6 Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents

Your decision to stay home with your little one is a choice that will have a profound influence on the next phase of your life. Being a stay-at-home parent is both an honor and a challenge, and it's especially important to take care of yourself while you take it on. To help stay happy and healthy at home, consider the following tips.

  1. Know what resources are available in your area
    You might be surprised! Does your local library have a story time? Perhaps a local rec center offers children’s music lessons? Make a list of all your options. It can be easy to get stuck in a rut and to take baby to the same places again and again. Mixing it up can keep the hours between naptimes feeling fresh and exciting, though, and having a list ready means you've got options at your fingertips.
  2. Join a play group
    Play groups are relatively easy to find, whether online or just by asking around at the playground. While it is great for baby to get out of the house and meet new friends, being a part of a play group is also a wonderful way for you to engage with other parents, to ask questions, share advice, and have some much needed conversations with adults.
  3. Stick to a schedule
    Life as a stay-at-home parent has less of a formal schedule than your life may have had at any time since you started kindergarten, but that doesn't mean a free-for-all is necessarily best for you or her. It does mean that setting up a schedule is up to you, though. Structure is important both for your state of mind and because she will thrive on consistency, especially when it comes to feeding and napping schedules.
  4. Set aside time for yourself every day
    As a stay at home parent, baby's needs will probably do their best to dominate your time and attention, making it much more challenging to make time for yourself - especially if you have more than one child. Aim to set aside a small amount of time each day, ideally during her nap time. Whether it is a phone call to a friend, reading a chapter of a book, or a quick yoga session, a little time for yourself will provide some much-needed balance.
  5. Take a morning or afternoon off every week
    Taking time off as a stay at home parent is an integral part of maintaining a healthy balance at home. If you can, find a friend or family member who might be willing to babysit, and who you feel comfortable leaving her with, and try to schedule him or her to watch baby for a morning or an afternoon each week. Stay-at-home parents often find it is all too easy for them to become last-priority in their own lives. Taking your weekly time off to do something for yourself gives you the chance to remember who you are one your own, aside from baby's parent. Taking this time can help to make you a happier and better parent.
  6. Know that your best is just fine
    Learn to strive not for perfection, but for the best version of yourself. Type-A stay-at-home parents often struggle with the seemingly impossible feats of keeping the house clean, laundry done, and to-do lists short. It is important to let go, at least a little, and accept that there will be days of chaos, unusually hard days, and sick days, just like there were before you were a stay-at-home parent. However, there will also be surprisingly easy days, endless wonderful memories, and the realization that accepting yourself just as you are means seeing the beauty in the madness of parenthood.

Is Your Partner Experiencing Sympathy Pains?

 

If your partner seems grumpy and a little sick, but isn’t actually sick, they could be feeling what you’re feeling. Literally. No need to worry though; your partner isn’t actually pregnant. Sympathy pregnancy, or Couvade Syndrome, is a common condition that some partners experience during pregnancy.

Couvade Syndrome

Its symptoms include that of an actual pregnancy minus the baby. Your partner could experience their very own bout of morning sickness complete with vomiting and nausea, leg cramping, and abdominal pain, almost like having a baby inside! Cravings, mood swings, and crankiness are also common.

Since sympathy pregnancy can occur at any point, no one is quite sure what causes it. The most conclusive study suggests a correlation in the hormone levels of both you and your partner during your pregnancy, which could result in feelings of pregnancy. It’s also caused by a partner’s need to talk an active role in your pregnancy and the stress of becoming a parent soon.

Sympathy pregnancy is not at all harmful for either of you; in fact, it sheds perspective as to what you’re both feeling. The best cure? Talking it out. You both need to express what you’re feeling, pregnancy related or otherwise, and make decisions together. Your baby impacts both of your futures, and giving your partner a more active role, or the appearance of one, during pregnancy will help both of you feel a lot better. Though, you might still have the cravings.

 

Life as a New Parent: Setting Yourself Up for Success

Today's post is written by our friends at bamboobies, makers of premium, eco-friendly breastfeeding support products that address a variety of pregnancy and new mom breastfeeding needs.

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It’s no secret that becoming a new parent can be challenging. However, having a plan in place and letting go of some of those pre-baby expectations can help make life with a new baby a little less stressful allowing you and your partner to enjoy each and every moment of this amazing new journey. 

You will have dirty dishes sitting in the sink for longer than you’d like, the garbage may not go to the curb one week, and your clean clothes may not get folded. On top of it all, you will be having more visitors than normal all while you and your partner are tackling parenthood. Just remember, these things are bound to happen, it is nothing to stress over, and simple planning can make it work! Here are four ways to help make the transition smoother.

In this together

As you and your partner embark on the journey of parenthood, remember, with a new baby can come changes for your relationship. Not to worry, you’re not alone! Keeping an open line of communication and setting expectations for both of your new roles, will help eliminate any stress or worry. Decide together on boundaries of when and how many guests come over to prevent any upset. Also, dividing other important household tasks or even diaper duty during the night can make both parents feel involved and not overworked. 

Breastfeeding with support

Breastfeeding is another component of new parenting. Even though it’s natural, it’s not always easy. Stay hydrated and take care of yourself. If you’ve got sore nipples try boob-ease® Organic Nipple Balm. It’s new mom nipple TLC and doesn’t have to be washed off before baby nurses. Dad can help by making sure you have what your need and are comfortable – water bottle, snack, support pillow and something entertaining like a cute baby. It’s helpful for Dad to take baby for a few minutes when baby is done nursing, maybe change a diaper if needed and give you a moment. Wear clothes that are easy-access for baby and try ultra-soft, heart-shaped bamboobies® Washable Nursing Pads, so you don’t leak through your shirt

Please excuse the mess

Keeping up with housework will seem daunting if you hold yourself to the same pre-baby standards. Embrace what we call “scruffy” hospitality. This simply means that everything will not be perfect and that is okay. Some simple things you can plan for ahead of time are meal trains to help with a couple meals a week, a neighbor kid to walk the dog and put out the trash as well as friends or family to come over and help with dishes or folding laundry and allowing you to take a shower.

It takes a village

The best thing a new parent can do is seek support from other likeminded individuals. Finding a support group for new parents can help calm your nerves about baby’s sleep habits (or lack thereof), eating schedules, and everything in between. Finding your village will also build your network or friends that will provide support and advice when it is needed most. 

Becoming a new parent will be the most rewarding and challenging time of your life. Making arrangements ahead of time and planning for help will set you up for success. Also, keep the camera (or cell phone) close by and capture everything. The time will fly by, so enjoy it!

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Variety is the Spice of (Prenatal Fitness) Life

Should you stick with what you’re a “pro” at, or add a little variety? Ovia Guest Expert Kira examines why overtraining in one area may be counterproductive during pregnancy, and gives a few tips on how to craft your best prenatal fitness routine. 

I love conquering a certain type of exercise. Through phases of my life, I’ve been a basketball fanatic (played on three teams year-round!), a running junkie, a spinning addict (when I was an instructor), a yoga devotee and more. I have friends who feel like they have to do penance if they miss a CrossFit class, and friends who love two-a-days (Barre and spinning in the same day, anyone?). 

Having more recently come to a place of balance in my fitness routine, I started to seriously assess what type of programming would work best for me during pregnancy. Because of past exercise choices or genetics, I have terribly tight hamstrings, but flexible hips. However, these two go hand-in-hand. If I overdo it on exercise that doesn’t promote any lateral movement (e.g., exclusively running and biking), I’ll continue to over-tighten areas that I should be loosening as I prep for labor.  

 Additionally, I needed to add in considerations of how my body was changing during pregnancy. Although I’ve been lucky to avoid back pain, I’ve dealt with three months of chronic rib pain on my right side. Since I didn’t anticipate this, I had to make some fitness sacrifices to avoid aggravating that area. I’ve also added in routines that help open the rib cage and promote circulation (more yoga!). 

Here’s how to assess what might work for you: 

  • Have you had any sports injuries in the past?  

  • Torn ACL from soccer? Rotator cuff surgery from swimming? With the many physical changes happening in the body during pregnancy, some old injuries may flare up. Be aware of what they are, and if they start to give you warning signals. 

  • What keeps you motivated? 

  • Being with Peers Vs. Self Motivation: 

  • Are you self-motivated, or do you want to be in a group class with other moms-to-be? Identify what motivates you to be active and accountable. 

  • The Type of Exercise: 

  • Does the thought of walking for an hour bore you to tears? Try adding in small jogging intervals (60 seconds), or stop to do a quick lower body workout every 5 minutes. The most important thing here is picking an exercise that leaves you stimulated.  

  • Do a personal energy assessment. 

  • Once you have your list of preferred exercises in front of you, try each out and take note of how you feel before and after. Walking and jogging might leave you feeling refreshed, while weight training may leave you drained. Be mindful of how you feel when scheduling certain types of workouts. 

  • What are your fitness goals? 

  • Do you want to maintain a certain level of fitness? Reduce stress? Actively prep for a natural labor? Simply reap the benefits of exercise during pregnancy (e.g., better digestion, better sleep, etc.)? Match up your goals with the other considerations, and start narrowing down (or increasing) your options. 

Not only do I have multiple goals, but I have different goals for each trimester. My current schedule incorporates walking/running, interval training, bodyweight training, resistance training, yoga, and meditation. Each of these fulfills my needs, while rejuvenating me at the same time. And although I am generally content working out on my own, I can’t stop thinking about my new, soon-to-be training buddy.  

10 Weird Facts About Breastfeeding

It's World Breastfeeding Week! To celebrate, here are some bizarre facts you may not have known: 

  1. You burn a ton of calories
    Experts estimate that it takes about 500 calories to make the 24 to 28 ounces of breast milk that the average mom makes each day. That’s the caloric equivalent of a serious brownie (or if you’re eating healthier, about 20 medium carrots). Burning anywhere between 200 and 500 extra calories for milk production each day is a typical range.

  2. Your milk comes from many holes, not just the obvious one
    If you had to guess the spot where breast milk comes out, you’d probably say it’s right in the center of the nipple. In reality, milk comes from many openings in the nipple at once. Called “milk duct orifices,” these little holes usually number from around four to twenty per breast. Babies that are correctly latched onto the breast have their mouths covering the entire areola, not just the tip of the nipple, so they catch the spray from multiple holes without a problem.

  3. Your nipples can hurt really badly
    Breastfeeding might look easy, but it can be quite painful for the first few weeks or months. Getting baby to latch onto your breast at all, let alone correctly, can take time, and those 8 - 12 feeding sessions a day can leave your nipples feeling raw and sore. The discomfort can range from slight tenderness to cracked and bleeding skin.
    Most women find that their breasts toughen up in about two weeks, but it’s important to get baby to latch on correctly and contact your healthcare provider if the pain persists, especially between feedings.

  4. Your partner might sexualize it
    Although your breasts have taken on a very different role for you recently as nutritional providers for baby, things may not have changed much for your partner. Chances are that your partner has a special fondness for your breasts, and seeing them--even with a baby attached to them--is still a turn-on.
    If it’s weird for you, feel free to tell your partner not to watch. But if not, you might welcome the company and the attention during feeding sessions.

  5. You might get turned on
    Arousal during breastfeeding is a common and confusing side effect. Let’s face it: many women enjoy breast stimulation in their sex lives far before they ever have a baby, and erogenous zones don’t simply stop feeling good when touched.
    It’s important to note that the physical arousal you feel is totally separate from anything emotional you feel towards your baby. Again, it’s incredibly common, despite it being a taboo subject for obvious reasons.

  6. You might get cramps
    Baby's sucking causes the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin, and oxytocin creates uterine contractions. Although uncomfortable, these cramps (also called “afterpains”) are necessary to squeeze your uterus back to its pre-birth size.

  7. Bigger breasts don’t equal more milk production
    Milk glands are what matter when it comes to milk production, not breast size (which is mostly fatty tissue). A woman with an A-cup can make the same amount of milk as a woman with a double D; she just has less fatty tissue compared to glandular tissue.

  8. Hearing a baby cry could make your breasts start to leak
    The release of breast milk, called the let-down reflex, usually happens after baby has been sucking for about two minutes. The sucking triggers release of the hormone oxytocin, which stimulates milk production. Some women feel the let-down reflex as a tingling or a warmth.
    But other stimuli can trigger production of oxytocin besides sucking, including emotional ones like looking at a picture of baby, thinking of her, or hearing a recording of her. Sometimes even hearing any baby cry, not just your own, can trigger a sensitive let-down reflex.

  9. You might get addicted to it
    There’s not a lot of research to back it up, but some women swear that they find breastfeeding addictive because of the good feelings it brings and the calories it burns. Penelope Cruz famously stated that it’s “addictive. It’s hard when the day comes when you have to stop.”

  10. You can do it with body modifications like breast implants or nipple piercings
    Many women with breast implants can still breastfeed successfully. Incisions made through the armpit or underneath the breast tend to interfere with breastfeeding the least, whereas incisions around the areola can increase problems with feeding like reduced nipple sensitivity or blocked milk ducts. Implant placement below the pectoralis muscle usually leaves the milk glands intact for future feeding.
    Although you shouldn’t breastfeed with your nipple jewelry in, the hole it leaves shouldn’t interfere with feedings. Like we mentioned in point number two above, milk comes from many holes at once; an additional one that you added yourself won’t cause a problem. However, newer piercings have increased risk of infection, so they should be fully healed before attempting breastfeeding.