Our favorite gifts for new moms are ones that merge practicality with a bit of fun and indulgence. A bespoke British tote featuring an image of baby, an agenda to keep her on task (with a chic animal print cover), stationery with a sense of humor . . . these are the things that are sure to make a newly minted mama smile on her first Mother's Day. Celebrate Spring, and the new mom in your life, in style!
Can you imagine being told by your employer to train your breasts to stop producing milk during a specific time frame? According to a former teacher in Carmel, CA, that's exactly what happened when she told her manager that she needed 15 minutes each morning to pump.
The Monterey Herald reported that in a lawsuit filed in late October, Sarah Ann Lewis Boyle said she was discriminated against and forced to pump her breasts with little privacy until the baby was weaned. When it came time for her job evaluation, she received very low marks, and her two-year contract with the school district was not renewed.
Of course, this isn't the first instance of workplace challenges for pumping moms, and it won't be the last. While being told to "train" your breasts to halt milk production seems like a pretty extreme directive from an employer (and downright cruel to the baby), it got us wondering: if you pumped at work, what was your experience like? Vote in the poll below, and then share your personal experience. We want to hear it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly!
With pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery alike, you have no way of knowing how your body will respond until you're in the thick of it. Some women never go back to their prebaby selves, others work hard at reclaiming their bodies, and a lucky few get to leave the hospital looking and feeling just like they did 10 months earlier.
When it comes to postpartum recovery, there are plenty of products out there to speed the process along, from the gimmicky to the medically proven. What you decide to try and what you decide to ignore are entirely personal decisions. Here are 10 postbaby fixes that, depending on your needs, may be worth a try. What worked best for you and your body after baby?
When you're a new mom, it's easy to get into the habit of assuming that wherever you go, your baby will be by your side. So when an invitation comes along — especially one honoring another babe on the way — do you automatically assume that it includes you and your little one?
Earlier this Fall, I was invited to a Saturday-afternoon shower for one of my oldest friends. Since the location was a bit out of the way and it was a four-hour affair, I assumed that bringing my breastfeeding 3-month-old would be A-OK. Alas, I was wrong. The hostess was quick to inform me that the focus of the party was the honoree, not my baby, who was cordially uninvited.
Not wanting to cause a fuss, I left the baby home with his dad and an ample milk supply, and he was fine. It had just never dawned on me that anyone would be opposed to having a baby at a baby shower. What do you think? Is it OK to bring a small baby to a friend's baby shower, or are they better left at home?
Amongst the many adjustments that new moms learn to make in the first few weeks of bringing home baby is that of the morning routine. Gone are the days of leisurely showers and sipping coffee while catching up on the news of the day — now the challenge is to get yourself into a reasonably presentable state in the least amount of time possible. Luckily, we've learned a few shortcuts and are more than happy to share. Check out these seven tips and tricks for making mama's morning just a bit easier.
Once word gets out that you're home from the hospital with your new baby, you're likely to receive a barrage of well-meaning visitors who just can't wait to get their hands on the new addition. While all of that attention and enthusiasm from friends and family is fun, when combined with sleepless nights, it can also be downright exhausting.
Saying that I "learned this the hard way" would be a bit drastic, as more than anything, I felt very fortunate that so many people were waiting in the wings to share our excitement. That said, for baby number two, there are a few things I'd do differently. Here's some advice that I wish someone had shared with me to make those first few weeks at home just a little less chaotic.
- Don't Be Afraid to Say No. I hated to turn away any visitors, even if I was in need of a break. But when there's a newborn in the picture, it turns out that it's OK to bend the rules of etiquette a bit. Even if someone is offering the generous gifts of time, company, or food, let them know how much you appreciate the gesture, but that you'd rather wait until a less busy day or week.
- Don't Be Afraid to Say Yes. My default response to offers of help of any sort is usually "we're fine," "just bring yourself," or something to that effect. In retrospect, I wish I'd been a little more honest when friends and family offered to run errands or cook for us. A stop by the drugstore or a pickup at the Chinese restaurant is an easy task for an adult on their own . . . not so much with a newborn. So don't be shy — let people know what you need. You can pay it back later!
- Let Experienced Parents Share Their Tricks. While trying to calm a fussy baby isn't necessarily the most fun part of the first few weeks of motherhood, for someone who hasn't had a newborn in the house in decades, it can be a welcome treat — really. When a childhood friend and her mom came to visit, my little guy got cranky. The friend's mom offered to take him for a bit. She got him to sleep, and I got to relax and visit, hands-free, for a bit.
After my baby was born, I was thrilled to plow through my maternity clothes and share, store, or toss them. But it didn't take long for me to realize that there was a whole new wardrobe consideration that I'd have to factor in — easy access for nursing my little round-the-clock eater. The Summer sundresses that I'd planned on wearing simply weren't doing the trick.
While revamping your entire closet shouldn't be necessary, incorporating a few well-thought-out pieces will make a world of difference. When you're entertaining the onslaught of new-baby visitors and attempting to get out of the house in those early days, there's nothing worse than finding yourself in an awkward outfit dilemma. Any or all of these eight finds for Fall will ensure that you're able to feed your babe easily and modestly — at home or on the go.
Lucky you — not only do you have a new baby, but you also have a slew of people saying, "What can I do to help?!" These well-intentioned friends and family can be a tremendous asset during your first few weeks of motherhood, but it's important to manage their offers, and what you ask of them, with tact and appreciation. Here, we offer our guide to the integral members of your new "momtourage" and how to accept help from each of them.
- The BFF: While everyone talks about the first few weeks of motherhood being exhausting and overwhelming, the less spoken-about issue that many new mamas face is a feeling of confinement and isolation. There may be nothing more appealing during those first few weeks than having a familiar friend — one who doesn't mind if your house is a mess and your conversation is interrupted by the baby's erratic feeding schedule — around to make you laugh and to update you on your group's gossip (and other current affairs).
- Your Mom: She's been there before, and if you're lucky, then she's the person you can go to for anything and everything. Whether you want a nap, are craving a favorite food, or need an hour or two away from the baby, go ahead: be honest with your mom . . . she gets it.
- Your Dad (or Father-in-Law): If he's like most dads, then he's best put to use with a specific task or project. If there are still any pieces of baby gear or furniture to be put together, art to be hung in the nursery, or prescriptions to be picked up, then this is where dear old Dad can come in handy.
"When I had my baby, after 50 hours of unbelievable labor, I came home to a kitchen that was not quite through a remodel and a pretty empty fridge," said Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, founding editor of The Kitchn. "After that, I swore that from then on I would always cook for my friends when they had babies, and that is how my famous Taco Box evolved."
We thought Sara Kate's New Baby Taco Box concept was such a clever (and actually useful) way to welcome home a new family, we were thrilled when she agreed to let us share it with you. Here's what's inside:
- The Crate: Sara Kate's version is made from a wine crate, which she says you can ask a wine shop or local restaurant for (they'll most likely be happy to unload a few). She blocked out the words "Taco Box" in masking tape, spray-painted the whole thing, and let it dry.
- The Flowers: Even if mom got plenty of flowers at the hospital, fresh blooms are always welcome (and especially nice when you know that the new family's likely to be cooped up inside for the better part of the first few weeks).
- The Tacos: Shredded chicken, pork, or beef can be divvied up into freezer bags and used immediately, or frozen for later. Stash tortillas in another Ziploc bag, along with store-bought or homemade guacamole, salsa, rice, and whatever other accompaniments you please.
- The Booze: New parents are likely to have lots of friends and family visiting, so a six-pack of beer or a bottle of their favorite wine is likely to be a welcome treat.
Other Fun New Baby Box Ideas
Tacos not your thing? No worries. The concept is easily adaptable to whatever you think the new parents would enjoy most. A few more ideas . . .
- Breakfast in a Box: Include pancake or waffle mix, good maple syrup, fresh fruit, a bag of a favorite coffee or tea, milk, and juice.
- Easy Italian: Go traditional with a homemade lasagna or baked ziti (these are also great because they can easily be popped into the freezer), or pick up the foundations — a box of good pasta, a jar of sauce, a loaf of Italian bread, and pair with salad ingredients, something sweet, and if it suits you, a bottle of wine.
- Mediterranean Mezze: Hummus, pita chips, good olives, and grape leaves are perfect for a family who prefers to graze than to sit down to a big meal. Also a good option if you know that they'll have a lot of family in and out.
- Souper Soups: Soup freezes easily, can feed a crowd, and is likely to last for several meals. Make a double portion of a favorite kind, and divvy it up into multiple plastic containers so that they can enjoy some now, and freeze some for later. Be sure to include some good crackers or bread and salad fixings as well.
- Chef For a Day (or Night): If it's a really, really good friend (the kind who won't be too polite to tell you that she's exhausted and it's time to go home), offer to come over and cook dinner (let her make menu suggestions) one afternoon or early evening. So long as she's feeling OK, she'll appreciate the company, and it'll give you time to visit with the new parents and baby. Just don't leave any dirty dishes!
Here in the US, the postpartum Ob/Gyn interaction for a new mom generally involves little more than the six-week checkup, where she's usually cleared to have sex again, and perhaps given some gentle encouragement to try Kegel exercises.
So you can imagine the shock of American writer Claire Lundberg, who after giving birth to her daughter in Paris, was prescribed 10-20 sessions of . . . vaginal physical therapy. La rééducation périnéale has been paid for by French Social Security since 1985, and was implemented not only to aid in restoring a healthy sex life for new parents, but also to encourage additional pregnancies and increase the national birthrate. Lundberg shared her hilarious recollection of the experience on Slate.com:
There are two methods for the reeducation itself, manual and biofeedback, and most kinés use a combination of the two. The first is just what it sounds like: The therapist inserts two fingers into your wuzza and talks you through a series of exercises designed to give you better control over your muscles. Can you, for example, contract your vagina and pull her fingers in and up? You may find this cringingly embarrassing, especially when afterward she tells you, "C’est assez faible" ("It’s rather weak") and that you’re going to need more than 10 sessions.
New moms, how would you feel about a postnatal prescription for vaginal therapy?