How a Japanese concept is helping me become a better mother and human.Read More
The holidays can be full of joy: making memories with loved ones, first meetings between baby and family members, and the joy in being surrounded by family. Oftentimes those joyful moments can be overshadowed by the stress of travel, planning, parties, and family.Read More
As adults and especially as parents, we are expected to teach our children to walk, to talk, math, and more. Sometimes we get so busy teaching them that we forget that they can teach us things as well. Here are six life lessons I've learned from my children.
It's okay to say "no"
This seems to be my toddler's favorite word and we hear it several (hundred) times a day. Hearing him say no reminds me that I can say it, too. I struggle with saying it because I hate to turn down opportunities, but I tend to burn out if I don't use some restraint in taking on new tasks.
I touched on this a little bit in a recent post. My sons have no issues when they get dressed in the morning. They don't worry about things like whether those shorts make them look stumpy or whether their arms look more like chicken wings in this shirt. Instead, they talk about how strong they are and how big their muscles are. I am truly in awe of the way they hurtle through life without an ounce of insecurity or self-consciousness.
Have a big and forgiving heart
I am far from the perfect mother. I raise my voice more than I would like and am not as patient as I could be. These beautiful little souls I am responsible for do not care. Their hearts are as big as their imagination and they forgive quickly. A hug and an apology for yelling leads my 5 year old to say, "it's okay Mommy, I forgive you." Six little words that humble me each time I hear them.
Use your imagination often
Whether it's a box that has turned into a rocket ship, my boys remind me to use my imagination. In a world of bills, deadlines, and chores, it's nice to make believe I'm a pirate or a chef or a world class athlete.
Use your body often
As a boy mom, I need to get used to high energy kids. We go for walks nearly every day, play outside for as long as the weather allows, and move our bodies a lot - at least it seems like a lot to me! My kids remind me to get out and get active regularly. On extra hot or rainy days, we have dance parties in the living room. i'm a firm believer in the power of dance parties. Now if only there was some way to bottle their energy and sell it...
Watching my children learn things for the first time has been one of my favorite parts of motherhood. From questions on how plants grow to how a carwash works to the electoral college (seriously), my oldest is constantly asking questions. Their ability to be fascinated by things I take for granted is a wonderful reminder to always be curious.
Have your children taught you any lessons about life? Share in the comments below!
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Congratulations on that sweet baby BOY! Looks like our gut instinct was right the whole pregnancy. I know he came early, but he's perfect. Sniff his head, count his fingers, kiss his tiny baby feet. Marvel at how much he looks like his daddy. Put him to your breast constantly. Are you ready for your world to be turned upside down? To balance out the craziness, you will love him more fiercely than you ever imagined possible. Get ready to cry over how much you love this tiny 6 pound 3 ounce being.
Going back to work is going to suck. I'm sorry, there's no other way for me to put it. You will cry over how much you miss the baby. You will worry about missing his firsts, that he'll love the babysitter more than you, that he's missing you. Your time together will be so precious. His whole face will light up when he sees you. You are his mama, his whole world. He will not forget that.
You'll go through a period where you're irritable and paranoid about leaving the house. You'll talk yourself out of every social event you're invited to and lash out when questioned. Your husband will urge you to call a therapist. Do it. It will help. These feelings will come up again after your next child is born, but they will seem overwhelming because they're compounded with other major changes. You're not alone. It will be okay.
Remember that the children's hearts are big and very forgiving. For right now, there's nothing that a big hug and some ice cream won't fix. Have a dance party every night if you can. Realize that you will not be your old self ever again. You'll have to figure out who you are now that you are a mother. You will be a newer and better version of yourself.
Motherhood is hard, but worth it. So worth it. Just give it time. You're a great mom.
After seeing a few pregnant mamas looking overwhelmed at the options, I thought I'd put together a list of what I consider breastfeeding essentials for a baby registry. Please note that the list does not call out any specific brand names, only item categories.
- A pump? A very common misconception is that all breastfeeding mothers need breast pumps. If you won't be away from your baby for extended periods of time, you may want to consider not getting a pump at all. Go down to number 4 on this list.
If you'll be heading back to work, contact your insurance company or local WIC office if you have Medicaid. Since most US insurance plans are now required to provide moms with a new breast pump or cover the cost of pump rental, you may want to pass on adding a double electric pump to your registry. Instead, consider adding a manual pump to use as back up.
- Pump parts and storage bags. If you'll be receiving a pump from insurance, consider adding spare parts to your list. If you're going to be pumping on a regular basis (like at work), you can expect membranes and valves to wear out. In fact, many pump manufacturers recommend replacing parts every few months. Save yourself some stress and some money by adding these to your registry. Don't forget breastmilk storage bags!
- Bottles and their accessories. If you plan on using bottles, realize that your baby may not like the particular brand you get. Some babies are very selective when it comes to bottles. A sterilizer, drying rack, and bottle brush will make it very easy for your partner to clean the bottles ;-)
- Nursing pads, soothing pads, and balms. I've found reusable nursing pads to be much softer than disposables. I'd recommend adding several sets to your registry, as they can get misplaced. Soothing balms helped me immensely during the first several weeks of breastfeeding. I also recommend adding heating and cooling soothing pads. They feel wonderful when your breasts are engorged.
- The cover. The age old (breastfeeding in public) question: to cover or not to cover? The only answer to that is to do what you're comfortable with. I started breastfeeding in public using a cover. Juggling a hungry and floppy newborn and my gigantic breast were difficult enough without worrying about accidentally flashing the place. Once baby was older and we had our latch down, I was able to ditch the cover and nurse by layering my shirts. I used a nursing cover like a kid uses training wheels on a bike. Anyway, if you'd feel more comfortable with a cover (whether it's just for the first few months or forever), add it to your registry.
- Breastfeeding pillow and stool. A nursing pillow was key for me during the early months of breastfeeding. It helped me bring baby to breast and the nursing stool helped make sure I wasn't leaning forward in an uncomfortable way.
- Breastfeeding underthings. I lived in camisoles for the first several weeks. They provided support, coverage, and I would throw a t-shirt on top of them when going out. I had easy breast access and they were very comfortable.
Consider adding a sleep bra to your registry rather than a traditional nursing bra. A nursing mother's bra size can fluctuate quite a bit initially. Sleep bras are typically sized S, M, L, XL, and are very stretchy.
If you plan on returning to work, add a hands free pumping bra. Many moms cut small holes into an inexpensive sports bra, but who wants to disrobe from the waist up when you're pumping at work?
Breastfeeding in public. Everyone has an opinion on this and very few opinions are helpful. Most are downright rude. I don't ask permission to nurse in public, but I wasn't always so open.
I firmly believe that every woman should nurse in public where she is comfortable and however she prefers. It can be a private room with a cover or right where she is without a cover, or anything in between. Sometimes (but not always) new moms need the quiet of a private room so they can take their time. There's much less fumbling when a mom gets more practice.
I don't ask permission to nurse in public or in private. However, I have thrown out a "hey, I'm going to nurse E right here" depending on who is around. It makes some people uncomfortable and they should have the opportunity to leave the room if they want. Yes, that's right. They can leave the room. I stay.
Our first few times NIP were really awkward. I was fumbling with a cover, a hungry newborn's tiny mouth, and my gigantic (and usually leaking) breast. I finally found a cover that allowed me to look down without using my hands, which freed up my hands to maneuver my hungry baby's mouth on my nipple.
E is now 19 months old and eats solids almost all the time. We rarely nurse in public anymore. When he was little, I would nurse whenever and wherever he was hungry. It wasn't about making a statement or anything like that. I was fulfilling my child's most basic need: he was hungry and I was the food.
If you're anxious about nursing in public for the first time, here are a few tips:
Practice. Get comfortable with the nursing cover or blanket and the bras or tops you wear before you go out for the first time. The first time I NIP uncovered, I was having a hard time pulling my brand new nursing top down to where I needed it. I wish I had nursed in it before doing it out of the house. It'll make the first time go a lot smoother.
Do a trial run at a "safe" place. Find a moms breastfeeding group or a La Leche Group meeting and nurse your baby there. You'll be surrounded by other nursing and pro-breastfeeding women. It will boost your confidence with nursing in public and breastfeeding as well. No one will bat an eye if they see your nipple. Heck, they may even have some great advice to give you.
Know what the law says. Breastfeeding is protected in most of the US. Many states say that a mother can breastfeed anywhere she is legally allowed to be. Several states even have laws that say public breastfeeding is exempt from public indecency! Despite the laws, there have been several incidents of nursing moms being told to stop nursing in the past year. Chances are that no one will bully or ridicule you, but you never know. All you need is one sales clerk on a power trip. It couldn't hurt to print out the laws and slip them into your purse or diaper bags. Get your state's law at BreastfeedingLaw.com or the National Conference of State Legislature's site.
Would you ask permission to nurse in public?
Breastfeeding tips. Everyone has them. While most are helpful and come in handy, there are some that are just so out there, you have to wonder why the person giving the advice feels like it would be helpful! That being said, here are my top 3 breastfeeding tips:
- Learn to nurse while laying down. The side lying position saved my breastfeeding relationship. Three weeks into it, I had had enough. I wanted out so badly because I was so tired. Thankfully, an excellent lactation consultant made a home visit and showed me how to do this position. I had been incorrectly informed that a baby needed to have head control prior to nursing this way. Head control was not needed, but I did use a couple of rolled up receiving blankets to make sure everything was good.
This also helped immensely when I had to go back to work after 12 weeks. I could not imagine nursing as frequently as E did overnight and having to go to work the next day if I had to sit up and nurse. Holy crap did this work. I could nurse in the middle of the night without having to sit up! This was a game changer for me.
- Co-sleep. Please realize that co-sleeping does not equal bed sharing. Co-sleeping is sleeping near your baby, whether it's in the same bed, in a sidecar bassinet, or (as it was in our case) a pack and play next to the bed. Not only does it reduce the risk of SIDS, but it facilitates breastfeeding. Rather than having to stumble through the dark through the house to get the baby, I would stand and grab the baby out and bring to bed to nurse... in the side lying position!
And as far as the "ZOMG! How are you going to have sex with a baby in the same room!??!!" question that's reared its head since the Time magazine cover, don't most houses and apartments have more than 1 room? Even if you live in a studio, you can go to a corner of the room, throw a blanket on the floor, and have some fun. Step outside the bedroom. Heck, maybe even go outside!
- It's okay to ask for help and/or support. Really. I am stubborn. I didn't want to ask for help. Thankfully, my darling husband knew I was struggling and made some calls even though I told him not to. Thank goodness he did! Despite breastfeeding being natural, it doesn't always come naturally. When it doesn't, speak up. Whether it's through an online forum, a support group, or by contacting a lactation consultant, just do it. Support is key.
The my CLEC class professor has repeatedly said that women today have been raised in captivity. Many have never seen or experienced a natural birth, nor have they seen breastfeeding. It's up to those of us who have been there to guide them. I couldn't agree more!
What are your top three breastfeeding tips?
After E was born, my milk took a while to come in. Once it came in I was dealing with supply issues. Thankfully my mom was staying with us and made me an Indian recipe often made for new moms that featured my second favorite galactagogue: fenugreek.
Fenugreek, or methi as it's known in the South Asian culture, seeds are used as a spice in cooking. Its leaves are also eaten and can taste bitter. Most moms (myself included) are told to eat fenugreek in capsule form to help increase their milk supply. The capsule form contains crushed seeds.
The dish my mom made for me is called kheer. It is a porridge that uses fenugreek seeds, jaggery (I imagine brown or white sugar can be substituted in its place), and rice. Kheer is typically eaten cold and milk can be added if you desire a thinner consistency.
- 1/3 cup of rice (we typically use basmati rice)
- 1 Teaspoon of Fenugreek seeds
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup of jaggery (more if you want it sweeter)
- 1 cup milk
- Wash and soak rice together with fenugreek seeds overnight. The ratio of water to the rice/fenugreek seeds is 2:1 (for ever cup of rice, soak in two cups of water, etc.)
- The next day, boil the rice and fenugreek in the same water that it was soaked in. Add more water if necessary to keep the 2:1 ratio. It doesn't have to be exact, you can eyeball it.
- Add a pinch of salt.
- Let it cook until the rice is fully cooked and most of the water is absorbed.
- Smoosh the rice with a spoon as it is cooking. It does not have to be finely mashed, it should be coarsely mashed (if that makes sense).
- Once the rice and fenugreek seeds have cooked, add the jaggery until it melts and the mixture thickens up.
Be sure to stir the rice every 5-10 minutes.
- After the jaggery melts, bring the mixture up to a boil.
- Add the milk and let everything boil for two minutes.
- Cool it and keep it in the fridge.
- Add milk to thin it prior to eating if desired.
Kheer's done! You can see the fenugreek seeds in the mix.
If you Google "fenugreek kheer" or "methi kheer", you will find variations of this recipe. Some call for coconut milk and cardamom, others say you can use sugar in place of the jaggery. All are correct, but this is what my mom made me, her mom made her, and so on and so forth. I guess you could say it's my family's version of a chocolate chip cookie or pasta sauce.
A word of caution from my experience: ingesting too much fenugreek can give mom and baby an upset stomach. If you decide to add more fenugreek to the recipe, please be careful. The same holds true if you are taking fenugreek capsules and add methi kheer to your lactogenic diet. It's not fun. I found out the hard way.
In case you were wondering, a cold pint of Guinness is my favorite galactagogue. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day!
They are a great way save money on clothing, shoes, and toys for kids, and typically have a wide selection of options for less than retail price. Because of the abundance of items at consignment sales, they can overwhelm even the most seasoned shopper. Here are my 10 tips on how to shop a consignment sale.
Racks on racks on racks
- Shop without the crowds. It is worth it to check out the consignment sale's website ahead of time. You may find coupons or info about special pre-sales. Many consignment sales have special pre-sales for first time parents or grandparents and teachers. It pays to sign up for those if you qualify.
I read about a special pre-sale where you can pay $10 to shop early. No requirements have to be met, just pay 10 bucks to get in. Pros: fewer crowds, bigger selection. Cons: it's $10 to get in.
Another way to shop early is to volunteer for the sale. Give them a few hours and you often will get to be one of the first people to shop the sale. The downside is that you'll be giving up part of your weekend and probably during peak shopping hours. You will probably have to deal with grumpy customers.
Conversely, you can shop late. Many sales will have additional markdowns (often 50% off) on the last day of the sale. If selection isn't as big of a deal to you as price is, it may benefit you to shop during the final sale.
- Get there early. Even if you get there right as the doors open, you'll be standing in a line to get in. Everyone wants the best selection, so you might as well get there early. You may want to investigate the pre-sale option if lines don't appeal to you. Or just pay retail and avoid the sale altogether.
- Be comfortable. It sounds like a no brainer, but I have seen plenty of moms in cute shoes limp out of the sale. It is not a good time to break in a new pair of heels. Comfy shoes are a must since you'll be on your feet the whole time. Be sure to bring a handbag that won't get in the way. Since you'll be carrying your finds, a small cross body style often works best. Bring a reseaable container of water and granola bar if you're allowed. These sales get hot fast and you're often in there for a while. I've never seen a sale that sells food or water.
- BYOB. Bring your own bags. The reusable store totes work best. I prefer the large Ikea totes. You'll be schlepping your finds around so you might as well be prepared. Some sales will allow you to "rent" a large bag for $1 or two, but I prefer to bring my own since it's easier to carry to the car. Bringing your own booze in a flask would be fun too, but I don't recommend it unless you want a misdemeanor.
- Put on your game face. Consignment sales bring out the real bargain hunters. They go after what they want and it usually involves getting into your personal space. Make sure you stand your ground if someone is trying to nudge their way into the area you're looking at. You don't need to throw an elbow; a firm "excuse me" usually makes them back off. Sometimes they don't even realize they're getting in your way. Conversely, try not to step on anyone or their stuff. If it happens, apologize and move on. I once stepped on a girl's beautiful red dress in a (shudder) communal dressing room at a warehouse sale. Thankfully I didn't leave a mark and she accepted my apology.
- Size matters. Have your kiddo's sizes and measurements with you. It's good to know in case you're looking at an item but aren't sure if it will fit. E is in one of those awkward between two sizes phases. If I see something for him for right now, I can make sure it'll fit. Most items at these sales are final sale and you don't want to be stuck with an item that won't fit. It helps to bring a measuring tape with you as well. If you're trying to convert your kid's measurements to a piece of clothing but forget the measuring tape, pull out a dollar bill. It's roughly 6 inches long.
- Stick to the list. This is the one I have the most trouble with. If you're on the hunt for shorts and tshirts for the summer, then keep going past the jeans. Focus on your agenda and then look at the extras. This will also help you stay on budget. Children's consignment sales can be overwhelming since there is so much stuff: clothes, shoes, books, toys, bikes, safety equipment, gear, and more. Even the most seasoned shopper can get frazzled at large consignment sales. If you take it one type of item at a time, it will help overcome the initial "whoa" reaction.
- Not everything is a good deal. Make sure the items you want to purchase are in good condition. Most sales penalize consigners for trying to sell poor quality items, but some things still get through. Check clothing, shoes, and toys for stains, tears, and wear. Don't buy things that are out of style. If you would never wear acid washed jeans, then why put Junior in them? There are usually item inspection tables set up along the perimeter of the sale. Dump your goods out on one of the tables and make your decisions.
Another thing to watch for are clothes that are marked up more than their original value. At the last consignment sale I went to, I came across a little boys Gymboree shirt that still had its original store tags. Someone bought it on clearance for $4 and was trying to sell it for $7. That one went back on the rack after I had a good laugh. Some people are really proud of their shit.
Consignment sales are a really good time to purchase high end brands you normally wouldn't spend money on. Pass on brands that are carried at the big box stores (Target, Walmart, Old Navy), and look for more prestigious names like Ralph Lauren Baby, Lacoste, and Ella Moss. Snag any Burberry or Little Marc Jacobs if you see it!
- Bring a friend. It helps to have another set of hands and eyes to scour through the racks at consignment sales. Your friend should also tell you honestly if what you're holding is worth the money. You will need to do the same for them.
If you and your buddy are looking for two different types of items (clothing and toys, for example), it may be best to split up once you get inside and meet up before you hit the registers. This way you can both get what you came for, but get the valued opinion you need. It's also fun to make an afternoon of it, maybe have lunch after the sale and laugh at some of the stuff you came across.
- Cash, check, or credit. Check on the sale's website on which payment methods they accept. Some places only accept cash or check, while others take credit cards only. If you don't check, bring a backup method with you. Nothing is worse than scoring some great deals while staying under budget only to find out that you can't give them your money.
Edit: I have seen numerous consignment sales in my area offering used breast pumps for significantly less than a new one. Please please read this article about used breast pumps before you purchase one. Many insurance companies are paying for moms to get a brand new breast pump with each pregnancy. Please contact your insurance provider for plan coverage specifics. Think twice before saying yes to a used pump!
The first time I left E was right before New Years. D had bought me the amazing Christmas gift of a massage, which was much appreciated. E was left in the care of D and my mother. I had no doubt that he would be fine for the 60ish minutes I would be gone. I think I even relaxed a little bit.
Going back to work was another story. I remember that morning vividly, because I cried a lot. My maternity leave had ended and I was back to work on a Monday (ladies, if you can start work in the middle of the week, do it. Those first 5 days back were brutal). We were lucky enough to have E stay with a friend of mine, who was a SAHM with a two year old daughter. She and her husband had been thinking of expanding their family and watching E would be a perfect way to remind themselves of life with a baby. They lived a few minutes from my job. It was perfect.
E fell asleep in the car on the drive over and I had to make numerous trips to and from the car to bring over all of his stuff: diapers, blankets, change of clothes, a few toys, bottles, the works. I dropped him off, kissed his tiny face, breathed in one last breath of his special baby smell, and left for work. I cried pretty hard before I pulled out of the parking spot.
Luckily, the first day back at work consisted of wading through 12 weeks of email and a steady stream of visitors stopping by to say hello. E decided to make his appearance 3.5 weeks early, so I never really got to tie up loose ends at work or say goodbye. All I could think about the whole day was E. That was only natural, I was constantly talking about him and showing pictures and videos of him on my phone. I was so happy to leave work and pick him up.
My first days back at work have helped me come up with a few tips that may help new moms about to rejoin the working world after a maternity leave.
- Bring lots of pictures. It helped that people kept asking about him in the weeks after my return to work, so I was constantly emailing myself at work with pictures. Makes for a great screensaver too. You may even ask your care provider to send you pictures of your baby during the day if they are able to. It helps make the day go by a bit faster if you can see your sweet one in "real time".
- Drop baby's things off ahead of time if possible. I made multiple trips to and from the car bringing all of E's things. If your baby is staying in a home setting (daycare or otherwise), see about dropping some of their things off early. Hauling a case of diapers up a flight of stairs in heels isn't fun.
- Make sure your care provider is familiar with breastmilk handling. My friend wasn't familiar with how to handle breastmilk so I emailed her some information ahead of time. I also provided her with a magnet going over frozen, refrigerated, and fresh breastmilk. I got the magnet at a local hospital's breastfeeding resource center, but Kellymom.com has a great quick reference card that can be printed.
- Build up a stash. I started pumping to build a stash a few weeks before heading back to work. I pumped once or twice a day, usually first thing in the morning and/or last thing at night. I would make sure D would be home to watch the baby. Don't be disappointed if you only get a few ounces. Anything in the freezer is good, you never know when that extra ounce will come in handy.
- Go over any specific feeding instructions. My biggest fear with E taking a bottle on a regular basis was that he would get lazy. Since the milk flows easier from a bottle than the breast, I was afraid that he would get frustrated when drinking from the tap and I'd have to pump full time.
Thankfully, my good friend A shared a great article from Nurtured Child on bottle feeding a breastfed baby and I passed it on to my friend/sitter. A had also sent me a PDF of ways for a bottle to be held so baby would have to work at getting the milk, like they would on the breast. Of course this didn't mimic it perfectly, nor did it account for letdown, but it was very effective. I am thankful that E didn't have any nipple confusion while switching from breast to bottle and back again. I couldn't find the exact file that A sent me, but Best For Babes has an informative article with pictures.
- Provide extra milk if possible. I had started pumping to establish a supply a few weeks before starting back at work. I was able to give our provider about 20 ounces of frozen milk as backup. Since I worked close to where she lived, I also told her I could run freshly pumped stuff down to her if she ran out of frozen milk. I had also given her a can of formula we received as a freebie from somewhere as backup to the backup's backup. I was that prepared. We never went into the formula, but the frozen stash was definitely used.
- Enjoy every minute you can while you're together. All those random afternoon naps where we'd fall asleep while watching "Ellen", wearing him around the house while I made lunch and folded laundry, propping him up on my legs while he moved his arms all over the place... man, I miss those times. Love on that baby just a little bit more :)
It gets easier. Leaving him in the morning isn't nearly as bad as it was those first few weeks. We've fallen into a rhythm that works for us. He waves bye as we leave and is thrilled to see us when we get home from work. Unfortunately, I never stop missing my baby. There are some days where I want to call in sick and stay home with him. Every now and again, I do. What's the fun in having sick time if you can't use it to be "sick"?
If you're heading back to work soon, check out my tips.
I don't really have any tips on surviving the family. I have, however, flown cross country with E three times in the 11 months since he was born. Kid needs a frequent flier card. Here are my tips for traveling while nursing.
Babies on a Plane... cuddlier than Snakes on a Plane
- Tips for traveling with a nursling:
- Stick to your routine. Even if baby isn't on a schedule, do what you would normally do. Nurse on demand as you would at home. If you happen to be in a car, then pull over if or when you can. With the craziness of traveling, it's easy to miss hunger cues from baby until it's too late.
- Bring along a "new" toy. A friend with a two year old daughter said that she brings her daughter a small new toy and gives it to her on the plane. It helps keep her distracted and happy throughout the flight. We have done something similar with E, except we have brought out a toy he hasn't seen in a while. It's like it's new to him. It kept him busy and distracted throughout the flight.
- Be prepared to improvise. E is a very distracted nurser when we're at home. On the road (or in the air), he's even worse. I no longer use a coverup when NIP because it turns into a huge game of peekaboo, except when we fly. It helps E ignore all the noise around him and focus on the task at hand. He's even fallen asleep under there. I keep one in my diaper bag at all times, even if rarely used.
- Window or Aisle? If you're flying and lucky enough to be in a row consisting of only two seats, take the window seat and have your partner sit in the aisle. You will not have as much leg room, but you will have more privacy. It's also a good excuse for your partner to be on diaper duty! If you're in a row of three seats, try and snag the window. This is a lot easier to do if you've been assigned middle and aisle. Give up your aisle for the window.
- Pack backup. If you pump, bring your pump and a few bottles along with you. You never know when you will need to give baby a bottle, especially on a long drive. When your relatives ask to feed the baby, you can hand him or her a bottle.
I own a Medela Pump In Style Advanced in a tote bag and rather than bring the whole tote bag, we remove the pump from the bag. The pump itself is about 5 inches by 5 inches. I pack it in my carry on along with the hoses and power supply. The horns, membranes, and bottles get checked. If I lose those, they're easy enough to replace. I do not want to lose my expensive pump!
- Dress to nurse. Make sure you're wearing layers. I like to wear nursing bra with a cami or Undercover Mama under a t-shirt. I also bring a sweatshirt or hoodie in case it gets cold. I make sure that I'm really comfortable and familiar with my outfit so that I can nurse at a moment's notice.
- Nurse at takeoff and touchdown. Yeah, it really works. It helps alleviate the pressure in baby's ears. If baby won't nurse, give them a pacifier or make sure they're sucking on something. Sometimes E falls asleep before takeoff and stops sucking on his paci. I pull on it a little bit to get him going again.
- Pre-board if possible. Some airlines call for families traveling with small children to board before the rest of the plane, others don't. I've found that if I ask a representative before boarding begins they will allow us to board a little early. Sometimes we board with Group 1. Most are nice and understanding, but be warned because some are real dicks about it.
- Wear your baby. As we've been traveling with E, we have noticed one thing: we don't ever seem to have enough hands. Between wheeling suitcases, carrying a diaper bag, remembering where we put the boarding passes, and handling the car seat, we don't have any extra hands to hold the baby. Thankfully, we put E in a baby carrier and act like sherpas. He's comfortable in our Boba carrier and takes in the sites while we hustle to the gate (since we're perpetually late) and then baggage claim. I've gotten a lot of questions and strange looks, but I've also gotten a lot of, "Hey! That's a great idea!"
Do you have any tips of your own? Be sure to leave them in a comment!