Mommin’ Ain’t Easy – 12 Things I Never Understood About Moms, Until I Became One

Thank you to threadtank.com for sending me the graphic t-shirts featured in this post.

I became a mama at a ripe 32 years old, and I’m 33 now. I grew up thinking I’d be a young, stay at home mom, but this not-so-young, working mom wouldn’t change a thing about the timeline of my life. The moment Taylor was placed on my chest I felt a deep confirmation that God had been with me through everything I’ve experienced – the light and the dark – and worked all of that together for good. After all, he gave me the honor of raising the most beautiful being I’ve ever met. But, back to being 33…

As a not-so-young-mom, I’ve watched many people and almost all of my girl friends have babies before me. The latter has been a super great advantage because I have these amazing moms to emulate and field my gazillion new mama questions. I also now realize that there were so many things I didn’t quite understand about being a mom, especially a new mom, and how it impacts your decision making that make complete sense to me now that I am one myself.

I get this now.

Here are 12 things I never fully understood about mom life, that I SO get now:

1.Leaving your baby to stay overnight is either out of the question, or really, really {did I say really?} hard to do. I have yet to leave Taylor overnight and it would take a momentous occasion for me to even consider doing so. I’ve already had to say no to several super fun opportunities because I’m just not ready to leave T overnight. Plus, having to bringing and use pump every few hours on an overnight really takes away some of the “fun” element.

2. Going out to dinner with friends with a baby is sometimes more stress than it’s worth. It’s not that we don’t want to get together with friends all the time (like we used to), it’s just that we can’t even be present when we’re trying to manage/wrangle a squirmy baby with a 2 minute attention span and a 7:00 PM bedtime.

3. Being selfish with night and weekend time. As a working mom it’s really hard to give up any of the time you do get to spend with your babe to anything or anyone else, no matter how much you enjoy their company. I ADORE my friends, but I have this thing inside me that feels guilty for spending any more time away from Taylor than I already do during the week.

4. Next level tiredness. Before having a newborn and now an 8 month old going through teething/sleep regression, I thought I understood what being tired felt like too. Since having Taylor I’ve put the coffee creamer away in the dish cupboard, forgotten work deadlines and where I left my keys embarrassingly too often, almost hit a man on a bike coming out of the Whole Food parking lot, and lost my $h*# on my poor husband for the smallest things ever, all on account of being so Mombie-status tired. Sleep deprivation is no joke, and I didn’t understand how impactful it would be.

5. Leaving careers (and salaries!) that took a lot of time and education to achieve to stay home with your babies. I thought I would never consider the SAHM life, and be one of those rockstar professionals who was ready to get back to work following Maternity Leave, especially because I have a job and colleagues I truly enjoy… Well, I’ve pined to be home with my baby girl since my first day back.

Shoes: Steve Madden // Denim: Vici Dolls // Graphic Tee: Thread Tank

6. Canceling plans last minute or being perpetually late to them. With a baby/kids involved, there are just way too many variables in play (naps, tantrums, mom exhaustion, colds, blowouts, etc.). As much as I value being reliable and on time, my schedule is not only my own anymore and I’m thankful for my friends (moms and non-moms) who just get it.

7. Not answering texts or voicemails until days later, or at all.  Whereas I used to be a pretty insta-responder, I’m now totally guilty of this. I used to think there was no excuse for this, but you guys, “mom brain” is real.

8. Hiring a part time nanny as a stay at home mom. I don’t have any friends who have actually done this and I’m not planning to anytime soon,  but I definitely wouldn’t judge anyone who did. I actually find that it’s harder to get anything done or squeeze in a little “me time” on days I’m at home. On work days, at least I know I’ll have 20 minutes of solitude and podcast listening on my commute whereas stay at home mom rarely get any alone time to recharge (God bless you sweet SAHMs!). I now totally understand why, if you could afford to, a stay or work at home mom would hire a nanny and can see how that would allow for more balance/”me time”.

9. The desire to “Twin”. I seriously thought this was the most ridiculous concept ever. Then I had an adorable little mini-me (I also always hated that phrase, and kinda still do) and now I can’t stop looking for the perfect twinning get ups.

Mama Bear Baseball Tee: Thread Tank // Headband: KRZA // Re-growth: Me

Taylor’s Baseball Tee: American Apparel (sold out on their site, but I found it on Amazon)

10. Persevering with breastfeeding. I thought, ‘if it’s hard, why not just give up and switch to formula immediately?’ Well, now that I’m a mom and find myself still pumping/scheduling/sterilizing/worrying about supply/etc. after being back to work for 5+ months in order to continue breastfeeding my 8 month old, I so get it. It’s not easy,  but I’ve made the choice to do everything I can to make it work until it doesn’t anymore. That connection is something I’m not ready to let go of yet, and I hope I won’t have to anytime soon.

11. Pinterest. I was a casual Pinterester pre-Taylor, but literally the day after she was born I started curating all kinds of baby related boards with the best information and articles I could find. I spent hour upon hour reading from Pinterest during those round the clock newborn nursing sessions. Follow me at Taylormademama and save yourself a ton of time and research.

12. The crazy-making,heart-changing, life-altering love for a child. I didn’t understand how much my heart could expand to even try to contain the love I have for my daughter. I would give anything to and do anything for her, and I’m sure I’ll make some crazy mama bear moves with her at the front of my mind.

And, mama, give yourself huge kudos and extra grace because Mommin’ ain’t an easy gig, but it’s the best one around.

Can you relate to any of my “now I get its”? What is something you didn’t understand about mom life until you became one yourself? I’d love if you would leave me a comment and let me know!

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Easy Monkey Bread Mini Recipe

This is a recipe my college roommates and I made entirely too often, back in the days when my metabolism was still moving at lightening speed (thank goodness). Flash forward way more than 10 years and I’m still enjoying this tried and true, easy-peasy recipe. I’ve made this Monkey Bread for my immediate family every year on Christmas morning as the recipe became and instant favorite and tradition When my husband came into the picture, he too fell in love with the tradition of Christmas Morning Monkey Bread; we even made it a couple years ago when we vacationed in Hawaii for Christmas – how’s that for a Mele Kalikimaka! In college, we would throw all the cinnamon-sugar coated dough into a bundt pan, bake and go at a massive pile of pull-apart yumminess with no regard for calories. However, in my post-college years – trying to limit my own intake jusssst a little, I started to make a mini version of this Monkey Bread using a muffin tin. Although my attempts to portion control almost always fail – it’s way too good to have just one -the presentation is super cute, the mini versions are perfect to serve to guests on individual plates.

AJ and I enjoyed the round of monkey bread yielded from the making of this post immensely, and even let Taylor have a little taste of cinnamon sugar. I can’t wait for her to be old enough to fully partake in this tradition with us! I hope you enjoy this quick, easy and delicious recipe for years to come as well.

 

Easy Monkey Bread Minis

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 cans refrigerated biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury Grands)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Melt butter and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan on low, stirring regularly.

  3. In a wide bowl, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.

  4. Cut biscuits into 6 pieces each.

  5. Roll the biscuit pieces in the cinnamon sugar until thoroughly coated.

  6. Place 5-6 biscuit pieces into each muffin tray cup (if you’re smarter than me you’ll remember to put foil liners in first!)

  7. Spoon or pour 1 teaspoon butter/brown sugar mixture on top of each cup.

  8. Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes, or until done.

  9. Let cool for several minutes, serve and enjoy!

What are your favorite, traditional family recipes and treats around the holidays?

Foil liners on sale:

Bath Time With Baby (featuring IncrediBundles.com)

CONTEST CLOSED 12/22/2016

Make sure to enter the IncrediBundles $50 Gift Card GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post!

I can’t be the only new mom to worry about giving my baby that very first bath, right?

I remember being totally freaked out about giving T her first real bath, especially about her slipping into the water or not having the temperature just right. We gave her sponge baths only until her umbilical cord fell off at 9 days old, and then it was game on! The first tub we used was by 4Moms for infants only and it was awesome- it definitely addressed my fears with a built in temperature gauge and a slip-proof surface, to highlight a few features. I only wish she hadn’t grown out of it so quickly. Now that she is bigger (8 months and 28 inches), we give her baths in this tub by Primo which has the perfect amount of room for her to splash and play. However, I missed having the safety feature of the built in temperature gauge.

A shower caddy makes it easy to set up for bath time at any sink or tub.

Recently, I was introduced to a gift service for babies called IncrediBundles. It’s basically a modern twist on the traditional baby gift basket. It’s a little like Baby Bin, which I reviewed in this post, but I have to say I think IncrediBundles is even better service when it comes to package options and gifting! They have a huge range of gift packages grouped by age range (0-3, 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12 months) and you can opt for toys, sleep related items, organic products, books, bath items or even diapers for your bundle. The bundle items arrive in an adorable reusable storage box (currently re-purposed as a toy storage box in my living room). I also like that there is a range in pricing for the bundles, to suit what you’re willing to spend on a gift or bundle for your own babe. One of the more pricey items IncrediBundles.com offers is a subscription wherein a gift bundle arrives every 3 months filled with diapers, age appropriate books or toys designed for the baby’s developmental stage.  If I would have known about this sooner, I would have signed Taylor up for the book subscription, but at this point her library is already inundated! How fun would it be to receive a book box every few months? I am definitely a sucker for having things delivered to me (thank you Amazon Prime and Door Dash!)

A year’s worth of books sent every 3 months.

 An IncrediBundles baby bundle would make a GREAT Christmas gift for your baby or a grandchild, niece, nephew or friend’s baby! IncrediBundles.com also makes a donation to children in need with every purchase – so it’s also a wonderful opportunity to give back during the Holiday season.

The Learn and Grow bundle would make a great gift.
The bundle items are sent in the cutest re-usable box.

For T’s first IncrediBundle I chose the Standard Bath Bundle which included the following items:

  1. Baby Health & Grooming Kit – a 10 piece set with all of baby’s grooming needs (nail file, medicine dropper, brush, teething ring, thermometer,etc.)
  2. Rubber Frog Bath Toy Set – cutest little family of floating frogs (how’s that for alliteration)!
  3. Bathtime bath book, by Sandra Boynton – this is my favorite part of the bundle, and something I didn’t have for T before.
  4. Bath Thermometer and Alarm – Now I’m able to ensure that her bathwater the right temperature (90-100 degrees) with this ingenious (and cute) thermometer which I missed having once T outgrew her 4Moms tub!
  5. Hooded Duck Bath towel – extra upgrade not normally included included in the Standard bundle – thank you for the adorable added bonus item, IncrediBundles!

There is also a Premium and Deluxe version of the bath bundle which includes organic baby body wash, shampoo and lotion. However I passed on those options as we already use the Noodle & Boo Infant Body Wash, Shampoo and Lotion because it is gentle, leaves her skin oh-so soft and smells absolutely AMAZING.
Noodle & Boo, LLC

Before giving T that first bath, I remember watching a bunch of YouTube videos on “how to give the perfect first bath”. Guess what I discovered? Well, as it is with almost everything baby, there are hundreds of different routines and ways of doing things.  I’m a true believer in listening to the advice of others and doing your own research, but ultimately doing what works best for YOU and YOUR baby. For instance, I know a lot of moms who incorporate bath time and massage before bed, which sounds super schedule-friendly and relaxing. However, I learned/observed that my baby gets stimulated and energized by bath time which serves the opposite purpose of helping her winding down – I learned this the hard way!  

With that said, here are the steps we take for Taylor’s bath featuring the contents of her first IncrediBundle:

1.Run the bath water using the thermometer to make sure the temperature is just right.

2. Give her bath toys and bath book to play with.

3. Use a washcloth (I love these super soft ones by Spa Silk) to wipe the her face only, and Q-tips for her ears. I support/spot her body with one hand/arm and use the other to wash. When T was a newborn and ultra sensitive, I swiped her eyes with cotton rounds. Then, I use that same washcloth to wash her body, making sure to get into all of those adorable little folds! I use a third, clean washcloth to wash her most sensitive parts.

4. Shampoo her hair and rinse with a cup like this one, by leaning her back in the tub so that the water runs off the back of her head. Must be nice : )

She LOVED her new frog friends.

5. Drain the bath into the sink while running clean water to rinse her off (keeping an eye on that thermometer!), while she gets in her last few minutes of play time.

6. Wrap her up immediately in a hooded towel to keep warm and dry off.

My little ducky.

7. Trim/file her nails and brush her hair, now with items from the grooming kit which I can keep in her bath caddy.

8. Massage with lotion or oil (this one with chamomile & argan oil is my fav) before diapering and putting her into pajamas or her outfit.

Thank you to IncrediBundles for the amazing Bath Bundles Gift Box – Taylor’s bath time is now even more safe and enjoyable!

What are your favorite baby bath time routines and products? Let me know in the comments section!

GIVEAWAY (CLOSED 12/22/2016)

IncrediBundles.com is graciously offering one lucky reader the chance to win a $50 gift card. You could use this to purchase your own Bath Bundle, or to go toward a last minute Christmas gift for your babe or for a niece/nephew/friend’s baby. IncrediBundles offers free shipping with a purchase of $49 or more, so you won’t even have to pay shipping fees!

Enter below for your chance to win. Giveaway closes at 12:00 am EST on December 22nd, 2016.

Open to US residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Good luck mama!

This post contains some Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. If you purchase through one of my affiliate links, thank you!


Baby Girl’s First Christmas Gift Guide

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All the opinions are 100% mine. If you use a link to purchase an item you like too, thank you!

A baby’s first Christmas is such a special time and even though they won’t remember it, you will treasure the memories for the rest of your life. Picking out a few special gifts (and giving Grandparents the opportunity to spoil your babe with all the rest) is just one of the wonderful traditions of Christmas, like picking out the perfect 1st Christmas dress or starting an Advent calendar countdown as a family.  For Taylor’s first Christmas (she’ll be 8.5 months) I wanted to get her a few practical stocking stuffers, a couple toys she can enjoy right away, a few that she’ll grow into in the next several months and one special/sentimental gift she’ll appreciate at some point later. This gift guide includes gifts I have purchased for Taylor, gift suggestions I’ve given to her grandparents, and a few extra ideas I think would be extra special for your little darling’s first holiday. I’m hoping you find some last minute baby girl gift inspiration for your or a friend’s sweet baby girl.

P.S. If you still have some shopping to do for your hubs (or brother, BroFF, etc.), check out my Holiday Gift Guide For Him.

  1. Winter sweater
  2. Converse Allstars – I asked my hubby to get me an adult pair – twinning for the win!
  3. Musical instrument set 
  4. 14K Gold bangle – this is super special gift that can be passed down from generation to generation. There is a less expensive version here.
  5. Alphabet puzzle 
  6. Animal rocker 
  7. Activity cube
  8. Bonds Wondersuits – seriously, I cannot get enough of these for Taylor – she lives in them and has since she was born. Read more about my obsession in this post, and stock up for your babe because they’re 2 for $39 right now.
  9. Personalized arm chair – I love this one because we found a cover color that’s an exact match to our living room sofa.
  10. Wooden baby key set – perfect stocking stuffer!
  11. Bucket of blocks 
  12. Wooden Tooth teether – another aptly sized, and practical stocking stuffer
  13. Baby iPhone – I “accidentally” already gave this to Taylor, and she is LOVING it.
  14. Freshly Picked Moccasins – I bought the style, “Pin the Petal,” but they have a million other cute colors/patterns to choose from. I love that these will have her little footprints embedded in the leather forever!
  15. Christmas Pajamas – we actually have a whole family set of these which you can check out in this post. Right now you can get up to 40% off, while supplies last. Valid 11/7-12/25.
  16. Rainbow stacking tower – or the classic version here!
  17. The Wonderful Things You Will Be – this sweet book has the most beautiful illustrations.
  18. 1st Christmas ornament by Kate Spade

Happy shopping, mama!


Join The Party! Save 25% On Sleighloads of Sleepwear at Hanna Andersson. Valid 11/7-12/25. 300x350

A Busy Mom’s Motivation To Work Out

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Hi Mamas!

I haven’t done a fitness post in a LONG time. That’s mostly because, as much as it used to be my “thing” (e.g. 14 half marathons, competing in CrossFit, wanna-be body building, etc.), since becoming a new mom I’ve been struggling to feel as passionate about working out as I have in the past.

past-photo
Pre-preggo/baby, when working out was a top priority and I had free time (what’s that?).

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep (thank you teething/growth spurt/sleep regression/whatever), the minimal time left after trying to be excellent at my job whilst trying to be an excellent new mom (I’m not accomplishing either of those to that standard, FYI), or the general discomfort I feel when I actually do work out, but I’ve been cutting myself a break in the workout department these last few months. Now, I haven’t completely fallen off the wagon, as I am still eating relatively healthily (90% of the battle) and making sure I am active in some form 3-4 days per week which usually consists of a gym workout once or twice, a few walks, and lots of planks and push-ups during crime show commercials after Taylor has gone to sleep…

All that to say that I worked out Sunday night after a really long week (I think I slept a cumulative 21 hours, and I say “think” because I barely can…) and during my warm up thought through the reasons why I continue to make fitness a part of my life even when I don’t feel like doing so. This thinking got me re-motivated and I wanted to share that with you in case you were feeling as lackluster about fitness as I was. It’s easy to want to put it on the back burner, or even give it up entirely, when we’re SO busy as moms trying to do “it all,” but there are many valuable reasons -both physical and mental – to persevere and find some time to move.

At this stage in my life as a new, working away from the home mom, these are the reasons that motivate me to work out, in no particular order:

  1. A clear mind – as moms we have SO many “to dos” running through our minds at all times. For me, working out is the space where I permit myself to turn all of that off and tune in only to what I’m doing physically. Even if it’s a few rounds of 1 minute plank holds (which, by the way, are infinitely harder after childbirth) giving my neurotic mind a mini-break is well worth the effort. If you need one reason to workout, let this be the one.
  2. Alone time – aside from driving in my car to and from work, one of the only times I am alone is when I go for a workout. We have a gym in our garage, but I find that I crave going to the actual brick and mortar gym – it’s so tempting to cut my workout short when I know my precious baby is just a few steps beyond my garage door whereas if I’ve driven to the gym I’ll usually put in at least 45 minutes. As much as I love being with my family, I also need to have time where I don’t have to interact with anyone in the world; As an introvert, this time is integral to my feeling balanced and refreshed. Any other introvert mamas out there who relate?
  3. A confidence boost – when I’m working out consistently I definitely keep my shoulders more square and hold my head a little higher. Working toward a goal – whether strength or aesthetic – makes me feel really good about myself. If you work out consistently, you know what I mean. If you haven’t given yourself this gift, you certainly deserve to.
  4. Endorphins – when we exercise, our bodies release these amazing, feel- good hormones that can be just as addicting as any other vice; I got hooked in high school and haven’t been able to quit them since! I find that, even on sleep deprived nights like last night, no matter how tired I am if I can just motivate myself to move – go for a jog, a short but intense workout, etc. – I get an instant mood and energy lift. Who couldn’t use a little more of that in their life?
  5. Getting my “body back” – as much as that phrase irritates me, and I think that all moms (and women) are beautiful no matter what their physical state, I honestly do want to get back into fighting shape eventually. For each mama getting your “body back” looks a little different, but I go by the mantra that the ideal weight/shape is whatever you reach when you are living the healthiest life you actually enjoy living; I’m sure this will look different for me at this stage in my life than it has in the past, and than it may look in the future. The most important motivator is that physical strength & ability translates into mental fortitude – which I for one can always use an extra dose of!

Why do you work out? What is motivating to you to keep moving and take care of yourself physically? If you don’t already, do any of these reasons make you consider incorporating workouts into your (busy) life? Leave a comment and let me know!

Here are a couple of the workouts I’ve done lately, at home and at the gym. If you’re looking for ideas, Pin these for when you find time in the coming weeks:

home-workout

gym-workout

xo, Ashley (1)


5-reasons-to-work-out

An Interview with Lactation Consultant, Shanon Tipton

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Hi Mamas!

I have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview with a wonderful friend and person who also happens to be a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Shanon Tipton. I’ve known Shanon for 5+ years now (we met through CrossFit actually!) and not only is she salt of the earth and the most fit mama I know (seriously, it’s insane), but she is also really, really knowledgable about all things breastfeeding and babies. I’m so excited for you to get to know her too and benefit from her wealth of knowledge as much as I have.

My daughter Taylor was born on April 15th, and we had her first wellness check in appointment at the hospital on April 16th.  Who was our Charge Nurse/Lactation Consultant in the Pediatric Clinic, completely by coincidence divine intervention? Shanon! What a huge blessing she was to me that day and the weeks that followed. To be honest, I was a complete emotional mess at that appointment – like literally could not stop crying because, hormones – and was so stressed over breastfeeding. First of all, nursing was SUPER painful, and secondly I was incredibly anxious to make sure my milk came in. Looking back, I put so much pressure on myself to have everything all figured out and it freaked me out to not know what on earth I was doing as a mom. Shanon calmed and reassured me that day, and I was able to text her so many questions in the subsequent days that made all the difference in establishing the breastfeeding relationship I so wanted with my baby girl – from what I know, stress is NOT a milk supply booster! I’ve been breastfeeding now for 7.5 months while working outside the home, with (for the most part) success! Check out my top 10 must haves for breastfeeding here and how I built up a breastmilk freezer stash while I was still on maternity leave. 

Okay, okay I’m sure you’re thinking, “get to the good stuff already!” so without further ado, here is my interview with Lactation Consultant, Shanon Tipton:

Hi Shanon! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for my readers and I. I would love if you could start by telling us a little bit about you:

Cheers and congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby! My name is Shanon Tipton, and I am a Registered Nurse, Fitness Coach, and Internationally Certified Lactation Consultant. I am very excited to share my passion for breastfeeding with you! But first, a little bit about me and my background. I am a wife and proud mother of three beautiful children. For 15 years, I worked as a Registered Nurse in Labor and Delivery helping to bring new life to the world and assisting moms with breastfeeding in the early hours postpartum. Recently, I’ve transitioned to a Pediatric Clinic where I function as a Charge Nurse and Lactation Consultant. I also earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Physiology and have the gratifying opportunity to work with personal clients as a Fitness Coach. As a competitive athlete, mother and wife, I understand the unique challenges parents face as they learn to juggle and prioritize the demands of family, work and personal life.

bclc
Shanon and her 3 breastfed babies.

What made you decide to become a lactation consultant?

My personal breastfeeding experience began twenty-one years ago with the birth of my daughter Madysn. I was a young, semi-naive, new mommy, unfamiliar with the resources available to support my desire to breastfeed my baby. I remember well the frustration at two days postpartum when my milk had not yet come in, holding a screaming, inconsolable baby. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. I was delirious from sleep deprivation and desperate for relief. That relief came in the form of a Lactation Consultant, who came to my home. I attribute my three year breastfeeding relationship with my daughter, as well as the two children who followed, to the patient and gentle guidance of this wonderful woman. It is my positive and gratifying personal experiences with breastfeeding that fueled my motivation and commitment to obtain my IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

The most gratifying aspect of my job is assisting and supporting parents in developing a positive breastfeeding relationship with their beautiful baby. In my clinic, I have the opportunity to consult with families from 2-5 days postpartum. It’s such a fragile time. Some lucky moms are already on their way to successful breastfeeding. Others are still in the trenches of sleep deprivation, discomfort from delivery, low milk supply and latch issues. My focus is assessing and developing a feeding plan specific to each family and baby’s needs and clinical picture, providing tools and education that can be taken from the clinic into the home. It’s so fun seeing my thriving patients weeks and months later with happy parents in tow!

top-three-breastfeeding-tips

If you could give your top 3 tips for nursing moms to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship, what would they be?

My top 3 tips for nursing moms in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship:

1) Be patient and consistent. Establishing a robust milk supply takes time, and learning to achieve a good latch with each feed takes practice.

2) Sleep and nutrition are vitally important during these first few weeks. Eat well, sleep when your baby sleeps, and keep that cute baby close to you. Skin to skin contact will do wonders for your milk supply, as well as yours and your baby’s emotional well-being.

3) Be kind and gentle with yourself. Contrary to what we may hear, breastfeeding does not always come naturally. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to feel like everything is falling apart. Trust in your abilities as a parent and take comfort in knowing that YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!

Many of my friends & readers are new and/or nursing moms. They had some questions I told them I would ask on their behalf when I got the opportunity to interview you:

“Is there a secret to keeping your milk up during a growth spurt?”

One of the many wonderful things about breastfeeding, is that it takes the guesswork out of figuring how much milk your baby needs to grow and thrive. Milk is produced on a supply and demand basis, which means that when the baby enters a growth spurt, your body adjusts naturally by increasing milk production and even changing the composition of your breast milk. Most mommies have sufficient lactation capacity to synthesize at least one-third more milk than their baby typically takes! How great and miraculous is that?!

“I started pumping right away for about 10 min after each feeding. I also had an oversupply. Would that be correlated to my pumping or do some mommas just naturally have an oversupply?”

Some women make far more milk than their baby can comfortably accommodate, which can almost be as big a problem as not making enough milk. Often times this may be a “baby problem” rather than primarily a “maternal problem”. Some babies take a little more time learning to coordinate their “suckle-swallow-breathe”. Fortunately, overproduction problems diminish as the supply and demand mechanism adjusts itself and baby’s coordination improves…about 6-8 weeks post birth. This is also about the amount of time it takes for mom’s milk supply to regulate itself to what baby takes. As far as early pumping and oversupply, my recommendations are as follows…..for moms who experience a delay in lactogenesis (milk production), and baby is losing weight, it is very beneficial to first latch baby effectively to the breast on cue, followed by 5-10 min of pumping on a low setting for additional breast stimulation. Once mom’s milk “comes in” however, I recommend these management tools…

  • Offer the baby one breast at each feeding, encouraging baby to empty one side. Burp baby and offer the second breast. Start with the second breast at the next feeding.
  • Pump or hand express to relieve engorgement and discomfort carefully, and only enough to relieve distention. Do not empty the breast completely. Apply a cold compress to ease discomfort.
  • Feed your baby on demand. Babies have no concept of time and attempting breast feed on a schedule will only cause frustration in the early weeks of life. Ignore the clock and focus on baby’s feeding cues.
  • Remember….milk is made based on baby’s growth needs. If baby is latching well and seems satisfied following feeding, there’s no real reason to pump afterwards. One less task to worry about!

“How do you wean from a nipple shield and could it be the cause (or part of) my very low and depleting supply?”

There are countless opinions and research articles with regards to nipple shield use. Professionally, I have found them to be extremely beneficial for things like flat/retracted nipples, transitioning babies from bottle to breast, and for babies with weak or disorganized suckles (preterm, neurological problems etc). Personally, the nipple shield kept me from throwing in the towel during the early days postpartum when my nipples felt like they might fall off at any moment. That said, studies show that using a shield can decrease milk intake by about 25%. BUT, if this is the only way baby can latch to the breast,  25% is a pretty good compromise. Extended use of the ultrathin silicon shield has not been shown to be detrimental in any other way. If it’s working, and mom is comfortable with using a shield, by all means don’t change what’s working. However, if mom wishes to eliminate a step in the feeding process, I suggest starting by placing the baby skin-to-skin next to the nipple, starting the feed with the shield and removing it, gradually trying feeds without the shield. Be prepared for some frustration as baby moves through the learning process. With consistency and time, and the absence of anatomical necessity of the shield, baby will be able to latch directly to the breast.

“How do I prevent clogged milk ducts?”

Clogged milk ducts are typically found in mommies who have a large milk supply who do not adequately drain each breast. You’ll know if you have one because you’ll have a reddened tender area that may be warm to the touch . You may also feel a lump and have a fever. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your OB/GYN for further evaluation as sometimes antibiotics may be needed. However, there are things you can do to help prevent plugged ducts/mastitis:

  • Feed baby regularly on demand. Do not skip feeds!
  • Make sure you’re wearing a non-constricting bra. Take note especially as to how your bra fits under your arm. This is a favorite spot for those ducts to clog. No underwire bras for breastfeeding mamas! Personally, I found great success with sports bras. They are supportive and comfortable without being restrictive, and you can pull your breast out from the top or the bottom.

If you find yourself with a plugged duct, here’s what you can do…

  • Breast feed often. Begin feeding on the affected breast to promote drainage.
  • Massage the breast before and during feeding to stimulate milk flow. I like to use lotion and my thumb.
  • Change baby’s position during feedings to ensure drainage of all the ducts.
  • Avoid all restrictive clothing. Even the straps on a baby carrier can block ducts.
  • Studies have shown that Lecithin, 1600 mg daily, can alleviate and prevent clogged milk ducts.

“My babe is 6 months and didn’t gain too much in the last 2 months. Is there a way to fatten my milk? It used to be so thick and creamy and now it’s like skim milk!”

Believe it or not, the nutritional status of the mother does not appear to affect milk volume unless the mother is malnourished. Babies who are exclusively breastfed have the same or even greater weight gain in the first 3-4 months than do formula-fed babies. After this time, formula fed babies consistently weigh more than breastfed babies. Babies gain weight at different rates, and as long as baby is gaining and not losing, and the pediatrician is happy, it’s safe to relax and not worry if weight gain has slowed a bit. The macronutrient make-up, consistency and appearance of breast milk changes constantly, but hindmilk  always contains at least twice the amount of fat as compared to foremilk. For mommies who are blessed with a large milk supply, it’s important to have baby COMPLETELY empty one breast before moving on to the next. This way, baby gets a full serving of fat at each meal. Unfortunately, the amount and type of fat that Mom eats doesn’t affect the total amount of fat in breastmilk. No amount of pizza and nachos is going to boost the fat content of your breast milk. Rest assured that by aiming to completely empty at least one breast before switching to the second will ensure baby is getting exactly what he needs.

“What would you suggest to boost production for moms who struggle with milk supply?”

Foods and herbs are used in many cultures to increase milk supply. There’s conflicting evidence however as to whether or not “galactagogues” (agents that promote milk production) really work. Regardless, I have many patients and clients use them with great success. My recommendation? Try them, and if you find something that works, great! The list of claimed galactagogues is long, but a few that you can find at places like Whole Foods are shatavari, torbangum, fenugreek tea and milk thistle. Believe it or not, oatmeal seems to be the shining star favorite among my patients. Healthy, tasty, AND a potential galactagogue!

Wow, I feel like I’ve learned SO much from this interview with you, but I know that other mamas out there likely have trouble-shooting and questions we didn’t have time to touch on. So, my last question is, what kind of services do you offer currently, and how could a mama get in touch with you?

Thank-you so much for your questions and for allowing me to share my personal and professional experience with you as you embark on the amazing journey that is breastfeeding. I am currently available for email and telephone consultations, and am also offering my services via text. I can be contacted at nursechata@hotmail.com. I look forward to offering support, education and guidance tailored to you and your baby’s individual needs.

Thank you SO much for sharing your time and expertise with us, Shanon! I know you’ll continue to help mamas across the country to feel more confident and successful in their breastfeeding journeys.

What other breastfeeding related questions do you still have?

xo, Ashley (1)

The Perfect 1st Christmas Dress for Baby

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’m so excited to share Christmas with Taylor this year; there is something even more magical about entering the holiday season now that she is here with us. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, firstly because of the meaning and secondly because of all the wonderful memories I have from this special season growing up. From decorating a gumdrop tree and frosting sugar cookies, to our family Advent calendar, my mom made Christmas truly meaningful and special every year.

Although Taylor won’t remember this year, I still want it to be rich with traditions for our little family. To start, my husband and I haven’t had a Christmas tree in years, but now we’re itching to decorate and enjoy one with Taylor. I know she’ll love looking at all the sparkling lights. I just snagged this Land of Nod Advent Calendar, and I’m hoping it arrives before December first. We’ll spend Christmas morning here at our house as a family of three opening presents, emptying stockings, eating Monkey Bread (can I purée that?) and listening to Christmas music via Spotify. Later in the afternoon, we’ll spend time with our immediate families/the grandparents.

On Christmas Eve we plan to attend church, which could get a little “interesting” on account of the service overlapping with T’s bedtime…. Earlier this month I set out to find the perfect first Christmas dress for Taylor to wear to church, and Janie and Jack came through. Honestly, I don’t buy from Janie and Jack too often because it’s a little pricey for me (although when they’re having a sale, you better believe I’m all over it!), but for a special occasion or staple pieces their style and quality is well worth it. Here are all the details for what is, in my opinion, a perfect 1st Christmas dress and accessories {links to each piece are linked in the titles}:

Dress & Headband:

Shoes & Tights:

The bracelet I wore as a baby.


What were the first Christmas/Holiday traditions you established with your baby? If you’re a new mom like me, what are you looking most forward to about your babe’s first holiday season?

xo, Ashley (1)

Shop Janie and Jack

Holiday Gift Guide – For Him

Introducing the NEW Exfoliating Peel Spray

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All recommendations are mine (w/ input from a few men in my life!)

I didn’t discover “gift guides” until recently via Pinterest, and sure could have used them in years past – especially when it came to shopping for my hubby/men in my life!  To create my holiday ‘Gift Guide For Him’, I polled my husband, and solicited suggestions from my friends’ husbands, all who have great taste; You’re sure to find a gift or two from this list that you’ll feel excited to give to the men in your life!

1. Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Speaker // 2. Anthony shave lotion // 3. Wooden phone case // 4. Fitbit (on sale now) // 5. Cocktail Shaker (on sale now) // 6. Billfold (less expensive version here) // 7. Beard oil // 8. Leather toiletry kit // 9. Daddy & Me Converse AllStars // 10. ILY Couture Watch // 11.Herringbone Cuff links // 12. Backpack (Daddy diaper bag) // 13.“Dad” Graphic t-shirt // 14. ILY Couture “Mr. Santa” Mug // 15. Timberland Boots (less expensive version here) 16. Metal collar stays // 17.Wireless in-ear sport headphones // 18. Travel mug (on sale, and 9 colors to choose from) // 19. Watch case (only $12.99) // 20. Beardsman’s Kit  

Have you found any gifts for the men in your family? I’d love to know – I have a few more to shop for this season. Hopefully you’ll snag a few items from this list to spoil your guy!

xo, Ashley (1)

P.S. Thanksgiving is next week! If you need some recipe/meal plan inspiration check out this post and download the free meal planner! Annnnnnd, if you don’t already have a super cheesy cute set of matching family pajamas, check out these from Hanna Andersson – I literally cannot wait to wear ours!

Matching Christmas Pajamas For The Whole Family

I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I’ve become into coordinating, matching, and twinning with my family. I swore I wouldn’t be that mom, but I’m totally owning it.

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Twinning Exhibit A

After getting my husband to agree, although I’m not completely sure he knows what he signed up for, I could not resist ordering Family Matching Pajamas from Hanna Andersson for Christmas morning this year. Stay tuned for epic Christmas morning pictures. I mean, how cute are these?

Is it Christmas morning yet?
Is it Christmas morning yet?

I am posting this today because, today only (11/13/16), you can save 30% off EVERYTHING at Hanna Andersson, including any of their adorable matching Holiday PJs. They were already out of stock on several sizes and patterns when I bought ours, so make sure to get over to Hanna Andersson asap if this is a tradition you have or want to start with your family too!

Here are some of the other Matching Family Pajama patterns I’m dying over:

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I might take advantage of the 30% off sale today and snag a size that will fit Taylor next year so that we don’t have to buy a completely different set for next year. Or maybe we will sport a new family ensemble each year! It’s so fun to start building family holiday traditions.

What are your favorite family holiday traditions? Would you wear matching pajamas like these?

xo, Ashley (1)

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A Mostly Gluten Free Thanksgiving Meal Planner


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Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a couple weeks away? I know every mom always says it repeatedly but, time sure does fly. This time last year I was nearly 5 months pregnant with sweet Taylor, and now she is almost 7 months old. What the what?! For T’s first Thanksgiving we will be hosting a meal for my hubby’s family at our house on the day before Thanksgiving, then going to my parents’ home for the day of. I’m especially looking forward to Thanksgiving this year because we will finally get to meet my sweet little niece, who lives out of state with my brother and sister-in-law. She was born only 3.5 months after Taylor, and I can’t wait to meet/snuggle her and see the cousins interact.

This time last year I was planning to host my first ever Thanksgiving Friendsgiving for my husband, four of our best friends, and their 3 babes. I like to cook but, admittedly, I had only ever really cooked for two up to that point. We also only have one oven in our house. Those two factors combined [oh, and being 5 months preggo and exhausted] made preparing a Thanksgiving meal pretty intimidating. How would I time soooooo many different dishes, oven temps, set ups, etc…?? As I’ve mentioned before, preparation helps me feel more in control when I actually have no clue what I’m doing, so I rounded up the most delicious sounding gluten free recipes I could find and planned out a detailed schedule for the day prior to and day of the meal/event. The food all turned out really well (yeay me for being able to follow someone else’s recipe!), but I definitely had to do some post-game tweaking to the timing piece of the plan. I didn’t give myself enough time and we ended up eating about 45 minutes after I planned to have dinner ready. My best friends each brought a side dish (yams and stuffing) so those items were not originally included on my meal planner – I hope the recipes I’ve selected are close to as delicious as theirs were. Now that my game plan has been refined and the extra side dishes selected, I’m totally hopefully ready for this year’s Thanksgiving meal!

Decor wise, I went a little less traditional last year (think brown + yellow + orange) and chose a burgundy/cream color palette, inspired by the dried purple corn and off-white pumpkins I saw/bought at the market. I am pretty sure that everything on the table, except for the food, is all from Crate & Barrel in case you’re wondering. I’m planning to use the same table set up this year because I loved the look so much. I wish I had taken more pictures last year, but here is one one I could find from my photo archives:

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The rest of the food was to the right, on our serving table.

I thought I would share the plan I used for my 2015 Friendsgiving meal, in case you need some Thanksgiving host-spiration for 2016, or just an extra side dish recipe!

The meal plan/schedule for the day includes:

  1. a grocery shopping list for the full meal (beverages, appetizers, main dishes and dessert)
  2. links to the most delicious gluten free recipes I could find (including a delish signature cocktail and an AH-mazing Martha Stewart salad that I could literally eat for every meal)
  3. prep and cook time for each recipe
  4. start times for each recipe according to oven temp and prep/cook time to ensure your food is hot and ready when you need it to be.

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If you would like a downloadable version of this plan, enter your name and email in the field below and I will send it straight to your email inbox:

Lastly, here is a super cute blog post from Land of Nod on Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Table decor, that includes several free printable activities for kids to do at the table! Taylor is too young this year, but if you have older kiddos perhaps you can use some of these printables to entertain them.

I’m thankful for so much in life, but most of all my sweet baby girl and our family. What are your Thanksgiving plans this year? What are you most thankful for?

xo, Ashley (1)