Nursing 103: “The Football Hold”

Posted: 1508 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

Successful Nursing Tips

Posted: 1509 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

nursing-tips

Successful nursing starts before the cord is cut.

Best circumstances, you’re going to have the baby on your chest as soon as he/she is born, and while the cord is still pulsating. Unfortunately in a hospital birth, they take the baby after the cord is cut to be cleaned up. So an unmedicated – natural birth – can be in the hospital, but you will need to request that the baby is placed on your chest immediately following the birth. I also suggest requesting to let the cord naturally stop pulsating before it’s cut.

If you don’t believe me when I tell you how miraculous this process is – then watch this breastcrawl video (so long as you’re not faint of heart). It’s of a baby working its way up momma’s chest directly after giving birth. Babies have a rooting reflex where if their cheek and mouth is stimulated, and they feel the nipple, they will move toward it; it’s a natural reflex. Babies are hard wired to nurse, it’s us momma’s that need some training.

Here are some training tips.

  1. Baby positioning is really important – baby’s chest to mom’s breast is the mantra/visual to have when nursing your baby. Many moms make the mistake of holding their baby in a traditional cradle hold (face up in arms) – necessitating that baby should turn its head to nurse. Have you ever tried to swallow with your head turned to one side? It’s pretty hard to do. Position your baby where his or her head is in a neutral position when latching on. For a visual on this, watch the video below.
  1. Make sure that baby’s mouth is really wide open, and literally shove as much of your breast as you can into their mouth. A lot of moms make the mistake of just trying to pry the nipple into the mouth, when really the whole areola  should go into the baby’s mouth.
  2. I’m a big fan of letting the baby nurse on demand in general, but definitely in the first week. The more baby sucks, the more your body stimulates the production of milk – you cannot spoil baby at this age.
  3. Rooming in – i.e. keeping baby close to you is critical for getting to know your baby’s signs, especially those signs telling you that they want to nurse. That’s why I’m not a big fan of babies being in the nursery down the hospital, or being in their own room the first few weeks.breastfeeding
  4. I would avoid giving a bottle at all cost, it creates nipple confusion. A baby has to work in order to get milk from a breast, and has instant gratification of high volumes of milk from a bottle. They will definitely boycott the breast if a bottle is introduced too quickly. Eventually I love the idea of pumping, and letting dad feed but I would hold off for at least 6 weeks or more before bringing a bottle into the picture.
  5. A lot of women feel pressured to supplement with “formula” because they’re told that they are not producing enough milk, or their baby is losing weight. It is very normal for a baby to lose up to 10% of its body weight after birth when nursing. As long as baby is wetting his/her diaper, you should be fine. If you have a serious concern, consult with your doctor.

If you have any other questions, comments, or concerns – I’m happy to help.

Good luck to all the new moms!

Sensory Processing Disorder

Posted: 1560 days ago in Parenting

spd

Oy Vey. Sensory processing disorders. Yet another thing to worry about in our kids, right?

But – knowledge is power! And understanding what our kids might be going through is half the battle.

I’ve seen parents being driven to drink because their kids:

  • Walk around naked.
  • Cry and run from loud noises like fireworks or even the clink of silverware
  • Always have food on their faces
  • Will only ever eat 2 or 3 foods
  • Don’t know their own strength and walk into walls a lot

These kids are exhibiting signs of a sensory processing disorder. What does that mean in English? It’s when any or all of our 5 senses – touch, smell, sight, sound and taste – are working overtime or not enough.

The slightest stimulus – like normal sounds, light or the tag in a shirt – can be amplified exponentially in these kids. They can also be under-sensitive to things like pain and pressure.

I like to call these ‘silent’ syndromes. There are no outward signs of this processing disorder other than the behaviors, so parents often think their kids are just being unreasonable. And for the record, most young kids ARE unreasonable by nature, so sensory issues can be that much more difficult to diagnose.

In addition to being difficult to live with, these issues can result in a child feeling foreign in their own bodies, which can then lead to issues with esteem, learning, and socialization. A slippery slope for sure.

The good news is there are conservative therapies and strategies that can really make a difference for these kids. Such as:

  • The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz is a terrific resource that helps address sensory processing disorders through simple and fun activities.
  • Occupational therapists commonly see and treat children and adults with this disorder with wonderful success.
  • Sometimes a come-to-Jesus meeting with the parents helps diffuse the tensions around dealing with this. I mean – does it really matter if your kid refuses to wear socks? Or if they wear earplugs to July 4th fireworks? Or if you have to do that spit-on-a-hanky thing to wipe the schmutz off of their faces umpteen times a day? So be it.

What you may find with sensory processing disorders is that ultimately they aren’t fixed, but they are managed. This may not seem like a lot, but it does diffuse the stress of dealing with it until the child overcomes the different challenges they face.

And they will overcome them.

Does Your Baby Have Good Posture?

Posted: 1574 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

baby-posture

Wait. What?

How does a baby have good posture? They barely sit or stand yet!

Well guess what – if your baby doesn’t start out with good posture from the get-go, he or she will surely NOT have good posture when it comes time to sit and stand! Here’s what I mean…

Does your baby’s head always end up in the same position while they sleep, even if you turn it a different way?

Does it flop or turn to one side?

Do they cry when you attempt to put them in a certain position, over and over?

Do they refuse to nurse on one side?

These are all signs that your baby may have structural misalignments, or what we call “poor posture” in adults.

How does that happen???

467588149Believe it or not, poor posture can start in-utero! If a baby is in a breech or transverse position, his or her head does not enjoy the “key-in-lock” relationship that happens when the head is vertex (head down). If baby is in a less than ideal position long enough, this can result in minor postural deviations at the least, and torticollis (‘wryneck’) if it’s really bad.

Even if baby is in a perfect position in-utero, the birth process can be incredibly traumatic for him or her, especially if interventions like Pitocin, epidural, vacuum extraction or C-sections are utilized. Their tiny joints and ligaments can be sprained and strained just like an adults can. Ultimately, if left uncorrected, this can often lead to postural changes, pain, and even health issues like ear infections and colic.

The ability to move freely is really important for development of normal spinal curves and muscle formation. “Tummy time” develops the very important “C” curves of the neck and back. However, spending too much time in an infant carrier can also force baby’s spine into unnatural positions, so you’ll want to watch for that.

Pediatric chiropractors do a great job of treating obvious spinal issues like head tilt and torticollis. More importantly, they can detect subtle shifts before they become even bigger problems. It’s a great idea to get your kids checked preventatively, much like you have a dentist check their teeth as soon as they get them.

After all, ‘An ounce of prevention…’ and all that.

“Pre-You, Post-Baby”

Posted: 1579 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

preyoupostbaby

All women gain weight during pregnancy; it’s a fact of life.

Whether it’s 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 100 lbs heavier than before you were pregnant; now is the time for acceptance and understanding. You’ve just delivered a baby into this world!

If you’re lucky, you might lose all of that ‘extra stuff’ immediately, or as a cruel joke, you may leave the hospital weighing as much as you did when you came in.

This post is meant for those women who want to get back to their pre-baby body and I’m here to tell you… let your body be your guide and balance be your goal.

I always suggest that women attempt to go back to pre-baby weight, if it was healthy weight for you to begin with. I’m not talking about how much you weighed after starving yourself for your wedding. I’m saying, look back over the years when you weren’t fanatically dieting and/or gorging yourself; what did you look and feel like? The emphasis here is on finding your natural balance.

For those of you who look at my pictures, and go, “oh yeah, whatever,” I want you to know that I’ve been everything from a size 2 to a size 16 as an adult. I have lived all the issues that surround food, weight, and body image, and it has taken me 45 years to find my balance point. I hope you get the lesson sooner.


First of all, let’s talk about what “baby weight” actually consists of:

  • the baby – average of 7.5 lbs.
  • placenta – around 1.5 lbs.
  • amniotic fluid – around 2 lbs.
  • uterine enlargement – around 2 lbs.
  • increased breast tissue – around 2 lbs.
  • increased blood volume – around 4 lbs.
  • fluid retention – around 4 lbs.
(source: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting“)

Add all of that up and you’re looking at 20+ lbs. of “baby weight”, which means a lot of what you’re looking at isn’t even fat. So be kind to yourself.

My philosophy is nine months on, nine months off.

I don’t think there should be any significant attempts to truly lose weight until after the “4th trimester” (I know, I know. There are only three trimesters of pregnancy, but I like to count the 3-4 months after baby comes as the fourth). Without this buffer zone of continued self-care, mama’s well-being can fall by the wayside, with all attention focused on baby only. During those very early months, your body will naturally find it’s new balance point as you shed all the extra fluids your body has held onto. Not to mention, nursing will burn many of those additional pounds away as you settle into a new routine, feeding yourself and your baby.

After the 4th trimester, reassess.

If you’ve made reasonable choices regarding food during pregnancy and in the 4th trimester, you will likely find that you’re pretty close to where you started, pre-baby. At this point, I recommend stepping up your exercise, making more significantly wise food choices, and setting a goal for weight loss (or gain, for those lucky few of you who are too skinny to begin. I say “lucky” because I know it’s just as much of a problem for those of you who are too thin, but it’s just more socially acceptable to be thin).

Ultimately, the one-year mark is pivotal. If you don’t lose your extra baby weight by the first year, or before you get pregnant again, those extra lbs. tend to become permanent and/or extremely hard to lose.

Full Disclosure: Even if and when you get back to pre-baby weight, your body will likely be very different. I got back to my pre-baby size, but none of my pants fit! Your hips may be wider or narrower, your butt flatter or rounder. You get the point? Your body will be different. Your life will be different.

Embrace the change!

Cultivating Boredom

Posted: 1651 days ago in Parenting

cultivating-bore

divider2Moooooom, I’m bored!  

How many times have you heard that (and/or said that!) in your lifetime??! A bunch, I’m sure, especially if you are of a certain age.

Sometime in the last few decades, though, we have made an art out of busy-ness. Kids start pre-school at 18 months, and soccer or dance at two. Two-years-old?!  

Once kindergarten hits, watch out! The time I had to enjoy after-school snacks and riding bikes with my friends when I was a kid is non-existent now. Today, we shuttle between activities, sometimes two or three per day, often including snacks and meals in the car, on-the-go.

What a shame.

I tried to buck the system with my own kids. They chose one or two activities per week, not per day. Problem was, there were no kids to play with at home! They had each other, sure, but there’s nothing like a neighborhood gang of friends to play hide-and-seek and hopscotch with, is there?

We found a balance of sorts, but along the way, I did my best to continue cultivating boredom.

487961141How did I do that? Well, I just let them be. No activities, no outings, no new toys, TV or electronics. And if they said they were bored, they had to clean the bathroom.

Sure enough, I’d peek out the window to find them engrossed in making fairy houses out of twigs, or playing house in the gazebo.

Now, flash-forward almost two decades, and I am watching my girls cultivating their own boredom. Tan and lean, they play backgammon on the porch, and make candles in old seashells. They read, and we have impromptu “book club” where we share our stories and trade books.

Maybe, just maybe, I did a few things right?

I won’t know for sure, though, until some day in the future, when my grandchildren-to-be whine, “I’m borrrrrrred”, and my girls get the look in their eyes that they got from me, right before they hand them a toilet bowl brush.

Spending Time with Children

Posted: 1664 days ago in Parenting

spendingtimewithchildren

divider2 If you’ve been following my blog, then chances are you saw the quote I posted recently that went something like…

“Everyone talks about leaving a better planet for our kids. Let’s try to leave better kids for our planet.”

I’m not quite sure who said it (sorry!) but its brilliance is undeniable.

So how do we do it? You know, leave better children for our planet. The answer, in my opinion, is in spending time with children (the reason behind today’s quote).

If we provide for children only with our wallets, their appetites for ‘things’ will be insatiable. They will continue to do what has wreaked havoc on our planet: consume its resources, uncontrollably. But if we instead give them our time, our love, and devotion – our attention, our teachings, and our guidance, then they will be satiated by us. People, ideas, imagination. The list goes on. It’s why we shouldn’t skimp on the little things, or always look for the next iPad game to keep them busy.

They need us, people!

I recently saw this video come across my feed and I think it’s fitting for this Wednesday’s inspiration. The title of the video is called, “the best first date.” I hope it touches the hearts of all the parents out there and inspires you to do just what we’ve talked about here: moved to leave better children for our planet.

Happy Hump Day, All!

What Do You DO All Day?

Posted: 1677 days ago in Lifestyle Parenting

whatdoyoudo

As a part-time, stay-at-home mom, people will often ask me, “what do you DO all day?”

sidenoteWell. I’m lucky enough to have worked part time since our girls were born. This comes at a price, though, because essentially, like many of you, I have two full-time gigs in one full-time life. Since I’m mostly at home, my kids get annoyed when I can’t take them somewhere or do something with them because I am working. Being a business owner is definitely a full-time job; I just cram it in to 2 days, and I’m sure that annoys someone in the process as well.

So what does a full-time mom do all day? Perhaps I should say, what doesn’t she do? And the answer to that would be, simply, NOTHING.

There are the basics, sure; grocery shopping, banking, cooking, cleaning and laundry. These tasks, in and of themselves, are full-time work. Throw kids into the mix, and it’s like trying to herd cats. Pretty much impossible. Which is why we get super annoyed when someone looks at our yoga pants – still on, even though yoga was 8 hours ago, or possibly never even happened – with judgement.

When our girls were little, the priorities were healthy food, (relatively) clean clothes, and whatever behaviors resulted in the most sleep for the most people. I can assure you that clean baseboards, gourmet dinners, highlighted hair and/or book club were not amongst my highest priorities. After all, I was a stay at home MOM, not a stay at home HOUSEKEEPER or LADY OF LEISURE.

We played a lot of games, went for walks, played dress-up and messed up the kitchen.

We had fun. Mostly.

We survived, and sometimes even thrived.

So what is it that I DID all day? I loved my girls, and fit in the business of life around raising them. It felt like the right thing to do, and still does, even though the puzzles and dolls have morphed into bra shopping and boy talks. I did a little bit of everything (and most of it not well!) but I did, and continue to do, my best.

How does that grab you?

Summer Bucket List by Erin Whitlock

Posted: 1683 days ago in Parenting

summe-bucket-list

School’s out for summer – yay!

Do you have a list (mental or on paper) of things you and your brood wants to do this summer? Or, maybe you don’t? Or, the kids are already saying, “What are we going to do today?” Either way, it’s always a good idea to make a summer bucket list! Never made one before? No worries- it’s easy!summer-biucket-list

All you need is a list of things that you and your kids decide you want to do this summer. It’s that simple! And by putting it together for a fun visual, that makes it even more exciting – because then all the “choices” are in front of you and who doesn’t like checking things off? (or in this case moving it from outside the bucket to the inside). Plus, at the end of the summer you can review all the memorable things you did as a family!

All I used was a large poster board, smaller colored poster board cut into small squares with mounting putty (or post-it notes works too), and a marker. My boys chose almost all the items on the list and then I added a few of my own. We tried to pull from different categories to round out our list.

divider2Here are most of the items on our summer bucket list:

Active: kids summer running series, bike ride, swimming

Educational: an academic goal (learning math facts), joining a summer reading program, library


Local outings: museum, movie, bowling, water park, baseball game, mini golf, u-pick farm, beach

Family trips: our annual family beach vacation, going to see their new baby cousin

At home fun: family game night, planting seedlings, play dates, making a fort, picnic, camping

divider2Have fun with it and don’t stress! You can have as little or as many items as you want and they can be as simple or complex as you want, too.  You’ll be surprised at how easy some of your kid’s requests might be. If you’re in need of ideas, be sure to check out some of these programs below for great summer info:

Reading Programs – At Barnes & Nobles, every child who reads and records 8 books by Sept 2, 2014 will receive a free book (from a list) in store. You can download and print the info and reading journal on their website.  Many local libraries have a similar program as well so check there, too.  Many MLB baseball teams also have programs where kids can earn a free baseball ticket after reading a certain number of books/hours. Most of these programs are run through local libraries, so be sure to ask!

starfishBowling – Every kid can play 2 free games every day (shoes not included). Check out Kidsbowlfree.com to see the bowling alleys that participate. AMF also has their own deal – 3 free games every day (again, shoes not included).  Their info is at freesummergames.amf.com.

Movies – Regal Cinemas offers $1 movies during the summer. Check out their schedule here to see dates, times, locations, and movies offered.

For any outing or item you tackle, be sure to check out websites and Facebook pages for info – you’d be surprised at how many summer promotions are out there. And most of all, don’t forget to “check it off” the summer bucket list, 2014!

Have a great summer and go make some memories!

Erin Whitlock

About Erin Whitlock

Erin is a busy mom of 4 boys, ages 1-8 who tries to navigate the path of motherhood as naturally as possible. After graduating from the University of Texas, she was a reading specialist before becoming a full-time mom. While on a long journey with her boys due to reflux, multiple food allergies, and other challenges, she turned to more natural solutions with great success. When she's not at the baseball fields watching the oldest 3 boys play ball, Erin enjoys running, trying out new (allergy & kid friendly) recipes, and embracing the crazy life that fills her with happiness.

Keep Your Cool

Posted: 1694 days ago in Parenting

keepyourcool


It’s that time of year again, when the temperatures rise outside, and plummet inside the grocery stores.

For that very reason,  I keep a sweatshirt in my car to keep the frostbite away while I’m at the store for the umpteenth time in a week, filling my fridge for the hungry teenagers that appear out of nowhere.

I have a feeling many of you can relate.

I know this because I see you in the aisles with your long pants and sweaters on, even though it’s 90 degrees outside. The problem I see all too often, is when the parents are all warm and cozy in the freezer section, while their baby is in the infant car seat, donning only a flimsy onesie. Please forgive me, but I want to slap some of you, and scream “wake up!” I genuinely have to fight the urge to tuck a blanket around these babies, don’t you?

frozenBabies aren’t very effective at thermoregulation. That is: the ability to regulate their body temperatures. Additionally, the proportion of skin surface area to body size in baby is HUGE, so they are much more sensitive to environmental shifts in temperature.

Please, please, please people: bundle your babies!  

A good rule of thumb is to keep them in one more layer than you are wearing, at least until they are mobile and can move around and generate some good body heat. I kept a hat and socks on my kids until they were old enough to pull them off by themselves.

So, the moral of the story: If you’re cold, they’re colder. Put some clothes on those sweet cheeks, and don’t make me slap you to have you do it.

With Love,