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Family, Pregnancy

Postpartum Vitamin & Supplement Routine

August 1, 2017


Hi, friends! We are back from family vacation and I’m busy digging into a new week and a new month. It seems almost weekly that I get questions from readers and friends about my favorite supplements and vitamins, and while I’m certainly not an expert, I have done my research and found products that work well for me and my body. The postpartum period is a time when nutrition is extremely important. The postpartum body has gone through a LOT and nourishing it and fueling it appropriately is key to having a good recovery. Plus, our bodies are going through so much change (including lack of sleep) so any extra edge or boost I can get is welcome.

So, all that said, here is what has been working well for me at nearly 3 months postpartum*

1. Garden of Life My Kind Organics Once Daily Prenatal
I love the once-daily format of this prenatal. In the past I’ve taken prenatal vitamins that require you to take multiple pills each day, but I just couldn’t remember to do so consistently. I love Garden of Life products because their vitamins are all made from whole food sources and this prenatal contains folate, not folic acid, a very important deciding factor for me.

2. Bio Cleanse 
I’ve been using the Bio Cleanse since Collins was born after a friend recommended it to me. It’s a supplement made up primarily of magnesium and vitamin C with the goal of helping promote regularity and reduce gas/bloating. I took magnesium throughout my pregnancy to help with cramping and pregnancy insomnia. And since pregnancy has a way of doing a number on your stomach, any extra assistance in keeping things moving is good in my book.

3. ProBio 5 
Again, I’ve been taking ProBio 5 for over a year as I’ve tried to focus on repairing my gut health in an effort not to get sick quite as often as I have in the past. There are lots of great probiotics on the market, but this has been the one that I’ve stuck with.

4. Iron Supplement (HemeVite Plus)
I’m a vegetarian and tend to always be on the lower end of normal as far as iron is concerned. In fact, during my pregnancy with Ainsley I had the worst headaches until I started increasing my iron intake! I know iron can bother some people’s stomachs, but I’ve had zero issues with this brand. I take one pill per day

5. Water, water, water
I’m working on being more intentional about my water intake. Whenever I feel tired or worn down, I just chug a couple large glasses of water. 😉 And since I drink a lot of coffee, too, I try to balance out my coffee in take with water to stay hydrated and energized.

6. OmegaBrite Fish Oil
This was recommended to me by a doctor as one of the higher quality fish oils. In fact, some of the major studies done on mental health and fish oil used this particular brand. Since our family doesn’t eat a lot of fish because it’s hard to come by in small town Iowa, I’ve tried my best to be more diligent about taking a fish oil supplement.

*affiliate links included
**I’m not a doctor or medical professional. All advice is my personal opinions and you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

Family, Pregnancy

Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding and Supplementing :: The Second Time Around

July 6, 2017


A few weeks ago on Instagram I promised that I would write this post. And yet here I am, two weeks later, still kicking the can down the road and avoiding writing about the topic of breastfeeding, bottle feeding, supplementing. Not because I’m afraid to write about the topic, but because it’s a complicated subject – one that I feel different about daily. Chances are, if you’re a mom, you understand what I’m talking about. Because in the long run, it’s something that doesn’t really matter that much, and yet it matters so much when you’re in the thick of the newborn and baby days.

Let’s back up a little bit first. While I was preparing for Collins to arrive I debating not breastfeeding at all. Not a flippant comment here and there, but rather a very real conversation with Joe about not even giving it a shot. Having had a less than ideal breastfeeding (err pumping) journey with Ainsley, I was traumatized by the experience and not at all keen for a repeat. Exclusive pumping is not for the faint of heart!

I was never one of those people who dreamed about breastfeeding my child. And having formula fed Ainsley after four months of pumping, it made me realize that formula was, in fact, quite a wonderful thing. Nutritionally inferior to breastmilk? Yes, there’s no debating that. But a fantastic second option. Yet time and time again with both pregnancies I was met with plenty of unsolicited “Breast is Best” messaging. I still remember getting a call from a survey taker from the Minnesota state government after Ainsley was born and giving them an earful about how I didn’t want to have breastfeeding pushed on me any more than it already had been.

So this time around I promised myself: no guilt, no struggling to breastfeed, no exclusive pumping around the clock to keep up my supply. Joe and I decided that my goal would be two weeks of breastfeeding to give Collins the colostrum and early milk and then if it wasn’t working I would switch over to formula. My two week goal came and went, and I continued to breastfeed. I’m fairly certain that few moms would classify breastfeeding as “easy” but it was workable, a few issues with over-supply aside.

A lot of the stories about breastfeeding and switching over to formula that you find on the internet usually revolve around times when a mom has no other choice – baby isn’t gaining weight, mom doesn’t have enough supply, latching isn’t working, etc. But what about when it is working? With Ainsley, I had very little guilt about not breastfeeding because her lip gap caused major latch issues that I don’t think we could have overcome. It was my out, my valid excuse for switching to bottles. And then eventually, dropping the exclusive pumping routine and switching to formula. But with Collins? What was my reasoning? What would I tell others who asked?

At the end of the day I don’t really have a major reason. But here’s what I do know: Breastfeeding was not, for me, a blissful bonding experience with my baby. Having bottle fed Ainsley for a year, I knew enough to realize that I enjoyed bottle feeding my baby more than I did breastfeeding her. I could kiss her head and look into her eyes without the stress of whether or not she would pull away or unlatch or get upset. I knew enough to know that because I’m a fairly modest person, breastfeeding in public places was giving me serious anxiety and staying home with a toddler or being home for every feeding just wasn’t an option. I knew enough to know that formula, while nutritionally inferior, would give me the ability to be the most present wife and mom I could be.

So where does that leave me right now? I don’t really know. I’m still pumping three times a day right now, producing enough milk to cover about 3/4 of Collins’s feedings for the day, but I contemplate quitting nearly every single day and switching over to formula entirely. Pumping a few times a day seems like such a small price to pay for providing my daughter with the benefits of breastmilk, yet I long to be completely in one camp or another rather than one foot in and one foot out.

For now, I’m in the murky middle. I’m sure that eventually I’ll fall into the exclusively formula fed camp, but for now I’m just taking it day by day. Realizing it’s okay to be conflicted, unsure, neither here nor there.



The Postpartum Body // Weeks 3-6

June 22, 2017


I can’t believe that little Collins is already 6 weeks old! It’s been the fastest and slowest six weeks of my life, balancing the craziness that is having a newborn and a toddler. I’ve told everyone who asks that the hardest part is that the exhaustion of a toddler and the exhaustion of a newborn are at odds with one another. A toddler goes all-out, all day long BUT our toddler also takes a two hour nap every day and sleeps 12 hours at night, so it’s easy to go, go, go as a mom of a toddler and still get recharged each night. A newborn, on the other hand, is an entirely different kind of exhausting. They sleep a LOT but they are also needier around the clock and require night feedings and the whole “rest when the baby rests” is pretty much a joke when you have a two-year-old to manage and entertain, too.

So, now that we have all that out of the way, I’m ready to talk about my postpartum journey and where I’m at six weeks in.

I put this one first, because it’s a big one for me and sleep has a huge impact on your health, weight loss, ability to exercise, etc. Collins has been a pretty good sleeper for the most part and has adapted well to a schedule that we’ve put in place. Sure, we have days and nights that aren’t super great, but I’m not complaining. She hit a very fussy period around 3 weeks and now seems to be getting less and less fussy as her digestive system matures and her tummy issues have subsided substantially.

As it stands today, she is going to bed each night around 8:30 and waking once or twice each night to eat. Sometimes at 1:30 and then again at 4. Other times she is waking just once, around 2 or 2:30. I’ve been trying to find a balance between going to bed when she does at 8:30 so I can get a nice long stretch of sleep and also wanting to spend some quality time with Joe. It’s hard for me to decide what is more important to my mental and emotional health on any given day. I try to take a nap during the day when the girls both nap in the afternoon, but sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep in the early afternoon when I don’t feel as tired as I do in the morning or later in the evening.

During my last post, I said that I was waiting until 6 weeks to really start to exercise seriously. However, after about the 3 week mark I started to feel really good physically and most of my bleeding had subsided, so I’ve been working out harder and more consistently for the last two weeks. My first couple runs were hard, but as my abdominal muscles have gotten stronger, I’ve noticed that working out and running has been much easier. I’ve been doing exercises to repair my mild diastasis and gone on a lot of long walks with the double stroller and have been either running or doing a workout on Beachbody on Demand 5 to 6 days of the week. It might seem like a lot, but working out has given me a huge boost of energy and mental clarity on the days I’ve needed it most.

We don’t own a scale and haven’t in years because I try not to focus on weight as a marker for health and fitness. I usually rely on how my clothes fit rather than how much I weigh. I did step on a scale last week and was about 6 pounds above my typical pre-pregnancy weight, assuming that scale was right. I’ll have a better idea when I go to my 6-week postpartum check-up early next week!

That said, I can fit into a lot of my clothes but they don’t all fit like they did before baby, which is to be expected at this stage in the game. Do I wish that my clothes fit already? Sure! But I’m trying to have a realistic and healthy mindset about my progress and taking it a day at a time. Nine months on, nine months off, right? Okay, I hope it doesn’t take nine months, but even if it does, that’s okay. 😉

Overall, I’ve been really thankful for how well my body has been recovering. While I was pregnant, there were plenty of times that I questioned whether or not working out would make any difference postpartum. The answer has been a resounding YES. If you’re currently pregnant, I can say without a doubt that working out was worth it, even if it was hard to find the motivation some days.

Family, Pregnancy

Favorite Baby Products :: Newborn (second time around)

June 12, 2017


I wanted to take a minute (while it’s still fresh in my mind) to do a little post about my favorite baby products for newborns the second time around. Because let’s be honest, my list of must-have products is really scaled back the second time around and only includes the best of the best. No frills!

1. Milk Snob Nursing Cover/Car Seat Cover/Blanket/Etc. 
This cover is great! I LOVE multi-function baby products like this one. It functions as a nursing cover and a car seat cover (my main use for it) as well as a blanket and a grocery cart cover. It’s really cute, soft and washes well.

2. LeachCo Infant Lounger 
This was gifted to us for Ainsley and we have gotten SO much use out of it with both girls. They have both napped in it a lot during the early weeks (while supervised since it’s not technically a safe sleep surface) and I love that it’s super portable and can be moved from room to room.

3. Wubba Nub Pacifier 
Ainsley wasn’t a paci baby, but this little girl certainly is. We love the Wubba Nub because it stays in place when they are little and learning to keep the paci in their mouth. We have three around the house so we are never without one!

4. Halo Micro Fleece Swaddle
We have tried a lot of different swaddles and sleep products but it’s a little funny to me that the one we keep coming back to time and time again is the swaddle that our hospital gave us for free when Ainsley was born. It’s a “swaddle for dummies” since it has velcro and makes it super easy to get a nice, tight swaddle that stays in place.

5. LectroFan White Noise Machine
Our girls both sleep in their cribs, with the room dark and the sound machines running. We have two of these sound machines and I don’t think they can be beat for the price and functionality.

6. Ergo 360 Baby Carrier
All the praise hands for the Ergo 360. We didn’t end up using it nearly as much with Ainsley when she got older. I had envisioned using it a lot for hiking and walks and such, but we did use it a LOT in those early months when the evening fussies would strike and she would want to be held close and bounced but I still wanted to get dinner on the table or do something else. I sort of forgot about using it until last week, when Collins was really fussy, and bingo! She loves the carrier, and usually I can get her to fall asleep for a short cat nap during her fussy period while I’m cooking or playing in the yard with Ainsley toward the end of the day.

7. VTech Baby Monitor
I knew this time around that I didn’t want a fancy video monitor since we hardly used ours with Ainsley. Something about always seeing every little movement and grunt and wiggle just stressed me out. So this time around we went with a simple sound monitor, the same one we have for Ainsley. I rarely use it since all our bedrooms in the house are close together, but this monitor has lasted for a long time with Ainsley and done everything I need it to do!

8. Keekaroo Peanut Changer
This is a product I didn’t know I needed but now I can’t imagine doing without! This changing pad can be wiped down, sanitized and doesn’t need a cover. I mean, I can’t imagine having a regular changing pad with a cloth cover given how many times we wipe this thing down. It’s amazing!


The Postpartum Body // Birth – 3 Weeks

June 1, 2017


Hi friends! With Ainsley’s pregnancy, I really wanted to write about my postpartum fitness and health journey but the best laid plans never came to be and I didn’t document the process the way that I had hoped. My friend Robin’s blog was a tremendous encouragement to me when I was postpartum both with Ainsley and this time around. She took such a balanced, moderate approach to getting back in shape after baby and I was so encouraged by how kind and gentle she was to her body during that tender time after baby.

I’ve heard plenty of people say, “It takes 9 months to put it on, it takes 9 months to take it off.” Which is great in theory, but it’s also hard to understand what that looks like in practice when you look at your postpartum body for the first (or 15th) time and are a little shocked and maybe a tad dismayed at what you’re left to work with.

One thing I’m not going to do? Share any shirtless photos or bikini shots of my postpartum progress. I did take them, for my own benefit and progress tracking, but I don’t want anyone to get wrapped up in my journey or have this series serve as a form of comparison for anyone. It should be nothing but some honest reflections and encouragement, with a little perspective, too, given that I’ve gone through this once before. Perspective is a game changer!

During this pregnancy, my weight gain landed around 37 pounds. My pre-pregnancy weight is usually around 140 (I’m 5’10) and I topped out with this pregnancy at 177 pounds, for reference. This was a few pounds more than Ainsley, but pretty comparable to the first go-around. I gained a lot of weight during the first half of the pregnancy and then things leveled off a bit as the pregnancy went out. I had to repeat the mantra “trust your body” time and time again, believing that my body knew exactly what it was doing and would grow the way it needed to grow.

The first few weeks, I’ve made it a goal to focus on nourishing my body and treating it gently. Having a toddler, I haven’t been able to rest quite as much as I would have liked to speed the healing process (I did have some minor tearing during delivery) but that’s just the nature of the beast with a toddler and a baby. From the beginning, I felt really good postpartum from day 1. I’m not sure if it was not having an epidural or just being in better physical shape, or maybe a combination of the two? Feeling so good was a blessing and a curse since I think I may have pushed myself a little too fast during the first week or two.

My focus during these first three weeks has been to rest when possible, sleep when the kiddos sleep (they have been napping together in the afternoons), drinking plenty of water and eating a large amount of nourishing food to help my body recover and establish my milk supply. When you’re sleep deprived, most people tend to grab sugary, greasy foods and plenty of refined carbs for instant energy, but I’ve been avoiding those foods as much as possible and focusing on lots of oatmeal in the morning, nut and seed butters, vegetables, fruits, eggs, whole grains and legumes. I’m certainly not “dieting” during this time at all, just loading up on large servings of the good stuff.

I’m also snacking frequently (usually a morning and afternoon snack) and limiting my caffeine intake to a cup or two in the morning as to not mess up baby’s sleep schedule and nighttime sleep. Smoothies have been my best friend, and for the most part I’ve been avoiding all dairy since it doesn’t sit well with me and many newborns don’t do well with it, either. But that’s more of a personal choice!

I’ve found that my body tends to lose weight quickly at first, then stall a little bit. With Ainsley, my body hung on to an extra 5 to 10 pounds while breastfeeding, so we will see if that trend continues this time around. I did buy a decent amount of clothing to ease myself into the postpartum period – dresses that are nursing-friendly, flowy and a few pairs of pants and shorts in larger sizes so I can feel like I’m wearing normal clothes even if I don’t fit into all my pre-baby clothing. For me, getting showered and dressed in real clothes most days does wonders for my mental and emotional state during these early weeks!

As far as workouts or being active goes, my doctor told me that I could start exercising lightly as soon as I felt ready, perhaps around 3 or 4 weeks postpartum. And while I’m waiting for the six week check-up to officially get back into real workouts, after the two week mark I felt ready to start walking longer distances and getting out and about with the girls. The weather is beautiful right now, so long stroller walks to the park have been very common. I have a small amount of diastasis recti as well, so I’ve been doing exercises recommended by a physical therapist for healing the diastasis before resuming more active core exercises.

Real talk? The first week or two it was easy to feel really good in my post baby body. I birthed a human! I was momma to a beautiful baby girl! I was really good at giving myself lots of grace, but the last week or so I’ve found some unhealthy thoughts creeping into my head about my post-baby body. The squishy tummy that I look at multiple times per day when I feed Collins, the way my clothes fit differently than before, the fact that I’ve got some work to do before I’m back in fighting shape. I think that lack of sleep plays into this big time. I mean, is anyone at their best mentally when they are really tired? But I’ve been continuing to repeat affirming thoughts and words of grace over my body in its current state. I’ve got plenty of time to get back into fighting shape, so for now I’m enjoying the slow, easy walks and taking my former workout time and using it to nap, instead. 🙂

I’m planning on doing another update at the 3 month mark, but for now that’s all I’ve got! 🙂