Sunday, November 27, 2016

Perfect Go-To's to Snap Out of the "Mommy Funk"

Ahh the "Mommy Funk." We all know what I'm talking about-those moments where you just feel like going back to bed and starting over. Or when you are so stressed out and it's all piling up to the point of no return.

I seem to be the queen of those moments lately and unfortunately, the fancy self-help and coping skills book tips are insanely hard to remember at times when I'm ready to toss my bag of marbles. Whether you've just had a baby, are juggling work and toddlers (add the many jobs mommies have here), it can be very hard to keep moving. I call those moments of mine my "fake happy."

I love my family and I love taking care of them, but sometimes Mom's really do need a break. It's okay to be a human and enjoy some TLC. Without further ado, here are my tips; I hope they help you out when you're at that point of chasing someone down with a spatula.

1. My rule of 5-think of 5 really easy and quick things that calm your nerves and set you back down gently in your happy place. My list is coffee, music (headphones so I can dance while I work), laying down for a quick set of 4-4-4 breathing (breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, release for 4 seconds), a good set of yoga stretches, and my lovely scalp massager. Your list doesn't have to match mine, but these are good for those times when you have no help. Have the kids do yoga with you and make it a quiet game as well!

2. Take a real vacation-with just you!-That one can be tough. Have Dad or Grandma take the kids for a few hours, a day, or even a few days and plan some things you want to do. Believe it or not, this is my first "few days" vacation and has given me the time to actually write this without little hands helping me push buttons. The only rule is that you plan things that make you feel good-don't just clean the whole time. Write a list of the things that make you happy, or things you can't do with the littles. A 9:00 pm painting class is on my list!

3. Take a nap if you can.-Sometimes, those 30+ minutes to recharge are just what you need. If you have a fussy baby, lay down with him and nurse. He'll catch your sleep vibes, especially if you are snuggled together. Just remember to safely co-sleep during naps too.

4. Go on a date, even if you have the kids.-Drop all the stuff that's making you crazy and just get out. You can visit a park, go to an indoor playground, or even just go get an ice cream. Those are fun memories ready to be made and just the act of getting out of the house can switch off that funk.

5. Get a massage- You don't even have to spend a dime. My husband and I have a whole jar of free things we can do when the kids go to bed. This is definitely on that list and is so nice after a hard day. Fall asleep to your spouse's gentle touch. Or just take a 5-minute shoulder rub while making dinner. I love that.

Feel good mommies-you deserve it! 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What To Look For and Avoid In Prenatal Vitamins

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor; please talk with your OBGYN or midwife about which prenatal vitamin will be best for you. Sometimes, even with the best prenatals and diet, your blood work will show that you still need additional supplementation.

Prenatal vitamins and pregnancy tend to go hand in hand, but how do you know which one to choose? They all promise to be the best for Baby and Mom. Unfortunately, many prenatals often contain additives and fillers that are not healthy, even in foods. If moms are choosing to eat healthfully, go organic, and avoid fillers and preservatives in foods, why would they take a prenatal that contains the very ingredients they are trying to avoid? How can moms pick a great prenatal vitamin without all the guesswork?

First of all, you will want to typically look for: 600 mcg folic acid, 150 mg calcium, 27 mg iron, 1.9 mg B6, less than 10,000 IU vitamin A, 600 IU vitamin D, 11 mg zinc, and 85 mg vitamin C (no more than 2000 mg daily). (Source 1)

I recommend having your midwife or OB check your prenatal vitamin and approve it, especially after your blood work results are in. Here are the ingredients of a prenatal I took while pregnant.
  • 600 mcg Folate (the natural form of folic acid found in food)
*Since folate is the natural form of folic acid, it is immediately metabolized in a form the body recognizes. Try to find a prenatal vitamin with folate instread of folic acid. For more information, please view my second source. (Source 2)
  • 18 mg Iron
  • 150 mcg Iodine
  • 5000 IU vitamin A
  • 60 mg vitamin C
  • 600 IU vitamin D
  • 30 IU vitamin E
  • 80 mcg vitamin K
  • 1.5 mg Thiamin
  • 1.7 mg Riboflavin
  • 20 mg Niacin
  • 10 mg vitamin B6
  • 6 mcg B12 (methylcobalamin)
  • 300 mcg Biotin
  • 10 mg Pantothenic acid
  • 5 mg Zinc
  • 70 mg Selenium
  • 1 mg Manganese
  • 120 mcg Chromium

The reason I chose this specific prenatal vitamin was because the “other ingredients” part of the label did not contain any of the following:
propylene glycol-also used in antifreeze and brake fluid, cannot be eliminated from the body in children under 4 years
Artificial colors (Red #40, Blue #2, etc.)-contain contaminants that may cause cancers
Maltodextrin-spikes your blood sugar
polyethylene glycol-petroleum derivative compound made from ethylene glycol
sodium benzoate- can irritate ulcers and cause nausea and vomiting in some individuals, carcinogen (Source 3)

I also took my calcium and iron separately, since calcium can inhibit iron absorption. I ate calcium rich foods like almonds, oranges, cheese, greens, and beans.This specific prenatal did contain folate as which is crucial for baby’s neural tube formation, cell growth, and cell division. Lastly, I took a DHA vitamin that had 1000 mg omega-3 DHA/EPA (both added up to 1000 mg) and also had at least 600 mg omega-3 DHA (Dr. Sears recommendation). My midwife recommended that I quit taking fish oil at 35 weeks to prevent the possibility of a "sticky placenta," and then resume the fish oil after delivery.

Be aware that there are plenty of other ingredients that should be on your no-no list as far as foods and even hair and skin products. Usually, the less ingredients a product has, the better it is..especially if you can actually read those ingredients. Please check my Pinterest Birth Boot Camp folder for more information on ingredients to avoid.

The last bit of information I’d like to share with you is a website I found called Labdoor. This site buys the supplements off the shelves and then runs a chemical analysis on them, rating them for purity and safety. You can check most supplements here.

Again, I am not a doctor, just a birth instructor sharing information that I feel is important to consider for a healthy pregnancy and for healthy breastfeeding (you'll keep taking prenatals as you nurse Baby). Research and choose what is best for your family and have a happy and healthy birth!

-A special thanks to my student who asked me about her prenatals! I hope this helps!

Friday, June 24, 2016

What Do Contractions Actually Feel Like?

That is the number one question I hear! The general sensations for each of the stages of labor can be found at this lovely blog on our Birth Boot Camp website-you'll love the flow chart as well!

I sat for a while, trying to think of how contractions felt to me. Explaining this can sometimes be difficult because everyone's experiences will be unique. With this in mind, I consulted some of our wonderful BBC instructors (you can find us here) and asked them what they would compare that contracting feeling to. Here are our collective thoughts! 

  • "Mine felt like the worst menstrual cramps ever. Not unbearable, but very uncomfortable." Caren Nugent 
  • "I only felt mine down low. They felt like very intense menstrual cramps. A big ball of ache." Kristi Keen
  • "Pushing was way better." Jillian Blakeman 
  • "Pushing was heaven compared to contractions! My contractions were low like menstrual cramps but also radiated around my belly on each side like long fingers squeezing. Jennifer Swiney
  • "Like the worst stomach flu cramps you've ever had." Alexa Gumm 

  • "Diarrhea." Sarah Clark
  • "Like a bulldozer in my uterus." Melissa Mayer
  • "Mine were nothing like what everyone says! They were this all consuming, full body awfulness.. maybe because my labors are only an hour and a half?" Abbie Spreier
  • "The feeling of biking up very steep hills but concentrated in your abdomen. And you can't get off the bike." Lauren McClain
  • " feels like a very intense ab workout." Ashleigh Boogaerts 

  • "I once heard someone describe them as a reverse orgasm. Same intensity, but pain instead of pleasure, and a tight grip instead of a release." Jill Christianson 
  • "With my first they started with contractions with my 2nd felt like how you would blow up a balloon. It would start low and radiate up and got bigger and stronger." Carol Quintana
  • "I felt them much like a charlie horse in my stomach when I was reaching transition." Ginny Ferguson
  • "..I usually describe it as a charlie horse in the uterus." Cameo Sherman 
  • "..Labor contractions were exactly like an IBS flare for me. Except that I knew exactly what was causing them and that they would eventually end..It's uncanny to me how similar they were." Alyssa Densham

As you can tell, a lot of us have different opinions! For me, contractions felt like a very bad stomach ache that comes and goes. Those contractions got progressively more intense until transition, and then pushing made them so much more bearable! I hope we all could give you some specific ideas of what you might expect to feel. Please don't be worried or scared. Relax and get a massage. Utilize the water. Take a class with your partner and prepare. Be confident; you can do it!

"The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you."-Unknown

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Preparing Your Special Needs Child for a New Sibling

About 2 years ago, my husband and I were preparing for the birth of our second son. Our first, Landon, was around 4 at the time and had received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. While we read a lot of books and prepared ourselves for the baby, I wondered how much preparation my Landon would need and whether or not I could find a class he could take or if I would need to teach him myself. 

Eventually, I psyched myself up and decided to teach him all about babies. I figured that since I was a teacher anyway, that wouldn't be too far out of my skill set. I bought a life-like baby doll and we both began our hands-on training: diapering, holding, and even bathing the little babe. Landon did try with it, but soon became bored. I, on the other hand, became attached to the thing and carried it around with me as if though it needed constant loving and attention (thanks hormones). 

Here is what Landon and I both learned worked best when preparing for our new baby. 

1. Hands-on prep with a real baby is a great start! 
I know you might be a little worried about this one, so start slowly. Have a friend come visit and bring her baby. When my good friend introduced us to her new son, I watched as Landon took everything in; the baby's coos and cries, how he had his diaper changed, and even how he was eating. He even helped catch the pacifier every time the baby spit it out, and came with us if we needed to walk around to soothe the little guy. I should have thought to have him hold his doll at the same time, but we practiced everything we saw with our "baby" as soon as my friend had to leave. 

2. Read new siblings books together. 
I loved going to the library with Landon and picking out those sweet books. Get a few of them to rotate, and create that special reading time together. Landon and I still read every night before bed and he likes to pick between two, just like he did with those baby books. You can also look at your child's baby book together and talk about how your child has grown. Savor those moments! 

3. Create special outings for just the two of you. 
Begin a special date night for the both of you, and make that a tradition. It doesn't have to be fancy-a picnic at the park or a frozen yogurt night. Landon loves to go and pick all his favorite toppings, while arranging them just so. Whatever he was into at the time, we did on date night. We even had a crazy coin night! (the boy loves his coins) Once the baby comes, try to keep those date nights at home since you will need the rest, but do have them. We still have what we call a "sheet dinner," a tradition my mom started where you put a sheet down on the living room floor and eat nachos or something messy while watching a movie. Make it easy and fun! 

4. Enroll your child in an activity that is just for him. 
This one is also important because often when a new baby arrives,  schedules and activities get thrown thrown out of wack. We enrolled Landon in swimming lessons every Wednesday and established that as part of the weekly routine. Once the baby came, my husband would take him to swimming after he got home from school. Landon really enjoyed going to swim class and having his own special time with his dad as well. I highly recommend asking places if they offer a special needs discount-we were able to get our classes at 50% off! 

5. Join a special needs support group. 
We are truly warrior moms and we all get it. There are quite a few Facebook groups just for us, and these are safe places to ask questions, share resources and activities, and create new friendships. We had one mommy share with us how overwhelming it was getting with her new baby and older children, and quite a few moms in her area signed up on Care Calendar to help her with meals and childcare! Support groups are truly an awesome way to share knowledge, especially if something comes up and you have questions for those who have been there. 

6. Prepare the house early. 
Some of our kiddos are very resistant to change. They need time to process everything that is new and will slowly acclimate themselves to the changes. I don't recommend switching their rooms or changing anything else that is already a part of a well established routine. Schedules can become impossible, but routines provide structure and this is critical for a smooth transition. We started setting up the nursery slowly, letting Landon help us whenever we could. He also knew that he could go in when he wanted and look at everything, and we'd often find him in there inspecting the crib or the dresser. Have your child be your special helper when setting everything up and make sure that he feels welcome in the nursery. 

7. Sign your child up for a siblings class, if you can. 
Sometimes, this isn't an option depending on where we live, or we worry that our children will not do well in a large setting that the classes take place in. I personally teach a class here in Sugar Land, in which I will go to the home where the kids feel most comfortable and will tailor the class to meet their needs. See if you can find someone locally who is willing to offer a private class such as this. Talk to your child's teachers or therapists and see if they have recommendations. You can even ask in those support groups we talked about earlier! 

8. Prepare ahead of time for challenging behaviors.
Oh, the big kahuna! Here is how I did this. I listed out all the behaviors that Landon typically exhibited when he was frustrated or mad: head hitting, throwing objects, yelling, etc. Then I wrote down exactly how we would handle them in a productive matter. Think end-game; what behaviors do you want to see from your child? So when Landon would hit his head, we would silently redirect him and then show him a more appropriate way to handle frustration (asking for help, going to another room to calm down). If he was throwing things, we would have him help us pick them up. The important thing is to determine why your child is engaging in these behaviors. Are they for your attention? Is there something they are trying to escape (crying, noise)? Do they need something and can't ask for it? It isn't always easy, but try to maintain a positive response to those behaviors. Teach your child what you want him to do instead. 

9. Treat each other with kindness. 
Having a new baby can be a tough time for everyone, especially those first few sleepless nights. Ask for help if you need it. Talk to your child about how you are feeling and let them know that even though you are tired, you are so glad to have some time with them. Be patient with each other and go outside to soak up some sunshine when you get overwhelmed. Give little acts of love like bear hugs, tickles, and kisses. Most of all, enjoy this time together-our babies will grow so quickly.  

10. Have a box of your child's favorite things for right after the baby is born! (thank you Adriana Castorena for this one!)

Save anything your child absolutely loves or loves to do in a box. You can also write a list of fun activities and include this in there. When the baby is born, pull out that special activities box and let your child have fun with Dad or another relative while you rest. You can even add something your child can work on, like a picture book about their new role as a big brother or sister! 

I truly hope this post was helpful. Having a new baby was definitely a learning experience for us and it has been so fun watching the boys grow that brotherly bond. Landon will even let brother give him a high-five now, and will help me with changing diapers and picking up toys. Just remember that those bonds take time to grow and that initial behaviors will change as your children get older. Congratulations on your growing family and the best of wishes from our family to yours!