What I Wish I Knew About Breastfeeding (Plus Must-Have Items!)

Ok, this is a blog post I’ve been wanting to share for a LONG time, and I think it’s a really important one. My breastfeeding journey wasn’t exactly easy, but I made it happen so I definitely want to share my experience in the hopes that it will help another struggling mom out there. More importantly, I hope that any pregnant mamas out there (hey, boo!) get a realistic idea of what to expect and can therefore plan accordingly! Preparation is key and will really help out when the baby is here and is in constant need of our care.

Before Hailey was born, I decided that I wanted to breastfeed her. After all, “breast is best” and it’s natural, so how hard can it be right? Holy cow, was I in for a world of hurt. Breastfeeding was sooo tough! It was another challenge added on top of already being in pain, sleep deprived, and overwhelmed. As my friend so aptly put it “I feel like my boobs are failing me”. In the end, I stuck it out and I’m glad I did. A lot has changed since that first week that Hailey nursed and it’s gotten easier. But, there’s a lot that I wish I knew about breastfeeding when I first started that would have helped me get through it much easier.

*please remember that I am not a medical professional. This is all just my advice and opinion. Think of it more like girlfriends chatting over a piece of chocolate cake than medical advice :)

I’ve also added very handy Amazon ads at the bottom that take you directly to the items mentioned in each section. Amazon Prime to the rescue! These are affiliate links and I receive a commission if you purchase one of these items.

My breastfeeding journey wasn’t exactly easy, but I made it happen so I definitely want to share my experience in the hopes that it will help another struggling mom out there. More importantly, I hope that any pregnant mamas out there get a realistic idea of what to expect and can therefore plan accordingly! Preparation is key and will really help out when the baby is here and is in constant need of our care. Click to see all my tips, plus the must-have items for a successful breastfeeding journey! #breastfeedingtips #powerpumping #breastfeedingsupply #breastfeeding

Don’t give up

If you’re in those first few days (or heck, even weeks!) of breastfeeding and you’re ready to give up, don’t! I know that by day 4, I was ready to throw in the towel. I was tired, in pain, and dreading feeding time. When she would cry, I wanted to cry too! I didn’t like feeling that way about my baby, and I thought about how much easier it would be to just give up now and switch to formula. It wasn’t what I had imagined doing, but at that moment it felt like maybe that was the best option. But, I knew I’d kick myself later if I gave up so early, so I stuck it out. I already felt like I took the “easy way out” with the epidural and I didn’t want to have regrets about giving up breastfeeding. I’m so glad I stuck it out, because I love feeding time now!

When it comes to breastfeeding during those tough first days, I think the important thing is to try as hard as you can. I know that day 4 with baby “try as hard as you can” is a fraction of what we can usually accomplish. Those are some of the most trying times, with the physical pain and the sleep deprivation. But, I think that it’s important to just think of it like “one more feeding”, “one more minute”, “one more boob”. I started to spiral when I thought about “she does this 10 times a day” or “I need to feed her again in an hour” or “how do women do this for months and years?”. All that matters is this feeding, right here and now. The pain will get better. I promise!

I’ve got my must-haves in this post that helped me to survive breastfeeding, but I think a big part of it is the mental hurdle. You are doing amazing, mama. Keep going. Remember why you wanted to do this and know that things WILL get better! I promise!

Pain (usually) = Bad Latch

I thought pain was just a part of breastfeeding, and at first it kind of is. But, I also learned that if you’re in a lot of pain, baby probably has a bad latch! I had heard the nurses mentioning a bad latch, but I don’t remember ANYONE saying to me, “If the baby doesn’t latch properly, they’re basically just chomping on your nipple and it’s going to hurt like a biotch later.” I heard bad latch and thought, eh well she’s still eating so I guess it’s working. No no no! A good latch means less pain for you and less effort (plus more milk!) for baby. A bad latch means you’re gonna hate feeding time, your life, and the world.

A good latch is when baby is on your WHOLE nipple, not just the tip. Their mouth is open wide and in a C-shape. The way a baby eats (and the way a breast pump works too) is that the baby makes a few quick, strong sucks to get the milk flowing, then does slower sucks to drink the milk. Although it may hurt when they first get on (the quick strong sucks), the pain goes away after a few seconds (With the slower sucks). If you have pain the entire time that your baby is drinking, you may have a bad latch or some other issue. In this case, it’s best to see a lactation consultant. Helpful tip: my pediatrician’s office had one! When we took Hailey to her first appointment, I told them that I was having trouble with feeding the baby and it was hurting. They had me feed the baby and showed me the best way to do it. Although they were (trying) to show me at the hospital, it was really hard to get advice on something I had never done while the baby was more interested in sleeping than eating. After about 4 days of breastfeeding, it was nice to have the lactation consultant come in and give feedback about what I was doing right and wrong about feeding the baby. Your baby could have a bad latch, or be tongue tied, or any various issues that could be causing trouble. So in this case, it’s great to see a professional about it sooner rather than later.

My breastfeeding journey wasn’t exactly easy, but I made it happen so I definitely want to share my experience in the hopes that it will help another struggling mom out there. More importantly, I hope that any pregnant mamas out there get a realistic idea of what to expect and can therefore plan accordingly! Preparation is key and will really help out when the baby is here and is in constant need of our care. Click to see all my tips, plus the must-have items for a successful breastfeeding journey! #breastfeedingtips #powerpumping #breastfeedingsupply #breastfeeding

Pain Relief For Nursing Moms

Ok, now that we talked about why you might have pain, let’s talk about what you can do about it. There’s a good chance you’re still on some sort of painkillers (like Motrin or Tylenol) since other parts of you are probably hurting, but here are some specific treatments for your nipple pain.

Nipple Cream

At the hospital, they’ll probably give you a nipple cream and tell you to use it as much as possible. This cream is great because you don’t need to wash it off before you feed the baby. I found myself slathering a whole bunch on, then wiping it off with a moist paper towel before I fed Hailey. I didn’t really want her to have a mouthful of ointment with her milk- especially when she was feeding around the clock. Also, they told me at the hospital that it’s best to give your nipples some air. They recommended putting the cream on and going topless to let it absorb, instead of putting a shirt right over it. This helps with some of that tenderness, since you don’t have your rough shirt rubbing up on your already sore nipples. Plus that ointment is oily and it will stain your shirts. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

A similar cream to the one you get at the hospital is Lansinoh Lanolin Cream. This ointment comes from an extract found in a lamb’s wool, and it’s then treated so that it’s clean. If this concerns you, I recommend going for an organic version. This is going right into baby’s mouth, so you don’t want anything you’re unsure about. The Lansinoh is probably fine, but do whatever you’re comfortable with! I liked having a few tubes of it all around the house, so that I could slather it on whenever and wherever I needed it.

Gel Pads

I don’t know why this is a hidden secret, but these gel pads are a LIFESAVER when you’re breastfeeding! Seriously, I think I am going to give these to every new mama at their baby shower from now on. The way they work is simple. You peel off the protective layer and wear the pads in your bra, directly on your nipples. The gel is cool and soothing, and protects your nipple from your rough clothing. Plus, it keeps the nipple moist so it doesn’t dry out and crack, bleed, etc. You can also put these in the fridge for extra relief. I found that even having them at room temperature made them feel refreshing after a feeding. Without these pads, I don’t think I would have been able to continue breastfeeding. I mean that. They helped with relief when I needed it most, and they were so easy to use. I went from dreading feedings to being ok with them!

These gel pads last 1-3 days, depending on the brand, and you just need to rinse off the gel before feeding the baby. I did so with either some warm water or a moist paper towel. I was home most of the time, so it wasn’t really a big deal to need a water source. I tried both the Medela brand and the Lansinoh brand and preferred the Lansinoh Soothies for a few reasons. You need to rinse the Medela brand before applying them again and wait 2 mins, which means you need to have it laying around on the side of your sink or table which is kinda gross. Plus the protective backing doesn’t have an obvious front/back so you’re not even sure it’s on the clean side. Since both sides of the gel pad are clear, after a few uses it’s hard to tell which side has the gel. The Lansinoh brand had a fabric backing, which made it really easy to see which side goes on your nipple and which side goes against your clothing. Plus, the backing was obvious with which side the gel goes against, which kept it very sanitary. And, it was more cost-effective, since they last for 3 days instead of only 1.

Nipple Shields

I tried a nipple shield when I was in pain and it didn’t work for me, but maybe it’ll work for you! I tried it before my milk came in, and Hailey was so tiny that I think she had trouble pulling the colostrum out with it on. However, these nipple shields are great for reducing pain or helping with inverted nipples. Plus, I’d think that if your baby preferred the bottle nipple, maybe they’d be able to breastfeed with this on since it’s a similar material.

A Good Attitude

I think this is just about as important as the gel pads, in my opinion! If you dread breastfeeding, it’s going to be a miserable experience. Yes, it hurts and you’re tired and sometimes the last thing you want when you’re exhausted is the baby munching away on the thing that’s already hurting. But if you go into it upset or angry, that’s going to affect the experience. So try to think positively when going into a feeding. Easier said than done, right?

At first, I made up a cheer for when it came time to feed Hailey. It hurt like a mother and I didn’t want to do it, at all. So I would say to her, “Are you ready for the boobie? You want the boobie?! It’s boobie time! BOOBIE BOOBIE BOOBIE!” I would say this every time to get myself excited. Then, when she would wake me up at night and I was cranky, I would say hi to her sweetly. This would remind me of how much I loved her, so I became excited to see her and snuggle her, instead of being cranky and tired from being woken up. And finally, almost losing my milk made me realize that although bottle feeding was easier, I enjoyed having her so close to me and watching her eat from her boobie. She always looked so happy and I loved her little sounds as she tried to latch on. She was like a little animal, and with a bottle she just grabbed the nipple and drank. It was special bonding time for us, and I love that.

Pacifier

This is a controversial thing, but I found that sometimes Hailey was really cranky because she wanted something to suck on. This helped to bridge the gap between feedings, or keep her calm in the car or supermarket when I couldn’t feed her right away. I use these Philips Avent Soothies pacifiers because they’re supposed to be sized and shaped to baby’s mouth. They say that when a baby uses a pacifier it can reduce their risk of SIDS too.

Increasing Breastmilk Production

One of the most stressful parts about nursing is when you aren’t producing enough milk! There were several times when it seemed like I didn’t have enough to offer, so I used these methods to get the milk flowing.

Lactation Smoothie

A really easy and purposeful breakfast is a lactation smoothie. Sometimes it’s hard to make breakfast with a new baby that wants to be on you 24/7 so this smoothie is great for 3 reasons. 1. It’s easy to make. 2. It only requires one hand to consume. 3. It increases your supply like WHOA. It’s also really tasty. I made this chocolate version which was SO good, and also switched it up with this cinnamon one which reminds me of horchata!

Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites

I wouldn’t say my breast milk supply is completely dependent on a cookie but... it kinda is. On the days I don’t eat these cookies, or when I run out, I noticed a very big dip in my supply a day or two later. These cookies, aside from being necessary for my flow, are also a great snack or breakfast with some Mother’s Milk tea. If you prefer a homemade version, try this lactation cookie mix.

Mother's Milk Tea

This tea is easily found in supermarkets, which is great for stocking up! I enjoyed mine with some honey and milk. Full disclosure- after drinking this practically every day for a few months, I was totally sick of it. But for a while, it wasn't too bad! And, it's a really affordable option if you're on a tight budget.

Upspring Milkflow

This comes in lots of different flavors, like berry and chocolate! It's pretty tasty and easy to fit into your diet, so it makes a great option to add on with the others. I usually had it as a drink with my lunch or dinner. The chocolate one was also good as a “hot chocolate” in the winter months!

My breastfeeding journey wasn’t exactly easy, but I made it happen so I definitely want to share my experience in the hopes that it will help another struggling mom out there. More importantly, I hope that any pregnant mamas out there get a realistic idea of what to expect and can therefore plan accordingly! Preparation is key and will really help out when the baby is here and is in constant need of our care. Click to see all my tips, plus the must-have items for a successful breastfeeding journey! #breastfeedingtips #powerpumping #breastfeedingsupply #breastfeeding

Vitamins and Supplements for Nursing Moms

Prenatal Vitamins

Did you know you’re supposed to keep taking prenatal vitamins, even after the baby’s born? They can help with nursing and will help prevent you from losing nutrients that you’re (still) giving your baby. I liked these Nature’s Way vitamins because the chewables don’t make me nauseous and they aren’t chalky. Plus, they don’t contain gelatin!

Fenugreek Capsules

These Upspring Milkflow Max capsules help your supple when it’s dipping low. Fenugreek really helps to up breastmilk production, though an interesting side effect of it is that it makes you kinda smell like maple syrup! My husband didn’t notice it, but I did and it was pretty strange. Nonetheless, these will help boost your supply when it’s getting low!

*note: Fenugreek can make babies gassy, or have loose or green stools if you take too much of it. My baby was ok but a friend’s baby had those symptoms. Use your own discretion when using it! Or, try starting with a small dose like 1 tea or drink per day then adding the supplement as needed.

Legendary Milk’s Liquid Gold

I started taking these supplements when my supply REALLY dipped (around 5 or 6 months) and none of the usual stuff was working. It turned out to be my period coming back that dipped my supply, but taking these pills helped me get it back again! The good thing about these is that they don't contain Fenugreek!

Lactation Supplement Liquid

This stuff doesn’t taste very good, but it’s effective! I would take one dropper per day and it would really help to increase my production when nothing else would work. After a while you have to switch it up! Somehow your boobs catch on to what you’re doing, and you supply can still dip from time to time. This liquid really helped during that time.

Pumping Advice

A Convenient Breast Pump

If you're breastfeeding, you're going to need a good breast pump! It's handy for when you have extra milk that the baby didn't eat, when you have a drink and need to pump because you can't feed the baby, or when you need to increase your supply (more on that below). I use the Spectra S1, which is lightweight, has a rechargeable battery, and lots of customizable settings. Your insurance company will most likely provide you with a free breast pump so I'd look into that before purchasing one!

Hands Free Pumping Bra

If you're going to be pumping, you're going to want a hands free bra! I found it helpful to wear this bra and pump while I did dishes or washed the baby's bottles. Or, I could get a little bit of work done on the blog while I pumped. I don't pump totally hands free though- I found that kinda milking myself (hah!) helped me to get more milk and reduce the time it took me to pump. So, I'd usually let the pump do the work for about 10 minutes and then squeeze and massage more milk out until they were empty.

Pumped Milk Storage

Once my milk was expressed, I needed somewhere to store it! I used these bags to store my milk in the freezer and labeled them with sharpies. Then, I stored them in these clear freezer bins so that they didn’t get lost in the wide abyss of my fridge. I usually stored a bottle or two in the fridge (in my regular bottles) and used these handy reusable bottle labels to indicate when they were from. This got really helpful once I had more milk than I could use up within one day.

Keeping Track of Feedings/Pumping

At the hospital, they’ll probably ask you to keep track of when and how much your baby is eating. You’ll definitely want to keep this up after you get home, since it can get SO confusing. My sweet friend created this amazing journal called The Everyday Mother that keeps track of feedings, milestones, and so much more. This will serve as both a record-keeping notebook and a memory book! She created it after her baby was in the NICU and she had to keep track of feedings and wanted to figure out a better way. She has so many cover colors and styles, and even limited edition artist covers! You can find everything over at her website The Everyday Mother.

Power Pump Sessions

When my supply was especially low, I would do a power pump to increase my supply. This is quite easy to do, although very tedious. I’ve created a graphic below so you can try it out too! Don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest so that you can have it saved forever :) I usually did this after my morning feeding, when I usually had leftover milk and had to pump anyway.

Looking to increase your breastmilk supply? Try a power pump session! It only takes an hour and helps A LOT. Plus, learn what foods and supplements I used to increase my supply- fast! Don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest so that you can have it saved forever. Click to see all my tips, plus the must-have items for a successful breastfeeding journey! #breastfeedingtips #powerpumping #breastfeedingsupply #breastfeeding

Other Stuff That Helps

Nursing Bras

By now, you’re probably wearing nursing bras and have been through most of your pregnancy. I thought I’d share the ones I liked from when I was pregnant, which is these. I love that they have a spot for your nursing pads if you need them and they’re super soft and comfortable!

Nursing Shirts

I bought a set of these nursing tank tops and they were a miracle during the first few weeks of nursing! I still wear them to this day, and they’re one of my favorites. They also have a pocket inside so you can pop in a nursing pad. Additionally, the inside layer helped to absorb the excess nipple cream instead of having it seep through the front of my shirt.

Boppy Pillow

If you don’t have a boppy pillow, get one! It was essential for nursing during those first few weeks so that I could make sure Hailey got a good latch and it prevented my arm from getting tired. She loved it, using it to lounge, do tummy time and it even helped her to poop! I also recommend purchasing the waterproof liner and an extra cover, because they do tend to spit up on them!

Nursing Cover

I'm not really comfortable whipping a boob out in public, so I got this nursing cover which also doubles as a carrier cover. It's really cute and lightweight, and folds up nice and small. My friend has this scarf cover which has a piece of wire and a clear mesh so you can see the baby, which is helpful since the one I have requires me to stick my head in the hole under the cover to see what's happening.

Burp Cloths

Surprisingly, we didn't get nearly enough burp cloths at the baby shower, so I ordered some myself. The other ones I have kinda suck, and these are always my favorites to grab. They don't have a fun pattern, but they can be used for hours even after a baby spits up on them more than once. We really loved these!

Phew! Ok, I know that’s a lot but I wanted to be as helpful and up front as possible. Those first few weeks of breastfeeding are HARD but they are so worth it. I promise it gets easier mama! If you need to supplement with formula, that’s ok. Hailey had about one bottle per day of formula (we used Enfamil Gentlease), and sometimes she needed more and other times she didn’t need any. I think that it’s important to continue nursing, even if you need to supplement with formula. It has so many health benefits, for both the baby and for you. I helps you lose that pregnancy weight and helps your uterus shrink down. It’s also known to reduce your risk for cancer! Overall, it’s great if you can do it and once you stop, you can’t really turn back. So keep pushing through mama. You’re amazing and your baby is lucky to have you!

If you need support, please reach out to your baby’s pediatrician, your OB, or a lactation consultant. There are also tons of FB groups out there for nursing moms and your hospital may even have a local support group that meets up once a week! Either way, you don’t need to go through this alone.

The Truth About Postpartum

It’s now been 10 whole months since I gave birth to Hailey and people aren’t lying when they say time passes faster once you’ve had a baby! It’s pretty amazing what your body is able to do in 9 months of being pregnant. While (for the most part) I am back to being myself, there’s so much about me that has changed. Despite physical changes (which are pretty obvious when you’ve grown a human and then have to bounce back into shape) there’s so many mental changes that happen from the moment you give birth. 

I haven’t really shared any of my pregnancy photos that I took and I definitely haven’t done an update in a really long time. So, I thought now would be a good time to share the truth about my postpartum journey. Even though things may look the same from the outside, they’re actually really different on the inside.

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Postpartum Hair Loss

You guys, postpartum hair loss is so real and so annoying. My hair was coming out in clumps which is bad enough. But, the part they don’t tell you is that it’s coming out in clumps all the time. Not just in the shower, not just when you’re brushing your hair but literally all the time. When you have curly hair, that results in your hair basically becoming a giant knot filled with loose hairs that follow you around the house leaving a trail behind you. In addition to that, you’ve got these weird stripes/bald spots all along the side of your head so good luck anytime you want to put your hair in a ponytail or bun (which, as a new mom, you have to do a lot!). As if all that isn’t bad enough, eventually hair starts to grow back in and then you’re left with these weird little baby hairs that grow in funny little chunks. When your hair is curly like mine, they pretty much just stick out in little curls in the most terrible way. I’m dealing with this new hairdo of mine, however I found that blow drying it out has helped me a lot so that I don’t feel like a horrible mess of a mom every day. Sometimes it can be hard to find time to do it but I always find a way to prioritize it so that I can feel good about myself. I think it’s really important as a stay at home mom (who also works from home!) and essentially never leaves the house. Doing my hair helps me to not feel like a total bum and helps me to feel just a little bit sexy on the daily.

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Hair Growth 

Well well, the only hair that’s growing isn’t on your head! You may have noticed while you’re pregnant that you have a little bit more hair on your body than you did before. It’s totally normal to have darker hairs on your stomach, nipples or face. I know this is TMI and I don’t love to admit that my stomach is now hairy, but hey we tell the truth here and that’s what’s going on. So get used to it and grab some wax or one of these little epilator pens to get rid of them if they bother you. 

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Losing Weight

Due to breast-feeding, I managed to lose all of my pregnancy weight and even a little bit extra. That’s right- I weigh less than I did before I got pregnant! It really doesn’t matter what the scale says after you’ve given birth, or at any point in your life really. I’m not saying this to brag, because really I have nothing to brag about. I don’t exercise and I haven’t followed any sort of health routine, but I did manage to lose the baby weight. The reason why am telling you this is because everyone tells you that after you have a baby you’ll never fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans again. This essentially just invokes fear in you that after you have a baby, your “sexy body” is completely gone. I’m here to tell you that every body is different and there’s no telling what will happen to yours after you give birth. You may bounce back completely, you may have stretch marks, you may have saggy skin, you may gain weight, you may lose weight. The only thing we all have in common is that we really don’t know what’s going to happen. Invoking fear in new moms, telling them that they’ll never get their old body back, isn’t a productive use of time. Instead, let’s talk about the things they gain, such “as you’ll be amazed by how strong your body becomes after you’ve given birth” or “carrying a baby around all day gives you great arm strength” or “crawling around after your baby is great cardio”. Let’s change the conversation around postpartum bodies. After all, they’re pretty freakin amazing!

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Soft Skin

While I have technically lost all my baby weight, my body is far from back to normal. The changes are pretty minor and probably only get noticed by me and maybe my husband, but they’re still there. My stomach is very soft and the skin is a little bit loose. However, at the end of the day, I have to accept it. Sometimes I want to cover it up with a high waisted bikini or maybe even a one piece, but I feel like as mothers we should wear this as a badge of honor. We should wear it as an F-you to the beauty industry that tells us that we need creams or potions or girdles or anything like that to make us beautiful once again. So while it may make me a little bit uncomfortable, I’ve decided I’m not going to hide it and I’m going to just try to rock it with pride. The fact of the matter is most people probably won’t notice it and in the end it really doesnt matter. 

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Breast Changes

Oh goodness my boobs, let’s talk about those for a minute. When I got pregnant, my boobs got really big- well, for me anyway. They were still only a C cup! But, they were essentially useless in terms of being sexy because they hurt so much. I had to wear really unsexy bras and definitely couldn’t push them up or anything. Once I gave birth to Hailey and I was producing milk, they were plenty of times that I had what I call “porn star boobs” or essentially boobs that are so round and perfect that they almost seem like they were filled with silicon. It didn’t last long obviously, because the soon as I fed Hailey they shrunk back down. As time went on and my boobs stopped getting engorged, they tend to be much softer. While my right boob has stayed essentially the same, the left one has gone south for the winter and is now pretty saggy.  Again, when I’m wearing a shirt you really can’t tell. My boobs did what they were supposed to do-fed my baby for the past 10 months and counting, which is what they’re supposed to do- not be sexy or appealing in any way. However, it does get kind of sad sometimes when I look down and see how different they became. So, while I do thank my body (and I do it all the time), I do like to acknowledge that my body has changed and I am allowed to feel things about it.

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Post Partum Baby Blues

The first few moments after I gave her to Hailey were really strange. I looked at this baby and didn’t relate her to the one I was carrying in my womb. It was a really strange sensation to have and actually extremely upsetting, because I felt like a horrible person. After such a long labor (35 hours) I was completely exhausted mentally and physically, and now had this new person to take care of. The baby blues that I felt after giving birth were so bad that I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, although I’m sure many many women feel it. I was so sad that I was no longer pregnant. For probably the last month of my pregnancy, I simultaneously was excited to meet my baby/wishing she were here, and wanting to soak up every last minute of pregnancy. After giving birth, there were so many times that I touched my stomach only to find that it was empty. For some reason this gutted me every single time and I begin to cry. This happened every time I walked and touched my stomach expecting to feel my baby, every time I took a shower and very often when I just thought about it. Luckily, within a few weeks it passed and I was able to find acceptance with my body and find love for my baby. It was the whole reason for the pregnancy in the first place!

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Emotional Forever And Always

If you didn’t cry a lot before you got pregnant, you’re probably find that you cry a whole lot more now! Everything makes me super emotional especially in relation to my baby. I don’t think I had too much postpartum depression, although I suspect I may have had a touch of it. There are definitely days where I felt dark but they seemed to pass so I didn’t seek help. Maybe I should have, I don’t know, but I found that I was OK for the most part so I didn’t. (If you’re feeling sad, hopeless, have negative feelings towards your baby, or want to harm yourself or your baby, please seek help.)

Heres a picture of me after I took my very first set of bump updates. Totally crying, like I did pretty much throughout my entire pregnancy.

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So, that’s a little bit about my postpartum journey as well as some truths about it that most people like to hide or sweep under the rug. Postpartum is kind of like an evolving, winding road. Sometimes we forget which way we came but there’s so much we’ve done and yet still so far to go. Like our baby, we are now ever-changing and yet only getting better.

So, please share your postpartum journey with me in the comments. Was there anything you learned or realized? Anything you wish people knew? Let me know- don’t be shy!

Hailey's Nursery Organization Tour (Ideas On A Budget!)

I’m so excited to finally be sharing some sneak peeks of Hailey’s room! It only took 9+ months but hey, better late than never! I want to start by talking about how I organized Hailey’s room. My goal for her room was to be girly but pretty- something she could grow up with, instead of needing a total refresh as soon as she wasn’t a baby anymore. And, I wanted it to be fully functional, organized and GORGEOUS. I wanted everything to have a place and I wanted that place to be pretty. It definitely seemed silly at the time, and my husband thought it was ridiculous. However, every person that comes into her room comments on how pretty it is, including her closet. I leave the door open- it’s THAT nice! I even open up the drawers to show people how nicely everything is folded. My husband, who thought I was taking way too long to fold her clothes, recently said he wanted me to teach him how I fold her clothes because they definitely fit better when I do it. It’s the small victories.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurseryorganizationcloset

I mean….. LOOK AT THAT CLOSET. It’s been several months and I still swoon over it. It’s gotten fuller since I took these photos a few months ago, but it still looks great. My favorite part of her whole room is those closet doors. I wanted to add a pop of color to her room without painting everything a bright hue. Originally, we were thinking to paint an accent wall but I couldn’t figure out which wall it should be. Mostly because I didn’t think any of them would be good for it! I remembered how much I loved the beautiful doors back in Greece and I decided to gather up some courage and ask my husband if we could paint the doors. Surprisingly, he agreed! I honestly think it was the best decision I could have made, because these doors make a statement without being cheesy.

Baby Closet Storage

Let’s venture inside the closet now. Hailey received a bunch of cozy blankets, so I decided to display them on the left side by hanging them in her closet. This area was pretty high up for anything other than blankets, since everything looked comically small in that corner. I folded the blankets in thirds to make them thin, then in half so they hung nicely off the hanger. Below all the blankets, I put this amazingly adorable pom pom basket (similar here) that I couldn’t resist getting! It holds miscellaneous breastfeeding items- nursing pads, my breast pump, etc. along with the chalk markers for her monthly updates. It’s essentially a catchall basket, which helps to keep the room tidy.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurseryorganizationcloset

See those polka dot baskets there? Those are smack dab in the middle, and they hold all of Hailey’s clothes in bigger sizes. I put her 0-3 & 3-6 month clothes in her drawers, then made one cube of 6-9 and another of 9-12. Anything over 12 months was put into a giant storage bin for later and stored in the attic. These bins made it really easy to access new clothes as Hailey got bigger. I washed everything while I was pregnant and I’m sooooo glad I did. Those tiny clothes have more little plastic attachment pieces than should be legal. Plus, I can grab things from the bins without having to wash them, which is amazing now that I have a tiny human to care for. She makes more than enough laundry as it is!

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurseryorganizationonabudget #nurseryorganizationcloset

At the top right, I have some transitional pieces. We plan to put some shelves up, so right now her decor and jewelry box are up there. The piggy bank was from her Oma (grandma) and belonged to her mom before that. When you put a coin in, it plays an Irish song! The jewelry box was a gift from my sister to me. I didn’t need it anymore, so instead of tossing it I decided it would be fun for Hailey to use. I can just imagine her storing her little plastic rings in there someday, and looking into the little mirror with lipstick smeared all over her face like a beauty queen.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurseryorganizationonabudget #nurseryorganizationcloset

Below those items is her fancy clothes- dresses, little coats, and tutus. All my favorite frilly things which are gorgeous! I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of just these little dressy items, because they’re that pretty! Everything is hung on tiny pink velvet hangers.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurseryorganizationonabudget #nurseryorganizationcloset

Let’s go down to the bottom of the closet. I used a structured bin or hamper (similar here, here and here) to hold even more of Hailey’s blankets. I had 2 comforters from her bedding set, plus her muslin swaddles and handmade blankets from family members. I folded everything up nicely and placed it in this bin for safekeeping. Above it, I have some of her extra hangers ready to go.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurseryorganizationonabudget #nurseryorganizationcloset

I knew we’d have to store Hailey’s bathtub in her room, since our bathroom is extremely small. I didn't want to remove it every time I wanted to shower, so it just made sense to keep it in her room. But again, I wanted everything to be pretty and this was no exception! So, I bought this oversize fabric hamper (similar here and here) to hold it when it’s not in use. After Hailey’s bath at night, I leave it in the tub to dry. Then, I put it back in the hamper until its next use. From the front, you can barely even tell what’s in there!

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurseryorganizationcloset

Now I’ll talk about all the other random bins I didn’t mention before. The pink striped bin at the top holds extra diapers and wipes, so we never have to worry about running out while she’s naked on the changing pad. The bins underneath it are her bath toys that she won’t be needing quite yet. The wooden box holds her very small shoe collection, and the pink bin at the bottom (similar here and here) is for clothes that no longer fit her. I get so sad when something has to go in that bin, but it means she’s happy and healthy which is a GREAT thing so I get over it fairly quickly.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurseryorganizationcloset

The Book Shelf Storage

Over to the left of the closet is all of Hailey’s books! After seeing everyone else’s adorable book walls, I decided I wanted one for her room too. It fit perfectly on this narrow portion of wall underneath the AC, since anything bulky would block the closet. You can see a teensy portion of the door down there!

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I organized all the books by rainbow order, which made it visually appealing. These wooden book shelves from Ikea were painted white so that they provided a nice, simple place to hold the books. At the bottom, I placed my dollhouse bookshelf which houses some of her smaller books and toys, again in color order. Off to the right side, I have a small basket filled with some of her stuffed toys and dolls. Hailey has quite a few unicorn toys, along with a mermaid and singing Mother Goose!

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserybookshelf

I can’t wait to show you the full room reveal, because those curtains are pretty epic too! This room is my favorite in the entire house.

Baby Dresser Storage

Off to the right of the closet is Hailey’s dresser! I chose this dresser because it was wide enough for our changing pad and was still a decent height for her changing pad. PS- I love this changing pad because you just wipe it clean if there’s a mess. No laundry needed. Just go ahead and order one now- you’ll thank me later!

Hailey’s dresser has 6 drawers. The top left holds her hats, headbands, and mittens along with her collection of socks. I kept everything neatly organized and accessible by putting in some smaller bins to help corral everything.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserydresserorganization

The top right is where all of Hailey’s diaper changing supplies go. On top of the dresser, I have an organizer that holds diapers, wet and dry wipes plus all her ointments. There’s even a drawer for her brushes and combs! We use vaseline to prevent diaper rash, and put it on using this diaper cream brush. The drawer below this organizer contains spare diapers, wipes, and body lotions.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserydresserorganization

Clothes Storage and Folding

I folded all of Hailey’s clothes nicely and neatly into little cubes, and placed them into these drawer organizers to keep everything contained. Her clothes are so small that without the drawer organizers, they felt like they were flopping around in a giant drawer.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserydresserorganization

The bottom 2 drawers hold Hailey’s blankets, bibs, and burp cloths. Again, I folded everything nice and neat and placed it into smaller bins. On the left side I placed all her blanket toys which she didn’t care about at first but now she LOVES them, especially the pink cat we nicknamed Kitty. Super creative, I know ;)

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserydresserorganization

The bottom right holds burp cloths and bins. Ironically, we got WAY too many bibs and not nearly enough burp cloths, which we definitely needed more! I ended up ordering most of them myself, so if you’re unsure what to get a new momma, try burp cloths. The bottom drawer also holds some wrap sweaters they gave us at the hospital which were essential in the chilly hospital where she only wore a swaddle. They became a little less necessary at home since she wore sleeper pajamas, but they are helpful when she’s wearing a t-shirt.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserydresserorganization

Over on the other side of the room, I have fabric dresser drawer that matches the bin in her closet. It holds Hailey’s bath supplies like towels, soaps, and washcloths. It also holds all her medicines and personal care items like thermometers and nail clippers. There’s also a drawer that holds all her fitted sheets and bassinet pad covers. Can we talk about how neatly those fitted sheets are folded? Stand back folks- I’M A PROFESSIONAL!

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserydresserorganization
Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserydresserorganization

PS- I realized these pictures were taken when Hailey was only 6 weeks old. For reference, she’s now 9 months old! Look how tiny she was, my little lumpy baby.

Looking for some nursery organization ideas? Check out this colorful and affordable nursery tour! From the closet to the dressers, I’ll show you where to store all of baby’s essentials. #nurseyorganizationideas #nurseryorganizationhacks #nurserydresserorganization

Hailey’s Happy Half- A Confetti Carnival Half Birthday Party

On March 28, Hailey officially became 6 months old! I truly cannot believe how quickly time flew by, but it’s true! I love a good party (surprise surprise!) so I decided to throw Hailey a small (but adorable) half birthday party to mark the occasion. I knew the party had to be cheap, because our budget is a little tight these days. I also knew it had to be simple so my husband wouldn’t get annoyed at me for having an unnecessary party. And I knew it had to be cute, because IT’S ME and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The result was an adorable little party on a budget that any mom can throw for their baby!

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Picking a Half Birthday Party Theme 

The first thing I had to do was pick a theme for the party. I was a bit stumped at first, but I knew I wanted something colorful and maybe with confetti. I browsed Pinterest for ideas, then I looked up the silly holidays and found that March 28 is food on a stick day. My mind instantly went to carnival food like corn dogs, and that’s how the confetti carnival theme came about! I created a mood board for the party (more on that coming to the blog soon!) and I began planning my purchases and menu. 

One of my goals for this party was to not generate a ton of trash afterwards. So, I purchased reusable supplies like the honeycombs instead of balloons. I decided not to use cute patterned paper/plastic plates because we had enough everyday plates for the guests. I also used our turquoise footed glass goblets that we never get to use with company and regular silverware. The only plates I got where these half circle plates because they just fit with the theme wayyyy too well, and I knew there was no way I’d find that affordably for a reusable set. I skipped paper straws altogether because no one really uses them anyway. 

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Carnival Party Crafts 

The good news is that all the fun DIYs that I did will be coming to the blog soon! I wanted to get this party post up before Hailey turned 9 months (or 9 years!) old. Like I said, I kept it simple and only did a few diy projects. I made Hailey a crown to wear with a 1/2 on it which at first seemed a little big but looked pretty cute overall. She wore it comfortably for most of the party! Then, I made a 1/2 cake topper. I had big plans for it with hanging ribbons but it looked funny, and 9pm the night before means you just gotta move on. I kept it simple with just glitter paper and a skewer stick. And lastly, I really wanted to display the photos I’ve been taking of Hailey each month so I made some picture holders! I picked my favorite photo from each month plus one from when she was first born.  It was really amazing being able to capture her growth each month because I can’t believe how big she’s gotten already and it hasn’t even been a year yet! I think I’m going to look back at these with such appreciation.

Psst- I made a baby photography course so that you can learn how to take better baby photos too! Learn more about Dreamy Baby Photography here.

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Carnival Party Decor

I knew I wanted to make a tent (even though it’s more circus than carnival) so I raided my fabric stash and found some tulle that I had bought for my veil, but it was too narrow. I would have preferred something bolder but hey, sometimes you just gotta move on! I also knew I wanted to have balloon animals, so I used these figures I had and put them around the house. Finally, I wanted to add some pizzazz to the party area so I purchased a set of tassel garlands and a pack of honeycombs and lanterns. I made some of the garland tassels thicker and some thinner (2 pieces of tissue paper vs 4) so I was able to make a ton of tassels and hang them up around the party area. I also used the tassels and the honeycombs to decorate the tent and give it more of a carnival feel. I also added my DIY cotton candy garland which is so fun and complimented the theme!

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Carnival Party Menu

You can’t have a party without food! Well, you can but it wouldn’t be as good haha. We decided to keep the menu really simple (and cheap!) with traditional carnival fare. 

Popcorn chicken
Corn dogs
Mexican street corn (elote)
Loaded tot kabobs (recipe here)
Cotton candy
Cake pops
Popcorn
Buffalo wings (brought by family)
Spinach pies (common at Greek fairs!)

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Rainbow Layer Cake 

I decided that I wanted to do a layer cake and make it rainbow. I’ve never made a layer cake before nor a rainbow cake so I was a little worried. But it came out soooo cute! Since it was her half birthday I cut the cake in half, which left the layers out for everyone to see. The cake was actually really easy to make but in case you want a “tutorial”, here’s what I did. I used 2 white cake mix boxes and dyed them using neon McCormick dye. I sprayed the pans with flour spray which helped the cake not to stick to the pan. After they baked and cooled, I took them out of the pans and cut them flat using a long sharp knife. Then, I cut them in half and assembled the cake with a layer of frosting in between. Hailey was too young to eat the cake, but we took some pretty cute photos of her with the cake!

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I mean…. look at that rainbow gorgeous goodness! Not bad for my first attempt at rainbow cake and a layer cake. I served the cake on the half circle plates, because what better to eat half a cake on than half a plate?! Once the cake and dessert was served, Hailey opened a few gifts from my mom. We requested no gifts but she said she had purchased the items months ago and since my parents were moving, she didn’t want to lose them. Fair enough! Most of those toys ended up being some of her favorites.

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Such a fun and simple way to celebrate Hailey’s Half Birthday! Most of those decorations are still up, 2 months later. I love how festive the honeycomb balls and lanterns are! Even the circus tent is still up, although that’s probably due to laziness more than anything else. It’s hard to believe that in less than 4 months, we’ll be celebrating her first birthday. Seriously, where has the time gone and how do I stop it?!

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Well, that’s all folks! I’ve got the individual DIY projects for this party (including the crown and photo holders!) coming to the blog soon, as well as Hailey’s monthly updates. It’s been a little busy around here and sadly I’m slacking on those! Part of me was thinking maybe I shouldn’t bother with them anymore but I think someday I’m going to look back at them longingly so I’m going to keep going! Keep an eye out for the DIY projects and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes plus reminders for new posts!

Hailey's 5 & 6 Months Updates

Time has flown by (again!) and I missed an update so here’s a 2 in 1 for ya ;) A lot has happened in the past few months and overall Hailey is a much more alert, vibrant baby than she was before! Let’s see what happened, shall we? 

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Got a Puppy

Perhaps the biggest thing that happened in the last 2 months is that we got a puppy! Lexie joined our family and it’s been madness ever since. But, she and Hailey LOVE each other so it makes it worth it. I’ve got a post about having a puppy AND a baby coming soon, so let me know any specific questions you have about it! It’s funny though, because a few days before we adopted Lexie, we saw another puppy that was a small poodle mix. As soon as Hailey saw me with the puppy, she started to cry! Luckily she got over it really quickly and soon enough she was loving Lexie. 

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Touch your Toes

At 5 months, Hailey started holding her feet and toes which made changing her much easier! Eventually she started eating her toes too, which was pretty funny to watch. She could basically be found with a foot in her mouth at all times!

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Rolling over in secret

This kid- mind of her own I tell ya! John and I would lay her down to try and encourage her to roll over. She came close but never really did it. Then a few times that we left her laying on her back and moved away (like on her play mat in her room and went to grab something, or in her crib) she’d secretly roll over on her own! Now she won’t stop rolling at all. On the floor, your lap, the changing pad... this little lady’s flipping over all day long!

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Crib

We transitioned Hailey into her crib and I mayyyy have cried. We tried to have her sleep in her room but she kept waking up, so we brought her back into our room where she stayed for 2 months! After she started rolling over, she insisted on sleeping on her tummy but then she couldn’t turn back and would cry to get turned.

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Loves tummy time

In an interesting turn of events, Hailey now loves being on her tummy! She’s always flopping over from her back to her tummy so that she can play with stuff. She also loves being laid down on her tummy and looking around the room or trying to move around. She hast quite mastered it yet, but she’s determined!

(Sorta) Sitting up

Hailey’s starting to get the hang of sitting up, but she doesn’t want to do it on her own. She prefers to flip over onto her tummy instead! It’s frustrating because at 3 or 4 months old she was starting to sit up, but then she completed regressed once we got the puppy!

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Playing with the pets

Hailey’s favorite pastime is playing with Lexie. Which is great, because Lexie loves her too! They spend the day making out (I try to separate them but it’s so difficult), and Hailey loves to stick her hand in the puppy’s mouth to get nibbled. If Lexie’s sleeping, Hailey will touch her paws and call to her. It’s the cutest thing. She’s not very gentle but Lexie doesn’t mind at all! I had Hailey and Lexie laying next to each other and Hailey was excited and kicking Lexie in the ribs and face. I made Lexie move to the other side of me so she was safe. She laid down for a minute and decided she wanted to be near Hailey, kicks and all! Hailey’s also trying to get attention from the cats but they’re not quite as interested as Lexie is. Well, except that one time.

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Waking Up Again

Well, I guess the honeymoon had to end sometime. Hailey went from sleeping 12-14 hours in her bassinet to waking up at night in her crib. I had hoped she was just crying because it was new, but she ended up waking up once or sometimes twice a night. It’s made this momma tired! It doesn’t help that it’s also totally random. Some nights she wakes up at 2-4 am hungry. Other nights it’s 4-6:30 am. She usually has a quick snack and goes back to bed so I can’t complain too much!

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Mirror games

Hailey loves to look at herself in the mirror! We like to play “who’s that baby?” I take her over to a mirror and point her out and she gives me a big smile. She also loves selfie mode and it’s resulted in lots of fun smiling pictures of us for daddy while he’s at work. She also loves when I dance with her in front of a mirror!  I either put on a Pandora station, or sing my rendition of “who’s that lady” by the Isley brothers. And it goes “who’s that baby? (Who’s that baby?) Cutesy baby (who’s that baby?). She loves it!

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Singing

Hailey’s been singing a lot more lately and making a ton of noises. She has a wider range of sounds and loves trying to go high pitch and shouting. Then, she looks around for our reactions to make sure we are paying attention to her. It’s really cute!

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I can’t believe how quickly she’s growing. I know I say that every month, but wow is it flying by! She’s becoming such an amazing little person.