Pregnancy and Motherhood

The Best (Cheap) Breast Pump Ever!

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So, I’m sitting here the week before I return to work after six months of maternity leave, mentally preparing to start pumping more often. For the last six months, I’ve done on-demand feedings, and only pumped a handful of times when I had to leave my daughter briefly to get something done. The pump I used on those occasions was the Spectra S2 Plus Premier Electric Breast Pump. It’s highly rated on Amazon and I got it free from my insurance, but honestly it made me HATE pumping. It pinches my nipples, yet at the same time doesn’t hold them snug enough, particularly when things get really milky. People seem to love it, but it’s never been particularly a good fit for me and my barely there nipples.

Obviously the thought of being hooked up to the S2 several times a day made me cringe so I set out to find a good, portable pump for the office. Someone told me about a pump you suction to your boobs and you can walk around without anyone being aware that you’re pumping, but I didn’t feel like spending a lot of money for a work pump, plus I have my own office for privacy so I decided to do a bit more research and found the new love of my life. The Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump with Stimulation and Expression Modes. Yes, you read that correctly, MANUAL. Initially I thought that manual breast pumps had gone the way of the dinosaur but in reading the reviews I was convinced, and at $21, I felt it was definitely worth a shot (and the risk)!

What’s in the box:

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

When you open the box, it includes 2 flange sizes (standard 25mm & large 30.5mm), a naturalwave nipple, cap & collar, all for ideal suction, storage and feeding. There’s also nursing pad and storage bag samples. To get my little breast milk stash going I also bought four extra storage bottles from the same brand (because they were cheap) and my absolute favorite Kiinde Twist Pouch storage bags to go along with the pump.

Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Twist Pouch

Review:

What I love about this pump, is that it’s not only ergonomic so it doesn’t hurt my hands but it’s also super comfortable and pain free. It’s really lightweight and portable so it can fit in my purse or my daughter’s diaper bag, I can use it in the car, on a plane ride or any other place where I don’t have electricity. This excites me to no end because as soon as the weather gets nice, we have so many outdoor plans. I don’t have to be tethered to any wires, which quite frankly drives me crazy. Most importantly though, is the expression, which I give a 10/10! I got 4 ounces in a little less than 15 minutes, my milk was absolutely flowing, and it’s no fluke, I get consistent results with every single use.

Results after first pumping session

Final Thoughts:

I really bought this pump to do quick pumps at work to help keep my milk supply up, but I’ve found myself using this exclusively in place of my electric pump. It’s so much more effective at encouraging let down and I love not having to put parts together before pumping, I just grab it and get started. It’s actually finally encouraged me to have a small freezer stash. So whether you’re looking for a portable travel pump, you want something to collect excess milk or you’re looking for just a great pump that doesn’t break the bank, do yourself a favor and give this little guy a try. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

 

-xo

Nic

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Mental Health and Wellness · Pregnancy and Motherhood

BEATING THE BURNOUT: SELF-CARE IDEAS FOR NEW MOMS

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This past week my daughter was in the middle of a developmental leap, characterized by mood swings, sleep disturbances and extreme mommy obsession. On the worst days, she breastfeeds constantly, and gets upset when I put her down for any stretch of time, she’s happy one minute, then she’s sad, it’s a total emotional roller coaster. It’s now the end of the week and I am beyond drained, both physically and mentally. So self-care has been at the forefront of my mind. I feel pretty burned out, and i’m not gonna lie, it shows. As moms, especially when you’re new to to it all, we sometimes have a hard time finding balance. Everything can get a little overwhelming, and most times, we just keep going. You can’t pour from an empty cup and if we want to continue to be the best caregivers to our children, we must first care for ourselves, so I created a list of things that I do to help me to regroup, relax and get myself back on track.

Get some sleep

I’ve been running on very little sleep daily, so much so that before motherhood, I would not have believed it was possible for a human to function this sleep deprived. While it is possible, your body really does need proper sleep to give it a chance to repair and rejuvenate. Ask for help, from your significant other, a friend, your mom, someone you trust basically. Have them sit with your kid or kids and get some sleep.

Do a simple at home facial

I love Korean sheet masks. They’re cheap, they’re moisturizing, cool and soothing. I buy a bunch and slap one on when my skin looks dull and in need of a quick pick me up. If you’re interested, these are the ones I use. Your face feels so nice afterwards and it only takes a few minutes.

Get some exercise 

Exercise is great because of the endorphins it releases. Structurally, endorphins are similar to morphine and act as natural painkillers. They bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. If you’re like me and you hate structured workouts because you’re really freakin’ tired and unmotivated, put on your favorite playlist and dance in the most carefree and uninhibited way for a few minutes, stretch, bend and just go crazy.

Spend a little time outdoors

Go for a walk. Spending time outdoors is all about the fresh air and change in scenery. It makes you happier, improves blood pressure, regulates your heart rate and helps to clear your mind a little. Even if you take your kids with you, it will do wonders for your mood.

Connect with friends

Connecting with friends doesn’t even have to mean that you go out. A nice chat on the phone helps. It’ll take your mind off of the stressful things for a little while. When I talk to my friends, I definitely like to steer the conversation away from things that are too heavy and focus on lighthearted humor because laughing makes me feel good. I mean who doesn’t like a good laugh?

Hydrate

Drink water! Hydration helps your body to perform at optimal levels. And we need to be healthy to take care of our kids. Water regulates body temperature, lubricates joints and helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy.

Eat a nourishing meal

I often see moms complaining about missed meals, but like a car, our brains need fuel to run efficiently. In the earliest days of motherhood, despite being a huge foodie, It would be hard to find the time to eat, and it definitely made me feel like crap which left me feeling super unfocused and hangry! So now I prioritize eating and I’m a much happier person for it.

Take some deep breaths

Close your eyes. Now, take a deep breath in, pause, and think about something that makes you happy, then, slowly breathe out. Feel any better? Breathing is a powerful stress reliever that’s supposed to help you feel less anxious. There’s tons of articles online about the benefits of breathing and different methods to make it more effective. It can be done anywhere, and doesn’t cost a dime. I recently received an Apple Watch as a gift and it makes me do breathing exercises several times a day. I gotta admit that at first I thought it was total nonsense but it does indeed help.

Take a hot shower or bubble bath

Even if you’re beyond overwhelmed, getting in the shower or the bath seems to wash the stress away, even if temporary. Hot water gets your blood moving and helps to loosen up tight muscles. If you really want to take your bath to the next level, there are these awesome bath-bombs that I use, they come in a variety of scents and the best part is, they make you feel super relaxed and they don’t stain your tub.

Give yourself a manicure or pedicure

This one actually takes some time, so I don’t get to do it as often as I like which is sad, because my hands and feet do look a little scary right now. When I do have the chance however, it really has a positive impact on my mood. You really don’t need to be a master nail painter or anything to give yourself a mani/pedi. Just wash your hands or feet, put on a nice moisturizing lotion and give them a little massage. Then file your nails, put on a clear coat of nail polish if you don’t have time to do color and voila! You’re done.

Diffuse essential oils

Essential oils are an all natural way to unwind and relieve stress. They’re the perfect pick me up after a stressful day and best of all, they work in your sleep. Put a few drops into a cool mist humidifier before bed and let them work their magic. The cool mist, helps to keep the air around you moist which has tons of benefits for your skin and hair. And adding oils just makes it even better. My personal favs are lavender and eucalyptus. Lavender not only smells divine, but it reduces stress, enhances mental concentration and calms feelings of anxiety. Eucalyptus has similar effects but also has the added benefit of fighting congestion and helping you to breathe better.

Find a creative outlet (if creativity is your thing)

For me, I write. Writing has really helped me over the last few months to overcome some of my anxiety and has given me an avenue to express myself. It’s freeing and really makes me feel like I’m doing something just for me. Putting the words in my head onto paper quite literally clears my mind and if creating is your thing, start working on something, anything. Your poetry, a painting, sew, knit, whatever you want to.

Express gratitude 

There have been many studies, including one from Harvard University that have found links between expressing gratitude and overall happiness. It can help you to have a more positive and hopeful mindset, improved relationships and even help you to get better sleep. Just grab a pen and paper and write a list of things you’re grateful for each day and actively practice saying thank you to the people in your life. It really puts things into perspective, makes you feel good and gives you a greater appreciation for the good things in your life.

What are some things you do to practice self-care? I’m always open to new ideas so definitely share your feedback and ideas with me.

xo

-Nic

 

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The Top 10 Items You REALLY Need In Your Hospital Bag

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If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ve probably perused a list or two (or three) to find the ultimate must have items for your hospital bag. If you’re like me, you scoured tons of blogs and Pinterest lists looking for the perfect items to make your hospital stay a comfortable one. Unfortunately for me, I was induced two weeks early and my bag was incomplete despite all of my planning. Of course the hospital provided the essentials and I definitely had all of the baby’s things but there were still 10 key items that would have made my stay a more comfortable one.

1. A LONG Charging Cable

As a first time mom, I anticipated that I would be blissfully sleeping through the night, waking once or twice to feed my baby, and a freshly charged phone in the morning. Boy was I wrong! First of all, I was a tad bit, OK more than a tad bit naive about what it’s like having a newborn. By the second night of our hospital stay, my daughter cluster fed about every half hour over the course of a 12 hour period. She wouldn’t sleep unless I held her, and my phone helped to keep me alert despite the exhaustion, when it died however it was hell, so do yourself a favor and get a pack of these 10 ft. charging cables. You definitely won’t regret it.

2. Favorite Snacks

When I was admitted to the hospital, it was totally unexpected, one minute I’m getting a routine Non-Stress Test and the next I’m being told I’m going to be having a baby in the next couple of hours. I went to my appointment after work and hungry didn’t begin to describe how I felt. The hospital provided a meal but I would’ve liked to have one of my favorite snacks before being induced, it would’ve done a lot for my mood. They would’ve also made my nightly vigils with the baby a lot more tolerable. I distinctly remember aggressive stomach growling at 2:00am that I tried to mask by coughing so my suite mate wouldn’t hear. Amazon has some pretty cool variety packs so you can have tons of options.

3. Wireless Headphones or Earbuds

When I was in labor and was asked if I wanted a private room, I really should have said YES. Unfortunately I decided to share one since it was covered by my insurance. Big mistake. If you’re like me and you decide to share, wireless headphones or earbuds will be your best friend. While you’re up at night admiring your sleeping baby, you can listen to your favorite playlists or catch up on that podcast you’ve been meaning to. It will also drown out the sound of your neighbor’s baby, and visitors.

4. Night Gown and Robe

I actually took two breastfeeding nightgowns and robes with me and I was so happy I did. The hospital gown is confusing af to snap up and it just feels good to finally put your own clothes on after giving birth.

Pro tip: You don’t need to get gowns specifically made for breastfeeding, you can get any regular nightgown with an elastic enough strap (and tummy room) to pull up and down without actually having to snap and unsnap anything. Because who has time for that anyway?

5. Adult Diapers

The mesh panties and maternity pads the hospital provides are a nightmare and a half! The pad shifts, it fills up quickly and changing it is daunting when your baby doesn’t want to be put down in the middle of the night. When I got home my mom got me adult diapers, they were the best, like really comfy, absorbent, panties. They made things easy and helped me to forget the massacre that was occurring in my pants. Do yourself a huge favor and take these to the hospital with you.

6. Soap

While at the hospital I showered with their soap everyday. Honestly with each bath I was just happy to have water on my body, but as a new mama, taking a shower with a nice smelling soap that you love can do wonders for your frame of mind and your skin. Definitely get something organic and soothing to help relax you and won’t expose your baby to harmful ingredients.

7. Pillow

Take your own pillow with you! I repeat, take your own pillow with you. And put a distinctive pillow case on it while you’re at it. Not only are you taking a piece of home with you, hospital pillows kind of suck and they’re more than just a bit uncomfortable to lay on.

8. Portable Fan

While I was in the hospital, I legit wondered if the air condition was broken. I had my daughter in August and it was hot! Also, they keep the maternity suites, relatively warm (not hot) because it’s good for newborns. If you run hot like me, that’s the ultimate nightmare. My second night in the hospital I devoured ice chips because honestly, I forgot I actually had a portable handheld fan in my purse because being pregnant in the dead of summer is hard and clearly mommy brain started early.

9. Boppy Breastfeeding Pillow 

I had a Boppy lounger and breastfeeding pillow at home but did not take either to the hospital. The lounger is pretty unnecessary for your hospital stay but the breastfeeding pillow will make the world of difference especially for a new nursing mom. It helps with positioning and prevents arm fatigue from consistently holding your new clingy best friend. It also adds a nice cushion for the baby to lay on while in your arms, and a comfy baby is a happy baby.

10. Adjustable Infant Swaddle

I’ll be the first to confess I was a lazy swaddler, so by the time I left the hospital, my baby had grown accustomed to not being swaddled at night and it resulted in the nightmare that is now my co-sleeping experience. If you don’t want to be bothered with actually wrapping your baby up in a Swaddle blanket, there are alternatives like the Swaddle Me which reduces the risk of having loose blankets around your baby if he or she is an escape artist like mine. They will make your baby feel safe and make for better sleep for the both of you.

What were your hospital bag must haves? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

 

xo

Nic

Editor’s Note: This post is not sponsored and all items are ones that I actually use and love! However if you do purchase an item directly through the links I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Thank you, I appreciate your support. 
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The Art of Gratitude

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I was recently in the comments of the Shaderoom (lol) and randomly clicked on a commentors profile. She was a Harvard educated attorney, only 25 years old, with a beautiful daughter, living her best life as a single mom in LA. Her latest post however documented her feelings during pregnancy, specifically how she was lucky enough to be able to attend child psychology classes, she had two baby showers, one tea party themed, she got to go to baby prep classes, had maternity shoots and was able to do basically everything that most modern-day moms do or want to do to prepare for their baby.

While reading, I thought “wow, this is everything I wanted to do, down to the tea party themed shower”. Unfortunately I never got to do any of those things, but as she continued on, she wrote about how she didn’t have anyone to share the news about her baby’s gender with, nor did she have a partner to attend her appointments. She didn’t have a late night junk food companion, or someone to rub her back and feet or even cut the umbilical cord…she cut it herself.

Up until I read that post, I thought I had come to terms with the fact that I didn’t do any of the fun baby prep things because I was busy prepping for baby alright but it sure as hell wasn’t what I would call fun! So I felt maybe 1% resentful that I didn’t experience the “fun” things, but as I read on I felt 100% blessed and grateful that I did have my husband by my side throughout my pregnancy. Literally y’all, this man sat next to me in the car EVERY evening as I heaved and threw up into a (thick) plastic bag in the dead of winter with the windows up because I ALWAYS got car sick.

He made me laugh with comments such as “wow, it smells like cheese” and “when did you have rice? That looks like rice” and he was right next to me as I again went at in the toilet upon arriving home. When I started developing the symptoms that lead to preeclampsia, he rubbed my huge swollen feet everyday for hours on end, he even took me shoe shopping while laughing hysterically at the loaves of bread I called feet. We both went to all the ultrasounds, and check ups, we both worried about my ever rising blood pressure and we ate! We ate together and afterwards he would rub my back as I once again heaved into the toilet bowl. 

While I was pregnant, I was tired, overwhelmed even, because we really didn’t want to have our baby come home to our bachelor pad, basement apartment. It was dark, depressing and small. We worked hard, sacrificing warm shoes during blizzards and warm enough coats, just to be able to afford our home and for me to be able to take extended leave from work.

We worked so hard we were exhausted, so exhausted we just couldn’t do the fun stuff. There were late nights packing, and moving and painting to get everything ready. And like clockwork, I started developing preeclampsia the week after we moved in, with our baby girl arriving shortly after that. Again however, he was right by my side. So that 1% of resentfulness faded away as I thought about my experience, in so many ways, we are so fortunate, and I am so grateful for our journey. I promise you, I’m trying extremely hard not to be corny right now, but honestly sometimes, hard paths really do take you to some of the best places and again, I am so grateful.

xo 

-Nic