Comfy Dresses for Pregnancy & Postpartum (Nursing-friendly too!)

Buying maternity clothes is so different than any other type of clothing you buy because you know you’re only going to wear them for a short time. Yet, many maternity clothes are actually MORE expensive than your regular clothes. This time around I knew I wanted to mostly focus on clothes that would be comfy for my pregnancy (all during hot Texas weather months) and still be useful for postpartum.

My Requirements for Maternity Dresses

  • Comfortable for pregnancy
  • Nursing-friendly
  • Flattering Postpartum
  • Unexpected Bonus (can hide bump in early pregnancy!)

These are the brands and dresses that I am loving the most! I’ve been so surprised by how many more options there are than there were 5 years ago when I was expecting my son. I’ve got some great coupon codes for you here too!

Loyal Hana

loyal-hana-nursing-friendly-dress

My favorite item from Loyal Hana is the Cybelle dress which I have in navy but it comes in a million colors. The flowy-ness of this dress is pure perfection—even at 21 weeks, I can still get away with looking like I’m not pregnant so if you are trying to keep pregnancy under wraps at work or elsewhere this is the perfect dress. It’s lightweight and breathable and has very discreet zippers for nursing (genius!). Oh, and did I mention, pockets! They also have lots of nursing-friendly tops that I have my eye on. They are actually offering 15% off your entire order with code TheBirthHour15 so hop on over and check out their options. Find them on instagram @loyal_hana.

Matron Saint

matron saint maternity dress

This small business is hitting on all of my requirements and they take the comfy one to the next level! I’m absolutely obsessed with this dress (the v-neck will be perfect for nursing). I have it in dusty rose but I want it in every color! I also love this tunic —looks so cute on my bump but will also be so flattering postpartum. Finally I know it’s not in the dress category but these leggings are the most comfortable I’ve ever worn and the only under-the-bump leggings I’ve ever found to be cute (aka no weird muffin top bulging). They are also offering a 15% off code BIRTHHOUR if you want to check out their entire collection. I have a feeling I’ll be getting a few more items before the end of my pregnancy. Find them on instagram @matronsaint.

Humble Hilo

humble hilo dress nursing friendly

Ok, this company is so cool! Humble Hilo not only sells beautiful handmade and unique Guatemalan textiles, they also have an amazing social mission. When you buy from them, YOU get to choose to support projects in child nutrition, education and literacy for women, and microfinance loans for women to start their own small business. They have adorable shoes for kids and adults, gorgeous bags and my new favorite item, the hilo dress (with pockets!!) I have the noche pattern and can’t wait to get the matching mini dress for Adelaide (launches this week!). I love the pattern options for hiding stains (and baby spit up). They are offering 10% off with code THEBIRTHHOUR and you will want to check out their entire site and instagram @humlehilo.

Storq

storq maternity dress

I love the basics bundle option from Storq and these are my more form fitting maternity clothes this pregnancy. They are solid, basic and comfy for every day wear but can also pass as dressy when needed. I also have a couple dresses outside of the bundle and the first time I put on this dress and this dress I literally said out lout “damn!” because I thought I looked so sexy! And that’s really saying something because this was during the beginning of my pregnancy when it’s not totally clear whether you are pregnant or just ate too much pizza for lunch. These two dresses are super stretchy but don’t have ruching so they aren’t obviously maternity wear and could be worn post pregnancy as well. I’ve worn the long sleeve one to a wedding and the tank on several date nights with my hubby. Also super happy to report that they just announced that all new products they make will come in sizes 0 through 2X/22 (going up to 3X/26 in the Fall). They created 15 codes for 15% off when you use THEBIRTHHOUR at checkout. Find them on instagram @storq.

 

Did I miss any of your favorites? Share in the comments!

The Birth Hour’s Know Your Options Childbirth Course!

Comprehensive & Evidence-Based Childbirth Course from The Birth Hour

I’m so excited to announce the Mother’s Day launch of THE most comprehensive online childbirth course in existence! We will take you from the final weeks of pregnancy through postpartum and newborn care covering all of the evidence-based information for all types of birth, no matter what you are planning!

Bigger-than-a-Bonus

pumped milk
Then, we’ve got you covered when you’re going back to work with an additional six module Back-2-Work Breastfeeding Course that you will get completely free as part of enrollment in the Know Your Options Childbirth Course!

Lifetime Access + MORE Bonuses!

Oh, and you get lifetime access to everything! I’ve actually already had a few mamas who are still in the trying to conceive phase sign up because they wanted to be sure to get in on the course while they can! The cart will only be open through Mother’s Day! The first 25 students to sign up will get a special gift in the mail from Earth Mama Organics! Hurry!

Go Here For All The Details!!

Breastfeeding Twins: One Mom’s Successful 14 Month Journey

Finding out that I was expecting twins was definitely the biggest (and best) surprise of my life. Those emotional weeks after the big ultrasound reveal were filled with lots of plan changes of both the birth and life variety, yet there were two constants for me: I wanted a vaginal, unmedicated birth and I wanted to breastfeed my babies as long as possible.

Preparing for Breastfeeding Twins

With lots of preparation, an amazing care team and some good luck, we welcomed our healthy, full term twins Tobias and Elena in December 2015 after a short, peaceful and drug-free labor and delivery. It was amazing to finally hold the children I had longed for in my arms, but after a bit of a snuggle they let it be known that now that they were earth side they were hungry! Thus began my 14 month journey with having both breasts out, pretty much all of the time.

Four Things I Credit for Our Successful Twin Breastfeeding Journey

Despite the constant nudity, our experience was overwhelming positive. Peering back in time through the milky, poopy, joyful, teary haze that surrounds the first year of Toby and Elly’s life, four key components contributed to our twin breastfeeding success: protection, organization, nutrition and hydration.

Protecting Our Twins Breastfeeding Space

Feeling safe seems to be a primal prerequisite for successful lactation. For me stress, anxiety or pain negatively affected my ability to produce milk for my babies. Essential to my emotional safety was establishing a strong support network early on. My mom was able to come to stay for 6 weeks postpartum and helped so much with my older son, cooking, cleaning and getting babes latched. After she left I had an inner circle of friends who I felt comfortable asking to come for a couple of hours to pass me babies or just sit with me and chat while the twins nursed.

During this time I also paid a lovely lady to help with cleaning and laundry when things got out of hand which they did, often. I view this investment as invaluable. I recommend that expecting twin mamas budget in advance for a postpartum doula or a cleaning lady for the first few weeks at least. Having this network in place prevented me from getting lost in the moments when I felt overwhelmed: of course those moments happened, but I knew who to call when they did. Accept help when it’s offered and if it’s not offered, ask.

Getting Organized for Breastfeeding Twins

Researching and consulting with my midwife during pregnancy helped me to feel prepared and to have the necessary supplies on hand for when the babies were ready to eat, most importantly: nipple protection cream, a good quality electric pump (don’t forget you should be able to get one for free through your insurance) and a large C shaped breastfeeding support pillow. We were so fortunate to be able to hold our twins skin to skin as soon as they were born. My midwife helped to get both babies latched on and nursing, and showed my partner how to support me to get babies nursing at the same time.

In the days immediately following the birth, she was also able to watch the twins nurse and to verify that they were latching well with no physical barriers to success. She encouraged me to protect my nipples with lanolin cream before and after every feeding; keeping my nipples from cracking made things more comfortable for all three of us, and helped to prevent mastitis (infection of the milk duct) from developing.

breastfeeding newborn twins

Logistics and Schedules with Breastfeeding Twins

I am naturally a pretty laid back go with the flow type of person—our kids are always teaching us and my twins got me organized! My first son breastfed on demand which worked well for us, but I didn’t think that I could keep up with two babes on two different schedules. From the beginning I chose to always feed both babies at the same time so if one baby needed to eat (usually my son) but the other was sleeping (usually my daughter) I would gently wake the sleepy one to top off as well.

This system worked well for us and at their one week appointment with the pediatrician the twins had both gained weight—putting on ounces for the win! At 4 weeks I began to pump at the same time every day. This helped to establish my supply and I felt safer knowing that I had a backup stash in the freezer if I needed to step out for a few hours—no one wins when mama feels chained to her babies.

At 8 weeks we were ready to start a feeding schedule. I consulted with my midwife to make sure we were setting appropriately timed feeds and then began to be more firm with feeding times. My partner supported us a lot in this transition—walking and soothing babies until feeding time arrived etc. In just a few days we settled into the schedule of feed, burp and into their crib, with very few complaints and more sleep for everyone. The more comfortable and relaxed I was the better things flowed.

Feeding Station and Breastfeeding Positions with Twins

I set up a cozy feeding corner in our bed and had it stocked up with snacks, water bottles, iPod with podcasts cued up and my ever faithful C pillow. The position that worked best in the early days was for me to settle into the feeding nook with pillows propped up behind me and the C pillow wrapped around me.

Then I would have someone pass me the first baby and get him or her latched with their head in the center of the pillow and their legs in the crook of my left elbow. Then I would have someone pass me the second baby and we would latch him or her with their head also in the center and their legs in the crook of my right elbow. I marked their first initial on the hand that corresponded to the side they were feeding on so I would remember to alternate them, which is important for neck safety.

Learning to Breastfeed Twins without a Helper

As they got stronger and I gained confidence, I would place them both on the bed with enough room for me to wiggle in between them with the C pillow wrapped around me. Then I would scoop up one with my left arm, get them latched using my right hand for support, then reach down with my right arm to scoop up the other one, and get them latched using my left hand for support. It takes practice but I got to be a pro!

A supportive partner makes all the difference for the night time feeding productions. By the time the babies were sitting up independently, around 5 or 6 months, the C pillow wasn’t crucial and we could feed by side lying for one with the other draped on top, and by the time they were crawling they would just pull down my shirt and go for it on their own!

Nutrition for Mama When Breastfeeding Twins

In order to produce enough high quality milk for two growing infants it is essential to eat high quality food, regularly and lots of it! I followed the Brewers diet for twins during pregnancy, which incorporates high protein and low sugar. This eating plan is strict but for breastfeeding I made it even more so. My first son was fussy and didn’t sleep well, and some research I did indicated that gluten and lactose in breast milk can be major gas culprits causing discomfort for newborns.

I was willing to try anything to maximize my sleep and minimize the twins’ discomfort—my diet for breastfeeding was high protein, no lactose and no gluten . I stuck to it firmly for the first 6 months and my twins definitely slept better than my first baby, so it was worth it in my book! I had lots of high protein snacks ready to grab between feeds: nuts, hard boiled eggs, hummus. My sweet friends brought over lots of meals and snacks in the early months which was a life saver. I recommend setting up a meal schedule before birth and if people ask what they can do for you tell them honestly “feed me and feed my family”! Your loved ones will be glad to have a specific way to support you.

Drinking enough water when you only have to hydrate yourself can be a challenge. When you have to hydrate for three, the quantity of liquid intake needed can seem ridiculous, but it is so necessary in order to lactate efficiently. A rule that worked for me was that if the twins were drinking, I was drinking. I had a water bottle in our feeding corner and did my best to pound back a full liter at every feed. Adding lime or other flavors and drinking coconut water helped to keep it interesting. My midwife gave me a recipe for a lactation boosting oatmeal drink which I liked so much that I drank it almost every day.

Oatmeal Drink to Boost Breastmilk Supply Recipe:

  • Soak a cup of whole organic oats and a dash of cinnamon in 2 liters of water overnight.
    Strain in the morning and mix in a tablespoon of honey.

Eating and drinking for three takes creativity and commitment!

“Success” When Breastfeeding Twins is Different for Everyone

I define my breastfeeding relationship with my twins as successful because it was emotionally and physically safe for everyone involved. My babies got the nutrition that they needed to grow strong, and nursing was connection time for us. I certainly do not feel that breastfeeding is the only way to achieve success in nutrition and bonding. If exclusive formula, exclusive breastfeeding or a mixture of the two is what works, I encourage mamas to follow their intuition and to do what feels right for their optimum mental and physical health and that of their babies.

By the time my twins were 14 months old, I no longer felt present and joyful while breastfeeding. Resentment started to creep in, so the three of us talked about it, said goodbye to that phase of our time together and we stopped breastfeeding, ready for the next adventure. Spoiler alert—it still involved a lot of poop. If breastfeeding your twins interests you, research your options, make sure you are protected, organized, nourished and hydrated and go for it—it IS possible and can be so very beautiful.

Tips for Pumping When You Go Back to Work

One of the biggest concerns for new moms after having a baby is whether or not the transition back to work will go smoothly. Worrying about the transition consumes an unfair amount of time that you should spend bonding and relaxing with your newborn. It is an added stress to worry about continuing to breastfeed and all that comes with arranging a pumping schedule and keeping up milk supply. The key to a successful transition is to create a plan and to find the breastfeeding cheerleaders in your life.

Create a Breastfeeding Plan

Much like a birth plan, writing down your key information and organizing the details of the transition is a big help. Here’s a template to address the major considerations you will encounter during the transition back to work. This includes a list of supplies to take with you, what to provide your baby’s caregiver, how to set up a pumping space at work, and how to talk to your employer about it. If you are aware of the potential obstacles, you will be able to navigate around them more easily when they pop up.

At Work Supplies Checklist

Pumping at work is sort of like camping. You want to make sure you have everything you need so you aren’t stuck without a tent in the rain – or without a set of nursing pads during an unexpected let down. Three weeks before you plan to return to work, make sure you have a full set up of supplies. An example of the things to gather:

  • Double electric breast pump
  • Extra set of pump supplies
  • Nursing pads
  • Pump cleaning supplies (i.e. wipes, soap, microwave steam bags)
  • Milk storage containers with lids
  • Milk storage bags
  • Manual hand pump (just in case your electric pump isn’t working or you have no power)
  • Cooler bag with ice packs

Every mom is different and some prefer to wear nursing bras and clothing designed for pumping, and some prefer to wear loose fitting or maneuverable clothes. It doesn’t matter what you decide to wear, as long as you can pump easily enough and you feel comfortable.

Breastfeeding Cheerleaders

These people are the ones that keep your spirits up when you’re feeling overwhelmed or are doubting your ability to continue nursing. They can be family, friends, other moms at a breastfeeding support group, a lactation consultant, or your doctor. Have their contact information ready in the event that you need a pep talk. It can be incredibly helpful to hear the stories of other moms who have struggled with breastfeeding — you can learn what they did to overcome the challenges.

Practice Makes Perfect

Your new routine will become second nature once you get started, but it may feel a little bumpy in the beginning. Practice using your pump in the weeks leading up to returning to work and start stocking your freezer with breast milk. Set up your pump like you would at work, imagining how you would store your pump and the milk you expressed after a pumping session. It is good to know in advance whether you will have access to an outlet, a sink, or a refrigerator so you can plan around it.

Don’t Plan to Pump in a Bathroom

The default pumping location used to be bathrooms, however, there are laws now that require companies to provide a private nursing space for mothers that isn’t a bathroom. While there are a few exceptions to the law, it is not too much to ask for a space that is NOT the bathroom. If your employer requests that you keep your pumping in the restrooms, kindly let them know that it is not standard practice anymore.

Going back to work can be a difficult transition for new moms, especially if you’re planning to pump throughout the day, however having a plan and a supportive team will make the transition smoother. Feeling confident in your plan to return to work will give you peace of mind. It is totally possible to have a successful back-to-work breastfeeding experience and we’re here to help you.

This guest post was written by Aeroflow Breastpumps. Aeroflow helps you get a breastpump for free through your insurance. For more information about Aeroflow Breastpumps, go to www.AeroflowBreastpumps.com.

World Breastfeeding Week 2017

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and I’ve really been blown away by all of the amazing collaborations, articles, events and general awesomeness surrounding this week and bringing awareness to Breastfeeding. Here are some of my favorite things from the week.

Facebook LIVE party for supporting moms and a HUGE Giveaway with Sarah Wells Bags! I loved how real Sarah is when she shares her journey of exclusively pumping for her first daughter and how it inspired her breastpump bags (be sure to check out the newest gorgeous floral design she just released for WBW!) as well as my chat with Sarah Wells at the end of this week’s podcast episode!

sarah wells bags

Awesome article about why this week matters!

Around 2,000 women came together to breastfeed their babies in the Philippines to promote the health benefits of breast milk. If you want to attend a Latch On event, you can find one near you!

This free WBW nursing guide including a Survival Guide for the first two weeks of breastfeeding.

This kickstarter to bring breastfeeding awareness around the country – you have to see the RV and their clever #putaboobonit campaign!

Some of my favorite episodes that talk about breastfeeding struggles: one, two, three.