To Lose or Not To Lose – Baby Belly

October 23, 2012

While I was pregnant, I firmly believed that all my pregnancy weight would vanish when I started nursing and I would be able to put away my maternity clothes.  Within 3 or 4 months of giving birth, I was within 5 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight, but since my stomach muscles had stretched to accommodate my enormous uterus, I still look a few months pregnant now, almost 8 months after giving birth.   I’ll admit that I haven’t done a whole lot to tighten up my stomach muscles and I’ve continued eating whatever I want because I don’t want to negatively impact my milk production by dieting, but what I really want to know is whether I need to replace my wardrobe!

I am surprisingly okay with being a little rounder than before (surprising to myself – I’m not implying that it’s not okay for people to be rounder!), but a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit quite right anymore.  So, is it time to embrace my mom body, donate most of my clothes, and go on a shopping spree?  I haven’t decided yet, but two friends gave me something to think about that I want to share.  One told me that she embraces her belly because it was the home to two of her favorite people in the world and another one sent me this article, which made me cry empathetic, sing-it-sister tears.  While I would love to be skinny again without doing any crunches, I also love the idea that it’s healthy for us to accept our new bodies and say f* you to all the people who are silently (or not so silently) wondering when we are going to lose our pregnancy weight.


Not So Benign Sweet Tooth

August 7, 2012

Remember when I said I had developed a post-birth sweet tooth?  I thought it was no big deal and was indulging myself since I am burning massive amounts of calories nursing two babies, but a friend told me it might be a sign of a protein deficiency.  After reading this article and this one, I think she’s right!  I need to eat more protein and carbohydrate rich foods.  It’s really no surprise since I had little to no time to eat while I was on maternity leave.  Now that I’m back at work, ironically, I have time to eat, so I’ll have to be more careful about meal planning.

Information Sources: Pre-Pregnancy to Introducing Solids

July 30, 2012

Here’s a list of the resources I found most helpful from pre-pregnancy to introducing solids.  It’s broken down into the “waves” of reading I did/am doing.  I read lots of other books, but these are the ones that were key for me.  Also, some of them are good resources or skimable.  You don’t actually have to read them cover to cover with a highlighter in hand.

Do I actually want to be pregnant/give birth or will we adopt?

See this previous post.

I’m pregnant.  What is happening?

I found out I was having twins pretty early on, so I read the books below to learn about twin pregnancy, but if you didn’t do research ahead of time to make sure you wanted to be pregnant and give birth, see books referenced above.

Yikes.  We’re having twins!

  1. When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein– #1 tip, gain as much weight as possible as soon as you can and drink at least 100 oz of water a day.
  2. Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada – See below.

The following are non-essential, but quick, skimable reads with helpful tidbits:

  1. Twins!: Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Life by Connie Agnew, Alan Klein, Jill Alison Ganon
  2. Double Duty: The Parents’ Guide to Raising Twins, from Pregnancy Through the School Years by Christina Baglivi Tinglof
  3. It’s Twins: Parent to Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence by Susan M. Heim
  4. Twins 101: 50 Must-Have Tips for Pregnancy Through Early Childhood from Doctor M.O.M. by Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin
  5. Twin Sense: A Sanity-Saving Guide to Raising Twins — From Pregnancy Through the First Year by Dagmara Scalise

If nursing is natural and best for my baby, why is it so hard?

  1. The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins – This is a good resource when you’re nursing and are trying to problem solve or self diagnose
  2. Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada – I recommend every mom of multiples put a copy of this in her hospital bag just in case her babies are born early, she has a c-section, or experiences any complication that impacts milk production.  I didn’t have it and wish I had.

What about the other “fun” stuff?

  1. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth – You don’t actually need to read this book other than the two or three pages on which he describes how to do sleep training.  The graduated extinction method described here is what worked for us, but I think sleep training is an area where you have to pick the method, including no sleep training, that suits your family.
  2. Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods – and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett – We haven’t started feeding our babies solids yet, but we plan to use this method and I know a handful of parents who do this and love it.  The book is a quick read and handy resource.  Who knows if it will help my babies avoid the we-will-only-eat-french-fries stage, but for ease of introducing foods and maximum cuteness, it can’t be beat and makes a lot of sense.

I’m not a tiger mom, but I want my child to be a well adjusted genius.  What do I need to know?

  1. The Wonder Weeks: How to stimulate your baby’s mental development and help him turn his 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward by Hetty van de Rijt – An easy to read, very straightforward summary of what to expect during growth spurts.  You can skip all the quotes from other parents.
  2. Your Baby’s First Year by the American Academy of Pediatrics – Another very straightforward summary of what to expect during your baby’s first year.  My pediatrician recommended this and it’s been a useful resource.
  3. Gymboree – The Parent’s Guide to Play by Wendy S. Masi and Roni Cohen Leiderman (or any gymboree book)
  4. Rockabye Baby Lullaby CDs – These are so much more bearable than many lullaby CDs out there.

A note on moms’ groups

I attended a moms of multiples support group that I loved for three reasons: 1) it forced me to leave my house, which is not so easy with two babies, 2) I could get advice specific to twins, and 3) I met cool, new people I can imagine being friends with for a long time.  So, if joining a moms’ group will do these things for you, join one!  That said, I think if I just had one baby, I’d probably just hang out with my friends who have babies.

I also feel very fortunate that I have twins because my local moms of multiples club listserv is invaluable.  Since there are parents on the listserv who have twins of all different ages, you can better prepare for things that will arise in the future and also get advice from people who are months or years ahead of you.  So, for example, if you have questions about sleep training, you hear the details of how to do it from people who just did it recently and also hear from people who did it a couple years ago and can reflect on how it’s impacted their kids’ later sleep habits and what they wish they had known or done differently.  If you don’t have twins, I think online forums are a good option, but they feel more impersonal since you’re communicating with people you’ll never meet.

Happy reading!

Selected List of My Feel Good Pregnancy Milestones

November 16, 2011
  1. When a doctor told me my cervix was “awesome”.
  2. When I learned to recognize the gleam in strangers’ eyes when their hands are headed for my uterus.
  3. When I developed a preemptive slight turn to avoid strangers touching my uterus, while maintaining an innocent look “Oh sorry, did you randomly want to stroke my body part?  I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
  4. That my dog has not eaten a single baby toy even though they resemble her own toys.
  5. The one day that I ate 100 grams of protein.
  6. When someone gave me a pregnancy pillow that takes up 3/4 of our bed and my partner embraced it like a new family member.
  7. Every time I meet twin parents, especially ones that appear well-rested and cheerful.
  8. When I met a mom of triplets and was reminded that our budget spreadsheet could have a lot more red on it!
  9. Every time I get ultrasounds and see our crazy little boys having a dance party in my uterus.
  10. When I think about the crazy fun dance parties we’re going to have when our little boys are born.

Caffeine and Pregnancy

August 9, 2011

I think it’s pretty well accepted that you should cut caffeine out or drastically reduce it from your daily routine once you are pregnant, but I found it hard to determine how much is really allowed.

  • The American Pregnancy Association says [t]he less caffeine you consume, the better.” and “Avoiding caffeine as much as possible is your safest course of action.”  They do note that experts cite a maximum of 150mg – 300mg as the upper limit of what a pregnant woman should consume daily.
  • Kaiser Permanente says to limit yourself to 1 cup of coffee, which I found unsatisfyingly simplistic.

So, I think airing on the side of caution, a maximum of 150 mg/day is a safe bet.  I made this chart to help mommas-to-be figure out how much caffeine they are consuming every day.  The information comes from the Mayo Clinic unless otherwise noted.

Pregnancy/Birthing Book Reviews

January 18, 2011

My partner and I have been reading a lot of books lately about pregnancy and birthing, so I thought I’d give you a brief review for some of them.

What to Expect Before You’re Expecting

A good place to start, but overly simplified.  There is also a long section on infertility, which is odd given that the book’s target is ostensibly people who haven’t tried to get pregnant yet.  I haven’t read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but I have heard that lots of this book is cut and paste from that book.  This book was pretty obviously published to make more money, not to put out new information, but if you keep that in mind, it’s still a useful basic primer.

Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives

This book was great for me personally because I am a nerd and I liked the listings of findings from scientific studies, but the book was poorly organized and not particularly well written.  I also appreciated the seemingly unintentional irony that the author ends the book with a description of her scheduled c-section birth where she admittedly feels uninvolved. After writing an entire book about how the fetus’ experience during pregnancy influences the rest of its life and in light of reputable research about how c-sections may have adverse long term impacts on child development as well, it seems like an oversight not to mention this, but I guess this book was just about the 9 months of fetal development, not everything you can do to make sure your kid turns out okay.  Overall, I liked this book a lot, but I admittedly have a high tolerance for poorly written non-fiction books with interesting information

The Art of Conscious Parenting: The Natural Way to Give Birth, Bond With, and Raise Healthy Children

For the most part, I liked this book and think it has a lot of useful information.  The book does a good job of doing a literature review of work supporting pre-conception planning, natural childbirth, breastfeeding, etc.  It does not do a good job of presenting a balanced literature review, which is fine, but should be noted if you’re not 100% sure you want natural childbirth because the author’s goal is clearly to make you feel that you are a selfish parent who will cause irreparable harm to your child if you opt for anything less than a completely natural, drugfree birth.

That said, I found the author a little irritating and self-righteous.  There are eye-roll inducing passages where the author describes how wonderful and well adjusted his child is and attributes it to his and his wife’s amazing parenting skills.  He goes to great lengths to tout the benefits of natural childbirth, breastfeeding, etc, but in a throwaway sentence extols circumcision as a positive religious bonding event without even acknowledging the ongoing debate about circumcision as potentially traumatic genital mutilation.  I don’t have particularly strong personal feelings about whether or not to circumsize boys, but it struck me as hypocritical to not even mention that performing “surgery” on a newborn may run counter to many of the themes in the book.  There is also a not-so-subtle rah rah Jewish voice that pops up throughout the book, which seemed random.

Summary: This is a good book for anyone considering natural childbirth, but you need to be able to put it in the context of one author’s perspective who clearly thinks he and his wife are the most well/completely informed parents.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth

This book stressed me out, but in a productive way.  I know a lot about the pros and cons of hospital births and I’ve watched the Business of Being Born, etc, etc, but this book laid it all out very matter of factly, which was good and bad.  It is not meant to be a balanced book, which the author admits, but there are some questionable statistics and some moments of ranting as opposed to fact-based persuasion.  Even despite that, this book has very useful information to consider when making your birth plan, so I recommend this book even if just to feel empowered when you talk to you doctor about your options.

The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be

It goes month by month to give the expectant dad a very basic idea of what happens each month.  My partner liked it, but couldn’t think of anything particularly striking that he learned from the book.

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads

My partner is reading this now and he thinks it’s amusing and has learned some interesting things.  It’s snarky, but not offensively so and isn’t overly partronizing as books for dads can be.  I’ll post more when he’s done if there is anything to add.