Breastfeeding + Marathon Training

(Disclaimer: I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL NOR AM I A LACTATION CONSULTANT. ALL OF THE INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE AND WHAT I FOUND TO BE TRUE.)

Eight months of breastfeeding my little Miss Ava, hoping to make it one year, but no exact end plan in sight. I’m still a strong believer in FED IS BEST.

I have had one of both. My first was mainly bottle fed, my second has been exclusively breastfed with bottles of breast milk when we are apart. Every baby and mama are unique, so feed your baby whichever way works. With that being said, unlike my first born, breastfeeding Ava has come very naturally to us.

Although, breastfeeding is a huge time commitment, I am very proud that I am able to provide for Ava in this way, especially since being a busy working mama of two, while also training and running a fall marathon.

When I first started my marathon training in July, I was 13 weeks postpartum/post c-section. Because of the summer heat, I became paranoid that I might see a dip in my milk supply, once I started to increase mileage. I had heard stories of women who exercised too much, very suddenly, and just as suddenly they found their milk supply drop. I told myself that my main priority was (is) my baby (babies), and if my milk supply became jeopardized in any way, then I would stop training for the marathon.

I began researching breastfeeding and marathon training, but I couldn’t find very much information on this topic. So I reached out to other mother runners on IG and in Mom’s Run This Town running group, to see what other mother runners experienced. I also asked my daughter’s pediatrician who is a certified lactation consultant for advice.

This is the knowledge I gained while exploring the topic of Breastfeeding and Marathoning. This is my experience.

Hydrate + Fuel = Breastmilk

First thing first – according to my pediatrician and lactation consultant, as long as baby continues to drink milk from the breast, emptying the full breast, my body will make the exact amount of milk that my baby needs. This is true even if one is marathon training. However, the proper nutrition and fueling is very important during marathon training, even more so for a breastfeeding mother runner, such as myself. It is very important to consider hydration and calorie intake, because they are crucial components to making milk.

During a twenty mile training run, the body burns close to 2,000 calories and as a breastfeeding mom an additional 500 calories is burned a day. So those calories must be replaced to make milk.

My experience …

Because I stayed hydrated and well fueled, I never saw a dip in my milk supply. I found this true when asking other mother runners from IG and MRTT.

Take Your Prenatal Vitamin

Another important factor is taking a prenatal vitamin. A prenatal vitamin is recommended three months before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. It will help provide all the necessary vitamins mama and baby need. This is extremely important for breastfeeding mamas who are also marathon training, because these extra vitamins will help prevent injuries.

My experience …

I took my prenatal vitamin all through out my training, and I am continuing to take it, until I stop breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding + Running Injuries

As a breastfeeding postpartum mother runner, I am more prone to running injury. There are several reasons why… but the main reason is because of the hormone relaxin. Relaxin is created by the pregnant body to soften and loosen ligaments and joints, so the body will be capable of giving birth. This hormone is still present several months after giving birth, and makes a marathon training mama more prone to injury.

Another reason is Calcium and Vitamin D. This is where it is important to take a prenatal vitamins and eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. If the body is not getting the sufficient amount of calcium and vitamin D, it will provide what it has to for baby first, through breastmilk, making mama more prone to stress fractures.

And healing from injuries may take longer as well.

My experience …

During marathon training, I personally never experienced any major injuries. I had a sore calf muscle after my first run over ten miles, but rest is all I needed. Regardless if you are breastfeeding or not, always listen to your body, and back off the training when you need to and rest. With that being said, always remember rest days are part of training. Rest and recovery are as important as your long run.

Foods for Breastfeeding Mamas + tricks to get your supply back up

If for some reason you do experience a drop in your breast milk supply, know this, breast milk supply can go up, down, and back up. DO NOT WORRY… Stress can make things even worse. Just relax and use these tips to help bring your supply back up.

Rest and breastfeed baby- If possible take a day or two of rest, meaning decrease mileage or rest from training entirely and be with baby. If baby is able to breastfeed on demand or you have the opportunity to offer the breast to baby, your body will be able to determine the exact amount of milk your baby needs. Breastfeed baby often. Ideally breastfeed baby every 2-3 hours. Never go more than 5 or 6 hours with out breastfeeding or pumping, especially if you are experiencing a supply drop or low supply.

Hydrate- Drink tons of water. If your body is dehydrated it can’t make milk. The more you drink the better. For an extra boost in milk supply, drink Mother’s Milk Tea.

My experience … I drink Mother’s Milk tea. I use the brand Earth Mama Angel Baby, but you can find this type of tea at Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Market. It really does help milk supply. My supply never dipped during training, but I drink this sporadically and always find my supply boosted the next day. (Not an ad, not sponsored.)

Fuel- Make sure you are eating enough calories. But for a boost in milk supply, eat oatmeal.

My experience …

I tried to eat oatmeal regularly during my training, and still love to eat oatmeal, and oat based foods. This definitely helps keep my supply boosted. I buy the organic instant apple cinnamon flavor. It is very fast and easy for me to take on the go. Never ate it before a long run though. Try eating every morning for breakfast especially during a marathon training build up.

Other foods I eat are green smoothies enriched with fennel, and soups. Fennel is very good for breastfeeding moms. And smoothies are both calorie and hydration. Soups also do the job because again, soups are both hydration and calories.

Pump- If you can’t be with baby to breastfeed or you just want to add additional feedings… get your pump ready. There are a couple different ways you can use your breast pump to increase your supply.

One way to increase supply when you find your supply dipped is feed baby on both breasts, and then immediately pump after the feeding for a minimum of 5 minutes on each side. This will insure you empty the breast completely. If milk does not come out while pumping it means your baby successfully emptied the breast, however keep pumping for the addition time, it will trick the body into thinking baby is still there and needs more milk.

Another way to increase or bring milk supply up is to pump in between feedings. For example if you are feeding every two hours then pump an hour after breastfeeding baby.

Do not play the comparison game. If another mama gets more ounces than you, that’s what her body does. You focus on you, and every drop of milk counts, so take what you can get and store that milk.

My experience … I’ve done both of these pumping strategies and they both work on increasing milk supply. However, I have a very consistent pumping schedule for the days I work, and a very consistent breastfeeding schedule for my baby while I’m at home with her. I find the more consistent I am at feeding my baby and pumping the more consistent my milk supply becomes.

Breastfeeding + Pumping + Race Day

Schedule 15-20 minutes extra in the morning on race day to either breastfeed or pump. Or if you are traveling a further distance to your race, bring your pump with you, and pump in the car. Whatever decision is made, make sure the breasts are empty before you toe the line.

My experience … I ran the Navy Half Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon, as a postpartum breastfeeding mama. Both times, my baby, Ava, was asleep, before I left for the race… So I pumped. The expressed/pumped milk went right in the bottle and then the refrigerator, that way it was ready for Ava, first thing, once she woke up. This also made it easier on my husband, who also had to get the baby and my three year old dressed and ready to spectate my race.

In the early days, when my daughter was a newborn, I breastfeed her on demand. As she became an infant I breastfed ever 2-3 hours, never going longer than 3 hours. Now that she is taking on solid foods, I normally breastfeed every 3 hours offering her solid foods at least 3 times a day. I normally offer milk first and then food.

When I’m at work, my pump schedule mimics my breastfeeding schedule. I do not have a huge breastmilk stash in my freezer. I normally pump exactly what she will need for the next day. My goal is to be consistent and on schedule, that way my body is never guessing.

When I ran my half marathon, I had no problem. I pumped in the morning right before the race. I ran a 2:10 half marathon, and then got home right after to breastfeed Ava. It was probably 4 hours between feedings, which is totally fine.

However, I was a little worried after my full marathon. I pumped in the morning. Then I ran my marathon in 4:44:21. Although, I tried to get to Ava as fast as I could. If you add up the time before and after the race, it was probably 6 hours between feedings, maybe a little longer. Of course my husband fed her bottles ofbreast milk and solid foods while I was gone, so she was content with a full belly. It was more about me needing to empty the breast. Because I don’t run marathons everyday, and there normally is not a 6 hour gap between feedings, it didn’t effect my supply in anyway. One day out of the norm isn’t going to be a problem. Plus Ava was seven months old, and my milk supply was well established plus, never took a dip during training.

Nursing Tents at the Marine Corps Marathon

Although, I didn’t take advantage of the tents, because my husband brought my baby to me as soon as he could. I was very impressed with the Marine Corps Marathon this year, for having nursing tents at the finish line. This was a huge help for breastfeeding mamas who ran the marathon and either needed to breastfeed baby right after the race, or had to pump immediately after.

Proud Marathon Mama

This year’s Marine Corps Marathon was my slowest, but my most accomplished. Very few people run marathons, and even fewer run marathons at 7 months postpartum while still breastfeeding their baby, and I did all of that. (Not trying to brag, just so proud.)

I managed to successfully continue to breastfeed and marathon train. I managed being a mother of two small children while also making time for one of my life passions, running. It’s incredible what the female body can do, and I’m so very proud of mine.

One day, when I was heading out the door for a run, my three year old begged me not to go. She said, “Don’t go running, mommy!” Normally, she comes with me in the double Bob running stroller. But that day for some reason she didn’t want to go, and she didn’t want me going either.

I told her, “Nope, I got to go run.”

“But… why?” She asked.

“Because Mommy, made a commitment. When you make a commitment, you have to stick with it. I signed up for a race, and paid money to participate in it. I set a goal, that I need to achieve. I’m committed.

I then told her she could come with me or stay home with daddy, but I was going running and would be right back.

One of my biggest hopes is that one day, my little ones will find something they are truly passionate about, and that they will understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. I have little eyes watching my every move, my ultimate goal is to set the best example I absolutely can.

Thank you!

So that is all that I experienced as a breastfeeding marathon. If you have an question please contact me.

I want to shout out a special thanks to the Marine Corps Marathon. You put on a great race yet again.

And thank you Marines, for supporting Breastfeeding marathon mamas!

Marine Corps Marathon 2018 : Race Recap

“So he educated me on the long run…

The Marathon is an energy game… a game he had my attention. Going out to hard and surging wastes energy. You want to be smooth and economical. In the long run we are training the body’s energy system, to more readily burn fats over carbohydrates. You see this kind of efficiency in animals that migrate long distances, whales and birds notably- who glide with minimal movement slowly releasing their energy.”

~ Deena Kastor

My white board which hangs from my fridge reminds me of my mantras, as I head out the door … I whisper to myself… Fight + Keep Moving Forward, celebrate my pace every five miles, smile + run happy.

Here I am again, walking over to the Pentagon, under the dark early morning sky, waiting for the sun to make an appearance. Ready to toe the line at the Marine Corps Marathon, for the 5th time.

This time is a little different than the last. Last time, I had a solid training cycle, starting when Zoe was 10 months old ending when she was 14 months. I was able to fit in seven weeks of strength training after my c-section to rebuild my core, before attempting to run. Then I had seven months to build a solid base. I had three previous races under my belt, two ten milers, and a half marathon – in which I broke 2 hours. I set a new PR in the marathon.

This time, I only raced one race previously, the Navy Half Marathon, which I used as a time trial. Making it to the finish line in 2:10, I knew that realistically I could finish the marathon around 4:20:00.

This time around, Zoe – my very smart and energetic three year old, and Ava my “cuddle bug,” 7 month old baby, keeps me busy. Plus, I only had 5 weeks to base build after my c-section recovery. No time to strength train or work on speed. And now on race day, I am only 7 months postpartum, still breastfeeding, a mother of two.

There has been plenty of busy days, and sleepless nights. But I made it! I managed to fit in another marathon training cycle. Although, not as consistent as what I normally accomplish, the work still got done.

On race day, I quietly walk over to the start. I follow all the other runners. I over hear them nervously chatting among themselves, as I reflect on my training, and run through my game plan for the race. I continue to whisper to myself, “When things get tough I will … Fight, keep moving forward, celebrate my pace every 5 miles, smile, run happy.”

This is NOT a goal race for me, so no pressure to PR. I used this marathon training cycle, to regain my fitness after pregnancy, plus I was desperately craving the long run.

I recently listened to the interview of Paula Radcliffe, on the I’ll Have Another Podcast. She is the Marathon World Record holder, running it in 2:15:25. In the interview, she talks about the importance of building season upon season. One marathon training cycle and marathon is part of a series of steps, to your next goal race. So often, we focus to hard on one race, never thinking about the future ones or the big picture.

There is a season for everything. And this season is not about setting a new marathon PR, but rather regaining my fitness after pregnancy, and learning how to balance my life while including my two passions – running + motherhood.

This season Marine Corps Marathon, marathon number 5, is one of the series of steps to build upon. During this Marine Corps Marathon, I’m running for the experience. Instead of racing right passed everything, it’s time to take in the whole race – high five every Marine’s hand and thank them, gain energy from the spectators, laugh at every funny sign or T-shirt. Next marathon I’ll run for speed.

This whole marathon training cycle, I consistently, just showed up, to see what I could do. Now, I’m at the start of the Marine Corps Marathon, doing the same thing showing up to see what I can do. Let’s go!

THE START

After standing in the porta potty line waiting behind forty so other runners, I begin to run to check my bag. The porta potty line was moving so slowly I wonder if I’m going to miss the race. Finally at bag check, I meet my dad and we head to the corral. It’s pretty cool to run this marathon with my dad! I’m excited to cross the finish line with him.

My dad and I get down to the start, but it’s already crowded, we zig zag between people, but the best we can do is squeeze in at the 4:45 corral. Normally, I would have stood with the 4:15 corral or even the 4 hour, but it’s so crowded, so this will have to do.

Just as in years in the past, standing around in the corral waiting for the gun to go off, brought on all the exciting energy. I really love a big race. Nothing feels better than running a marathon on a beautiful day, with 35,000 other runners. It feels amazing.

Miles 1-5

Finally I hear the gun go off and the race begin.

Our first mile is slow, but I’m glad, because I want to give my husband a little more time to get my babies to mile 2, where they will be waiting and cheering. Down 110, through Rosslyn, up the Lee Highway hill. I spot them smiling!

A quick photo with Daddy and Ava, and I’m off again! (Ava’s first time cheering mommy on. Zoe didn’t want a picture.) Next time I will see them is in Crystal City at mile 22.

Mile 3-4 , we are looping around Spout Run, down and over the Key Bridge – leaving Virginia and entering DC. The Key Bridge is so beautiful to run over. Mile 5, the crowd support in George Town is over the top. So far we are running a pretty steady pace, and there is enough space to zigzag around some people, but still I pay attention to the fun. For example this runner dressed up in a Red Skins outfit dragging a Cowboy’s jersey.

MILE 6-10

Up Rock Creek and then down, to Hains Point. When mile 10 approaches I yell to my Dad, “double digit time!” Still feeling really good.

MILE 11-15

At mile 12, Blue Mile makes an appearance. The mile is lined with American flags, and photos of military men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country and freedom. It’s quiet, and emotional.

MILE 16-20

Running along the National Mall, Washington, DC is always a treat. The view of the monuments take my breath away. It reminds me of how lucky I am to live in the DC area.

At mile 16, as I’m running, I tell my dad, “All we have is four more miles until we make it to the bridge, and leave DC entering into Virginia.” Once I run passed mile 17, I tell myself, “Back to single digits. Only 9 more miles to go.”

Soon I see the bridge – the 14th Street Bridge, mile 20. Two marines stand there yelling, “Time to Beat the Bridge.”

On the bridge, I start to hit the wall and start to walk. My legs and mind need it. It’s sunny and windy, but I know I have to get down to Crystal City looking good, so I start running again… My two running groups are cheering in Crystal City, and my husband, GiGi, and babies will be there too – can’t wait to see them.

Finally, off the bridge, nothing feels better approaching Crystal City. I’m out of DC, and back in Virginia. I’m passing mile 21, and I think to myself… “Only five more to go, my five mile easy run.”

Mile 21 – 22 is impossible to miss, my Oiselle team is there waiting to cheer … at their famous cowbell corner. I hear them screaming my name – “MEGHAN!!!” They are the brightest, loudest, and most electric, group I know. I high-five every single one of them. Their energy LIFTS ME UP and I truly begin to soar high.

Among the crowd I see a neighbor, so fun to say hello to another familiar face.

I keep going looking desperately for my husband, GiGi, and babies. They are here outside of Good Stuff Eatery. It’s like a mosh pit of people, so I was afraid I might miss them… but then there they are. After some quick hugs and sweaty kisses, I continue on.

As I approach the turn around, on Crystal Drive, I hear my name again… “MEGHAN.” It’s my friend Raiza and MRTT (Mom’s Run This Town) group. After a big hug, and asking if I need anything, she yells, “Go, Go, Go.” And I begin to run faster to the finish.

MILES 23-26.2

I feel a second wind, a burst of energy. It’s amazing how the excitement and positivity from spectators can really up lift you and get you moving. Now my dad and I are leaving Crystal City, and heading to 110.

On 110, I see the finish line in the far distance. It’s time to count street signs. To the Memorial Bridge street sign, I whisper to myself… the finish line is right passed that sign.

Then up the hill, we climb.

And the finish line is so close I can taste it. Finally my feet run over the finish, my dad right by my side. A Marine places a heavy red finishing medal around my neck.

We are Marathoners, #5 done for me and number 30 something for my dad.

On October 28th, 2018, I ran across the finish line proudly, of the Marine Corps Marathon for the 5th time. I showed up to see what I could do, and at 7 months postpartum, I finished 26.2 miles in 4:44:21.

My goals for this race were to fight, keep moving forward, celebrate my pace every five miles, smile, and run happy… so that’s what I did.

Goal accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

FUTURE GOALS

Although, I’m still smiling and running happy, I’m already thinking about my next marathon, my next season. And next time there’s going to be less smiling and more speedy miles accompanied with a whole lot of GRIT! Stay tuned!

CONGRATULATIONS

A special Congratulations to everyone who ran/raced the Marine Corps Marathon this year. And also congrats to those who ran/raced a fall marathon!

15 mile long run, at four months postpartum/post c-section.

⚡️1 5 M I L E R ⚡️

On Saturday, I woke up early, and hit the MVT south side for my 15 mile run. It had rained, Friday night, so everything was wet, and although it was humid, it felt cooler than the summer scorcher the day before.

I started my run around 8 am. The trail was already buzzing with other runners and cyclists. Finally, I wasn’t alone. I even saw Potomac Road Runners out there, and water stations set up if one needed water, making me smile. “That’s a kind gesture”, I thought. It reminded me of why I love the running community and at that moment I felt thankful to be a part of it.

The trail had some rolling hills, which I actually prefer – it kept things interesting.

Wow!

When looking back, I have come to the fact that this is the longest run, that I have run since my 2016 marathon! That alone is something to celebrate, especially since I’m only four months postpartum/post c-section. And the cherry on top, is that it went well. Not my fastest 15 miler, but I’m not racing my training runs.

“Marathons are extraordinarily difficult, but if you’ve got the training under your belt, and if you can run smart, the races take care of themselves. When you have the enthusiasm and the passion, you end up figuring how to excel.” ~Deena Kastor

This marathon training cycle has been my hardest so far. I have the enthusiasm and passion, but I often question if I am running “smart.”

I’m in a different season in my life, now as a mommy of two. I took the fourth trimester very seriously. And took that time to rest, heal, connect with my new little babe, Ava, and help my Zoe transition to big sister.

It has been harder than I thought it would be to find time to fit in my weekly runs, being a working mom, with a 3 year old and 4 month old – but other mother runners do it.

I have the double bob and almost all of my weekly training runs have been stroller miles, running pushing my babes. The stroller running has definitely helped me gain core strength, and although, there is still strength to gain, this is great progress for me, considering I couldn’t even do one sit up weeks after labor.

I’m still breastfeeding Ava, and that alone demands a lot of my time. And lately during her four month regression/growth spurt, that also means sleepless nights.

As expected, at four months postpartum I’m still getting my fitness back, after having baby Ava. I still have 8-10 pounds to loose. And I don’t have my speed back yet, which makes my runs slower and more time consuming.

But guess what…

I’m still running.

Lightning before the Thunder!

“I was lightning ⚡️before the thunder ⛈.”

Hello there,

it’s been a while… I’m one busy mama of a 3 year old and a 4 month old. I’m currently training for the marathon, and update daily on instagram. However, plan to start updating the blog with a lot more running content, including my marathon journey postpartum. Hope to have you follow along!

Lately, if you have been following along on my Instagram @sweat1xdaily, you’ll know… I have been running my long run on Friday night. However, this last Friday, thunderstorms were rolling in at night, and my training plan called for a 14 mile long run.

I decided that I was going to run 7 quick miles to get done before the heavy rain started, and run my 14 mile long run on Saturday instead.

My 7 miles felt amazing on Friday night, the breeze came and rain sprinkled during my last mile. Saturday was a different story, I didn’t wake up early enough, and had a long day of errands. I headed out at 5:30 pm to get my 14 miles done. I’ve never run a long run on a Saturday night, because in the past marathon training cycles I always run long on Saturday mornings.

And let me tell ya, the vibe of the trail on a Saturday night is really QUIET and LONELY. I hardly saw any other runners, why? Because they either already got their long run done in the morning and were probably out enjoying dinner, or they are planning on a Sunday morning long run. I saw a couple of cyclists, but really the trail didn’t buzz with the energy it normally does. If I don’t have the stroller + my babes with me, I normally run solo with no problems. But on this long run, I kept wishing for a BRF.

I’m in two running groups, I could have easily found someone to run with…

So as you can see, I was mentally checked out, during this run – it’s so funny how the weather and vibe of the trail can really determine the mood of my run.

I started my first mile slowly to warm up with the idea that I would pick up the pace, I never did. Physically my legs felt heavy. I was definitely running on tired legs, probably because of the faster 7 miler I ran the day before. Totaling 17 miles in two days, and running back to back.

So at 5 miles, I decided to turn back. I ended up doing a total of 10

miles instead of 14. When I got home, my baby was ready to breastfeed and head to bed.

After that run, I was feeling a little discouraged… Maybe marathon training is too time consuming for me as a working mom of a toddler and 4 month old baby who is still breastfeeding?!

But then I saw some really great quotes and stories from other runners on IG, that totally changed my mindset.

For example “Never let one run or race own your mood.” – Hollie from @fueledbylolz… or If you are tired, rest, don’t quit.” And these quotes really rang true to me.

So what, I had a bad run because I ran 10 slow miles instead of 14 fast miles. Maybe that was a hard run for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to have a bad marathon, and it doesn’t determine my marathon training this cycle. Also if I feel tired, I’ll rest more, and cut back to running 3 days a week, a short run, a mid distance, and a long run. I’ve done this in the past, and it has made me feel well rested and helped me avoid burn out.

So with that being said… it’s time to celebrate this 10 mile long run, and the fact that I had my highest weekly mileage postpartum and hit around 30 miles for the week!

Weekend Fridge Shot

“…healthy, delicious food doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated… we can eat well, even on a budget, even on a Tuesday.” ~ Sarah Britton

Goal: eat healthy plant based, on a budget, while preparing uncomplicated meals that excite me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Weekend Fridge Shot ~

Action plan: I cleaned and stocked my refrigerator for the week. This is a work in progress for me, so hopefully as I gain experience my fridge game will become more on point. But let me tell ya… I do not have a gigantic refrigerator, and I am sharing the space with my husband and toddler. And I will admit that my eyes are sometimes bigger than my stomach, so I need to remember that, and when shopping keep in mind I only need one gigantic heirloom tomato instead of three.

What inspired me to organize my refrigerator is the idea that food waste is a huge problem, and I too am tired of throwing out too much food and money.

The fact is 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year. That is about 1/3 of what we eat. That’s why finding ways to help use this food is a worthy goal.

My idea is to plan out my meals for the week. Then divide the week into two parts, making a grocery store haul that will cover one part of the week, (once the food is eaten) then make a farmers market haul to cover the second part of the week. This way I’m only buying the things I need, in small portions – leaving more space in my refrigerator and eating things up before they go bad. This way I will always have fresh produce on hand, and I’ll use up what I have before buying more, with the goal to eliminate waste and save money.

No more plastic, Glass everything.

Glass is the best and safest way to store your food because when heated it doesn’t allow your food to absorb any toxic materials. Also to your convenience it is microwave, dishwasher, oven, and freezer safe. So because of this I got rid of most of my plastic containers and replaced them with stackable glass containers. Stackable is amazing because it doesn’t take up as much space in the fridge.

I’m also storing all of my nuts and seeds in the refrigerator in glass jars. This is the proper way you should store these items because it prolongs their shelf life. Because glass is transparent, I’m able to see what is in each jar and the quantity. I’ve been just reusing jars I already have on hand, such as jars from pickles or pasta sauce I’ve used up.

My must have items that I always have.

~ Kale for green smoothies, and to throw in omelettes and salads.

~ Beets for roasting and smoothies

~ Almonds for making almond milk

~ Greek yogurt

~ fresh seasonal fruit

~ fresh seasonal veggies

~ garlic

~ ginger

~ parsley

~ cilantro

I just started to store my herbs in a jar of water in the refrigerator, for longer shelf life and easy access.

This week’s meal prep…

I’ve made my favorite chickpea dish, Chana Masala. I’ve roasted veggies. I baked fish. Made a salad with homemade dressing. And made an avocado mango salsa. I also have a green juice on hand, you can find the recipe on my instagram @sweat1xdaily.

I hoping all of this planning, prepping, and goal setting with an action plan will help me cook more and eat more at home, save money, and eliminate waste.

Nashville + Chattanooga

We survived our first trip as a family of four!

This trip was planned shortly before I knew I was pregnant with Ava. My older sister, got engaged and chose a wedding venue in the beautiful mountains of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Of course when I found out my due date March 23rd, I was relieved it was exactly a month before the wedding and not on E’s actual wedding day. The timing was perfect, but my whole pregnancy I was mentally preparing to travel with a one month old.

~ NASHVILLE + CHATTANOOGA ~

Ava’s first vacation started on Friday, April 20, 2018. She was 4 weeks 6 days old. We made is through our first flight on South West Air. Of course we had tons of luggage, no minimal packing here. We hauled a toddler, an infant, a stroller, 2 car seats, 3 bags, a diaper bag, and a tuxedo, MOH dress, and flower girl dress. ~ PRO TIP: Have the hubby drop you, the kids, and the luggage at the front of the airport, while he parks the car. We learned the hard way the first time. Two year olds are painfully slow while walking from the parking lot to the front. And no one could carry her with all of the luggage.

Another thing that made traveling through the airport 100% easier was babywearing. Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of babywearing. I alternate between my Solly Baby Wrap and my Sakura Bloom Ring Sling.

On this trip, I loved using my Solly Baby Wrap while exploring the Aquarium, Zoo and the different parts of Nashville because it was easier to shade my baby’s head from the sun and the rain.

I pulled out my ring sling for babywearing at the wedding because it was a little fancier.

Both are cozy and share the same baby wearing benefits. It is also a preference, some babies and mamas prefer one over the other. I choose mine depending on what I’m doing. My babies seem to be comfortable in either one. For more information on babywearing and it’s benefits, read this.

Once we got to Chattanooga, we were super busy. I was the MOH, but also did E’s wedding hair and makeup.

Although, non stop busy – just call me, mommy, MOH, hairstylist/makeup artist, or Sister of the Bride – we had a blast celebrating Emily and Ryan at their wedding with family and friends.

It was really amazing seeing everyone, and all of the hard work and plans came together so beautifully.

(wedding photo by Lindsay Campbell Photography.)

~ PRO TIP: just leave the baby and two year old with a babysitter and enjoy date night with the hubby. Zoe was suppose to be the flower girl, but honestly it was just too much for her. Good thing my mother-in-law was there as “babysitter” and came to the rescue!

Chattanooga is a really great area, which had tons of fun restaurants and shopping. Our favorite part (besides the wedding), was visiting the Aquarium.

I would love to go back to Chattanooga and explore a little more. The hiking trails are suppose to be incredible.

Once all of the wedding festivities were completed, we headed to Nashville. A couple of years back I ran the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon. So Nashville wasn’t new to me.

However, the food scene was pretty amazing and I had more time to explore some other neighborhoods.

When it came to the food, Hot Chicken and BBQ are the specialties of the area, however there were tons of juice bars. Some of my favorite things were the Thai Peanut ice cream and the donuts from Five Sisters.

Nashville also has some pretty incredible street art. We went to “WhatLifts You” wings by Kelsey Montague.

And the “I Believe in Nashville” street art posted above.

We enjoyed a little bit of the music scene by walking around in down town Nashville. And on our last day, we took a family trip to the Zoo.

All in all, we love both Chattanooga and Nashville! You’ll always hold a special place in my heart for being Ava’s very first vacation spot! She is such a great little traveler at just a month old.

What’s your favorite thing about Nashville? Have you traveled with an infant… what’s your pro tip?

One month with Ava Giselle!

Wow!

I can’t believe my sweet pea, Ava is one month old already!

Alleluia! We made it ONE whole month as a family of four.

I said this before in a blog post I wrote about Zoe’s first 6 weeks earth side (read about it here), but… it’s definitely been a roller coaster ride, lots of ups and downs, but tons of love in between.

The newborn stage is so incredible to me – when baby is seeing the world for the first time.

As a new family of four we are all trying our best to adjust as we get to know Ava and she gets to know us, and our new roles, especially Zoe as a big sister. And although, the last month has really given me the opportunity to get to know Ava, the whole time she has been trying to get to know herself and the beautiful world around her. And of course, as the days go on she will grow and her identity will change and develop even more.

But let me introduce you to Ava Giselle, our littlest family member.

(photo above is Ava at 4 days old)

Meet Ava

Ava is my super snuggly sweet pea and when I say snuggly I mean it. She really doesn’t like being put down. After a full month, this little lady is just now getting use to her car seat. Bassinet forget it, Ava prefers sleeping in mommy’s arms. I haven’t been swaddling her because she’ll kick through it, but she seems comfortable in a sleep sack. She loves breastfeeding and I actually have yet to use my breast pump or feed her with a bottle. She hates her pacifier and always spits it out. She loves laying on her side and tummy. She is always squirming – which makes since I could constantly feel her squirming around in my belly.

As you can see Ava is so different compared to the way Zoe was as a newborn – who easily bottle fed, loved her pacifier, slept really well on her back, and hated tummy time.

Two Weeks with Ava

At Ava’s two week wellness check (4/4/18) she gained back her birth weight plus two ounces, weighing in 8 pounds 14 ounces. Unlike Zoe, who from day 1 did not naturally take to breastfeeding, Ava is a breastfeeding champ. On her first try, she opened her mouth wide and latched on to the breast.

Maybe I was more relaxed on day one, knowing that I was totally happy, with bottle feeding and supplementing with formula, if my newborn preferred it. Maybe I was just more knowledgeable with breastfeeding positions and knew it took 3-4 days for my milk supply to come in and once it came in it came in flowing. So for the last month, I’ve been breastfeeding Ava on demand.

Similar to Zoe, Ava loves long walks in the stroller. We took the double BOB for a stroll on the one warm sunny day we have had. Ava fell right to sleep. I’m hoping for more warm sunny days, so we can walk more and sleep more.

One month with Ava

Today, April 17th, 2018, we went to her one month wellness check. She has gained 1 whole pound and 1 ounces since her two week visit, weighing in 9 pounds 15 ounces. She is recognizing our voices. Focusing her eyes. Crying loud with a shrieking squeal. This girl wants to be heard – She is so loud. She hated getting her shot today, and was very dramatic about it.

Mommy to two little girls…

Mothering two little ones was very difficult at first, but things are much better now, and will continue to improve in the next two weeks. (Once I can lift heavy and the weather warms up.)

Although, I loved “one on one” time with Ava in the hospital, I missed Zoe.

Once I got home, it was very hard, because I am recovering from a c-section and can not fo any heavy lifting, meaning I can’t pick up Zoe… This concept is difficult for Zoe to understand, and it annoys me. At 4 weeks post c-section I still shouldn’t lift anything besides the baby. I’ve taught Zoe to climb into her car seat, stroller, stairs, etc.

It also has been horrible weather. So cold, windy, wet etc. It snowed the day we took Ava home. We have only had one sunny warm day and it was an amazing day spent outside walking and playing. I just desperately want the weather to warm up and stay warm so we can have more days like that.

Zoe’s regular routine was altered when baby Ava came, which was hard. So as a mother of two, it’s my job to make sure I give equal attention to both of my girls. I need to make sure I continue to practice patience with Zoe. I also need to continue to include her in everything, and make sure she and I still have “one on one” time.

Other than that, Zoe has been so cute and sweet. She absolutely loves her sister. Every morning we all get in my bed, and she says, “Hi Ava, it’s nice to see you.” She also always says, “I love her!” Or if Ava starts crying, she’ll run over and tell her, “It’s okay Ava, I’m here.”

Daddy to two little girls

I don’t brag enough about him, but my husband has been pretty amazing. He has really stepped it up trying to make sure we are all taken care of. It has been really hard to go to all of the doctors appointments, (I forgot about all of the appointments) but he’s come to help me at most of them. He has gone grocery shopping and has cooked us some awesome dinners. He even has brought me Starbucks… I’m lucky to have him!

So as you can see, we are doing well as a family of four!

Happy One Month, to our snuggly sweet pea, Ava Giselle! – You are such a delightful addition to our family. I am overjoyed to be your mommy, and I promise to always be by your side while you discover and explore this crazy beautiful world. Love you to the moon and back. xo

Ava Giselle’s Birth Story

*Warning: this is a very long post, but for my own personal reasons I didn’t want to leave out any details.*

To try for a VBAC or schedule a repeat C-Section was always the question?

Let’s begin by giving you a brief history, a quick overview of (my first born) Zoe’s birth story…

There was no debate or doubt when I was pregnant with Zoe… of course I would try an unmedicated vaginal birth. “I’m a woman! My body was made for labor…” everyone would tell me. So I watched all of the natural birth documentaries, and the thought never crossed my mind that a c-section could be a possibility.

Turns out, after laboring naturally for hours on end, at 4 centimeters, I wasn’t progressing. (I only made it to 5-6 centimeters). My OB started the interventions to help the active labor progress. First I got an epidural, then she broke my water – still no progress. Then she started pitocin. I was on the highest I could be for most of the day. Still only a little progress. At this point, it had been 36 hours, and although neither Zoe nor I were in any stress my OB suggested to have a c-section. I was ready to meet my baby, and thought it’s better to do a c-section now while no one was under any stress, instead of waiting for when an actual emergency happens. So off to the OR I went, to meet our baby girl, Zoe. (You can find Zoe’s full birth story here.

Now 2 years 7 months later, present time… Ava’s birth story.

Over all my pregnancy went well. (Stay tuned for some posts on my pregnancy and running through pregnancy.) I tried my best to stay fit and active, and nourish my body with the cleanest food. I ran most of my pregnancy averaging 15-20 miles a week, during the 1st and 2nd trimesters. I definitely eased up on the running once I entered the 3rd trimester, and started practicing prenatal yoga.

One day after prenatal yoga, I started chatting with three other mamas. Because of medical reasons, two of them already had their labors scheduled – one with a repeat c-section, the other one with an induction.

It made me think about my own birth plan, which at that moment was nonexistent. At the end of most of my OB appointments my doctors would ask, “When are you going to schedule your repeat C?” Only one doctor mentioned VBAC. It made me question what was the best and safest way to deliver… Did I have a medical reason that I didn’t have knowledge of? Was I not a good candidate for a VBAC? I was more confused than ever.

So at my next OB appointment, my doctor and I came up with a birth plan. I couldn’t be induced because I had a previous c-section, and pitocin causes to aggressive of contractions which could cause a uterus rupture. So I scheduled a repeat C-section for March 21, 2018 – two days before my due date. My doctor didn’t want me to go passed my due date, because of my history – Zoe was overdue by 4 days and she was measuring above average plus being in there for the extra days gave her a little more time to plump up even more. She came out weighing 8 lbs 15 ounces, which is a pretty large baby especially for my petite frame. I ended up with a c-section due to failure to progress because of her size. We didn’t want a repeat of the same thing.

I chose Wednesday, March 21, 2018 for my scheduled c-section, because it is one of the first days of spring and because my doctor (Amy Porter) who delivered Zoe was going to be available that day. She did a wonderful job on my C-section the last time and I felt comfortable with her. However, if baby decided to come naturally on her own, we would go with the flow and try for a VBAC. We also took a good look at my 36 week ultrasound to determine size of baby and position. I knew she was going to be a good size baby because she was already measuring 6 pounds which was similar to Zoe at the 36 week ultrasound, except Zoe came late and this one was definitely coming early, on the 21st if not sooner. She was head down and ready to go.

I was pretty happy with this birth plan. It made perfect since.

but… of course nothing goes as planned.

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018 I started to show early signs of labor. My cervix started to soften, and strong contractions began. That night I was up all night dealing with them.

On Thursday, March 15, 2018, I headed into work with more contractions. In my mind, I questioned, “Am I going to make it to my scheduled c-section, with contractions like this, a week early?” I didn’t want to head to the hospital too soon, because last time I progressed so slowly. If I was going for the VBAC the best idea would be to labor as long as I could at home. But I was a little worried, because I definitely needed to have an epidural, especially if I was going to try for the VBAC. My doctors strongly recommended an epidural because if they needed to do an emergency c-section I would already be prepped.

When I had a short break at work I called my doctor’s office to chat with Heidi, the nurse. I revealed to her I was showing early signs of labor with sporadic inconsistent contractions throughout the day and night. She told me not to come in until the contractions were 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long.

I downloaded an app called, Full Term, to record my contractions. This helped me keep track and I highly recommend it!

Later that night, I was up again all night long with contractions. I was exhausted. It had been two nights in a row with absolutely no sleep.

On Friday, March 16, 2018, after my cleaning lady came, I headed to the doctor in the afternoon to have my cervix checked. I saw Dr. Nicole McClendon, she told me I was 2-3 centimeters dilated and my cervix softened 90% . She suggested I go straight over to labor and delivery. She couldn’t promise I would be having my baby that day, but because I had a previous c-section and might try for a VBAC she didn’t want me laboring at home without a doctor’s supervision over the weekend. I questioned her at first, because of my history – last time I was already 4 centimeters dilated before heading to the hospital. But she told me every labor is different and although, unpredictable, labor could happen very quickly.

So off I went… But first I had to stop home. My house was clean, but my hospital bag wasn’t even packed yet. I had some things prepped, that I just needed to get it in the bag. I also needed to go home, to let Zoe, my 2 year old know I was going to be at the hospital for a couple of days to have her baby sister. She knew she would be staying with Gigi while I was in the hospital.

Around 5:00 pm, I arrived at Labor and Delivery. They hooked me up to a monitor for two hours to check my contractions. After two hours, still the same, no progress. Dr. Paik came in, to explain to me, I was in early labor, but not quite active labor. She went over my options.

Ideally the two safest options would be to either have a successful VBAC or have a controlled scheduled repeat C-section.

The least safe option would be trying for a successful VBAC, but then ending up with an emergency c-section.

She also told me that I could stay and have a c-section that night, but because I had eaten at 4:00 pm, I would have to wait at least 6 hours.

I was so confused on what to do, but because I had eaten, and was only in early labor, plus didn’t progress in the last two hours DR. Paik told me that I had time to think about it. She advised me to go home and even said that it was totally possible that these contractions could ease up and I might make it to my scheduled c-section on Wednesday the 21st. However, if contractions became unbearable I could call anytime, even if it was the weekend.

So I went home, to labor more at home. Turns out I was up again all night with contractions.

The Birth Story

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, I called Dr. Paik first thing in the morning. I had a strong intuition that I would be laboring like this with slow progression and it would end in a c-section. So I asked her if I could come to the hospital and have a repeat c-section. She told me she could take me now and asked me, how fast I could get there.

After dropping Zoe off at Gigi’s we headed to the hospital.

I was placed in a room and hooked up to a monitor. It would take about two hours to prep me before the c-section. At this point, they were checking for contractions and I not only would meet with Dr. Paik one last time before surgery, but also the rest of the team. They also did a quick ultrasound to check if baby was still head down.

Surprisingly, my contractions were closer together – they were four minutes apart. Ugh, maybe I was progressing. Baby was head down and ready to go. I met two students who would also be there during the c-section. I met my anesthesiologist, who would perform a spinal on me.

It was go time…

My husband got dressed and ready. We walked over to the OR together, but he waited in another room while I went in the OR alone to get prepped.

It was cold and bright. I started to tear up. The operating room is a bit overwhelming, not cozy at all.

I hunched my back and received the spinal. Within a minute my body turned really warm and tingly. I was numb from the chest down. It felt a little hard to breathe. Last time my arms were strapped down, this time they weren’t. Soon the blue curtain was up and my husband was by my side holding my hand.

My last c-section was super quick. I felt like everything was rushed and Zoe was out in ten minutes.

It might have been because there were two students there, or maybe it was Dr. Paik’s style. But this time around, it felt like it took longer.

I kept hearing the team chatting, maybe it was Dr. Paik explaining things to the students. I even heard a laugh, – the laughter relaxed me.

I whispered to my husband, “Where is the baby?” The nurse assured me that it always seems a lot longer than it actually has been. I made my husband peek over the curtain to see what was going on. Then the nurse told me that they had just pulled out the head. A couple moments later, at 12:37 pm, I heard my baby cry. It was the strongest, highest pitched squeal I have ever heard. I quickly saw her as the nurse rushed her to get her cleaned up. She has a full head of dark brown almost black hair!

I told my husband to run over to take photos of her, and soon enough she was in his arms while they were stitching me up.

The nurse said she was healthy and beautiful, then she asked, “Does anyone want to guess her size?” I knew she was a big baby. She felt so heavy in my belly.

Then soon enough she was in my arms, weighing 8 pounds 12 ounces. Measuring 19.5 inches long.

Although, I thought she was big, I didn’t think that big. Zoe came out weighing 8 pounds 15 ounces, but she came late and was in my belly for longer, 40 weeks and 4 days. This little one came a week early, being born at 39 weeks and 1 day. If she had stayed in there for the same amount of time as Zoe had, she would have been over 9 pounds.

Once baby was in my arms, we headed right over to the “Mommy and Me” recovery room.

Dr. Paik came into my room to check on me. She also informed me that she was thankful that we did the c-section because it turns out my uterus was very thin where the previous c-section was done. She told me that she saw a mass and thought it was a fibroid but then realized it was a hand. Maybe my uterus was thin from being stretched out from babies both weighing over 8 pounds close to 9 pounds. Also the fact that my baby was 8 pounds 12 ounces, there was a very great chance I wouldn’t have progressed and most likely would have ended in a c-section anyway.

Turns out that I’m not an ideal VBAC candidate. The best candidate for a VBAC is someone who has already had a VBAC or someone who has never went into labor, and had a c-section because of a reason based on baby, such as being breeched.

Anyway the recovery room was really nice. I stayed there recovering for 3 nights, being discharged on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm.

It was enough time to really get to know my newborn. I stayed up throughout the night nursing her and snuggling her. All of the nurses were fantastic. It definitely was a more relaxing time then the first time around.

However, I was totally ready to leave by the fourth day. Although, Zoe, my two year old, came to visit everyday, I missed her and was eager to get home and start adjusting as a family of four.

Zoe impressed me so much! She was so excited to meet the new baby. We captured the moment on video and I will forever cherish it. She also did a wonderful job spending the days we were in the hospital, with Gigi. And understood that I had to be at the hospital to recover and take care of her baby sister.

Choosing the name

Before leaving the hospital we had to choose a name. We didn’t choose a name until I filled out the birth certificate the day we were discharged. I had a long list, that included Demi and Lux. A lot of people were giving us Irish names since she was born on St. Patty’s day. However, we ended up choosing Ava Giselle. Ava has always been on the top of our list. It is a name that both my husband and I love. We like it because it is a three letter name, and has an interesting letter in it similar to Zoe. It also can’t be nicknamed and it is easy to spell. Overall it is a beautiful name and was one of the names we considered using when Zoe was born. This middle name Giselle has no real significance except that I always loved the name. We also love the spelling with the double L, similar to Zoe’s middle name with he double N.

After choosing a name we were finally ready to head home…

Now that we are home sweet home, I’m helping Zoe transition to big sister the best I can. We’ve had some great support from family too. Gramps and Grams are in town. Aunt Jackie even came for a surprise visit. Gigi continues to help out.

Postpartum

Although, I am eager to start running and lifting again, – gotta get the glutes in shape again- so I see a lot of dead lifts and squats in my near future. I’m excited for my fit postpartum journey to begin, and see the progress I can achieve. However, for now it’s important to slow down and heal up. I’m trying to be kind to myself, since I had a c-section, which is major abdominal surgery. I’m also trying to take it easy and enjoy this time loving and snuggling my newborn, my two year old, and my husband! Cherishing this family time is so important because this time will go by so fast.

Motherhood is an incredible thing, and I can’t even express in words how thankful I am for my girls.

Welcome to this beautiful crazy world Ava Giselle. We love you, even before your very first breath.

Hospital Bag Essentials for Labor Day and beyond…

Guess what?

We are at the hospital!

Even though, I waited to the very last minute to pack my hospital bag – it was one of my favorite things to do to prepare for the hospital stay after the arrival of our second baby girl. I thought it was fun, but because others might find the task stressful I’m sharing with you some of my favorite essential products that I included in my hospital bag. (Side note: I am not affiliated with any of these brands.)

1. Robe: Wether you deliver vaginally or c-section, make sure you bring a soft and cozy robe that opens in the front. That way you can easily do skin on skin and if you choose to breastfeed, it makes breastfeeding easier.

2. Nursing bra: I brought 2 nursing bras. My favorite ones are made by the company Storq. They have no underwire, are made from the softest material, and pull to the side so breastfeeding becomes easier. While I’m in the hospital I usually don’t wear a bra, because I’m breastfeeding on demand or at least every 2-3 hours. But the bra goes on when I have visitors, and for the car ride home.

3. Nursing pads: I brought a couple nursing pads to the hospital just in case my milk came in during my hospital stay. But keep in mind that it takes 2-5 days for milk to come in, during the first days the baby is receiving colostrum from you.

4. Nipple butter: I personally love the products Earth Mama Organics (aka Earth Mama Angel Baby Organics.) The nipple butter is soothing, organic, lanolin free and non sticky. It smells amazing, and is safe for baby’s mouth. This product keeps the nipples hydrated and safe while breastfeeding. It is also very healing. If for some reason your baby is struggling with latching on, and you are feeling painful pinches instead of gentle tugs, nipples can become bruised or cracked, this nipple butter will save the day.

5. Another product line that I love is Zoe Organics. I packed my belly oil and belly butter by them. This way I can continue to hydrate the skin on my belly, and soothe any stretch marks and continue to avoid them.

6. A dry shampoo is also a must have product. My favorite one is R+Co Skyline. That way if you don’t have the time to shampoo, condition, and blow dry – you can still have fresh hair.

7. Deodorant is a must have, especially if you don’t have time to shower. I am currently using a natural deodorant by Primally Pure.

8. A going home outfit. Again, keep in mind you are still going to have a belly. Instead of a huge 40 week pregnant belly, you are going to look 5 months pregnant. So pack your maternity leggings. My favorite are by STORQ. I also brought with me the pink T-shirt also made by STORQ. Don’t forget socks. Your feet might get cold, and it’s just nice to have a for walking the hospital halls. Again I have a great pair from STORQ.

9. Bellefit Postpartum Corset. I have yet to try this, but this one is the product I am most excited about!! I never used a postpartum belt, girdle, or corset during my past postpartum experience. But my friend, Mariana, swore by it! She loaned me her belt, but I never actually use it. So this time around I did some research to find the one that would work best for me. Turns out I ended up coming across the Bellefit Postpartum corset and loved everything about it. It is a FDA registered medical certified product, which is used to help support the body during postpartum. The product is safe to use for both a c-section or vaginal birth. I’m excited to use it to help heal and support my postpartum body. I’ll be recording my progress.

10. Another thing in my bag is my postpartum/Fourth trimester books and a ball of yarn to start a new project. This is for the waiting game. Whether you are in labor waiting to reach 10 centimeters, or whether you are waiting for your schedule c-section. Either way it is important to have something to do to help your relieve stress and relax. They are also good to have when you are in the mommy and me room when baby is napping.

11. One of the most important thing is baby’s outfit for going home in and a soft warm blanket for baby, for the car ride home.

The one thing that I wouldn’t pack is my breast pump. You may think, “oh I need to pack my breast-pump,” but turns out you most likely you won’t need one. And if you do need to use a pump, the hospital can, on your request, provide you a hospital grade pump during your hospital stay. You can also rent one for home at a monthly fee.

Tip: Honestly, if you don’t have time to pack your bag, don’t worry, the hospital actually has everything you need. The reason most people pack a bag is so you have your own stuff to make a more comfortable hospital stay. Especially, if you have a c-section. Some mamas that have vaginal birth with no complications get discharged from the hospital the very next day, while mamas that have a c-section with no complications end up staying on average 3 nights, 4 days, getting discharged on day four.

Also another great tip is to bring a bag with lots of space so you can bring home any extra stuff you collected from the hospital.

So there you have it, my favorite tips, extra information, and my essentials for my hospital bag. Now let’s have a baby!

What’s favorite things you packed in your hospital bag?

Planning for the Fourth Trimester aka Postpartum.

“The first forty days is a period of time unlike any other. It is a short season of life that follows the delivery of your child – an almost six week long period that arrives after many weeks of pregnancy and who knows how many hours of labor – in which you recover from birth, your baby unfurls slowly into the world of bright lights and sounds, and together you devote yourselves to forging your relationship outside the womb.

Though brief, it is s time of amazing intensity and massive adjustments. Your body transforms – again – and your heart throbs with more feelings than you ever knew possible. Your internal rhythms ping-pong as days and nights merge. Your stamina and serenity get tested like never before. Your connection to the world you knew before loosen, or even comes undone, and your sense of who you are begins to change and morph.

In other times, and in other places around the world, a postpartum period of healing and adjustment was expected and allowed. After the rigorous and demanding act of birth, it was considered critically necessary for the whole family – and society at large- that a woman be given the first forty days to heal and rest. Other people in her community would feed her, nurture her, and take all responsibilities off her plate, so that she could focus on one thing only, transitioning healthily and happily from expectant woman to mother.

For the first forty days – a new mother stayed secluded from the busy stream of life, tucked indoors with her infant by her side. She received special meals to rebuild energy, replenish lost nutrients, and help her body produce breast milk. She followed traditional practices of keeping rested and warm to prevent exhaustion and depletion.

The understanding was the new mother was as vulnerable as her newborn, requiring her own steady stream of attention and care. A dedicated time of postpartum recovery could help to keep future illness – and equally important, depression – at bay.

Today in the West, we are waking up to the importance of cocooning baby in the weeks following birth. The understanding that baby is not quite ready to meet the world at large when she/he emerges and is still in the early stage of development that’s come to be known as the “fourth trimester” has awakened us to the value of holding baby close and sheltered for some weeks, so she/he can shift slowly and gradually into life outside the womb.

But somehow, we have forgotten the time honored wisdom that this special cocoon of care should extend to the mother as well…”

~ Introduction from the book, the first forty days, The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother. By Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger.

Life has been so busy, that I haven’t had much time to write during this pregnancy. I have been running the majority of this pregnancy so logging stroller pregnancy miles have taken up much of my free time. (I have a blog post written about my fit pregnancy journey that I will be sharing with you next week or follow me on Instagram @sweat1xdaily.) But now at 36 weeks pregnant, I am starting to use my free time to relax and rest which translates to read, knit, and write.

BOOKS

When I was pregnant with Zoe, I read all the baby books – I was very concerned with knowing what to do with Zoe once she was home and in my care. But this time around, because I’ve already read all the baby books, I am really focusing on my postpartum journey aka the Fourth Trimester. This phase is crucial for my physical, mental, and emotional healing, and will forever leave an imprint on both my newborn and my toddler.

The books I am currently reading are…

  • the first forty days, The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother. By Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger.
  • The Fourth Trimester by a Kimberly Ann Johnson.

My desire to learn about the postpartum phase came about partially because of social media. On Instagram, especially, so many women are posting their pregnancy and postpartum journey. Some seem to unrealistically, “bounce right back,” while others are very honest.

As an American woman, we are always expected to “Bounce right back,” and do more faster.” These expectations are doable, but are they the healthiest? These high demands need to be replaced with more support.

When I was in the postpartum stage with Zoe, I focused on her, and our new family of three adjusted successfully. Also because I had a c-section it was very important to give myself time to heal physically.

Although, last time was a success, it wasn’t necessarily easy. This time around I want to be more prepared. This time around, it is even more important for me to SLOW down. I will be juggling both a newborn and a toddler, so I’m expecting it to be chaotic. However, by slowing down and focusing on this postpartum/Fourth Trimester phase, Zoe will have a smoother time transitioning to her new role as big sister.

“Self Care,” the big trend for 2018 – I see it on every healthy lifestyle blog. Although, it is not necessarily used when describing motherhood, it should be. The postpartum/Fourth Trimester period is not just about caring for new baby, but it is also about caring for mama too. Happy mama, happy baby. When mama is happy and feeling good, so is baby and the rest of the family.

With all that being said, it’s crunch time to really prepare for this special postpartum/Fourth Trimester phase. In the next few weeks I will be…

  • Preparing nourishing meals, that will help aid in the healing process, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having these meals on hand, will eliminate the urge to order unhealthy take out/delivery. Not having to cook will also allow me to have all the time, relaxing with my newborn and toddler.
  • Schedule house cleaning, so I don’t have to fuss with it, and can fully relax and rest with my babies. Plus a clean house will create a comfortable, refreshing space to really enjoy while staying home.
  • When reading about the traditional fourth trimester, practiced by other cultures – it is common for mommy and baby to stay curled up in bed together, breast feeding and practicing skin on skin for the full 6 weeks. Because of my personality, this idea already makes me feel cooped up. When Zoe was born, we walked every day, and I healed up from my c-section pretty fast. I needed the fresh air and vitamin D. So although, I want to slow down, I definitely think being outside and taking leisurely walks will be more beneficial for me and my family. With that being said, remember when reading books, that these are just ideas, and it’s best to customize this phase for what works best for you and your family.

Ultimately, my goal is to help Zoe have a smooth transition to big sister and for all of us to adjust comfortably to a family of four.

Did you prepare for the fourth trimester?

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