Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Body After Baby

I'm going to say something that might scare some of you all who don't have babies yet - with delivery, you can expect to lose 12-15 pounds.  A normal, healthy pregnant woman carrying one child should gain 25-35 pounds during the nine month gestation period.  So what happens to the extra weight?  Oh right.  You have to work to lose it.  But with all the other things you have to juggle, how does one get in shape after baby?  Again, I'm not a fitness expert or a physician (make sure to check with them before you start any nutrition or workout regimen), but I was at my pre-pregnancy weight 4 1/2 months after giving birth to Baby C.  This is how I did it:


Yeah.  It's that simple.  Within three weeks of giving birth (and nursing what seemed like every waking moment), I had lost over half of my pregnancy weight.  I literally did not do anything.  The first two weeks, I barely got out of bed because I had a c-section and moving was not so much fun.  Breastfeeding burns anywhere from 400-800 calories a day!  Whew!

Set a goal

Around my 36th week of pregnancy, I pretty much gave up on physical exercise.  I was so swollen and uncomfortable and couldn't fit into anything anymore.  Every time I passed someone running on the street, I got insanely jealous.  So I set a goal and decided to run a half marathon 6 months postpartum.  I signed up with some friends so I would be accountable to others.  I set out a training plan.  In theory, this would have been fantastic and I would be a week away from running my first half marathon.  But two weeks into my training, I broke my toe and that took me out of the game.

But do set a goal.  "Losing the baby weight" does not count as a goal.  A goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART).  "I want to lose 20 pounds within 3 months of getting cleared by my doctor" is a great example of a SMART goal.  When setting goals, keep in mind what it will take to achieve it.  Will you need to go to a gym, and therefore, need to get a babysitter?  Do you have a partner that is going to help and support you?  You have to set yourself up to succeed, so figure out what that will mean and go for it!
Plan around a big event (if possible)

Can you plan your pregnancy near a high school reunion?  What about a big wedding?  I'm kind of kidding, but honestly, knowing you'll have to see some people you haven't seen in awhile (and hopefully looking fabulous) will be a huge motivator to kick it into high gear.

Work out with your baby

If you integrate your baby into your workout, there's no excuse to why you can't get some exercise in!  And before you think I'm suggesting getting on a cardio machine with your baby in a carrier or propping them up against heavy weights, let me explain.  You can use your baby as resistance...basically, the cutest weights you'll ever lift.  David Kirsch, a top notch celebrity trainer, has some suggestions over at Weight Watchers.  

Be flexible

There are a whole host of issues that can crop up when you're a new mom.  For one thing, you have no idea how exhausted you're going to be.  Your baby could be a solid sleeper....or not.  You could be incredibly sore for weeks after labor.  Maybe have plans A, B, and C.  Plan A might mean going to a kickboxing class, but you're too tired.  Plan B could be having a few workout DVDs and hand weights to make sure you get some physical exercise in while baby naps.

Be patient and appreciate your body  

Above all, just give yourself a break and acknowledge what your body has already done thus far.  It has supported another life (or lives!) for 9 months during pregnancy, it has survived the labor process, and it is now helping to develop a healthy child.  You can't wish the weight away (unfortunately), but by making good choices with your diet and trying to fit in exercise when you can, you can work it off. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Registry Reviewed

When I was pregnant with Baby C, I had no idea what to register for.  While I wouldn't exactly classify myself as a minimalist, I didn't want more than I needed and I didn't want a lot of stuff.  Each baby store will tell you that you need everything and probably at least two of them.  Here's my quick and dirty list of what I wish I knew when I was registering:

Feeding Must Haves

*Pillow - If you choose to or are able to breastfeed, some sort of pillow really helped in the first few months (I have a Boppy, but I've heard good things about My Brest Friend)

*Pump - Again, if you choose/are able to breastfeed, some sort of pump is really helpful.  If possible, try to rent one from the hospital or borrow one (with new accessories of course) from a friend before you register for one.  Pumps can be really spendy, and some moms don't take to pumping really well.  So then you're out more than a hundred bucks.  I was super lucky to have a friend loan me her automatic pump that I used frequently for the first few months.  Also, I have a Medela hand pump and while it takes longer, it's nice to be able to do in bed and it's quiet.

*Bottles - while Baby C gets almost all of her food straight from the source, having a handful of bottles is great for pumped milk or formula.  It's tricky because not all babies will take to all bottles so don't stock up on a ton.  Another hint: if you're breastfeeding, try to find bottle nipples that match your, eh, shape.  I look for bottles that are BPA free, and personally, we could get by with about 3-4 bottles.  My suggestions are lifefactory and Phillips AVENT.  

Feeding Nice-to-Haves

*Nursing cover - if you'll be out and about with your baby, having some sort of privacy might be nice if you're not into putting it all out there.  Personally, I just used one of the larger swaddling blankets from Baby C's collection and draped it over my shoulder.

Feeding Take-it-or-Leave-Its

*Bottle warmer - some parents really like having these - personally, if I needed to heat a bottle up, I'd just run it under a warm faucet for a few minutes.  (Microwaving bottles zaps a lot of the nutrients in breastmilk/formula)

Bath Time Must Haves

*Hooded towel/washcloth - you could probably get by with one of each, but you really need no more than two or three.  Most likely, you'll be doing wash at least evey other day, so if you wash your towels with every load, you'll always have a clean one to use.

*Baby soap/shampoo - I love Baby Bees and California Baby - I use the same stuff for myself, so it cuts down on products in our bathroom!

Bath Time Nice-to-Haves

*Baby bathtub - I give Baby C a bath in the sink, but it is nice to have a bathtub you can tote with you so you don't kill your back.  Since our bathroom is small and we have very little storage space, I have the Puj tub I can fold flat and store in a cupboard.  It only works until babies are about 16 pounds, so it may not be for everyone, but I really enjoy it.

Playtime Must Haves

*Bumbo seat - Bumbo seats are great!  It helps your baby develop neck strength and this is particularly helpful if your little one is not a fan of "tummy time"(since it's recommended that babies are put to sleep on their backs, pediatricians recommend giving babies ample amount of time on their tummies to work on their neck strength).  When babies get a little older, it helps them develop the muscles to start sitting on their own.  And I also used it in place of a high chair for the first few weeks of solid food feeding.

*Books - it seems silly to read to a 2 week old baby, but babies can get a head start on learning language development skills just by listening to you talk.  One of my showers was a book shower - I loved it and I hope to instill a love of reading and books to Baby C.  For young babies, look for books in black and white - it's easiest for them to see contrasting colors.

*Toys - I never thought about registering for toys, but I'm so glad my good friend gave me some at my shower.  Look for toys that are age appropriate, and do a little bit of research before handing over any toy to your baby.  There have been many scares the past few years about toys made with lead based paint, particularly toys made in China.  Since about 25% of items in the US are made in China, know what brands are safe and which ones to avoid.  Check out The Soft Landing to find toys that are safe for baby.  Baby C's personal favorite toy is Sophie the Giraffe.  It's soft, it squeaks and it's great for teething!

Playtime Nice-to-Haves

*Activity mat - if you have a blanket and some toys of different colors, shapes, textures and sizes, an activity mat isn't necessary, but it is really nice to have.  I definitely recommend getting one that's easy to wash (babies are yucky), and one that has toys that are easy to take off so you can pack a few in your diaper bag when you're out and about.  I have one from Baby Einstein that's not made any more, but all different brands make activity mats.  Find one that you like

*Exersaucer - when babies get a little older and have good head control, many of them will love an Exersaucer.  Again, mine from Baby Einstein isn't made any more (scored it on Craig's List for $40 when they retail for above $80!), but many different types are available.

*Jump Ups - these fun contraptions you can hang in a doorway and watch baby go to town jumping and laughing.  I don't have one of these, but I have some mommy friends who swear by them.

Bedtime Must Haves

*Multiple sets of fitted sheets/mattress pads - your baby will puke and/or wet through their pajamas.  It'll probably be when you have the other set in the wash.  I have two fitted sheets and two mattress pads, and there have been occasions (rare, but they happen) where I have no linens left.  Start with at least two, but if you have a baby with acid reflux or a heavy wetter, I'd recommend having at least three.

*Swaddling blankets/wearable blankets - having loose bedding in your crib is not recommended until baby is much older.  All babies need in their crib is a fitted sheet and a swaddle or wearable blanket.  I totally recommend swaddling babies the first few months.  It helps them sleep and gives them a sense of security.  Once they outgrow their swaddles, put them in a wearable blanket to keep them warm and also give you a sense of security.    

Bedtime Nice-to-Haves

*Cosleeper - this was a must have for us, but some people want their babies to sleep in their cribs from Day 1, which is totally fine.  Baby C slept in our room until she was about 3 months old.  Cosleepers (mine is from Arm's Reach) come right up to your bed, making night time feedings so much easier.  It also gives you peace of mind - you can keep your baby close, but not in your bed with you.  Many cultures sleep with baby in bed, but I kept having these horrible feelings that I'd roll over on our tiny newborn (you won't, unless you're on medication, narcoleptic or drunk).  Plus, it serves as our travel crib when we go out of town.

*Pacifier - babies have a very powerful sucking reflex.  It helps them to relax and go to sleep, especially in the first few months.  For Baby C, a pacifier was a must have, but some babies don't like them, or some parents don't want to give them to their babies.  Look for BPA free pacifiers.  I love Soothies or Phillips AVENT.

*White noise machine - if you're looking for something else to put on your registry, a white noise machine can be a great addition.  I love our Sleep Sheep, but you can also use a fan or humidifier for white noise.  It helps block out household noise to aid in baby's sleeping.

Bedtime Take it-or-Leave-It

*Crib bumpers - I have beautiful bumpers for my crib.  Guess what?  As soon as Baby C made the move to her crib, they had to come out because they are a suffocation hazard.  Now that she's a bit more mobile and knocking her head into the crib rails, I may put them back in.  However, in a few months, the bumpers can turn into baby ladders that they can climb to stage a crib breakout.  You can look into breathable bumpers, but I say forget it.  It'll make your nursery cuter, but that's a silly reason, especially when they can increase the risk of SIDS.

Travel Must Haves

*Stroller/travel system - I have the BOB Revolution, and while it's pricey, I think it's worth every penny.  It's a jogging stroller and it's sturdy enough to handle terrain off the beaten path.  I know friends who have multiple strollers for different things, so the way I figure, I have one stroller that does it all, which probably saves us money or breaks even in the long run.  Look for something lightweight, and that you can easily fold up with one hand (you'll most likely be holding baby in the other).  See if there are consignment stores in your area that will let you "test drive" a stroller before buying it.  

*Car seat - this is probably the most important thing to have, as you can't leave the hospital without having this in your car and properly installed.  I have a Graco Snugride (snaps into the BOB with an adaptor you buy separately) and while I don't absolutely love it, it does its job.    

*Baby carrier - a baby carrier is great to have your hands free to go on walks, go to the store, or do things around the house.  I have a Bjorn and a Moby, and for security reasons, I definitely like the Bjorn better (I feel better when I can snap my baby into something).

Traveling Nice-to-Have

*Mirror - this is to see what your rear-facing baby is up to while you're in the car.  I don't have one, but I'm looking into getting one.

Traveling Take-it-or-Leave-It 

*Cart covers - obviously, people want to protect their babies from what they can, and who knows where that store cart has been or when it was last washed (if ever).  I say kids are going to get sick, regardless of if you have a cart cover.  Save your money (or your friends and family's money), wipe down your cart with some sanitizing wipes, and call it good.

Miscellaneous Must Haves

*Swing/bouncy chair - it is great to have something to put your baby in besides a crib.  I personally wanted a bouncy chair - it was smaller and more portable than a swing, plus it was less expensive.  I loved mine from Bright Starts.

*Thermometer - I can't give any recommendations because I'm still searching for the perfect one myself, but for very young babies, pediatricians usually recommend taking rectal temperature (it's the most accurate).

*Baby monitor - although Baby C is in the room next door to our bedroom, it's really nice to have a baby monitor.  A) I can hear her better than I can through the walls and B) it can travel.  I can be in the kitchen preparing dinner, or I can be outside working in the yard, and I can hear her when she wakes up.  We have a great one from Sony with two wireless receivers.  One is always fully charged and ready to go and you can take them anywhere without having to worry about an electrical outlet. 

Phew - I think that's it!

Moms - was there anything I missed?  What did you consider a must have or what was something you wish you didn't register for?

Psst - none of these companies getting a plug have sponsored or paid for my endorsement.  I just really love them and wanted to share my recommendations.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's a Mompetition!

I'm going to say this at the very beginning.  I'm an Aries.  For those that know me well, they know I'm pretty true to my sign.  I'm enthusiastic, loyal and tend to be the planner or the initiator of events or parties.  But I'm also about as stubborn as they come, a little shortsighted and can turn very small things into a very big competition.

As soon as I became pregnant, the game was definitely on.  I was going to have the cutest nursery that ever existed.  I would be the most glamorous pregnant woman that had ever lived.  My baby would be the most perfect human being ever born.  But, as it turns out, every other parent is just as competitive.  They have really cute nurseries...gasp - cuter than mine!  There were SUPER cute prego ladies out there.  And you guessed it - SO. MANY. BEAUTIFUL. BABIES.

And the mompetition only starts at pregnancy.  Labor and delivery turns into a Strong Woman death match.  How long was your labor?  Did you use medicine?  Soon after, everyone is fixated on comparing newborns.  Does your baby sleep through the night?  What does your baby weigh?  How tall is your baby?  Is your baby speaking 8 foreign languages?  While I know that most people ask out of curiosity and complete good nature, the Aries in me figures it's another ram showing their horns and readying to duel.

I would like to call a truce to the mompetition.  I'm going to try to stop competing (or trying to quiet the urge) and just focus on being a great mom to my little girl.  I may not have a hand drawn mural in my nursery (you can barely read my handwriting) or document my baby's every waking moment in a colorful collage (I wish I could go all Sherry and John from Young House Love), but I love my baby just as much as any other parent.   And the truth of the matter is that's probably where the mompetition comes from.  Doesn't everyone just want to be the best version of themselves to their special people?

PS - according to the "new" zodiac calendar, I'm not an Aries anymore, but instead a Pisces.  Hmm.  I don't know if I buy it, but Pisces are supposed to be more understanding.  I'll work on that.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mahvelous Meal Monday!

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope you had a fantastic weekend!  My family and I spent ours doing a little home renovation - painting a bathroom to be exact.  And I should clarify...when I say "my family", I mean my husband.  One of us has to watch the baby!  (painting while wearing a baby is probably not recommended by most people).  And I saw "Crazy Stupid Love" with my friend Kate - fantastic movie!  Go see it!

Here's what I cooked up last night!

Grilled Salmon and Zucchini with Red Pepper Sauce

The sauce took all of 5 minutes to make (3 of which was toasting the almonds), and grilling took about 10. Super quick, easy, and healthy meal!  Bonus if you have a vegetable garden and planted zucchini (which is probably going crazy with the prolific squash right now).  It was delicious!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baby's First Veg

Or fruit.  I think avocado is technically a fruit because it has a pit.  Anyway...

After a discussion with my pediatrician, Baby C started her love affair with "solid" food a few weeks ago (I have solid in quotes because I don't really count purees as solid food, but I digress).  First, we took the plunge with some rice cereal.  But just like her mama, Claire was ready for some guacamole.  Mmmm...

Avocado is an excellent first food for babies.  It's full of essential nutrients, minerals and a good source of fat for brain development and chunky thighs.  Since I was (and still am) pretty determined to make most of Claire's food, I also thought avocado was a good way to start this adventure in becoming a baby food chef. It really couldn't have been easier.

My tools:

My sous chef:

The process:

Scoop out a ripe avocado, blend in food processor (or mash with fork) until no chunks remain.

The result:

1 small avocado yields about 2 - 3 ounces of baby food.

 Isn't it pretty?  I know avocado green was kind of a 70's thing, but I like it.  But maybe that's also because I really, really like avocados, especially with chips and a margarita.

Moral of the story: making your own baby food is as easy as pie (except pie's not that easy to make).  It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can keep it in the freezer for 3 months.  And like any good guac aficionado knows, avocado oxidizes and turns brown.  If it bothers you or your baby, just skim off the top layer.

Yum - bring on the burritos!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mahvelous Meal Monday!

Howdy folks!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend...now what to make for dinner?!

As you know, fish is a super important food to include in your diet.  Salmon happens to be a favorite of mine, and it's a superfood!  The omega 3 fatty acids are good for your heart, and eating salmon twice a week can help with joint health, brain development and functionality, and may even ward off certain types of cancer.  So there's my pitch for salmon!

This is one of my favorite quick and easy meals from SELF Magazine that I've been making for years.  Most of these items will keep in your pantry for at least a few months, and the fresh produce will only set you back a few bucks.

Salmon Cakes with Garlic-Spinach Saute

I prep the salmon cakes during one of Baby C's naps, and then I only need about 7 minutes to fry them up and saute the spinach when it's time for dinner!  I start my rice cooker when my husband's on his way home from work and the meal comes together in the perfect amount of time.

Sorry for the lack of pictures - it gets eaten too quickly!  Enjoy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mahvelous Meal Monday!

Happy Monday, friends!  Time for another quick, easy and healthy meal!

I love gnocchi.  Like really, really love gnocchi.  Whenever I go to an Italian restaurant, I'll order their gnocchi 8 out of 10 times (maybe I'll order the special or a really yummy sounding ravioli the other 2 times).  So imagine my delight when I noticed a package of gnocchi in Trader Joe's during my weekly grocery shopping trip!  I found this great recipe from Eating Well, so I assume it's pretty healthy.  The gnocchi was $3 for the pack and the other dinner supplies came to another $3.  It made 3-4 servings, so it was perfect for a light lunch the next day.

Gnocchi with Zucchini  Ribbons and Parsley Brown Butter

I was able to prep the zucchini ribbons (super easy to make with a plain ol' vegetable peeler) and cherry tomatoes during Baby C's nap time.  I omitted the parsley, too.  All in all, this recipe probably took 15 minutes to put together and it was so delicious!  I paired it with a glass of pinot grigio and a simple salad.  Looks pretty yummy, right?