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Mama Tips & Advice

  • Returning to Work After Baby – 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week

    One of the most stressful things to deal with when you finally get a hold of this mama-hood thing, is the transition of returning to work after baby. The range of emotions can be quite harrowing – you are excited to head back and focus on your career, you are dealing with the guilt that comes with leaving your child with someone else, you are figuring out how to manage your evening schedule and not to mention the logistics of pumping at work. After all, you did just have a major life change.

    Returning to Work After Baby 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week | Rock It Mama | Use these 7 helpful pieces of advice to help you transition to work after baby

    I’m not going to lie – heading back to work had me worried sick. I made sure to consider every piece of advice that was thrown at me and still had minor setbacks. But, after being at work for a month, I am finally ready to share with you KEY tips to help you survive your first week back after baby.

    Here Are 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week Back After Baby

    Be Content with Your Decision

    The very first thing many new moms struggle with when heading back to work is heavy mom guilt. I felt like leaving my son at a daycare was a disservice to him and in turn, I was being a bad mother. With my first son I was able to stay at home with him for three years while working from home and never had to go back after maternity leave. I felt that I should have been able to provide this same amount of at-home experience and quality time with my second as well. But after a lot of reflection and focusing on my why, I finally felt content with my decision. I had to remind myself that I was going back to work to help with finances – our family thrives on dual income. Additionally I wanted to advance my career and, truthfully, I’ve always enjoyed a sense of autonomy. Returning to work wasn’t a selfish decision – it’s was the best change for my  family and I needed to stop feeling like I was falling short of expectations. It can be so freeing when you get rid of the doubt and guilt that comes with returning to work after baby.

    Meet with Your Employer

    Make sure you meet with your supervisor or boss before starting your first day and iron out any details that might concern you. Have there been any company or project changes you need to be aware of? Does your employer need to consider accommodations if you plan to pump at work? Maybe you aren’t quite ready to jump in with both feet and want to see if there are options for a flexible work schedule. Whatever the case may be, it’s always best to make sure you know what is expected of you and how your employer can help during the transition as much as possible; no one likes last minute surprises.

    Set Your Start Date (Preferably Mid-week)

    When returning to work, consider the benefits of starting your first day back in the middle of the week. As a nursing mother, I had never really been away from my child longer than a few hours, so the thought of being away from him 8 hours a day for 5 days in a row was daunting. But, if you were to start on a Wednesday, returning to your 9-5 will be for just a few days before the weekend begins and your little one is slowly transitioning to daycare as well.

    Prepare for Pumping

    If you plan to pump of course! Overpack too – I cannot stress this enough. You will need all the typical supplies and more. Plan for back up manual pumps (that you can leave in the car), extra milk storage bags, batteries, nursing pads, pump cleaning wipes and a cooler bag. Seriously, you do not want to be stuck in a rut needing to pump with a lack of supplies – and it will happen.

    Some of my favorite pumping supplies are:

    Freemie, Hands Free Breast Milk Pump Collection
    Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Gift Set
    Medela, Quick Clean Breast Pump and Accessory Wipes 
    Lansinoh Portable Manual Breast Pump
    Insulated Baby Bottle Tote Bag

    Returning to Work After Baby 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week | Rock It Mama | Use these 7 helpful pieces of advice to help you transition to work after baby

    Pamper Yourself

    Heading back to work after baby, although its a lifestyle change, can be very exciting! Take the time to pamper and reward yourself by getting a fresh new haircut or manicure/pedicure. Odds are, you aren’t quite fitting in your pre-baby clothes and maternity no longer suits you. Treat yourself to some new work clothes and head back with confidence!

    Plan Your Meals

    If you saw my last post, you know I am all about meal planning. When your evening are cut short and cooking dinner seems overwhelming, meal planning or freezer meals can be a lifesaver! See my most recent post on make-ahead freezer meals that can help alleviate your first week back.

    Do a Practice Run

    Try out your new routine a week before you’re due back at the office. This is the best way to work out any kinks that you might run into before actually running into them. Make sure you have a back up plan if anything goes awry. Consider sending your child to childcare a week in advance to get them adjusted to their new schedule as well.

    The logistics of returning to work might seem like a lot leading up to your first day back, but it will be only a matter of time until you and your family will be settled into this new lifestyle.

    If you found these tips helpful, you might enjoy this post on creating family traditions.

    Happy Friday!

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  • 10 Must-Have Apps for New Parents

    As a mom let me just say: you can prepare yourself all you can for parenthood, but when it really comes down to it…we’re all just winging it, right? Even with my second child, there were times I felt left in the dark, googling WebMD or reaching out to fellow moms or my pediatrician for advice.

    Thankfully with today’s technology, there is a plethora of phone apps available at our fingertips to help make this whole parenting journey A LOT easier. And to make this easier on you, we’ve put together some of our favorite parenting apps that are worth checking out!

    See our list of our top 10 favorite parenting apps below!

    10 Must-Have Apps for New Parents | Rock It Mama | Sharing the best phone apps to help with daily parenting

    This post contains affiliate links. An affiliate link means we may earn advertising referral fees if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

    Baby CenterFree

    Baby Center is actually the very first parenting app I ever downloaded. Initially, I used it to track my pregnancy, but as I was a first-time mom with barely any close mom-friends, I ended up using the community forums quite a bit and relied heavily on my birth groups for questions and advice. I used it again years later and found solace in the PCOS and TTC support groups I found. That being said, the Baby Center app is not just for pregnancy and labor! To this day, I frequently use the app as a source of guidance and insight on growth and development as my children get older.

    Baby TrackerFree

    Baby Tracker is a useful app for tracking your baby’s daily activities. You can log diaper changes, feedings (how many ounces they had, what side they nursed on, how often you pumped) and their sleeping habits; all great ways track your babies activity trends. There are even options for inputing all their medical information – like immunizations, wellness visits and more. An added feature is the ability to sync data across multiple devices – so getting updates from your partner or sitter is even easier!

    White NoiseFree

    You can’t deny the immediate effects of white noise! When we don’t have the ceiling fan on or we are traveling and need a soothing background noise, this app has been great! From the classic monotonous white noise, to nature sounds and lullabies, this app has a good history of calming down my boys and helping them get a good nights sleep.

    Tiny BeansFree, in-app subscriptions offered

    Do you love to share photos of your little ones? I do too! And with Tiny Beans, you can safely share your photos immediately with friends and family without having to post constantly to your Facebook or other social media, where everyone can see. Tiny Beans is also a great way of backing up all those photos you have of your littles and acts as a photo journal, tracking milestones, awarding stickers for special moments and allowing you to set up photo sharing and commenting. Also if you want hardcopies, you have the option to order prints or custom albums through the app – for an added fee of course!

    Cozi Family OrganizerFree

    I’m all about planning and organizing, but there are some things that can be so tedious with a physical planner, that it just does not suffice. The Cozi Family Organizer is helpful if your family has a lot going on. Personally, I have found it to be necessary as our family has grown and we are all over the place during the week. You can create to-do lists, shopping lists, add family member appointments and special dates using color codes to keep it easy to read. You can even designate family members involved in the activities you create in the organizer and sync all members devices to the app so they can keep track of everything themselves!

    WyzeFree, connect to camera $25.98

    So this is technically isn’t just an app – it works in conjunction with the Wyze Cam baby monitor! So while I recommend getting the app, I really mean the baby monitor for this one. We have used ours at family and friends places, hotels and even replaced our overpriced baby monitor with the Wzye Cam. Not only is it significantly cheaper, the photo quality is top-notch (1080 full HD), there is two-way audio and you are able to log-in and view the video footage from anywhere! Also – when your babies no longer need a monitor, consider using the Wyze Cam as an indoor home-security camera. You can find the Wyze Cam on Amazon here.

    Huckleberry Baby Sleep Tracker Free, in-app subscriptions offered

    With Huckleberry, you can track and monitor your baby’s sleep patterns and from there, predict their sleep schedule using expert algorithms. Huckleberry even let’s you know when baby is sleepy – but not overtired; that is a lifesaver.

    Fischer Price Laugh & LearnFree

    When your babies are a bit older, you will begin to find a tremendous amount of apps for your littles. And even though limiting screen time is very important (you can read our recent post here), there are those instances where digging out the iPhone to entertain your child is enough for you to snag some bites at a restaurant. The Fischer Price Laugh & Learn is one of my favorites because it’s educational – teaching colors, shapes and numbers through songs!

    Wonder Weeks$3.99

    Based off of the original Wonder Weeks book, the Wonder Weeks app keeps you informed about the 10 predictable and age-based “mental leaps” and bounds of your baby. Sometimes I have found myself wondering, What is going on? when my baby seems like he is not himself. With the Wonder Weeks app, I am able to refer to science-proven information about what developmental changes he might be going through.

    NetflixSubscription required starting at $8.99

    You might be scratching your head saying, “Why Netflix?”, but hear me out. There have been so many times where I needed to slip away from the crowd or find an empty room to nurse and just sat in silence. Until I started utilizing Netflix. Maternity leave provided a  lot of opportunities for sitting around and therefore left me with a good amount of time to binge a show or two; and in those moments of backseat nursing or late night rocking, Netflix proved to be really entertaining to pass the time.

    We hope these apps help you in your parenting journey, Mama! If there are any apps that you feel didn’t make the list, please share in the comments below!

    xo,

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  • Simple Practices for Positive and Balanced Screen Time

    As I am typing this, my three year old is asking to watch “baby shark” on my iphone.

    While I’m generally inclined to let him view a quick video (especially while trying to get through a meal at a restaurant, we’ve all been there!) I cringe at the way he zones in to the screen and seemingly forgets the world around him. At times, I’ve used the phrase “Come up for air!” because it’s as if it engulfs his entire existence.
    Now, I am all for educational screen time at the appropriate age and understand the benefits of quality content. I truly believe healthy habits start with limitations.
    The topic of screen time is important to me as a mother, substitute teacher, lover of the outdoors and general believer in readying our youth for success. Physical activity and real-life interactions are pertinent to our children’s emotional wellbeing, learning and development which is why I’m a huge proponent for putting down the tablet and opting outside.
    While attempting to find ways to limit tech usage, I came across a few simple practices for positive and balanced screen time that I plan to implement in our household and figured why not share on the blog, along with some great information regarding healthy screen time habits.

    First lets define screen time:

    Screen time is the time one spends watching TV or DVDs, using computers, playing video or hand-held games, or using tablets or smartphones. In its best form, screen time enhances learning abilities, increases self instruction, entertains, captures memories and increases access to reading material. The downside is that too much screen time can lead to lack of physical activity, less social interaction, weaker emotional bonds, exposure to extreme content, and lower attention capacity.

    The latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that:

    • children under 18 months should avoid screen time, other than video-chatting
    • children aged 18 months to 2 years can watch or use high-quality programs or apps if adults watch or play with them to help them understand what they’re seeing
    • children aged 2-5 years should have no more than one hour a day of screen time with adults watching or playing with them
    • children aged 6 years and older should have consistent limits on the time they spend on electronic media and the types of media they use.

    In addition to the guidelines above, the AAP also recommends designating media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, and ongoing communication between parent and child about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

    To learn more, click here.

    The graphic below can be used as a screen time regulator, a method for setting limitations, and a way to promote other activities critical to child development.

    The awesome part about this method is that you can customize it to what works for your family. It would be frivolous to think that there is a ‘one size fits all’ solution to monitoring screen time, like most parental challenges. Find a balance that works for you!

    Simple Practices for Positive and Balanced Screen Time

    • Set NO TECH ZONES in your home. A good place to start is the dinner table.
    • UNPLUG once a month with the entire family. Pick out a board game or go for a hike!
    • Set DESIGNATED TIMES allocated for screen time.
    • Provide STIMULATING ALTERNATIVES to screen time. Sensory bins, arts and crafts or baking!
    • EDUCATE your children on the negative aspects of too much screen time and why limitations are important.
    • MONITOR screen time usage and have a discussion about media literacy.

    Love it or hate it, technology is an integral part of our everyday human experience. There are positives and negatives to the fact that we rely so much on our devices. What we can control is the quality and amount of online content we are consuming and the impact of screen time on our littles. Thanks for reading!

    Looking for more child safety tips? Catch up on our 5 Bath Safety Tips Every Parent Should Read

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  • 5 Bath Safety Tips Every Parent Should Read

    Did you know that January is National Bath Safety Month? I was oblivious to this observance until I came across an article about the prevalence of bathtub drownings and prevention, and I felt compelled to spread awareness. Drowning is a leading cause of death in children, including toddlers and infants, and most incidents with infants occur in bathtubs and buckets. It only takes an inch of water for a child to drown and a matter of seconds. It’s easy to forget that such an everyday activity poses a danger to our children, and for this reason it is vital to stay diligent in practicing bath safety. We’ve included our favorite bathtub items below, but first, here are 5 bath safety tips every parent should read to keep your kids uninjured and out of harm’s way.

    Here are 5 bath safety tips every parent should read to keep your kids uninjured and out of harm’s way.

    Supervision

    Young children should never, under any circumstance, be left unattended in a bathtub. Bottom line, if you need to leave the bathroom for any reason grab a towel and bring them with you. Remember, it only takes an inch of water for drowning to occur. While bathtub appliances such as seats are rings are helpful, do not rely on them to prevent drowning. These devices can provide a false sense of security leaving a child vulnerable to submersion. Prepare ahead of time and make sure to have any and all items you will need (soap, washcloth, toys, etc) within arms reach before starting the bath.

    Drain the Tub

    This one is pretty simple yet easily overlooked. Never leave water in a bathtub while it is not in use. The same goes for mopping buckets and sinks; drain them immediately after use. All it takes is a curious, wandering toddler to find their way to an open water source for tragedy to occur.

    Temperature

    To prevent scalding, adjust your water heater so the hottest temperature at the faucet is no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Test the water with your wrist or elbow to check that it feels warm, not hot. If you notice your child’s skin turning red test again. When your child is old enough to turn the faucets, teach him to start the cold water before the hot. If you feel you need a better gauge, there are baby-tubs on the market that provide the water temperature for you.

    Slips and Falls

    Install no-slip grips on the floor of the bathtub. Put a padded cover over the faucet so your child won’t be hurt if he bumps his head against it. Place a rug or towel on the ground just outside of the tub for when it’s time to get out. Get in the habit of closing the lid of the toilet and/or install a toilet lid lock. A curious toddler who tries to play in the water can lose his balance and accidentally fall in.

    Additional Bathroom Safety

    Medicine and toiletry storage: Keep all medications in containers with safety caps. Remember, however, that these caps are child-resistant, not childproof, so storing medications and cosmetics up high and out of reach of little hands in a locked cabinet is ideal.

    Electric appliances: If you use electrical appliances in the bathroom (particularly hair dryers and razors) be sure to unplug them and store them in a cabinet with a safety lock when they aren’t in use. If possible, install special bathroom wall sockets (ground-fault circuit interrupters) that lessen the likelihood of electric shock when an appliance comes in contact with water.

    Our Favorite Bathroom Items


    4Moms Spout Cover

    Built-in thermometer with a color-coded display
    Made with foam to prevent bumps and bruises caused by hitting the faucet
    Mildew-resistant design

     


    Blooming Bath Lotus Baby Bath

    Great alternative to traditional baby bath tubs
    Super soft and cuddly to keep baby happy and comfortable during bath time
    Four petal design fits sinks optimally
    Recommended for infants 0 to 6 month

     

    Simple Lines Bathtub Animal Toys (Mold Free)

    Soft and light and also good for sensory and motor stimulation.
    Safe and nontoxic: PVC free and BPA free which means no yucky mold and mildew concerns or chemical smell
    Mesh Net Organizer Storage Bag included which allows animals to quickly and easily dry
    Machine Washable

     

    Magnetic Child Safety Cabinet Locks

    Quick Easy installation with no drilling, no mess and no handyman required
    Invisible magnetic locks hidden from view for everybody
    The extra strong magnets are designed to prevent smart toddlers or friends from opening a cabinet lock or drawers

    Did you find this article helpful? Find other products we love! Check out this Dockatot Product Review.

     

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  • Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex – When Sadness Almost Made Me Quit Breastfeeding

    It may seem simple to many, but it felt like a huge success when I was able to breastfeed my second son, Mateo. A bit of a background – I had struggled with my first son Rylan and moved forward with exclusive pumping and then supplementing with formula thereafter, so I was very relieved when Mateo was able to latch right away.

    But…that’s not to say it was easy. The pain was new and unbearable in the beginning. The nights were long comparatively and I felt helpless in the moments when he wouldn’t latch right away but was screaming at the top of his lungs from hunger. Fortunately, I worked with lactation consultants with success and trudged through those first few days unaffected.

    Then it happened suddenly – an experience that I never read about or prepared for. As I lumbered through the 2-3 hour increments of our nursing schedule, I was at the same time becoming overwhelmed with an extreme sense of sadness and dread as my milk was coming in. The feeling as if I had done something horrible, something bad was going to happen, or if I had a million bills to pay tomorrow and no way of paying it. A homesick, heart racing, pit-in-my-stomach-feeling I couldn’t explain or wrap my head around. A sudden need to be alone and just breath through the sadness with no interruptions as I nursed. And as fast as it would take over my emotions, it would dissipate just as quickly.

    It almost made me quit breastfeeding.

    Knowing I have a past of anxiety, I immediately became very concerned for my mental health and even more worried thinking it was, yet again, going to creep back into my life. I would certainly need to get in touch with my doctor and hope there was a way to work through this debilitating experience. I started to get vocal about it, just to get feelers out. To my husband, I feel very anxious and I’m not sure why…am I acting weird? What do you think could be happening? To my close friends (who had just had babies within weeks of me), Hey guys, are you feeling this way? Have you felt like this before, I’m feeling like _______”. I was met with unfamiliarity yet persisted to research what it all was, and thankfully after some intense internet searching, I found out what I was experiencing:

    Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER

    Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex | Rock It Mama | D-MER finding the signs and understanding

    Described on d-mer.org,  “Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex is a condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release and continuing not more than a few minutes.”

    Dysphoric milk ejection reflex cannot be fully explained but is linked to an overly-excessive drop in dopamine during the “let-down” in order for prolactin levels to rise, resulting in a brief dysphoric reaction.

    Also – because this is a temporary feeling while breastfeeding, the actual condition is a physiological response versus a psychological response – which did give me a sense of relief that this wasn’t anxiety-related at all.  A case report in 2011 by Heise and Wiessinger concluded that “Imagine tapping your knee to cause a reflexive jerk. Now tell yourself that you are going to resist the reflex with all your will, and tap again. Does your willpower make any difference? This is precisely the problem for the mother with D-MER. The emotions are unavoidable. She can feel them coming, but cannot stop them.”

    Upon further research (and after joining this Facebook support group), I realized that my feelings of negativity from D-MER were not the only symptoms and feelings of intensity one can be presented with. There is actually a “Spectrum of D-MER”, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.

    Thankfully –  I found myself between the mild/moderate range, which I feel is as much as I could handle mentally. Anything more, I would need to stop breastfeeding. I also have an amazingly supportive husband, helpful 5-year-old and Mateo has always been an easy baby, so it could have been worse. Unfortunately there is very little research on treatment of D-MER and the best advice I have seen is to avoid breastfeeding altogether (and even some women continue to have it afterwards). But for me, simply just knowing the feelings I experience have a name and there is a reason for it gave me validation and eased my mind.

    If you are experiencing similar feelings, be sure to talk to your doctor and research more about D-MER. I highly encourage joining the linked Facebook group above, as it has helped me immensely and has reminded me that I am not alone. And if you want to chat more, feel free to contact me.

    Cheers,

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  • Postpartum Depression – To The Struggling Mom

    Hey Mama, let’s talk about it. The tough stuff. Postpartum depression and anxiety. I suffered from it. And I’m here to say it’s ok if you are too. And you know why? Because it’s not your fault and you’re not alone.

    In fact, an estimated 20% of all new moms will be affected by postpartum depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.

    I’ve made it a personal commitment to shed light on this vexing illness, that is far more common than we understand. I want to share my experience & advice here in the hopes that you’ll find comfort and perhaps relief in knowing that I am healing and I truly believe you will too. 

    Know Yourself

    For the first few weeks after my son was born I knew I didn’t feel like myself but I wasn’t convinced it was postpartum depression because I kept hearing about the baby blues. Let me say this loud: there is a difference between baby blues and postpartum depression, but the line is not clearly defined. Knowing yourself and trusting your instincts will help you discern between the two. Though it varies from person to person, inability to sleep (even when baby was sleeping) loss of appetite and lack of interest in everyday activities are a few of the symptoms (none of which I’d encountered before) that led me to seek help. My deepest regret is not recognizing that I was suffering sooner. Diagnosis is the first step in feeling better. 

    You’re Not Alone

    This leads me to my biggest piece of advice: Tell someone how you’re feeling. Confide in your partner, your mom, a trusted friend or coworker and most importantly inform your doctor. A professional can help you find the right method of treatment and recovery. As isolating as postpartum depression can feel, please remember you’re not alone. There are many factors that contribute to the onset of PPD and all of them are out of your control. Reach out to others who are sharing a similar experience. Talking to other moms will help you find hope, inspiration and strength to navigate this difficult time. To find a support group near you, consult here.

    Postpartum Depression | Rock It Mama | The signs that you have postpartum depression and advice to get you through

    “As isolating as postpartum depression can feel, please remember you’re not alone.”

    Remedies

    A few things that helped me: exercise, affirmation and mediation. Going for a walk outside in the sunshine helped clear my mind of clutter and overwhelming anxiety. I told myself that I was a good mom, even on the days I felt inadequate. I took time to be grateful for the small victories like getting baby to sleep or hitting a milestone. You’d be surprised at how the little things can affect the big picture.  

    Make a Plan

    When I found out I was pregnant with my second son I decided to make a plan with my doctor to reduce or mitigate the symptoms of PPD, should it happen again. An advantage to baby number two is knowing the signs immediately. Make your doctor aware of your postpartum history and devise a strategy for coping this time around. This will enable you to jumpstart treatment before it negatively impacts your life. 

    As an afterthought, you will be okay Mama. Life has peaks and valleys and this just happens to be part of your motherhood journey. I hope you’ve found solace in my words and that I’ve helped illuminate an illness that we can all conquer together. 

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