Breast Milk Storage Tips

breast-milk-storage-guidelines

Our friends over at Tinyhood always have the best advice. Read this post from Tinyhood IBCLC Dana.

Pumping and storing breastmilk is a great way for breastfeeding mamas to gain a little flexibility and freedom, have partners help out with feeding baby, and ensure mom can go back to work and still provide baby with breastmilk. We know the internet has a lot of conflicting information on all the rules around this topic so we've compiled this list of tips based on the recommendations from the latest research and leading experts. This way, there's no uncertainty or guessing if your milk is still safe for baby!

1. The fresher, the better. Human milk is a fresh, living substance and so some of its nutrients and health properties change with storage. This just means you should try and use the oldest milk in the refrigerator or freezer first, so you don’t have milk sitting there for too long. See the table at the bottom of this article for the optimal amount of times you should be storing milk. (Just keep in mind that frozen breast milk is still a good option! Stored human milk maintains its unique qualities, so much so that it remains the gold standard for feeding.)

2. When freezing milk, don’t forget to leave a little space at top of the container to allow for the expansion that will occur in the freezer.

3. Freeze in small increments. Infants generally drink 2-4 ounces at a time, so store milk in varying small increments in order to minimize waste. (You can’t save breast milk once your baby has drunk from it; more on that below.) Don’t forget to label the milk container with the date (and baby’s name if used at daycare).

4. To defrost breast milk, use one of these three options:

  • Place it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Run it under warm water.
  • Place it in a container of warm water.
  • Defrosting or warming human milk in the microwave is not recommended. Studies have shown that microwaves heat unevenly. This can result in "hot spots" that can scald a baby's mouth and throat.

5. Discard the remaining milk once your baby has fed. Once a baby begins drinking expressed human milk, some bacterial contamination occurs from the baby’s mouth. Therefore, it’s recommended to discard remaining milk within 1-2 hours after your baby has finished feeding.

HELPFUL HINT: To minimize waste, make your bottles with the least amount you think your baby will take, and then add more if she’s still hungry. Trust us, most moms would take the inconvenience of making an additional bottle over wasting a drop of that precious pumped milk!

6. Don’t mix milks of different temperatures. Try to avoid adding warm, freshly-pumped milk to already cooled or frozen milk. It’s better to cool down the newly expressed milk before combining it.

7. Use defrosted milk within a few hours. Once breast milk is thawed, it should not be left at room temperature for more than a few hours.

8. A note on refreezing milk: The research is not clear on whether or not you can refreeze milk once it’s been thawed. There is no official recommendation on this.

9. For healthy, full term babies, breast milk can:

  • Stay out at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours
  • Be stored in an insulated cooler bag with ice packs for 24 hours
  • Be refrigerated (39°F/4°C) for 5 days
  • Be stored in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator/freezer with separate doors for 3 to 6 months
  • Be stored in an infrequently-opened chest or upright manual defrost deep freezer (−4°F/−20°C) for 6 to 12 months

BONUS: For optimal milk storage guidelines, check out this table from the ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants.


Kegels During Pregnancy? Yes or No?

Kegels are definitely a buzz word during pregnancy and post-partum recovery. We love this post by Every Mother Founder Leah Keller about how to incorporate kegels safely into your workouts. Visit the Every Mother blog for more great posts.


Many women avoid performing Kegel exercises during pregnancy because they fear it will tighten the pelvic floor, resulting in a more difficult labor. The truth is that a strong, toned pelvic floor endures the rigors of labor far better than a weak, de-conditioned pelvic floor. We can strengthen muscles without making them ‘tight’ – I can train my biceps for strength without creating excessive tightness in my arms. And a strong muscle has more elasticity and resilience than a weak muscle. How can we best develop a toned, elastic pelvic floor to prepare for a safe, empowered birth? One key tip is to practice consciously relaxing and releasing the pelvic floor muscle, in addition to squeezing and lifting it. While performing Kegels on their own, be sure that you’re completely opening and relaxing the pelvic floor between each muscle contraction. The muscle release is as important as the muscle engagement.

How much, how often? Any exceptions?

In addition to incorporating Kegels into Core Compressions™ during pregnancy, I recommend performing 2-3 minutes of two varieties of Kegels a couple times per week. The only exception to this recommendation is if you have personally been advised not to Kegel by a medical professional – your OB, midwife, or pelvic floor physical therapist. Women who have an overly tight (hypertonic) pelvic floor would not benefit, and could in fact make matters worse – especially if you’re preparing for your first birth or a VBAC. Common symptoms of hypertonicity include chronic constipation, tailbone pain, and pain during intercourse. If you suspect you’re suffering from an overly tight pelvic floor, discuss your concerns with your OB/midwife and request a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist. Also watch our Into to Core Compressions video to find out how to modify your core compressions.

For audio coaching in elevator Kegels and sprint Kegels, including how and when to breathe during the set, scroll to the end of our core exercise library. Here’s a brief description of each:

Elevator Kegels

Slowly draw your entire pelvic floor up and in as you exhale, holding the muscle as high and tight as you can (feels like you’re trying not to pee your pants), breathing shallowly, for 10 seconds. Then slowly release and relax completely. Imagine opening like a flower. Then repeat, exhaling as you squeeze your pelvic floor closed and up, up, up inside you. Breathe shallowly as you hold the muscle high and tight for 10 seconds. Then soften, release, lower and open completely. Perform 10 elevator Kegels (about 2-3 minutes) twice a week to strengthen the endurance muscle fibers. When finished with a set, gently lift the pelvic floor to a comfortable resting position.

Sprint Kegels

These are power moves, working the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your pelvic floor. Squeeze as hard as you can, drawing the pelvic floor quickly up and in as you exhale. Then take a breath as you release the muscle completely. (Note: never bulge your pelvic floor forcefully downward.) Always draw ‘up & in’ as you exhale when engaging the muscle, and then simply allow the pelvic floor to relax and fall open between squeezes. When finished with a set, gently lift the pelvic floor to a comfortable resting position. Aim for 2-3 minutes of sprint Kegels a couple times per week.

As you practice both engaging and consciously releasing the pelvic floor muscle, you can improve strength and elasticity while enhancing your ability to open the pelvic door for a strong, safe birth. Please read this article for additional training tips to prepare for safer, easier pushing in labor.

By Leah Keller, Founder of the EMbody Program. Learn more about Leah here.

9 Steps to Treating a Clogged Milk Duct

We love our friends over at Tinyhood, an app that connects parents with experts via chat and online classes. We loved this post from one of their experts and wanted to share!

Recently, a Tinyhood Mom wrote into one of our breastfeeding experts, Dana Czuczka, IBCLC, with this message:

All of a sudden, I realized I have a hard lump in my breast.  It actually hurts when I touch it!  Help! What is this and what should I do?

Fortunately, Dana was pretty sure she knew exactly what this was: a clogged duct in the breast. Here she shares her steps for dealing with this common breastfeeding issue.

  1. Don’t panic! Clogged ducts are a pretty common problem for breastfeeding moms—and there are ways to resolve the problem fairly quickly.  

  2. Review all the signs of a plugged duct—just to be sure that’s what it is. Signs of a clogged duct include:

  • A hard lump in the breast that is still there even after nursing

  • Sometimes (but not always) a “milk blister” on the end of the nipple

  • Sometimes, your breast may feel warm to the touch

  • You may notice a pink or red spot by the lump that may be tender

  • You may have a temporary dip in milk production from that breast

IMPORTANT: If you have a fever or start feeling like you have the flu, call your OB or midwife. This could mean the clogged duct has already developed into mastitis (a breast infection) and that’s something you cannot treat on your own.

  1. Begin treatment as soon as possible. If what you have is indeed a clogged duct, address it right away. As noted above, if left untreated, clogged ducts can lead to mastitis. You don’t want to ignore it and hope it goes away on its own.  

  2. Take a warm shower. Get in the shower as soon as you can and run warm water over the tender breast. If a shower is not possible, use a warm compress. (Lactation Consultant trick: a diaper filled with hot water works well!)

  3. Massage the breast. While still in the shower, or while you still have the warm compress handy, massage the tender breast firmly (but not so firmly that you hurt yourself). Think about clearing the path ahead of the spot. Start at the nipple and slowly move backwards towards the tender spot, and then work on the lump itself with a kneading motion.

  4. Nurse or pump. Right after your shower or compress, nurse your baby. Nursing is more effective than pumping, but if nursing is too painful or if you are separated from your baby, pumping is a good backup option. Continue with the breast massage while you are nursing or pumping.

  5. Treat your pain. Some moms find relief from ice packs after nursing or pumping. You can also take ibuprofen to help ease the discomfort.

  6. Don’t neglect the other breast. Make sure you’re still using both breasts to feed! You don’t want to end up with a clog on the other side, too.

  7. Do your best to prevent another clogged duct. Moving forward, try and catch plugs early by:

    • Frequently checking for lumps and tender spots while nursing, pumping, or showering.

    • Avoid wearing bras that are too tight or bras with underwire.  

    • Keep your breasts comfortable. Don’t skip a nursing or pumping session if you can help it. Remember, you can always hand express if you need relief and you can’t nurse or pump for whatever reason.


The Benefits of a Pacifier.

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We are excited to have another post by Bethany of Baby on Board Consulting share her wisdom on a hotly debated topic: PACIFIERS!


Oh the pacifier!  Some babies are obsessed with them and will want to pack one for college, while others never seem to care for them (it’s a toss-up really).  We all know that they are a great tool to include in your parent arsenal for those baby meltdown days, but did you also know that introducing a pacifier to your baby has some other great advantages? Here are some wonderful ways a pacifier can help your baby:

Satisfies the sucking reflex:  Your baby is equipped with 7 natural reflexes, straight from birth!  Unfortunately a “washed all the dishes” reflex isn’t one of them…..but a girl can dream right?  The sucking reflex however, allows your baby to move their mouth and tongue in a motion that helps them feed efficiently and to fill up their little tummies with nutrients.  If your baby is still exhibiting the sucking reflex after finishing a meal, a pacifier can come in handy.  The pacifier can help ease this reflex and settle them, giving you and baby some nice relaxing time together.

Helps a baby self soothe:  Along with relaxing your baby, pacifiers can help your baby feel secure and safe.  This is helpful for when you need a break from holding and/or breastfeeding your agitated baby.  It helps your baby soothe themselves without your outside help, which makes it a great addition to establishing healthy soothing habits for the future.

Pain control: Another benefit that the pacifier offers is it can help a baby with pain relief.  When a baby is sucking, they are distracted from stressful stimuli caused by unpleasant situations, such as a vaccination at the doctors.  While breastfeeding and/or bottle feeding does help the same way, a pacifier is handy for the situations when you cannot comfort feed them.        

Helps reduce the risk of SIDS: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pacifiers are a part of safe sleeping practices.  The AAP recommends giving a pacifier for daytime naps and night time sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).  One theory around this is that a pacifier will stop a baby from falling into an extremely deep sleep that they are not easily aroused from.  Experts do not know exactly what causes SIDS, so following safe and preventative steps is the best call.  You can find the AAP safe sleep recommendations here:  Safe Sleeping

Great for flights: We all know that chewing gum can help regulate the pressure in our adult ears during take-off and landing, but did you know that babies feel the same pressure?  Sucking on a pacifier helps alleviate that pressure for your baby which in turn creates a smoother flight for you too.

Pacifiers can be a great addition to your routine with your baby and can offer many benefits.  However, consult with your pediatrician about any concern you may have, and do your own research to make the best-informed decision you can for you and your family.  As always, surround yourself with support and love and remember that you are doing an amazing job!

Q and A with Amanda of Colored Organics.

We loved including Colored Organics in our Bundles because they are incredible soft, durable, and have a mission we fully support. We are so inspired by founder Amanda and her passion, dedication, and vision for Colored Organics. Under her leadership, Colored Organics® has established itself as a champion for ethical manufacturing, producing only sweatshop-free clothing, and adhering to the highest global standards of organic textile production (GOTS).


We know having your daughter was the inspiration behind the company? How old is she now? Can you share some highlights personally and professionally over the years?

My daughter, Sienna is now 11 years old - I can't believe it?! Some of my professional highlights over the years have been working with our incredible team and amazing wholesale customers! It is really rewarding to be able to partner with other like-minded mama's to support their efforts and watch their businesses grow!

Personally, as a mom and a business leader, I have gotten better at balancing work and life. Its never easy, but I know my children are learning a ton throughout this effort and listen intently when I am having business discussions with my husband.

What was the biggest challenge in getting Colored Organics off the ground?

The biggest challenge in getting CO up and running has been manufacturing. My background was not textile or supply chain management so It took a few years to finalize product specifications and supplier partnerships.

Which field were you in before launching Colored Organics?

Before I started CO I worked with a marketing firm managing insert and print media placements for Fortune 500 companies.

What are your goals for the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019?

Our goal for the remainder of 2018 and early 2019 is to focus on basics. Our basic layette items are our best sellers and we are looking to expand our product offering in this category.  We are putting in a lot of effort to communicate effectively with our wholesale and retail customers to gain knowledge of their interests and what works best for them! 

Where are you located and how big is your team?

We are located in downtown Minneapolis in the North Loop Area. We have under 15 employees on our team. 

Q and A with Liz of Cheengoo.

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We were introduced to Cheengo's adorable products and knew we had to add them to our Bundles! We are delighted to interview Cheengo Founder Liz about the company and her story!


When did you start Cheengoo? What was the inspiration behind it?
Cheengoo began as a hobby back in 2008. Before I became a mom, I was a graphic designer by trade and the two passions in my life at the time were (don’t tell my husband) my dog and good design. There weren’t in my opinion too many well-designed commerce websites of note geared to discerning pet owners - most were overly frilly or packed to the seams with glitter and glam. I set out to create Cheengoo.com to provide a hand-picked selection of high quality, upscale, stylish pet accessories. Two years later, driven by demand our hobby became a serious business and the decision was made to open a brick and mortar store. Around the same time, Cheengoo launched its own line of crocheted toys and collars that were an instant hit amongst other high-end boutiques in the US.

When I became a mom, my son, Oliver exploded into my life quickly became both my inspiration and muse. Spending time and playing with Oliver naturally made me think about his needs and resulted in the expansion of Cheengoo's offerings to include high quality, natural baby products.

Tell us about growing your business?
Had I not been a mother or loving pet owner, I in likelihood would not have been drawn to the toy business at all. Being both, it has made me care very much about the types of product that Cheengoo goes to market with. Cheengoo’s entire collection is not only aesthetically pleasing, but safe, earth-friendly and natural.

It gives me great satisfaction to know that we are making a difference to the lives of women in China who work with Cheengoo. These women, mostly mothers have little or no work opportunities in China as factory workers usually are required to work full time - often at a great distance from their homes. One of the key perks for working with us is that anybody can come in and receive free training.  If they decide that they want to take work home to be with their family, they have the flexibility to do so. They can literally earn a living at home while watching their kids doing their homework, which is rare anywhere in the world but perhaps especially in China.

What does day to day look like for you?
Hmmm….my days are probably like that of anyone running a small business, mostly fun and always hectic! With limited resources and budget, you have to get creative and be used to wearing multiple hats. I handle marketing, customer care, IT issues as well as converse daily with our suppliers; and oh, did I mention I design all the toys too? It’s definitely not glamorous but so fun! I wouldn’t trade what I do at Cheengoo for anything.

What do you hope for your company?
Knowing that 80% of the small businesses going belly up within 5 years, I couldn’t be certain that Cheengoo would be amongst the 20% – I believed and hoped that it would find an audience and we have. Our ability to pivot successfully with the market means that we are now a completely different company from the one we started 10 years ago. I am a firm believer in re-inventing yourself to stay in tune with the demands of your customers. Brick and mortar wasn’t working as well for us, especially during the economic downturn, so we took what we learnt from retail and committed ourselves creating our own products. I hope Cheengoo will be around for decades to come. I hope that we will continue to make these wonderful handmade, natural and safe toys for babies and kids, I hope we will continue to support these amazing artisans from all over the world. I am obviously hoping for a good many things. J

Anything else you want to add?
Cheengoo specializes in a line of modern, hand-crafted toys and accessories for infants and young children. Our products are handmade ethically using natural materials: either maple wood, bamboo, or cotton. Our toys are first imagined in San Francisco and then brought to life by our international team of skilled artisans from Nepal, Latvia and China. We hope that all of our tiny customers have as much fun playing with our Cheengoo products as we did creating them.

Got Milk? Thoughts on Breastfeeding.

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The two things no one talks about while you’re pregnant: post baby recovery and breastfeeding. Everyone always says, “enjoy your sleep while you can” or “go on as many date nights as possible”, but no one ever talks about the guilt, the bad, and the ugly of all stages of pregnancy and pre and post labor. Not only do people either choose to not discuss or shy away from these subjects, but people pass so much judgement on new moms. Breastfeeding is a hot topic for judgement, “did you know she didn’t breastfeed” or “I can’t believe they’re giving their baby formula”, the list goes on. What I have learned in the seven months of being a mom is, do not pass judgement on other moms! Every mom, every baby, every family has their own set of difficulties and the decisions you make should be made in confidence and supported by those around you. I had my own difficulty with breastfeeding and in that difficulty came an overwhelming sense of guilt and defeat.

 

Within minutes of Maddison being born, she scrunched up her little face and maneuvered her way over to my boob. I was completely shocked that this brand new baby instinctively knew how to find my boob let alone knew that that was where her food would be coming from. We were lucky, we didn’t have any problems with Maddison latching- she was easy! While we were in the hospital one of the nurses showed me different breastfeeding positions which was helpful, but we didn’t go into detail about breastfeeding. We had to log how frequently she ate, how many pees, how many poops, and the feeding times for each day we stayed in the hospital- this was to ensure she was eating enough. We had a lactation consultant stop by to talk about breastfeeding, but when she came by we had visitors so I asked her to come back at another time… she never did. I thought wow this breastfeeding thing is easy! I didn’t need all the creams I bought, I didn’t have to worry about her latch, things were going great!

 

Two days after being home from the hospital, we had a doctors appointment where we learned Maddison had dropped a lot of her birth weight- completely normal, but it was due to my milk supply. I don’t know if my milk hadn’t fully come in or if I just wasn’t producing enough. My heart sank when the nurse told me her weight loss was because of my milk supply- this was a feeling of guilt and defeat like I never experienced before- this was just the start of the endless mom guilt. Because of the weight loss, we had to put an intense feeding schedule in place. I had to nurse her on both sides for ten minutes, then pump on each side for ten minutes, then feed her formula with a tube/syringe, then wash the bottles and get ready for the next round. This took place every 2&½- 3 hours around the clock. Doesn’t sound that awful, right? Well the whole feeding process took about 45 minutes to an hour, then factor in all of the visitors, trying to sleep, go to the bathroom, shower, take the dog out, basically any kind of normal life function into it as well … it was rough. Luckily Jake helped with the formula feeding and would wake up with me throughout the night to get everything setup.

 

Two days in to our new feeding routine and our diligent note taking with how much she was eating, how much I was pumping, the pees and poops for the day, we had another appointment to do a weigh-in. On the same day, I had made an emergency appointment because of my recovery- I could barely walk and get in and out of the car. I thought I had everything scheduled so perfectly as I usually do, I’m a planner what can I say! We had to drive downtown San Francisco and I had my appointment set first thing, we had a two hour gap in between where we went and did our feeding routine in the car, then planned on being fully prepared for Maddisons weigh-in. Jake and I decided we should walk and grab a coffee down the street since we had almost another full hour before Maddison’s appointment. As we’re slowly walking back, we get a call from the nurse asking where we were since our appointment started thirty minutes ago- mombrain! Maddison had gained her birthweight back, but they told us to keep her on the same schedule to help her gain more weight.

 

About one week into the feeding schedule I had had enough. I was defeated; I was exhausted, drained, emotional and had a short-fuse especially with Jake when he didn’t wash a bottle or didn’t get up in time. I called Kaiser and asked to speak to a lactation consultant who told me to stop what I was doing immediately because I was causing more harm and interfering with my milk production- this call turned into a sudden onset of waterworks. I was told to feed Maddison on demand- as much as she wanted. I learned that the baby dictates your milk supply, so by feeding on demand, it would help produce more milk. I started taking supplements to help increase my supply, played around with “booby bites” and lactation cookies, ordered lactation bars, tried to eat certain foods that increase your supply,, I was doing anything and everything to try and up my milk production. I went to a lactation consultant who weighed Maddison after I fed her to get an idea of how much I was producing and gave me some more tips on how to increase my supply. I was also given the hospital grade pump to take home and told to pump after nursing. The guilt started to melt away and the feeling of dread I had associated with breastfeeding stopped as soon as I started to embrace that I was doing everything I could to be a good mom.

 

It’s now been seven months of breastfeeding. I remember telling myself I could make it to two full months and to know that I’ve made it to seven is such a feeling of accomplishment. My goal is to make it to a full year, but Maddison has two bottom teeth and I know more will be coming, so we’ll see if I can stick to that goal! Breastfeeding is tough, it requires a lot of sacrifice and dedication. To all the moms out there, whether you’re breastfeeding or not, just remember, YOU’VE GOT THIS!

 

Xo,

Corinne

 

Q and A with BellyBandit Founder, Lori Caden.

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We are so delighted to sit down with Lori Caden, founder of BellyBandit, a company that supports women before, during and after pregnancy with their incredible line of products. After a grocery store employee said he could help Lori because she was pregnant (which she wasn't! she had just had her baby), Lori decided to launch BellyBandit. Ten years later, a growing line of amazing products, and with sights set on more growth, BellyBandit and the Caden sisters are inspiring us at The Bundle of Joy to dream big and work hard!


We know the story of the Belly Bandit (damn stock boy), tell us about the other products you carry and the order they were introduced.

We started the company with 3 different styles of Belly Bandit Belly Wraps, representing the “3 sisters” behind the brand. The Original Belly Wrap was all about me. As you mentioned, I was a few weeks postpartum when I was mistaken as being “pregnant”– not exactly the best “new mom” moment but that’s what started it all!

Jodi, my oldest sister is the designer in the family, so of course the “Couture” Belly Wrap was her baby.

And speaking of baby’s, Kari, our youngest sister has always been the most eco-conscious, so our Viscose from Bamboo Belly Wrap had her name written all over it.

Today, we have over 500 SKUS and are constantly introducing new solution-based products, from our BDA (Before, During  & After) line of tanks, leggings, and bras to our Mother Tucker Shapewear Collection of corsets, shorties and shapers. This year we are celebrating our 10th Anniversary and to celebrate we will be introducing 10 new products including intimates, an athleisure line and a new Belly Bandit Belly Wrap!

 

We love that you are three sisters working together? Who does what in the company?  

My sisters are my best friends and collaborators. We started Belly Bandit together and life doesn’t get much better than working with them every day. This has been a dream of ours since we were little.  We always wanted to live next door to each other and carpool to work. Now the three of us all live in the same neighborhood and literally do carpool to work.  Jodi is the true visionary, and head designer. She overseas product design and development as well as manages vendor relationships, sales strategy and legal. 

Kari, runs our e-commerce and art departments.  She’s an incredible combination of analytical and creative and does everything from oversee photo shoots to manage tradeshows.

I oversee marketing, PR, partnerships and special events!  We each focus on our strengths and we come together for everything else in between…including lots of family dinners!

What have been the biggest challenges?

When running your own business you quickly realize that every day is a challenge! That’s why our motto is, “If it doesn’t challenge us, it doesn’t change us!” We’d probably all name a different challenge as the “biggest” but manufacturing issues and contract negotiations top my list!

 

What have been the biggest moments of success?

The highlight has always been the positive product feedback we get from women all over the world.  When our customers tell us that Belly Bandit products make them feel good about themselves and their bodies or when we hear from customers that our products were recommended by their doula or OB/GYN– those are the moments that give us the greatest satisfaction. This year, a number of our products have been FSA/HSA approved as well as made eligible for health insurance coverage. This is a huge success and one that makes it possible for even more women to enjoy our products!

What tips do you have for moms who want to start a company?

Passion and perseverance. It’s an unbeatable combination.

 (And yes, working capital is always a plus!) But, if you believe in what you are doing and continue to stay focused, success will find you. Be prepared for a wild ride and know that “nothing worth doing is every easy!”

What vision do you have for the company?

As mentioned, we just celebrated a huge milestone; a decade of supporting new moms! What’s crazy is that we still have the same excitement and passion as when we started.  Our mission is to help moms look and feel their absolutely best before, during and after pregnancy and we hope to spend the next ten years introducing more products that will do just that!

 

Tell us about the company. Where are you located?  We are located in sunny Southern California. 

How big is your team? Our Belly Bandit family is approximately 30 strong and growing all the time!

 

Pregnancy Update: Alix.

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Hello hello! Alix here, just checking in with a little update on pregnancy so far :)

At 22 weeks I’m officially past the halfway mark, which is simultaneously exciting and kind of terrifying because I have a feeling these next few months are going to fly by! And there’s so much to do?!

The most exciting bit of news I can share is that we found out our little one’s gender! Right from the beginning, for no real reason except a gut feeling, I was convinced we were having a boy. Almost everyone I spoke to guessed girl (most vehemently my mom) and everyone kept slipping and referring to the baby as “she,” but in my mind it was totally a little boy. I even got Richard on the boy train once the baby started moving SO MUCH and he too became convinced we were going to have a very active little man running around. Well… to say I was surprised when we got the news that it was a girl is an understatement! But it was the most wonderful surprise ever!! We would have been thrilled with a boy or a girl, our only hope is to have a healthy, happy baby; but knowing that baby is now a “she” has made everything feel so much more real and I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’m trying soo hard not to buy all the baby clothes, but I did slip and buy a sweet little newborn set when we got the news because hey, I’m only human.

My symptoms have also done quite the 180 now that the second trimester is really underway. No more vomiting (thank goodness!) and much less nausea. I’m still pretty sleepy in the afternoons, but it’s nothing compared to the exhaustion of March and April. And thanks to my ridiculously giant pregnancy pillow, I truly look forward to climbing into my nest of fluffy goodness each night. At first I thought they were a little gimmicky and I wouldn’t need one, but after just two nights of sleeping with it I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go back to sleeping without a cocoon of pillow around me. It’s amazing. Other things I am very grateful for these days: Tums. The heartburn is no joke! Also, Wunder Under leggings which I splurged on thanks to advice from Bundle moms - they really are the comfiest for growing bellies!

Richard and I are gearing up for a pretty busy summer, getting in as much travel as we can before baby girl arrives. We’re SO excited to be heading to the south of France in July for a family vacation / baby moon! If you have any tips for traveling while pregnant I am all ears. I know I’ll need some compression tights for the flights and super comfy walking shoes, any other recs are very welcome!

The other big thing on our minds these days is getting the house ready for October. We plan on turning our guest room into the nursery and I recently started putting together a registry, which has been super fun and a litttttle overwhelming. The guest room has basically been our storage / junk closet for the past few years so I think it will be easier to envision everything once we get rid of all the clutter in there. I can’t wait to clear it out, paint, and get it all set up for her!!

Other than that, I’m just trying to stay cool (DC… why must you be so humid??), eat right and stay as active as possible while I can still see my feet :) Hope you’re having a great week, thanks for following along!! Xoxo

 

 

Q and A: Bundle Mom Alix Stowers.

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When we launched The Bundle of Joy, we always had the vision to create a vibrant, authentic community of brilliant moms. We put out a call to our community to see if anyone was interested in writing for our blog and low and behold, we connected with Alix and the rest is history. She is expecting her first baby this fall and we have loved reading her posts: About AlixMaternity Fashion and Her Favorite Natural Beauty Products.

Upon discovering she is just as talented and she is beautiful and graceful, we knew we had turn the table and interview her for our blog.


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  1. Tell us about yourself!

    Hi there! My name is Alix and, as you will quickly come to learn, I have a serious love of flowers. I spend pretty much every day interacting with fresh blooms -- whether I'm creating arrangements, photographing them, or painting them -- and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    In addition to all things floral, I am also passionate about art and design. I studied Studio Art at The College of William & Mary and got my MA in Art & Museum Studies at Georgetown University. I spent my post-grad years working in galleries and museums to promote contemporary art and artists, which I loved, but in the back of my mind I always missed being in the studio and creating things myself.

    About four years ago I decided to take a break from the museum world and took a job at a local flower shop. It was a super scary transition and I had a LOT to learn having never formally trained in floral design. Luckily, I had a fabulous boss / mentor who taught me everything I know while also allowing me to explore my own creative pursuits. I was able to learn all the ins and outs of running a small business by day, and by night I started building a portfolio of photography and paintings based on arrangements I made at work. I'm telling you... it's been all flowers, all the time, ha!

    I currently live in Washington, DC with my husband Richard, our sweet pup Emma, and we are super excited to be welcoming a baby girl to the family this October!
     
  2. How did you start your business?

    In 2017 I started a blog, Living with Petals, as a way to share my obsession with all the beautiful flowers I got to work with every day. I hadn't planned to sell anything on there, but was pleasantly surprised to begin receiving inquiries about whether my photography was available for purchase. After selling a few pieces informally through the blog and my instagram, I decided why not add a little online shop, just to see what happens! 

    I didn't have a formal "launch" or anything like that, I just slowly started posting some of my favorite photos and small floral paintings and within a year, was selling work and even receiving requests for custom commissions. It was a pretty gradual / organic process and I'm definitely still learning all the time (for example - shipping framed photography is WAY more expensive than I realized! And you can NEVER have too much bubble wrap!), but I have loved building up the business and getting to share what I find beautiful with others.
     
  3. Is this your full-time job?

    Not yet. I still spend my mornings at the flower shop, but after our baby is born this will become my full time gig! I'm looking forward to really being able to commit to my work and I think it will be good to have both the time (and pressure) to pursue my art full time. I'm also excited that it will allow me to work from home so I can spend lots of time with our baby girl!
     
  4. What advice do you have for people who want to take a passion and turn it into a business?

    Don't feel like you have to have everything perfectly figured out in order to start. Experiment and put yourself out there, because the longer you wait the more time you have to second guess yourself. If you are lucky enough to have a passion, be generous and share it with the world because I guarantee that if you authentically love what you're doing, others will too :) 
     
  5. What is your process?

    My photography is very intuitive, I'm really drawn to color and texture and am a firm believer that more-is-more when it comes to flowers. I really like capturing a LOT of one varietal, (like these dahlias) and especially love when the image becomes almost abstracted due to the repetition of shape and form.

    My floral paintings always start out with a real arrangement I made. I usually work from a photograph as the flowers just don't last long enough to paint from life, but it's always an original photo of an original arrangement by me.

    For commissions I work closely with clients to ensure they are a part of the entire process. Some folks come to me with very clear ideas of what they want, like a painting of a bridal bouquet, and others just have a general color scheme they want incorporated into an abstract painting. I love working on both kinds of projects and really enjoy getting to know my clients along the way. My favorite thing is to see pictures of where my work ends up in their homes. It's the coolest!
     
  6. What are your best selling items?

    I sell more commissions than anything else - which is great because I love working on them so much! It's awesome to be able to collaborate with the people who will be living with the piece to ensure it's exactly what they want. 

    The next most popular items are my small floral studies. I like to think that they're the most economical way to keep fresh flowers in your home because in painting form, the flowers will never die ;)
     
  7. Anything else you want to add!!!

    Thank you so much for reading! Please don't hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions OR have any advice on turning your side-hustle into a full time job. I'm both excited and a little nervous to see what will happen when I transition to working full time for myself this fall, and would love to connect with anyone who has done something similar! I hope you have a wonderful day!
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From One Mom to Another: Breastfeeding Tips

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Let’s talk breastfeeding! I’ve been so excited for this week’s topic, thought likely not for the reasons that many would assume. I feel passionately about being supportive of whatever choice a parent makes on how they feed their child. Something that has always horrified me is how so many women (and men!) seem to think that it is their duty to shame other parents for their choices. A parent’s decision to breastfeed, formula feed, or use donor milk has always been an issue for so many people, and everyone seems to think they have the right to weigh in on things. I couldn’t not disagree more. A parent’s choice on how they choose to feed their baby is a personal decision and one that should be respected, regardless of the choice they land on. I should also mention that for many, their decision is not a choice that they made independently; some options just may not have been possible. Whew! Now that that is out of the way…the following is my personal breastfeeding journey, along with some things that made our experience easier.

The Hospital

Breastfeeding is bizzare at first, since both you and your newborn are learning the hang it. Mamas-take advantage of every moment in that hospital! Use those nurses and lactation consultants! After giving birth, we were fortunate enough that Ellie was a willing nurser and that my milk came in with relative ease (at least for those two days...more on that in a minute). But I was so NERVOUS! Was I holding her correctly? Was she getting enough? Those nurses worked their magic and helped so much while we tried to figure things out. They gave suggestions for positioning and even helped manipulate both Ellie’s and my body to make things work a bit better. As hard as it can sound, really letting go and allowing the professionals to do their jobs and help in whatever way they can makes a huge difference.

Going Home

My name is Sarah and I have an oversupply problem. My milk, while normal in the hospital, came in with a vengeance. My breasts became the most painful boulders and were difficult for Ellie to latch on to. They were leaking constantly, and I was uncomfortable to the point of tears. Two things I did that were helpful was calling a lactation consultant and calling one of my best friends, whose daughter was a few months older than Ellie.

My pal Alyssa and I joke that nothing is too much for our friendship after she came over that day. I was sitting in the middle of my living room topless, crying, and leaking. She showed me why my breast pump wasn’t working (those darn little phalanges!) and she also brought over her hand pump for me to try. She was also SUPPORTIVE. It’s amazing how much better I felt after she assured me that after two weeks, things would be so much better. She was such a terrific cheerleader, reminding me of how I made this choice for my family and was giving such a gift to my daughter. If you become overwhelmed or frustrated, please take advantage of built in resources of pals who have walked this path before you-they are rockstars!

Our healthcare system really does fail breastfeeding moms (most consultants are not covered by insurance unless they’re affiliated with an OB-GYN’s office) but in my experience, paying for a lactation consultant ($250 for a certified consultant to come to my home) was well worth it. Our consultant came directly to our home, confirmed that I was struggling with oversupply, checked our positioning, made adjustments as needed, and overall gave us some peace of mind. She weighted Ellie prior to and after nursing, so we had a sense of how much milk she was getting during a feeding. She also made recommendations to even out my supply and when to start pumping/bottle feeding.

Getting into the Groove

After Ellie and I got the hang of breastfeeding, things went smoothly for us. I say that with a heart full of gratitude, as I know so many women experience supply issues, latch issues, postpartum health issues, etc. That being said, I also made choices that were based on what I felt would work best for us both, not necessarily what was recommended by experts. For example, I began pumping a few days after giving birth rather than waiting 5-6 weeks. I became anxious of losing my supply, so for me, beginning to pump and store milk right away helped alleviate anxiety I had about creating a freezer stash. I also chose to pump right away as my husband Steve was eager to experience feeding our daughter as well. There are mixed reviews on introducing bottles very early on, but after getting the go-ahead from our pediatrician, we moved forward and never looked back!

I was very fortunate that I did not experience mastitis but I have watched other mama pals struggle with this and ladies, please please please do NOT wait to call your doctor if you recognize some of the symptoms. This sickness can knock you out and can really alter things for you and your babe long term, as it can hurt your supply, etc.

Time’s Up?

I had a goal of nursing Ellie for 6 months. When that time frame rolled around, I surprised myself by not feeling ready to stop breastfeeding. Then, around 8 months, my supply took a HUGE hit. Ellie and I both got sick at the same time and I was producing only 1-1.5 ozs each time I pumped, when I was used to producing 5-8 oz. I began to agonize over how much I was pumping, charting my supply, frantically trying things to boost it back up. Then Steve stepped in and asked me if the stress I was feeling over continuing to nurse was worth it, from a mental health perspective. I realized that if I was obsessing to this degree over breastfeeding, that it was likely time for us to stop. While the transition to ending this period of time was a bit sad for me, in a week, I already felt better about the decision and now, months later, it’s not something I regret.

Helpful Items

Nipple cream, sleep bras meant for nursing, a good pump,

Kindness

However you choose to feed your babe, be kind to yourself. It is a beautiful gift to be able to provide nourishment for your child (whatever the method!) and this time is so special. Please try not to beat yourself up over issues (lip ties, supply problems, baby gassiness, etc.) and instead remember that you are doing the very best job that you can do in this moment with the resources you have.

-Sarah

My Labor Story: Sara.

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Hi everyone! I’m back to share my labor and delivery experience! And let me just start by saying my story is just that - MY story. It’s not right or wrong, better or worse, it doesn’t make me any sort of expert, nor does it give me the right to advise others on what’s right for them. Everyone who has given birth has their own unique experience whether it goes the way they had hoped or not. And everyone should feel free to approach the experience with their own wish list of how they’d like it to go in an ideal world. I just needed to get that out of the way, because many people have very strong opinions on how labor and delivery should go, but I am not one of those people, and I am only sharing my experience for the sake of sharing! I personally love hearing other people’s labor and delivery stories, so I hope you enjoy hearing mine!

If I had to sum up my first labor and delivery experience, it was awesome! Side note - we did not take any birthing classes beforehand. We were of the mindset that we didn’t have much control over the experience so we would just go with the flow. One other side note, while I’m starting to write this I’m thinking about my husband reading it and correcting me because I have the worst memory and his is always on point. Anyway, I was induced a week before my due date due to Preeclampsia. My blood pressure had been rising the last few weeks of pregnancy and once it reached a certain point my doctor told me that for the baby and I’s health and safety, it was time to induce labor. At that point I felt very prepared, because I already knew an induction was likely. Plus I had been off work for a week, just sitting around waiting and getting more and more swollen, so I was ready to have the baby! My doctor made the decision around 7am one morning and we set an appointment at the hospital for that day at 10am. So between that time I took a shower and triple checked my hospital bag and was ready to go!

I know Hollywood movies paint this overly dramatic picture of women being rushed to the hospital screaming in pain, which I also realize does happen to some women, but it’s often far less dramatic and fast-paced. Even still, I always pictured having contractions on the way to the hospital and some level of urgency. But that was not at all the case for us. My husband and I calmly drove to the hospital for our induction appointment and casually checked in like we were checking in to a hotel. Once we got settled into our room, I was hooked up to monitors and the nurses explained what the induction process would be like. I felt very calm and relaxed the whole time.  

Once things were underway and I was having contractions (which by the way I didn’t feel for the longest time but we could see them on the chart and the nurses kept looking at me like I was crazy for not being able to feel them), all there was to do was hang out in the room and wait! Within the next few hours my mom, sister and two best friends arrived to keep us company which was awesome. I knew I didn’t want anyone but my husband in the room while I was in active labor, but loved having my favorite people there while we waited. It felt so special to have them in the room while we were on the brink of such a big moment.

At some point (I essentially have no recollection of what time certain things happened) the doctor came in and broke my water to get things moving faster. Not long after that I really started feeling the contractions and as they continued to get worse, it was harder for me to visit with my family and friends in the room. Once I had worked through a good couple hours of hard contractions and I felt like I didn’t want to experience the next level of pain, I asked for the epidural. By that time I think it was mid-late evening, and my family and friends went home so I could have some quiet/rest time knowing the real labor was upon us. Once the epidural was administered (which was a very painful experience by the way - I had an intense contraction at the exact moment the needle was going into my spine!), the nurses suggested I get comfortable and try to get some rest because I likely wouldn’t start pushing until morning.

Once the epidural took effect and I wasn’t feeling the contractions anymore, I thought, ok I can get comfortable and maybe sleep a little. Once I was comfy, my husband got settled in his chair/bed thing and started to watch a movie on his iPad. It couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes before I felt a strong burning sensation that in hindsight seems funny that I didn’t realize what was happening, but at the time I really wasn’t sure what it was. I think since the nurses had me under the assumption that it would be many more hours before it was time to push, I just assumed what I was feeling was something else! I called the nurse in to let her know that I was super uncomfortable and when she checked me she said, “oh, yep! It’s time to push!” John and I were both surprised at going from “get some sleep” to “it’s go time!”

Active labor was such an awesome experience for me, I absolutely loved it. I felt so strong and amazing while I was pushing - like I was doing a badass workout! The epidural allowed me to feel when I needed to push and just enough sensation, but not terrible pain - it was my ideal experience. I had an awesome nurse on one side of me and my amazing husband on the other, and I just felt like I was rocking it! I pushed for 45 minutes and suddenly there was a beautiful baby girl on my chest! Dylan Rose Konye was born on June 11 at 1:57 am. I will never forget that feeling or the looks my husband and I exchanged in that moment. Words can’t even describe it.   

Once that crazy, overwhelming moment passed and the nurses were checking me and the baby, the next few hours were not as magical. The hospital was short staffed that night and the nurse in our room was from a different department and clearly struggling with her temporary role. She seemed to take twice as long to do things as I would expect and she just wasn’t very pleasant! Plus she kept calling our daughter a boy which was so annoying! My husband and I are both very patient people, but most of that goes out the door when you’ve just given birth! We were stuck in the delivery room for over three hours dealing with this bad nurse before we finally moved to our recovery room. We were exhausted by the time we got there and so done with that nurse. But luckily the staff changed over shortly after that and we were in great hands with amazing nurses for the rest of our stay.    

Once it was morning (like real morning, not 2 am), our closest family and friends came to visit and meet Dylan, which was emotional. I could hardly believe we had a baby and that our family was meeting her! The next couple days were a blur of bonding with our new little bundle, navigating breastfeeding and trying to rest and recover. I felt good overall, but definitely overwhelmed and nervous about everything. We hadn’t planned on sending our baby to the in-hospital nursery at all, and I assumed I wouldn’t want her to leave my side, but once I realized I couldn’t rest when she was in the room, we changed our minds. Letting the experienced nurses watch her for a while we slept was the best decision for us. Oh, and once I took my first post-delivery shower, I felt like a new woman!

The part I found most challenging post-delivery was figuring out breastfeeding - I found it so daunting! It did not feel natural to me and I was constantly worrying if I was doing it right and if she was getting what she needed. The nurses were helpful, but I felt a little hopeless when they weren’t in the room. I also think navigating such an important new skill on top of being exhausted is just tough! Overall, while we were in the hospital I was just always concerned that our baby was ok. I felt so much better when a nurse was in our room and a little on edge when they weren’t. But that got better over time and by the time we were supposed to leave, I felt ready (ish).

I don’t love giving advice to other parents, but if someone were to ask me for advice related to labor and delivery, the only thing I’d say is to just trust your instincts and do whatever makes you the most comfortable and happy. During labor, do whatever works for you as long as it’s safe for you and your baby. During recovery, do whatever feels best and if you need help (physically, mentally or new parent guidance), just ask for it. If you want visitors, great, if you want to be alone with your partner and baby, great. All of that probably sounds simple, but I think sometimes we let other people - doctors, family, etc. - persuade us to do certain things. I feel strongly that this amazing experience should only be what the two parents decide.  

My labor and delivery experience overall was wonderful and I wouldn’t change a thing (well aside from that one nurse). I am so excited to go through it again in a few months with baby number two and am just so curious at how similar or different the experience will be! The thought of meeting another human that my husband and I created AND watching our first born meet her is already making my heart explode!

 

Thanks for reading!
Sara   

Vacation → Trip: Traveling with Baby

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From the second my husband and I started talking about having kids, there was one promise we made to each other: We will still travel. Not only is it something Sean and I both enjoy, but we want to instill a love of travel, adventure, and exploring cultures in our kids. I’m happy to say that we just returned from our first international trip with our ten-month-old son, Ethan. We took advantage of a free plane ticket (hello lap baby) and spent 12 days in Spain. I hope I can encourage you to take the leap with your little one with a few of my takeaways...

Don’t overthink it
To borrow from Nike, Just Do It. We booked our tickets without overthinking it and just figured things out as they came. I asked for advice from fellow moms before we went and got some great tips for the plane (a few helpful tips included: bring the boppy to make plane sleep more comfy for everyone; pack one diaper per every hour of flight; bring something new-to-baby to keep them interested/entertained; pack a change of clothes for you and baby in your carry on). Everything else just kind of fell into place.  

Adjust Expectations
We went into the trip telling ourselves it would be a different type of trip (no longer a vacation, but a trip). We would live like the locals and only do as much sightseeing as we could handle. This meant visiting the local parks, wandering the streets, and making many trips to the local markets. We managed to see the big tourist destinations we’d hoped to, and we had wonderful, unplanned experiences and meals in between.

Get an apartment
Airbnb helped us achieve the “live like the locals” goal. Using the “family” filter, we found apartments equipped with pack-n-plays and high chairs. While Ethan napped, we were able to enjoy the living room with the balcony doors open, listening to the hustle and bustle of the streets below while reading, relaxing, or planning our next outing. It was also great to have a fridge and kitchen to make dinner and pack food for Ethan when we were out and about all day.

Loosen up/Relax
As a stay-at-home mom, I tend to be pretty Type-A when it comes to Ethan’s schedule. I make sure to be home for his two naps and we stick to a very regular routine. I told myself that while in Spain, it would be fine if we couldn’t be at the apartment for a nap and that Ethan could sleep in the carrier. It took extra reminders from my husband to actually get me to loosen up on these things and I’m so glad I did. Ethan always got at least one nap at the apartment (sometimes two), and otherwise, we had the carrier and he just snuggled up with us and came along as we continued to explore. Also, in Spain, kids don’t go to bed until at least 9 p.m. (the sun is still out!!). I also gradually let go of the idea that Ethan’s schedule would look the same as it did at home, with a 7:30 p.m. bedtime. He adjusted to the local time, going to bed around 9 p.m. and waking up around 8 a.m., which worked out great because NOTHING in Spain is open before 8am. By the time we got up, fed, and dressed, it was 10 a.m. and the city was also starting to wake up.

Go where you know someone (if you can)
We were lucky enough to visit a good friend of mine in Barcelona. This deepened our “live like a local” experience once again. Our first night, they came over to our Airbnb with food and cooked an amazing Catalan meal. Another night, I got to go to yoga with my friend while Sean stayed with Ethan. And on our last day, after having a decadent lunch together, our friends babysat Ethan so Sean and I could enjoy some adult time. We’re already planning our next international trip to Columbia where my childhood friend is living for the next three years with her family.

Happy travels!
-Jennifer

The Waiting Game

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For some reason, I was convinced that I was going to have my baby early- why? I was born five and a half weeks early and I didn’t believe there was any possible way I could get bigger than I already was. My due date was Thursday, November 2, 2017. Since this was my first pregnancy I didn’t know what to expect on my due date. Do you automatically get contractions, have your water break, rush to the hospital, and pop out a baby on the day you’re due? The answer is … NO. Well for me at least. That day came and went. I remember I made a doctor’s appointment for Friday, November 3, just in case I didn’t have the baby by then and I said to my OB, “don’t worry, you won’t be seeing me then, I’m having this baby long before that date.” Jokes on me! I went to that dreaded Friday appointment for a stress test, to check how dilated I was, and for a membrane sweep. We talked about setting up my next appointment for being induced and what that process would look like.

When I got home I was sad, frustrated, and out of breath from walking down the hall thinking I can’t go on much longer. It hurt to walk, I couldn’t sleep because I was so uncomfortable and the heartburn made me sick, my shoes didn’t fit anymore, and I was so anxious to meet this baby! I had to make it one more week before my induction appointment, so I made the best of it. I told myself it was my “bonus” week to enjoy time with family, Netflix binging, and those final pregnancy snacks.

Finally, it was time. Friday, November 10, 2017, the day we were going to have this baby! We were scheduled to call Kaiser at 8 pm to see if they had any beds available. We went to In-n-Out for one last extra American cheese filled burger (yes, the most random craving), threw the hospital bags which had been packed since I was 6 months pregnant into the car, and called Kaiser expecting to hear that we should head in and get prepared to meet our little munchkin… turns out, they had no beds available. They told us to call back in an hour, so we did, again no beds available. The planner that I am asked what a realistic time would be to call and actually get set up in a bed so that we didn’t keep getting the run-around. We finally were told to come in at 12 am.

Jake and I drove to the hospital completely silent, both nervous and excited about what was going to happen. We parked in the designated stork parking, lugged in our bags and pillows, and were shown to our room- a traditional hospital looking triage room. We waited for the Midwife to come in and check to see how dilated I was and talk about what to expect.

Turns out, I was only 1cm dilated so the excitement of meeting this baby turned into a flurry of emotions- why wasn’t she ready to come out, why wasn’t my body ready, what does this mean for me with the actual labor process. They gave me the option to start on a small dose of Misoprostol, monitor the heart rate, then send me home. While they were monitoring the heart rate, the heart rate dropped just for a second- they assured me this could be totally normal depending on how the baby moved, but they needed to monitor for at least another hour. I was chugging apple juice, checking any latest Instagram stories, anxious as all hell all while Jake is wrapped up sleeping on the chair across from me. Eventually, we got the OK to head out at 8:00 am. With the dose of Miso, we had to be back in 24 hours to get the second, which would be 4 am. The nurse told us not to worry and to come back at 5 am to make things a little easier on us. We had yet another “bonus” day. So we came home, napped, binge-watched Grey’s Anatomy, were too tired to get up and go explore because of the emotional rollercoaster and insane amount of time spent in the hospital.

The next day rolls around and we are up and headed to the hospital to get the next dose of Miso at 5 am. We are talking about our options from here- how can we speed this up, what are the other medications I’ll need to get this baby out, when will we get admitted to the hospital. With an hour stay and all our questions answered, we headed home. “Bonus” day number… I’ve lost count at this point.

Since we spent all of Saturday resting, we decided we should make the most of this Sunday and go out to lunch. We headed to San Carlos to the restaurant Town and while we waited for a table, I waddled around the Farmers Market with Jake. I felt some intense cramping… FINALLY, contractions! Never did I think I’d be so excited for contractions! Jake pulled out his contraction counter app on his phone and recorded how long each was and when they were happening. They weren’t consistent enough to head to the hospital yet so we continued our date day. We headed back home, made sure the hospital bags were ready to go, I vacuumed the house and dusted the baseboards one last time, and then I bounced on my large green Pilates ball hoping to speed this process up all while Jake napped (he wanted to make sure he had enough rest before the “big day”). We were supposed to call the hospital at midnight so we could make sure a bed was available to head in and start the stronger doses of the Miso. Around 10:30pm I woke Jake up because my contractions had gotten worse. I tried to push through the pain and wait it out until midnight, but I couldn’t do it. Around 11, Jake called the hospital and they told us to come in. Ok- this was actually it! This car ride would be the last of just us two, it was so surreal.

We get to the hospital, get shown back to our triage room that we had spent the last two days in, and I practically pushed the nurse out of the way so I could go to the bathroom. I came out of the bathroom to put on my hospital robe and answer a few questions the nurse had, walk back into the bathroom and scream for Jake as a huge gush of water bursts- my water broke. There we are cracking up- had we waited to come to the hospital this could’ve been a mess in either our apartment or our car, but of course it happens within five minutes of being at the hospital. Since my water broke, they couldn’t check to see how dilated I was due to risk of infection. My contractions were getting worse and worse and I told them I needed some meds stat. They hooked me up to the heart rate machines and wheeled me in to our new hospital suite-  I couldn’t tell if I was in a hospital or a hotel.

Once we were in the new room, the nurse gave me the options to have either Fentanyl or Morphine; however, the Midwife suggested the Fentanyl since we weren’t sure how far dilated I was and we didn’t want to risk not being able to get any additional drugs. I absolutely hated the Fentanyl- I was hallucinating that there were Zombie’s scratching at my face, completely out of it, and still in pain! After about an hour the side effects wore off and I just felt drowsy and defeated. When I wake up I see Jake sleeping on his new couch-bed in our hotel suite, it was nice to know someone was enjoying this expensive stay!

The nurse came in and explained that the Anesthesiologist would come in momentarily for the epidural and then they would start me on Pitocin. Jake woke up and sat with me as I got the epidural- I was bawling. I’m not sure if it was because of the pain or this last minute freak out I had thinking I may become paralyzed on my right side since that was the only area I felt the numbing. The worst part was over, from here on out I had my epidural in, my button to increase the meds, an unlimited supply of Jello, popsicles, and juice, and a great team of nurses to check in on me. Post epidural I got extremely nauseous and itchy, so the nurses gave me some meds to fix that. Also, the heartburn continued so I had to ask for Tums which used to be easily accessible and now they were technically considered a drug and could only be given to me as prescribed. In between the alloted dosage of Tums, I would have Jake sneak some from my purse- desperate times call for desperate measures!

My mom came to the hospital followed by my sister, dad, and stepmom. Needless to say, I was surrounded by loved ones to show their support and be there when this little bundle of joy arrived, but there was not a moment of quiet.  The nurses kept saying to rest up, but it’s quite impossible when there is chatter all around, you weigh almost the same amount as an elephant, and you are also nervous and excited to meet your baby finally!

Around 5pm the Midwife came and finally checked to see how dilated I was, she said it would be about an hour before it was time. Jake and I took that time to try and nap (I didn’t, but he sure did). The nurses came in to check on me and I asked if I waited longer if that would reduce the amount of pushing. They told me it could help, but it was up to me. While they were there I asked what the room would look like when it was time and they said there would be a total of about five to six people (Midwife, nurses (my nurse had a student with her), Pediatrician, and a couple of other people I can’t remember now).

I waited a little longer than the hour the Midwife had initially suggested. My mom came back to the room and we called the nurses in for some practice pushing, which come to think of it, those were by no means practice, it was the real deal! I never expected pushing to be so hard, but I was exhausted! They gave my mom an oxygen mask to help me breathe. I have to say that my favorite memory of the pushing was when my mom pulled out her cell phone to tell me my dad’s cousin was in town and I yelled at her to just give me the oxygen- no matter how much chaos there’s always time for humor. After about eight pushes, the nurses told me they could see the head and to stop pushing. STOP PUSHING? That’s all I wanted to do was to push and get this baby out! Not to mention, the nurses told me earlier that evening that there were going to be be about five to six people in the room … there were 2! My nurse and her student! What do you know … this baby decided to make her debut during a shift change! Goodbye to the Midwife we had spent a full day with and hello to the new one who sat down told me to push one more time and caught the baby- she had an easy job that day in our room!

Maddison Anne Plafker was born at 8:12pm, I was only in active labor for 42 minutes! I scarfed down the most incredible plain turkey on wheat sandwich I had ever eaten and we celebrated with our small bottle of champagne we snuck in amongst the chaos of Maddison getting measured, weighed, and a thorough check-up with the Pediatrician.  After everything was complete, we were rolled into our new room- by no means was this a hotel suite.

Jake, Maddison, and I spent the next two nights in the hospital where we slept minimally, Jake got to know me on a whole new level, and we got to bond with this perfect angel that God blessed us with. The road to recovery was not a simple one- this is actually what I was most afraid of and my fears were quickly validated, but I won’t bore you with those details!

Xo,

Corinne



 

 

Tips for Flying With a Newborn

flying-with-a-newborn

A few weeks ago, I took our then 2-month old son on his first flight to watch his grandma coach in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Division II Final Four. My mom was my high-school lacrosse coach and has gone on to have incredible success at the college level. This year was her 7th NCAA Final Four appearance and we had a feeling that it was going to be the year, so my siblings and I decided to make the trip down to Florida together. Spoiler alert, we were so glad we did because they won the National Championship!

As soon as I booked my ticket, I went into serious research mode. I was fortunate to be flying with my sister who has two little ones as home so I knew I would have a lot of support but she has yet to fly with them so we were both rookies when it came to navigating airports, flights and hotels with a baby!

By no means would I consider myself an expert but I received some great advice and found some helpful tips along the way that made traveling with an infant as smooth as I could have ever hoped for!

Baby’s Ticket & Seat
After I booked my ticket, I called Delta to make sure that I was aware of any of their airline specific rules. I knew that all airlines allowed a baby to sit in your lap until 2 years old but I was glad to have called as they were able to flag my ticket “traveling with infant” and issued Tommy his own boarding pass to make things smoother going through security, etc. They also encouraged me to bring his birth certificate in case there were any questions regarding identification (I didn’t use it but I guess better safe than sorry). Considering his age and size, I decided to hold him in my arms but I also learned that most airlines allow you to bring an infant car seat on the flight if you choose to buy a second ticket (some airlines offer discounted baby tickets).

Hands-Free
I decided to check as much luggage as possible because my husband was dropping us off at the airport so he was able to bring everything in as I got Tommy situated in the carrier and checked in for the flight. With a quick layover in Atlanta, I opted to be as mobile as possible by carrying him versus gate checking the stroller & car seat. I love my solly baby wrap but I decided to use the boppy carrierfor navigating the airport because I like the security of the back buckle and head support, especially when I would be bending over and lifting luggage. I wore him in the carrier right through security (they just did a swab on my hands for as an alternative to passing through the monitor).

Uppa Baby Insurance
I cringed at the thought of our new Uppa Baby Mesa car seat & Cruz stroller getting tossed around the luggage conveyor. I was thrilled to discover these amazing travel bagsand while they are pricier than your basic bag to cover a car seat or stroller, they are built specifically for both models, have durable padding and get this – you can register them which essentially insures your car seat and stroller against any damage during travel when using the bags! I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that both items could be checked as no additional cost, all baby items fly free with Delta!

Avoiding the Pre-Board
I was glad I had read this advice before traveling because it seemed logical to take the airline up on their courtesy offering to board early. In hindsight however, boarding early just means another 30+ minutes of sitting with baby in a cramped space just praying that he doesn’t have a blow out or lose his mind. Both flights, I was so glad I boarded at the end because I was able to keep him comfortable and napping in the carrier and do a last minute diaper change before boarding for take off!

In-flight feeding
Again, another piece of advice I read a lot about, prompted by my angst in cabin pressure changes and the painful effects on his little ears. A lot of moms shared that it helped baby to nurse or bottle feed them during the ascent and descent – it encourages them to swallow and thus keeps their ears from popping. I did this all four legs of the flight and while I don’t have anything to compare it against (I didn’t want to mess with what was working), I would highly recommend this strategy! I wasn’t (and still aren’t) totally at ease with the whole breastfeeding in public thing so I started with a bottle on the first flight that I had pumped the night before. For the rest of the flights I used my covered goods wrap (this thing is my go-to for stroller and nursing cover, so soft!) If all else, feeding in flight also forced me to get more comfortable about breastfeeding in public so that was a win in itself!

Sleeping Arrangements
We are blessed that Tommy has been a great little sleeper (fingers crossed this continues), so naturally I was a little nervous that this trip and a few nights in a hotel would mess with his routine. He had been sleeping in the dockAtot in his bassinet at home so I thought it would help keep things consistent by bringing the dockAtot with me. I learned that most hotels have a pack ‘n play that they will bring to your room at no charge, a perfectly suitable place to hold his dockAtot. I can’t say enough about the dock a tot and the convenience of its size. I packed it right in my large suitcase and packed his clothes right on top of it. I also packed a fresh sheet to use on the pack n’ play so I knew it was cleaned with his baby detergent and fresh and ready to go for tummy time in the hotel room!

…All in all, it was a smooth trip and I was so glad that I didn’t allow my anxiousness about flying with a newborn keep me from being there to celebrate with my mom. I would love to hear any other travel tips from you guys, especially with older kids or road trips in the car. We are driving from Upstate, NY to Northern Michigan (11 hours, yikes!) later this summer so any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Xo,

Kristen B.

My Favorite Natural Products

alix-wellness-products

Ok friends… time to talk about one of my favorite ways to spend money ;) skincare and beauty products! (Soon to be replaced by baby clothes, I’m sure!)

If, like me, you are a somewhat anxious pregnant lady, you may have also become an obsessive reader of ingredient lists. While only your doctor can say what’s right for you, I figure the fewer toxins in my products, the better, right?  I was shocked to find all the parabens and sulfates hiding in many of the things I’ve used forever. Yikes!

I started transitioning my routine to include more natural products about a year ago, so I have definitely gone through fair amount of trial and error. For example, I’m still on the hunt for the perfect deodorant for summer months. I like Schmidt’s most of the time but it just doesn’t cut it June - September. According to my friends over on Instagram - I should try the brand Native next. I hear good things about Meow Meow too, which I may also have to try if only for the name.

In terms of my skincare routine - I try to keep it pretty simple these days (exfoliating cleanser, gentle toner, and a mineral sunscreen / moisturizer). I LOVE the Tinted Nutrient Day Cream by Josh Rosebrook! It doesn’t really offer much in the way of coverage, just evens everything out a bit, but the consistency is fabulous and doesn’t make me super oily by the end of the day like some sunscreens tend to.

I had pretty acne-prone skin before pregnancy and was hopeful that once I became pregnant, my skin might somehow magically self-regulate and I would achieve the glowy, clear-skinned face of my dreams. Alas, I’ve looked more like I did when I was 14 than I’d like to admit. Hormones - so fun! However, there is hope if you too find yourself breaking out like a teenager. While most traditional over-the-counter acne fighting ingredients are considered off-limits (benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids...) the Aztec Secret - Indian Healing Clay Mask has saved. the. day. I have to use it 3 times per week, which is definitely a commitment, but the results in just three weeks have been so worth it.  Plus, it’s a nice relaxing self-care ritual I have really come to look forward to! I still have a few cystic bumps here and there, but they are much improved and I can’t recommend this product enough.

I don’t wear a ton of makeup on a day-to-day basis, which you would never know by looking in my medicine cabinet because I practically hoard the stuff! I have not found the perfect all-natural swaps for some of my staples (for example, nothing compares to my Cle de Peau concealer that I can’t give up… I’ve tried! But it’s just that good). Some great natural brands and products that have made it into my regular rotation: W3ll People Expressionist mascara - it looks so natural, never clumpy, and doesn’t melt down my face in the hot humid temps. I also love the Tata Harper Lip Tints and the RMS Beauty Living Luminizer for the perfect faux glow. I still use my trusty Dior foundation when I need more coverage, but the Alima Pure Pressed Powder Foundation is all natural and provides the perfect finish for everyday use. It works really nicely over the Nutrient Day Cream I mentioned earlier too.


One of my favorite places to discover new products and brands is a small shop in DC called Take Care Shop -  Follain also has a great online selection if you don’t have a good local option for non toxic bath + beauty! Thanks so much for reading this week and if you have any recommendations, please shoot me a message! I would love to learn about your favorite natural skin and beauty products!

natural products

My Wellness Journey

  (2017 vs 2018  - I lost 50lbs and put on some muscle after working out for a year)

(2017 vs 2018  - I lost 50lbs and put on some muscle after working out for a year)

As a mom, staying on a healthy lifestyle is not that easy. I don’t always make it to the gym and frozen meals that are loaded with carbs are usually on the menu. After my first son was born, I lost the baby weight and baby “pouch” very quickly. I didn’t eat that healthy and didn’t join a gym. But after I had two more pregnancies my body/hormones changed.

I joined the YMCA in January 2017, about 6 months after my second son was born. My body had drastically changed and I had other symptoms I didn’t have postpartum with my first. I felt I needed to get in shape and try my best to stay healthy. I have been working out for a year and a half now; and started seeing the results in early March. I have always been that person that would give up if I didn’t see results. But I keep reminding myself I have had a total of 3 pregnancies. I gained weight from every single one. I shouldn’t expect change immediately.

I’ve tried diets and they don’t work for me. The keto diet…no WAY…I need my sugar and carbs. I eat what I want (in the right portion sizes) and I work out 5 days a week. I am proud of the progress I have made. Yes, I still have a baby “pouch”. But I’ve learned to love my body.

My advice, don’t ever give up. It took me over a year to lose over 50 pounds. Find a gym that has a daycare. I highly recommend the ymca! My kids love going to the y. So I never have to stress over them while I’m working out. Learn to love your body after having kids. Our bodies are such wonderful things. Even all the stretch marks and sagging skin is a sign of the wonders our bodies can do.

Laughter really is the best medicine

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 8.52.04 AM.png

One of my most vivid memories from my childhood was visiting my grandparents’ home. Their home was massive and their bathrooms were unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The bathrooms were stocked full of books, magazines, crossword puzzles, word searches, suduko, you name it- they had it. I remember being completely overwhelmed at the selection of things to do and thinking “How am I ever going to leave?” I laugh when I think about that now because I GET IT!!!! The bathroom is one of the only rooms in the house that is acceptable to have privacy. (Notice I said “acceptable” which does not mean that it’s always respected) My grandparents didn’t have a phone with internet, and they certainly weren’t going to drag a few family photo albums to the bathroom each time so creating a small library was the next best thing.

My absolute favorite magazine they had was Reader’s Digest. I know, I know. What 8 year old would choose Reader’s Digest over a word search? This one! But let me explain. Reader’s Digest had a section in each of its issues called “Laughter is the best medicine” and, boy, was it funny. I can still remember laughing out loud at some of the stories I read. So in a nod to a more carefree time and to the fact that you too may be hiding out in the bathroom reading this right now, I’d like to share some the best medicine (humor) from motherhood thus far.

Delirium makes everything funnier.
Last night we were putting my son to bed and he started reaching for a stuffed animal on the shelf. My husband said, “here buddy, let me get that camel for you.” It was a giraffe.

Just when you think you’re the #1 expert in the #2 business...
A parent told me that once they were so tired that when they got up in the middle of the night to change their child’s diaper that they thought they saw some girl scout cookies on the bed- a Thin Mint, to be exact. So reluctantly they picked it up and as soon as they did they realized what it really was they launched it in the air. It ended up in the closet.

WonderWeeks’ lost Leap is called “nipple pinching”
Whether you are breastfeeding currently or not if your child needs to climb on you, hug you, sit near you, watch TV, or anything of the like they will pinch the-you-know-what out of your nipples!

You will mix up nursery rhymes.
I remember being so excited to tell my son nursery rhymes for bedtime. Somewhere between “once upon a time there were three bears” and Goldilocks, she joined the 3 little pigs and then befriended Little Red Riding Hood and were running away from a wolf. I had to cut story time short in order to consult with my friend Google on what the correct storyline was.

Kids will ask for anything
“Anytime we ever went out to eat as soon as my food came out, my daughter would HAVE TO go to the bathroom. This time was no different. The food arrived, my daughter looked up and said she needed to go. Once in the bathroom, I sat her on the toilet and she stared at me and asked loudly, ‘Can you tell me a story?’ The lady in the next stall cackled.”

Bedtime should be called American Ninja Warrior training
One does not understand stealth or athleticism like a parent executing a bedtime routine then exiting the room of a sleeping child. Parents have been known to crawl, slither, hide, choke down a scream after stepping on a Lego, and camouflage into the carpet in order to avoid detection from their sleeping baby.

Kids will say whatever they think
“I remember holding my daughter in my lap and I accidentally passed gas. She said, “Mom, was that a trumpet?”

You’ll have multiple famous last words
My most recent one was saying “I’m just going to do something low key for my child’s first birthday party.”

**Thank you to the moms who shared some of their stories with me for this piece! **

 

Here’s some other funny mom links that are worth visiting the next time you find yourself in need of another dose of laughter. Here and Here

If you have some other “laughter really is the best medicine” material please share it in the comments!!

 

xo,
Amanda

Life as A Mom to Boys

laurie-boy-mom

Hi there! I’m Laurie, the wife to my husband of seven years and the mom of three little guys ages 6, 4, and 8 months. We live in a cozy little farmhouse in rural New Hampshire with our eight chickens.

Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a mom of three, just like in my family. Before even meeting my husband, I had pictured myself as a girl mom: brushing hair, dressing up, playing Barbies, and reading Babysitters Club books together. I dreamed of dance classes, school dances, and a wedding day. I never had anything against boys - I grew up with a brother that I love just as dearly as my sister - but, these were the things I knew from my childhood that I longed to experience with my own little girl.

However … we all know how the universe laughs when we make plans! We learned our first was a boy at an unexpected 15-week ultrasound to determine the reason for some bleeding. We were so happy the baby was okay that there was never any gender disappointment. I was surprised how excited I was to be having a little guy - I was going to rock as a boy mom!

“I'm gonna love you so much that no woman is ever gonna be good enough for you.” ~ Monica Bing, Friends

From the moment he was born, this boy had my heart. He was my little Mama’s boy! We played cars, trains, balls, and superheroes, and I was pretty good at it, if I do say so.

A month before our son’s first birthday, we learned that we were expecting again. After the initial shock of realizing we’d have two under two, we began talking about how great it would be to have a girl or how great it would be to have another boy.

Of course, everyone else had their opinion, and the consensus was that we needed to have a girl so we would have the coveted one of each. Once we learned our second was also a boy, almost immediately we were bludgeoned with questions about if we would “try for a girl” after this one. I, on the other hand, was really hoping to give birth to my second child before planning a third.

With the arrival of our second boy, I really started earning my stripes as a boy mom. While my first was focusing his interests on superheroes, dinosaurs, bugs, and animals; my second’s interests revolved around vehicles, specifically fire trucks. We read piles of books and watched hours of movies to learn everything we could about their interests. Did you know that Quetzalcoatlus has a wingspan the length of a school bus? Do you know all the specs of an off road fire truck? I know these things!

When talk of having a third child began, there was never any “trying for a girl” discussion. We knew that a third would be another boy, and we would be happy to add a third boy to our family. However, everyone else (family and strangers alike) believed the only reason anyone in their right mind would have a third child is to try for the opposite sex. So, after everyone’s wishes for a girl were bestowed upon us, we simply disappointed them with news of a third boy. We could see it in their faces or hear it in their sighs when we shared the news. Luckily, once he came earthside, their disappointment faded.

I admit, I did need a moment to mourn the loss of the hypothetical little girl I had dreamed of raising. Since I’ve taken that moment, I’ve been at peace with being a boy mom, giving up the hair bows and Barbie dolls. I love watching them build Legos and play TBall. I’ve learned to be tough around blood and scrapes (kisses and Band-Aids cure all!). I love when they surprise me with a wildflower blossom or a bouquet of dandelions.

I wouldn’t trade my three boys for anything ... I’m a boy mom, and I’m proud of my title!

Children's Fashion Tips

catherine

I never thought that I would be the mom that matched my daughter every time that we went out. As soon as I found out that we were having a girl, that all changed. I couldn’t help but sift through all the adorable Mommy and Me boards on pinterest, but I quickly found that there are limited places that actually offer perfectly matching outfits. That’s changed since 2014, but at the time matching with Elliot required a bit more searching. Now there are plenty a boutique that have co-ord outfits, but it can get pricey and isn’t particularly realistic to have every outfit in your closet match your daughter or son. Here are some tips that have helped me with my OCD of not at least coordinating, but trying to be smart about pieces and money spent.
 

  1. Choose a color palette. Each season, there are going to be on trend colors or a color that you gravitate to. For an easy example, during the holiday season red is a color that everyone wears a lot of. The last few seasons, I’ve personally been loving golden yellow and find that it is almost a neutral, matching with any color that I choose. For me, that color has also been great because I have been able to reuse staple items (leggings, cardigans, etc.) across seasons which is also a budget saver!

  2. Invest. The first year of my daughter’s life I couldn’t control myself. The excitement of buying tiny pieces of clothing matched with not following my own current rules led to excess of everything. Over the (almost) four years I’ve learned that my daughter re-wears her favorites and a lot of what is in the closet goes untouched. It’s painful to clean out at the end of a season and have clothing that doesn’t fit her anymore with the tags still on. Choose a few items that you love and your child loves and get fancy with different accessories of changeable pieces. My daughter has a dress that she almost always wants to wear. I’m talking, it gets pulled out of the dirty hamper by her because she can’t contain herself. I change up the look by adding leggings, a sweater or a blazer; maybe even a sneaker and top knot one day and a ballet flat and headband the next. Don’t be afraid to use accessories for your child just as you would yourself.

  3. Gender neutral shoes. This  is one that I have always followed for shoe items like sneakers, wellies and flip flops. I end up getting more wear out of them for Elliot because they are simple in color and go with everything. The bonus is that I now have black Nike sneakers, white converse sneakers and navy blue rain boots for Clark to wear as he grows into them (for whatever reason baby shoes are almost as expensive as adult shoes so this is an awesome saver!). Each season I select a dress shoe for elliot that usually ends up being pink or metallic, but goes with everything. If they’re in good shape, I save with fingers crossed that we have another girl!

  4. Shop the children’s section. This is a tip that may get an eye roll at first, but hear me out: if you want to get matching items stores like Target often carry similar items in the toddler and children’s section. Same goes for shoes. An adult like seven shoe is the same as a youth five. The measurements of a XXL kids are comparable to 4/6 adults. It may not work, but it’s worth a shot.

  5. Comfort and Coverage. This is something that I have observed in buying things for Elliot and noticing the things that are almost always her preference . Some brands, quite simply, don’t cover your kid as well or take into consideration their tiny little body shapes. My favorite example of this are Hanna Andersson underwear verses Old Navy underwear ; I shop both stores frequently, but quite frankly will not buy my daughter unders from anywhere other than Hanna. When your littles get old enough, ultimately you have to incorporate them in the process because if something doesn't feel right on them, you’ll end up wasting your money and likely losing your sanity!