Sexy, Savvy, Natural Mama

a blog space for pregnant ladies, new moms, feminists, and interested souls

The Essential Pregnancy Library July 18, 2010

As a pregnant lady, you may be interested in getting some good books. I mean, the internet just doesn’t cut it. And as I said, a lot of those sites end up with a bunch of scary comments about miscarriages and illness. I have known of pregnant ladies who stay away from reading any books or sites, but as you might have guessed, I’m not really that type of person. In fact, I highly recommend reading a good selection of books — but you don’t need to go overboard.

You’ll need …

A great reference book. I totally do NOT recommend What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It’s not written by doctors, and it just kinda tells moms to avoid every little thing possible. It’s information light, and condescension heavy. Instead, I highly recommend the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. This book is a true treasure — if you only buy ONE book for your pregnancy, this is really the one you need. It is divided into three sections — pregnancy, childbirth, and your newborn. It’s written by health care professionals, and has a non-conversational this-is-what-you-need-to-know kind of tone. It provides information on every option for pregnancy and labor, has charts for when you should call the doctor according to the week of pregnancy, and it tells you what to do with your newborn once you get it home. It’s well organized, well laid out, has lots of great information, and it will help you chill out when you perceive a potential problem.

For natural birth planners, you’ll need: Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. Ricki Lake — she’s at her least ridiculous in this book — and Abby Epstein are the minds behind the eye-opening documentary, The Business of Being Born (available on Netflix instant). (I recommend this for natural birthers as well.) This is the companion book, which details why pregnancy and childbirth are treated differently in the U.S. than in other countries, and it tells American mothers about all of their options when it comes to their own births. Ricki and Abby both tell their own birth stories in Your Best Birth, all of which are vastly different experiences (hospital birth with an epidural, home birth with no medication, and an emergency c-section). The best part about this book to me was the lists of questions to ask your doctor, midwife, hospital, and doula. They also go over how to write a birth plan and the things you may want to include. A quick, easy, fun and thoroughly informative read!

For the natural birth planner, you’ll also want to read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I’ve already written a full review of this fabulous classic, and yeah, I still think it’s pretty much the best thing ever. Ina May Gaskin is a total badass — a rogue, self-trained midwife who started her own birthing center at a commune in Tennessee. This book is her guide, her philosophy, and her experience. The best thing? The first third of the book is written by her patients, giving glimpses of their positive, natural birth experiences. Then, Ina May details all of the different ways and methods to cope with labor — particularly the more difficult labors. She is unflappably calm and amazingly creative, and gives you a lot of ideas to hold in your personal labor arsenal. For example, if you open your mouth during pushing, you’re less likely to tear. If you’re muscles are tight, and someone rocks you back and forth, you’re more likely to relax and have it easier. And you get to read Ina May’s amazing statistics for her commune birthing center at the end. Also, it’s well written and has a good sense of humor!

For coping with labor pain in a natural way, check out: Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz and Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan. Both of these books are designed around a “method” to deal with labor, so you may want to choose one ore the other. However, I think checking out a little of both is important because it gives you a chance to gather more tools for your labor arsenal. Birthing from Within does have some wacky stuff about creating birth art to express your fear, which I’m not really into, but some people might find cool. What I really liked about Birthing from Within is the varied methods of coping with pain and the suggestions for how to cope with post-partum stress. Hypnobirthing has a lot about the history of childbirth, and it explains the self-hypnosis methods for dealing with labor. It has a great deal of wonderful information about pregnancy, and it explains meditation you can practice and use during childbirth. Also very well written and engaging. Highly recommended!

Breastfeeders will need … A good breastfeeding book. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding By La Leche League International comes highly recommended. It’s the one I have, and there’s a ton of great information in it … but … it gets a bit preachy. If you are someone who knows you’ll get cranky at super preachy breastfeeding dogma (i.e. “There’s no such thing as not producing enough milk. If you’re not producing enough milk, there’s something wrong with you.”), then don’t get this one. I haven’t checked any other ones, but The Nursing Mother’s Companion comes highly recommended as well, and I would definitely give Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding a good try since Ina May pretty much rules.

Everyone needs … Baby Bargains! As you know, I totally support Baby Bargains. The authors claim they’ll save you lots of dough when buying your baby gear, but I’m not sure if that’s the main benefit of this tome. The main benefit? I found out about everything available on the market, got familiar with brands, and got good ideas for what I needed and didn’t need. From this book, I got the crib recommendation that led me to choose Westwood, the idea to purchase the Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper, and the suggestions as to what brands to include on my registry. That said, the authors, Denise and Alan Fields, are parents and not consumer reports experts. It’s also good to get opinions from other sources — I choose friends and family, and Amazon reviews!

And if you’re interested in a book for your partner … Get The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. This is the to-go reference for the person in your life who will be supporting you through labor — significant other, friend, mom and dad … etc. This has all the information that that person can tell you throughout your pregnancy — exercises, health, nutrition, and all the stuff they can tell you about labor while you’re in it — medical interventions, options, and positions, and what you can expect after the birth — how to identify postpartum depression, how you can be supported in breastfeeding, and how to clean your baby. It’s good for that person in your life to have all the info. As much as you can cram in your brain, you won’t remember all of it, and it’s good to have someone there to remind you and make sure you’ve got what you need.

I’ll have another addition after Sam is born — the best books for having a baby!

 

Best Paint for Pregnant Ladies July 16, 2010

Hey everyone! I was just looking at my blog stats and saw that one of the more common searches that led people to my page was “best paint for pregnant ladies,” so hey, I give the people what they want.

The best paint for pregnant ladies is, of course, the lowest of the low-VOC, the paints that are qualified as no-VOC.

The paints that I have used are:

1. Benjamin Moore Natura — I got this guy mixed to match Glidden’s Fresh Guacamole for the nursery. The big advantage here is that you can get Natura mixed to match just about ANYTHING. Another advantage is that it has very little smell at all. Any paint sample you find anywhere? You can get it in Natura. The disadvantages are that you have to go to a Benjamin Moore store to get it, and it’s hella expensive at about 60 bucks a gallon.

2. C2 Lovo (available at Benjamin Moore Stores) — I used this for the master bedroom (in Potato Leek) and the nursery closet (in Chelsea). The advantages are that it comes in lovely colors and that it has very little smell. Again, you have to get it at Benjamin Moore stores, and it runs 55 bucks a gallon. And it’s low-VOC, not no-VOC. But it’s worked well for us in a couple of places.

3. Freshaire — Now, this is the best paint of the lot, I do believe. Major advantages include: you can get it at your local Home Depot, it has a small but very nice selection of colors, and it’s way cheaper at 30 bucks a gallon. It’s not going to be your cheapest option (you have to buy higher VOC paint options for that), but it’s probably down there with the cheapest of the cheap no-VOC options. Oh yeah, and for a cheaper paint, it’s super high quality, thick, and goes on smooth. And with absolutely no odor that we can detect! The only disadvantage I can see is that the color options are limited and somewhat muted. As in, you probably won’t be able to find a bright, charming nursery color — but if your tendency is toward the more subdued, you may be in luck.

A paint I’ve heard about a lot but have not used is Mythic Paint, found at Lowe’s. Check it out! I think it may have more color options than Freshaire, so it’s worth a look.

Of course, many of you pregnant ladies won’t have occasion to paint, or may be totally freaked out by the idea altogether. I will say that the no-VOC is just that. It has no volatile organic compounds, which is the nasty stuff that can give you headaches (and if you drink it, it probably won’t be good for your baby). But there’s no reason to shy away from using the no-VOC paint. It’s an excuse to exercise your nesting instinct in your baby’s room, and perhaps in other areas of your home. It’s water based, green, and non-toxic. As for painting, go for it! Get someone else to get up on the step stool, and take care of your back since you’re up and down a lot during the painting process. And enjoy!

 

Slow FE July 10, 2010

Filed under: pregnancy,Product Reviews,Products,Reviews — hokoonchi @ 3:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

A plug for this amazing iron supplement …

Over fifty percent of pregnant ladies have anemia at some point in their pregnancy. I am one of those ladies. For weeks, and weeks, I have been feeling like total crap. Worn down, drug out, and totally fatigued. I found out I had low hemoglobin on Monday and started taking the iron pills my doctor recommended last night. Today, I’ve felt better than I have in a long time. (Just like my doc said I would.) Anyway, of course ask your doc what to do when you’re preggers and anemic, but I’m loving this supplement. It’s supposed to be a little less harsh on the stomach than most iron supplements, and it releases slowly throughout the day.

Of course, it’s cheaper on Amazon. Find it here.

 

The Shoes You Must Have — Pregnant Ladies Edition June 18, 2010

YES, you need to buy new shoes. Along with the maternity clothes. An expense you didn’t know about? Not me, you say? Well, read on …

I recently heard something on the radio that I figured out around week six of my pregnancy — pregnant women shouldn’t wear high heels! Check out the full article HERE. If you don’t end up reading the article, let me summarize in my own vernacular:

1. During pregnancy, your body starts to release the hormone relaxin. Relaxin’s main purpose is to soften the joints of the pelvis so that it becomes more flexible during birth. Unfortch, it ends up softening the joints in the whole body — which leads not only to a nicely relaxed pelvis, but also a body more prone to pulled muscles, back pain, and you guessed it — foot pain! The foot is all full of bones and joints and ligaments, and relaxin makes them mash all down and out and about, making your foot mooshy, big, and not easily supported.

2. Heels hurt your foot, even on the best of days when you are non-pregnant. They may look super cute, but they hurt your feet and your calf muscles. And they make you more prone to fall — and when you’re preggo, you’re wobbly and more prone to fall anyway.

3. You shouldn’t wear super FLAT soled shoes either — like Uggs, ballet flats, or flat-soled flip flops. They give those mooshy big feet like, NO support.

In conclusion, you have to be WISE about the shoes that you wear during pregnancy, or you’ll end up with sore feet, super-swelling, and possibly a sprained ankle or worse from a fall. Wear supportive flats instead!

Here are my suggestions for the shoes you need during a summer pregnancy:

Fit Flops

Fit Flops

1. Fit Flops: I had these guys before I got preggo. My mom’s best friend gave them to me, and my mom thought I’d never wear them since they’re not “cute.” Instead, I wore them all last summer. My dog ate one of the pair, and I got a second pair from Amazon ASAP.  Ever since it got hot, I’ve worn them as much as possible, all the time. They’re great on long walks, trips to the mall, or just about anywhere you go. They are extremely supportive (MUCH different than other flip flops), and they’re the most comfortable shoe ever. The CLAIM is that they burn more calories because of they way they’re shaped. I don’t know about all that, but I know they are really awesome and comfy. I’ve never had a day that my feet hurt in these … Buy ’em on Amazon!

Born Wedges

Born Wedges

2. Anything by Born, really: I have a pair of Born wedges very similar to these. I will warn you that I fell the first time I wore these guys, but that’s mostly because I’m a klutz and was adjusting to the height. I have not fallen since, and as such, I highly recommend these guys. If you are allowed to wear open-toed shoes at work, these will work well. They are cushy and soft on the sole, and very comfortable and cute. I got mine at DSW. No pain in these guys either …

Earth Shoes

Earth Shoes - Stunning

3. Earth Shoes – I just got these guys last week, and I’ve broken them in after only a couple of wears. They have negative heel technology, which adjusts your posture and is easy on your back. Some of these crazy shoes that claim things like this don’t really work, nor are they comfortable. The Earth shoe really works. I have crazy flat feet that are super painful during this stage of pregnancy, and these automatically lift me into a better posture, and make me feel like I can stand up all day to teach my classes. They have the reverse heel, a strong arch, and toe support. I’ve successfully killed the arch with the flatness of my feet, but otherwise, the support is totally working for me. Tip: try these on in a high end store like Comfort One or The Walking Company, and then order your size on Ebay. You can see Earth shoes run $100+ … but I got them on Ebay for $50.

So these are the shoes I wear most often this summer. I can also recommend for the cooler months:

A pair of knee-high boots by Born – cute, comfortable, supportive … will look great with skirts, dresses, trousers, or jeans. I love mine!

A pair of flats by Clarks Unstructured – extremely breathable, soft insole, and molds easily to your foot. I have two pairs and have worn them until my feet expanded by a half size. Great in winter, spring or summer!

Waterproof knee-high boots by Merrell – excellent design, wonderful replacement for Uggs (which aren’t waterproof!), and will get you through those cold, rainy, snowy months. I have a pair of Merrell knee-highs that aren’t waterproof, and I’ve worn them til the soles have started to decay. I plan to get these next!

Casual shoes by Merrell – super comfort and warmth in winter. Perfect to wear with jeans or trousers … can be worn to work as well. I’ve loved my casual Merrells.

Of course, I also recommend a high-quality sneaker. Walking is great during pregnancy, and although all the shoes above are excellent for mall walking or taking a stroll, you’ll need something dedicated to exercise. I recommend Merrell or Saucony on that front … but you probably already have a favorite brand.

Remember, your feet will grow at least one half size during pregnancy (mine did by four months or so), and maybe more during the hot summer months when swelling is at its worst. So yeah, there’s no getting around it: you WILL need several new pairs of shoes to get you through. Make sure they are high quality, supportive flats or wedges, and not heels, flat-soled ballet shoes, or Ugg types. Try more expensive brands on, and pick one or two items to get you through the preggo season. Try them on at the store, and then search on Ebay! Never hurts to hunt for a bargain …

Happy shoe hunting!

 

The Pregnant Lady’s Medicine Cabinet June 15, 2010

The pregnant lady must have a medicine cabinet different than that of the non-pregnant lady. It’s a necessity. My pre-pregnant medicine cabinet involved a lot of Advil, the occasional Sudafed, and Alka-Seltzer when indigestive. I quickly learned that this won’t fly when pregnant. I even remember the day when my former coworker told me that you don’t get to take Advil while in a family way. I was stunned, shocked, and indignant. How would I survive? I’ve always had scoliosis and a resulting plethora of back ailments — all of which are aided by yoga, stretching and massage, but often need to be supplemented with Advil. (I actually had the thought today that I would be excited to be able to take Advil again. How sad is that?) Anyway, I’ve needed to adjust. I’ll share my current medicine cabinet with you. For the newly pregnant, I hope this helps!

On a side note, as much as we all wish we didn’t have to take meds while pregnant, you may have to. The list below has been approved by both doctors I’ve seen, my pregnancy iphone app, and several reference books.

1. Tylenol for headaches (doesn’t work as well for body aches) — Keep stocked up on regular strength Tylenol. According to my current doctor, you can really take as many as you want, and it won’t harm the baby. I try to limit myself to two in any given day, and I try not to take it more than two or three times a week. I figure Tylenol is fine for my baby — there’s tons of stuff out there that says it’s absolutely and totally harmless — but I don’t want to overdo it, particularly not for MY liver. When I’ve gotten sick (three times — a bad cold in February, a stomach virus in April, and bronchitis just now), I’ve been a bit more liberal with dosage. Doc says totally safe — don’t worry about this harming your little one. Lots of pregnant ladies get raging headaches at different points in their pregnancy, so get a bottle, and use it when need be.

2. Tums for heartburn and upset stomach — I’d much rather have an Alka-Seltzer right now for this crazy heartburn, but I can’t. Tums and Rolaids taste gross, but they work fast on heartburn and stomach upset, and will be a boon to you throughout your pregnancy. These are again fully approved by the docs, and if you look at the ingredients, they’re just calcium citrate (a highly digestible form of calcium). They’re actually recommended for women with a calcium deficiency, since they readily absorb so easily. They’re pretty much like a vitamin that soothes heartburn. Go to Costco and get a big old pack. (Tagamet, Zantac and the like are labeled OK by the docs as well.)

3. Doxylamine or Dipenhydramine for insomnia and morning sickness — These guys are found in your OTC sleep aids like Unisom or Tylenol PM. Again, labeled totes safe by many different sources. They are both antihistamines that help a lot of people sleep. I know that I have had some terrible nights without sleep, and recently I bought a bottle of dipenhydramine to get me through the bronchitis (since Nyquil is out). I just take a half of one and it soothes me to sleep. Before, I would have used the natural supplement Melatonin (which docs do NOT recommend during pregnancy). Now, this works okay. I don’t take more than one or so a week, and as I said, I split them in half. They make some people a little groggy, so start off with a quarter of a pill if you start having some severe preggo related insomnia. Crazy enough, these guys also work for morning sickness. Doctors recommend taking a half of a pill at night, and many women can attest that this helped their stomachs remain calm in the next day. Pretty cool, huh?

4. Prenatal vitamins for vitamin goodness — You gotta have prenatals! It used to be that doctors prescribed them to their patient, but my doc says the OTC kind are cheaper, and just as good these days. Most insurance won’t cover the prescription kind anymore, so going with the Vitamin Store kind is probably just fine. I checked out a bunch of different varieties, most of which you have to take three or four times a day. Ugh. I can tell you right now I’d never remember to do that. So I picked the Prenatal One Rainbow Light brand. They are all organic, include herbal supplements that calm the stomach and promote milk coming in, and you only have to take one a day! They contain all the same things that the other vites have, and they are exceptionally easy on the stomach. Get ’em on Amazon for a great price here! Take them through pregnancy and breastfeeding, and you’ll be all vitamined up. DON’T substitute a regular vitamin even if they are less expensive — they have too much vitamin A and can harm your baby!

5. Prenatal DHA supplement for fetal brain development and prevention of postpartum depression — I got a few samples of DHA supplements from my first doctor, along with some prenatal vitamin samples. I was all like, hey, I didn’t know I needed these. I then did some research and asking questions about DHA during pregnancy. DHA promotes brain and nervous system development in babies, and helps the mom’s brain and nervous system (as well as her circulatory system and cholesterol!). Nordic Naturals is definitely the best brand for fish oil — before, during, or after pregnancy. This particular DHA supplement by Nordic Naturals is formulated for pregnant women in that it has the highest level of DHA, no heavy metals, and extra vitamin D. (The fish they use is krill, which will have no mercury in ’em since fish with mercury are predatory fish, and krill are just … dinner for whales.) If you are a vegetarian or vegan, check out the Enfamil Expecta DHA supplement. These also have the added benefit of not giving any fish burps (the Nordic Naturals have only given me a few here and there — much better than the regular Costco brand of fish oil.)

6. Pregnancy tea for uterine toning and healthy pregnancy support — I totally recommend Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Tea. It’s really yummy, calms and soothes the upset stomach, and claims to tone the uterus and prepare it for childbirth. Mostly, it’s soothing. It might not do all that it claims, but it certainly tastes good, and it can’t hurt. A great substitute for coffee drinkers!

7. Morning sickness tea for nausea, heartburn and general ick — Peppermint tea will work, and lemon ginger tea works too. But Morning Wellness Tea is the best stuff I tried. Instantly soothing to the sick stomach. It got me through many days at work, and many nights of nausea after dinner. Can’t be beat.

Start building that medicine cabinet when you first realize you’re knocked up! It will help you so much to have meds, vitamins, supplements and teas to support you through this delicate time …

On a side note, if you are trying to get pregnant, it’s great to start taking your prenatals and your DHA so that you can start nourishing your baby before you know you are pregnant.

 

And all this stuff I gotta spend money on … June 8, 2010

Filed under: pregnancy,Products,Reviews — hokoonchi @ 7:46 pm

I was talking to one of my students today. His daughter is due to arrive in July. When he talked about her, his face lit up. As it happened, I was going over his resume with him, which revealed that he had worked at Buy Buy Baby. He made a comment about going back in to look at strollers and being on the other side of the buying activity. We both agreed that this would be an expensive venture.

As we approach our due date arena (sometime between September 1st and 30th is what I sagely predict), we’ve begun to start getting things for the baby. And not just things … we’ve enrolled in classes, purchased books, and hired a doula. There are tons of people who don’t do these things and get by fine. Recently, I’ve felt a lot like a consumer, and less like the natural mama I purport to be in the title of the blog. Let’s face it though, you gotta buy some things for that little bambino. Gone are the days where we place a newborn in a dresser drawer at the foot of the bed and simply hope for the best. Even the most frugal of us end up buying some stuff. So what’s worth it? What’s not?

I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m going to list the major things we’ve spent money on, and some tips for figuring out what you need or what you’ll really be glad you got.

1. A doula: I’m actually sitting here waiting for my first prenatal appointment with my chosen doula. Doula is a loose translation of “woman’s servant” from Greek, and that’s basically what she is. You hire a doula to help you and your partner out during labor to get through the bad parts, explain the confusing parts, and tell your poor significant other what to do to help you out. From others’ recommendations: My colleague says she had considered getting one but ended up deciding that she is such an independent person that she wanted to just birth with her husband and midwife. She doesn’t regret her decision. On the other hand, my husband’s friend and his wife hired a doula, who they claim was excellent and helped them make some very important decisions. Better get one if: you’re a first time mom who likes to get all of her info straight, doesn’t mind the company, and wants to go the natural birth way. How you gotta do your research: Interview at least two doulas. Find a few by looking on dona.org or tolabor.com (the two ways to be certified as a doula). Figure out what you want in a doula, and definitely listen to your gut during your interviews! A personality match can’t be beat! It’ll set you back: $300-$1000. Some flexible spending accounts let you put a doula on there … but most probably won’t. Check it out! Worth it? We think it will be. ETA: My doula is awesome!

2. A Crib: OMG, I guess you need a crib! Recommendations say: Buy a new crib! So many of them get recalled. Lots of folks at work have told me to spend at least $500 on a good crib. I’ll tell ya, though, I wouldn’t have splurged for that if I didn’t have a kind benefactor paying for it. How you gotta do your research: You HAVE TO get Baby Bargains, the only shopping guide that is awesome. They review like, every crib EVER, and give each one a grade from A to F. And they aren’t biased towards the more expensive side. They rate Ikea as an A for their Gulliver crib at $160, and they rate Westwood (our choice) as an A for their $500 cribs. Then, go to stores with your book in hand. Check out different types of cribs. Look at the finishes to see if they have been scratched in the store. Check them out for looks and sturdiness. Compare and contrast with what you find online. Buy it where? I would strongly recommend Buy Buy Baby if you have one close by. They have a tremendous selection compared to Babies R Us, and their cribs are generally higher quality. That is if you are going the full priced route. I would then recommend Ikea for price and quality. Finally, I would recommend Craigslist. That’s right. Do some research on your brands. Pick out a few good ones: Creations, Westwood, Babi Italia, Pali, Romina, Stokke or Oeuf would all be strong recommendations. Then do a search in the kids and baby specifically for those brands. You’ll be amazed at what you find. Always pick brands that have very few or no recalls, and make sure you purchase a crib no more than five years old. That way, you can pretty much guarantee safety. My friend says she got a Babi Italia (normally $450-$600 in stores) for $150 on Craigslist. I also recently saw a Pali dresser and crib set for $600 combined (the set would have originally been $1200-$1500). No harm in looking … I say go for it. But where DON’T I buy? Don’t buy online! Crib purchases will generally run you $200-$300 in shipping on top of the price of the crib. Places with free shipping do exist: Amazon, CSNBaby, and cribs.com have free shipping if you do end up needing to order online. It’ll set you back … anywhere from $30 on Craigslist to $2000 for super specialty cribs. I would recommend sticking to a firm price range. Don’t get wooed by super fancy cribs … and go for something sturdy that will last. I opted for a convertible crib because it’ll serve as a toddler or full bed, and so it seems worth the price …

3. Birthing Class: My natural friendly doctor actually requires that I take some kind of birthing class. Birthing classes come in all different shapes and sizes, with focuses ranging from practical concerns like infant care and breastfeeding to those with a more new age vibe of hypnosis, meditation, and managing unhealthy emotions. Do I need one? Maybe. Maybe not. I know plenty of people who have birthed totally successfully and naturally without a childbirth class. Eric and I opted to take one since we are first time parents, have never had any experience with observing a birth or going through the process, and really enjoy learning and doing research on our major life events. (Whose honeymoon was the best? Ours. I can still tell you all of the best restaurants and B&Bs with wifi on the Big Island.) How do I choose? Look at your options. You have Bradley, Birthworks, Birthing from Within, Lamaze, Hypnobirthing and the generic childbirth class at your local hospital. Ask around. Ask a doula or two, your coworkers, friends and relatives. My coworker recommended Bradley for its exhaustive information (it is TWELVE weeks so be wary if you don’t like long classes), and another friend recommended the one day course at the hospital for its brevity! One doula I interviewed is way into Birthing from Within because of its emotional explorations, and the doula I picked highly recommends Birthworks for its laid back attitude. Specifically, get recommendations for the best TEACHERS. As a teacher, I know for sure that a teacher makes the class — it doesn’t matter the content. It’ll set you back … $60 for an infant care skills class at the hospital, $180 for a childbirth class at the hospital, $300 for Hynobirthing, $375 for Bradley. And those are just the ones I looked up for my own benefit! We chose … Bradley. We’re still in the beginning of the class, and we are learning some good info. I do have to say Bradley is very “by the book.” By the Bradley book that is. I am NOT a by the book person, so that can be a bit frustrating. There is a ton of fabulous info though, and you get to meet other couples. It’s an intimate setting, and you get to watch videos and have snacks. Worth it? We’ll see. I’ll let you know if it all works out …

4. Strollers and baby carriers: As you may have already read in my stroller post, Eric and I were leaning towards the Chicco Cortina Travel System and the Moby Wrap, Baby Bjorn, and Ergo Baby Carrier. Per my research, I’ve also learned that these items come in different flavors. We’re still set on the travel system (a gift from my mom, thankfully), and we think it’s a good decision. But how do I do my research? First and foremost, pay attention to what’s going on around you. There are strollers everywhere. Go to the mall, the park, the zoo, the farmer’s market. Pay attention to the most popular brands you see popping up. Look at the size, shape and sturdiness of the strollers. Look at the comfort of those wearing baby carriers. Make a mental note (or keep a notepad) to recall what you like. Do you want a lightweight portable stroller, or one that attaches easily to your carseat? Do you care if it’s expensive and top-of-the-line, or would you rather have something that doesn’t break the bank? Again, look in Baby Bargains. It won’t steer you wrong! Some of the most popular stroller brands you’ll see are: Graco, Chicco, and Maclaren. But there are tons of others! Before you start looking, figure out what you want. See if you can score the exact model you like on Craigslist or Ebay … those big ole stores will rip you off! Some of the more popular baby carriers include: The Moby Wrap and the Maya Wrap in slings, and the Baby Bjorn and Ergo Baby Carrier in packs. I recently purchased the Maya Wrap for $30 on Ebay (usually $60 on Amazon) and the Baby Bjorn for $16 on Ebay (usually $60+ on Amazon). They arrived clean, intact, and ready to use. Perfect way to save money on these items! I’m still trolling around for an Ergo or Beco Baby Carrier, but I feel like we’ve got enough carrying devices to get us started. Worth it? Probably. You’ll definitely use one or the other, but my recommendation is: get em’ used.

These are the main purchases we’ve been contemplating (and making) quite recently. I do have a few other money saving suggestions to round it all out …..

For baby clothes, check out Craigslist, Ebay, or ThredUp.

For the nursery, buy individual sheets, make your crib skirt yourself, and screw the bumper. (You won’t need one for a long while, and they apparently can cause SIDS. Yikes.) For a rug, try Craigslist. (Or splurge on something super cute like we did!)

For parenting and pregnancy books, get them used from Amazon or from a used bookstore. Or the library! Often your doula, midwife, childbirth class teacher, or mom friends will have a bunch of books ready for you to borrow as well. Hit them up!

Convert a bookbag or satchel that you already own into a diaper bag. Or try your hand at making one yourself!

Don’t buy the whole dresser/changing table/crib set at the mega super stores. Get a separate, cheaper dresser, use one you already have, or find a baby dresser on Craigslist. From what I hear, you don’t really need a changing table if you don’t have room for one or can’t find one. After all, changing tables are a modern invention, guys. You can change a baby just about anywhere. Put a towel on the guest bed … and … voila! Changing table.

Ask around your workplace about gliders. I had two colleagues who were ready to get rid of theirs, and I scored one that matches my nursery! Also check Craigslist, thrift shops, and flea markets. You don’t have to have a glider to be happy. An older rocking chair or even something that doesn’t rock or glide will do fine.

I’ve got lots more tips swirling around in my head … but really, that’s all for now. I hope this helps you pick out some swank, cheap stuff and get some high quality education and support!

 

Amy Butler’s Nappy Bag: The Perfect Baby Shower Gift April 21, 2010

Nappy Bag

The handmade nappy bag, made by these hands ...

Amy Butler’s Nappy Bag Pattern is the only thing I’ve ever sewn for real. Don’t get me wrong — I use my sewing machine a lot. I’ve made a pretty simple one-layer-of-fabric gym bag that recently fell apart, a couple of janky diaper pads, a burp cloth, and I’ve quilted my way through part of a handbag that I never finished making. (But the fabric I picked out is totally fly, so I might finish it sometime soon.) I’ve also sewn a whole bunch of hems on my jeans — some better than others.

In short, I’m no seamstress. I have a one hundred dollar sewing machine, ordered on a whim from Amazon (it’s the older version of this Brother model). In only three years, the needle has bent twice, and the threader no longer functions at all. Still, it’s a sweet-ass beast, and powers its way through all of the layers in this totally amazing purse.

With my admittedly limited experience, I’ve made this baby three times. Three different beautiful ladies have this delightful creation, made by the very hands that type this post. I know for sure that my sister-in-law uses hers all the time, slung perfectly over the handles of her stroller, filled with diapers and toys for her two bambinos. So, it’s fab, functional, and won’t fall apart. And it’s super easy to make!

The annoying thing is that you have to cut out all of those pieces: two from the outside fabric, six from the different inside fabrics, two from interfacing for the interior, and a couple more pieces of canvas that act as a stabilizer for the whole thing. You have to be exact with the cutting. This would make sense to most people, but I’m not a person who does anything in a straight line naturally. Unfortunately, cutting pieces for a sewing pattern doesn’t leave room for my natural creativity … After making my first bag, I have improved in my cutting and lining up. It shows in the bag quality.

The only unusual thing you have to learn to do is sewing in a curve. For experienced tailors, this is no big deal, but it proved daunting the first time I did it. I would suggest practicing on scrap, and don’t over think what you’re sewing. After a while, it just comes naturally. I finally figured out that you sew a curve just as if you are sewing a straight line. The only difference is moving the fabric around to follow its curve.

iphone bocket

Showing my creative side ... with an iphone pocket.

Even though sewing at my beginner’s level doesn’t allow for a tremendous amount of creativity, I have inserted an iphone/ipod pocket into the bags I’ve created. The original pattern calls for a silly, tiny cell phone pocket on the exterior. It appears to be designed for the tiny cells of the early 2000s, rather than the Smart Phones of today. In order to put this beauty in, I deleted one of the bottle pockets that the pattern calls for. Since the bottle pockets take up a bunch of real estate, the iphone pocket frees up interior pocket space and generally rocks. (In order to make the lined pocket, I just cut out two 5’X7″ pieces of fabric and stitched them together, flipped them right side out, and put it on the interior lining. Easy! And cool.)

Very easy bag to make. It only takes about one dedicated day to do the whole thing, though you might want to spread it out over two or three if you burn out easily or need to walk away when frustrated. There are no buttons, zippers, clasps, or difficult linings. Despite this, the bag is shaped so that it stays closed at the top when walking around or slung over a stroller.

You can pair this thoughtful gift with a handmade diaper pad (included in the pattern), or you can fill it with goodies for the mom-to-be. Either way, you will be a huge hit at the baby shower, and people will tell you that you are talented, wonderful, and should start your own Etsy shop. If anything, it’s a great boost for the self esteem since this thing is so damn easy to make!

In my opinion, this is an awesome first “big project” to tackle, and it’s extremely rewarding. It has inspired me to want to do more, so I’ve recently purchased Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones and hope to post something else handmade in the not so distant future. Who knows … maybe I’ll even start my own Etsy store, as suggested. I will soon be making one of the more complicated bags in this volume for myself, and I hope the result will look just as professional.

If you have a sewing machine that’s just sitting there collecting dust, I recommend buying this pattern for thirteen bucks, getting some cheap fabric, and experimenting. You can keep it, give it away … either way, you won’t be disappointed! Fabulous.

(As an FYI, the exterior and interior polka dot fabric are by Amy Butler herself, and purchased from EBay, and the interior starburst fabric is Stone Hill fabric, and was purchased from Jo Ann Fabric.)