The Working, Traveling, Pumping, Nursing Mother

Considering only 6% of Hoosier women are exclusively feeding their child breast milk at the age of 6 months, I suspect a much smaller percentage are working moms.  I can’t even begin to think what percentage is the traveling working mother. I know a few and the general consensus is that it is not easy.  We might even fit under the “borderline crazy” category.

If you’re a mom who is about to leave her baby for the first time, let me prepare you for a few realities:

  • You may pump in public, on a counter in front of everyone, in an airport restroom/rest stop.
  • You will likely have to tell a male coworker that “I need to stop in a family restroom…because I a mom…who doesn’t feed my child formula…”
  • You will likely wait 15 minutes for a family restroom and the person who exists is a huge man who was pooping (in these moments, pumping in public is easier).
  • You might not be able to find a plug and will ask a LOT of people if you can use their office/private restroom. Only a quarter of them will let you.
  • You make new decisions. “Do I have time to eat or pump?” Rarely both.
  • You have to answer really awkward questions. “What took you so long to get here?” “Why did you duck out of this meeting?”
  • You will cry. Often.

Was I insane for doing this for the first year of my child’s life? Yes. Did I consider quitting many times? Yes. My child is currently 13 months old and we’re nursing one time a day. I already look back and have no idea how I survived being a working, traveling, pumping, nursing mom, but I wasn’t willing to give up. I believe that you need to do whatever makes YOU the best mom you can be. I guess this was my path.

Here is what I’ve learned while traveling & pumping.

Booking Flights & Hotels:

  • Just like traveling with a child, traveling and pumping is time consuming. Prepare for it.
  • Try has hard as you can to keep on your normal pumping schedule. This will reduce the risk for engorgement / mastitis / loss of supply.
  • Things to consider: Do you pump before you leave for the airport? Before you get on the plane? During the lay over? Can you wait until you get to your hotel?
  • I have a friend who only does day trips. I found this very difficult and realized staying the night allowed me to be less sleep deprived, gave me a chance to make sure I ate balanced meals and made sure I had enough time to work, pump and relax. Figure out what works best for you.
  • Consider how long you can last between pumping sessions when flying across the country. I made sure my layover was in Denver when flying to California because I knew I couldn’t go 5 hours between sessions.
  • Consider the worst scenario. What if your plane sits in the tarmac for 5 hours? Bring a hand pump with you just in case you are forced to pump in your seat or the lavatory.
  • Call the hotel and request a refrigerator. Make sure you ask for them to put it in your room BEFORE you arrive. They tend to keep refrigerators unplugged and it will be warm if it hasn’t been sitting in your room for a couple hours.
  • Ask for a mother’s room at your meeting space. This is awkward; I’m not going to lie. If you are like me and work with mostly males, pick the one that has a lot of kids. Or just call the receptionist and explain your situation. I’ve failed to do this and literally pulled women to the side when they are walking down the halls. You will find people are willing to help. Be confident!

Packing:

  • Check your overnight bag; carry on your pump and computer bag.
  • Bring a pashmina, cardigan or hooter hider just in case you need to pump in a public place.

Pump Bag:

  • Hand Pump: This is your insurance policy! If all else fails, you have an easy way to pump.
  • 4 Bottles: I found that I didn’t need more than 4 bottles, no matter how long the trip. If you bring bags, all the milk will likely go in there.
  • Clorox Disinfecting To Go Wipes: Freaked out by the public restroom? Give the counter a wipe and then put paper towels down before you set your bag on the counter.
  • Small Wet Bag: After a few trips, I found that keeping my pump parts in a bag felt more sanitary. This is a better option than a plastic bag. I washed it after every trip.
  • A photo of your nursling! Remember why you are going through this hassle.

Luggage:

  • Small Cooler: I packed a small cooler to store all my bags of milk. This way I didn’t carry milk through security. Also, I didn’t have the space in my pump bag for more than the list above.
  • Zip Lock Bags (2): You will fill the bags with ice in the hotel to then put in the cooler.
  • A note: I wrote a note to put inside my cooler that said “This is breast milk.” I don’t know why, but I felt that the bag inspection process might be easier if they weren’t digging through my precious liquid gold.
  • Extra bottle or two. I didn’t really need it, but I brought them just in case. I tend to only put 5 oz at a time in milk bags, so if I had an odd amount, I would just put it in the bottle for storage.
  • Extra set of pump parts: I didn’t find this necessary, but if you’re someone who must disinfect everything nightly, this will be the easiest route. You can also bring dish soap and a bottle brush.

Battling the Airport:

  • They will likely ask to check your pump bag, even if it doesn’t have milk in it. Make sure you ask them to change their gloves. They will wipe it and put that wipe under a scanner. This process takes just a few moments.
  • If you have milk, they will want to put it in a scanner. You can ask for an alternative test and it will be the wipe method I mentioned above.
  • Cooling methods need to be frozen. I use the medela ice pack.
  • Find a family restroom to pump in private. Sometimes you have to wait, sometimes it’s stinky (ok, all the time) but this normally the best option.

- Airports with ideal pumping areas:

  • Indianapolis: There is a mother’s room located pre and post security!
  • Cleveland: There is a children’s waiting room and they’ve let me use their CLEAN restroom!
  • SFO: They have a mother’s room! One slight fail is that you can see through the door.

Pumping while a man leans on the door. Hoping he doesn’t turn around…

- Airports that suck:

  • Atlanta: There is a terminal that doesn’t have a family restroom. If you see one, jump in it because the next place you go might not have one.

Other “Stuff” to Consider:

  • Bring your baby! When Louis was 5ish months old, I had a 3 night work trip that was back to back with another long trip. I HAD to bring him because I didn’t have enough freezer milk stored. We paid airfare for a close friend and I found a 3 bedroom condo that was close to my conference that happened to be cheaper than a hotel. It was hard to do the nights without my husband and then work all day / evening, but it was a sacrifice that had to be made at the time. I consider myself lucky to have a friend that was more than willing to take on the job!
  • How much milk do you need while you’re gone? Babies tend to drink 1-1.25 oz of milk per hour when away from their mama. I found Louis drank 29 – 36 oz in 24 hours of me being away. If you’re committed to not using formula, it’s probably wise to not travel until your stash is ready. When you come home, you’ll have a ton of milk to replace what your baby drank while you were away.
  • Snacks. I mentioned above that sometimes you have to sacrifice eating for pumping. Bring snacks with you – nuts, fruit, etc. Buy water when you have a free moment in preparation for whatever the airlines will throw at you the rest of the trip.
  • REMEMBER – YOU CAN DO IT! It’s hard and it is easy to lose sight of the end goal. When you’ve reached your breastfeeding goal you can look back and realize that you’ve overcome a huge challenge. You are a role model and a hero to your baby!

Other Traveling & Pumping Blog Posts:

My Blog Posts

Parenting Blog Posts

This is a way for me to save blog posts I enjoy, but also share them with other mothers. I suspect this will be an ever evolving list. Please let me know if there is something I should add!

On being a working mom / mom struggles:

Cup of Jo Interviews Working Moms

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

Your Children Want YOU!

Sorry, I Have to Catch My Train

8 Ways to Be A Good Mother Instead Of A Perfect One

To the Mother With Only One Child

Feeling Negative at Work? How to Overcome It

Games to play with your child:

Productive Parenting Activity Library (All Ages)

Raising a Toddler:

No Bad Kids – Toddler Discipline without Shame

Self Confidence Boosters

Why You’re Never Failing as a Mother

Unsolicited Advice: Registry Favorites

We registered through Amazon because the products are cheaper and shipping tends to be free. We also registered at Target because most people go there at least once a month for normal items.

Tip: If you sign up to be an Amazon Mom, you will get Amazon Prime for FREE for a year! This means free 2 day shipping and returns and 20% diapers if you choose to subscribe. If you continue to buy baby supplies, they will extend the life of your Amazon Prime membership.

Books:

Some of my favorites include…

- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – Down right the best book I’ve read and believe every nursing mother should own it.  Whoever wrote it was reading my mind. I’ve read most chapters more than two times.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - Happiest Baby on the Block – Would suggest watching the DVD instead of reading the book.

- Working without Weaning – I read this while nursing the second and third month of maternity leave.

- Sleep Books – I’ve read “No Cry Sleep Solution” but preferred “Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child” because it was comprehensive across multiple types of sleep training. Baby Wise is a popular sleep training method, but has been linked to dehydration. My midwife posted a blog worth reading when you’re considering which sleep book to choose.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child **Update @ 7 Months: We still love Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child! We ended up crying it out (yes, judge away) at 6 months and this helped us through. It ended up being a LOT easier than I ever anticipated and the book is still a great reference guide.

***Update @ 15 Months: We used Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child when trying to get Louis down to one nap. This book is the gift that keeps on giving!

Car Seat & Stroller

We were handed down a Preg-Perego car seat. We have three car seat bases – two for our cars and one for my parents.

With the car seat, we were given this stroller. We didn’t use a stroller much in the beginning because I used the baby carrier all the time.

After 15 months, we’re still using the same stroller and have not purchased another one. It is very easy to open/close and pretty much just lives in our car. I highly recommend buying a stroller that will last from the car seat attachment days until they grow out of needing one!

We finally bought a jogging stroller on Craigslist at about 18 months. I didn’t work out much while nursing since I had a hard time regulating my supply while sweating.

When you’re looking for car seats, first check consumer reports for safety. After that, go to the store and figure out which of those is the lightest. Ours is a bit too heavy for me once the baby is in it. I dread carrying the car seat around.

My dad bought the Maclaren for their trips to the zoo and really likes it.

Baby Carrier

We started with a Ring Sling which I really loved while he was little and will continue to use for a while. We also purchased an ErgoBaby but hasn’t really worked until he was 3 months (you can buy an infant insert but it got pretty bad reviews on Amazon). Personally, the Ergo is more comfortable but the Ring Sling is easier to get on when I’m alone. I’m glad I have both.

Ergobaby Organic Carrier CollectionSleep

We chose to use an Arm’s Reach Co-sleeer instead of a bassinet or pack ‘n play. I loved being able to just open my eyes and see what he was doing when he made noises.

We were hoping to have him in the cosleeper attached to our bed longer than 4 weeks, but he was so noisy that I had a hard time sleeping so we moved him into his own room. We then moved it to his caretaker’s house and he slept in it until he was one.

Arm's Reach Natural Original Co-SleeperSpeaking of a pack ‘n play, we had one handed down to us. As of 15 months, we have only used the pack ‘n play twice!

Crib

We were fortunate enough to find a Pottery Barn Kids floor model crib for 65% off. It wasn’t on clearance so we were able to buy the matching toddler converter.

We also bought the waterproof mattress & changing table topper ($100 off!) from Pottery Barn, too.

Would I buy a Pottery Barn crib again? No. Louis as scraped off the “wood” finish with his teeth. I’m not concerned by the look of the crib because we’re not going to resell it, but more bothered by what he is digesting. Would I buy a toddler converter again? No. We will move Louis straight to a twin and give his crib to little brother. Maybe he’ll use the converter.

Crib Sheets:

We have 3 crib sheets (two from Target, one from Dwell Studio) and change them about once a week. It takes a while to get a full load of baby towels, wash cloths and sheets so this is the perfect amount for us.

Here is a good article on budget friendly sheets.

Baby Bag

I bought my baby bag from Zulilly for $175 off the retail price. I LOVE it because it has all these little pockets on the side.

After 7 months, I’ve found that just a large bag works perfectly fine for diaper bag. I was given a rather deep bag with pockets on the outside that works better than our baby bag. I suggest testing whatever bag you get on the handle of your stroller OR while you have your baby carrier on. If it fits, then that’s the one!

Since we use cloth wipes at home, I bought Seventh Generation Wipes in bulk (cheaper!) and use them while we’re out. They have no alcohol, synthetic cleaners, dyes or fragrances.

Traditional Swaddles:

When he was tiny, I really liked Summer Infant SwaddleMe both in the knit and fleece. We were handed down the small and when he grew out of it, we bought the large.

SwaddleMe-Micro-Fleece-(Green)

Our favorite is probably the Miracle Blanket. At first I was intimidated by it (when you’re not sleeping swaddles can seem very complicated). Now it wraps the tightest.

Miracle Blanket

We have a Halo Sleepsack Swaddle but it was not our ‘go to’ swaddle. I think the previous two are easier to use, but it definitely gets the job done.

Noise Machine:

We have the ever popular Sleep Sheep and have used it pretty often, but find buying a ‘white noise song’ (hairdryer, vacuum) from itunes for .99 works just as well (and it’s a lifesaver in the car). We think that the sleep sheep was waking Louis up because it stays on for about 30 mins and turns off. It’s not something we would buy again but some babies need that white noise and we’ll try it with baby #2.

At 15 months, he loves to play with the sheep! We just don’t use the noise part. Funny enough, at 2 years old Louis still plays with the sleep sheep (he thinks the rain sound is clapping).

Sleep SheepBlankets, Towels & Washcloths

If I was to register all over again, I wouldn’t have added these on my list because people LOVE to give you these items.

I really like our Bumkins organic towels and washcloths because they are so thick. Carters makes some nice thick towels too.

You need at least one set of the cheap, thin baby wash cloths. That is the only way to get into those tiny ears.

Itzbeen Baby Care Timer

The first few weeks are a haze. This little timer helps you remember when your baby ate last, was changed, etc. I also needed it so I could remember to take my Advil before the pain started back up. We don’t use it as much anymore and have moved on to a more complicated system called Baby Connect but I wouldn’t recommend that  until you’re looking for patterns, want to know how much he sleeps, etc.

Itzbeen Baby Care TimerMonitor

We chose Philips AVENT Basic Baby Monitor because it had the highest ratings on consumer reports for battery life. I have to admit, the battery life isn’t amazing, so I can’t imagine what the others are like. Otherwise, we are happy with our choice and have no complaints.

After using a couple different monitors, I realized that I really like the Avent Monitor we have. We don’t have any feedback and it has one of those little sensitivity monitors so you can actually see if he’s making noise. If I was to buy this product again, I would make sure I would have two handsets, not just one.

Philips AVENT Basic Baby Monitor I see why people have a video monitor now that Louis is rolling. When he starts fussing, typically he’ll fall back asleep…but not if he has flipped over. It would be nice to know if I should go upstairs or not, but at the end of the day it would be more about convenience than anything. If my living space was 2 floors away from the baby, I would buy one in a heartbeat!

Baby Bath

We were handed down the traditional plastic baby bath and frankly, I hate it. I’ve heard this tub is great and have seen it on Gilt (or Zulily?) for 50% off.

Here is a blog post about the PUJ Tub.

Puj TubA very inexpensive way to give baths.

Chairs & Swings

We were handed down the following items:

  • Fisher-Price Papasan Cradle Swing – Ours was 6 years old but they still sell almost the exact same item today. This swing is wildly popular, but Louis didn’t love it (he would last 10 mins in it). I think because he really liked to focus on items and the swing didn’t let him. I would suggest registering for it or if you have to buy it yourself, look for second hand just in case your baby doesn’t like the swing.
  • Graco Silhouette Baby Swing – We gave the Papasan swing back to its rightful owners after we discovered Louis didn’t like it, but had a backup that we planned to give to my parents. They didn’t need it, so we tried this swing again at 3 months. He likes it a bit more now that he’s older. I think he likes this one better because he can sit up.
  • Fisher-Price Papasan Seat – Having some sort of seat is a must have item. PJ would (and still does) bring Louis into the kitchen while he cooks. If you have a huge child, like myself, you’ll be disappointed to figure out that this particular seat will last 2 months.
  • Fisher-Price Calming Vibrations Bouncer – Louis LOVES this chair. He kicks the areas where his feet go and it lights up the toys above his head. Once he grew out of the papasan seat, we move to this one. My parents (who watch Louis) have the Fisher-Price Infant-To-Toddler Rocker and my dad doesn’t like it that much.

Highchairs

Wow, who knew how difficult this one would be for us. When I opened the highchair box after Louis turned 6 month, I realized the one we purchased had a very girly fabric and I would prefer something more gender neutral.

We went to BBB and tested out all the options and realized the Graco Contempo Highchair was the best. It didn’t feel cheap, it folded flat, had wheels, the tray is very easy to get off/on and the seat was padded. And, it’s not crazy expensive!

Contempo™ HighchairAn unanticipated product we never knew we needed is the travel booster seat. We use it ALL the time! It stays in our car and we use it if we’re eating out or at a friend’s house. Also, we’ve used it plenty of times when friends come over to our house with their baby.

Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat

Clothes

I haven’t had to buy many clothes thanks to hand me downs, but have found a few favorite discount sites that I have bought from…

Baby Gap – NEVER buy full price! If you have one in the mall, they have a great clearance section. Sometimes they will do a 50% off all sale items and you’ll be able to get full outfits for around $10.

Old Navy – I have come back around and started liking Old Navy again. Their onsies are some of my favorite and I really like their thermals because it’s easy to over their little (or big in my case) head.

Zulily – Even though they love to feature girls clothes 99% of the time, I’ve purchased some great boys clothes that aren’t cheesy (why are boys clothes so cheesy?!).

Gilt – While this site can be rather expensive, I’ve found a couple things that I MUST have.

Toys

- Play Gym I have admit, they look pretty terrible, but baby boy LOVES his play gym. We have the one where he can kick the keys with his feet and he gets down on it. No matter what you buy, I suggest that it has a mirror. Babies just LOVE to look at their selves!

Fisher-Price Discover 'n Grow Kick and Play Piano Gym

- Manhattan Toy – We have the mobile, car seat wallpaper, rattle and soft tiles we use for tummy time. He literally cannot keep his eyes off these images.

Manhattan Toy

- Sophie – He loves Sophie so much that we have one in the diaper bag, our house and my parent’s house.

- Rhino Toys Oball – Easy to grip for those tiny baby hands.

- Bumbo – get it from Craigslist for $15! If you have a big baby, they won’t last it very long.

- Jumperoo – Louis is crazy about this toy. It takes up a lot of space, but he goes NUTS jumping for long periods of time.

Jumperoo

**Breastfeeding Must Haves

Nipple Cream

There was one point where if this was the only product I owned, I would have been happy. I suggest a tube for upstairs and downstairs. You’re going to need it! Since you’ll only need it for 2-3 weeks, Dr. Oz suggests using Lanolin as Chap Stick because it doesn’t slow the regrowth of skin cells like typical lip gloss.

Gel Pads

Just make sure you have 2-3 sets on hand. Trust me. J

Nursing Bra & Breast Pads

Get used to wearing these every day for as long as you nurse (or at least to sleep). I have 3 nursing bras that are triangle tops that just slide over (Motherhood Maternity Brand) and 4 nursing tanks (although 2 are too small).

It’s also easiest to nurse around the house in v-neck tops. American Apparel has a nice deep V that I like (previously owned) and Gap Body has deep v-necks with buttons on the front (and often discounted).

Pump

My midwife told me that the Hygeia breastpump is the only one on the market that allows you to use it through multiple children. All other pumps will degrade after what I would assume is a year of use. I personally have the Medela Pump in Style and will be doing research before child #2 to figure out if I need to buy a new one (and will because pumping is hard enough, I want to make sure mine is up to standards).

During a recent conference, I bonded with other pumping moms and they exposed me to a couple different pumps. One friend had a Medela Free Style, which I was really jealous of because I feel like I’m attached to my pump. Another friend is nursing until her child naturally weans herself and bought a hospital grade pump from ebay.

After working for a month or two, I realized I needed a hand pump as well. What do you do if you’re out at dinner for a couple hours? Bring your entire pump and plug in in the restroom? No, use your hand pump just to take off the pressure and do a proper pump when you get home. I’ve also used it on a 4 hour plane ride…and many, many other odd places.

Pump Accessories

Your pump will likely come with four 5oz bottles and 2 valves. Here are the items I need to make pumping easier:

-       At least 4-6 extra bottles & 2 extra valves of whatever brand your pump is

-       Extra bottles to pump in so you’re not washing 24/7

-       Hands free Breastpump Bra so you can multitask at work

-       A place for your wet bottles

-       Cleaning your bottles

-        If you’re a traveling mom, you’ll pull your pump parts out in lots of gross places (aka, airport bathrooms). I bought a small, planet wise wet bag to store my flanges instead of putting them directly in my pump bag.

Milk Holders

If you’re an over producer AND have a small freezer/fridge, you need a way to better store your milk. Trust me, I’ve tried to avoid products like this, but they are a life saver. Try to see if you have someone who will let you borrow!

- The First Years Breastflow Milk Storage Organizer – If you have 100+ oz of frozen milk in your freezer, this helps stack them properly. I went months without one and am SO THANKFUL a friend let me borrow hers.

- Mother’s Milkmate Breast Milk Storage Rack – I’ve never actually seen this product until today, but if I wasn’t 5 months away from not bfing any longer, I would buy this. My husband yells at me to freeze the milk because it starts to take over the fridge if there are too many bottles. Yes, we will have 10+ bottles of milk sometimes.

If you are an over producer, please consider donating your milk to a local milk bank or a swap program. Two local sites in Indy are Eats On Feets or Human Milk 4 Human Babies. Since I travel, I’ve used a lot of my frozen milk, but I’m thrilled to say I’m making my first donation at 7 months!

Bottles

One of the main mistakes I made when registering is putting a couple different bottles on my list without consideration of what is best for breastfeeding. We now have a nice set of bottles that may never be used because the flow is too fast or the nipple isn’t right.

If you are going to put some on your list I would suggest Tommee Tippee or Dr. Brown. If you’re breastfeeding, you want the flow of your bottle nipple to be very slow or nonexistent. You can test your nipples by filling them with water and turning them upside down. This way your baby will continue to work for the milk like he or she does at the breast.

**Update: My Tommee Tippee nipples have started to flow faster than the baby likes. We’re not sure if it’s from washing, boiling or something like that. We’ve started trying the nipples that came with the Medela pump.

Nursing Cover

If I was to do it all over again, I would NOT register for a hooter hider and instead register for the Aden and Anais swaddles (well, I did but nobody got them for me so I bought them myself). These are super light and swaddle nicely since they are so big. I used them early on as covers when I was nursing, will probably again but realized they are LARGER than my hooter hider and have more purposes:

http://www.adenandanais.com/learn/howtoswaddle.aspx (go to the part where it says “how to use as a multi-use blanket”).

We don’t use them as much as we did the first month but mainly because he needs to be Velcroed in a regular swaddle, but will probably break them out in the summer again.

Fun Links:

Nursing Mom Wear

Mama Natural Registry List (found this when my babe was 4 months old and use almost everything she suggested)

Another Useful Registry List

Yet ANOTHER List

Newborn List & List for babies 2-3 Months

I think this list is funny because it’s all the items Louis hates (except that blanket – those are our favorite). This is one of the reasons people try everything! Babies are very particular.

The best list ever of what to register for from real moms

Another list broken down by time frames

My cloth diaper review

Maternity Wear:

  • Blazers/jackets/cardigans – non maternity items
  • Jeans – Old Navy & Gap Maternity (I had to buy new jeans every couple months)
  • Tshirts & knit tops – Old Navy (believe it or not, their stuff is pretty good)
  • Tanks – Target (Liz Lang or whatever) & old navy. In fact, I still wear all my maternity tanks to this day (have one on now).
  • Splurge (really good quality items) – Isabella Oliver (some of the only tops that took me from 20 to 40 weeks) & Nordstrom (dresses for weddings and onsites)
  • Destination Maternity – but very few items, that place is too expensive for the quality
  • I also did a little shopping in Chicago. And I had a fair amount of hand me downs.

I spent a little too much money on maternity clothes mainly because dressing well made me feel good. I struggled with being pregnant and it’s the little things that help (me anyway).

Natural Birth Resources

I had a recent request for what I used when I interviewed my midwife, so this post will be dedicated to my top labor resources. Also, I know SO MUCH MORE now than I did during that time. It’s a shame you can’t go through birth class before you pick your provider.

**This was actually written a couple months before I gave birth in early October of 2011. Unfortunately after 12 hours of active labor I was unable to have the natural birth I prepared for. Luckily, I avoided a c-section.

It’s also worth noting that I received the list of midwives to interview from a local Le Leche League chapter.

Blogs: Not that I suggest that you get all your educated information from blogs, but I find these pretty educated and informative.

Banned from Baby Showers – this woman is a Bradley Method instructor and posts information that I find informative. When I first got pregnant, the reason why I pick St. Vincent to deliver is because it was close to my house. Huge mistake.  This is one of many posts of what to NOT do.

The Feminist Breeder – She had a recent VBAC home birth and LIVE BLOGGED while it was going on (ok, someone else did the blogging, but it was cool to see).

That Wife – I can’t say I’m a fan of hers, but she documented every part of her home birth, midwife visits, interviews, etc, etc. I would use the link I listed to avoid the crap and just read the birth stuff (it starts on page 6 and click “newer entries” at the bottom which will start you from oldest to newest).

Books:

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth-This is the book that helped me finally realize the path I was currently on wasn’t right for me. Ina made me feel powerful and gave me the confidence that I can deliver naturally.  I actually might read it again before my due date.

Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods– This book helped me get over the “omg, I can’t do ANYTHING” feeling early on in my pregnancy. She’s also a natural birth advocate.

Mayo Clinic’s Guide for a Healthy Pregnancy – I chose not to read “what to expect when expecting” book for many reasons, but mainly because it’s more of a troubleshooting guide of “is this normal” at the reading level of a third grader. Here is an interesting NPR article of the book.

Facebook:

If you’re interested in natural birth, follow “The Bradley Method of Childbirth” because they post some great articles. Some of my favorites include:

NPR:

Right now NPR is doing a special series of “Beginnings: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Beyond” which is proving to be very informative.

The Baby Project: This summer they picked 10ish people to blog about their last month of pregnancy, child birth and first month of life with baby. I like these birth stories because then you can say, “yes, I want that” Or “no, not that” or most importantly, “how can I avoid that?” For example, if you want to have a natural childbirth, I firmly believe avoiding Pitocin is the first step. Your contractions will be harder, faster and hurt more with this drug (I’m happy to talk about why, if you REALLY want to know) and will probably drive you to an epidural.

Podcasts:

 Pregtastic: I L-O-V-E these!

  • Here is a nice post of some informative sessions worth listening to.
  • If you’re looking to create questions for your OB/midwife or pick a birthing method (Bradley is what I did) check out the “birthing options” section of the main page.
  • Even if you’re not planning a homebirth, but want to go natural, I still suggest understanding midwives processes so you can ask your OB what their stand is on it (for example, cutting the cord after it’s done pulsating instead of right away).

Movies:

The Business of Being Born: This movie is pretty one sided, but if you’re interested in the specifics of why early intervention has higher chances of leading to a C-section, it’s totally worth a watch. I’ve watched it twice and saw completely different stats each time.

  • Suggestion: Watch it the first time BEFORE you’re pregnant. It might be too overwhelming when you first find out…so much info at one time.

Babies: Women in Africa wipe their baby’s poopy butt with their knee. Whatever it is that you’re doing, it will be fine.

My Midwife Questions: I got a lot of my questions from “That Wife Blog”. To be honest, I wished I was a little more educated before the interview, although these really helped me get a feel for the two midwives I interviewed. I only asked about 3 questions to my OB before I knew she wasn’t the right provider (and that’s all we had time for because she made me wait for 45 mins, ironically enough).

-          Am I allowed to see stats from your practice?

-          How many births do you attend per month?

-          How long is the average prenatal appointment? What does that schedule look like?

-          Can I call at any time with questions?

-          Do you let us do whatever we want during labor? (Food, positions, water, privacy for intimate time with my husband, etc.)

-          Do you have guidelines or restrictions about who can give birth at home?

-          Non-emergency transfer rate?

-          If I transfer, how long will you stay with me at the hospital?

-          C-Section Rate?

-          Episiotomy rate? Do you stitch onsite after birth if i tear?

-          Do you attend breech births?

-          Augmentations used to initiate or during labor?

-          Do you wait until the cord has stopped pulsating before it gets cut?

-          How much time do you allow for the delivery of the placenta? What methods do you use to encourage delivery of the placenta if there is a delay?

-          How many attendants will be at the birth?

-          Do you recommend a doula?

-          How long do you stay after the birth? What cleanup do you do?

-          Belief about postdates?

-          What are your guidelines concerning weight gain, nutrition, prenatal vitamins, and exercise?

-          What are your standards for high blood pressure?

-          Require any prenatal tests?

-          Have you ever had to resuscitate a baby?

-          Experience with Bradley Method?

-          Postpartum visit after birth?

-          Do those organizations have any requirements that you must follow in relation to my care?

-          How do you handle post partum hemorrhage?

-          What hospital do you recommend? Assuming mine is corporative, can I use mine?

-          Who is your midwife backup? What are their qualifications?

-          What’s the plan if someone is in labor when I am?

-          Cost, insurance, etc.

-          What happens financially if I end up delivering in a hospital because of complications?

-          For what reasons would you suggest I go to the hospital?

-          Thoughts on natural plateau?

Cloth Diaper Information

Before you read this post, watch this video (or expand under the video and read the contents). It’s why you should cloth diaper – personal reasons, environmental and chemicals. VERY interesting (especially if you have a boy)!

This was written when Louis was 3 months old, updated when he was 5 months old, so our experience is limited but I believe starting out is the hardest part.

3 Months in Cloth

I’m going to try to keep this simple by listing what we purchased, a review, suggestions, how to use and wash.

Cloth Diaper Terminology:

One Size (OS): You might see a diaper with a ton of snaps on it. These diapers are designed to fit your baby until they are out of diapers. We have a couple of these diapers (pocket style) but prefer not to go this route simply because I can’t imagine using the diapers again on baby #2 if baby #1 wore them for 3 years. Although, many people love them.

Prefolds & Diaper Covers: Prefolds are the flat diaper that you will fold and insert into a diaper cover. It will look like this. The prefolds/covers will come in different sizes so you will have to buy larger diapers as the child grows. This is our preferred method of cloth diapering and the cheapest.

Cost: $33 for 1 dozen organic prefold diapers
Cost: $12 – $14 for one diaper cover

See a video of how it works.

Pocket Diapers: The diaper cover has a pocket in which you will stuff the specialized insert (similar to the prefold) inside. The pocket has a fold-over top, so it forms a sort of envelope that keeps the moisture on the inserts away from baby’s skin. We have two of these diapers and while it’s not our preference, there are advantages over the prefold method (reviewed later).

Cost: $17 – $20 for one diaper, insert included

Here is a nice review of the Bumgenius Pocket Diaper

See a video of how it works.

All in One Diapers (AIO): If I was to compare one particular diaper to disposable, it’s the all in one. There is no separate diaper/cover like the ones previously mentioned. If budget is not important to you, 24 of these is easily the way to go. Also, if you have two in diapers this option would be nice because they could wear the same size because these are one size (OS).

Here is a good blog post about all in one diapers

Cost: $24 – $30 per diaper, no diapers/inserts necessary  

I read that you should buy a couple options to try before spending a lot of money on one particular brand – I’m really glad we did this!

If I created “starter kit” of different cloth diapers (with a preference toward the prefold option), here is what I would suggest:

  • 2 dozen Cloth-eez® Organic Prefold Diapers (size small yellow edge): 24 diaper inserts is enough for about two days. Size small should last until your baby reaches 18lbs. Cost: $33 per dozen (x2 = $66)
  • 2 Bummis Super Brite Diaper Cover (8-16bs): After 3 months, this cover is wearing well and hasn’t leaked out his legs. I like this diaper cover because it has a moisture repelling layer on the inside (PUL) which helps moisture from coming out the cover and on to his onsie.  Cost: $12.09 (x2 = $24.18)
  • 2 Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Cloth Diaper Cover: Small (8.5-15 lbs): After 3 months, this cover is wearing well and hasn’t leaked out his legs. This cover does not have that moisture repelling layer (no PUL), but it’s a bit thicker which is nice.  Cost $11.75 (x2 = $23.50)
  • 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap Diaper Cover (size one) Since I noticed some wear and tear on a couple of my Velcro diaper covers, I thought I would try the snap versions. I really like this cover, have noticed it holds up the best, but we like how easy the Velcro is to fasten. I believe snaps would last for more than two kids. Cost: $13.75
  • 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap Diaper Cover (size one): The only reason I’m suggesting this one is because it got such good reviews on Amazon. It did not hold up well for us at all, but the snap version of the same diaper is our favorite. We will use them until he’s 18lbs, but they will not be passed down to our next child. I wonder if our hard water is to blame for the fact it’s a lot more worn than our other covers.  Cost $12.75
  • 2 BumGenius One-Size Cloth Diaper 4.0 – Snap: I’ve already said that I like prefolds, but this is our preferred night option, good for sensitive babies or people who don’t change diapers as often as they should. :) The microfiber wicks away the moisture from your baby’s bottom which is not the case with regular prefolds. I had problems with leaking around month 3 but I believe it’s because it is one size and my baby’s legs might not have been big enough to fill in the holes.  Nevertheless, I think it’s worth trying because SO many people like it and it’s the easiest to use for baby sitters, etc. Cost: $17.95

7 covers & 24 prefold diapers works for almost 2 days, although we typically wash every day.

Total Cost for diapers from 8 – 16 lbs: $158
(Since we’ll have to size up, I’m assuimg I’ll spend around $300 total)

Here is a post for smaller starter kits & Here are another couple options

Cloth Wipes: We love cloth wipes probably more than the cloth diapers. They are thick, durable and we rarely need more than one for a big poop. I made up a little routine for our cloth wipes after some trial and error.

As of month 4, we nixed the diaper warmer because we suspect Louis might have gotten a yeast infection from it. Now, we fill a small bowl of water & a squirt of Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion Concentrate (love that stuff!) and just dip our cloth wipes in the “solution” when we need it. Simple!

I purchased 20 BabyKicks wipes and received 6 wipes for free when I purchased my prefolds from Green Mountain. Some people will cut up old towels, old tshirts or use old wash cloths.

Other Cloth Diaper Accessories

3 Wet Bags (2 Large, 1 Medium): You’ll need a place to those dirty diapers, so I suggest 3 different wet bags. One will always be in the wash with the dirty diapers, so you’ll need a backup. The third one (medium) will go in your diaper bag. I’ve tried a couple brands and highly suggest spending the extra money for Planet Wise because it’s lined and keeps the smell out (for now anyway).

Charlie’s Soap: You can’t use a detergent that is sudsy because it will leave residue on the diapers which will end up making your diapers smell like ammonium (which you’ve pretty much ruined them after that). If you buy the 35 pound bucket it’s only 13 cents per load. We also use the Charlie’s hardwater treatment.

Thirsties Hemp Inserts: We use these extra inserts during the nighttime, but you could use them anytime (long car rides, feeling lazy, etc).

Diaper Sprayer: We haven’t had to use this much yet, but I’m really, really glad I had it after I gave birth. If you are pregnant and have no idea why this would be useful, then someone needs to bring you up to speed about all the fun in your near future. :)

Tips:

- You can use the diaper covers over and over until a big poop sticks to the cover or it becomes damp (if this is the case, I set the cover aside, wait until it drys and use them again). That’s why you only need 6-7 covers for 24 prefold diapers.

- You have to wash the prefold diapers 5 or 6 times to increase their absorbency.

- Don’t use traditional diaper rash creams with cloth diapers. People will use Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Calendula Cream or CJs BUTTer. We use Extra Virgin Coconut Oil after baths and maybe if he’s red in spots. We’ve had a rash problem maybe once or twice.

- Washing diapers is what everyone worries about. Here is a “how to” site. We rinse with cold, wash with warm and rinse again. Once a week we do a full load of just water after the wash to ensure all the detergent is out of the diaper.

- They say you don’t have to rinse off breastmilk poopy diapers, but we do a quick rinse in the utility sink before we throw them in the wash.

- You have to change the diaper every 90 mins – 2 hours. They get wet pretty quick because they don’t have all those chemicals to hold the pee like disposables.

- Sometimes the diaper covers stain. After another wash or two, it comes out pretty well. Considering I’ve had to throw away onises for staining, I’m surprised the diapers don’t stain more.

-  Cloth diapers do not fit as well in pants and onesies will be tighter, quicker. I’m a big fan of Baby Gap’s thermal pants because they stretch and are easy to get off of that big diaper butt!

-  You are supposed to ‘strip’ your diapers if they start to stink. Here is a funny, but true, post of when you should strip. Here is another post about how to strip your diapers. I used a 1.5 teaspoon’s of liquid dish soap, rinsed 3 times with water and on the 4th “rinse” I added 3/4 cup of white vinegar. My diapers weren’t stinky, the only reason I did it is because he grew out of that size and I was packing them up. 

Toasty Baby in Fishers holds Cloth Diapering 101 classes where you can touch and feel the different types of diapers. Classes are free and held on Saturdays and Wednesdays. They are also a retail store where you can buy diapers and accessories (like soap, etc.).

- Changing Times Diaper Service (the only diaper service in Indy) has a deal where if you sign up for 3 months of diaper service, they’ll loan you Newborn Size Bummi covers. This is a great way to get started without the financial commitment of purchasing anything other than the monthly service.

- Jillian’s Drawers has a Changing Diapers, Changing Minds Program where you can try a wide variety of cloth options (AIO’s, OS, prefolds, fitteds, Snappi, pocket, etc.) for $10. Another good low financial commitment option for figuring out what you like before plunking down the money for a huge stash.

What I bought that I didn’t need/like:

1 dozen Cloth-eez® Organic Prefold Diapers (size newborn orange edge): I ended up not using the newborn cloth diapers because he was already too big after birth. We used disposable for the first couple weeks when the belly button was healing. I also have two covers so now that I know what I’m doing, I will try to use them for baby #2.

2 Thirsties Duo Wrap: These covers did not hold up well. I’m not sure if it’s our hard water or the Velcro sticking to the cloth sides during the wash, but they are pilling all over the sizes and holding stains (unlike the others). The Velcro will also come undone while Louie is wearing them (not often though). We will use them until he’s 16/18lbs, but they will not be passed down to our next child. I would read the reviews though to get a second opinion.

Snappi Fastener – We folded the diapers with the fasteners a couple times, but they weren’t as absorbent so we stopped.

Reference Pages & Helpful Blog Posts:

one word to describe an italian greyhound

If I was to describe our new Italian Greyhound (IG) in one word it would be…

Cheeky.

Enzo didn’t even know “sit” when we picked him up 2 months ago. He’s come along way after weeks of training. We now know how to sit, stay, down, come, off, “go home” and the most important – potty.

Enzo and his 135 lbs Neapolitan Mastiff friend, Rocco
Enzo and his 135 lbs Neapolitan Mastiff friend, Rocco

(excuse the flash on that photo!)

There is one thing I’m about 99% sure we can’t train out of him (considering I’ve heard other IG owners complain of the same thing). It’s the food stealing and coffee drinking. He’s SO bad.

He has this thing with food. When a treat comes out he starts shaking because he is just SO excited. Dinner time is literally the best time of the day. He eats his dinner in about 30 seconds flat.

We have him trained to sit somewhere else when we’re eating dinner – he doesn’t beg. But when there is company over, he knows that people leave their plates unsupervised. Look away and you’ll see a sneaky IG running away with your chicken wing. Or the lettuce from your turkey sandwich. Or duck bone. Or half of your grilled cheese sandwich. Or the cheese rind. Never fails.

I’m a firm believer that there is never a dull moment in the home of an IG.

always chilly

always chilly

P.S. No lie, while writing this post, I got up from the chair when Enzo was asleep and when I came back 45 seconds later, he was drinking my coffee.

coat closet makeover

Last winter I put up with it. This winter, with the addition of a new dog, I couldn’t tolerate it any longer. We had to do something about the downstairs coat closet.

Just a quick story of how terrible the closet setup was – last winter I was looking for my welly’s that were in a reusable grocery bag. I yelled at That Guy for losing them somewhere (I’m SURE it was his fault, right?) and looked EVERYWHERE. One day in the spring, I cleaned out the closet and there they were – hanging on a hook, in the back with 3 coats strung over them. Who knows how they got there, but nevertheless, it made me mad.

Fast forward 6ish months and we’re back using the closet everyday for our winter coats. Now we’ve got tons of dog crap to accommodate and I had about enough.

Before…

closet choas

closet chaos

After…

happiness

happiness

Let’s get a little closer…

so efficiant

so efficient

The shelf is just high enough so I can only reach the stuff you see (reason why it’s all up front) but I have to blindly pat to find everything else. Of course, while you’re blindly patting, those things in the front are falling on your head.

organization at its best

organization at its best

I wanted some “pretty” baskets but the white ones shown came in at a cool $8 per while most decorative baskets hovered around the $20 range.

See that white box in the bottom left corner? It’s an old, old security system and we built around.

this is where we store our junk

this is where we store our junk

We’ve got cat scratchers, dog food, an ironing board, vacuum and some dog things that need an explanation.

So, our precious pup can’t “hold it” the entire day while we’re at work. SO, we had to invest in what they call “belly bands” which are pretty much diapers. Inside this belly band, you are supposed to put a maxi pad for extra absorbency. Also, you can see the white towels that go inside his create to soak up what the belly band misses. Ahhh, the glamorous life of an Italian Greyhound owner.

old and improved

old and improved

  Now we get to hide all the embarrassing stuff and we don’t lose our scarves (or our “gumboots” as they say in New Zealand).

Don’t you agree that this was money well spent? I forgot to mention that we now have 15 more inches of hanging space! Now thinking about the upstairs…

more terrible closets

more terrible closets