I've said it before and I'll say it again...BFing is H.A.R.D!! If you're one of those people who luck out with a great BFing relationship from the very start...congrats! But if you're anything like me then BFing was anything BUT natural.

Here are some of the pearls that helped me along the way:
  1. See a lactation consultant. Even if you feel as though your LO's latch is great (for some reason, I was told in the hospital that DS was latching well) things change day to day with infants. They can offer you tips and strategies that are invaluable. See them early on in your BFing relationship and keep going back until things improve. If you can't get out of the house to see them, there are LC who will visit you at home.
  2. Invest in some nipple cream. Many ladies use Lansinoh (an over-the-counter cream) but if the pain becomes unbearable or if you are experiencing cracked and bleeding nipples then see your MD. They may be able to prescribe you with something stronger. It will be like gold to you when you are sore during those early weeks (months?)
  3. Invest in a nursing pillow to help you with your posture and positioning.
  4. Set up a nursing station. Keep healthy snacks and lots of water nearby. A laptop doesn't hurt either ;)
  5. Spend a lot of time skin to skin with your LO. It will be great for your milk supply!
  6. Buy a good breast pump! I have the Medela Pump in Style Advanced. I used it probably about 10 or 12 times a day during the first few months.
  7. Surround yourself with supportive people. Stay away from those who share their BFing horror stories and those who brag about how 'easy' it is to bottle feed with formula.
  8. Don't feel like a failure if you have to supplement with formula. The first and most important goal is to feed the baby!! Many women are able to both bottle and breast feed successfully.
  9. If you are having trouble with your supply, consider taking natural supplements such as Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. For me what worked was taking Domperidone. Talk to your MD about getting a prescription.
  10. Watch someone BF. If you don't have access to a BFing mama, then watch as many videos as you can.
  11. Set small goals for yourself. E.g. the first 40 days, then three months, then six months, etc.
  12. During the first couple of months my LO took about 45 minutes to feed and wanted to eat every hour. Exhausting...but normal.
  13. Be cautious about introducing a nipple shield. I struggled with one for 3 months before I was able to wean DS. It caused a lot of issues with supply and DS was a slow gainer. Use it as a last resort and with LC guidance.
  14. Nipple confusion does exist. Be cautious introducing bottles and pacifiers before the 6 week mark. Many babies do fine if they are introduced sooner but others have a tougher time switching back and forth and will refuse the breast (like my son!)
  15. Buy a nursing cover so that you can nurse comfortably in public.
  16. Surrender to the experience! Camp out on the couch or in bed with your LO during those early weeks and give yourselves a chance to learn this new skill.
  17. Learn how to nurse laying down. My son didn't master this until he was around 4 months old but when he did figure it out I was able to get so much more sleep!
  18. Let yourself 'air dry' as much as possible. Express some BM and let it dry on your nipples if you are sore.
  19. Be prepared for engorgement. I wasn't. Ouch :( Some women swear by putting frozen peas on their tatas...others use cabbage leaves. Like I said, I wasn't prepared...so I did nothing :( Ouch again!
  20. Remind yourself...constantly...that it DOES get easier. That if you can make it through the first 40 days, that you have endured the worst of it. Think about how trying it would be to be cleaning, warming and preparing bottles at all hours of the day and night. BM is always clean, always the right temperature and already prepared : )

After my son was born a wise woman told me that the first 40 days were the toughest. I was about 2 weeks into motherhood at the time and feeling as though my world had been turned upside down. So the prospects of a light at the end of the tunnel was intoxicating. I promptly programmed "40 DAYS" into my Blackberry and began the countdown.

While you're waiting for your world to start to look normal again (pssst...it never goes back to normal...your 'normal' just changes), here is a list of some of the things that helped me to survive the early weeks of motherhood.

Breastfeeding is hard. Not hard like learning how to drive standard hard...but the toe curling kind of pain hard. Here are some things that will help you along the way:
1. Lactation consultants: Even if you think things are going well with BFing, go and see a LC as early as possible. They know their stuff.
2. Nipple cream: Invest in some of this. You WILL need it. You can use some of the over-the-counter Lansinoh cream or you can ask your MD to prescribe you with some of the good stuff. It will be like gold to you when you are in pain.
3. Nursing tank tops: I lived in these for the first three months. Bravado and Glamourmom make fantastic tanks.
4. Nursing bras: Get a functional and comfortable one for sleeping and lounging around the house (Bravado Silk & Seamless is a good one) and invest in a sexy-ish one that will help you to feel good in your clothes (Hotmilk makes some great ones).
5. Nursing pillow: I didn't rely too heavily on one of these but many, many women use them religiously.
6. Breast pump: Invest in a good one. I relied heavily on my Medela Pump in Style Advanced. Don't be afraid to pump when you are engorged. I was so paranoid about throwing off my supply if I pumped too early that I just suffered through the engorgement. Not fun! Next time around i'd definitely pump earlier on.
7. Receiving blankets: Lots of them! BFing (and bottle feeding) can be messy ;)
8. Mommy Guilt: Do not let it consume you! I was not prepared with how intense this guilt would be. If you need to supplement with formula to make it through the early weeks then you are not a failure! There are many women who supplement early on but are able to wean their LO off of formula once the latch has been perfected.
9. Live Help: Watch someone BF. If you don't have access to a BFing mom, watch as many videos as you can! Pictures and written instructions are no substitute for the real thing!

Stuff for Baby:
1. Swaddling: I abandoned swaddling way too early with my LO and it was something that I regretted later. Invest in the Miracle Blanket!
2. Sleepers: You'll need lots! Babies go through several in a day because of diaper malfunctions and various other baby fluids.
3. Pacifiers: I was one of those moms who swore up and down that her kid wasn't going to get a soother. Guess what? DS was sucking on one the first week! Never say never ;)

1.Swing: My son loathed the swing but I have spoken to many women who claim that the swing was the only thing that kept them sane during the early months.
2.A good wrap: Many experts speak about the '4th trimester' for babies. A good wrap like the Moby Wrap will keep your hands free on those days that your LO wants to be held 24-7
3. White noise machine: Obus Forme makes a fantastic one that plays continuously throughout the night.
4. A good stroller: A wise friend advised me to get the best stroller I could afford. Solid advice!
5. Bouncy or vibrating chair: DS napped in this quite often during the day and I put him in it every day so that I could get a hot shower.

Just for You:
1. Get to the gym: It will be the LAST thing you feel like doing. And it will be hard. REALLY hard to get back into the swing of things. And there won't be enough time in the day. And you'll be exhausted. And it's hard to get motivated to work up a sweat when you're lactating. Sister...i've been there!
BUT it will be the absolute best favour you can do for yourself. A wise man told me that the sooner you jump back into your workout regime (obviously after receiving the medical okay to do so) the better. Exercise is good for your mental and physical health.
2. Eat well: It's really tempting to indulge post partum. It's hard to find the time to cook healthy meals when you barely have time to bathe. But it's doable. Eat Lean Cuisine, join Jenny Craig where your meals are already prepared; eat protein bars...do whatever you need to do to eat clean.
3. Talk to your mom everyday. Your mom likely knows you better than anyone else. And she has also been through this! Some days my mom would watch the baby so that I could shower or so that I could clean up the house.
4. Nap when baby naps. . Ok. Totally cliche but good lord it's an important one! DS is 7 months old now and I have gotten 6 hours of consecutive sleep probably twice during this 7 month span. Napping when he naps has allowed me to function.
5. Clothes/hair/makeup: When you spend your day covered in BM and baby vomit, it's hard to get motivated to throw on some mascara. But when you pull yourself together reasonably in the fashion and beauty department it does wonders for your mood!

Good luck. And remember that it DOES get easier.
I don't know anyone who is elated when they watch the scale climb...and climb...AND climb during their pregnancy. Even though we remind ourselves (constantly) that it's for a good cause, it's still pretty daunting to watch those numbers increase.

I'm a firm believer that it's during the most challenging and trying times in life that you need to make sure you continue to invest in YOU! Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is so important during your pregnancy.
So how can you pull it all together and look fantastic throughout your 40+weeks of pregnancy?
Start with these fashion staples:
  1. A-line skirt. Generally pretty flattering on most body types. Unless your legs look like Heidi Klums while pregnant, i'd avoid anything above the knee. Skirts that skim the knee make your legs look long and lean.
2. Grecian tunic top. These are great for wearing over tights or a pair of slim fitting jeans. Suitable for all seasons.

3. Wrap around top. Gwen Stefani rocked a few of these tops while she was pregnant. If it's good enough for Gwen...then it's good enough for me ;)

4. True Religion maternity jeans. These are gorgeous. A pricey investment but as soon as you try them on you'll see that the fit of these jeans DOES NOT COMPARE to the fit you'll get with jeans from Old Navy or Motherhood. These jeans will take you through your entire pregnancy and at least a few months post partum.

5. Basic cami and long sleeved shirt. Perfect for layering or for a casual look with sweat pants or jeans.

6. Classic pencil skirt. Avoid the temptation to hide under big and baggy clothes. You'll end up looking frumpy. Stick with clothes that are more form fitting and will show off your beautiful bump and your new curves.

7. The Maxi dress. This dress is ridiculously comfortable and perfect for cool summer nights. Dress it up with some heels or keep it casual with flats or flip flops.

9. The wrap dress. A great dress for your baby shower, and dinner dates with the hubs.

10. Smooth line black trousers. A must have item. You can easily wear with a pretty blouse to the office or pair it up with a sexy top and some heels, for a night on the town ;)

11. Basic leggings. Comfortable and stylish. Ideal to wear under tunic tops and sweater dresses.

12. The trapeze trench. You will rock this cute jacket during your pregnancy and post-partum too. It definitely polishes off a great outfit.

13. Juicy Couture velour suit. I literally wore out a few of my Juicy suits during my pregnancy. For those days when I felt like wearing sweats but didn't want to look like a frump, Juicy suits did the trick. I always felt pulled together yet comfortable.

14. Sexy maternity/nursing pajamas. Put away the flannel pjs for a night or two. You'll definitely feel womanly and sexy (and functional too!) wearing a maternity/nursing night gown by Belabumbum.

15. Boyfriend cardigan. This is a great piece for layering. You can feel comfortable wearing this in the office or out for a casual trip to the mall.

16. A little black dress. I'm sure that you will find a million and one places and occasions to wear a classic black dress. Dress it up with some heels or go casual with some flats.

17. The sweater dress. Pair it with tights and a pair of boots and you'll definitely stop some traffic. These dresses are super comfortable but also a bit fitted to accentuate your curves.

18. Empire dress. Guaranteed you'll have at least one function to attend while you're pregnant. Lucky me...I had 4 weddings to attend when I was 8 and 9 months pregnant! This classic and elegant dress looks fabulous at any stage of your pregnancy.

19. Lululemon Groove Pant. These will be your go-to lounge pants while you are pregnant. I wore mine throughout my pregnancy. We all know how great lulus look on everyone...the seem to have the same affect when you're pregnant.

20. Ingrid & Isabel BellaBand. The perfect little tool that you can use throughout your pregnancy and also post partum too while you are nursing. These bands help you to max out your non-maternity clothes a bit longer!

Swollen ankles, stretch marks, acne, limp hair, mood swings, morning sickness, weight gain, itchy stretching skin, aching back, sun spots... Sounds sexy, right?

Pregnancy is no joke. It's hard on the body and emotionally exhausting. We all know that the prize at the end of the journey is all worth it (once they start sleeping through the night) but that doesn't change the fact that carrying a baby for 40+ weeks is hard work. Doing it and looking good is even tougher.

Here are some tips to get you through your pregnancy with grace and style:
  1. Limit your time in Motherhood and Thyme. Seriously. Every time I stepped foot in those stores I left feeling enormous and frumpy. Buy some of your staples there (e.g. black pants, black skirt, some tanks and t-shirts) but save your pennies for some more stylish maternity clothes. Ebay...Ebay...Ebay is the way to go!! Keep your eyes peeled for some of the following brand names: Olian, Maternal America, Juicy Couture Maternity, Isabella Oliver, Ed Hardy, Nicole Richie, Belabumbum, Chiarakruza, Japanese Weekend, Juliet Dream, Michael Stars Maternity, Momzee Maternity.
  2. Invest in some designer maternity jeans. You will wear these throughout your pregnancy and for at least a couple of months after you have the baby too. Well worth the investment. Again...search Ebay for some significant deals. You'll want to search for the following brands: 7 For All Mankind, Citizen's of Humanity, Paige Premium, Rock and Republic, Joes, Chip & Pepper, Lucky, Hudson.
  3. Get pampered! Keep up on hair appointments, massage treatments, manicures and pedicures.
  4. Go for a make-up consult. Your skin changes when you're pregnant. Visit a Mac counter and see what they can recommend for you.
  5. Stay moisturized. We all know that stretch marks are genetic but it still feels nice to keep that itchy and stretching skin well hydrated.
  6. Drink lots of water and eat clean. Try your best to avoid binge eating :)
  7. Invest in a bella band.
  8. Get into the gym regularly. Continue modified weight training.
  9. Avoid the sweat pant and stretch pants trap. Nothing will make you feel frumpier than staying in your joggers 24-7.
  10. Work on your photo pose.
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