Tips for Your Newborn Photo Shoot

Newborn PhotoshootAre you into pictures? I am. Photography has been my hobby since high school when started out shooting for the student paper and year book. Those cameras still shot with film back then. (Am I dating myself? I digress.)

Anyway, I still consider photography to be my favorite hobby, but when it comes to the big events, I leave those up to the pros. So when our daughter came along, I knew right away that I wanted to have a newborn photo shoot. I haven’t regretted it. If you’re thinking about having newborn pictures done, here are some suggestions and tips I’d like to share.

  • Find your style. Do you swoon over a swaddled baby in a basket, or is sunlight streaming through windows onto the new family more your style? Props or nursery, studio or your home? Browse through newborn photos until you’ve got an idea of what you like, then start the search for a local photographer who specializes in that style. I’d had my eye on the photographer we used before I was even pregnant!
  • Talk to friends. Did they have newborn pictures taken? Did they like their photographer? Can they show you their pictures? Word of mouth is probably the best way to find a good newborn photographer.
  • Be wary of the lowest price. These days, everyone is a photographer. It doesn’t take much for someone pick up a digital camera and call themselves a professional. Often, these photographers will not have a broad portfolio and will have amazingly low prices when compared to others in the business. That’s not to say that someone who is just starting out isn’t a good photographer. I simply mean that you want to choose someone who can show you more than one good shot per session they’ve completed. Your baby is a newborn for a very short period of time. You don’t want to receive your pictures only to be disappointed and without the chance to redo them.

Once you’ve made your choice, your photographer will typically schedule you for a time within the first week to week and a half after your due date (flexible, of course, to when you actually give birth). This is because that is the time when newborns are soft, floppy, and want to sleep a lot.

A2H-T57When the day of your shoot arrives, aim to nurse/feed baby just before your photographer arrives, or immediately upon arriving to the studio. A belly full of milk typically sends a new baby straight off to dreamland, which lets your photographer get those sweet, milk-drunk shots.

At the same time (as early as you dare, really), put baby’s diaper on loosely so as to avoid diaper lines if you’ll be getting any pictures with baby undressed. Be prepared to turn up the heat in your home, or to find yourself in a very warm studio. Newborn photographers use this trick to keep baby warm and asleep during the shoot. As a new, tired mom, the heat nearly put me to sleep as well!

Bring any personal items that you want included in the photos–dad’s fire helmet, your childhood teddy bear–and be sure to let your photographer know if there are particular shots you’d like them to take.

From that point on, it’s all up to baby and your photographer. Have fun, relax if you can, and enjoy recording those beautiful early moments with your new baby!

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and their 2.5 year old daughter and dreams of someday becoming a travel photographer. Photos from Add to Heart Photography used with permission. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015
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Great Expectations

Great ExpectationsI remember the moment distinctly. I would keep it entirely to myself, a secret between me and the not-so-quiet of the night, except I’m hopeful sharing it will allow another mama respite. Our sons were born 19 months apart. Even in the best of times of supportive family and friends, children are intense.

One night after a third feeding and as many shirts covered in spit up, while my 4-week-old screamed through a diaper change, I found myself screaming back in exacerbation, “WHAT DO YOU WANT, CHILD?!” Shockingly, that gorgeous babe did not stop to let me in on his secret requests. I slammed the bedroom door, temporarily infuriated that my husband did not immediately hear this and make it easier for me in that moment. I took a deep, exasperated breath, one that leads to a sigh teeming with disappointment; then I dutifully swaddled the lad, sat back down in my comfy seat, and basked in the glow of darkness because I felt unworthy of anything else in that moment.

On the other side of sleep, I woke refreshed and with new perspective on both myself and the babe. I actually knew exactly what my child needed; he had no secrets. He wanted my love and nurturing touch. It was quite a boost in competence to realize he simply needed me. His expectations were actually quite low in some regards. He just wanted me, milk, a dry bum, and a snuggled sweet spot on my chest. I could do that. Turns out my toddler’s needs are just about the same.

The hard work came not in seeing my son’s reasonable expectations of me, but in admitting I had high expectations of him. Many of them weren’t even my expectations but this culture of parenting where if you read this book, buy that gadget, or follow this method, then a baby will sleep. I realized I was lost in the expectation of a sleeping baby. If baby wasn’t asleep at night, baby was wrong. Didn’t he know it was night?! I expected a convenient baby. I soon realized much of my frustration with our toddler was rooted in expecting a convenient toddler as well.

Such a simple shift in my expectation—expecting that my 8 week old WILL wake up in the night suddenly made each night an opportunity rather than a task. Yes, I was still tired. Now when I am flustered I can almost always root my frustration down to my expectations. Some expectations are worth having, but sometimes they don’t add up.

My shift in expectation wasn’t a magic bullet that kept me perky and bright every moment of every day, but this night sticks with me still, over a year later, because it holds true for me in a deep, meaningful way.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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Nursing Resources

Nursing ResourcesI’ll admit, when I first came home with my son, I was terribly unprepared for the challenges of new motherhood. I had read all of the books, websites, and articles, and had blindly assumed that I would need next to none of the “if you have problems” information provided.  Granted, you can do a lot of parenting preparation beforehand; however, most of it is learn-as-you-go.  I had read book after book on everything baby and I had decided that I definitely wanted to breastfeed. I thought that this would happen very naturally and with little assistance. That was pretty much exactly the opposite of what happened.

Whether you deliver at a hospital, women’s birthing center, or you have a home birth, chances are you will be provided some resources on nursing your new baby. If you are in a hospital setting, and desire to know more about nursing, most hospitals employ lactation consultants to offer individualized advice to get you started. Since I had never breastfed before, I had no real idea what I was doing other than what I had read. I was very thankful when the nurse offered to send the lactation consultant to assist me. She showed me proper positioning, how to hold my breast so that he could eat, and how to tell when he was getting anything. This was valuable information, but once I got home I was on my own.

By my second day home, I was in a lot of pain. I was taking the painkillers not for my stitches but for my nipples! In an effort to give my girls some much needed rest in order to heal, I started pumping and introduced the bottle. By the time we reached a month I was pumping exclusively because breast feeding was still painful.  At the time, I was I was deep in the learning curve of new parenthood and just wanted to sleep and get the occasional shower and I didn’t know that this was really a sign that something was still not right. After 6 weeks and constant pumping, I threw in the towel and bought formula. We found out not too much later that he had a lip tie that might have been diagnosed had I had a little more knowledge.  Looking back, I wish I had created an arsenal of resources at the ready in case nursing was difficult.

When my second son came, I was prepared but I was also shocked at the difference. I remember telling my husband, “So this is what nursing is supposed to feel like!” when my littlest easily latched on. This time I did have an arsenal ready because it was really important to me to stick it out and find help if I and when it got difficult. The following are some of the great resources I had at the ready for nursing help.

La Leche LeagueProvides comprehensive listings of lactation consultants based on area, pro-breastfeeding events, helps and tips.  - Scientifically based pro-breastfeeding help, thorough Q&A section, abundance of helpful tips -This website helps to develop a thorough breast feeding plan prior to birth

The Leaky Boob  -Here you will find a collection of breast feeding articles and blogs from both parents and professionals. They also have private Facebook groups you can join to ask questions and get support.

Regardless what kind of support you chose; know that there many local and national resources available to help you if you are having difficulty with breast feeding. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your pediatrician if you feel that something doesn’t feel right with the process.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a part-time stay at home mom of two preschool age boys. She is a personal trainer and health and wellness coach who resides in Sahuarita, Arizona.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
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Cloth Diaper Lingo

Cloth Diaper LingoI’m not exactly sure at what point in my pregnancy I became interested in cloth diapering, but I do know that for the first few weeks of researching options, the terms and lingo were so confusing! “Prefold” was especially troublesome. Was it something I had to pre-fold before using? How did one fold it, whatever it was?

Cloth diapers practically come with their own language, and it can take some time before you become fluent. So here’s a list of the most common terms you will encounter as you begin to look into cloth.

Diaper Styles.
These are the type of diaper you put on your baby, based on construction and appearance.

  • AIO – All-In-OneThis diaper is the closest to a disposable, since the absorbent material is sewn into the diaper. Some may have the option to add absorbency, some may not, but the basic idea is that everything you need is already sewn into the waterproof shell.
  • AI2 – All-in-two - The same concept as an All-In-One, except that the absorbent material tends to snap into place inside the waterproof shell.
  • Hybrid A waterproof shell plus either reusable or disposable absorbent material.
  • Pocket - A diaper with a waterproof outer shell and a lined interior that creates a pocket for holding absorbent material. Most, but not all, come with inserts (see definition below). Probably the most common form of modern cloth diaper on the market.
  • Fitted - A cloth diaper that is not waterproof. This has the shape of a modern cloth diaper and is made entirely of absorbent material. This diaper requires the use of a waterproof cover and is often used as a night time diaper option.
  • Prefold - One of the “old fashioned” versions of cloth diapers and what your mother or grandmother will likely think of when you begin to talk about cloth. A flat rectangle of fabric, typically cotton, that has multiple absorbent layers sewn into the middle. This diaper has to be folded and fastened onto baby and requires the use of a waterproof cover. Prefolds are economical and are generally considered among the easiest options to launder.
  • Flat - A flat also falls into the “old fashioned” category. Flats are large, single layers of cotton that must be folded and fastened onto baby and require the use of a waterproof cover. They are also economical and extremely easy to launder.
  • Cover - A waterproof shell designed to go over absorbent material. Covers have no absorbency and must be paired with a prefold, fitted, or other appropriate insert.

Accessories/additional terms

  • Insert - Absorbent material typically designed to be tucked inside of pocket diapers. Can be man-made fiber or natural. Pocket diapers (purchased new) typically come with an insert suited to the diaper, but inserts can be purchased separately for added absorbency or due to preferring a particular fiber.
  • Snappi - The modern alternative to diaper pins. These are a stretchy, Y-shaped piece of plastic with grabby “teeth” that are used to fasten prefolds, flats, and closure-less fitteds.
  • Boingo - Like a Snappi, they are an alternative to diapers pins, but are two pieces rather than one.
  • Liner - A liner is something that is placed between baby and the diaper. Some are disposable (some flushable) and are used to catch poop for easy disposable. Some are fleece and are typically used to keep babies skin dry.
  • PUL - Polyurethane Laminate – This is a waterproof material used to make covers and the outer shell of pocket diapers and All-In-Ones.
  • TPU - Thermoplastic Urethane – Another waterproof material.
  • WAHM - Work At Home Mom – This term is used to describe diapers that are made in a home based business.
  • OS - One Size – Diapers typically are either sized, meaning you will buy different sizes as baby grows, or “one size”, meaning that the diaper typically fits a child within a range of 8-35 lbs and grows with baby from birth on.

There are many, many other terms that you will come across as you really dive into the depths of cloth diapers, but as you come to speak the language they all become much easier to understand. Hopefully this helped welcome you into the world of cloth!

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and daughter. She’s a huge cloth diaper advocate and just a bit sad that her daughter is currently saying goodbye to their cute fluff.



Monday, January 26, 2015
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When Your Pregnancy Ends in a Complicated Birth

When Your pregnancy ends in a complicated birthLooking around, I was terrified. The bright lights of the operating room, my husband in scrubs, so many nurses, and a doctor setting up. I felt a wave of nausea kick in and the nurse held up a bag to me to be sick in. I had not eaten in 18 hours and was so hopped up on medications that my stomach just could not take it. I remember telling my doctor this was the worst moment of my life–that the baby was going to be awesome but this royally sucked.

This was not the birth I had planned or wanted. I dreamed of a peaceful, calm birth filled with joy and happiness. I got a heavily medicated birth to alleviate the eclampsia that was making me sick and harming the baby.

Whether it is exactly as you planned or a complete deviation from the plan, birth is something that cannot be controlled too carefully. There are often bumps and twists in the road, unexpected complications and surprises. The most common childbirth complications are pre-eclampsia, postpartum hemorrhaging, abnormal presentation, failure to progess, umbilical cord prolapse, umbilical cord compression, and embolism. These can happen to anyone, of any health, age or social status regardless of fitness level or prenatal care. Often we prepare for baby and pregnancy and prepare for the care of our newborns but no one really prepared for any of the issues with birth.

When things do go south, many mamas often feel cheated out of what they feel should have been their experience. These feelings of sadness and regret can lead to aiding in postpartum depression, issues bonding with baby and general melancholy about the whole thing. But occasionally interventions are necessary both for mama or baby, and in my case they were life saving.

What I found in dealing with the aftermath of my birth experience this time around was that I needed time to mourn. Mourn that my dream of natural birth was not to be, accept that my body would heal and the pain and swelling would leave me. Talk to the professionals who deal with postpartum periods, with loss, with difficulties and understand that while every hour of this time might feel like an eternity, every day in the NICU or ICU spent worrying about whether baby or you will be ok, every second of pain and confusion is merely a short time in your life. This too shall pass.

Sometimes as mothers we wish we could control everything, but coming to terms with our experiences gives us peace and allows us to focus on what is truly important: a sweet healthy baby, a growing family, and the love that comes with it all.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mama of three small boys ages five, two and seven weeks. She lives in constant chaos of trains, legos and laundry in Portland, Oregon. 

Friday, January 23, 2015
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