Archive for July, 2016

Returning to Work After Birth

Friday, July 29th, 2016

DSCN1166It’s time. To go back to work, that is. Whether you were out for a few weeks or for a year, for many moms, the time to go back to work after having a baby comes sooner than they think. For some moms, the thought of going back may provide a sense of relief, and for others a sense of stress or sadness. These are all normal and healthy feelings.

Going back to work and the myriad of feelings it stirred up each time, at least for me, was always exacerbated by that one friend that unhelpfully said, “Oh, I don’t know how you do it. I could never leave my babies.” Gee, thanks.

Some tips to help ease the transition back: First, make sure you are super comfortable with the childcare setup you have for while you are at work. If you feel unease, or if the provider is not reliable, this will increase your anxiety incredibly.

Make a feeding plan. If you plan on pumping, plan out ahead of time where you will pump, when, and how to store your pumped milk and supplies. Some employers are very helpful with accommodating this, and the scale slides all the way down to being hostile and completely unhelpful. If there aren’t adequate facilities available, don’t be afraid to ask. If you live very close to work or your child can come to your work, you may be able to schedule nursing breaks during the day as well.

If you formula feed, make sure you have enough bottles to make it through the day and then some, so you can avoid a mad rush when you return home to wash everything up. Keeping a little extra formula on hand can also be helpful so you aren’t dashing to the store for more right before or after work.

You may be worrying about losing so much quality time with your child, or about your baby missing you terribly while you are away. Remember that babies don’t have the same sense of time that we do; whether you pop out for fifteen minutes or 8 hours, it’s mostly the same to them. You can schedule one-on-one time with your baby to reconnect at the end of the day, with a fun bath and story session.

Remember, you can do this! The first day (or days) will be an adjustment period for sure, but you will all be settled in in no time.

Meaghan Howard is currently a stay-at-home mom overseas. When her babies were born, she and her husband juggled two full-time careers, and they SURVIVED!

Is it Baby Blues or PPD?

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 7.25.28 PMWelcome to motherhood! Now get ready to experience a whole new body–mentally, physically and emotionally. While your new little bundle of joy is bringing so much joy and happiness to your life your body is busy trying to figure out what to do with a shift in hormones. Things are moving around, readjusting, and for lots of moms that includes some of those dreaded “baby blues” or maybe even postpartum depression.

What is the difference you ask? In a nutshell, baby blues is pretty mild and doesn’t last too long. Postpartum depression is much harder to deal with and in some instances anti-depressants are prescribed to help new moms deal. They both start in the same way with the same sort of symptoms including mood swings, crying, sadness, and irritability. The thing is that these also happen to sound like symptoms of sleep deprived new moms or really anyone that’s sleep deprived.

According to Psychology Today 50-80 percent of women experience baby blues and it typically only lasts about 2 weeks after delivery. If you are one of the 15 percent of women who continue to have these symptoms or they get worse past the two weeks then it’s most likely post partum depression and it might be time to ask for help.  Some telltale symptoms include: fear of harming your baby, panic attacks, feelings of worthlessness and despair, a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy and nightmares among others.

Just like with baby blues it is thought that the main cause for PPD is the shift in hormones experienced after giving birth. Unfortunately some women happen to have a higher risk of developing ppd. Psych Central states a past history of depression, lack of an adequate support system, a pregnancy or birth with complications and multiple births are a few of the possible issues that can contribute to the depression.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you need to know that you’re not alone and there is nothing wrong with you. So many other moms go through this, which means that finding help can be easier than you think. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. The symptoms can be serious and seeking out a professional with experience in the area will do you a world of wonders. If you’re not sure where to go for help I suggest starting with your OBGYN. Talk to them about your symptoms and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

It also never hurts to nourish yourself with anything you can that can have an impact on depression. While it’s not a substitute for professional help a healthy diet can definitely work in conjunction with talk therapy or an antidepressant. Try keeping sugar and highly processed foods to a minimum. Instead focus on getting plenty of healthy protein, whole grains and healthy fats such as wild salmon, avocado and nuts. If you can try to get some time for yourself each day, practice self-love and above all be patient and forgiving to yourself.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby. 

Cradle Cap Remedies

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

cradle capDo you know what cradle cap is? If no, count yourself lucky. Cradle cap, or seborrheic dermatitis, is a kind of waxy scalp buildup that’s common in babies, and often found around the hairline (adults and children can get it too). It’s not uncomfortable for babies, and it usually clears up on its own eventually, but it’s unsightly for sure.

You can help speed up the healing process by rubbing a little olive or coconut oil into the affected area, and using your fingers or a very soft toothbrush to work it in and gently exfoliate the area (don’t get too rough or it will irritate the skin, and your baby). Let the oil sit for about ten minutes, then wash your baby’s hair like normal with baby shampoo. It may take two washes to get the oil worked out of her hair. You can repeat this daily or every other day until the patch has cleared.

This method worked for both of my kids’ cradle cap, but if you’re dealing with a persistent case of it, you can also moisturize the area after the bath with a gentle lotion (some people select ones with calendula in the formula as it’s thought to help the condition as well). If you live in a dry climate, running a humidifier may help a bit as well. Dr Sears recommends a fish oil or omega 3 supplement to help clear cradle cap.

If it won’t budge, you can use an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo like Nizoral or Selsun Blue. Talk to your pediatrician before using one of these, and take extra precautions to make sure the products don’t get into your baby’s eyes.

Once it clears, continue to wash your baby’s hair regularly using baby shampoo, and take care to massage his scalp each time you wash. This gentle exfoliation will help prevent the condition from returning.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys, and currently lives with her family and her fur family overseas.

A Newborn Diapers Primer

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

newborn diapersIn addition to adding a new baby to the routine, many parents consider adding cloth diapers to the mix from the very first days after birth. Here are a few things to think about as you begin to cloth diaper your newborn:

Baby’s size.
If you absolutely know you’ll have a smaller child (planning a delivery earlier rather than later, for example) you might want to invest more in newborn cloth. Many more established brands have newborn-specific diapers. Some go down to four pounds. If you are like my extended family where no baby was ever born smaller than 8 pounds then investing in extra small cloth may look a little different. Consider 2-size systems like Apple Cheeks, Blueberry, Bummis, and Thirsties that offer a 7ish to 18ish pound size range. You’ll get the more trim fit of a newborn diaper but with the longevity up to 18 pounds.

If the cloth diaper lingo is overwhelming, join a cloth diaper group that can aid and support you in your many questions along the way. They may even become online friends in those early morning hours while you are up, yet again, bleary-eyed and feeling alone. If you are really nervous about all the possibilities consider something simple like an all-in-one diaper or prefolds with covers. Pocket diapers are fairly simple as well with only stuffing required. If you’re very comfortable and open then the possibilities are endless. I began with mostly pockets but now have a variety and love flats just as much now.

Consider parents, grandparents, daycare, and anyone else who will change your babe’s diaper. If already ambivalent then Velcro/aplix diaper closures might work best. Snaps have a minor learning curve for the willing but may be intimidating for those less excited about cloth. Also, while trying a wide variety of diapers can help you find what you like best, sticking with one or two specific diapers (same brand, same style) can help. Within each style (all-in-one, pocket, covers, etc.) every brand tweaks the diaper in small ways. Snaps may be placed slightly differently, the cut of each brands diaper may vary from one to the next, and so on. This can be confusing to someone unfamiliar or less interested in cloth diapering.

If you begin from day one with cloth you may need to address meconium, the umbilical cord, or circumcision.  Meconium, your baby’s first stool passings, is dark and sticky and tarlike. If you’re concerned with staining you can use a liner. I have not found it to be an issue. For the umbilical cord some brands offer a snap down or cut the diaper to give space for the umbilical cord. I’ve found that some diapers can simply be tucked under in order to give way for the umbilical cord.

Washing expectations.
If you can only wash every 3 days you’ll need to have more diapers than if you’re willing to wash every 1-2 days. If you want the diapers to last through multiple children you may need a larger stash (though newborn diapers are used for a shorter period of time so they may last several children even if used daily). A newborn goes through 8-12 diapers per day, so 16-24 diapers for two days, and 24-36 diapers for three days’ worth of washing.

Flats or prefolds and covers are generally the biggest bang for your buck. They also wash very easily and can grow with baby. A newborn prefold can become a toddler doubler down the road. You can also use them as burp cloths or wash/cleaning rags one day down the road. A YouTube search can offer you many demonstrations on a variety of fancy folds (origami is our favorite) but almost anyone can master a simple pad fold. Consider used cloth diapers if you really want diapers you can’t afford. Often people sell nearly new diapers for deeply discounted prices on B/S/T (buy/sell/trade) Facebook groups. You can also vary the size of your stash to accommodate your preferences and budget. If you really want the more expensive diaper brand then buy fewer of them and wash more often.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Managing Birth Expectations

Monday, July 25th, 2016

DSCN1032The birth plan … I took a twelve (twelve!!) week class on natural childbirth (and infant care) before the birth of my first son. Part of the class was, after educating everyone on different options (including passing around an epidural needle set to terrify everybody by the sheer size of the thing), crafting the birth plan, using a multi-page checklist as the starter point.

My birth plan was pretty laid back, and mine included no epidural, but still, the head nurse checking me in snickered and told me that I should get an epidural right then at check-in, as there was no guarantee the anesthesiologist could ever get back in time again (assuming that I would inevitably ask for one).

After all of this, guess what? Nothing really went according to plan. And even though I thought I was super laid back about my expectations (you know, the old, “I want a natural birth if possible, but as long as my baby is healthy it’s good”), I was massively disappointed in how my birth story played out. I ended up with an emergency c-section, the only non-natural birth from our class.

Moral of the Story: I think it’s very important to be educated on the birth process and the different options out there, and to know beforehand what you personally are comfortable with. It’s also important to remember that while there are many options out there concerning birth, they will not all necessarily be an option for you. You may want an epidural, but your labor may progress so quickly it’s not possible. You may want a home birth, but likewise your individual circumstances may not allow it.

If you are concerned about your birth plan, hiring a doula is a good way to make sure that your voice is heard in the delivery room and that you are supported the whole way by an educated and experienced third party.

Finally, moms and dads, we need to stop judging the birth plans of everybody else. Using scare tactics against pain relief methods, snickering at patients’ pain relief plans, and bashing each other all on choices made during pregnancy and labor/delivery over the Internet–this helps none of us. No matter the events leading up to the birth, ultimately, that’s a healthy baby is the goal, and everyone of us that has been blessed with a healthy birth should be able to celebrate that, without a cloud of guilt or disappointment over our heads.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys, both born healthy, despite how their birth plans turned out.