Time for another installment of “where’d you get that ______?” After the bath seat, the current most frequently asked product question is about our playmat. It is big so baby can crawl and roll around with plenty of space to play (I took out our living room area rug and put this in its place), thick so when they are rolling or practicing sitting up they don’t bonk their heads on the floor, and comes in great colors and patterns so that it isn’t terrible to look at. My favorite part is that it is one piece (instead of those terrible puzzle piece style playmats that babies take apart within two seconds — I super hate those!) and can just roll up and be stored when it isn’t in use or when you are done with it. We use it every single day. It would also make a good yoga/exercise mat for home use, which might motivate some nap time postpartum exercising. It even makes our floor so comfy my husband likes to lay on it to watch tv and it has become the go-to play area for all of my kids 🙂 Read More
Category Archives: mom tips
Before Quincy was born this year, I thought I knew all there was to know about baby gear. He’s only 18 months younger than my middle child, so I assumed not much had changed. Then I discovered all the new stuff out there — baby gear and tech products that are absolute game changers. So even though I didn’t plan to add many new things to our list of essentials the third time around, I couldn’t resist picking up some of the innovative, cool baby gear that’s really been life changing with baby #3. Read More
Wanna know the best kept secret of survival for second time mommas (or third or fourth, etc.) with other young children? Breastfeeding while babywearing! It is something I always wanted to be able to do but could never quite master. Until the third time around. This time I have it down, and it is a lifesaver, I tell ya.
Every baby, boob, and nursing situation is different and not all moms or babies may be able to accomplish nursing while babywearing. I always thought I was one of those moms. You might be one with baby #2, but with baby #3 you figure it out, so it is definitely worth trying with each baby and at different ages if it is something you want to be able to do. Read More
I’ve shared quite a bit about my motherhood experience both here on my blog and over in my instagram feed (and these days on Snapchat as well). I try to be pretty honest without constantly oversharing. I try to be encouraging so other moms find a community of support and maybe solutions to something they are going through (or at least to see they aren’t going it alone). I try to be real. On some days the real me doesn’t get dressed until the afternoon, and only if I have to leave the house. On some days the real me has a hard time and there is a lot of anxiety. On some days the real me feels really good about myself and like I’m kicking ass as a mom. But after having three babies I at least have learned that I’m not alone. I know we all have hard days. I know we all feel like we’re doing a shitty job sometimes. But there was a time when I struggled really hard as a mom and I thought it was just me — like I was doing it the worst. Do you ever feel like that?
One thing I found particularly difficult with my first baby was breastfeeding. Nursing is probably one of the hardest things for many moms, but people make it seem so easy — like you just “do” it. Nursing is the thing other people (other moms, family members, total strangers) will judge you about the most, whether you do it or not (if you do, it’s all “cover up, don’t do that in public, don’t do it too long, you aren’t doing it long enough” and so on. And if you don’t it’s like you are the worst mother ever, regardless of why — and really, it shouldn’t matter why.) And if you choose or are able to breastfeed, it is probably the thing you’ll be hardest on yourself about. After being able to breastfeed three babies myself, to varying degrees of “success”, I feel like I’ve learned a few nuggets of wisdom that might help other mothers who also hope to breastfeed. And maybe even the ones who don’t.
I have been lucky enough to have had the choice to nurse my babies, but not everyone has the choice to breastfeed, and not everyone wants to breastfeed. I fully support mothers choosing whatever works best for themselves and their families. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing comments from “well-meaning mothers” who like to suggest that breastfeeding is the only way. Or if you do breastfeed you should breastfeed longer. Or if someone is giving a bottle to a baby they automatically assume they chose not to breastfeed (it could be breastmilk, it could be their only option, or it could be a bottle of formula — who the hell cares!?) We all know breast is best, but breast isn’t for everyone, sometimes by choice and sometimes not. Just do you and let other moms do them and as long as no one is harming anyone else then everyone is ok. But I digress…
Back to ME 🙂 I did really want to breastfeed and with my first it was a struggle. At around one month we realized my supply was really low, but I didn’t know why. I saw a lactation consultant who told me to pump pump pump. She told me to try a drug called Raglan (that wasn’t FDA approved for milk supply help and had some nasty side effects that didn’t help what I was already experiencing, which I later realized was PPD). She told me that every mom can breastfeed, you just have to work at it. So when I couldn’t, I pretty much felt like a failure. First lesson: not every mom can breastfeed, and it is ok. Not every mom wants to breastfeed, and it is ok. And not every mom that tries to breastfeed is able. And it is ok.
I came to that realization once Charlie was older and I was doing better with my PPD. I realized that lactation consultants don’t know everything (although there are mostly wonderful ones out there — I just happened to have a bad experience with a specific and highly revered one) and some have an agenda that isn’t supportive of all mothers or babies. I realized that my formula-fed baby was strong, healthy, smart, and happy. I had a very low supply and no amount of pumping, teas, supplements, water, etc. could help me. I was a good mother. I am a good mother. Second lesson: good moms feed their babies however they can.
Flash forward to when Calvin (my second baby) was five months old and stopped gaining weight after nursing well up to that point. My pediatrician advised me to start offering a bottle of formula after every feeding to get his weight back up. After two weeks of supplementing he did gain weight and he was back on track. He started napping well. He was much happier. I realized my supply had like a 4-5 oz max and once he needed more than that, I needed help from formula. Gradually he started preferring the bottle to the breast, and it was also around the time he started solids (we did mostly baby led weaning with him). So I decided to follow his lead and fed him bottles of formula after every nursing session, which eventually turned to only nursing in the morning and at bedtime, and offering formula bottles for his other meals. Lesson three: sometimes breastfeeding is going really well and then something unexpected happens and you need help. It throws you for a loop. But everything will be ok. Giving formula won’t keep your kid from going to college. It doesn’t mean you love them less. Breast, bottle, breastmilk, or formula: #nourishwithoutshame.
For a while I pumped when I could so some of those bottles had some breast milk too, but I didn’t get much when I pumped and I finally stopped. In all honestly, all the pumping I did the first time around really made me hate pumping. I’m sure no one likes pumping. No mom says “ooooh, I can’t wait to pump!” But after the first time around I gave myself permission to just do my best and to refuse to pump if I didn’t want to. I still nursed first thing in the morning and the last thing at night until Calvin started biting around 8 months old. I tried but couldn’t get him to stop and couldn’t work past it (he’s still a biter so I don’t think we would have ever worked past it). I was really sad to stop nursing — it was earlier than I had planned for sure. I was really down about it at first — the end happened so fast and unexpectedly. But I knew I tried my best. I didn’t feel guilty about giving formula. I didn’t feel like a bad mom. Lesson four: pumping sucks and biting, well, bites. (Puns intended.) You are allowed to decide to stop. You can give yourself permission and you don’t need permission from anyone else.
And now with Quincy I have been able to exclusively breastfeed. He’s over 6 months and the chubbiest baby I’ve had at this age by far, and it’s all from me. I can’t believe it. And to think he spent a week in the NICU and I was so worried it would ruin my chances at nursing. Quincy has never taken a bottle! It is the first time I have had a steady milk supply. It is also the first time I’ve had any issues in the beginning that other women dealt with but that I had only heard about (engorgement, clogged ducts, pain, bleeding nipples, etc.) I’m glad that nursing him has been relatively easy, aside from a few minor clogged ducts, a bout of thrush for me, a quick visit from mastitis, and eliminating dairy from my diet to help with Quincy’s reflux (which has been our struggle with baby three – you can read more about our colic and reflux battles if that is something you think you might be dealing with as well.)
I don’t have any expectations about breastfeeding this time around. This is my last baby, so I’m just going to do it as 2long as I’m able, as long as he wants to, and as long as it works for our family. I have a goal of one year but definitely would go longer. I just know that having expectations makes you feel bad if something happens and you can’t meet them. It’s great to have a goal, but putting pressure on yourself is unfair. We already have too much pressure, too little sleep, too little help, too many things we feel we aren’t doing well enough. Lesson five: don’t go into breastfeeding (or anything in your motherhood/parenthood experience) with big expectations. It never leads to anything good. Instead, just do the best you can, enjoy it while you can, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
I hope someone finds this somewhat helpful. It is something I wish someone had told me or something I had read when I was struggling. I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts as well, but please remember — this is a judgement free zone.
Also, I blogged my breastfeeding essentials with some of my favorite things here. And again, I’d love for you to share your thoughts or experiences, or your biggest lessons learned either here or on instagram. I think we all have something to learn from each other. And if you aren’t yet familiar with it, I’ve been using the hashtag #battlefieldmotherhood on instagram to share my real, raw, hard, and victorious days and other moms are joining in. Check it out and use it if you’d like! The more the merrier.
If you read this blog regularly or follow me on Instagram, you are probably well aware of our struggle with infant acid reflux with our third baby. It has been so so hard and I know that when I was in the thick of it I spent so much time online looking for answers. So I thought that if I shared our experience, the signs and symptoms that Quincy showed early on, and what ended up working for us that maybe I’ll help another exhausted momma out there googling for answers on her phone while she’s nursing like I did.
Looking back, Quincy showed some signs of reflux right away, while we were still in the hospital (we had to stay an extra week due to some delivery complications and an infection.) I remember the nurse coming in to give Quincy medicine and he would make this sound like he couldn’t breathe – like he was gasping for air. The nurse and I both made mention of it like it didn’t seem normal, but he was fine otherwise. The gasping got worse later on and I realized that basically anytime I gave him medicine or when he would nurse that often happened and I think it was because stuff was coming up due to reflux, and it made him feel like he was choking when we were trying to get something else down.
By two weeks old, Quincy had full-on colic. Like screaming for hours, not sleeping, writhing in pain colic. It was horrible. We went to the pediatrician and heard “sounds like colic. He’ll grow out of it eventually.” But since this was my third baby and not my first my gut told me it was more than that. I just knew something was causing the colic — it was a symptom of something bigger, not the main issue. I now strongly believe that colic is usually a symptom of severe gas, reflux, food sensitivities or allergies, or a combination. Seriously, if you think your baby has colic or if he or she is showing colic-like symptoms (prolonged and pained crying for hours, multiple times a week, for at least a week) I would try the tips below and see if there is any improvement. Your baby (and you) do not have to suffer and just “wait for him to grow out of it.”
The first thing I did after doing some research online and talking with some mom friends was cut dairy. I should mention that Quincy was (and still currently is) exclusively breastfed (if you formula feed, there is dairy in regular formula as well, so switching to soy or a more hypoallergenic formula like Nutramigen or Alimentum may help (and I’ve heard buying it on Amazon is way cheaper – ask your pediatrician she thinks it is right for your baby.) I also started trying out some products to help him with his gas pain (you can see a full post on that and other colic helpers here.)
After about a week of cutting dairy, I saw a drastic improvement in Quincy. While he still had colic-like fussy periods (especially in the evening or if we tried to go somewhere and he was in the infant seat) he wasn’t screaming inconsolably for hours on end anymore. He never showed signs of a full dairy allergy (no blood in his diaper, for example) but I do think he had a sensitivity and it was exacerbating the reflux that we didn’t yet know he had.
After cutting dairy and using things like the Windi, Gerber Soothe drops, and an all-natural colic tonic for a couple of weeks, Quincy was good more often than not. But he was spitting up a ton, would still scream if he was laid down within an hour of eating (he really couldn’t be laid flat ever), and absolutely hated being in his infant seat or anything that put him in a curled position. He also would wake himself up with hiccups or spitting up about two hours after feedings. While he spit up breastmilk during and after feedings, he spit up a lot of clear fluid a couple hours after feedings, which is even more indicative of reflux.
He also showed the following signs/symptoms:
- raspy/gurgling breathing
- coughing/choking, especially when put down or after eating
- smacking his mouth and grimacing
- sounded like he was congested but wasn’t sick
- would often rub at his nose/mouth area like something was bothering him
- could not be put down or laid flat without crying/screaming within a few minutes
- would sometimes have milk come out of his nose when nursing and/or choking when nursing
- arching back and stiffening neck
- lots of spitting up, trouble burping (you’d really have to burp him for a while and if you put him down before he was able to burp things would get worse), hiccups
Reflux babies are also often underweight, but Quincy was the opposite. He would nurse more frequently because it helped soothe the burning, but then that would also make the reflux worse. Some babies don’t want to nurse because they realize that is causing them pain. But he was gaining weight well. So don’t think yours can’t have reflux just because they aren’t having trouble gaining.
I also realized that the reason Quincy screamed anytime I tried to put him in the stroller or car was because his infant seat curled him into a position that made his reflux even more uncomfortable. I thought it would be ok, because he was in a position that kept his head elevated, but it made him worse. And I tried a couple different infant seats — the brand didn’t make a difference because they are all basically designed to have baby in the same position, which unfortunately puts pressure on their tummies.
So if this sounds like your baby, then here are the things that I did that worked for us. Maybe some of these tips or products will work for you too.
- Cut dairy. I also limited (ate but in small quantities or infrequently) soy, citrus, caffeine (I was having one cup of coffee in the morning and maybe one later in the day if necessary), chocolate, and eggs. A few of my favorite non-dairy substitutes or dairy free things are (aside from the obvious fruit and veggies): Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chunks, Earth Balance non-dairy butter, Back to Nature Peanut Butter Creme Cookies, Oat Mama Peanut Butter and Chocolate bars, Silk Almond Milk Creamer, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars.
- Elevate baby when sleeping. Quincy slept swaddled in our Rock-n-Play until he was 4 months old. It was a lifesaver. I highly recommend it to anyone with a baby, but especially to those who have babies with reflux or who are happy spitters (lots of spitting up but otherwise a happy baby — my first son Charlie was one of these.) If you would prefer to have your baby in a crib you can buy a wedge like this and a sleep positioner like this to keep baby from rolling or sliding down when elevated. I’ve also heard a lot of great things about this product for helping baby sleep elevated, but I’ve never tried it. It would be a challenge for night sleep since you can’t strap baby in if he is swaddled but could be great for daytime.
- Elevate baby when eating. If you nurse, try to elevate baby on the feeding side. I use this nursing pillow and propped it higher on the feeding side. This meant I mostly nursed sitting up, as sidelying or similar positions kept Quincy too flat. If you bottle feed, pick a slow flow anti-colic bottle like these (my favorite when I’ve had to supplement with my first two babies – Quincy is exclusively breastfed so far.)
- Hold baby upright for at least 30 minutes after a feeding. I actually had to keep Quincy upright for 30-60 minutes after a feeding. This makes nursing to sleep and night feeds challenging. If he fell asleep while nursing I would just hold him upright on my shoulder, burping him off and on until I got a few good ones. And then when I did lay him down he was still elevated. Also, baby wearing helps a ton with this. I used both my Solly Baby Wrap and my Ergobaby 360 carrier, but now Ergobaby has a new carrier called the Adapt which you can use from the newborn stage without an insert. If you can only get one carrier that you want to work from birth to toddler, that one is the one to have.
- Give baby a probiotic. I tried pretty much everything from natural and homeopathic remedies, visiting a chiropractor (which didn’t work for us — per our chiro Quincy was perfectly aligned — but I hear chiropractors or osteopaths can really help), pediatrician visits, medication, etc. I was recommended different probiotics (fancier ones that you have to refrigerate and drugstore brands) and the one that I found that helped us the most was the one my pediatrician recommended: Gerber Soothe. It is targeted to help with both colic symptoms and food sensitivities.
- Limit their time spent in things that make them uncomfortable (like the infant seat) and use seats or bouncers that position then comfortably. For us, the two things that worked best for keeping Quincy comfortable but letting me have some hands-free time were the Baby Bjorn Bouncer and the 4Moms mamaRoo (at it’s highest position setting). Other rockers, swings, bouncers that we had from my first two babies didn’t work well for Quincy. He could tolerate them for maybe 5 minutes but then he would start with the choking sounds, spitting up, and getting fussy. Oh, and he HATED getting sink baths (similar positioning as the infant car seat) but loved baths in this bath seat in the tub (which I have had since my oldest was a baby). It made bath time so much more enjoyable for both of us.
- See your pediatrician and discuss whether medication could help your baby. I would prefer not to medicate a baby so young, but I also prefer for my baby to not suffer unnecessarily. After seeing how much pain Quincy was in and talking to his doctor, I decided that medication was right for us to try. We started on Zantac (a liquid form compounded at our pharmacy) and noticed an immediate improvement. But after a couple of weeks that went away (which is normal). So after a month on Zantac we decided to switch to Prevacid (a PPI). PPIs can take at least two weeks to start working, so we continued with our Zantac until it ran out, which was a little over two weeks on the Prevacid. I noticed more improvement with Prevacid (again the liquid compounded form). However, Quincy was rapidly gaining weight, so about every two weeks (when we would need a new dose, as the compounded form of Prevacid only lasts two weeks) he would start to regress a bit and we realized that he had gained weight and needed a higher dose. (I should mention that having the Hatch Smart Changing Pad was a lifesaver for me in dealing with the reflux too because I could track Quincy’s weight myself without having to go in to the pediatrician for a weight check before I could have his medication dosage adjusted. It’s also brilliant for breastfed babies so you know how much they are eating, especially in those early days before your supply is well established.) Finally, when he was around 4 months old we reached a good dose that has been working for us for a month. He gets 2 doses of Prevacid, one first thing in the morning and one at night before he nurses and goes to bed. It is important to keep in mind that for the compounded Prevacid you need to wait 2 hours after a feeding to give it, or wait 30 minutes after a dose for a feeding.
I know that was a long post, but I wanted to try to include any information I thought might be helpful. If you have a specific question, feel free to comment below or email me and I’ll do my best to respond! Good luck and just know that it is temporary and things will get better 🙂
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