February 25, 2016

Labor Day Lessons

I learned seven important lessons on our Labor Day earlier this year.

Lesson #1 – Talk to your doctor when you have ANY inkling of something unusual.

My wife woke up in the middle of the night with some light contractions, so we called the doctor, who told us to come on in, despite the fact that this was ten days before our due date and the doctor had just told us the day before that the baby would be at least a week late.

We loaded up the car and went to the hospital, expecting a long day ahead.

The doctor sent us home an hour later, since they weren’t sure the contractions were real (not Braxton-Hicks) and even if they were, it was way too early for us to be there.

They gave us the magic formula of when to come back: When the contractions last for a full minute and are five minutes apart for at least one hour.  It was a Friday…the guessed they would see us again on Sunday at the earliest.

Lesson #2 – Trust your doctor and your judgment, but know that every pregnancy is different.

The contractions increased and intensified throughout the day, but hadn’t hit the target, so we went shopping.

My wife had a 30-second contraction in every aisle of the store!  We got the dirtiest looks ever, but walking eased the pain, so we kept going until the pain was too severe.

We returned home and my wife took a bath to ease the tension.  She felt a “pop” and then went WAAAAAAAY past the magic formula!

Her water had broken and contractions were now lasting a full minute and spread just two minutes apart!  YIKES!!!

Lesson #3 – Dads, be present, calm and supportive.

I expected to panic, but instead I felt a rush of calmness as we returned to the hospital.  “Game time.  Focus.  Drive.  Just drive. And breathe.  Don’t forget that.”  

You know how when you watch a movie or a TV show, there are seemingly a dozen people buzzing around the labor and delivery room, right?

Lesson #4 – Don’t believe everything you see on TV.

After my wife was checked in and well-medicated, we had about 30 minutes to freak out alone, since we still hadn’t processed that our little girl was coming so early.

Then one nurse and one resident walked in and said “let’s get to pushing!”  Uhh…just two people?

The next line caught me completely off-guard.  “Dad, grab a leg!”

Me?  Grab a leg?  This was not something we had discussed in any class before!  What if I held her leg wrong and it hurt the baby?  What if I passed out?  Or threw up?

Lesson #5 – Don’t throw up.

Everything moved so fast, so I just paid attention and did what I was told.  Grab a foot, push the leg back, don’t pass out.  Check, check and check. And I didn’t throw up, either.

Just 45 minutes later (a near record-fast pushing time for a first-time mom!), Hava was in our arms.

Much like the “rush of calmness” earlier, paternal instincts kicked in and I followed Hava to an antechamber where nurses performed a battery tests on her.

Lesson #6 – Always, always, always stay with your baby at all times.  These are some of the greatest moments of your life.

“Hava, it’s your Daddy, everything will be OK,” I said gently.

Her tiny little hand reached out towards my voice and grabbed my index finger.  

That’s the moment I fell in love with my daughter.  

I choked back tears and my exhausted wife smiled from her nearby bed.

Lesson #7 – Everything does change in an instant.

February 24, 2016

Last Judgment In Paris: Hidden Bumps, Nursing-lingerie Under-cover And Why The World Loathes A Beautiful Pregnant Belly

I have just returned from the International Lingerie show in Paris. It's the world's largest professional trade show for the lingerie industry. I can assure that you've not seen nor experienced anything like it. Companies put on elaborate fashion shows featuring the latest in lingerie. Part of the focus is a catwalk on which (I must say, hurray), even those professional lingerie models have bits that jiggle as they walk! The floor is littered with scantily-clad (and I do mean scanty) models teetering along in 5 inch heels wearing nothing but teeny push-up bras and g-strings. A booth near us hosted a burlesque show every 2 hours that featured models stripping down to sparkling tassels on their nipples, which they spun in time to the music. And who could forget the woman parading around in a full see-through fishnet body stocking and nothing else? My description cannot do this place justice – picture a Victoria's Secret fashion show, remove a lot of fabric, multiply by 100 and you might get the idea.

Pregnant Model in Nursing Bra Leopard (Paris)Bravado exhibits at this show. Much like at other shows where we highlight our wares, we include our own model. In our booth we feature a local, beautiful pregnant woman with the singular goal of better showcasing our collection to buyers. This year our model was Sam – she was 30 weeks pregnant with her second child, and simply radiated motherhood, warmth and beauty. After losing two babies – including one at 20 weeks – she was understandably joyous, proud of the impending arrival of her newborn, and she literally glowed. She was funny, warm, energetic, and eager to do a good job. She looked simply beautiful – complete with her lush curves which were modestly – certainly by this show's standard – covered.

Sam attracted a lot of attention. Major French and Italian television stations filmed her, as did numerous smaller international ones. Journalists popped into our booth. Customers loved her warmth and her ability to showcase our products. Italian men called out "Bella Mama" as they walked by, and I lost track of all the well-wishers, double-takes with smiles, and congratulatory remarks that she received.

All in all, you could say that it was a great 3 days for showcasing the beauty of pregnancy and motherhood, not to mention the commitment Bravado has made to creating wonderful products specifically suited to a woman's changing body, her changing needs and her desire for both care and comfort. Except. Except...

Except for the looks of disgust – and no, that is not too strong a word – that Sam engendered from more than a few passersby. The frowns, the disdainful glances, the muttered whispers. The pointing, the sneers and the general looks of horror that a pregnant woman dare to show her curves. And just who were these people? Not men (young or old), not conservatively-dressed women. No, the primary attackers were young, fashionably dressed European women, too stylish for their own good and apparently too hung up on their own selves to appreciate that beauty comes in many forms.

This was not a question of someone being offended by partial nudity. This was a judgment that pregnant women should be hidden away, covered up and shoved in the closet until they are no longer offensive to look at. And this I am afraid is spot on with the American outcry at the Curve show as featured in the New York Times. So this prejudice seems to know no boundaries geographic, industry (yes this happened at the ABC Kids Show as well) or otherwise – and still we show up. We are, and we have, Bravado.Press Pregnant Model

At Bravado, our primary goal is to support a woman at the most wonderful, yet challenging time of her life: having a baby. Yes, we provide her with the products that she needs to successfully navigate through pregnancy and new motherhood. But above all we offer her support and comfort in the larger sense: tools, encouragement and a sense of community that bolsters her self esteem and sends her with confidence onward to make her own personal choices. We are incredibly proud to stand up and shout from the rafters that pregnant women are beautiful and inspiring, as they literally create new life. And we will not bow to nay-sayers and those who stand in judgment.

At the show, Sam took the negative looks in stride and her smile never wavered... at least publicly. Privately she acknowledged that it was difficult to be on the receiving end of negative judgments that a pregnant woman has no business showing her belly. Remember, this was a trade show – not open to the public – and there were literally hundreds of virtually naked women parading around, flaunting their barely-there outfits. Sam looked fully-clothed in comparison.

I was very proud of Sam and her ability to showcase motherhood at its finest. I am ashamed that in this day and age, at a trade show where nudity is de rigueur, that the biggest obstacle to promoting pregnancy as a time of beauty was the young modern women who will one day be walking in Sam's shoes.

February 24, 2016

Teething + Breatfeeding Bites

Teething. The word is enough to strike fear in even the bravest mama’s heart. Beyond the usual pain of baby cutting teeth (namely your little one hurting with little relief), breastfeeding mamas have to worry about how the little chompers will impact breastfeeding.

You know how people say you forget the pain of childbirth so that you will willingly get pregnant again? Well, I’m starting to think the same may be true of the pain of nursing a baby with teeth because I honestly do not remember what this is like. All I can seem to remember is that it hurts. I honestly can’t recall how I taught my first two babies not to. (And it’s not because it wasn’t an issue, because, despite my lack of sleep, I do remember that it was a bit of an issue.)

My kids typically get teeth on the late side: my first son was 8 months and daughter was 11 months. Baby Max, always doing things in a hurry, cut his first tooth at 5 and a half months. A totally normal time frame developmentally, but way too early for my liking. Teethe immediately make a baby seem months older and I am not ready for my little guy to be growing older so quickly! Max has always been a bit of a wiggly nurser (yanking this way, pulling his head that way) so I fear the addition of teeth in the mix is going to be a total pain in the boob.

I recently read about a mother who weaned her baby when he started biting during breastfeeding, but I am determined not to let that get in our way (even if the process of teaching Max not to bite hurts). I feel like a broken record when I say that this is just another challenge we’ll navigate through to continue breastfeeding.

What do you do to teach baby not to bite while nursing? 

February 23, 2016

Packing to Travel with Twins

A few weeks ago, while my husband was away for a week on business, I decided it would be fun to take a trip from Boston to Long Island to see my brother. I used to do this on a fairly regular basis without any consideration. Boy, have times changed!

With two infants in tow, the “quick trip” quickly started to look like I was packing for a week away. We were only going to be gone one night, but I wanted to be prepared for anything.

In addition to the three outfits a day for them – who knows when you’re going to need to change them! – I packed extra clothes for me – who knows when they’re going to spit up!

My diaper bag was chock-full. Package of diapers. Package of wipes. (Both of which weren’t actually in the diaper bag, but I would take a few out at a time when we were on-the-go.)Washcloths. Extra bibs. Diaper cream. Extra pacifiers.

Then we had the stuff for feeding. Bottles, and all of their pieces. Milk. Receiving blankets, which we use as burp cloths. And my pump. Ah yes, the pump. It works much better when you have all of the pieces.

I have been storing the flanges and collection bottles in the refrigerator so I don’t have to wash them between each pumping session. Well, I grabbed the motor and the attachment pieces, but I walked out the door with the pieces that were in the refrigerator! Ugh. Thankfully we were only gone one night, barely 24 hours. But when you make your list don’t forget anything you keep in the fridge.

The trip was a success, despite the missing flanges. We had a wonderful visit and the babies slept exceptionally well in the hotel’s pack-and-play. (I also packed a crib sheet in case one wasn’t supplied. I’m glad I did because we didn’t receive one.)

The next trip is coming up in a few weeks and I can’t wait to see what the car looks like knowing we’ll be gone for several nights. Oh boy!

February 23, 2016

Weight Loss After Pregnancy

While pregnant I was careful to not take the old “eat for two (or three, in my case)” route, but as every pregnant woman does, I put on weight while growing my babies. After they were born I was hoping the weight I put on would just fall off. A girl can dream, right?

I knew breastfeeding would help with some of the weight loss, and I can verify that yes, a lot of the weight came off quickly. And for good reason. I am feeding two babies at a time!

My day generally looks like this:
  • Awake and feed the babies
  • Get myself breakfast
  • Pump
  • Feed the babies
  • Eat a snack
  • Pump
  • Eat lunch
  • Feed the babies
  • Pump
  • Eat a snack
  • Feed the babies
  • Pump
  • Eat dinner
  • Feed the babies
  • Pump
  • Sleep

I’m exhausted just looking at it. It may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. Trying to fit exercise in there isn’t easy.

What I’ve done to try to get both some “me” time and exercise in there is use the stroller and take the kiddos for some LONG walks – on average five miles.

I also recently purchased two DVDs of exercises with baby. I have yet to watch them – what do you mean I can’t lose weight just by looking at them? But I do hope to make them part of my routine soon.

I’m eating healthy, watching my portion size, and breastfeeding. I know the weight went on over time, so it will take time to take it off. And besides, the babies are growing, and that’s the important part, right?

February 19, 2016

Breastfeeding: How to Position Yourself

One of the first and most important things you'll learn about breastfeeding is how to hold your baby. But what about how to position yourself? After all, you'll be spending many hours nursing, especially during the first few weeks, so it's important that you don't feel any strain or tension. If you follow these simple steps, you should have a comfortable breastfeeding experience.

Since most moms breastfeed using either the cross-cradle or the football position during the early stages of nursing, our advice is geared toward those two positions. While the standard cradle and side-lying positions are comfortable too, they're best used once you've gotten into the rhythm of breastfeeding.

Set yourself up for comfort

  • To start, make sure you're sitting upright in a comfortable seat, with your feet flat on the ground. If your feet aren't flat, place a phone book or nursing stool beneath them to provide stability.
  • Your back should be as straight as possible. If you're sitting in a glider or a slightly reclined chair, you can place a small pillow or a bed pillow behind your back in order to move your body into a more upright position.
  • Next, you'll want your baby to be at your breast height, so use a nursing pillow or a bed pillow on your lap to raise him up. The pillow should be pulled in as close to your body as possible. Raising your baby to breast height helps attach him more easily, which means you don't have to support his entire body weight throughout the feeding, leading to tense and sore arms.

Tips for success

  • Sit upright.
  • Put your feet flat on floor.
  • Place a pillow on your lap to raise your baby to breast height.

Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)