Breastfeeding was always my plan for my children. "Breast is Best" is always toted around and I couldn't fathom why moms would want to pay so much for formula when they have free milk already enstilled. I loved the idea of having that bond with my baby, giving her the valuable nutrients she needed, and I've heard from other moms how amazing it was.
Well, things didn't exactly go as planned.
Shortly after giving birth, we moved up to our room and I was helped by my nurse to have our first feeding. This was it, my time to finally have my mom moment. And, she couldn't latch right. I was in so much pain and I felt frustrated but I wasn't ready to throw in the towel. A lactation consultant came in several times and she was a saint. She showed me how to cup my breast, how Savvy was supposed to be angled, and also different positions to hold her in.
But still we just couldn't get it right. We discovered she had a shallow latch and at this point I was so raw and was bleeding a bit, it was not the special and magical moment I had envisioned.
At 3 am during my hospital stay, she was hungry. I followed each step how I was showed, and even then she was screaming and just hungry. I didn't know what to do. I was alone (husband was passed out on the couch bed ha ha) and sleep deprived. My angel of a nurse came in and tried helping, and ultimately she suggested she warm up some donor breast milk so she could eat. I lost it. I couldn't provide for my baby and I was the biggest failure of a mom. The ONE thing I thought would just happen and be a long with the postpartum process was stripped from me. I felt inadequate and like I failed her. We fed her donor milk the rest of the stay while I filled syringes and table spoons with colostrum.
When it was time to go home, I accepted that we would just formula feed her and I would continue pumping while my milk came in. In the very least, when my milk was to come she would be getting that so it wasn't all bad. But, still I felt like I had failed and looking back now this caused me a lot of postpartum stress and anxiety. I would cry at night as I held her and offered her bottles, and saw how intently she would guzzle them down and enter a milk coma. I was a pumping machine, literally. I wanted to give her the best and was pumping every two hours and now I have an oversupply stored away.
I wasn't ready to give up. I spoke to my mom about waiting too long and how she may not want to latch at all, so a few days later I decided it was now or never. I picked up my nipple shield, got situated with some support pillows, and was handed my baby. Immediately on the first attempt, she latched perfectly.
Now, don't think it was some fairytale ending from there. She still has a short latch and sometimes it feels like she is intentionally wanting them to rip off ha ha. I wince through the pain and continue to try again until it's comfortable. I believe those days of bottle feeding truly helped her with using the nipple shield so in a way I'm thankful for our struggle.
Sharing this bond together is the best blessing, because this is what I wanted. It's still pain and I have come to terms that I will never be like those super crunchy moms that can just nurse wherever they are, not having to look down to make sure baby latches right.
My point of this post is breastfeeding is hard and it doesn't always work out for every mom. You may get the latch perfectly from your first try, you may find you're a pumping goddess, or you may even find you're the best mom for keeping your baby fed and full with formula. Whatever you find works best for you and your baby, own it. We do all three still and when she's laying there with milk dribbling down her cheek after passing out, I know that she is getting exactly what she needs from parents that love her.
Find ways to bond and make each feeding special. Do skin to skin time, hold your baby close, and know that no matter what is in that bottle: you are providing for your little one.
Throw away the mom guilt and shame others, or you, may bring on. I suck at Breastfeeding but I know I'm giving it my all. It took a lot of self pep talk to return her to the boob. I lived in fear of that pain again and then I felt even more guilt for fearing every time she got hungry. What kind of monster mom was I to not look forward to my baby needing food? I felt stripped down and like I got cheated out of being a natural of a mom.
Now I look forward to feeding because whether it's from my breast or a bottle, that's are special time for me to sit there, hold her, and meet her needs. And mamas, that's all your baby is really going to care about in the end. Feeding your baby is what's most important and no mom should feel guilty for not feeding their babe a certain way. I had to learn to take myself out of it and not be so caught up on my wants for motherhood were, and focus more on what my baby's wants and needs are. Most importantly, having support around you is crucial. Below are some resources you can check out for some support locally, or virtually! I suck at breastfeeding, but I am feeling less and less guilty about it.
Find a lactation consultant near you.
Join a Breastfeeding group.
Join a Pumping group.
Join a Formula group.
How has it already been a week since I had our baby?! I feel like time is going by way too quickly. I've had a ton of help from both my mom and dad, along with the hubs of course, which has made the postpartum recovery a lot more bearable. Pushing out an almost 9 pound baby is no joke y'all! I thankfully was given a lot of advice from my mom and other moms on great postpartum must haves and here is a list of things I have incorporated into my daily routine.
I wore this shirt from Shop Pink Blush on repeat during my pregnancy, and nothing has changed since being postpartum! Comfy, loose clothing is essential. You are still losing the baby weight and probably don't even want to try on your regular clothes yet. I love having a transitional top like this because it doesn't even look maternity and it hides my stomach as I am working towards my normal body again. Don't pack away your maternity clothes just yet, get as much use out of them as you can!
I literally don't leave the house anymore without this Jasemet cover. I am either wearing it, or I have it packed in the diaper bag for the carseat. It's a multi purpose cover acting as a nursing, car seat, shopping cart, and highchair cover. And when you don't need it you can just wear it as a scarf! I am new to nursing obviously, but if you follow me on Instagram you'll know it's been a struggle of a journey to get there. I love having this cover because I can comfortably nurse her wherever we are, which has had to happen. (I even used to cover while I pumped in the car ha ha!) Seriously I can't say enough great things about this, you can buy yours here!
For the pumping mamas, buy yourself a pumping bra ASAP. Holding the bottles up for 20 minutes is no fun, so save your sanity at 3 am and buy a bra that holds them up for you. This allows me to drink my water, play on my phone, and yes even blog! I look forward to my pumping sessions now because it's like my new me time. My hubby got this one on amazon and I know there is a lot of different styles and colors.
I apply nipple cream after each time I feed or pump, and I also apply it to my pumping funnel to act as a lubricant ( a tip from my lactation consultant!). I was given the medela in the hospital, but use the Lansinoh more often. When I run out, I'll probably switch back to the Medela because I feel it melts faster and feels more relieving.
These gel nursing pads I alternate throughout the day, because they can be heated up or frozen. I'll usually put them in the freezer at night and put them on sometime in the morning time to help relieve some pain. Then throughout the day I'll pop them in the microwave and wear them, or attach them to the outside of my pumping funnels to help with let down and it feels good to have the warmth around too! These are available at Target, but I'm sure you can find them anywhere. Seriously these are a game changer if you don't have time for a quick hot shower or applying a warm washcloth!
And last but not least, another essential for the girls! I wear these nursing pads all day every day in my bra, and were a huge help when my milk was coming in too. I like these because they are soft, I just put them inside my bra and you wouldn't even know! No leaking, no problem ha ha. It also comes in a handy mesh bag to keep them in when washing which is super helpful as well.
I hope this helps you first time mamas, because like I said I was given a lot of advice from other mamas and found it super helpful to hear what they used after baby! It didn't occur to me just how much my every day routine would change when she got here, so having these little things incorporated make the days run a whole lot smoother. I would love to hear what your postpartum essentials are below, I am sure there are some things out there that could be a game changer too!
Savannah Rachel entered the world on August 29th at 4:58 am. She weighed 8 pounds 13.5 ounces and was 21 inches long.
Monday, August 28th, we went in for my 40 week doctor's appointment. I was overdue by 2 days and my midwife was very surprised because she was sure I would go into labor that previous week. With Hurricane Harvey, my husband's unit had a high possibility of leaving to go help (perks of being a medevac unit). It kicked us into high gear and we talked to the midwife about possibly inducing, because there was no way we wanted him to miss the birth of our first baby if we could help it! She immediately understood and went to go see when we could get scheduled in. She came back and said "tonight?" and we took it.
It was a bit like an 'oh my gosh is this really happening' moment at the thought of having our baby so soon and having a date on it. She checked me and I was 3 cm dilated which was one more than last week, but still 50% effaced. We went home and called my mom so she could book her flight. It was such a relief to have it all planned, and we were to come back at 8 pm that day. I rested throughout the day, ate my last meals, and took a short bath thinking this is the last time I am going to spend with this bump. It was bittersweet, but I was so ready for her to be here!
We drove back to the hospital, with our bags that had been packed for about a month now in tow, and checked in with the hospital to make sure that time was still good. They told us we could come in at 7 which worked out perfectly because that's about when we were going to arrive anyways. We went straight to the labor and delivery floor, carrying all of our bags and a pillow. I was so nervous and just soaking everything in. We got to a room and my mom arrived not too long after. The plan was to rest some and we got the IV started and baby monitor put on. At around 10 everything was ready and they could start the pitocin to begin the contractions. My nurse Mary was the most amazing gift ever and I'll forever remember how sweet and helpful she was. But, she did mentally prepare us to be here for 2-3 days because inductions can sometimes take that long.
The pitocin acted quickly and I started feeling contractions like I've never felt before. She would bump it up a level every 30 minutes and we just had to wait until they were consistently 2-3 minutes apart before the doctor would come in to break my water. I tried to sleep during all of this, but sleeping while having contractions isn't very doable! I was at 4 cm dilated which was a good sign, but with how much pain I was in, I was feeling like it was more than that. Mary came back in just to check on baby's heartbeat because the dang monitor kept sliding around and it was hard to get a read on the contractions as well. My mom stepped out into the hall at this same time, and James was asleep on the couch bed. All of a sudden I felt a pop and a release of fluid, and I said "Mary... I think my water just broke." She was a little shocked, but checked the fluid with a strip and confirmed it did break and helped me out of bed to clean up because I was still wearing the clothes I came in. We changed me into a robe and I got back in bed still waiting for the contractions to pick up.
I got out of bed when I could to get on the exercise ball they provided me and just did breathing through every contraction. I am pretty proud of myself to not even cry one time, because I am such a huge baby! Some were labored breathing and were just so painful I couldn't take a huge breath in. James started rubbing my back and all of a sudden a huge gush came and my full water broke at midnight. There was a huge puddle and they had to help me off this ball so I wouldn't slip, it was probably pretty comical! I got back into bed and I was at 6 cm dilated and I tried to rest until they could come in to give me my epidural. I was scared of getting it too early, but at this point I didn't want to wait any longer because I didn't want to miss out on getting it. Mary had me sit on the side of the bed and prop my feet up on James' thighs. I was hunched over on him when the man came in and didn't even want to look up at him to see what he was bringing in. I breathed through it and had a contraction both while he was putting the numbing needle in, and again when inserting the part that stung really badly. It was such a weird feeling and just felt like a big dull, achy pressure in my back. I had to stay in bed from now on so they inserted a catheter. The doctor came in and checked me and I was at 8 cm dilated now and they were ready to get things going soon. This next part is pretty hazy because I was so out of it, sleeping and having people come in and out. But I guess Sav's heartbeat was dropping so they put me on oxygen to help. They started gathering around more and soon I was at 10 cm and the doctor came back in and told me we were going to practice pushing.
My mom came over to my left, and J on my right, and they both grabbed my legs and she had me grab underneath my thighs. She told me to take a deep breath in and push when I felt my next contraction. I said "ok now" and began to push. I felt so much pain, but it wasn't how I was expecting. I could feel some pressure down there and soon I was told they could see her hair and that just encouraged me to push more. J was right next to me encouraging me and telling me to breathe and push. He was the only person I was listening to and could hear, so I am so thankful he did that. The doctor told me her head was coming out, but when I would push I would stop some and she would go back in. I didn't realize, so I just focused on pushing and breathing and soon her entire head was out! I am so shocked it didn't really hurt, the part that was the weirdest was her shoulders or midsection. Within 6 minutes of pushing, my baby girl was here and put on my chest!
I immediately start crying and just look down at this perfect little baby I made. There will never be words to describe that feeling, it's so overwhelming and I felt so much love for her; more than I had before. I held her while they stitched me up and I just remember seeing a lot of blood and felt some pain, but I didn't care because my baby was here. They let her stay on me for skin to skin for a good while, before the pediatrics team came in to clean her off more and get her measurements. J got to hold her for the first time after that and the way he looked at her was just so beautiful to me. Mary told me later and throughout the clean up process how this doesn't just happen. With me being a first time mom and this being an induction, a labor that quick isn't normal. She was telling everyone who came in and out, she was just in so much shock! Every fifteen minutes, Mary had to come in and press down on my stomach which was so painful but when you are holding your new baby in your arms, nothing else matters.
Everything settled down and we were assigned a room that we would be staying in. Mary's shift ended and a new nurse came to take over. We were getting ready to help me up so I could use the bathroom and she was called out so she had to leave suddenly. We waited almost an hour, and thankfully a pediatric nurse came in to check on Savannah, and I asked her to get the nurse back. lol She was a very scatterbrained nurse, but I was ready to go and get into our room. I was wheel chaired up there and we immediately ordered breakfast. We hadn't ate since about 6 the night before, so we were pretty much starving. I don't want to make this post too long with going into the post delivery portion, but it has been rough. I am so thankful to our Heavenly Father for this most beautiful gift and to have been chosen to be her mother. Baby Savannah is so loved and there will be many more updates to come.
Thank you all for the congrats and well wishes!
(And special thanks to my mom for being my photographer even though I wasn't the nicest at some moments!)
Blogging, Instagram, and social media tips are probably my most asked questions. I work full time utilizing social media marketing, and obviously dedicate time to the internet on my Instagram and this blog of mine. Social media is probably my favorite thing ever and I love helping others learn from what I have experienced! More often than not, I am asked how do I make money off of my Instagram and blog, and before jumping into that you have to start with the basics: The Art of Instagram.
I've been on Instagram for years now, and embarrassingly still have a lot of my first photos still published (I'm working on it! haha). I've learned a lot through trial and error, mean comments, and just growing into my own style over the past few years. Having a tailored Instagram is your key to success because this is where a lot of your audience, and brands, will first look.
Your username, profile picture, and bio all are your first first impressions to the audience. That little bit is going to determine if they are going to click your profile and see what you are all about. I've changed my bio plenty of times, but here's what you need to include: name, a few facts about you, what they can expect from your profile, and a website link if you have one.
I recently changed my profile to business (you can change it at anytime) so I can track my analytics more closely. This shows me weekly which photos do the best, how many people saw that photo, and the jump and fall of followers.
Probably my favorite part of Instagram is creating a cohesive theme. Obviously, this will vary depending on your brand. Some profiles strive on bright colors, others are purely black and white. I wanted my theme to look bright, natural, and really capture my lifestyle. I am drawn to cooler tones, but mix in warmth as well so it's not cold. A great way to visualize your theme is using apps like Planoly where you can see how everything looks together. Before I post any photo, I add it here to make sure it would look okay. Sometimes having similar photos next to each other can look really odd, so seeing it before you post can make sure you always keep your theme cohesive. I also edit every single one of my photos with about the same effects so they all flow together as well. I love using Facetune to get my whites white, and vsco cam for the filters. Creating the theme is the fun part, so get creative and really capture your brand! I also created a video a while back on how I edit my photos.
Getting Likes & Followers.
Okay, here's the most important part right? Joking, but brands and companies pay close attention to the actual engagement on your photos. There is an epidemic of big Instagrams buying followers and likes, which looks good from appearance, but you can easily tell when their audience isn't authentic. If you have 50k followers, but only get 100 likes on your photo... Do the math, that's not a great return rate. While my Instagram is currently sitting below 4,000 followers, my photos get anywhere from 150-350 likes. So, how do I do that?
1. Engage with your audience. Like their photos, leave comments, reply to their comments, follow them back. Don't have just an empty shell of an Instagram, dedicate some time to giving back and be on the personal level with them. I will go to an Instagrammer I really like and go through who's following them. I will like a few of their photos, leave a comment sometimes, and if I really like their feed I'll follow. Especially if your Instagram is a similar niche to the person you went to, you will majority of the time get a new follower out of it! This is a great way to branch out and get a wider audience.
2. Use hashtags. Hashtags are a huge help and I generally take advantage of using the max of 30. I save different hashtags in my notes on my phone, so depending on the photo and what the subject is I always have related hashtags. Make sure you use hashtags that aren't spammy (#likeforlike #followme) because this can get you shadowbanned where your photos won't show up in the hashtags or in your follower's feeds. If you are doing an outfit post, search #ootd in the explore and see what related hashtags come up and use those if you need some guidance. Also, pay attention to the number of people that have been using that hashtag as well, if it's a million plus your photo is less likely to be seen because so many people are using it.
3. Comment/Like pods. These are a lifesaver and so fun for connecting with other instagrams. A pod is where you have a group message of up to 14 accounts on Instagram. Whenever you post, you share your photo in the group message and everyone in it will either go like it or go like and comment on it. It's not as authentic as having normal followers, but it does bump you up and encourage your real followers to leave comments and like the photo. It's also great if your photos aren't doing so well in the first 10-30 minutes because this will determine if people are going to see it at the top of their feeds or not. You can find pods by joining facebook groups like Instagram Comment Pods and find people that have a similar niche as you.
Finding Your Niche.
Speaking of niche, you need one. My blog is lifestyle, military, & motherhood. That's my brand and the things I share and write about. Having a niche determined will keep a theme for one, but also help you and brands work together. If your niche is cooking, a cosmetic brand will more than likely not want to work together because you aren't going to benefit each other's audiences. Determining what you are going to blog and share photos on is essential, so when you do reach out to brands you both know your audience will already be receptive to it. When you are first starting out, it will be so tempting to sell your soul to anything (trust me, I almost did a blog post on menstrual pads... Almost). But, keep on brand and on your niche and it will take you so far!
The guts of your Instagram. What pictures are you going to post? Are you a travel blogger who will be sharing sites and foods you eat? Are you a mom blogger sharing baby fashion and the latest baby gear? Your content is so important because hello this is social media and this is your core to success. I majority of the time use my phone camera to take my photos, and normally have it in square mode because I have the intentions of using those photos for Instagram. I do have a canon rebel camera, and recently upgraded to a Canon Rebel t5i. Always take photos with natural light and if you are taking selfies, take them in front of a window. If you have seen my Instagram, I love flatlays. I have a white foam board from Walmart and left over marble contact paper that make great backgrounds for my look and theme. Flatlays are a great way to stay on brand and include different props that can portray a message to your audience.
Overall, make sure your content has a purpose. Think: what do I want people to feel/ think/ or do when they see this image? Do I want them to check out my latest blog post? Do I want them to like it because it's funny and relatable? Do I want to sell this product? Always have a purpose for what you are posting. Also, think of how a brand and company is going to see you. Refrain from vulgar language and drama, this is your business so make sure you conduct yourself professionally! If you need to, make a private personal instagram where you can share that and personal photos that may not fit on brand.
I hope this gives y'all a great starting point on this whole journey to blogging and Instagram! It's a lot of hard work and so much goes into it, so I don't want it to be overwhelming and too much info at once. Y'all know I am expecting my baby very soon (literally due this Saturday!) so I apologize if I am not able to get the rest of this series up right away. But, when the other posts are live I'll link them here to make it easier to go to the next! I hope this helps give you a great starting point for your social media success.
I am 10 days away from my due date, and I am a whole ball of emotions. I am excited, scared, ready, nervous, overjoyed all in one. Creating and carrying life these past 9 months has been the biggest blessing I could have ever been able to experience. I have loved pregnancy, but I know I am going to love motherhood even more.
I have dreamed of becoming a mother for years now. If you read my first post about us trying to conceive, you'll know that we prayed for this journey for a bit now. We put off trying for a year until we were stable financially, then it took us an entire year to earn the title of parents. Now that the time has come, I couldn't have imagined a more perfect time for this calling. I feel like that waiting time taught me so much patience, but also gratitude for every little ache and pain I experience.
This pregnancy I've been extremely blessed. Not just because of the little pregnancy symptoms, but because of the blessings that accompanied. My husband and I are closer than ever and seeing his excitement over our little girl fills my heart like no other. I can't wait to see him develop in his role as a father and I know for certain S is in for a lifetime of love and being cherished.
But, I'll be the first to admit I am absolutely terrified. I feel so under qualified to be a mom and I am sure a lot of moms felt the same way with their first. I want to make sure she always feels loved, important, and safe. Parenting doesn't just stop at taking care of their basic needs, but for when she goes off to school and faces her first bully, will I be able to guide her correctly? For when she falls and hurts herself, will I be able to be strong enough for the both of us and help her? For when she experiences her first heartbreak, will she come to me and seek comfort and guidance?
As a mother, I already feel so protective of her and just want to protect her from the world and all the negative things in it. But, also as her mother I hope that I can raise her to be able to protect herself and steer away from the apostate.
These last 10 days before her due date are going to be a true test of patience, but also allow me to prepare some more. I have had a feeling she will come early, but at this point I am fully assuming she is just going to stay in here forever. I've experienced more intense contractions, but nothing consistent or strong enough that made me feel like this was it. I am scared for labor but just thinking about the aftermath eases my nerves and I am just so ready to hold our baby girl.
Thank you all for joining me on my journey to motherhood. I know many blessings are to come and I can't wait to share the next chapter with you all! I have nested, rested, and I am ready to bring this new life into the world. I am ready to take on motherhood because I know I have an amazing community of both family & friends who I can turn to for guidance.
Thank you for stopping by The Strattons Blog! Here are snippets of my life, motherhood, and the military!