wanted to do everything to help her be strong and energetic throughout her life. I was beginning to look into cloth diapering because I found out it could save us thousands of dollars. All of a sudden, I was learning about the benefits of avoiding modern conveniences and natural childbirth kept popping up.

I finally rented a video (Laugh and Learn about Childbirth) to help decide our birth plan. I loved the nurse’s suggestion to relax in between the contractions. I had no idea that you got breaks in the pain, so birth seemed totally manageable if I could just breathe through the hard parts and then rest. After all, I’d been a yoga devotee for years and they weren’t asking me to last through a contraction any longer than some of the poses in class. However, the information about the epidural was a total turn-off. A huge needle to the back that doesn’t always work. It could result in a longer birth and I’d have to decide when to get it. Trying to figure out the magic point at which I would ask for an epidural was mind boggling. Plus, what if I couldn’t get to the hospital in time or it didn’t work. How was I going to get that baby out?

I tried to encourage my husband’s participation in the birth by getting him the book Husband Coached Childbirth by Dr. Bradley. He didn’t read too much of it, but I pored through it. For the first time, I was enjoying reading birth stories. The birth methods made sense and many of the preparations leading up to birth were things I was already doing. When I read that swimmers have a strong advantage during birth, I knew that with my husband’s help, that would be the best way for me to have Hannah. I let him coach me on swimming for the final months of the pregnancy and entered the hospital with the courage to have a natural birth five weeks before our expected due date. I’m so happy to have made that choice because an early baby is a fearful experience to begin with. Knowing that she would not be impacted by any medications made it much easier to welcome her into my arms.

Still, it wasn’t a “perfect birth” and there were things about being in the hospital that just didn’t seem right. After all, the cardinal rules of a healthy pregnancy are to avoid lying on your back, hydrate, eat healthy foods, and don’t use drugs. Why was a place that inhibited all those rules the “best” place to give birth? I learned that it is just as safe for a healthy mother to have a healthy baby under the care of a midwife and chose that for Audrey’s birth. If you read “There’s No Place Like Home,” then you already know it was the best choice I ever made.

The Babymoon

Lots of couples take a Babymoon during pregnancy to enjoy one last vacation before Baby arrives. Feet up, no chores, relaxation, and maybe even a prenatal massage. It’s easy to think of a weekend getaway as a vacation. But did you ever think of the first weeks of your infant’s life as a vacation, too? Maybe it’s easier for me to think of it this way with a toddler in the house. I made the mistake of not resting enough my first time around, so I made a bigger effort to get the house prepped and my husband and some helpers on board to get through the first two weeks. Now, it’s drawing to a close and I know how much of a difference it made for everyone.

After my first pregnancy, I really struggled with my recovery because I didn’t feel that bad. I felt better than I thought I would after giving birth and truly empowered by the experience of a natural, non-medicated delivery. I started walking right away, not realizing the strain my body was going through trying to heal. In fact, it felt better to walk than to sit because of my episiotomy, so I figured I was just making progress toward getting better. Since Hannah was early I didn’t have as much time to prepare the house. We were the lucky recipients of a handful of meals to get us through, but I found myself in the kitchen more often than not because I didn’t have easily available snacks. Plus, I was so burnt out from the breast feeding/pumping/supplementing round-the-clock baby meals that I welcomed any help with those to give my weak arms and back a rest. Apparently the Lindsay Brin prenatal exercise series was helpful in developing arm strength, but no match for holding a 5 pound 13 oz infant all day. (Yes, my triceps were that sad.) So I sucked it up and plugged through 8 long weeks before I ultimately started to feel “normal.” I battled serious nursing issues and concerns with milk supply, not to mention the up and downs from the hormones. On top of that, I struggled with dreams that I couldn’t find the baby who was sleeping merely feet away. Plus, I regularly missed her kicks and the closeness we shared during the pregnancy. I could have chocked all this up to mild PPD and done everything the same this time around, but I changed the whole plan instead.

Having a second baby is absolute Heaven. We spend hours in bed together getting to know each other and developing a comfort level. I’m memorizing her face and her coos and the little expressions she makes. When she opens her eyes, I share her excitement at learning about her surroundings. I tell her everything I’m doing and make gentle oooos and aaahhhhs when she’s really alert. She’s nursing really well, sleeping great, and I am making so much milk. Everything baby-related feels like a huge success. The only hard part is the Older Sibling Blues. Since Hannah is just 14 months and barely walking, her care is generally beyond my capabilities right now. Of course I’m excited that she has a sister and I know in the long run she’ll forgive me for these weeks in bed. I just can’t wait to get through the post-partum stage and back on my feet with my girls!

It hasn’t been easy to stay put, but it’s made a huge difference. I’ve walked past the dirty dishes in favor of sitting on the couch nursing while Hannah plays in the room. I’m not worried that the laundry doesn’t get folded the way I do it or that my husband throws bras in the dryer. Maybe they make nursing bras so ugly so that you don’t mind if they get ruined by others who help around the house. I know I have a big job ahead of me with two little girls, but I’m ready for it. All it took was a little rest to get there.

Thank you to all my friends and family who’ve extended a hand or a kind word to help us and especially my husband, who has fought me kicking and screaming on this but somehow managed to wrangle our family and keep the house from burning down.