Top 10 Breastfeeding Tips

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

One of the biggest things that new moms stress about is feeding their baby, especially breastfeeding. It’s not an exact science. Every baby is different, every mom is different and every breastfeeding relationship is different. Just because breastfeeding is so variable does not mean it need to be the source of a whole bunch of stress. Here are 10 tips to make your breastfeeding experience a little smoother.

1. Take a class
You may have been around breastfeeding a feel very familiar and comfortable with it, but I highly suggest you look into taking a breastfeeding class. Don’t know where to look? Ask your midwife or doctor about classes in your area. Odds are there is a class at your hospital, birth center or near by. Take the class before your baby comes and try to get your partner to go with you. Not only will you learn about breastfeeding, but your partner will learn how to best support you.

2. Surround Yourself with support
Having a supportive partner and family is an important factor in successful breastfeeding. It really does make a difference if husbands support their breastfeeding wives. A study out of Australia found that “Paternal emotional, practical and physical supports were identified as important factors to promote successful breastfeeding and to enrich the experience for the mother and subsequently the father.” Find the full article here.
In addition to support in the home, it is beneficial for breastfeeding moms to find additional support. Find a moms group with other breastfeeding moms, join a breastfeeding support group in social media (a GOOD, supportive group) or get connected to your local La Leche League which is an international breastfeeding support with local groups all over the world. Check out the La Leche League website to find a group near you.

3. Find a Lactation Consultant
Lactation consultants are trained professional breastfeeding specialists that help mom and babies with breastfeeding. They are especially trained to help with moms or babies that are having different problems with breastfeeding. If you are delivering your baby in the hospital there is almost always a lactation consultant on-call and should stop by during your stay. Take advantage of her services, ask questions, have look at baby feeding and help you in any way. If you are having your baby outside of the hospital, ask your midwife for a recommendation. Most midwives have lactation consultants they are familiar with and will recommend to you.

4. Trust your body
This is a hard one, but very helpful. Your body grew your baby and now you need to trust that your body can feed your baby. A woman’s body is amazing and knows what to do to feed your baby. Your baby will mainly get colostrum until your milk comes in and that is exactly what your baby needs. As your milk comes in, you will feel full, and as your milk regulates (around 8-9 weeks) you won’t feel as full, but your body will be making the right amount for your baby. Only in rare instances do mothers not make enough milk. Most mothers make enough milk for their babies. Trust that your body knows what to do.

5.Trust your baby
Yes, your baby is brand new, but baby instincts are really amazing! Newborn babies left on mom’s chest often do what is called the “breast crawl” where they crawl up mom’s chest to the breast and start trying to latch on. It is an amazing thing to watch. It also helps us understand that babies know what to do to. Yes, there is a learning curve for you and baby and you both will have to figure it out.

6. Relax
Yes, I know. It is hard to relax when you are trying to recover from having a baby, getting less sleep and caring for a newborn. It is ok! RELAX! (Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you!) Relax. Trying to feed your baby while feeling overwhelmed or stressed will make breastfeeding hard. Take a few deep breaths, just look at your new precious baby, whatever it takes to melt away the stress and get the “good feelings” flowing will help make breastfeeding more successful. Those “good feelings” help you release oxytocin, and oxytocin is what helps your “let down” or helps move your milk. Pretty cool, right?

7. Keep baby close
There are so many reasons to keep your squishy little newborn close to you in the first few days and weeks. In regards to breastfeeding there are many benefits. In the early days, keeping you baby close and having skin-to-skin time will help your milk come in. After your milk comes in, it is beneficial to keep baby close to help regulate your supply and help with the release of oxytocin (which will help with let down as noted before) and has great non-breastfeeding related health benefits for mom and baby. When people come over to help, have them help clean, cook, put away laundry while YOU hold the baby.

8. Do not be afraid to ask questions
This one is pretty self explanatory. Things will come up that you don’t know the answer to, and that is totally fine. Can I take this medication while breastfeeding? Do I have to pump and dump? What should I do if my baby gets sick? (Just examples of questions I have heard or asked myself) Have some reliable people to go to when you need to ask the questions you don’t have the answers to. Your doctor, midwife, lactation consultant, or doula are great resources that can help you.

9. Give it Time
I feel like this one is closely related to relax. Remember that you and baby are both new to this. Every mom is different, every baby is different and every breastfeeding relationship is different. Give yourself time to adjust to being a mom and taking care of a newborn. Give you and baby time to figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. You will get it, and your baby will get it. Some babies catch on fast, but others it takes a little bit, but they are still great eaters. Relax (see, I told you they were related) and give yourself and your baby some time to figure out your unique breastfeeding relationship.

10.Take care of yourself
I left this one for last because it is SO IMPORTANT! If you are not taking care of yourself, then you cannot care for your baby. So many moms forget to take care of themselves and then find themselves with supply issues or other issues. Make sure you are drinking TONS of water. Do I have a magic amount that will keep your supply up? Nope, but staying hydrated will help keep your milk supply up and help you, mom stay healthy. Also, make sure you eat! No, seriously! Breastfeeding a baby takes just as many extra calories, oftentimes MORE calories than being pregnant. Eat often, eat healthy and do not skip a meal. Skipping a meal will cause a drop in supply.

These are only 10 quick tips to make your breastfeeding journey a success, but I could probably easily added 10 more. I hope your breastfeeding experience is made a little bit simpler with these tips. If you have your own tips, add them in the comments! I love to hear tips from other experienced breastfeeders!

 

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Not Top 10 of 2014

I can say just how wonderful 2014 was, but I would be lying if I said there were no bumps in the road in the past year. So, lets just look back at the times with things weren’t so “Leave it to Beaver”-esque in our house. Here is my not top 10:

1. That time I decided to potty train our 2 year old, by myself, while battling morning sickness and managing a 4 year old. Yeah, brilliant parenting move on my part. Good news, she’s potty trained and I am still alive!

Potty Training

2. That time I said, “Yeah, sure I’ll print ALL 100+ VBS shirts” while also being a coordinator…..oh and I was also like 25 weeks pregnant too. And it was summer, in Texas. Good news, I’m still alive!

VBS shirts

3. That time I attempted a gluten/rice/corn/oat free all natural birthday cake and everyone was super nice and pretended to like it. (Thanks guys! I can’t believe we are still alive after that cake!)birthday cake

4. That time Jeff and I decided to eat HALF of a birthday cake in one sitting. I felt SUPER weird the next day, but guess what?! STILL ALIVE!

Jeffs Birthday cake

5. That time I stripped my cloth diapers, put them in the washer with “a little extra detergent” and thought the washer was going to explode from bubble overload. Yeah, the washer still works! (And yes, still alive and actually not in danger that time)

bubbly washer

6. That time we went and ate dinner with friends and when we hopped back in the car, Woody was waiting for us in Ian’s car seat all creepy-like. Yeah, we all made it through that one alive, but Jeff and I were a little freaked out.

Creepy Woody

7. That time Jeff grew a beard (Yes, he is still alive….for now).

The Beard

8. Those times I tried to take a cute picture of the kids together. Come on kids, I just wanted ONE cute picture of you two together! Is that too much to ask?! The answer is “Yes, Mom! Yes it is!”

bad pictures

9. That time I got so obsessed with getting FOX via our antenna I made Jeff stand in the middle of the room with the antenna over his head to get it. No, you just don’t get it! The Cowboys were playing on FOX on Thanksgiving and it’s not Thanksgiving without football! Thanks to my complaining (or maybe just to shut me up) a friend from church gave us an extra antenna that’s stronger. I was way too excited.

Must have FOX

10. That time we went to the family Christmas celebration and our 2 month old screamed the ENTIRE TIME! (Yes, we are still alive, but our ears are still ringing)

Christmas party

May you remember the good with the bad and may you laugh at some of the things you have been through in the past year knowing you made it through. God Bless and Happy New Year!

 

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Looking Back at 2014

Every year I love to take some time on New Years Eve and reflect on the year that is about to end. What were the things that were good? Bad? How did the year compare to what I expected it to be? Then my husband and I sit down and make a list of the top 10 things that happened that year. I love this little tradition! It sparks some fun conversations and memories from the past year.

I remember being quite happy to see 2013 come to an end. It was a rough year. I knew 2014 would be a good year, and it was! As I look back, 2014 was very exciting, and at the same time somewhat uneventful year.  Here are the highlights of 2014:

 

1. In February of 2014 we found out we were pregnant and that we would be a family of 5! Panic and excitement ensued! It was the roughest pregnancy yet, but we were both healthy the whole way through. I tried to enjoy being pregnant knowing it was probably going to be the last time.

baby brewing

2. In March 2014 we got Ian allergy tested and finally figured out what was making him feel so bad. Thus ending the year-and-a-half battle of trying to figure out what was bothering him and starting the crazy adventure of avoiding ALL grains (and peanuts).

Allergy bracelet

3. In April 2014 We bought Jeff a car. This was very exciting because 1) Jeff needed a car and this was exactly what he wanted, and 2) we were able to pay CASH for this car and not gain any more debt! (Dave Ramsey would be proud!) He loves that little car.

Jeffs Car

4. Sometime in the summer Jeff took on the role of worship leader at our church. It was something we both prayed about and talked about. Jeff has a passion for music and was very excited to help the church out in this way. It was a lot of work, but Jeff had a blast and I was pretty darn proud of my husband using his gifts for God’s glory.

Jeff leading worship

5. Sometime during the year (because, let’s be honest my super-memory has its limits!) I bought a domain name and started designing this website you are reading from now. I had made the leap from casual blogger to a little less casual and a little more serious blogger. It was a step I had been looking forward to for a while and was very excited when I actually took the leap. (I also gained a “web-tech”. My husband wears many hats!)

gfd logo

6. In August 2014, my parents took the kids to spend a few days with them. They had done this before, but this time was a little special because we knew it would be the last time they would take ALL the kids for a long time. Jeff and I planned a one day getaway to Inks Lake and Longhorn Caverns. No big deal, I just hiked around 2 miles of rocks and trails at 29 weeks pregnant. It was so much fun and I felt like a badass pregnant lady that day!

Hiking at Inks Lake

7. In September 2014 Jeff and I found out that we were FINALLY going to be an Aunt and Uncle! We are so excited to finally get this promotion instead of just providing the babies! We cannot be happier for my brother and sister-in-law, but let’s be honest. We are mainly happy for ourselves! Aunt Katie and Uncle Jeff have a good ring to it!

Baby Slaten

8. In October 2014 we welcomed our third child. Griffin Daniel was born on October 18. He was beautiful and a little swollen (but still cute!) I got to experience my second home birth and I couldn’t be happier with the experience and the wonderful people I was surrounded with. He has been a joy to all of us already. Both of the other kids love their baby brother and I love seeing him smile when they talk to him! I cannot wait to see all the relationships build as they all get older.

birth of Griffin

9. Also in October 2014 (just a week before Griffin was born) my husband got a promotion at work. He is now a “SENIOR Implementation Engineer” and I could not be more proud of him! He loves his job, he’s good at it, and they seem to love him too. In addition to his promotion, he was also on a team that won a programming contest at work. And he won a PS4! (I use it to watch movies, not gonna lie!)

Jeff and PS4

10. In December 2014, my whole family made the trip home to be together. When I say home, I just mean we came together. It wasn’t at the house anyone of us kids grew up in, or the town, but we all traveled to my parents’ house and had some good ol’ fashioned Christmas fun. My brother and his wife came and visited from New York where he is stationed. My sister came home from college, and Jeff and I braved a trip with all three kids. It was a wonderful time!

Family Picture

Honestly, I was sad to see 2014 end, (I can now say my baby was born LAST YEAR!) but I know 2015 is inevitable and I plan to make it great!

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You know you have two under 2 when…

I have a 22 month old son and a 3 month old daughter. Needless to say they keep me and my husband very busy! Being a mommy of two babies under the age of two is HARD! It takes a special kind of mommy to stay sane with two so young and close together.

Here are the top ten things I have learned about having two under 2!



10. “I have the baby” is no longer a viable excuse to get your husband to do something for you because he’s got a baby too!

9. You wish Walmart, Albertson’s, Hobby Lobby and your favorite restaurant had drive-thru’s. (In fact, why doesn’t EVERYWHERE have a drive-thru?!)

8. A family meal now consists of you juggling a baby in one hand while trying to eat with other and your husband trying to get the other to eat his vegetables and not make them wall decor.
(What?! You don’t throw veggies, you eat them?! Since when?)

7. Instead of “Tag! It’s your turn!” It is now “Can we switch?!”
(I call dibs on the one that’s not crying!)

6. You can’t remember a time when you weren’t nursing, and neither can your husband.

5. You think both babies taking a nap at the same time is a miraculous act of God comparable only by the parting of the Red Sea.

4. Taking a shower is the ONLY alone time you get…and sometimes that doesn’t even happen!

3. You and your husband have races to see who can change a diaper faster. (Loser does the dishes!)

2. A “quick trip” to the store now involves an hour of preparing, 30 minutes for loading and another 30 minutes for unloading. (And begs the question “Is it really worth it to have toilet paper?”)

1.The last movie you and your husband saw in the theater is now in the $5 bin at Walmart. (What? When did that movie come out on DVD?)

For all my fellow two-under-2 mommies out there, I’m sure you can relate! I hope these have brought a smile to your face, and please add your own to the list by commenting! I would love to see your input!
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my children and wouldn’t change a thing, but if we’re honest with ourselves…sometimes it’s just plain hard! Hope y’all enjoyed these and as always, God bless you and your family!


Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie
grace.faith.dirt@gmail.com

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Ten Great Ways to Get Protein

Why is protein important?
Okay, so as you probably know, protein is very important for pregnancy and growing a baby, but why do we need so much?

  • Getting a high amount of protein is proven to help minimize complications during pregnancy and birth. 
  • Protein is made up of amino acids. These form the basic building blocks for your AND IN TURN your baby body’s cells.
  • Particularly at around 37 weeks, your baby’s brain will really need those amino acids or “building blocks” from protein to make his or her brain into the organ that will help your baby do all the necessary functions when he or she is born. 

10. Carbs– Foods like noodles, rice, tortilla, corn, bread and potatoes actually have a pretty good amount of protein in them. This may not be the best way to get your main source of protein, but if you need a little something extra or a side that has some protein in it these might be some great choices. A cup of noodles, rice or corn has between 6-7 grams and most medium potatoes and single slices of bread have around 2 grams.


9. Select Vegetables– Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, asparagus, and squash have protein in them. These again would not be significant ways to get protein, but would be great to boost the amount of protein in a meal or snack as a side dish. Kale and broccoli each have around 5 grams of protein per cup while the rest of these vegetables have between 2-3 grams per cup.
8. Lentils– different kinds of beans like pinto, navy or kidney beans are are very good sources of protein. These provide 7 grams of protein per half cup. This is a great, easy way to get a little extra protein from a side dish or snack. Lentils are also known to help with morning sickness (seriously!) Eating 1/4 to 1/2 a cup every time you are feeling nauseous will take that away. Eventually, you will need to eat less and less lentils to make you feel better.


7. Eggs– Eggs have 6 grams of protein each, and let’s be honest, who eats just one egg? The Brewer pregnancy diet suggests that you eat 2 eggs every day anyways. Any style, cooked anyway is fine. Eggs in French toast, or omelets is a great way to get eggs in your diet.


6. Milk/Dairy Products– Milk and other dairy products are not only good sources of protein but also great sources of calcium. We all know how important calcium is for our pregnancy bodies. One cup of milk has 8 grams of protein. Cheese has between 6-7 grams, and yogurt has around 7 grams.


5. Protein Shake– There are lots of protein shakes out there that have TONS of protein in it. Make sure to get a good one. Try out a few and see what you like. The most popular flavors are the traditional chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. These shakes can have anywhere from 15-30+ grams of protein.


4. Protein Powder– This is another great way to get a significant amount of protein. The most popular kinds of protein are soy and whey. Either is fine, but I use soy protein. When looking at protein powders, always look at the ingredients and try to find the purest protein possible. These powders are great to make protein smoothies with. I mix a scoop of the powder with my bananas, yogurt, milk and ice in the blender to make a super protein shake. I use the vanilla flavor and I love the taste.


3. Nuts– Almonds, cashews, pecans and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of protein and are great for quick and easy snacks. Almonds have 21 grams of protein per 4 oz, cashews have 19 grams and pecans have 10 grams (all per 4 oz) Peanut butter has 9 grams per 1/4 cup and sunflower seeds have 13 grams per 2 oz. These are great snacks to pack and take to work to snack on throughout the day. Make a mixed nut bag or a high protein “trail mix” with these nuts and maybe other protein snack foods. You will be surprised by how much protein you will have eaten if you snack on these throughout the day.


2. Meats– This is probably a obvious way to get quite a bit of protein because when you think of protein you probably think “red meat”. Beef, turkey, chicken, pork and liver all have 20 or more grams of protein per 3 oz. If you incorporate a rotation of these meats into your dinner or lunch almost every day, this can be your main source of protein. Remember to cook your meat fully to the safety guidelines for that particular meat. Sorry, the “medium rare” steak is going to have to wait until after the baby comes! Stick with fully cooked, no pink in the middle, steaks. If you are not a fan of  red meat or chicken (or you are a vegetarian) There are plenty of other ways to get enough protein.


1. Fish– Although many say that fish should be limited during pregnancy because of mercury, it is also a GREAT and HEALTHY source of protein. The types of fish that have a high concentration of mercury are the fish to limit. (The recommendation that I was told was no more than 2-6oz portions per week) Fish like salmon, shrimp, scallops, and lobster are great fish to get a significant amount of protein. So head out to your favorite fish restaurant or go to the store or market and get some fish and eat up that protein!


Here is a website that has a list of high protein foods and a protein counter that will help you keep track of how much protein you eat every day.
Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein
Protein Counter


I hope these protein power foods help you get your recommended amount of protein and help you get a variety of foods (so you are not eating the same thing every day!) Happy eating and happy, healthy baby and as always, God bless you and your family!


Until the Whole World Hears,
Katie
grace.faith.dirt@gmail.com
grace.faith.dirt on FACEBOOK!

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    Top 10 Things to Help With Choosing Names

    Bringing a baby into the world is a wonderful thing and a huge responsibility (as I know we are all feeling the pressure already) Picking a name is a part of all of that responsibility and it is so important to make sure the name is “just right” for your little bundle of joy and it is something you and your husband are both happy with. Since my husband and I have been through the name picking process with our son and JUST picked the name for our little girl  I thought I would share my advice on picking names!

    10. Considering Traditions
    Are there certain name traditions in your family or your husband’s family that you would like to continue? For example, if your husband is a Jr. then do you want your little one (if baby is a boy) to be the III or not? Do all the women on your side of the family have the same middle name? These are things to think about. The closest my family has to a tradition is that we do not repeat names. Another type of tradition that you may want to consider is one within your immediate family. Do you want to start a tradition? For example, the Duggar family has all “J” names (all 19 of them!) Do you want to pick a letter that all your childrens’ names will start with? Or maybe some other tradition you would like to start.


    9. Honoring Someone
    Is there a family member, a close friend or even a significant person in history that you would like to honor by giving your child that name? Giving your child their name is a great way to honor someone. Maybe it is someone who has recently passed away in your family, or a friend that is closer than family. If you do not want to give your child their name as a first name, give it as a middle name, or change it slightly so that it is different, but still honoring that person. A popular trend now is to take the first letter off of a name and making that a new name. It is something to consider.


    8. Keep it a Secret or Be Prepared for Comments
    This is simply what it is. We kept our son’s name a secret because of one comment about a name. People do not think before they talk sometimes. When you tell people the name you have picked they oftentimes do not consider the fact that you and your husband have spend a lot of time picking out the right name for your little one! They just respond from their initial feeling about the name. My advice is to keep it a secret as long as possible to avoid people saying bad things about the name you picked. Have fun with the secret and do not let people give you a hard time for keeping it a secret. For our little girl we are giving hints every now and then on Facebook. It makes it fun for everyone else and it keeps the temptation off of me to give it away!


    7. Keep The Name Picking Process Between You and Husband
    This is a piece of advice that might save a friendship or family relationship. This is your baby and you and your husband need to be the ones that pick the name for the baby. Even though you have not met your little bundle of joy yet, you both still know more about this baby than anyone else. You will be able to pick the best name. Another reason this is a good idea is because when others get involved, where does it end? Who is allowed to be involved and who is not? Drawing that line, anywhere you do it is going to hurt SOMEONE’S feelings. Keep the name picking process between you and your husband. People (especially family) are going to try and get involved ANYWAYS. Just simply (and kindly) say that the two of you will be picking the name together and you can even remind them that they will love that baby no matter what his/her name is!


    6. How it Flows
    I know this sounds crazy, but when your little one is older, you are going to be saying that name (the FULL name) more often than you would like. It will go on your child’s birth certificate, high school diploma, college degree etc. So you want to to flow well together. The best thing to do is to say the names out loud to each other. Give and take feed back on how each name sounds. Make a list of first names that are favorites and a list of middle names that are favorites. Say combinations of first and middle names with your last name and see if there are any that sound good to you and your husband. Another way you want your baby’s name to flow is with the rest of the family. The best way to see how it flows is to imagine all your names on a Christmas card (you know…”Merry Christmas! Love, name, name, name, & name” Do the names sound good together? Like a family? I believe the right name will sound just right!


    5. Feels Right to Both You and Husband
    My husband and I almost drove each other crazy trying to pick a name for our little girl! He would LOVE a name and it would be “OK” with me and then I would LOVE another name and he would be “OK” with that one. So we kept looking because we knew “OK” just was not good enough. (Plus my husband said that the name for his “little girl” had to be perfect! So cute!) Well, I was looking at names and came across a name and audibly went “Oooo!” When I read it, I shared it with my husband and his response was the same, “Oooo!” We knew at that moment that name was at the very top of our favorites list! (and it ended up being the name we picked)


    4. It is Okay to Change it
    You might pick a name and a few months later realize that is not the right name, THAT IS OK! You want to pick the perfect name for your little one so feel free to change your mind as much as you want! (Because after baby is born and it is written on that birth certificate, it will be MUCH harder to change) Another thing that sometimes happens is that people pick out a name and then when the baby is born, they look at the baby and another name comes to mind. I think that is really cool when things like that happen. So maybe wait a little while before you get anything with the baby’s name on it, or just wait until after baby is born.


    3. Take Your Time
    It is so exciting to start picking out names and if you are anything like me you feel like you have an unfinished project as long as you have not picked a name. Remember that your little one will have this name FOREVER so take your time. My advice is to not go home right after you find out the sex of your baby and pick a name that day. Get excited though! Pick out names that you like and that your husband likes. Sleep on it for a few days, keep looking and talking about it with your husband. The name we picked for our little girl was not on our initial or even second favorite list…we had not even thought about it! Just take your time and the right name will come.


    2. Consider Meanings
    To some people this is a bigger deal than others. For me, meanings of names is VERY important. For each of my pregnancies, I have been able to to tell a little about the personality of each of my babies and I wanted to make sure the name would fit that personality. For example, my husband and I really like Leah for the name of our little girl, but the name means “weary” and even though she is making Mommy VERY weary I did not think that fit the personality that I have been able to tell. I know already that my little girl is strong, so I wanted a name that meant or implied strength. Check out the meanings of the names that are your favorite and see what they are OR search for names based on meanings that you like.


    AND THE #1 THING TO HELP IS…


    1. Pray About It!
    It sounds good to you, your husband loves it, the meaning fits perfectly, but is it the name that God wants for your child? Pray about the names you like or more simply pray for Him to guide you in picking a name. I have heard some amazing stories about how baby’s names are picked by God. What better name to pick than the one that God has chosen for His (and your) child. Once the name has been picked, keep praying over that name and over the baby who will have that name. God will let you know if that is the right name for your little bundle of joy!


    I think picking out a name is such a fun process for you and your husband to go through, but it also can get stressful. I hope these pieces of advice will help in choosing the perfect name for your little one! Happy name hunting and as always, God bless you and your family!

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    Top 10 Most Important Things to do While Pregnant

    There is so much to do in the nine months before your little one arrives. You have a whole room to prepare, tons of stuff to buy, read a million books, and not to mention trying to figure out all the changes your body is going through. We have a million things to do to prepare, so I thought I would make a top 10 most important things to do while pregnant. Obvious there are more than 10 things to do and LOTS of them are important, but these are 10 things that I thought were the most important based on my previous pregnancy and this one.


    10. Write a pregnancy journal
    This may not be a MUST, but it is a great thing to do. Keep a journal (or a blog) and write about each time you go to the doctor and what happened. Document when you hear baby’s heartbeat, when you find out the sex of the baby, when you picked a name and the reactions of both you and your spouse. Also it is great to take pictures of your growing belly as it progresses. You can do this weekly or a little farther in between pictures in the beginning. These are great things to look back on after the baby is born and maybe even share with your child when they get older.


    9. Plan a “Babymoon” Vacation
    This is a great way for you and your spouse to get away for a while and just enjoy each other’s company. Plan a relaxing extended weekend for you guys to just be together and enjoy each other. Go out to dinner at a nice place, maybe go to a movie or just relax. It is true that vacations and dates will get fewer and farther between when babies come along, but it is CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT to make sure and not neglect each other and pay attention to each other.


    8. Decide/Talk About Finances
    Finances are often the things most couples fight about. This might be a conversation to have with your spouse before the baby comes. Are you going to stay at home and not work or will you return after maternity leave is up? Will you need daycare and how much will that cost? What other things do you and your spouse need to be concerned about financially? These are great things to talk about before the stress of having a newborn is added to the mix.




    7. Prepare pets/older siblings
    Not only is your life going to chance, so is the life of everyone in your household. Your dog, your cat and your older siblings’ lives are going to chance forever as well. Start preparing your pets and older children pretty far in advance. Help your dogs learn what is okay and NOT okay to do with a baby around. Do any drastic changes months before the baby is expected (potty training, moving, changing from crib to big bed, etc.) 
    Preparing Your Pet
    Preparing Older Siblings




    6. Attend a birthing class
    I think this is a very important for both you and your spouse to do before your baby comes to prepare you (and especially your spouse because he is not reading all the stuff you are) Your hospital or birth center has classes that they suggest or even require you to go to. My husband and I went through The Husband Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method. If you are planning to breastfeed, MAKE SURE and attend a breastfeeding class. This will help you know what to do and probably make you more successful in your nursing. Here is a link to the Bradley Method and La Leche League to help you find local classes or just get any help you might need.
    The Bradley Method
    La Leche League


    5. Pick a pediatrician
    This is an important thing to do before your baby comes. Find out what is important to you and your spouse in regards to a pediatrician. Ask other parents to suggest pediatricians and interview a few and see who you like better. Ask them plenty of questions in regards to their policy on giving medications, vaccines and shots, and parent versus doctor choices. This also might be a great time to read up on standard vaccines and see what you and your spouse want to do (regular schedule, delayed schedule, no shots etc)
    Choosing a Pediatrician 


    4. Take Suggested Vitamins/Supplements
    I know that the bottle says “cannot replace a healthy, well rounded diet” or something to that affect, but it works the other way around too. No matter how well you eat, you just cant get 100% of EACH and EVERY vitamin and mineral that you need EVERY day. It is important to take those vitamins and whatever other supplements your doctor or midwife tell you to.


    3. Eat Healthy
    I know this is kind of a “duh” but it is so important to keep you healthy and to help baby to grow properly and be healthy. This will also help control your weight gain to where it should be. Find out what you should and should not eat, what is okay occasionally, and what you should eat on a regular basis. The Brewer Pregnancy Diet is a great way to tell if you are getting all the nutrition you and baby need to be healthy. Here are links to my post about eating healthy and the Brewer Pregnancy Diet website.
    Blog Post: Brewer Pregnancy Diet
    Brewer Pregnancy Diet Website


    2. Make a birth plan
    If you are delivering in a hospital this is a GREAT thing to do. This can be intimidating to do, but it is a great way to educate yourself of birth standards and your options! (Yes, you have options) Ask your doctor what things are standard during labor and delivery (IV, immediate skin to skin, cutting umbilical cord, medications etc.) Research about what is best for you and baby and put it together in a plan to pass out to your nurses and doctors at the hospital. In our birth plan we included EVERYTHING so that we knew what we wanted to happen in any situation. Here are some birth plans that you can use for examples (including the one that we used) I will do a whole post on birth plans later.
    Our Birth Plan
    Pregnancy Today Birth Plan
    Baby Center Birth Plan 


    AND THE #1 MOST IMPORTANT THING IS…


    Exercise
    This is the FIRST thing that I tell all my friends when they tell me they are expecting! (after “congrats” of course!) Getting regular exercise is one of the most important things to do while being pregnant. It will help keep you healthy, keep baby healthy and will help make labor easier. Yes, that’s right, make labor EASIER! Labor is like a marathon and if you prepare properly it will go smoother. My husband and I walked 2 miles every day and it was the best thing I did while pregnant! Prenatal yoga is another great way to keep in shape!


    I hope this is helpful for you and your spouse! Happy baby and as always, God bless you and your family!


    Until the Whole World Hears,
    Katie
    grace.faith.dirt@gmail.com
    grace.faith.dirt <— LIKE us on FACEBOOK!

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    10 Ways To Be the Best Daddy-To-Be!

    My husband loving on our daughter, who is almost 3 weeks old in this picture

    We all know it is hard work growing a baby, working, keeping the house from being a wreck, plus trying to figure out what’s for dinner! So this would be one of those posts that you read and then pass to your spouse and say “Honey, you need to read this!” This post was co-written by my husband. Since this is our second baby, I figured he was an expert at dealing with a pregnant wife. Here are the top ten things your hubby can do to make your life easier!


    10. Fix Dinner– She has been busy all day at work or at home caring for the kids. Occasionally offer to make dinner for the family. If you have a meal that is a “husband specialty” offer to make it so she can sit and relax for a moment (or take care of the kids) Just simply taking care of the meal might relieve just enough stress to help her relax a little. It is amazing what little things can make a huge difference. This will also help her see how much you appreciate her and her hard work! 


    9. Be Romantic– Just because your wife looks different and may be acting different does not mean she is a different person. She is still your wife and she needs to know that you still love her. It is a great idea to take her out on a date several times while she is pregnant. Make her feel special and beautiful. Take her out to a nice restaurant, let her dress up a little OR just simply bring home some flower to her or write her a sweet note about how much you love her! Remember, your wife might be in a very romantic mood one night and then not at all for long periods of time. Do not get offended, it is the wonderful pregnancy hormones you can blame.


    8. Fulfill requests happily– If you have not noticed, your wife gets tired a lot easier now that she is pregnant. Being on her feet for long periods of time is hard. She is probably taking naps (if there is time) when she normally did not.  And she will probably ask you to do more for her. Happily fulfill whatever request she asks. She probably already feels bad for asking and complaining or what-not would make things worse. My wife’s most common request is to get her some ice water. She knows I will get it for her and I know how important it is for her to drink enough water. Every evening I make sure she has water by her bed before she goes to sleep.


    7. Offer massages– Your wife’s body is going through lots of changes physically and it is very tiring on her body. She will ache and be sore in places she never dreamed she would be! Offer to rub her back and neck or offer to do a hand massage with oils or lotions. Skip the foot massage because later in pregnancy this can cause pre-term labor (it is very unlikely, but it is not worth the risk) There is a pressure point on the ankle that can cause this. Not only will a massage from her husband feel wonderful on her aching body, but it will also make her relax and feel more beautful because you are paying attention to her.


    6. Be flexible and understanding– As previously stated, your wife is growing a baby and that causes your wife’s body to do crazy things. Just because your wife was very active before she is pregnant, she may not want to do as much OR she may not feel up to it. When my wife was pregnant with our son she would get so frustrated because she wanted to do all these things, but then she would get too tired and not want to do anything. Be flexible in the fact that plans may change in an instant depending on how your wife is feeling, and when things do change on a whim, do not be upset (she is probably already upset herself and does not need you to be upset too). Be understanding and encouraging.


    5. Compliment Her– There is nothing like a growing tummy to make a woman feel ugly, but there is also nothing like a genuine compliment about the way she looks from the man she loves. Compliment her and tell her how beautiful she looks. Trust me, she needs to hear your compliments often. Do not be shy with your compliments, but be careful with them. Make sure they are compliments to make her feel beautiful, not compliments that make her think you are shallow. Growing a baby is hard work, and the fact is…men CANNOT do it! Make sure you tell your wife how much you appreciate her and how proud you are of her. The best compliments of appreciation are those that say “you are doing a great job growing that baby” “I am so proud of you eating right so the baby will grow healthy”


    4. Help out with other kids– If  your wife is a stay-at-home mom, the last thing she needs when you get home from work is another kid to take care of. Yes, you have been at work all day too, but so has she. Just give her a little break. Offer to give the kids a bath OR offer to care of the kids for the evening/afternoon while she goes and gets her nails done or has a girls night!


    3. House cleaning– take over a chore that your wife normally does, but is hard to do now that she is pregnant. Your wife will hit a stage in her pregnancy that is called “nesting” and she will want to clean everything in sight! Offer to help her. She is going to clean whether you help or not, but helping always makes it better. It is especially great to offer to take over a chore that is difficult for her to do now that she is pregnant. Taking over cleaning the tub was the chore in our household that was hard for her to do.


    2. Remember, she is always right!- Be flexible and understanding. Remember, growing a baby not only changes your wife physically, but also emotionally and mentally! She may be moody some days and totally happy the next. Understand that this is just part of being pregnant. Sh can usually tell when she are grumpy. Respect the fact that she need some space and she does not need you to argue with her about anything. Do not be offended! She still loves you, she just needs you to be agreeable!













    AND THE #1 THING A DADDY-TO-BE CAN DO IS…

    1. Be Involved– She did not make this baby by herself and she will not be raising the baby by herself, so why should she prepare for the baby by herself? Get involved in the pregnancy: go to as many prenatal visits as you can, go with her to create the baby registry, help pick out colors, themes and whatever else she wants to do to the baby’s room, go to birthing classes with her and be involved. It may not seem like a lot to you, but being involved will mean the world to her and show her how much you care about her and the baby.

    I hope you (or your spouse) have found this helpful! I would like to give a shout out to my husband for helping me with this post and for being a wonderful husband to a grumpy pregnant lady that loves to change her mind! Happy “Top Ten Tuesday” and as always, God bless you and your family!

    Until the Whole World Hears,
    Katie (and Jeff)
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    Katie’s Top 10 Baby Products Part 2

    Welcome to TOP TEN TUESDAYS! Every Tuesday I will post a top 10 list of mine on a variety of subjects. This week’s as promised is the second part of my Katie’s Top 10 Baby Products post. These are my top 10 must haves for 6-12 month old babies (give or take a few months because every baby, and mommy, is different). Some of these products you may want to get before 6 months of age and others will have to wait until closer to 8 or 9 months.

    10. Baby Einstein Discovery Kits
    This is at #10 because some babies enjoy TV and some babies are not interested, and some mommies approve of TV and other do not. These discovery kits are wonderful! They come with a DVD, a cardboard book and a music CD. They all have to do with the same thing (for example, colors) The DVD introduces the colors along with music for each color. The book and the CD help solidify the topic in your baby’s brain. There is a parent guide to help you take full advantage of the kits. They are fairly new and there are 3 different levels depending on the age/developmental stage of your baby.


    9. Baby Einstein Language Discovery Cards
    These are large durable cards to help your baby learn household items, animals and toys (and lots more!) There are several different sets of flash cards. The ones I own have a large picture of the item and then the word below that. On the other side are teaching tips to help your baby learn the word AND tells you what the word is and how to say it in Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, and Russian! I think the different languages are great! The age says 9+months, but we started our son earlier than that.

    8. Spill-Proof Snack Cups
    Once your little one starts eating finger foods this is one of the greatest inventions in baby history. You can fill the cup up and put the lid on and hand it to your little one. You baby can get the snack out of the cup, but it will not poor out all over the car or the high chair! This is especially wonderful for car rides and family outings. 


    7. Walk and Ride Push Toy
    This is one of those items that your little one may not need until they are closer to 9 months old. This is a push that helps encourage your little one to walk. This toy is great because it gives your little one something to balance on, but he/she can still walk without holding onto your finger (and you can give your back a break) Then it coverts to a car that your little one can ride on and push it with their feet. I like this toy because it grows with your little one.

    6. My First Books
    I know you did not forget to get your little one some books to look at and read together, but I wanted to suggest a few. I have a set of topic based cardboard books that include: Colors, Trucks, First Words, and Animals. These are great to look at together and say the word, what it means or how the animal/machine sounds. It is also great for your little one to enjoy by him/herself. The individual play combined with reading the books together will help your little one recognize the items in the book.


    5. Leap Frog Learning Table
    This is one of the most wonderful gifts we got for my son’s first Christmas. My son had just turned 7 months and was starting to pull up on things. This toy is high enough (and strong enough) to help encourage your little one to start pulling up and standing. Once your little one gets to a standing position, the table is full of different buttons and gadgets that make music from the actual instruments your little one will push. This table also does colors and numbers AND has a Spanish mode.

    4. ExerSaucer
    This may be one of those things that you buy before your little one turns 6 months old. exesaucers are good for babies that are very stable with their neck and head. If you think your baby looks a little slumped you can always add blankets in front or behind your little one to help support them. These are great because they help your little one develop back and leg muscles, plus, lets be honest, it gives mommy a little break. 


    3. Inflatable Tub
    Ok, so your little one has grown out of their little newborn tub, but there is NO WAY you are just going to stick them in the tub yet. This is, again, a wonderful baby invention. This is an inflatable tub that you stick inside of your regular tub. It is smaller than the tub so there is still less water. It is also softer so you do not have to worry about your little one hitting his/her head on the side of the tub or the faucet! Ours is in the shape of a duck and when you push the beak it QUACKS! It used to startle our son, but then he would just giggle when I pushed it!


    2. High Chair Booster Seat
    Instead of buying a full high chair we opted for a high chair that you attach to one of your chairs. It sits so that your little one sits at about the same height as you do at the table. We really like this because it feels like our son is at the table with us, even though he has his own tray and everything. We think family dinners together are VERY important and this makes it feel more like we are eating as a family. It has three seat settings. there are two reclining setting for when your baby cannot sit up on hi/her own yet and then a setting that is straight up for when your little one can sit up on his/her own. This is also SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than a full size high chair! The only down side is that it does use one of your chairs, so grab some folding chairs for when you have visitors.


    AND THE #1 PRODUCT IS…….


    1. Shopping Cart/High Chair Cover
    Next to the Boppy which I raved about in my other Top 10 post, this is the most wonderful baby invention EVER! This is a cover to set your baby in when you go shopping with a shopping cart or when you go out to eat and place your baby in a high chair. Shopping carts are FULL of germs and it puts me at peace knowing we are somewhat avoiding the shopping card germs when we use the cover. Same with the high chairs. Restaurants claim they clean them, but how well? The cover is also easily used for high chairs too, no adjustments or anything. It has two leg holes and I think gives your little one a little bit more stability in the high chair. They are soft so they give your little one a little bit of a cushion and come in cute patterns for both boys and girls!


    As I did last time, I have included a link to the products website or where you can find more info/purchase the product. Again, the links are links to products that I own or ones that are similar to the ones I own. Hope you enjoy my list and I hope that you find it helpful in making your registry or just preparing for the future! As always, God Bless you and your family!


    Until the Whole World Hears,
    Katie
    grace.faith.dirt@gmail.com

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    Katie’s Top 10 Baby Products

    This is a Katie’s Top 10 List! I know you won’t forget to buy the car seat, diaper bag or stroller so they WONT be on this list, but other things you might not even think of will be! I am counting down my favorite 10 baby items. Maybe some of this stuff is traditional baby stuff, but it is stuff that I LOVE.
    I have included a link to a place you can view and purchase each baby item. The places I have linked each item to is one like the item I own, or the one I WISH I owned! These would be great things to add to the registry!
     

         10. Big Blanket– I used a blanket almost every day when my son was a newborn up through six months. I would lay the blanket out in the living room and put him on there with some toys. It was a safe, clean surface I could put my baby on. We vacuum  the carpet, but with pets, how clean is it really? I felt much more comfortable putting him on a blanket, and if anything happened (from either end) I could just throw it in the wash!

         
          9. Pack ‘N’ Play-This is at #9 ONLY because you are probably not going to leave home overnight, where you might need this, for a while after your baby is born. A Pack N Play is a portable crib that folds up AMAZINGLY small into a carrier. (it fit in the back of my VW Beetle) The one I have has a full size bassinet on the top (for the really little ones) and then you just move the mat down to the bottom when they get bigger.
         
          8. Bottle Warmer– For nursing mommies and formula feeding mommies alike, this is a must-have. It is so easy! Just plug it in, fill with water and put the bottle in! Be careful and watch it! I cannot tell you how many times I left a bottle in too long and had to stick it in ice/cold water to cool (because my son was panicking)
      
          7. Play Mat– A play mat/gym is great for putting your baby on his back and just letting him explore. He may not be able to move around a lot or grab any toys yet, but your baby will LOVE to look at all the toys hanging on the mat and the environment around the room. This is wonderful stimulation for your baby and helps develop eye sight.
         
          6. Moby Wrap– I did not have this one with my first, but it is at the TOP of my wish list right now for baby #2! These wraps are wonderful and all that use the Moby Wrap just rave about it. I love the idea of being able to “wear” my baby and it is a proven fact that the more closeness Mommy and baby have (from the beginning) the healthier it is for baby AND Mommy!
         

     
         5. Baby Mittens– My son was born with CRAZY long fingernails (Fingernails grow faster in the amniotic fluid than normal) and he was always scratching himself (even if we trimmed them) They have heavy or light mittens depending on if you have a summer or winter baby.

        
      

         4. Arm & Hammer Disposable Bags– you never know what is going to get peed/pooped on. Just throw the soiled clothes in the bag, and it keeps the clothes and your diaper bag from stinking. When you get home, take the clothes out and throw away the bag! Also great for cloth diapers! We use cloth and we just put the used diapers in a bag until we get home!

          
          3. Nursing Cover– At first I was very nervous about nursing my son in public. A nursing cover is great because it covers what it needs to while Mommy and baby can still see each other. It takes a few times to master “the art of undercover nursing”, but it made me feel so much more comfortable about nursing in public or in mixed company.
         
         2. Bounce Seat– These are reclined baby seats that sit on the floor. they are reclined and built so that they can be gently bounced up and down. There is a harness to strap the baby in. A lot have vibrations and music to go along with it. It is great for Mommy to take a break from holding baby, but still a safe secure place. It’s great to put the baby in the seat while folding laundry, cooking, vacuuming and all the other chores that cannot be managed with a baby in tow.

         AND KATIE’S #1 BABY GEAR ITEM IS…. 

       

          1. Boppy Pillow-This is the #1 most wonderful invention for new moms. It is a semicircle shaped pillow that fits around your waist. It helps you hold your baby while nursing or feeding. You can also lay baby inside the pillow, propped up, or flip baby over for tummy time with some neck support! My dad and husband wish they made these in adult sizes (so they could lay in the Boppy!)

         The things on this list are mainly newborn (0-6mo) stuff. I will make a top 10 list for older  babies (6-12mo) as a whole different post sometime soon! Hope you enjoyed my list! God Bless you and your family!
         Until the Whole World Hears,
          Katie
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