This past year I had the amazing privilege of getting to work with Heather Gallagher to document our family from the end of my pregnancy through Harvey’s first birthday. I love that Heather offers this “year in the life” photography package because it focuses more on how the whole family changes and grows over a year rather than the more typical baby milestone photo packages I’d seen before. We have two older children and this year was HUGE for them in terms of changes and I’m so grateful to have these priceless images to remember our whole family unit over the course of the year that we welcomed baby number three into the fold.
If you are in the Austin area, I highly recommend Heather Gallagher not only for this year-in-the-life package but for any of your photography needs (especially birth photography!). She also travels for photo sessions from time to time!
Heather is also a full spectrum doula which you can learn more about by reaching out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or following her on Instagram @lifesaspectrum.
Our first photo session was a maternity photo shoot at the Austin Public Library which is one of our favorite places to explore together. The kids quickly became comfortable with Heather and were up to their typical silly antics.
The next time we saw Heather was for the birth! She arrived just 40 minutes or so before Harvey was born and probably would’ve missed it if she hadn’t had the foresight to be hanging around the area ‘just in case’ which I’m forever grateful for! Birth photos are the most beautiful images in the world and I look back at mine often. It can be hard to remember the details when you’re in “laborland” and having all of the little moments captured is not only really special but has also helped me in the processing of my birth story.
Postpartum Photo Session
Heather came back a few days later for a Postpartum shoot which really captures our big kids and how they were changing as they stepped into their new roles.
Two Months Old Photo Session
We had another photo shoot when Harvey was about 2 months old and It’s really special because we actually ended up moving soon after so I love having these images in the home that he was born in.
6 Months Old Photo Session
When Harvey was six months old, we had a photo session at our new home and I also got to model some of my sweet friend Hailey’s breastfeeding clothes from Chapter Goods. This are definitely my most favorite photos of nursing which is such a huge part of my journey as a mother and feels extra tender this time since we don’t plan to have any more babies.
9 Months Old at our Favorite Brewery
This is one of my favorite sessions which is so funny because it was actually pretty short and really casual! My kids were in a great mood and we were all in our happy place: Jester King Brewery in Austin. I loved that we captured the short window where Adelaide’s two front teeth were missing and Harvey had changed SO much since 6 months old!
One Year Old Birthday Photo Session
We finished our year together with Heather capturing Harvey’s 1st Birthday party! Of course I love all of the images but more than that, it was so nice to not have to worry about where my phone was so I could be taking pictures as well and I am in way more of the photos than I would’ve been as well. I think it helped keep everyone else off of their phones as well especially when it came time for the smash cake—I noticed that everyone didn’t do the typical thing of all trying to film this moment because they knew Heather had it covered.
It’s so surreal to have more than a year captured of our family and putting together this blog post was so much fun as I went back through all of the images. It was defiitely hard to pick my favorites and I’m sure my favorites will change over time! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into a year in the life of our little family! If you are in the Austin area, I highly recommend Heather Gallagher not only for this year-in-the-life package but for any of your photography needs (especially birth photography!). Heather is also a full spectrum doula which you can learn more about by reaching out to her at email@example.com or following her on Instagram @lifesaspectrum. Thank you Heather!!!
I love that we are discussing pelvic floor health more and more especially with moms postpartum. In many countries it is standard practice to visit a pelvic floor therapist after having a baby and while that isn’t the case here in the United States, there are more and more therapists available. I’m always happy to get the message out that if you are experiencing symptoms related to your pelvic floor after having a baby, you do not need to just ‘deal with it’.
I recommend looking for a pelvic floor therapist and doing some of your own at-home therapy as well. I’m always recommending the MUTU system for an at home program and I myself have really loved it. Recently, I also had the opportunity to try the Perifit Pelvic Floor Trainer as the company sent me one to review.
From their website, “Perifit is an FDA-approved medical device that is recommended by doctors to prevent prolapse and incontinence, eliminate the need to wear pads permanently, aid quick recovery from childbirth and surgery, regain core strength and bladder control, and enhance confidence in the bedroom.”
From my own personal perspective, it’s also just fun to use compared! You insert the device into your vagina and then it connects with an app that you play games with your pelvic muscles to move your “player”. It’s kind of hard to explain but go here to watch how it works. I’m not even someone who typically likes video games but this was surprisingly really satisfying to advance to the next level on—maybe because I know that I’m actually doing something good for my body in the process.
Kegels aren’t all that great for you
Many of us have always heard to do kegels… the way I learned was to practice the feeling of stopping the stream of urine but it turns out that that isn’t all that good for strengthening your pelvic floor, plus it’s boring! So, the difference with the Perifit is that you also work on the action of relaxing your pelvic floor muscles and contracting them. Plus, the device can tell you the difference between the use of your deeper muscles versus the superficial ones.
My favorite part is that you get real-time feedback so you know how you’re improving. It really helped me to better understand how to do pelvic floor exercises since you can try different things and then see in the app whether you’re improving or not rather than just listening to someone describe what to do.
Programs for your stage in life
They have a few different programs to choose from including: postpartum, stress/urge incontinence, intimate well-being and preventative. I’m working my way through the postpartum program right now and feel quite the sense of accomplishment when I move up to the next level! I only spend about 10-15 minutes a day doing the games and noticed an improvement within about 3 weeks (I may have missed some days in there but I TRY to do it every day). You can set the app to send you reminders to play the games too!
I definitely recommend the Perifit if you’re struggling with any pelvic floor issues and think it would benefit just about any mom postpartum. Of course it’s always a good idea to consult with your care provider if you have any questions.
You can use the coupon code TheBirthHour10 for 10% off your purchase. I was gifted the Perifit to review and was not compensated in any other way. I only recommend products to you that I truly love and all opinions expressed are my own.
It’s amazing how many new products and innovative baby solutions have come onto the market since we had our first baby seven years ago.
5 S’s Soothing Smart Bassinet
When parents ask me what book to read to prepare for taking care of a newborn, I always recommend Happiest Baby on the Block (or even the dvd if you are too sleep deprived to read a book!). We used the 5 S’s (swaddle, side or stomach position, shush, swing, and suck) technique with both of our kids and it was a life saver when they had an inconsolable evening! So when I saw the SNOO bassinet from Dr. Knapp who wrote the Happiest Baby on the Block at a baby show a couple of years ago (before we were ever expecting), I was intrigued. Yes at first glance, the straight jacket in a cradle was a little odd looking but learning more about the product and it’s intuitive design and then remembering how badly my arms and neck would hurt after doing the swinging/side position myself for hours on end, I was sold. This is a high ticket item but if you consider the price of a night nanny or you know, your sanity, it might be worth it. Some stores are also piloting a program for renting the SNOO for a monthly fee which I think is genius!
Swaddles with Different Positioning Options
I am all about swaddling and with our first two babies, we swaddles as long as humanly possible! I was excited to learn about a few new designs that give babies a little more freedom of movement while still leaving them feeling super secure. We’re excited to try these from Love2Dream.
Handy Changing Station Products
Skip Hop has this genius diaper caddy that has a touch light so you can see your supplies at night without turning on a bright light. I’m also super excited to use their changing pad that doesn’t require covers and can just be wiped clean. I remember going through like 5 covers a day sometimes and even just giving up and laying a towel down!
We are also using a diaper pail for the first time ever and I’m so excited. I love that this one can hold cloth or disposable diapers and can use regular trash bags or the handy tear-off refills that Dekor makes.
Eco-Friendly Teething Toys that Won’t Mold
We had the infamous giraffe toy with our first two but after seeing one too many of those cut open to reveal mold, I threw that thing away. I was excited to discover Oli & Carol Natural Rubber Toys which are not only non-toxic, handmade from natural rubber but there are no holes whatsoever so they won’t get bacteria build up in them even when using them as bath toys!
I remember teething necklaces for moms being very new on the scene when I had my first two kids. Mostly handmade shops on Etsy and such and most weren’t really my style. I’m loving how some of the new designs look like jewelry I’d actually wear and this is one fun little item for me that I’m excited about! This brand also makes adorable teethers like this taco (every Austinite baby needs one) and this bubble tea!
This hands free and cord free wearable breast pump is another product that I remember seeing the first announcements about and being so excited that innovations around breastpumps were finally being taken into consideration. I will be working from home and won’t be pumping very often but when the Willow team reached out about sending me a pump to try, I knew I wanted to give it a go and can’t wait to report back to all of you!
Our whole house is wood flooring so I knew I wanted a rug to soften up the nursery both for sound control and coziness. We’ve had so many rugs get destroyed by our kids that I was hesitant about it though. I was super excited to try a rug that can be thrown in the washing machine from Lorena Canals AND I also found a small faux sheepskin rug that is also washable! Cozy but still super practical for a baby/toddler? Sign me up!
We also found a really cozy faux sheepskin run to layer on top of this rug that is also washable!! I’ve wanted to add a sheepskin accent rug to the room but couldn’t figure out how it would stay clean in a nursery that would eventually belong to a toddler! I was so excited to find these on Instagram and at a really affordable price point and with different size options/colors.
Breathable Crib Mattress
This is actually our first time owning a crib so I wasn’t really sure what the benefits were of the different mattress. I knew I wanted non-toxic and waterproof and this breathable mattress from Newton fit the bill with the added benefit of being super safe for baby. Even if they are sleeping face down (obviously not recommended), they can breathe easily. Read more on their website.
Diaper Bag with a Mission
These custom made diaper bags are so beautiful and I love the mission behind the company to hire women who have various barriers to employment to make each bag by hand. Read more about the company and design your own bag!
I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did a solo maternity session while we were on our family vacation “babymoon” in Kauai. I was only 27 weeks along but had a pretty big belly already with this being baby number three and I love seeing this stage of my pregnancy captured on our trip. We have a family photo session coming up this weekend and I’m now 37 weeks aka moving much slower and feeling much bigger so it will definitely be a different vibe!
My photographer in Kauai was Mallory Francks who is so talented! She really specializes in creating moody and sensual images. Looking back, I kind of wish I had had Richard come to the session too because we don’t really have many intimate style couple images and Mallory is SO great about making you feel comfortable and giving direction for those of us who are not natural models! If you’re in Kauai for a babymoon or just on a trip with your honey, I’d highly recommend booking a couples session with her. Follow her on Instagram to see what I’m talking about!
Just for fun sharing some of the things that are getting me through this pregnancy. I can’t believe I’m already in the third trimester!
Coconut Chia Seed Pudding for a Sweet Treat
I’ve become obsessed with coconut chia pudding since trying it in Hawaii. I use 1 cup coconut milk (the kind from the carton in the fridge section) and 4 tablespoons chia seeds with 1 tsp vanilla extract. Put it in little jars and let it sit in the refrigerator over night then I top it with bee pollen, a tiny bit of sea salt and granola. It’s the BEST grab n go breakfast or sweet treat during the day!
Collagen Powder for Extra Protein
It’s so hard to get all the protein you need in pregnancy (at least for me!) so this tasteless powder is a great way to squeeze in some extra grams without even noticing. Just mix it in your tea and have a glass in the evening. There are actually a lot of studies about the benefits of collagen and how most of us aren’t getting nearly enough.
Young Living Frankincense Essential Oil for my Skin
My skin absolutely freaks out in pregnancy and while breastfeeding and this has been a game changer for me. I just put a drop in my moisturizer (morning and night) and also have a homemade roller that I made from my Young Living Starter Kit with Frankincense, Lavender and Copaiba that my Young Living team calls the Glowstick because so many people have gotten amazing skin support from this combo! Learn more about getting started with Oils in this post.
Floradix for my Iron Levels
I have been singing the praises of this supplement since my first pregnancy 7 years ago when I found out I was anemic and was able to quickly bring up my iron levels with Floradix. Recently when I was sick and off of Floradix for a couple weeks, my iron levels dropped and I’m so glad I am back on it. Also helps my energy levels! You can also add in Chlorophyll which helps your body build red blood cells as well.
Kindred Bravely Simply Sublime Pregnancy/Nursing Tank
I’ve been a fan of the Simply Sublime bra in busty sizing for awhile and am so glad they came out with the tank for us bigger busted ladies recently! Comes in several great colors and it’s my go to top for around the house! I’m also obsessed with their maternity panties. Use code BIRTHHOUR20 for 20% off!
Young Living Lavender and Valor Essential Oil for all the Emotional Support
Read more about my journey with using Oils for Emotional Support on my wellness Instagram account @bumptobabyessentials, particularly this post. I’ve relied HEAVILY on YL oils throughout my pregnancy and am so so grateful for them. I’m always happy to answer any questions about getting started with oils, it’s a total passion project for me.
Earth Mama Organics Perineal Balm for Hemorrhoids
This is a not-so-fun side effect of pregnancy that I’ve dealt with off and on ever since having my daughter almost 7 years ago. I now use this balm as preventive as well as treatment on the regular. Definitely a must have along with their spray for postpartum as well.
Staying hydrated during pregnancy (especially in the summer) is so important and once baby arrives, I tend to become a camel while breastfeeding. Give me all the water! My yeti cup is my best friend that I bring everywhere and always have by my side. I like to use the straw top because I find that I drink way more often that way.
Birth Hour Mamas Group
Last but not least, I’m LOVING our listener supporters group. I’ve been sharing pregnancy updates in the form of audio journal recordings and have also received so much love via our private FB group! Seriously the best group of all time, thanks ladies!!
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!