Weaning After 1 Year of Breastfeeding – A Bittersweet Experience (Featuring Bun Maternity)

This post was sponsored by Bun Maternity, the most comfortable nursing apparel I own! All opinions (and emotions) in this post are 100% mine.

From the outset of this post I want to affirm that every mother has her own personal journey with feeding and then weaning her baby. I believe wholeheartedly that “fed is best” and that every mom should do what is best for she and her baby. We each “mom” our own way, and I’m just here to share mine.  

My experience with weaning after one year of breastfeeding:

Before having Taylor, and even while I was pregnant, I was actually kind of uncomfortable with the whole concept of breastfeeding. I saw posts of mothers nursing their babies on social media with hashtags like “#normalizebreastfeeding” and I couldn’t imagine that being me. I didn’t think I wanted that experience. I read about the health and bonding benefits and felt,  if it were possible for me to provide that for her, that I wanted to do so. Despite my discomfort and questioning on the outset, I made a commitment to breastfeed Taylor for as long as it was possible for me to do so, and for as long as she showed interest.

From the first moment she was laid on my chest, I understood that this is what I was made to do for her and all my previous discomfort (mental, not physical, because that i$h HURT the first 6 weeks!) melted away as a bond I can never put words to began.

Flash forward 354 days and our sacred, stressful, beautiful, and at times even painful journey with nursing has come to an end. To be honest, there is a sadness that’s come over me which started during the last couple weeks of our weaning process. I didn’t recognize the “down” feeling I had as being connected at first; For so long, I had been thinking of all the positives that would come along with being done with nursing (freedom!), but there it was. I didn’t understand how to go about the whole weaning process, so we kind of just started… Right away I saw that she was ready physically and emotionally and, even though I thought I would be, I wasn’t so much. From start to finish weaning lasted less than 3 weeks for us. I cradled her to me in the wee hours of our last morning and tears streamed down my cheeks as I felt her little body relax and flashes of the thousands of times I held, comforted and nourished her in this way passed through my mind.

Bittersweet. That’s the best word to summarize how I feel about the nursing chapter of my relationship with Taylor coming to a close. Bitter: a feeling of loss of something special between just she and I, and missing the baby that I can’t expect to stay small forever.  Sweet: a sense of freedom, pride in (barely) making it this far, and gaining back time in the day and my body as my own.

Taylor reaped benefits from nearly twelve months of breastfeeding but, unexpectedly, it was also the best thing for me.  My days at home and work were planned around when to nurse or pump. Although (very) frustrating at times, this broke my selfishness and gave me a sense of connection to her even when I was at work – both were things I needed. Although the emotional bond still remains, the end of breastfeeding is a loss of a connection between a mother and child that will never be there again. That’s hard to let go of, and just another sign that my baby is growing up right before my eyes. However, I know that just because she needs me less physically, does not mean she needs less of me. Even though I now have my body back to myself, I will still be 100% there for her in whatever ways she needs me now.

Bun Maternity – Perfect Apparel for Breastfeeding & Beyond

Mirroring the bond that carries over from breastfeeding to independence, the clothing I have from Bun Maternity are also pieces I can continue to wear beyond my breastfeeding days. Bun Maternity has the most stylish, comfortable and convenient, nursing friendly  apparel I’ve come across. I only wish I had known about this clothing line sooner. I’m sure I’ll be stocking up when (if we are so lucky) Taylor gets a sibling… Bun Maternity is affordable anyway, but they also offer FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more, and right now you can save 15% on orders over $50 using code SWEET15.

The design and versatility of these ponchos, hoodies, wraps, tees and tanks make it really easy to incorporate breastfeeding easily at any time. No one would guess that these are nursing tops. Plus, they are super comfy and soft, which are musts for me. The three pieces I own are fantastic for times when we’re on the go and I’ve needed to discreetly nurse in public – shopping, going out to eat, rushing back from the gym to a hungry baby, etc. 

So Soft Breezy Nursing Hoodie (Navy) – Even though I’m now done with nursing, I will continue to wear this breathable, light-weight hoodie for casual errand running and trips to the gym.

High Low Swing Tank (Kale) – This top comes in several colors, but I couldn’t resist the green/kale. The material is very soft and it looks just like a regular tank but with “secret” side panel access for baby; the ideal tank for a busy day of shopping:

Cozy Nursing Hoodie (Black) – Seriously the most comfortable hoodie I own. If you’re in the market for nursing apparel, definitely snag this one! It is perfect for discreet nursing and the shoulder snap is actually hidden by the hood – you would never guess it’s meant for breastfeeding. I’m definitely continuing to wear this staple beyond breastfeeding. Am I the only one that will wear the same, fav sweatshirt every night for like, a week straight? I may or may not be wearing it right now as I edit this post….

For reference, I am 5’ 10” and wear a size Medium in Bun Maternity apparel.

Check out the entire nursing friendly line at www.bunmaternity.com.

If you were a nursing mom, I wonder if you can relate to the thoughts and emotions I sorted through during weaning. How did you feel when you were done with breastfeeding? If you’re still nursing, do you have a plan for when and how you’ll wean? I’d love to hear about your own experience in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading. 

P.S. If you’re still nursing, make sure to check out all my posts on breastfeeding & pumping.

If you liked what you read, please share:

Top Tips For Successfully Pumping At Work

This page contains affiliate links. Views are 100% mine. If you make a purchase through a link, thank you!

Tomorrow I head back to work 4 days a week after a wonderful two weeks off with my family, which means it’s back to “pump life”! I was thinking about what I’ve learned thus far that has made it possible to continue my nursing relationship with my daughter (8.5 months) and wanted to shared my best advice in case you are or will also become a pumping mama. It’s definitely not easy to continue breastfeeding once you return to work after Maternity Leave, but it’s so worth it! I can offer the following tips, advice and hacks for making the process a little easier and hopefully more successful for you.  It can definitely be done with a little strategizing and organization – the following tips have been learned over 5+ months of successful pumping on the job. I hope you find them helpful!

1.Know Your Rights

Ask about a place a work with a locked door, not a bathroom, that can be your designated pumping area. It’s actually one of your legal rights as a breastfeeding mother. I’m very fortunate that my employer actually gave me an entirely new office with a locked door so that I could have the privacy I needed. I find I’m actually more productive during the time I pump as; once I set up and turn up the dial on my pump, I hammer away at checking and responding to emails. I save my emails for those times so that I have something specific and productive to tackle.

This bad boy fits right into my pumping bag.
My stealth pumping bag by Sole Society.

2. Have a system for cleaning and readying pump and bottle parts at home

I come home, put milk away (store any extra in the freezer if you produce more than baby eats), fill up a large pot with Breastmilk Removal Soap (seriously, this stuff is SO convenient – no scrubbing required) and super hot water. My mom (who watches Taylor while I’m at work) puts the bottle parts she uses in there as well throughout the day. Dump in all of the bottle and pump parts and soak for 5-10 minutes while you’re doing something else. What I usually do during this time is to ready the two spare bottles, 4 lids and my extra set of pump parts and place them in my pumping bag for the following day – that way all I have to do the next morning is pop in the freezer packs and walk out the door. After 5-10 minutes rinse all the parts with warm water and put on the rack to dry (I LOVE this one by Boon). To read more on my exact workday routine for nursing and pumping read this post.

3. Schedule Your Pump Sessions Like Appointments

Block off your pumping sessions on your calendar for the entire duration of the time you hope to breastfeed. For me this means I have blocked off 1-2 “BUSY” sessions per day through Taylor’s 1st birthday which is less than 4 months away at this point. This way neither my boss, colleagues or I schedule me for something during a time I need to pump. Schedule the pumping sessions for approximately when your baby is eating at home.

A sample of my schedule in Google Calendar; “busy'” in purple.

4. Utilize a Refrigerator or Cooler

One option to keep your pump parts sanitary between sessions would be to have a mini fridge in your office, if you’re there all day. If not, you could store your parts in a ziplock bag or bottle cooler and throw them in the community fridge. I don’t feel quite comfortable doing the latter and am constantly on the go on workdays, so I use this Skip Hop bottle cooler, stored in my pumping bag, to keep the pump parts sanitary in between sessions. I wipe them first with these breastmilk removal wipes to add an extra measure of sanitation.

The bottle cooler I use.

5. DWP – Driving While Pumping

Sometimes, to make logistics work, I have to pump in the car whilst driving from one meeting to the next. Not ideal, but a mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do! I carry a baggy of spare batteries in my car as well as an additional set of pumping parts in my Emergency Baby Car Kit (which is also my most popular post!) which is always in my car. It’s also helpful to have a hand pump in your car in case you a) do not have your pumping bag with you or b) you run out of battery power unexpectedly.

My emergency baby car kit. 

6. Don’t Freak Out

If you can’t pump twice during the day occasionally don’t freak out (like I did). Your body will likely still produce about the same amount of milk when you pump later in the day, it may just be a little more uncomfortable for you (make sure you have the BRA PADS in!). If you’re short for the day, and you don’t want to yet dip into your freezer stash (read all about how I built mine up during maternity leave in this post), you can pump after the babe goes to sleep at night and hopefully get an extra .5-2 ounces to add to you bottle for the next day. I’ve done that several times for peace of mind.

There you have my top 6 tips for making the pump life work as a working mom. I hope to breastfeed Taylor until her first birthday and will be relying on my tips to get us there, but I would LOVE to hear yours. Please leave me a comment with any additional advice, tips and tricks you have!

P.S. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE. Subscribers are automatically entered to win my bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

PS The tote I use for my pumping bag is this one by Sole Society, but here are several others that would be super cute:

If you liked what you read, please share:

A Simple Way To Create A Christmas Card Memory Book

Want to preserve the magic of Christmas all year round?

I know I do, especially this year with it being Taylor’s first!

One of my favorite traditions of the holiday season (up there with my xmas morning Monkey Bread) has always been receiving Christmas cards in the mail. Beginning around the end of November, I anticipate the mail each day hoping to receive a card with the beautiful, smiling faces of another friend or family. As a child, my mom always displayed each card our family received on our refrigerator, and I can remember admiring them every day and missing them when they were inevitably taken down. I honestly don’t have any ingenious way to display the cards we receive and should really step my game up at at some point (I just use red twine similar to this and mini wooden clothespins) but I wanted to share the simple way I save the cards and keep them accessible (but not up on the wall) all year long.

The past few years I have been preserving our Christmas cards after the holiday season is over simply by hole punching them with a single hole punch and binding them with a single binder ring. I keep the cards for the previous year in a drawer that I can easily access throughout the new year whenever I want to see our loved ones; it is a good reminder to continue to pray for the health and well being of each family, not just during the Christmas season. Can you imagine how much more connected you would feel to your friends and family throughout the new year if you started your day with a cup of copy, sending prayers and/or positive thoughts for them out into the world? This is a goal I have for the new year – less focus on me and my needs, more on those of my friends and family.

This year I brought out the 2015 memory book and let Taylor flip through photos of my favorite people. Our family card last year (2015) featured a picture of AJ and I on our Honeymoon and a 20 week ultrasound of our baby girl. One of the most special photos from the hundreds I took at our various celebrations this Christmas season is Taylor looking at that card from a year ago. She was randomly flipping through and looking at the pictures, but paused and touched our faces in recognition when she got to our card. Sometimes I still can’t believe that our precious baby girl is now here with us, and that we get to celebrate all our Christmases from now on with her (pinch me!). I anticipate that as she grows older, she will truly love flipping through the cards throughout the year and identifying the faces and names of friends and family who she loves but doesn’t get to see all the time.

Here are the super simple and inexpensive supplies you’ll need to put together your own Holiday Card Memory Book for 2016:

1.) A set of loose leaf binder rings. Stack your cards and hole punch in the top left corner with the second supply,

2.) A single hole punch.

3.) Put your own Holiday Card on top as the cover or use the one I created for our memory book this year:

If you would like to use my cover, leave your name and email address below and I will send it directly to your inbox. You’ll also receive Taylor-made Mama post updates and be automatically entered to win my bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

What do you do with all of your holiday cards once the new year begins? Leave me a comment and let me know!

P.S. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE. Subscribers are automatically entered to win my bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

If you liked what you read, please share:

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!

This page contains some affiliate links for your convenience. If you purchase through a link, THANK YOU!

If you liked what you read, please share:

What’s In My {un} Diaper Bag

 

whats-in-my-un-diaper-bag

This page contains affiliate links for your convenience. All linked products are ones I actually use.

I don’t really know how many of you actually care what’s specifically in my diaper bag, but I do think you’ll be interested in an awesome insert created by Tote Savvy that can transform your favorite purse or tote into a {un} diaper bag. I purchased the mini version in soft grey, and am loving it; now when I’m out and about with Taylor I don’t have to bring both my diaper bag and a purse, or stuff all the contents I would have in my purse into and lug around a huge diaper bag. The larger size Tote Savvy insert allows you to fit literally everything you’d have in your larger diaper bag into your favorite tote. I would totally have opted for that had I found out about Tote Savvy before buying this diaper bag. Luckily, I have a really well-stocked baby car kit in my trunk that has spare clothes and other items I can’t quite fit into my purse, that I can always head back to the car for in case of emergency. However, I’m definitely able to pack all the essentials into my {un} diaper bag AND look like a stylin’ mama thanks to Tote Savvy!

img_7347
Tote Savvy – a must have for style conscious mamas.
img_7345
Organization meets style.
img_7656
Toting my {un} diaper bag at the park.

If you’re super uninterested in the contents of my diaper bag (understandable), make sure you scroll down to the bottom of this post for a sweet discount code to purchase a Tote Savvy insert and transform your own bag! Tote Savvy inserts are one of the items I think would make a GREAT gift for a new mom (see the others on my list in this post) so stock up for baby showers and/or Christmas gifts for any mamas-to-be or new moms in your life.

taylor-made-mama-11
Have you checked out the new Resource page yet? Click here!

Without further ado, here is everything I need to pack in my {un} diaper bag for a day out with my baby girl – it’s my hope that you’ll find something useful to help you feel even a little bit more prepared or organized:

whats-in-my-diaper-bag

  1. Purse
  2. Wallet (thanks Hubby!)
  3. Pacifier – I like storing extra pacis in small tupperware containers like these or these. The only pacis Taylor will take are these.
  4. Teether – Sophie (I thought this was so overrated, but it turned out that Taylor LOVES it/her!)
  5. Snack – dried mango slabs which keep her happy & entertained for a good 20 {supervised} minutes. Make sure to buy unsweetened, organic, wide slabs so that your babe can’t fit the mango all the way into his/her mouth. We get ours at Whole Foods Market. Bonus – they can also double as {messy} teethers!
  6. Toy – these rings are easy to pack and by far Taylor’ favorite thing she owns!
  7. Bottle – Comotomo, the only bottle Taylor would take and one of the best for breastfed babes. There is an insulated pouch in the ToteSavvy insert for the bottle if you’re packin’ breast milk or pre-mixed formula.
  8. Book – miniature books like this classic are perfect for stashing in diaper bags AND for entertaining baby hands/minds.
  9. Disposable Bags – I have these Munchkin bags and dispensers in my diaper bag, daycare bag and car kit (click on the links to find out exactly what I pack in those bags!).
  10. 2-3 spare diapers
  11. Wipes – I buy this bulk box of travel packs (16 packs of 18 wipes each) that fit into the Tote Savvy as well as my diaper clutch.
  12. Solid Food – Kiinde squeeze pouch with the spoon attachment (I usually pack applesauce, but you can make tons of other homemade purees as I show in this post or buy your own to fill in the pouch when you’re on the go with your babe.)
  13. Burp cloth – I use these cloth diapers 
  14. Sunglasses – for Mom (similar, AND on sale!) and Baby (aren’t these hysterical!?)
  15. Miscellaneous stuff for mom –
    1. gum
    2. a pen
    3. hair tie/s – you don’t want to be caught unable to throw up a solid mom bun!
    4. hand lotion
    5. mini natural hand-sanitizer – I have theses stashed all over the place!
    6. chapstick
    7. lipgloss/lipstick – my favorite gloss ever is Laura Mercier, in Coral Reef or Nude Rose.
  16. Last but not least, the item that makes it all so stylishly possible…my ToteSavvy Mini which, by the way, also includes a changing pad which you can see rolled up on the right below:img_7346
  17. Not pictured – iPhone (because I was taking a picture with it, duh.)
  18. Also not pictured – a snack for mama (because I was out of my favorite protein bars which I’ve since remedied.)
  19. Pictured below – In December, 2016 Dr. Brown’s sent me these all natural pacifier and bottle wipes and nose and face wipes which I now carry in my diaper bag, which come in incredibly handy when we go out to eat and she inevitably has a messy face to clean up and/or drops pacis, toys, bottles, etc. on the ground:

img_0119

20. Pictured below – The Mommy Hook which is perfect for hanging a purse, diaper bag and shopping bags:

img_7662

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post.

Please enjoy using a 20% off Discount Code: FALLSTYLE to purchase your own insert from Tote Savvy at Lifeinplaycompany.com and turn your purse into an {un} Diaper Bag. Thank you, Tote Savvy!

xo, Ashley (1)

transform-your-purse-into-a

If you liked what you read, please share:

Building A Breast Milk Freezer Stash On Maternity Leave

how-i-built-a-freezer-stash-while-on-maternity-leave

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. View are 100% mine and I use all products referenced.

At my daughter’s two month check up, her Pediatrician asked if I had started working on a “freezer stash” to prepare for my return to work and the inevitable dip in my milk supply that would go along with it. I thought, ‘ummmm what the heck is a “freezer stash”?’ but replied, “no not yet, but I will soon.” I knew going back to work in 7 weeks would be an emotional rollercoaster anyway, but I hadn’t yet begun to worry about how to mitigate a potential dip in my supply when I initially returned. I have a goal of breastfeeding Taylor for her first year of life, and I didn’t want those first few days back to work to sabotage that goal. The minute I got home I commenced a frantic Pinterest search for how to create a back stock of breast milk while I still had time on maternity leave. My worry fueled me to make the time for and routine to create a freezer stash over the next 40 days or so and, little by little, I ended up with just shy of 100 ounces by the time I went back to work.

I’m so glad that I took that time, even though pumping when you’re home with your baby is super annoying (my hat is off to you if you’re an exclusive pumping mama!), because it alleviated the pressure to pump enough when I first returned to work – that transition was stressful enough already! Fortunately, with the help of my AMAZING and delicious lactation cookies I have been able to keep up with Taylor’s demands thus far, but the stash has come in handy for other reasons I hadn’t thought of:

  1. when my husband and I have gone on a date night a couple of times and my mom has watched her. For me, it’s nice to have that freedom every once in a while.
  2. my hubby has fed her a bottle of my milk at 3AM and so that I could get a full night’s sleep when I was on the edge of total exhaustion during the 4 month sleep regression
  3. to mix in with the homemade baby food I’ve been preparing. I’m only able to pump just enough for the next day at work.
  4. when Taylor had a particularly hungry day and my mom, who is a saint and watches her when I’m at work now that she is no longer at daycare, needed to give her an extra bottle beyond what I’d pumped the day before at work. I’m definitely a “just enough” pumper!

You can read more about my workday pumping routine here, and what I pack in my pumping bag here.

I’m not an expert, but if you are going to be returning back to work soon, I hope some of my experience and resulting advice will help you build up your own freezer stash and have the comfort of knowing you’ve got a backup while you’re getting back into your work routine. We mamas have enough to worry about, right?!

Tips For Building A Freezer Stash

building-a-breastmilk-freezer-stash-on-maternity-leave-3

Pump in the morning after putting baby down for 1st nap –

Milk supply is at it’s highest in the morning hours, so this is the time I noticed I would get the most bang for my buck. I usually kept the bottle of pumped milk out until I was certain she would stay down for her nap for a while. If she woke up hungry, I didn’t want to be “out” of milk. No one wants to be tapped out with a cranky, hungry baby! As a side, but very important note, do NOT pump during a growth spurt as your baby will need all the milk you can supply (unless you have an over-supply of breastmilk).

Pump in the evening after putting baby to bed –

Each night I would strap on my handsfree pumping bra, settle down into our comfy couch, and watch a show with my hubby whilst pumping for 20 minutes, or until both sides had emptied. Often I would feel discouraged because I would get so little in the evenings (1-2 ounces), but trust me it adds up! You can always leave that milk in the refrigerator to combine with the next session’s liquid gold before freezing.

Label your storage bags before pouring in the pumped milk –

I label my bags with a Sharpie, noting the date, time and ounces. Some people note the exact time, but I just delineate between AM and PM. This is important so that you know which milk to use first.

img_7026-1

Store the milk in 2 and 3 ounce increments –

Storing milk in 2-3 ounce increments limits the potential for waste. If you fill each bag up to capacity and then thaw it out when needed, but your baby doesn’t eat all of it you can’t re-freeze or refrigerate it and it goes to waste. I froze a few 4-5 ounce bags, but mainly in smaller amounts. Here is a useful link I reference for how much milk to feed at what age.

After filling the storage bag, lay it flat to freeze –

After you make sure the bag is TOTALLY sealed (I put that in all caps because I’ve lost milk to a false closure – R.I.P.) lay it flat to freeze. Once frozen it is much easier to line up your little milky soldiers:

img_6973

Store the milk storage bags in reverse chronological order –

You want to be using the oldest milk first. Breast milk can keep in the freezer for up to 6 months, so you’ll walk to keep track. Here is a link from KellyMom.com that gives great guidelines for storing and handling breastmilk, including how long it can keep in the freezer.

That’s how I built up a freezer stash while on Maternity Leave!

I’m definitely not a lactation consultant or expert by any means, but I thought I would share my experience with you in case you find yourself in the same situation (returning back to work) and with the same goal (maintaining your breastfeeding relationship) and want to start your own stash. I know that having one definitely decreased my anxiety about returning to work, and has continued to feel like a safety net for us over the last few months.

If you’ve been through this already, I would love to find out what worked and didn’t work for you in building up your own freezer stash. Or, if you have any questions – I’m here for you!

Thank you for reading.

xo, Ashley (1)

If you liked what you read, please share:

How I Deal With Worry, Anxiety and Fear As A New Mom

how-i-deal-with-worry-anxiety-and-fear-as-a-new-mom

I post a lot on the blog about schedules, routines and strategies for organization for us moms and our babies. I do so not because I have everything totally together (definitely NOT the case), or that I feel like I have anything particularly groundbreaking to share, but honestly in large part because it helps me to feel in control, when a lot of the time I feel the exact opposite as a new mom. I hope I’m not the only mom who feels like they have no clue what they are doing and worries about every little thing a lot of the time – maybe you can relate? Oftentimes, this blog and my desire to help other moms, motivates me to be extra organized and prepared for new phases and adventures with Taylor so that I can share with you in a cohesive manner; At the same time, the process of thinking through, developing plans and writing about them for you decreases some of the fears, worries and anxieties that have come along with new motherhood for me:

  • What the heck am I doing? (I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve thought this in the last 6 months!)
  • Will my milk supply drop when I start working full time? Will I be able to maintain the breastfeeding relationship like I want to?
  • Will Taylor be less bonded to me because I’m away from her at work?
  • How will I manage to successfully pump enough milk when I work full time?
  • Will I be able to handle working full time, and maintain my sanity?
  • Am I perceived at work differently, now that motherhood is my top priority?
  • Am I doing sleep training correctly?
  • Should I be sleep training at all? Do I want to? Need to?
  • When will I get to sleep more than 3-4 hours at a time again? Is this just a sleep regression?
  • When and how do I start Taylor on solids and finger foods? How much? What if she starts to choke on something?
  • Will I ever feel the elusive “balance” in life again?
  • Are my days of being in shape over forever? I know I’m not getting to the gym as often as I would like to…
  • Am I still a good wife, daughter and friend now that I’m more busy than I’ve ever been.
  • Am I a good mom?

The list goes on and on, and most days I just have to take deep breaths, trust that I’m doing the best I can and give it all to God.

One of my best friends called me out recently for putting out this post on what I pack in my daycare backpack too soon. I had just started back to work and put Taylor in daycare the week I posted and, within a month, we made the decision to pull her out. She is now at home on the days that I work with my mom and husband who works from home. The thought of her at daycare – not getting the one on one attention I was able to give during maternity leave, and totally out of my supervision – was literally giving me so much anxiety that I couldn’t function at work at even near full capacity on those days. When I posted, I didn’t know that I would feel the way I did, or that things would ultimately work out as they have for Taylor and I – that’s Motherhood.

While I do want to share that update with you, as it is part of my journey as a new mom and our journey as a family, I do not have any regrets about posting when I did. I prepared our daycare backpack way ahead of time and wrote that post so that I would feel more ready to send my baby girl to daycare – something I felt anxious about for months prior. It made me feel more confident to have everything together as much as I could on the outside, when on the inside I was anything but. I didn’t want to drop her off at daycare on those mornings for the month that I did, but having everything she would need packed and ready made me feel just a little better about it. Everyone deals with their anxieties, worries and fears differently. Maybe it’s because my dad is a Boy Scout Master or maybe it’s a slight case of OCD, but my way to deal is to be super prepared and organized. Did daycare ultimately work out for our family? No, it didn’t and we are SO blessed to have another option for Taylor’s care (thank you, Mom!).  My hope, as it was at the time I posted, is that the information will continue to help other new moms who don’t have the option to have their little one at home with a relative feel more prepared for the huge transition from being on maternity leave to returning to work and having to send their baby to daycare. That Daycare Backpack and it’s contents served us well for a short time, and I hope that post and what I put together for Taylor for that month continues to help other new moms – my whole goal for this blog.

I guess the purpose of this update is to keep it real with you, and make it clear that I am WELL aware that Taylor-made Mama is not the only blog for new moms out there – and for that reason I’m super thankful that you choose to follow along with our journey.

Thank you for reading my new mom tips, learned through trial and error as well as my “best guesses” that help me feel more prepared for motherhood, and like I know what I’m doing – just the slightest bit.

How do you deal with the inevitable worries, anxieties and fears that come along with becoming a mom for the first time?

xo, Ashley (1)

If you liked what you read, please share:

Baby Car Kit Essentials

baby-car-kit-essentials

This page contains affiliate links for your convenience. All views and pictures are mine. If you purchase an item through one of the links, thank you!

You thought you would only be gone from the house for 20 minutes and baby’s just been fed and changed – no need to bring the diaper bag along…Of course, this ends up being the one time you discover a flat tire when you come back out from the store, baby has an unexpected and rather intense blowout, a traffic accident has you basically parked on the freeway 5 minutes from home, insert other unexpected and/or messy situation…. Well, it’s a good thing you’ve got your emergency baby car kit stocked and ready to go!

Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a Boy Scout Master, but in my book it’s always a good idea to be over prepared. This post will outline all the essential back up supplies you and your infant would need in case of a mess, change in the weather, delay, mom brain forgetting to re-stock the diaper bag, etc. I hope this visual and list can give you some ideas to create or add to an existing baby car kit.

baby-car-kit-essentials-1

Baby Car Kit Essentials

1.Soft book – if you get stuck somewhere unexpectedly having a book on hand would be a great distraction and keep boredom at bay. Taylor loves soft books like this classic Cat In The Hat and they can be easily stuffed into your car kit. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is also a great choice.

2. A Toy – for the same reasons as above, a toy or two will come in handy. Taylor is entertained by these rings for shockingly  long lengths of time, and an Oball is another standby favorite. For more on developmentally appropriate toys for 0-4 month olds read this post.

3. Hand Sanitizer – I have one of these Babyganics hand sanitizer pumps in our change table caddy, nursing station basket and in the emergency car kit. I like this brand because it is alcohol and paraben free, yet 99% effective in killing germs. And, trust me, you’ll wand a healthy pumping of sanitizer after a major, on the road blow out.

4. Baby WipesWater Wipes are my go to – they are natural, gentle and only have two ingredients (99.9% pure water and 0.1% fruit extract) therefore you can use them for wiping baby’s bum, hands and even face.

5. Sanitizing Wipes – You may very well need these to wipe down a carseat, trunk bed, etc. I’ll leave it at that ; ) Our new favorite wipes brand is Babyganics; I have been buying these individually wrapped packets and stuffing them in my car, pockets diaper bag, portable high chair pocket, purse, basically everywhere:

6. Spare Outfit for Mama – I have this striped top in several colors. It’s long sleeved, yet light enough to use as a spare in any season. Add a pair of jeans that can be worn with casual or dressier shoes, and you’re good to go in case of a blowout or spit up emergency.

7. Storage Bin – I bought a cute bin for $5 on sale at Target, but these Ikea boxes are cheap and would work perfectly. I have 4 or 5 sets of these. The rest of the set can be used for nursery drawer organization as shown here:

img_1918

8. Extra Pacifier – I like storing extra pacis in small tupperware containers like these or these. Taylor will only take the Soothies brand.

9. Nursing Cover – You may or may not be nursing and/or concerned with being exposed when breastfeeding, but I like having a spare nursing cover in the car just in case. Here are

my favorite styles:

10. Swaddle Blanket – my favorites are these Aden & Anais muslin blankets – I use them to cover Taylor’s carseat to shield her from the sun, and also to keep her warm when it’s a little cold or windy out.

11. Baby Sunscreen & Diaper Creams – these are totally up to your preference, but I personally feel most comfortable using this Neutrogena Pure & Free baby sunscreen on Taylor.

12. 3-4 extra Diapers

13. Diaper Disposal Bags – I have these Munchkin bags and dispensers in my diaper bag, daycare bag and car kit (click on the links to find out exactly what I pack in those bags!).

14. Pair of Socks

15. Burp Cloths – I have 4 packs of 10 of these cloth diapers that I use as burp cloths. The will come in handy when wipes just won’t cut it.

16. Spare Pair Outfit for Baby – Seriously, just grab a onesie, a pair of pants and a beanie or hat that you already have – you don’t need anything fancy. I picked up this spare pair changing set on Gap.com when it went on sale because it was just SO stinking cute, and I couldn’t resist. They still have a couple other cute spare pair sets for boys and girls that come with a neat little zipper pack you could throw into your kit. Make sure to keep the size of your spare outfits/diapers updated for baby! I highly recommend creating a “spare pair” set from Primary.com. They have the best baby basics in SO many different colors, for really reasonable prices (all under $25!) – plus, you get 20% off your first order (click the banner below to shop)! To learn more about Primary and some of my other mama must-haves check out my Resources page.

Here would be my recommendation for a spare pair outfit:

baby-basics
Primary_Kids_Clothing_20_Percent_Off
img_6092.jpg

img_6106
The outfit and changing pad fit inside this pouch!

17. Changing Pad Clutch – there are so many versions of this available. I have this one and really like it, but here are several other great options like this one or this one.

Other Miscellaneous items I’ve found SUPER handy to keep in the car:

A Restaurant Kitcreate a Restaurant Kit with all the essentials you need to reduce the stress of dining out with babies and eep it in the car alongside your Baby Car Kit. You’ll find a full list of contents for babies and suggested additions for older babies and toddlers, as well as 10 tips to make dining out with a baby less stressful in this post.

Click on the picture to find out more on this bag!

A Grocery Cart and High Chair Cover –  it’s just more sanitary than plopping her down without wiping down the surface with sanitary wipes I may or may not have with me…


Feeding related items

*A spare bottle,single serving of formula and a sealed water bottle to use for mixing. I did not include this in my photos as I am still exclusively breastfeeding, but if and when I switch to formula this will be a must have in my car kit. If you have a toddler or older kiddo, definitely include an emergency snack in case you get stuck somewhere! For babies just starting to eat solids, these Happy Baby meltable yogurt snacks are perfect to keep in the car in case of “hanger” in an unexpected situation:

* I keep a bag of spare pump parts in my car at all times in case I forget to restock  something in my pumping bag the night before work. Read THIS post to find out exactly what I pack in my pumping bag for work. If you’re a nursing/pumping mama I also recommend having a manual pump in your car in case you get stuck somewhere away from baby unexpectedly and need relief.

img_6103-2

So there you have it – everything you need for a well-stocked baby car kit. If you want to know what’s in my diaper bag and how I keep all the little baby things organized, check out THIS POST!

img_6102
All the essentials for a baby car kit.

If you liked this blog post I would really appreciate your quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs! Click HERE to vote.

xo, Ashley (1)

P.S. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE. Subscribers are automatically entered to win my bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

If you liked what you read, please share:

Mess Free Tummy Time Art Project For Infants

art-project-for-infants-1

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All views and pictures are 100% mine.

Are you looking for ways to encourage your little one to spend more time [happily] on their belly, or has your babe now figured out how to roll out of Tummy Time? Well, I found the perfect activity to capture their attention and keep them occupied in Tummy Time….finger painting!! Now ,before you start imagining primary colors all over your baby and your floors, let me tell you that the best part about this finger painting project is that it’s completely mess free. Yeay!

img_5699.jpg

Supplies you’ll need:

Step by Step:

  1. Squirt finger paint at random onto a plain white piece of paper:

img_5700.jpg

2. Slide the paper + paint into the Ziploc:

img_5701.jpg

3. Zip the Ziploc (duh):

img_5702.jpg

4. Tape the Ziploc to the floor:

img_5703.jpg
Wider masking tape would be an even better choice.


5. Help baby into Tummy Time and allow them to touch, smush and smear the paint however they like:img_5697.jpg

If your baby isn’t yet independently pushing up into tummy time, you can use a Boppy pillow, rolled up towel, or your lap to support their chest and allow their hands to be free for the project.

tummy time

You could also work on the project with a supported sitter, or even using the highchair tray if Tummy Time isn’t working for your little one:

img_5708.jpg

img_5707.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Cut around all the edges of the Ziploc:

img_5705.jpg

7. Peel up, take out their masterpiece, and lay it flat to dry:

img_5706.jpg

Voilá – your baby is a regular Picasso!

If you’re feeling adventurous [AKA up for a mess] below are some fun recipes for EDIBLE finger paint you can use for out of the Ziploc fun with your older infants/toddlers. I’m looking forward to those days!

Now that Taylor is a little more physically coordinated [AKA able to roll out of Tummy Time] I really want to start incorporating more sensory-based art experiences like this one for her. I’m hoping to do a couple activities a month with her on my off day and share them with you here. I think we can develop quite the little art gallery!

I hope you have fun with this one, mama.

xo, Ashley (1)

My watch: JORD Wood Watches, the Frankie Series

If you liked what you read, please share:

5 Tips For Getting Your Newborn To Sleep

5-tips-for-getting-your-newborn-to-sleep

This page may contain affiliate links. Views are 100% mine.

The first three months of a baby’s life is sometimes referred to as the 4th Trimester. They are as much outside their comfort zone as you are out of yours as a new mama. For 9 months they were soothed to sleep by your movement throughout the day, constant whirring of noise in the womb, and the snuggly feeling of compression all around. It must be pretty darn cozy in there (heck Taylor decided to stay an extra 8 days!). It’s no wonder babies have a difficult time settling and falling asleep in the outside world. I think the saying “sleeping like a baby” is actually sort of backwards when it comes to newborns; if someone is sleeping like most newborns, then they’re probably having a difficult time falling and staying asleep! For the 4th trimester, I didn’t worry about sleep training or if I was creating any bad sleep habits – it’s the time to just do whatever you can to help your sweet newborn (and yourself!) get some rest. Give yourself that freedom and do whatever works for you and your baby. Read more about surviving the first weeks with your newborn in THIS post.

When Taylor was born I was naively surprised that I couldn’t just put her down with a pacifier and have her fall asleep. I guess I had never spent enough time around a newborn to know that, with rare exception, it’s just not that easy. In fact, Taylor rejected a pacifier until she was 4 months old. Trust me, I tried every trick and variety of pacifier I could find, all to no avail – little mama just wasn’t having it. It was hard to watch her struggle so much to fall asleep and feel like I had no clue how to help her. However, having a baby who wouldn’t take a pacifier encouraged me to really look into what else (aside from sucking) helps newborns feel soothed enough to fall asleep.

I am by NO means an expert, and obviously every baby is different, but I  do want to share 5 things that really worked well for Taylor. These are 5 things I wasn’t doing for the first month of her life, and that I noticed made a huge difference once I started. Within one week of implementing these 5 things Taylor was sleeping 8-9 hours for her first stretch of sleep followed by 3-4 more, at only 6 weeks old!

If you’re a brand new mama, I hope some of the things that worked for us work for you and your newborn as well.

1. Swaddle

Taylor seemed to fight the swaddle for the first month of her life, so I had her sleep without it. She was waking up every 1-1.5 hours that entire time. No joke, the night I started her back in this Halo Swaddle Sleep Sack, she slept a 4 hour stretch and then 8 hours a couple days later. The more I’ve read, the more I understand that most babies really need that compression to feel cozy and secure, just like in the womb. Swaddling also helps control to Moro Reflex which causes their little arms to flail up and about uncontrollably, which often wakes them in the night for the first few months. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to Baby Sleep – click the link and give my board a follow for a wealth of info !

Snug as a bug in her swaddle

2. Use white noise

Did you know that inside the womb sounds just a bit louder than a vacuum cleaner!? It’s no wonder that babies are comforted by loud white noise. Again, I started incorporating loud white noise as a component of Taylor’s bedtime routine around 5 weeks old, and she began sleeping through the night shortly thereafter. I didn’t think it would work, but it really did! I think it helped her be soothed back to sleep when she did wake in the night as well. We use THIS sound machine and love it. It is portable and can run on batteries, which is perfect for travel. For more items, like the sound machine, I wish I’d added to my baby registry read THIS post.

3. Establish a bedtime routine early on!

I wish I had started a bedtime routine for Taylor even earlier than I did.  The first few weeks I was totally baffled about the whole baby sleep thing and flew by the seat of my exhausted, new mama pants. However, within one week of establishing a bedtime routine for Taylor, at 5 weeks old, she began sleeping through the night! Routines help babies to understand that it is time for nighttime sleep – they’re used to sleeping during the day for the last 9+ months when you were moving around, lulling them to sleep. It makes sense that a lot of babies are confused between day and nighttime for a while, hence the waking all night long.

For newborns, a routine can be something super simple such as:

  1. Dim the lights or turn them off completely and use a nightlight (during the day I always had her nap in a bright room)
  2. Turn on loud white noise
  3. Change baby into an overnight diaper even if you just changed their diaper 30 minutes before (I use regular diapers one size larger, and cover her bum in this natural Butt Paste)
  4. Put babe into his/her PJ’s
  5. Sing a lullaby or two while swaddling
  6. Nurse or bottle feed baby while rocking
  7. *Put baby in crib drowsy but awake

*I have to pat Taylor’s belly a little bit until she drifts off, and sometime she falls asleep while nursing so I put her in the crib already asleep. From 9 weeks until about 15 weeks, we would usually need to bounce her on a yoga ball after nursing to help her get drowsy before going into her crib.

4. Make sure baby is well burped/gassed

This may seem like a no brainer to some, but I truly didn’t realize how much I would need to burp Taylor in order for her not to have gas that would keep her up. Sometimes the simplest things can have a huge impact on your babe’s ability to fall and stay asleep. They rely solely on you to make sure they aren’t experiencing discomfort. Burp, burp and burp that newborn some more until you are certain there is no gas trapped in his or her little tummy. There are also techniques to help newborns get rid of any gas that may keep them from sleeping comfortably. Sometimes Taylor would wake in the night making little grunting noise and all I would need to do is “gas” her by pumping her legs  in a bicycle motion and gently up toward her chest until there was no more gas. Then she would fall right back to sleep. I used the technique the parents show in THIS video and the massage shown in THIS video.

5. Use a swing

I’ve heard that some babies don’t like their swings, but I absolutely swear by this swing. Taylor learned to fall asleep on her own in this swing. At first you’ll have to have the swing setting on fairly high, but then you can progressively lower the speed until your baby can fall asleep with little to no motion at all. We did not have Taylor sleep in the swing at night, but it really helped her to learn the skill of falling asleep on her own, which then generalized to her nighttime/crib sleep.

You can read more from the baby sleep experts at Precious Little Sleep on getting babies (even the most sleep resistant!) to sleep in a swing HERE.

Now THAT is “sleeping like a baby”!

So there you have it – my top 5 tips for getting your newborn to sleep and stay asleep. Hopefully these tips work for your baby, and for you!

What other techniques, routines or tips do you have to get your little one to sleep?

xo, Ashley (1)

*Disclaimer: Taylor turned 4 months and the regression hit immediately. Although she is not sleeping 8-9 hours a stretch right now at 5 months (I wish!), she is still sleeping 5-6 hr stretches and waking only twice at most. We were super spoiled with her sleep as a newborn, and I still think it had much to do with these 5 tips.

If you liked what you read, please share: