Tips & Tricks for Breastfeeding Success


One of my very most favorite things about motherhood has been nursing my babies. I figured out the other day that I think I’ve been breastfeeding a baby for about 62 months of my life…that’s over 5 solid years! No wonder the “girls” aren’t as perky as they used to be, he he.

While I love the special closeness and connection that comes from breastfeeding, it hasn’t always been easy or fun. There have been a few times when I’ve wanted to give up, but after finding the necessary support, I’m really glad I didn’t!

Today I’m sharing a few tips I wish I’d known when I first became a mom to better prepare me to nurse my baby successfully.  Once you figure out the hard stuff, I promise you’ll love it!

  1. We all know that breastfeeding is a wonderful feeding opportunity to offer your child with lots of benefits. But if you can’t or choose not to breastfeed, you’re still a great mom! Breastfeeding should never negatively affect your mental or physical health or your relationship with your baby. You do what you think is best and don’t let anyone give you crap about it!
  2. Sometimes breastfeeding hurts; I’m just gonna be right up front about that. But it shouldn’t hurt for long! Your breasts and nipples are often sore for a few weeks after having a new baby, but if you’re ever experiencing sharp pain when baby latches on, see a lactation consultant asap. No reason to suffer needlessly.
  3. Find the right professional help. There are oodles of resources when it comes to getting breastfeeding assistance: nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital or birthing center, La Leche League, private consultants and support groups.  If, after seeing a professional, you’re still having trouble nursing, seek help from someone else! Sometimes it takes a few consultations to figure out exactly what’s going wrong.


  4. It is very rare for a mom to not make enough milk for her baby, but it does happen. Make sure you’re following all your doctor’s instructions for watching to see if baby’s getting enough milk. Your body produces milk on demand, so the best way to increase your supply is to pump after a feeding and/or offer your baby the breast as much as possible. Some diet supplements have also proved helpful to increase supply, but if, after trying everything, you still can’t make enough milk, see number 1!
  5. Let yourself take a break!  My mom used to always say that breastfeeding is God’s way of making sure moms sit down every day and I totally agree.  It’s a chance to sit and cuddle with your baby multiple times a day doing something that no one else can do, so enjoy it!  Learning to nurse while lying down was also a huge bonus for me, once I had other kids who woke up early and demanded a lot of my attention.  There’s nothing quite as wonderful as dozing peacefully while your baby nurses and then falls asleep too.

    Any other tips or tricks from you experienced mommas?  While there have definitely been struggles in my breastfeeding years (read: never losing all the pregnancy weight until I wean my babies – ugh!) I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Alice’s Blessing 

We loved being able to share baby Alice’s blessing day with friends and family!  Here are some highlights…

So glad we got pictures of both sets of grandparents!  These are Luke’s parents…

And my parents!

My dress – Asos (it’s been hard to find something flattering lately but I LOVE this dress!) ||
My shoes – Sold out but these are similar and I love these || Alice’s dress – similar and other gorgeous special occasion dresses!

This last Sunday we invited our extended family to church with us to watch Luke give Alice a father’s blessing!

It’s common in the LDS church for fathers to publicly bless their new babies with gifts and talents they feel would help their child live life to the fullest. It’s one of my favorite things to witness.

Luke blessed Alice that she would be able to tell right from wrong and make good choices, that she would have a healthy body  and that her beautiful voice would help others feel God’s spirit.  He also blessed her to be able to love unconditionally and to find joy in serving others.

It was a beautiful day and a great celebration of this new sweet baby who has joined our family!

Postpartum Survival: 5 Things No One Tells You About

The newborn phase is a wonderful time of life, but it helps to be prepared by knowing what to expect, good and bad!

Nesting Days Baby Carrier  (Use code WHISKEM for an extra $5 off!)

 

The postpartum period can make a new mom feel happy, exhausted, overwhelmed, grateful, frustrated, and back to happy again, sometimes all within an hour!  It’s an emotional rollercoaster, one for which many women are completely unprepared.  Despite what anyone else goes through or tells you, it can be a wonderful, joyful period of life…if you know what to expect!

In all honesty, the 4th trimester with my first two kids was pretty rough.  Both births weren’t what I’d expected and everything was all still so new to me, that I’ll admit I certainly didn’t enjoy it very much.

Fast forward 6 more kids and if there’s one thing I’ve learned after all these births, it’s how to love the newborn phase.  It’s not that it’s become all that much easier (although my body has become more efficient at some things) but rather that I know what’s coming and I’m prepared for it.  Once the fear and anxiety factors are gone, it becomes so much more enjoyable!

Without further adieu, here’s my list of 5 things no one adequately prepares you to experience during the postpartum period:

 1.There will be bleeding, and lots of it.  Think the worst day of your period, every day for a week and sometimes longer.  I bled for less than two weeks with my easiest recovery and for close to 6 weeks after my c-section.  It totally varies, but just know that it will happen and it will be a LOT!  A good excuse to take it really easy those first few weeks and rest with the babe.

 2. You’ll have random aches and pains that you’ve never had before: really tender nipples, aching uterus, sore girly parts, and sometimes more! I knew I would be sore, but my biggest surprise after my first birth was how bad the “afterbirth” pains would be (think intense period cramps).  Your uterus continues to contract for days after birth, especially while breastfeeding and even after a c-section, and while it’s necessary to stop the bleeding and get your uterus back to normal, it’s not always a walk in the park!  You doctor can suggest something to take if the pain gets to be too much.

 3.You’ll ride a rollercoaster of emotions and will probably feel a little depressed for a few days.  I have experienced “baby blues” after every single pregnancy; usually after about day 2 or 3 when the initial wave of visitors is over, I get kind of overwhelmed with a new baby and a transitional body and start feeling really lonely.  After the first 3 births it kind of threw me for a loop, but now I expect it, recognize it for what it is and remind myself that it won’t last forever.  Invite a friend over, get out of the house if possible (even just for a walk around the block) and you should be back to normal in no time! 

(Note: if you’re still feeling depressed after a week or so, are having trouble bonding with your baby or having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, call your doctor right away! Postpartum depression, although not as common, does affect many women and can be treated. Don’t let yourself suffer unnecessarily.)

 4. Your baby might have a hard time transitioning to life outside the womb.  Some of my kids were great eaters and sleepers right away, and others seemed a little distressed after birth.  I think it’s just a harder adjustment for some babies and the best thing for these little munchkins is to be in their mama’s arms.  Being held skin to skin is especially beneficial for a baby in distress, and I love using the Nesting Days baby carrier pictured here.  It’s like a wrap carrier (without all the wrapping) designed to be worn with just a nursing bra, so you and your baby can be skin to skin and you can still use your arms!  I wear it around the house just like this, or throw a cardigan over it to go for a walk.  I haven’t had a baby yet who didn’t settle right down after being worn up against me.

 

If you’re pregnant, you can preorder the carrier for $10 off the retail price and use code WHISKEM to get an extra $5 off!

 5. The first few weeks will be over before you know it; let the housework, meals and worry go and just enjoy resting with your new baby. As a certified addict to “getting things done”, resting is a very hard thing for me to do.  But after each baby I’ve realized more and more how rare it is to have a few weeks where no one expects anything of us moms; we might as well enjoy it.  Don’t leave the house (unless you need it for sanity), don’t make food, don’t clean, don’t go to church; take a cue from your baby and just eat, sleep and poop! 

 

Having a baby is a crazy, amazing and eye-opening experience, but it’s what we women were made to do!  Don’t let the unknown scare you; it’s one of the most awesome things your body will ever do for you.  If you’re prepared for the not-so-fun stuff, you’ll be able to cuddle and enjoy your baby all the more.

 

Good luck, mamas!

 
Photography by Let Me See You Sparkle

Why your kids need you (and only you)

Doubts about our abilities as mothers are totally normal…but completely unfounded.
Here’s why your kids need you as their mom!

Happy Friday, friends!  Life has been verrrrry interesting lately, what with this new baby around and the stress of figuring out how to manage and balance all of my mothering responsibilities.  Every big transition is like that, don’t you think?  Super crazy and overwhelming for a while, then you gradually settle into a routine and, for better or for worse, this becomes your new normal.

I’ve realized that anytime life throws us curveballs, lots of insecurities and doubts tend to come along with them.  Thoughts about what we’re messing up and about how the rest of our life may be adversely affected by these changes.  Having a new baby means less housework gets done, less time spent with the other kids, fewer opportunities to finish work projects and thoughts about whether or not we’re up for all the new responsibilities and stressors.

Being a mom of a big family means that I struggle with self-doubt and insecurities every. single. day.  I strongly believe that God called me to be a mom, to have all these kids, to homeschool them and to lead the life we live.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t constantly wonder about all the ways I’m failing every day.

Here’s the thing: your kids are your kids on purpose.  It’s no crapshoot that each family ends up together; all parents have personality traits, talents and abilities designed to help prepare their specific kids to become the best people they can be.  I know that sounds like a tall order to fill; personally it seems impossible that I could ever give all my children everything they need.

The important thing to remember is how little our kids actually need to thrive.  Yes, that’s right…how little.  They don’t need Pinterest parties or a mom in runway-worthy looks or even homecooked meals.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but when Luke and I got certified to become foster parents, we walked out of the training thinking about how we, and every single parent we know, are doing a pretty freaking stellar job.  We love our kids, we try to do right by them and we leave the rest up to God.

None of us knows exactly what sorts of trials we (or our children) will encounter in our lives.  But I really believe that we’ll be equipped to handle them because of the families we’ve been given.  Sure, our kids drive us crazy and our parents aren’t perfect – but we’re meant to be right where we are.

While our children don’t need picture perfect moms and dads, they do need parents who  love each other and their kids and who admit and apologize when they make mistakes.  They need parents who realize the blessings of being a parent and at least try to enjoy it now and then!  Parenthood ain’t for sissies…but I know each of us has what it takes to be GREAT at it!

If You Love Them, Leave Them

Getting away from the kids and house can do wonders for any mom’s soul.
If you need a recharge, chances are good maybe you need an escape!


If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I recently spent a few days in sunny, colorful Palm Springs for Altitude Summit (also known as Alt), a conference for creative entrepreneurs and bloggers.  I’d been looking forward to mixing, mingling and learning from other amazing creatives at this conference for almost a year…but it was only a couple months ago that I realized I’d be 38+ weeks pregnant at the time!

I decided to take the risk and make the four hour drive with some friends (including another very pregnant blogger) and I’m so glad I did!  You all know how passionate I am about taking time for yourself as a mom and homemaker and even though this was technically a “business” trip, it was just what I needed to recharge.

Moms spend their days pouring their hearts and souls into their children’s lives and their homes, it’s only right that we take time for ourselves sometimes.  Whether that comes in the form of a weekly art class, a lunch date with friends or a weekend away with the hubs, the important thing is that we never forget to take care of ourselves first and foremost.

I’ve found that I love being productive during my alone time by working on my blog or creating something of beauty.  At Alt, I met and saw women (and a couple brave men!) who were sheer powerhouses in their businesses and creative ventures.  Stylish fashion bloggers, savvy PR and marketing managers, creative Instagram moguls, you name it!  They were all in the business of kicking butt and taking names.

Every one of these women had taken something they were passionate about and turned it into a a fulfilling career that they were pursuing regardless of all the other obligations hanging over their heads.

While I’ll always consider the time invested in my children and husband the best use of my time, I remind myself regularly that by developing my own talents, hobbies and interests, I’m becoming a better mother and wife to those I love.  And I’m confident that our eventual transition into the “empty nester” phase of life will be a lot less jarring if we’re already pursuing some of our own passions.

What do you do to make yourself feel recharged and ready to take on the tasks of motherhood?

Healthy Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SameSilkySmoothTaste #CollectiveBias

Busy moms rejoice!  Check out these 4 make-ahead healthy breakfast ideas that your kids will love.

Hey all!  Life just keeps getting crazier and crazier up in here as we’re heading into the last month of this pregnancy.  Lots to do and get ready and not enough time or energy to do it all! (Seriously, someone please just come get me off the couch.)

In my effort to eat better this new year, I’ve put together a list of my 4 favorite quick and healthy breakfast ideas; they also happen to be approved by kids!  These are easy to make ahead of time and inhale in a flash or while running out the door.

NOTE: These are all dairy-free which means they’re perfect for any of you who struggle with an allergy or intolerance or who are trying to eat a more plant-based diet.  Liam’s still avoiding lactose due to his chronic stomach pain so these work perfectly for us!

Silk Almondmilk is one of my favorite substitutes for dairy milk since it has no cholesterol or saturated fat and the kids love it.  I was also excited to see Silk’s non-dairy creamers – the perfect plant-based alternative for your coffee or my personal fave: hot cocoa!  You can find all of Silk’s non-dairy products at Walmart in the refrigerated dairy cases.  Look for the new packaging coming out this month!

  1.  Homemade granola
    This is one of my all-time favorite breakfasts!  I make this granola (or a similar version) every other week and store it in an airtight container.  My favorite way to eat it is like cereal with Silk Almondmilk and sliced bananas or strawberries on top.
  2. Overnight Oats
    This is one of my healthy eating secret weapons!  I love oatmeal but don’t always have the time or inclination to make a whole pot of it. Instead, I mix the following in a glass or bowl the night before and then store it in the fridge:
    1/3 c rolled oats
    1/3-1/2 Silk non-dairy yogurt
    1 Tbs chia seeds
    1/2 banana (mashed or sliced)
    sprinkling of cinnamon
    pinch of saltIn the morning I give it another stir and then add any other toppings like nuts, nut butters, fruit and a bit of pure maple syrup or honey.  (This recipe feeds one hungry mom but can easily be multiplied to feed the whole family.)
  3. Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hash
    While this breakfast takes a little longer to make, I love making a huge pan of it for dinner or on a Saturday morning and then storing the leftovers for whenever I need something a little heartier during the week.  It’s been a breakfast obsession of mine this pregnancy!4-5 large sweet potatoes
    1 lb good quality chorizo (or other sausage)
    4-6 eggs (depending on how many people you’re serving)

    Chop sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces (you can peel them ahead of time but it’s not necessary) and spread them over a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and a couple tablespoons of liquid coconut oil and roast at 400 degrees until soft (about 20-25 min).  Meanwhile, fry chorizo on the stove, stirring and scraping the pan until cooked through and caramelized.  Add sweet potatoes to chorizo and stir to combine.  Crack eggs over the hash and cook until whites are firm.  You can also season with rosemary and other spices.


  4. Protein Smoothie
    Green smoothies are THE best on-the-go breakfast or snack.  We often make them ahead of time or store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days; I store them in quart-sized mason jars and screw on these plastic lids.  Shake well before drinking and it’s just as good as the first day!  Below is the recipe for one of my favorites…

    Blend the following in a blender for 1 minute:
    3-4 c Coconut water, Silk non-dairy milk or plain filtered water
    2-3 c spinach, kale or other leafy green
    1 c raw almonds (even better if they’ve been soaked overnight)Then add:
    1 c strawberries
    1 ripe banana
    1/2 c mango
    1/2 c pineapple

    Blend again for about 90 seconds, until smooth.  This makes a TON of smoothie and completely fills my big blender, so you might have to scale down if you have a smaller one 🙂  We often add flaxseed, chia seeds or hemp seeds on top for added nutrition.  YUM!  Let me know if you try any of these or if you have go-to healthy breakfast faves at your house that I need to know about!

Family Pictures and Milestones

Check out our most recent family pictures!

 

Hurray for family pictures!  I’m thrilled to finally post all these…my sweet photographer Breanne had a baby right after shooting these and then Christmas and New Year’s so bless her heart for all the editing she’s been catching up on!

I love them all more than words can express and I hope you enjoy them at least a little 🙂

Liam is 11 this year and just the most delightful preteen around.  I seriously had no idea the older kid years would be so stinking much fun.  He has a hilarious sense of humor, is super intelligent and the BEST helper I could ask for.  He thinks nothing of jumping up every time I ask for something and is a fantastic big brother.  I can’t wait to see him as a teen!

Toby is 9 and the class clown of our homeschool – haha.  He is always happy and joking and LOVES little babies…he’s always hanging around Mimi and helping her.  Even at age 4 he loved holding the newborn twins so seeing him all grown up with a newborn (next month!) will be a lot of fun.  It took a while to convince him that reading can be as much fun as jumping on the trampoline but I love seeing him enjoy it now.

Juliet is bubbly, outgoing and can talk your ear off about anything…in other words, a pretty typical 7 year old girl.  She gets so excited about EVERYTHING so it’s kinda hard to keep a straight face when she’s talking to you.  Her latest obsessions are reading (Boxcar Children and Ramona Quimby books), her giant stuffed bear, riding her bike and gymnastics.

Vivan (aka the curly-haired twin) is a boisterous, opinionated and darling 5 year old.  She and Kira are THRILLED to be attending school one day a week and she doesn’t seem the least bit bothered by the fact that she can’t really write anything yet 🙂  Her personality is maddening on bad days and spunky on the good – I couldn’t love it more.

Kira is the most delightful little 5 year old lately!  She’s easy to please, quick to laugh and always obedient.  Kira worships her big sister Juliet and wants to copy everything about her, including her love of fashion, makeup and high heels.  We’re excited to see her get really close to reading independently too!

Finn is your typical, mischevious 3 year old, with a side of sweetness.  I’m really looking forward to seeing him with a new baby…he’s finally learning how to be tender and careful with little ones!  He and Mimi are developing a super cute little friendship as well, now that they share a bedroom (and when Finn’s not teaching her how to lose at sword fighting).  I’m thrilled that potty training has finally taken hold and his obsession with Star Wars knows no bounds!

Mimi (short for Marilyn) has been THE best baby on the planet!  Which just means that I hardly know what to do with the recent toddler curiosity that keeps her emptying 13 cabinets a day.  She is chubby and happy and a super great sleeper…in other words, a gateway baby to the next one! She’s also a girly girl to the extreme, in love with purses and shoes and trying on every lipgloss I own.

The love and adoration I have for this man is neverending.  Luke is the funniest, calmest, most loving man I know and I have never once seen him actually get angry in the 13 years we’ve known each other.  It takes a special guy to be willing to have a whole bunch of kids AND work hard enough to feed and keep them all in clothes, and I’m grateful for him every day.

Check out this post to see how I choose coordinating outfits for all these hooligans!

And these tips will help you succeed at family pictures every time.

Mom Goals for the New Year

Becoming a better mom is always one of my goals…give your kids this free survey to see how they think you’re doing!

Happy New Year!

I just love new beginnings and fresh starts…plus buying pretty new planners doesn’t hurt things either!

Since lots of my new goals this year have to do with being a better mom, I started thinking about what exactly that means.  Although I have my own ideas of how to measure my “success” as a mom, this year I want to focus on being the mom my kids need and want me to be.

Now if I gave them the option, I’m sure they’d tell me that a GOOD mom would feed them candy for breakfast and let them watch TV all day long.  So instead, I’ve created a simple little 10 question survey to get some specific ideas of what my kids think I can improve upon this year.

I’m hoping that this ends up being a fun little activity you can do with your kids to get a little insight into how their cute minds work.  I DON’T want it to end up being just a guilt-inducing exercise!  We all know we’re not perfect, but most of the time our kids think we’re pretty great.

You can download the survey HERE.

Feel free to print off copies or just have a little one on one chat with each kid and jot down their answers.

Have a great start to 2017 and I’d love to hear what cute, funny things your kids come up with!

Merry Christmas!

As we head into a magical holiday weekend, I wanted to wish you all a VERY Merry Christmas and happy New Year!  This is absolutely my favorite time of year, especially as a mom where I get to see my kids just giddy with excitement and joy over all the holiday gifts and traditions!

Like I’m sure most of you, I try to instill in my children the importance of looking outside themselves at this time of year, to teach them the joy that comes from serving and to remember the very first gift of Christmas, given over 2000 years ago.

I am humbled and awed at the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and how His perfect example and love can help us even in the darkest of times.  Regardless of what you believe, I’m grateful for a time of year when everyone can feel the call to be a little kinder, show a little more charity and be a little more filled with love.

I’m overflowing with gratitude for this little/big family of mine, for my beliefs and for the blogging opportunities I’ve had this year! Thank you ALL so much for reading and allowing me to turn some of my passions into a part time gig.

Much love and peace to every one of you!!

XOXO

Traveling with Kids: You Can Do It!

With a little preparation (and a good attitude) anyone can enjoy a family vacation, even with lots of little kids!

survive-family-travel-pin

This year my awesome mother-in-law suggested we all fly to Montana to visit Luke’s oldest sister and have a nice, cold, festive Thanksgiving! We said yes, of course, and the kids were brimming with excitement for weeks!

I, on the other hand, began to feel the vague misgivings of a potential looming disaster.  To say I felt uneasy about the logistics of getting 7 kids through airport security and a flight without meltdowns would be putting it lightly.  Also, I was 7 months pregnant.  You understand my hesitation.

In the end, the flight TO Montana was a dream; everyone was so excited, they were angels!  The flight back was, ah, well…not as successful.  I mentioned to Luke afterwards that overall I’d describe that second flight as “less than painful than 2 root canals”, and he agreed.   Take that as you will.

I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for surviving travel with the whole family!  Or even just a handful of the family.  Or even just ONE tyrannic toddler.  Read on for some ideas that really can make or break the trip…

cabin-family-vacation

travel-with-kids

plane-travel-kids

  1. If staying in a hotel or rental property (vs. staying with relatives) pack toys, food and baby feeding supplies.My big kids love a pack of cards or some books; a couple of action figures, pocket-sized dolls or matchbox cars work well for the younger crowd.   We prefer to stay in rooms with a kitchenette if possible and always buy some snacks and cereal to tide kids over between meals.  Make feeding time for the baby or toddler easier by packing the special spoons, sippy cups and bibs that you usually use at home.  And check out this portable booster seat!  Genius.
  2. Make sure you’ll have everything necessary to keep the littles happy at bedtime: a portable crib, pacifier(s!), favorite blanket and white noise machine (we love this one but sometimes even use a white noise app on our phones!) are our favorite tools for a peaceful nighttime routine, even in a strange place.  Think about your own child’s evening habits and make sure you can replicate them as closely as possible while on vacation.Finding a dark, quiet place for a baby or toddler to sleep can be the trickiest step.  My ideal place to set up a portable crib is in a large walk-in closet!  I’ve also had success putting a crib between the decorative and blackout layers of curtains in a hotel room, shielding baby from both the morning sun and the TV or hotel room lights.  I even once put a infant to sleep on a thick blanket in an empty bathtub!  We turned on the bathroom exhaust fan and closed the door and she slept like a dream.  (This only works with very little babies who are non-mobile, obviously!)
    traveling-with-toddlers

how-to-fly-with-kids
family-travels

3.  Be sure to pack well for your children, without going overboard.  This can be hard to do but I generally pack something like this:
Kids ages 7+: 1 shirt, pair socks and pair underwear per day and 1 pair of pants for every other day
Kids ages 2-6: 1 full outfit (shirt, pants, socks, underwear) per day PLUS 1 extra outfit
Kids ages 2 and under: Same as above but bring TWO extra outfits

Obviously this can be adjusted depending on how long you stay, whether or not you have access to a washing machine and the likelihood of your children ruining outfits (muddy or snowy places, etc).  And don’t forget to pack each day’s clothes up together by taking everything your kid will need for 1 day and then rolling it all up tightly.   Then there’s no rummaging around suitcases looking for stuff!

4.  Lastly, if you’re going to be flying with your crew, don’t be tempted to overpack!  There are a few essentials you want to have with you, but the less crap you have to haul through security and 4 miles to your gate (which, when traveling with kids, will always be the furthest one possible, obviously) the better!

Here are my essentials: Drinks and snacks (especially if your airline doesn’t provide much, and nowadays most don’t!), a new toy, coloring book (with attached markers/crayons if possible!), movie or games on a device (don’t forget headphones and a splitter if needed), and a book for older children who can read.  My hands-down best trick for keeping kids happy this trip?  A giant bag of little suckers.  I’ve learned to let go of my control freakish tendencies when traveling and just give the kids whatever keeps them happy….within reason.
Also check out this post for my favorite household items to entertain squirmy toddlers on a plane!

Comment below with any other tried and true tips you have for making family vacay fun and easy!

airplane-kids-travel

vacation-with-kids