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.

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!

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

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 the 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 breast milk 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 baby goes to sleep at night and hopefully get an extra .5-2 ounces to add to your 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!

Looking for even more information on returning to work as a pumping mom? Check out The Ultimate Guide To Survive Breast Pumping At Work over on Mom Loves Best – the guide covers everything from women’s rights, a week-by-week guide on how to prepare for your return, sample pumping schedules, and loads of useful tips for pumping moms. She even created a free infographic checklist for you visual learners:

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

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.

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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!

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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)

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


Building A Breast Milk Freezer Stash On Maternity Leave

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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

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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.

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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:

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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)

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:


The BEST Lactation Cookie Recipe (gluten free!)

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. The products linked are ones I use and enjoy!

Do you want to increase your milk supply? Are you worried about a dip in your milk production when you return to work after maternity leave, or when your monthly friend finally returns? I know I was!

About a month and a half before I returned to work, I started trying to build up a freezer stash of breastmilk in anticipation of an inevitable dip in my supply. My goal is to breastfeed Taylor up to her 1st birthday, but I knew that wouldn’t be easy with going back to work and I needed a game plan. I would pump once in the evening after I put Taylor to bed, and another time in the early morning, after her 3-4AM feed (find out exactly what I stock in my pumping bag in this post). I noticed I really wasn’t producing much extra, so I started researching ingredients that would give me a needed lactation boost. I came across a recipe that I modified to be almost gluten free (oat flour- yum!) and low sugar, since the concept of intentionally eating cookies all day long was appealing but also not part of my postpartum fitness plan. Exclusively nursing mom’s do need to consume between 300-500 additional calories a day to keep up their milk supply, so make those extra calories work for you and your baby by munching on these cookies.

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Even my hubby agrees that they’re DELISH!

Now that I’m back at work, I make a batch of my trusty cookies every few weeks to provide the added milk supply I need to keep up with pumping enough at work to meet Taylor’s needs.  Read more about my working mama pumping/feeding schedule in this post. I notice a 3-4 ounce difference between the days I eat the cookies, and the days I do not. So far, I’ve only had to dip into my freezer stash a couple of times, usually during the weeks when I haven’t taken the time to make a batch. [update as of 1/7/16: I am still breastfeeding and successfully pumping at work, and now take this Honest Co. Lactation Supplement, 2 pills once per day, in addition to eating these cookies when I’ve noticed a dip].

increasing breastmilk supply
This is 5 ounces more than I was able to pump pre-cookies.

The key to the cookie’s effectiveness is in their super lactation boosting ingredients. Almost all of these ingredients can be purchased through Amazon Prime Pantry, which is an AMAZING resource for us busy mamas with limited time to get into the actual grocery store. You’ll only need to buy most of the ingredients once (i.e. Brewer’s yeast, Fenugreek tablets, oat flour, etc.) because you only use a bit per batch – well worth the initial investment!

Make sure to check out all of my posts related to breastfeeding and weaning HERE! I truly hope you find inspiration, strategies, and encouragement to keep you going on your breastfeeding journey.

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in:

key-ingredients-for-increasing-milk-supply-1

The Best Lactation Cookie Recipe:

Ingredients 

1 cup butter softened

1 cup sugar (I substitute this Truvia baking sugar or coconut sugar)

1 cup brown sugar (I substitute this Splenda brown sugar blend)

4 tbsp of water

2 tbsp flaxseed meal

2 large, omega 3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups oat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 cups of thick cut oats

1 cup of raisins

4 tbsp of brewer’s yeast  (NOT ALL Brewer’s Yeast is GLUTEN FREE – the brand linked is!)

9 fenugreek capsules (empty capsules and throw away casings)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix flaxseed meal and water, set aside.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, brewer’s yeast, salt, soda and fenugreek), set aside.
  4. Blend butter and sugars well.
  5. Blend in eggs, one at a time.
  6. Stir in flaxseed mix and vanilla, mix well.
  7. Add dry mixture in three equal parts.
  8. Stir in oats and raisins.
  9. Drop on baking sheet 1 inch apart.
  10. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes.

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Ideally, you would space out your cookie consumption throughout the day; when I’m trying to up my milk supply I’ll eat one in the morning, another as a snack at work, and then another in the evening. I always throw a cookie (or two!) in a Ziploc into my pumping bag as a pump sesh snack.

If you find yourself needing a boost in your milk supply like I did, whip up a batch of these and give them 24-48 hours to help you out. Happy snacking/lactating!

xo, Ashley (1)


10 Breastfeeding Must-Haves For New Mamas

10 Breastfeeding MUST-HAVES For New Mamas

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First of all, let me start this post by saying that however you feed your baby – be it exclusively pumping, breast or bottle feeding – is awesome. I have no opinion on what is “best” and I don’t think that’s something for anyone to judge. I know many women who wanted to breastfeed their baby but couldn’t, and others who could have but chose not to. All of their babes are growing and thriving because they are being FED. So, to each mama their own!

If you are able and choose to breastfeed like I have, it really helps to know which of the MILLIONS of products out there are actually useful, since there are so many on the market.  The list below includes the exact items I have used, liked and had success with. Some of these items I also included on my baby registry essentials post as well. I hope this list is helpful to new mamas who are going the breastfeeding route!

1. Burp cloths

We use Gerber disposable cloth diapers in lieu of burp cloths. I swear at one point I had one of these hanging off every couch arm, chair and bedpost in our home. Taylor had reflux so we may have used more than the average family. I bought three pack of  10 which makes it so that I’m never without several on hand, even if I haven’t done laundry in a while. They are cheap, soft, super absorbent, and I don’t care if I have to throw one away occasionally. You can also place one under your baby’s head for side-lying nursing, so that you don’t get any spills from their little mouth onto your sheets! I think cloth diapers are a pretty good substitute for their oftentimes more expensive burp cloth counterparts, even though these are really, really cute!

2. Breastfeeding pillow

 The designer of the My Brest Friend nursing pillow is seriously a genius. As a new mom, you and your baby both are trying to figure out this whole breastfeeding thing. It’s not easy by any means, so at least you can be as comfortable as possible during something you’ll spend A LOT of time doing in those first weeks and months. The adjustable, noiseless release {trust me, this comes in handy} buckle allows the pillow to wrap around you to provide nice lumbar support. Unlike a Boppy or other nursing pillow, the surface is very sturdy – I called it my baby tray – that your babe won’t sink down into which really helps you keep good posture.Lastly, the pocket is perfect for storing items you’ll want handy (i.e. TV remote, cell phone, baby nail clipper/file, nipple cream, natural hand sanitizer, mini lotion, etc.). I do recommend having an extra slipcover for it for when you have to change it due to the inevitable spit up, blow out, et. al. They even make a My Brest Friend for nursing twins!!

3. Bra pads

Protect your bras/camis {and your dignity if you’re leaving the house} by throwing a pair of these in. If you don’t, especially in the first few months of breastfeeding when leaks are bound to happen, the milk can leave stains on your clothes. It’s a good idea to keep a couple spares in your diaper bag and/or pump bag just in case you’re out and about and have forgotten to pop them in before leaving. These disposable nursing pads by Hey Mama are soft,absorbent, reasonably priced, and can we talk about the adorable packaging?  They also make a cute tin of all natural, nice-smelling nipple salve!

4. Breastmilk storage bags

 I recommend these storage bags for any pumped breast milk you will not be feeding your baby right away. I store them in 2-3 oz increments and lay the bags flat in the freezer union they are frozen, which is a big space saver. When it’s time to use the milk, you can easily defrost it under some warm water, pour into the bottle and voilá! These are great if you want to create a stash of your breastmilk for when you go back to work.

 

5. Nipple shields

 These look a little bizarre when they’re in your bra, but I swear you will not regret having these for those first few weeks while your body is still getting used to breastfeeding. Trust me, having raw skin rubbing on the inside of your bra and shirt has to be one of the most uncomfortable feelings ever, and these were the only way I was able to alleviate that discomfort. Even if you only need to use them a couple weeks, they’re worth the small investment. I didn’t know about them until one of my best girlfriends clued me in, so I’m hoping I can pay that forward!

6. Lanolin Cream

That same girlfriend of mine once compared the feeling you have the first few weeks of nursing to a thousand fire ants. Need I say more?  The Lactation Consultant at the hospital gave me a sample tube of this Lansinoh cream and told me to use it before and after every feeding, which at the time I thought seemed unnecessary/overkill.Some women have better or worse experiences than I did, but all I can tell you is that using this cream before and after every nursing session was the only way I was able to persevere through the initial discomfort. Don’t get discouraged if it’s painful for several weeks – it was for me. Stick with it, because it truly does get better. If your pain seems greater than normal I would definitely suggest talking to a Lactation Consultant if you can, as soon as you can – they can help with latch and/or positioning issues that could make the difference.

7. Extra storage bottles

If you plan to pump, you will definitely need extra bottles to go with your pump. I store 4 empty Medela bottles/lids in my pump bag every day, as well as a couple extra lids just in case I forget. You can pop these in the freezer or transfer the pumped milk into storage bags. You can see the rest of what I pack in the pump bag I carry back and forth to work in this post.

 

 

 

8. Nursing Tanks/Bras

A nursing cami and yoga pants was my uniform for the first month after Taylor was born. It just makes life easier – who wants to fuss with anything else when you have a hungry, screaming newborn in your arms?

There are so many out there but here are the tanks, bras and sports bras I actually like that have held up to many, many wears and washings. The Cake bras are by far the most comfortable, in my opinion : )

{I bought some cheapy ones early on but they were not supportive or functional enough. It’s worth the investment, especially if you plan to nurse for a while}:

9. Nursing cover/scarf

There are all different styles to choose from, many of which can be disguised as just another part of your outfit. I have several different nursing covers; I store one in my pump bag, one in my diaper bag and one in my car just in case.  I love wearing my black infinite nursing scarf for travel days – super convenient. And, hey, if you don’t want to cover up at all then don’t. I’m all for normalizing breastfeeding in public if that’s your comfort level!

Below are 4 different styles to consider:

10. Water bottle

Last but not least, a good water bottle WITH a straw. One of the most important things you need to do while you’re breastfeeding is to stay hydrated! You  You will be especially thirsty in the first few weeks as your supply is coming in. If you become dehydrated, your supply may dry up as well.  So yeah, water {and lots of it!} is pretty darn important. Just when you thought you’d get a break from the pregnancy induced 20 bathroom trips a day…. The straw piece just makes it easier to hands-free, lean over and sip on while nursing or especially if you have to pump (i.e. when/if you return to work.). I have two of these, and plan to order two more to keep at work so I can cut down on one thing to schlep back and forth.

 

There are my top 10 breastfeeding must-haves for new mamas! Enjoy the special bonding time of feeding your babe, however you choose to : )

xo, Ashley (1)

 

Working Mama’s Pumping Bag

Working Mama's Pumping Bag (1)

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T minus 5 days until the bliss that is Maternity Leave ends, and I return to work. True to the OCD that is within, all my bags are packed and ready to go: gym, daycare, meals, work/computer, and the subject of today’s post – the Pumping Bag! I’m a complete amateur at this working mama thing, so preparing ahead of time makes me feel more confident about the transition back.

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Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote

These days, most insurance covers a free breast pump. I chose to purchase my own because I wanted to have it from day one after Taylor’s birth, in case I needed it. Also, I liked the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump {not the one covered by my insurance} because it included a spacious tote that was also conspicuous enough for me to bring anywhere I needed to. It has a nice amount of space to store all the gear I need:

pumping bag contents
The contents of my Pumping Bag.

 

1.Wet/Dry Bag: These bags are über convenient. I also have one for my daycare and diaper bags as well.

2. Extra Pump Parts: I bought an extra set of pump parts so that I don’t have to necessarily wash the parts after each pump. I can just put the used set in the Wet/Dry bag to wash when I get home and use my second set for the next pumping session at work. I also keep two extra bottle lids and filters in the dry pouch.

3. Breast Pump & Accessory Wipes: This is another convenient way to keep everything clean and sanitary, without having access to a sink when you’re on the go. If I’m not on the go, and at my office, I’ll wipe off my pump parts before putting them in the wet/dry bag and put the bag in the refrigerator to keep it sanitary until the next pump. At night, I wash everything with soap and warm water at home.

4. Nursing Cover: In case I need to pump in my car or other non-private location.

5. Disposable Nursing Bra Pads: Because, leaks.

6. Snacks! – Power Crunch Protein Energy Bar: These protein bars are seriously delish – they have tons of flavor options and taste just like a wafer cookie, I swear.

7. Mini hand sanitizer – I like this alcohol free version.

8. Cooler and extra bottles

9. Hands-free pumping bra: This is an absolute must have item. I can still work on my laptop or make phone calls, while taking care of my other business : )

UPDATED 8/27/2016:

After being back at work for a month, and temporarily not having a private office to take care of business, I decided to transfer all the contents of my Medela tote {see above} into a larger, more inconspicuous, purse-looking bag. As I move throughout the office to whichever destination I end up in for the particular pumping session, no one is the wiser that I’m not just carrying a purse.  I found the perfect one by Sole Society:

I also came up with another time saver {and reason for needing a larger bag!}. I now store my pump parts in this Skip Hop cooler in between sessions, essentially utilizing it as a mini fridge. This saves me from needing to wipe down and sanitize in between pumpings!

I hope that this post was helpful for any nursing mamas preparing to head back to work, or gave ideas to add convenience for those who already have returned!

What do you pack in your pump bag? I can’t be the only perma-hungry nursing mama out there – what are your favorite healthy, go-to snacks?

xo, Ashley (1)

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

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:


Baby Registry Essentials & None Of The Stuff You’ll Never Use!

essential Baby registry items. Everything you need to prepare for a newborn baby , and none of the things you won't use!
Off The Beaten Baby Registry Essentials

essential Baby registry items. Everything you need to prepare for a newborn baby , and none of the things you won't use!

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

I had the luxury of inheriting a killer registry list from my BFF which has been passed down and refined, pregnancy by pregnancy, by her and her teaching colleagues. It took out so much of the research and guesswork I would have had to do otherwise! However, since Taylor’s birth, there are some non-traditional items that I’ve discovered by recommendation or figuring out by trial and error that I would definitely recommend adding to a registry [I used Amazon for mine] or purchasing ahead of time to have on hand. I hope you find some of these recommendations useful : )

SLEEP STUFF

  1. DockATot Deluxe

At first it may seem a little pricey, but a DockATot is well worth the investment when your baby is sleeping in it like a champ! I hadn’t heard about the brand before a girlfriend of mine recommended it to help Taylor and I with her sleep. Coupled with her bedtime routine [more on that here] and swaddling, I truly believe the DockATot was integral in getting her to sleep through the night in her own crib at only 6 weeks old! Docks can also be used in lieu of a more cumbersome Pack & Play when traveling – which is nice because your peanut will have something familiar in an unfamiliar sleep environment. DockATots also work great for “tummy time” sessions, and fit inside of most bassinets allowing you to use it to help transition baby from bassinet to crib. There are so many cute patterns like this one, this one and this one:

 

2. Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper bassinest

Speaking of bassinets….this one is the best! AJ’s barber recommended the Halo to him and I’m so thankful she did. Even though we transitioned her pretty quickly into her crib, I am still glad we used the Bassinest for the first weeks we had her home.  It pulls up right onto the edge of your bed [hello space saver!], and swivels out of the way when you need to get out of bed. When your baby wakes up at night you just push down the front panel to pull them out to feed, and if you hear any funny little noises [in case you didn’t know – newborns make the weirdest noises at night] you can look through the mesh and see what’s going on. I loved having Taylor so close to me while we slept, but also safe in her own little space.

3. Fisher-Price Moonlight Meadow Cradle ‘n Swing
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One of my besties recommended this swing for Taylor after hearing my complaints about her crap naps [20-30 minutes at a time], and I’m so glad we ended up getting it. The first time I tried swaddling her and placing her in it for a nap, she slept 1.5+ hours! Infants love being in motion.  This swing is literally the only place she has ever fallen asleep on her own thus far. She can nap peacefully in it up to 25 lbs, so we’ll continue to make good use of this item for months to come.

4. Halo Swaddle Sleep Sackshalo sleep sack

I am lazy and terrible at swaddling with blankets, so these sleep sacks have been lifesavers. I bought two of the newborn size and now two of the size smalls, so that if one gets dirty it’s not an emergency laundry situation before nap or bedtime. I also recently purchased one for her daycare bag as well. Update: now that Taylor is out of a swaddle, she still uses a Halo Sleep Sack – this winter weight sack keeps her warm and cozy:

5. Sound Machinesleep machine

If your baby is anything like my baby – white noise will quickly become your best friend. Taylor is pretty conditioned to fall asleep with the sound of “rain”. Originally not a believer, I started using white noise with her out of No Sleepville desperation via an app on my iPhone, and it eventually worked like a charm. Nowadays, if we’re on a walk and she starts to struggle-fuss because she is sleepy, I whip out my phone, place it next to her and she instantly settles down. Who cares if I sound like a walking thunderstorm?! For nighttime sleep I didn’t have anything with continuous play and I didn’t want to leave my phone running all night in her room, so I purchased a sound machine with that option.

NURSERY

6. Disposable Changing Padschange pads

For some reason, babies like to pee as soon as you take their diapers off – at least mine does. You don’t want to have to wash your cute changing pad cover every day [like I did for the first couple weeks before Amazon Priming these bad boys], so having a disposable pad on top saves you that step. Plus, they are great to stash in your diaper bag/car kit/portable changing clutch for diaper changes out and about.

water7. Water Wipes

Newborns are not supposed to have wipes with any chemicals on them, and at the hospital they may recommend just wetting dry wipes. I found these Water Wipes that are 99% water, and 1% monk fruit – totally all natural and you won’t have to take the step of wetting dry wipes which seemed totally annoying to have to do. I order them through Amazon.com, but they do also sell them at Target.

8. Drawer OrganizersIMG_1918

The IKEA Skubb collection is super great for organizing all the little clothing and accessories that babies require. I have these in all of her nursery drawers, and they really help to keep everything organized and neat – my OCD thanks IKEA. I bought 4 of the sets of six, and 2 of the ones with lots of little compartments. 

9. “My Brest Friend” – nursing pillowScreen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.46.01 PM

The “My Brest Friend” pillow has a solid sturdy surface, wraps around your waist providing a backrest, and is adjustable to your size. The attached pocket is super useful to store things you’ll need every time you feed your babe [I always keep protein bars, spit-up cloths, baby nail clippers, nipple cream and hand lotion for me stocked.]. Seriously, this pillow has been a MUST for us! I also have a Boppy nursing pillow, but personally it didn’t work for me – way too swishy!

10. Babyganics Foaming Hand SoapScreen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.25.28 AM

You can’t always get to the bathroom to wash your hands immediately, so it’s nice to have one of these easily accessible on your changing table. I also have one next to the chair where I usually nurse Taylor. The Babyganics brand is Pediatrician and Dermatologist tested- safe to use around your baby. I also have the mini version stashed in my diaper bag, stroller organizer, etc.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

11. Stroller Organizer ethan

Essential for holding your water bottle, coffee, keys, phone, baby socks/beanies/etc. for all those walks you’ll be taking on maternity leave and beyond! I linked the Ethan and Emma organizer I have and love.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 11.10.21 PM12. Baby Wondersuits by Bonds

I have 3-4 of these for Taylor in every size from 0-3 months up through 12-18 months, and they are pretty much all she sleeps in. Honestly, I have kept her in these most days for her morning play time as well. They have both short and long sleeve versions so your babes can sleep in them year round.
Stock up on fun prints and patterns with 2 for $39 Zip Wondersuits online. Shop now!
I can’t say enough about how much I love these things – super quality/comfy material, adorable patterns, zip from the top and bottom [who wants to bother with a bunch of buttons and snaps at 3AM?!] and fold over flaps for both feet and hands so that they stay warm and don’t scratch their little faces with flailing arms while they sleep. Bonds give free shipping to the US for orders over $100  AU dollars. Fortunately, the conversion rate is such that you only end up spending about 75 US dollars – deal!!

13. Infant Tub by 4 MomsTUB

I originally had the PRIMO Eurobath tub that Taylor could grow into, and still plan to use later, but it was just too big and slippery for her infant self [and for me to feel comfortable bathing her as a new mama!]. This tub is made specifically for infants: it has a temperature gauge to ensure the water temperature is not too hot or too cold, there is a slip-proof pad on the bottom, and the water stays fresh and clean throughout the entire bath. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.24.38 AM14. Ergobaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier Grey –

We’ve used out Ergobaby carrier to bring Taylor with us everywhere – wine tasting, hikes, the grocery store, walks downtown, etc. It makes maneuvering around a lot easier than using her stroller, and she typically falls right to sleep in it. Another thing I didn’t realize – make sure to purchase the Infant Insert if you have a newborn [I believe they need the insert until about 15 lbs]. Amazon carries a combination carrier + insert HERE.

15. Inglesina High Chair – this is an absolute must-have for us to go out to eat with Taylor. I wish I had come across this idea sooner!

POSTPARTUM CARE

16. Sitz Bathseatz

This is not a glamorous recommendation by any means, but I have to keep it real with you…I had no idea how sore and uncomfortable I would be after giving birth. It got so bad that I ended up calling Kaiser, and the wonderful Advice Nurse recommended I get one a sitz bath, and use it a couple times per day for 10 to 15 minutes to promote healing, in addition to walks. I can’t tell you how much doing that helped, and I only wish I had had this from postpartum day ONE! It’s a new mama’s best friend ; )

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Make them. Trust me!

17. Padsicles

Last, but DEFINITELY not least…A friend recommended I make about two dozen “Padsicles” before delivering, and I’m infinitely glad I did. Trust me, if you are expecting you’ll want to go ahead and have these ready to rock for your first week postpartum. Your hubby might be a little weirded out by all the pads in the freezer at first, but it’s SO worth it. There are lots of “recipes” online, but I linked the one I used.

The ingredients you’ll need are: alcohol-free witch hazel, extra thick maxi pads, lavender oil and 100% aloe vera.

What other “off the beaten registry” items have you discovered that I’m still missing out on? I’d love to follow up with a Part 2 using what you’ve found to be essentials!

xo, Ashley (1)

Other Ta[y]lor-made Mama posts you may be interested in: