Category Archives: Maternity Consulting

Combatting Common Pregnancy Symptoms with Nutrition

Photo courtesy of Friends, Food, Family blogger Tricia White...recipe below!

Photo courtesy of Friends, Food, Family blogger Tricia White…recipe below!

**We have a SPECIAL TREAT on the blog today! My nutrition-minded, talented, knowledgeable friend, Danielle Bolea, took some time to write an entry about nutrition and pregnancy. Double bonus: her mom, Tricia White (who is like a second mom to me), is a food blogger for Friends Food Family, so she has linked up her suggestions with some recipes. What a dynamic duo; enjoy!**

 

 

Food plays a significant role in one’s pregnancy. During this time it is important to maintain a healthy diet; however, many women run into symptoms that make it difficult to uphold proper nutrition. Yes, I’m talking about morning sickness, heartburn, and constipation. Here are some helpful tips and recipes that may help alleviate symptoms with home remedies.

Due to an increase in hormones, many pregnant women face morning sickness within their first trimester; although, sometimes the symptoms can prolong throughout an entire pregnancy. If you are experiencing signs of morning sickness (nausea/vomiting), try these tips to ease back into a normal eating pattern:

  • Avoid foods and smells that trigger your nausea.
  • Eat dry/bland foods that are low in fat such as rice, toast, crackers or a baked potato. Gradually introduce foods as you feel better.
  • Keep water, ginger ale, or crackers by your bedside. Try eating/drinking a little bit before getting up. Allow some time for digestion and rise slowly.
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day (5-6) rather than three large meals.
  • Drink less water with your meals and obtain the rest of your needs throughout the day.

Another common symptom amongst pregnant women is heartburn. Hormones released during pregnancy relax the stomach muscles that keep acid from moving into the esophagus; thus, creating acid reflux/heartburn. Eliminating some of the foods below may help manage/avoid your discomfort.

  • High-fat, fried, rich foods
  • Spicy foods (foods made with paprika, chili, vinegar, jalapeno, hot sauce)
  • Tomatoes and tomato products
  • Citrus fruit and juice (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit)
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint/spearmint

For relief, try eating low-fat yogurt or drink a glass of low-fat milk; you want to make sure these dairy items are low in fat since high-fat products tend to cause heartburn. Be sure not to lie down for 30 minutes after consuming your meals; this will only contribute to your symptoms. These remedies work for different individuals, and may not provide you instant relief. It’s important to recognize the foods that trigger your heartburn, and eliminate them from your diet.

The growing of your uterus during pregnancy places pressure on other organs within the body, including the intestines. This compression can often cause constipation making it a common symptom amongst most pregnant women. It is important to exercise routinely, drink plenty of fluids, and incorporate high fiber foods into your diet. Need help distinguishing which foods are rich in fiber? Here is a helpful list:

  • Whole Grains (mix it up!): bran cereal (Raisin Bran), oatmeal, granola (Kashi bars), brown rice, quinoa, barley, faro, whole wheat pasta. Recipe idea: Quinoa, mango and black bean salad (pictured above).
  • Fruits and vegetables: avocados, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, artichokes, leafy greens (spinach, kale – although, they don’t have as much fiber as some of the foods listed prior). Recipe idea (substitute a pregnancy-friendly cheese, if you so desire): Green apple, avocado, and chicken salad.
  • Beans: lentils, black beans, lima beans, split peas, kidney beans. Recipe idea: Chunky beef and bean chili (the beer in it is just a tease!).
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseed. Recipe idea: Epicurious’ Shaved Summer Squash Salad.
corn black bean

Photo courtesy of Tricia White

Here are some recommendations for incorporating fiber into your everyday meals:

  • Add fruit OR flaxseed to your oatmeal/cereal – (ex: oatmeal with raspberries or blueberries and sliced almonds). Or, substitute whole wheat flour and try this recipe for blackberry oatmeal breakfast bars.
    blackberry

    Photo courtesy of Tricia White

    (pictured right)

  • Add flaxseed, spinach/kale, or almond milk to a smoothie.
  • Spread avocado on sandwiches or whole wheat toast for breakfast.
  • Add beans to your salads and soups.
  • Make whole grain salads with quinoa, barley, or faro. Mexican style: corn, beans, tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, avocado, shredded chicken (your choice of meat) – add refried beans, salsa, or your choice of dressing (ranch). Recipe idea: Roasted corn and black bean salad (pictured above, just add your favorite whole grain!).
greek

Photo courtesy of Tricia White

Mediterranean style: red/green peppers, scallions, (black or Kalamata) olives, tomato, lemon juice, parsley, shredded chicken (choice of meat) Recipe idea: Greek Pasta Salad (substitute quinoa or whole wheat pasta and a pregnancy-friendly cheese for best results-pictured left).

*  Enjoy a simple salad of spinach, red onion, almonds, dried cranberries, balsamic vinaigrette

* Try kale, roasted sweet potatoes, beets (marinated), balsamic dressing

A little about Danielle:

Darni

Photo courtesy of Danielle Bolea

Danielle is a graduate from Keene State College with a degree in Nutrition. She currently works as an Executive Assistant to the Chief of Radiation Oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Nutrition is still her passion, and she thoroughly enjoys cooking and modifying recipes so they’re easier to make and healthier for you. Breakfast is her favorite meal to cook and is a hobby she looks forward to on the weekends (and I can tell you from experience IT’S DELICIOUS). Danielle enjoys educating others about nutritional lifestyles and guiding them in a healthy direction.

Thank you Danielle! Thank you Tricia! Please let us know how these recipes turn out :)

Top Five Tips for Babysitting an Infant

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I had the absolute pleasure of babysitting my friend’s infant, Macie, when her momma returned to school from her maternity leave. Macie Mondays quickly became my favorite day of the week, and I made sure to give her the best care I was able. I learned a lot along the way, and thought I would share my top five tips for babysitting an infant:

1.   LISTEN to the parents. They spend the most time with the infant. You DON’T know best when it comes to someone else’s child, so listen to what they have to say. What may have worked for you and your children, or a family you’ve babysat in the past, or your nieces and nephews, could be the worst thing in the world to that baby.

2.   FOLLOW the parents’ schedule. Parents give you a schedule for a reason. Usually because they have tried numerous different scenarios, and this is what works best for them and their baby. Is it going to vary slightly? Sure. You have to adapt, and read the child’s needs. But don’t forego a nap at a scheduled time because you want to catch Oprah at 3:00 and you don’t want to be disturbed.

Macie2

3.   PLAY with infants. And READ to them. And TEACH them new things. Are they going to throw a ball back to you? No. Are they going to understand how many red circles can be found on a page? Probably not. But, they are learning, rapidly. Their brains are growing so much, and they are making connections and learning about the world around them. So give them the best chance at a good start by interacting constantly. For more tips about reading aloud to your infant, please check out this link.

4.   REALIZE that you are being trusted to care for the single, utmost important, precious gift in the parents’ lives. Whatever they say, goes. If there is a reason you need to stray from their guidelines, be honest and tell them why. If they aren’t comfortable with something you want to do, you HAVE to listen. Caring for their child is not a time to be selfish, and they need to be able to trust you. If they say no TV, don’t turn it on. If they say you can’t drive with their baby in the car, surrender your keys. They are the parents, and they make the rules. This message applies VERY WELL to all you grandparents out there, too ;)

5.   LOVE that infant with everything you have while they are in your care. During a stage where they are learning so much everyday, they have to know how loved they are, how special they are, and what a healthy, loving relationship means. And they are just so cute, how can you not <3

Do you have any additional tips for babysitting an infant? Please feel free to leave them in the comments!

Macie

Seriously, how freaking cute is she?! :) Not to mention smart, expressive, happy, curious, interactive, beautiful, fun, energetic, and the list goes on and on and on <3

 

 

A Story of Friendship, Loss, and a Sweet One Year Old Baby Boy

LM1

While I met Lauren about six or seven years ago through our, then fiancés (now hubbys), it was really a tragedy that brought us so close together. I reached out to Lauren after reading a Facebook post requesting prayers to get her through a really tough time. Lauren and her husband Pat suffered a devastating miscarriage (you can read about it through Lauren’s eyes here). After all of the struggles Jimmy and I had getting pregnant, I couldn’t image seeing that + and then having it taken away so prematurely. I checked on Lauren frequently to see how she was doing, and tried my best to let her know I was here for whatever she needed.

From that point on, we have talked almost daily. We can be unabashedly ourselves without fear of judgment or ridicule. We offer each other advice, support, and gentle slaps upside the head when the other is being a little crazy. This also means that we tell each other WAYYY TOOOO MUCHHH. So, when Lauren had exciting news to share with me, she was a little nervous because it was during my “I can’t be happy for anyone getting pregnant/poor me/why not me/my life is just so horrible” phase. To her surprise, when she told me, I cried happy tears. I was so ecstatic that my friend who had suffered so much, was now getting the blessing she and her husband deserved. She helped me get out of a time so dark and lonely, and for that I will be forever grateful.

It was also during this time that began my Baby Planning/Maternity Consulting education. I was learning a lot, and sharing anything I thought may be helpful with Lauren. Then, one day, she called and told me that her friend who she had wanted to be her doula was also pregnant, and she would probably not be able to attend her birth…

“I’ll do it!!!!” I blurted excitedly.

And, from there, the planning began. I hopped onto DONA later that day, and made the arrangements to attend my training before her birth. We set up appointments, I helped her through bed rest, and did my best to really understand her birth wishes. And then, on June 6, 2013, Lauren and I learned first-hand that you can come up with an iron-clad birth plan, but sometimes outside factors can change everything. For example:

  1. Sometimes, even on your first baby, labor can be so quick!
  2. You can be unsure if your water has broken.
  3. Sometimes even the “Spray Tan” or “Leather Pants” episodes of Friends isn’t enough to get you through a mean f*@#ing contraction.
  4. Sometimes epidurals don’t work in time.
  5. When your epidural doesn’t work, you STILL have the strength, stamina, and perseverance to push your baby out. And it’s amazing. Women are freaking amazing.

    LM2

    Photo credit, Tiffany Farley

  6. Sometimes, in spite of staying at the head level, dad’s see things they were not expecting.
  7. Sometimes scary things happen during delivery, and mom and baby are separated.
  8. When mom and baby are reunited, God, it is just. So. Good.
  9. Sometimes, nine months after a baby is born, you can be sitting in your Lactation Counselor training course, wishing you knew then what you know now.
  10. You can be sitting writing a blog post a year after a sweet baby boy is born, crying at the memory, feeling so blessed to have been a part of his birth story.

While I am sad that I won’t be able to attend this little man’s first birthday party (as I await another birth), I hope Lauren and Pat know that I celebrate the life of this sweet, curious, entertaining, happy, smiling, bright little boy every single day. <3

LM5

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY LANDON!!!

LM3 LM4

 

Posted with permission. Any of the lovely, professional images were taken by Tiffany Farley. To see more of her images, please visit her website.

A Year in Review

Today is my first MCMaternity baby’s first birthday. Where the HECK has the time gone?! I can’t believe I am lucky enough to have been doing what I love for a year. And, I can’t thank the families who put their trust in me to be a part of their birth stories enough. Without people believing in what I do, there would be no MCMaternity. So again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

What has this year looked like? Below is a little summary of highlights:

  • Completed my DONA International Doula training workshop in Albany, NY
  • 7 vaginal deliveries
  • 1 Caesarean section delivery
  • Helped an additional 5 families prepare for birth (education, birth plan design)
  • Became a Certified Lactation Counselor
  • Took classes in childbirth education, reflexology, and breastfeeding
  • Had my services auctioned at the AGC Scholarship Foundation Gala for Hope

What do I have planned so far for this year?

  • Twins! Multiple sets of them :) :)
  • Experience with same-sex couples
  • Infant CPR certification
  • Learning more tips for the blog, first-hand, by babysitting my favorite 4 month old baby girl

What are my goals for this year?

  • Help a lot of people
  • To finish all certifications I have started
  • Figure out better ways to market myself
  • Write more blog entries
  • GET PREGNANT. For crying out loud.
  • At least 12 deliveries. At LEAST.
  • Complete the “Packages” section of my website
  • Learn more about the business side of business
  • Find a good, reliable back-up doula (anyone interested??)

Long-shot Goals (if I make enough revenue to support):

  • Start the process of becoming a certified Childbirth Educator
  • Become a certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (that’s right, folks! It’s time other people hop on board the placenta-loving train!)

I am very excited about this coming year. Now that I have some great education and first-hand birth experience under my belt, I certainly need to learn more about the business side of this business. Have suggestions? Don’t be shy! I thrive off of constructive criticism, and I created this website for you. Let’s make this business work, together :)

Interested in joining my team? Contact me. Know of anyone who could benefit from my services? Please, let me know. Want to give my services as a baby shower gift? I have the certificate ready :)

And, if you see this handsome, happy little one-year old (who absolutely ADORES his older sister), wish him a Happy Birthday!

Posted with permission

Posted with permission

 

National Infertility Awareness Week 2014

NIAW

Live link! :)

Today ends National Infertility Awareness Week for 2014. The theme this year was “Resolve to Know More”. One thing I know for sure is that infertility can happen to ANYONE. There is no one “type”. About 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. 7.3 million people. So, do yourself a favor and resolve to know more about your own reproductive health.

Want to know something about my own infertility? It actually makes me EXTREMELY uncomfortable to write about it, talk about it, and share the story. But, life wasn’t made for comfort zones. So, as soon as I receive my medical records*, there will be more on that story.

And, please, resolve to know more about how to speak to loved ones struggling with infertility. You really can’t understand the everyday hurt and pain unless you are living it, but you can be more sensitive to those struggling. And remember that statistic above? Chances are you know some of those 7.3 million people, and it just may be a part of their life they don’t want to share… 25 Things to Say (and Not to Say) to Someone Living with Infertility

Want to resolve to DO more? You can start by writing a simple letter. Below is an excerpt from the AGC Scholarship Foundation, and instructions on what to write:

On May 7, I will be on Capitol Hill with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association educating members of Congress on issues and legislation important to all of us in the IF community. As part of #NIAW, I ask for your support by writing letters to your local representatives that I can take with me. You can find a template here: http://goo.gl/RjxdNO You can also link to the house of representatives directory through that page. Please send your letters to me at: info@agcscholarships.org THANK YOU!
*In the next entries I will be sharing the procedures, cost out-of-pocket and “with insurance”, and hopefully I will be able to sneak some humor and light in there somewhere <3

I also thought this article was accurate and extremely well-written.

Tips From Real Mamas about how to Survive Returning to Work

I know, it feels like just yesterday you were pushing your little bundle of joy through the birth canal, and holding him/her to your chest for the first time. And now, you’re expected to return to work? It seems almost inhumane that such things are expected of you, but you have a future to provide for now. Below are some tips from real moms about making the transition back to work a little bit easier.

1.  Try to return to work towards the end of the week. Going back on a Monday can make the week seem so long, and leave you frazzled to begin a new routine on a dreaded Monday.

2.  Begin your new routine a few days early.  Practice makes perfect, and this will give you time to make adjustments, and slowly start to manage your time better.

3.  If it is an option for you, cut back on your hours. I can’t explain the overwhelming feelings of guilt many new moms describe having when they return, and being away for a full forty hours can just be too much sometimes.

4.  Have childcare planned out as far in advance as possible. And, have a backup plan. If you are lucky enough to have a family member who can watch your baby, what will you do if that family member is sick?

5.  Know and trust your childcare. Don’t just sign up, and show up the first day. Get to know the providers, and make sure it is a good fit for you and your baby. It will only make it more difficult to say goodbye if you get a weird vibe on the first day.

6.  Be organized. It’s time to start thinking about meal preparation, getting up earlier, and having bags packed ahead of time. It might sound like a drag, but it will make things a lot easier for you.

7.  If you are pumping, make sure you have everything you need packed ahead of time. That includes: pump, pumping bra, pump parts, tubing, pump wipes, bottles, coconut oil or nipple cream, nursing cover (if you so choose, or is the law where you are), car adapter, and have a storage location for pumped milk set up ahead of time. Exclusively pumping? Visit this blog for more tips and tricks!

@fromourhidingplace

@fromourhidingplace

 

9.   Pack your little one’s bag the night before. Likely, you will be very stressed the morning of,     and will not want to think of necessities. Many new moms tend to over-pack, but hey, that’s natural :)

10.  Know ahead of time that you are probably going to cry. As much as you mentally prepare, all those postpartum hormones are going to kick in, and you will probably be a mess. Don’t worry too much though, the first week is the hardest but it does get easier!

11.  Schedule a date night before you return to work. It’s only going to get harder to squeeze in some couple time. There are so many people who want to watch your baby, don’t be afraid to take people you trust up on their offers! Whether that’s mom, a neighbor, your best friend, or your friendly Baby Planner, make time for the two of you.

babysitting(This is what happens when I am asked to babysit. Chat time, tummy time, and sleep in my arms time. Oh, and take a million pictures time.)

12.  Realize it’s time to let the little things go. The dishes will get done, the bed doesn’t always have to be made, and your little one is only this age once. Make time for skin-to-skin contact, play time, nursing, reading, tummy time, and all those good things. Some days will be harder than others, but remember that you are woman, you are strong. Remember how blessed you are to be this little miracle’s mama, and put the time in to be the best you can be <3

Babyproofing Basics

As my earliest clients are very quickly realizing, their babies are growing. Like, FAST. Everyday there is a new discovery. One day, they realize they have feet…that are attached to their body…that they can put in their mouth! The next, they are rolling. All by themselves. And getting frustrated that they can’t crawl around. But soon enough, they will be crawling, and then standing, and then walking and running around.

With my new moms and dads realizing how quickly their babies are growing, the next thought is: “shit, we have to babyproof!” One day they leave the room for one second while their baby is “enjoying” tummy time, and the next they find their baby all the way across the room.

There are HUNDREDS of safety tips to prevent injury for your child. Actually, probably thousands. But first and foremost, the tip that can’t be replaced is supervision. You can take every safety measure in the world, but without supervision, your baby can still get into all sorts of trouble.

The following are just a few of the ways you can prepare your home before your baby begins crawling, you know, aside from wrapping your entire house contents in bubble wrap:

childproofing1

  • Install a toilet lock on every toilet
  • Remove mobiles and hanging toys from baby’s crib, and remove all toys that mysteriously end up inside the crib
  • Install gates at top AND bottom of stairs. Make sure the gate has the JPMA seal of approval
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms outside of every bedroom
  • Use door holders/stops to protect little fingers and toes
  • Install window guards
  • Lock medications away
  • Install latches on any drawers, cabinets, or rooms with dangerous items. This can include knives, chemicals, cleaning products, glass, etc.
  • Tie window cords out of reach
  • Consider choking hazards around your home, and remove unnecessary clutter
  • Cover unused electrical outlets with plug-in style plates that cover the whole outlet, RATHER than the small (choking-hazard) individual plates. Or, block them completely with furniture, if that is an option
  • Follow crib safety standards

childproofing2

If you decide to make these changes to your home yourself, PLEASE read the instructions on how to do so carefully. There is no use for faulty equipment, or gear that is not installed properly. To find a childproofer in your area, please click here.

Please feel free to share other safety tips, or questions below! :)

 

 

 

 

Before Starting your Baby Registry

You walk into the store and head straight to the registry department. The person helping you gets you all signed up, gives you your handy-dandy pointer gun and says “If you need any help just let me know” and sends you on your merry way. You look excitedly at your partner (or mother, friend, sister), stand up, turn around, and then you’re stopped dead in your tracks. “Where the HELL do I begin??” The thought races through your mind as you look dauntingly around the store. A cold sweat breaks over you as you take a step towards the bottles: “why are there SO MANY nipples? What do they all mean?” Ok, you decide, we’ll come back to the bottles. You head to the stroller section. There are more options than OBGYNs to choose from. At this point, you’ve officially checked out, and coerce your partner into “just looking around” today and coming back another time to make your important decisions.

Was that too dramatic? Probably :)

Seriously, though, the big stores can be very overwhelming, especially if you go in not knowing certain things. Below is the list of seven categories to have an understanding of before you start your baby registry.

1 thru 4

1. Do you plan to breastfeed, exclusively pump, or formula feed? Once you have a clear idea of what you want to try, or what you think will work best for your family, you can begin researching which bottles you like best, which breast pump you want to use, which nursing bra to register for, etc. *Note: something to look into as well is insurance coverage for a breast pump. Some plans only cover the pump after the baby is born.*

2. Do you have a diapering preference? Are you a green mama who wants to try cloth? Is there a history of skin sensitivity in newborns in your family? Have a good understanding of which type of diaper you want to try, and just throw two sizes of the same brand on your registry so people know which type you prefer.

3. Do you plan to wear your baby? If so, are you more of a flexible wrap or a sturdy carrier type of person? If you aren’t sure, plan to ask the person helping you with your registry for a demonstration of both kinds.

4. Mattresses. If your crib comes with a mattress, please, throw it away. Unless you know specifically what the mattress is made of, most are made with “filler”. Don’t even get me started on that. Anyway, would you like your baby to sleep on a naturepedic, coconut palm (the only material no human is allergic to!!), foam, etc.

5 thru 7

5. The next two categories go together. First, car seats. There are so many questions to be answered for this one. Do you want it to be convertible? How long do you want to rear face? Do you want it to be compatible with your stroller? Will the one you want fit in your car? If you have two vehicles, do you just need two bases, or do you need two whole systems?

6. Next, strollers. My best advice is to make your stroller compatible with your car seat. My next best piece of advice is to NOT get a stroller with umbrella handles. Rather, get a stroller that has one bar handle so if you need to answer a phone call, or take a swig of your Dunkin’ Donuts, you don’t have to stop moving. There are many more questions to answer, such as: is the stroller compatible should you have another baby soon, do you plan to take your stroller off of pavement (if so, you may need one of those souped up monster-truck-looking ones!), can you lift the whole system easily, etc.

7. The last piece of advice I have before you begin your baby registry is to have a vision for your nursery. Whether it’s a color, Noah’s Ark animals, nautical, worldly, alphabet, whatever you have in mind, just have a preliminary vision. You can always change your mind when you get there, but, believe me, there are so many adorable options that will be thrown your way it’s better to have your own mental picture and find the perfect pieces to fit that, than having no vision and ending up with a helter skelter room of all cute things with no collective theme.

I hope that you find this guide helpful to planning your dream registry for your little bundle of joy! If you need any additional help, one of the services I provide is registry planning :)

Happy shopping <3

All pictures were taken from my Pinterest account. Their links are here:

1. Links to my breastfeeding category.

2. Cloth diapering; I love how this mama explains her “lazy” method!

3. This pin is really just a diagram about how to properly wear a baby to avoid hip dysplasia.

4.I really recommend coconut palm mattresses for babies!

5. and 6. This pin links up to mom reviews on baby travel systems.

7. What an adorable nautical nursery pin!!!

 

Adventures in Personal Shopping

     I love helping people. In any way, shape, form, capacity it just makes me feel good to help others. For my personal enjoyment, an activity that I love is shopping. I feel empowered when I get a good deal on something that I really want or need.

     When I get to help people, and shop? Shut the front door. This. Is. My. Job? I’ll take it. And own it. And love it.

     One of my mommas on bed rest sent me on a mission first to find the perfect dress for her baby shower. About seven stores, twenty plus dresses, and a faux baby bump later…

PicMonkey Collage

Success!

     The next mission: to find the perfect undergarments to fit her beautiful lace-inspired maternity portrait session with Tiffany Farley (see it here!).

     This took much less time and fittings because she had such a clear vision of how she wanted her portraits (seriously, check them out, they are breath-taking!)…with the exception of an exchange due to the unpredictability of an ever-changing pregnant body!

personalshopping

 

     My ladies send me on a mission, and I make it my personal goal not to disappoint.  For this momma-to-be I also got to take a trip to Trader Joe’s and make her and her husband a healthy, home-cooked meal. Did I mention that I love my job?