How to Fully Embrace the Breastfeeding Lifestyle

Breastfeeding is a totally natural part of motherhood, but that does not mean it comes easy for many moms. Any good breastfeeding class will teach mothers about how to latch their baby well and how to feed-on-demand to support a healthy milk supply. While these are two vitally important aspects of breastfeeding success, preparing for the lifestyle of breastfeeding is just as critical. Furthermore, when a women learns to fully embrace these lifestyle changes, she may find that nursing her baby comes with so many unexpected rewards as well. So if you’re expecting a baby or you’re new to the breastfeeding gig, here’s a few things to mentally prepare for.

Prepare to Ask For Help From Many Different Professionals

The first thing to prepare for as a new breastfeeding mother is that you will likely have to ask for help. While many babies latch well immediately after birth, this is not always the case. Fortunately, there are a plethora of nurses, lactation consultants, doulas, and even pediatric dentists who are filled with expertise on getting a baby to latch well.

However, you often have to take the initiative to go to them.

Especially in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, plan on making a couple appointments with professionals who can assist you. Many hospitals offer free support which is wonderful but you might also decide to set aside some money to pay an independent lactation consultant who can come to your home.

Furthermore, if your baby has a tongue or lip tie, you may need to have a dentist revise it.

While all of these appointments can create a bit of chaos in the first few weeks after baby’s arrival, doing so will set you up for painless nursing and a healthy supply going forward. Plus you will end up with a team of professionals in your corner who are rooting for you all the way.

Prepare for Second Night Syndrome

Your hospital or birth center may or may not warn you about “second night syndrome” a name given to describe the extremely common rough second night after a baby’s arrival. During this night, your baby suddenly discovers he is no longer in the comfort of the womb and is instead in a big, new world. He will also realize his greatest comfort is at the breast and will likely want to stay there all night long. If you take the breast away and try to put him down to sleep, he will likely start screaming.

This is totally normal. Take a deep breath and know that you will get through it.

Plan to nurse your baby as often as he wants as you wait for your milk to come in. He will learn to latch and suck properly and your body will know to start producing more milk.

Make sure someone is available to help you through the first few nights. If you have other children, it may be best that they stay with a grandparent for a night or two while you transition. And as cliche as it sounds, plan on napping whenever the baby naps for the next few days. You will need as much sleep as you can get!

Colostrum is your body’s first milk and it’s so rich in nutrients and calories. Additionally, your baby’s stomach is the size of a grape at birth. So, a couple drops of colostrum at each feeding is more than sufficient to sustain your baby while you wait for your milk to come in.

Prepare to have patience, endure a rough night or two, breastfeed as often as the baby wants and when your milk comes in it will be in healthy supply.

Prepare to Make New Friends

In order to breastfeed successfully, it is vital that you have an army of people around you who are supportive of nursing. It is especially helpful if they are currently breastfeeding their own babies. Women need other women who are understanding, caring, and encouraging and it’s no different when trying to adjust to a brand new lifestyle of motherhood and breastfeeding.

If these friends don’t already exist in your life, plan to join a breastfeeding support group where you can make new friends. They will be your biggest cheerleaders, you will know you’re not alone, and you might find these friendships stick with you well past your breastfeeding days.

How to Embrace the Breastfeeding Lifestyle

Prepare to Trust Your Body

Because we never know exactly how much our babies are consuming during breastfeeding, many women are concerned they do not make enough milk. In the United States, claims of low supply are rampant, causing many mothers to fear that they, too, will struggle.

But be encouraged, the vast majority of women are able to produce enough milk for their babies once baby has developed a good latch. (Thyroid disease, PCOS, postpartum depression etc. may cause an issue with supply BUT this is not always the case and many women with these conditions can still breastfeed partially or exclusively.)

Nurse on demand, whenever your baby is soothed by it, and most likely your body will know just what to do. Trust the process, mama. You’ve got this.

Prepare to Trust Your Baby

Feeding on demand can be a little overwhelming, especially because in our culture, we rely heavily on schedules. But the truth is, babies do not understand that they are supposed to eat every 3 hours and they can’t tell time even if they did get that memo.

However, babies were biologically designed to cry out for exactly what they need exactly when they need it. So it’s helpful to trust your baby and nurse her whenever she is soothed by it because nursing by the clock is one of the biggest hindrances to milk supply.

So mama, embrace the freedom that your baby gives you as you learn to trust him and follow his lead. You will be a wonderful mom regardless if your days are scheduled or not.

Prepare to Breastfeed… A lot

Many mothers find that their baby wants to nurse more often than the recommended “2-3 hour” time slots. During some parts of the day a baby may nurse every hour. This is called cluster feeding. It is normal and does not indicate a low supply.

It’s important to remember that breastfeeding satisfies so many of your baby’s needs beyond simple calories. If she is thirsty, if she needs help pooping, if she is in pain, if she is battling illness, if she is scared, if she needs to sleep, or if she needs basic comfort, she will find help at the breast. Nursing was designed so amazingly well!

So stock up on movies to watch and books to read to keep you entertained as you nurse. Mentally prepare to breastfeed your child often, both day and night. This is the best way to build supply and often the simplest way to keep your baby happy. Embrace this gift, mama.

Prepare to Eat

It takes about 300-500 extra calories a day and a couple extra cups of water to make enough milk for a baby. This means that for the average woman, eating less than 1800 calories a day may cause trouble with milk supply. There’s a few reasons many women have trouble reaching this caloric goal: 1) They forget to eat while hustling all day to take care of their baby, 2) They are trying to lose weight too quickly, and 3) Postpartum Depression has significantly reduced their appetite.

In regard to the first situation, be prepared to have high quality snacks in your fridge and pantry at all times. Make extras at dinner so that there will be leftovers for lunch. And prep fruit and vegetables ahead of time so you can quickly grab them when needed. Remember, you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your baby so don’t feel bad about making time to eat.

In the second situation, remember that healthy weight loss takes time. Focus more on responding to your body’s hunger cues with whole, healthy choices rather than denial. It may be helpful to count calories, but it’s important to treat breastfeeding like a cardio workout. You must make up those extra calories so that your net caloric intake is at a healthy level. So if you need to net 1500 calories a day in order to lose one pound a week at your current weight, you actually need to eat 1800-2000 calories a day to make up for breastfeeding. As your baby continues to nurse in their first year and beyond you are likely to find that maintaining a healthy weight is easier than it ever was before, but it’s important to have patience and prioritize your overall health above the number on the scale.

And lastly, postpartum depression is a battle all its own, and to any mama struggling with it, remember that your mental health is incredibly important. Focus first on getting the support and resources you need and then later you can focus on breastmilk supply. You’re a wonderful mom and your supply does not change that ♥️

Prepare to Feed in Public

Whether you use a cover or not is completely up to you, but getting comfortable with breastfeeding in public allows many new moms a sense of freedom that they desperately need. When women feel they cannot nurse in public, they end up staying home all day or they leave parties when they need to feed. This can often make a woman feel isolated which can be a catalyst for postpartum depression. This fact alone has been one of the biggest reasons why I choose to breastfeed in public.

Some women find that practicing breastfeeding in front of a mirror gives them confidence that they can modestly nurse in public. It may also be helpful to practice nursing in different positions so that you and your baby feel more comfortable feeding in whatever situation you find yourself in.

Whether it’s in a ring sling at the store, in the middle of a restaurant or in one of the many new breastfeeding rooms being offered in public places, prepare your mind now to feed your baby outside of the home.

Breastfeeding is a unique lifestyle but it never has to completely interfere with any of your other lifestyle choices. So take heart mama, you don’t have to give up doing what you love!

How to embrace the breastfeeding lifestyle

Prepare to Consider Bedsharing

While sleeping arrangements are definitely a personal decision and not one that I want to interfere with, I do feel it’s important that breastfeeding moms feel the freedom to bedshare if they desire. Cosleeping may not be the norm in the modern day United States but it is the norm in the rest of the world and for most of history.

The truth is, most breastfeeding infants need to be fed often throughout the night and if a women has to get out of bed to feed her baby in the nursery she will likely wind up exhausted.

But bedsharing allows her to feed and comfort her baby while laying down next to him. She doesn’t even have to fully wake up, let alone sit up in bed. Her baby is soothed all throughout the night and as a result, bedsharing, breastfeeding moms generally get the most sleep.

So as you prepare to breastfeed, consider looking up safe cosleeping requirements and opening up your bed. Again, this is completely your decision but with this option you may find that motherhood doesn’t have to be as tiring as society makes you believe.

Prepare for Breastfeeding to Be Difficult But Then to Get So Much Easier

The truth is, breastfeeding often starts off hard. There is so much to learn while also recovering from birth, regulating hormones, and losing sleep. It can feel down right overwhelming. But the good news is, breastfeeding usually gets easier every week and often in the 6-12 week range it begins to feel like second nature.

While bottle feeding may feel easier at the beginning, many women find that breastfeeding is easier long term because there is no need to buy formula, pack formula, make bottles, warm bottles, and wash bottles.

Of course different women will have different experiences but if you can prepare to endure through the first couple months, you may find breastfeeding your baby to be a quick and smooth way to nurture him.

In conclusion, breastfeeding is a unique lifestyle that comes with a brand new set of challenges. As we’ve seen, it can affect who we talk to, who we hang out with, what we eat, and how we sleep. But when the breastfeeding lifestyle is fully embraced, it can be an incredibly rewarding process for many women.

What would you add to the list?

Why in the World Would Anyone Ever Want a Natural Birth?

Recently I was asked the question, “Why would anyone want a natural, unmedicated birth? What’s the point?” And I have to say, I was caught off guard and couldn’t gather my thoughts quickly enough to give a good reply.

I completely understand the question. I mean if you can bring life into the world in pain and exhaustion OR numb and rested why would anyone choose the pain?

It seems absurd when you put it like that and yet many women are striving for a medication-free delivery. So what’s motivating them? There are lots of great reasons but first, let’s discuss a not-so-good reason for natural birth.

Don’t Do it for the Cookies

Many women who want a natural birth are discouraged by naysayers who tell them there are no special cookies or trophies for women who birth unmedicated. They are told not to try to be a hero and they are reminded that it doesn’t make them a better woman or a better mom.

And they are correct.

Fortunately, most moms who choose to give birth naturally are completely aware that there will not be a special prize waiting for them at the end. They know there’s no badge of courage and that motherhood will still be full of challenges no matter how they give birth.

Trust me, moms who attempt a natural birth are not looking for a reward and they aren’t trying to prove that they are, in any way, better than the mom with the epidural or scheduled cesarean.

Why in the world would anyone ever want a natural birth?

So why do they do it??

Natural birthings mama’s do so mainly because they have done their research. They know that one intervention usually leads to another and each intervention carries risk. Not only that, but they know that the body’s natural process of giving birth includes many benefits of its own and they truly want to experience all of it.

Cascade of Interventions

The Cascade of Interventions is a term used to describe the concept that one intervention often leads to another.

For example, what may start out as a simple membrane sweep to induce labor could quickly turn into prelabor rupture of membranes without contractions, which could turn into heading to the hospital for Pitocin, which could turn into fetal distress, which could ultimately turn into a cesarean section, a major abdominal surgery.

Epidurals specifically can be a huge player in the cascade game. Many first time moms are unaware that getting an epidural often means getting a bladder catheter which increases their risk of bladder infection. Secondly, epidurals often weaken contractions and Pitocin is used to strengthen them. Furthermore, due to the fact that epidurals numb the body from the waist down, laboring women are stuck in bed. Because movement is key to progress, labor is usually longer, often the pushing stage is longer, and episiotomy, forceps, and vacuum extraction are more likely to be used.

While of course, none of those things are guaranteed and often interventions work beautifully, natural minded mamas prefer to stay as far away from this cascade as possible. They would rather not introduce anything into the labor process that may overcomplicate things unnecessarily. By letting their body dictate what and when things happen, they are hoping to experience a relatively smooth and straight forward labor.

Risks of Interventions

Beyond the fact that one intervention leads to another, every pregnant woman needs to know that each intervention carries inherent risk with it. For example, narcotics given to decrease pain often lower the baby’s heart rate and he or she is more likely to have low APGAR scores at birth and slowed breathing [source].

Epidurals carry many risks that are often not fully discussed with a laboring woman who is ready for pain relief.

As mentioned before, epidurals may prolong the pushing phase of labor and forceps or vacuum extraction may be necessary. Severe perineal tearing is more likely because of this.

Secondly, epidurals often lower blood pressure which may make the mother lightheaded and lower the baby’s oxygen level. This event may warrant an emergency cesarean.

Next, women with an epidural are likely to develop a fever. Because it’s unclear if the fever is simply a side effect of the epidural or the result of an infection, both mom and baby will usually need antibiotics after delivery.

Additionally, around 1% of women who receive an epidural will endure spinal headaches after delivery. These are often debilitating and may require another procedure to fix. Because the first few weeks postpartum are already full of challenges, spinal headaches can be an unwelcome hindrance.

Furthermore, the mother may become drowsy, experience slowed breathing, become extremely itchy, or have an achy back. She may get an infection at the injection site and need to be treated with antibiotics.

Between 10-12% of laboring women will not receive adequate pain relief from an epidural. Sometimes they only go numb on one side of the body but continue to feel contractions on the other.

Finally, serious complications from an epidural include nerve damage, paralysis and seizures, but these are extremely rare and death by epidural is almost non-existent.

For a full review of the benefits and risks of epidurals click here.

Of course, these risks are low and many women have no issues with epidurals at all, but because there is always a chance, many women choose to opt out of medical pain relief and aim for a natural birth instead.

Why in the world would anyone ever want a natural birth?

The Beauty of the Natural

Besides the risk of intervention, natural birth is also full of benefits. Because an unmedicated laboring women can feel everything happening, she is often able to be more in tune with her body. This allows her to instinctively know which position she should move into to help baby descend and continue progressing and she has the mobility to get into any position needed. She is able to push in a variety of different ways including standing, squatting and on all fours. She can feel exactly when and how to push so second stage of labor is often shorter and more effective. She is less likely to tear because she can feel the pressure of her baby moving down allowing for a more gentle descent. Putting all of this together, her recovery is often quicker and she is comfortable walking around independently before a women with an epidural has even gotten the feeling back in her legs.

Because natural birth is an uncomplicated process, labor can happen in an environment that is more conducive to progress. Fear, distraction, and mental stimulation all inhibit the body’s ability to labor effectively. Bright lights, beeping monitors, frequent interruptions and hospital intake questions can all contribute to stalled or slowed labor. On the other hand, the absence of interventions means a woman can labor at home or in a birth center where she is more comfortable, uninterrupted, unhindered, and in greater control of who she has in her space. She is more relaxed and less afraid and her body can labor on. Because of this, the natural birth process often works more smoothly than when interventions are added in without medical necessity.

Though we have made it clear that there is no trophy or special cookies for a natural birthing mama, she may receive a “hormone cocktail” after delivery that leaves her feeling energized and exuberant throughout the beginning of the postpartum period. This is because the body makes Endorphins in response to feeling pain that decrease discomfort and increase positive sensations. When women endure labor unmedicated, they will receive endorphins at full force as well. Cheers to the natural birth high!

Finally, many women find the process of giving birth naturally to be very empowering. Labor is an incredible feat and nearly every woman reaches a point in delivery where she thinks she cannot continue. But when she presses on, she finds out that her body was created to do difficult and powerful things and she discovers new determination and courage that she never knew she had. Women who strive for a natural birth see the beauty in the process and they want to experience it fully.

Keeping it in Perspective

In summary, natural birth is something to plan for because it is less complicated, less risky and it often works beautifully. However, it’s important to keep things in perspective and hold a healthy view of any birth plans a woman may have. Labor is unpredictable and try as we may, there are always factors we simply cannot control. Serious complications do arise and women must be prepared to meet medical intervention with gratitude when it is truly needed. While natural birth might be the goal, healthy birth is the ideal and sometimes medicine is the best way to achieve that.

Related: To the Mama Whose Natural Birth Plan Fell Through

As with any decision, every pregnant woman must do her own research, weigh the pros and cons of each option, assess how much risk she is willing to carry and then decide what is best for her. This looks totally different for different women and that’s completely fine. But I hope this gives you a better understanding of why anyone would willingly want to give birth unmedicated. As always, if you have further questions about this concept, feel free to reach out! I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Why in the world would anyone ever want a natural birth?

Whoa that was close! — How close calls can fill us with peace instead of anxiety.

I remember that day so clearly. I was working outside in the greenhouse while my two year old napped inside. It was hot, the birds were chirping and the wind hummed a peaceful tune.

I have a special place in my heart for summer days like this one. There’s just something about being outside with your hands in the dirt that makes you feel fully alive. Top it off with a toddler sleeping safely in the house and a new baby nestled inside my belly and all felt right in the world.

Whoa that was close. How close calls can fill us with peace instead of fear.

We lived on a half acre lot on a busy highway right next to a bean field. My daughter loves being outside as much as I do but we always felt a certain amount of anxiety in our yard because of the traffic constantly zooming past our house. We had a porch swing and a fire pit along the West border of our yard right beside the bean field. Though I never let our daughter out of my sight, I had grown comfortable with letting her play around the swing while I worked in the greenhouse. Occasionally however, she’d let curiosity get the best of her and wander over to check out the beans. We had firm rules against this but she simply couldn’t stay away.

I don’t remember exactly what I was working on in the greenhouse that day, I just remember that I was very focused and blissfully unaware of the world around me. The air felt quiet, safe and peaceful when all of a sudden my attention was turned to a huge crop sprayer tractor tearing through the field right past our swing and exactly to where my toddler often snuck off to.

Whoa that was close. How close calls can fill us with peace instead of anxiety.

Instantly, I was filled with anxiety. Visions of what could have happened consumed me. What if my daughter had been awake? What if she had been playing over there? Would the farmer have seen her? Would I have been more aware of our surroundings and seen the danger coming? Would I have been able to react and save her soon enough?

Along with those questions, a stubborn resolve quickly set in. I would no longer let her play far away from me. I would keep her close and safe and I would not let my guard down. The world is a scary place so I would need to be more careful.

But almost as quickly as those fears consumed me, a still small voice breathed peace down in my soul. The Holy Spirit whispered,

“I perfectly orchestrated these events this afternoon. I planned for the farmer to work in the field while your daughter was asleep inside. I am in control and I am watching out for you.”

With that, anxiety dripped out of me and comfort settled in. In the past, close calls such as this one had always been perceived as a WARNING sign flashing neon red lights.

Whoa that was close! How close calls can fill us with peace instead of anxiety.

But things completely changed for me that day. Now, whenever I’m frightened by the “what ifs” of parenting, I am immediately comforted by God’s protection. Every time there is a close call it is simply a reminder of His grace and His perfectly orchestrated plan. When something bad almost happens, it no longer has the power to fill me with anxiety if I don’t let it. Instead, I can let it build my faith in the God who has complete control. He knows. He’s watching. We don’t have to be afraid.

In John 14 verse 27 Jesus tells us,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

In Isaiah 40:11 we learn that

“God tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”

Just like the Psalmist in chapter 23 verse 4, we can proclaim that

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”

And finally, let Psalm 91:4-5 speak to you.

“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”

Everywhere we look in Scripture we are reminded that we do not have to be afraid. Like little lambs, God holds our children close to His heart. Even though they will walk on scary paths and inevitably face danger, God will be with them everywhere they go. He is ready to protect them with His rod and His staff at any moment. Consequently, we do not have to fear any of the things our culture tells us to fear.

Whoa that was close! How close calls can fill us with peace instead of fear.

Practically Speaking…

I told my husband what happened during nap time and we did decide together that we needed to be more careful about where our daughter goes in our yard. We learned a practical lesson that day in addition to the spiritual lesson.

I will always be a believer in keeping a close, watchful eye on my kids. That is my mothering style at my core. But the difference is this: I know now that God is the only one who can fully protect my children and He makes it part of His full time job.

I could be the most protective helicopter mom on the planet and still my humanity could fail them. Scary things can and probably will happen to my kids. We will have close calls and I will be attacked by “what ifs”. But each and every time they happen now I will choose to let that event remind me that God coordinated it perfectly. Because of that, anxiety has no place and peace can settle in. What a huge weight taken off of me!

So if you’re reading this, I pray that those words the Holy Spirit spoke to me will permeate your heart as well. I pray that His peace will consume you. I pray against any anxiety that might try to imprison you. I thank God that He is coordinating every step you and your loved ones take. His kingdom come and His will be done, on Earth, just as it is in Heaven.

Amen.

Click the image to learn more about how perfectly God loves our little ones.

How to Give a Breastfed Baby a Bottle in 7 Easy Steps

Giving a baby a bottle may seem like a straightforward process. You simply fill the bottle, put it in the baby’s mouth and hold it there until it’s gone. Easy right?

Actually, nature’s design for feeding infants is more beautifully complex than that. A breastfed baby receives his milk slowly and a little at a time. He is fully in control of when he latches and unlatches and he can change his sucking pattern so that he can comfort nurse without receiving any milk.

Because of this slow and controlled eating pattern, the breastfeed baby perfectly masters portion control at a young age. He becomes very familiar with feelings of hunger versus satiation and he has time to recognize when he is full in order to stop the feeding before he eats too much.

How to give a breastfed baby a bottle in 7 easy steps

On the other hand, when a baby is bottle fed, he has less control over when the nipple is put in his mouth and he cannot control the flow of milk. If he sucks, whether for food or comfort, he will be fed and he may continue to eat past satiation for as long as milk comes out.

This may be part of why a breastfed baby is less likely to be obese in adulthood than a bottle fed baby.

It is also why a baby who is breastfeeding may gulp down a bottle immediately after nursing. This is NOT a sign that the mother has low milk supply but instead a good indicator that baby needs a bit more comfort at the breast. (AND if baby is going through a growth spurt and wanting more milk, the fastest way to boost supply is to continue nursing until baby is satisfied.)

Likewise, the inability to control portion size from a bottle is part of why a breastfed baby may drink much more milk from a bottle than his mother is able to pump for him while she is at work. Unfortunately, if this continues, she may not be able to keep up and will find herself needing to supplement if she wishes to continue working which can further hinder supply.

Therefore, it’s important to try to mimic the breastfeeding process when feeding a breastfed baby a bottle. Not only is this beneficial for the baby because he develops healthy eating habits, it is also vital to the breastfeeding relationship because it protects the mother’s supply and avoids any nipple confusion or preference.

So if you are given the privilege of feeding a breastfed baby a bottle, follow these 7 steps to bottle feeding and you will greatly benefit both the baby and his mama.

How to give a breastfed baby a bottle in 7 easy steps

Step 1: Choose a bottle with a slow flow nipple.

When breastfeeding, a baby has to work to get the milk to flow. The letdown doesn’t happen immediately and milk doesn’t always flow at the same speed. But in a bottle, the flow is regulated by the hole in the nipple. Therefore, choosing the slowest flow will keep him from gulping down the bottle so quickly that he doesn’t have time to recognize feelings of satiation.

Step 2: Put an appropriate amount of milk in the bottle.

The average baby eats about 25-30 ounces a day and feeds between 8-12 times. That means the average baby eats anywhere from 2-3.75 ounces per feeding. Therefore, this is an appropriate amount of milk to put in a breastfed baby’s bottle. Putting more than that in at one time may lead to overfeeding.

Step 3: Hold the baby upright.

It’s important to hold the baby in an upright position rather than holding him flat on his back. This way, he has more control of how much milk goes into his mouth because he has to work against gravity to get it there.

Is breastfeeding an effective form of birth control??? The answer is YES, IF you follow these 7 principles. Click the image to learn more

Step 4: Let the baby draw the nipple into his mouth.

Hold the nipple to the baby’s lips but then let him open his mouth and draw the nipple in. Do not push the nipple into the baby’s mouth uninvited. This gives the baby a say as to whether he is ready for a feed or not.

Step 5: Hold the bottle horizontally.

Much like holding the baby upright, it is also important to hold the bottle horizontally rather than vertically. This slows the flow of milk and gives the baby greater control.

Step 6: Pause the feeding every minute or two.

After baby has taken a couple sucks and swallows, lower the bottle a bit so he can take a break from eating. In doing this, the baby consumes the appropriate amount of milk (2-4 ounces) in the same amount of time that a breastfeeding session typically lasts (10-15 minutes). Once again, this gives the baby a chance to recognize feelings of satiation and stop the feeding before he gets overfull.

Step 7: Let the baby decide when he’s done.

Finally, it’s so important to let the baby be in charge of when to stop eating. If he falls asleep and stops sucking or let’s the nipple fall out of his mouth, let him be finished. While it may be so tempting to encourage him to eat the last ounce in the bottle, remember that he is practicing portion control which will have lifelong benefits for him.

So whether you’re a dad, a grandparent, a family member, a daycare worker, or just someone lucky enough to hang out with a baby, be encouraged that in feeding him this way you are allowing him to eat in a healthy manner that not only benefits him but also protects his breastfeeding relationship with his mother. That is truly something to strive for and celebrate.

Click the image to learn more.

10 Thoughts I Have as I Rock my Toddler to Sleep

Rocking toddlers to sleep can be a somewhat controversial subject. Our culture typically expects independent sleep at an early age which leaves many cosleeping and attachment style moms feeling inferior.

Because of this, in the twenty minutes or so that I used to spend rocking my toddler who had not yet learned to fall asleep on her own, I had so many mental battles and conflicting thoughts.

I originally wrote this list about a year ago and never got around to publishing it until now. Currently, I have a new little baby that I rock to sleep and we lay with my toddler as she falls asleep. So even though I’m no longer rocking a toddler, I still feel each of these emotions and thoughts reading back through. And while I’m grateful that I only rock one child right now, I am already so thankful that I took all of that time out of my day to hold my first daughter.

So if you’re a mama who is feeling conflicted about rocking your child to sleep, let me just say, I see you. I understand all those thoughts. I encourage you to do what is best for you and your baby and then move forward confidently. And just like everyone says literally all the time, this phase will be over before you know it, so soak in those cuddles today.

I hope as you read through this list you find that you’re not alone and there are many moms out there that you can relate to. So let’s get started with the ten thoughts I had (over and over again) during the countless hours I spent rocking my toddler to sleep.

1) I can’t believe we’re still doing this.

Sometimes I’m tempted to start counting up the hours I’ve spent rocking my child to sleep since she was born. It used to be three naps a day and bedtime. Even though she only takes one nap now, it’s still one nap and bedtime and takes roughly 10 minutes (or more) each time. So at the minimum, in two years, I’ve spent about 20,000 minutes (333 hours or 13.8 full days) bouncing, rocking, and singing my baby to sleep. Geez.

10 Thoughts I Have as I Rock My Toddler to Sleep

2) But it’s really not a big deal.

I mean what’s 20 minutes out of my day? Besides, I think it’s important to take time each day to do nothing except cuddle my child. It helps me slow down and unplug and really, I can do this.

3) And they’re only little once.

How many times do we hear this phrase? I know I’m gonna blink and she will be grown up and won’t need me to fall asleep anymore. Just like they always say, one day I’m gonna miss rocking her to sleep. I’m so thankful I have this time now.

4) Hmmm… what age will this independence happen exactly?

It seems like it would help if I knew exactly how much longer this will keep going on. Does 2 1/2 count as grown up enough to fall asleep on her own? Will she be 3? 4? Oh gosh, what if she’s in Kindergarten before we get there?

5) I should have sleep trained.

I should have listened to all those people who told me to let my baby cry it out. They have been happily putting their babies down to fall asleep independently for years now. I can’t even imagine a life like that. What could I be doing with my life now if I had those 333 hours to do something more productive than rocking my baby?

10 Thoughts I Have as I Rock My Toddler to Sleep

6) I’m so glad I didn’t sleep train.

As jealous as I am of my friends who are getting easy sleep, I know deep down that sleep training just isn’t for me. To each their own and I’m happy for those that can do it, but ultimately I know that the burden of rocking my toddler each night is easier to handle than sleep training would have been for me. I chose this route and I stand by it.

7. But this rocking hurts my pregnant belly

Oh yeah… I’m gonna have another baby. How exactly is it going to work when I have two children to put to sleep several times a day? I really need to figure this all out ASAP.

8. Let me cuddle all the babies!

But then a wave of oxytocin rushes in as I hold my sweet daughter and think of the new baby to come and I realize how grateful I am for them and for the chance to snuggle them each day. Suddenly, I don’t care about how uncomfortable my body feels or how much time it takes to rock them, I just want to hold all the babies!

10 Thoughts I Have as I Rock My Toddler to Sleep

9. She looks so beautiful as she falls asleep

I stop thinking for a minute and just watch my daughter as she starts to completely relax. She stares deep into my eyes and her body begins to rest in my arms. She looks so peaceful, so innocent, and just so beautiful. It’s always such a rewarding and completely fulfilling feeling when her eyelids start to get heavy and she finally feels safe enough to let them close. What a gift we have as mothers to help our children fully relax!

Blakely’s 4 Month Sleep Regression: What We Did to Get Through ItClick the image to check out our experience with the dreaded four month sleep regression!

10. Maybe tomorrow will be different but that was worth it for today.

As controversial as it may be, rocking my toddler to sleep tonight was so worth it. I’m glad I did it and I will keep doing it if needed. Maybe tomorrow something new will click. Maybe I will be more diligent in trying to help her fall asleep on her own, or maybe she will just wake up ready to be independent. But today I did what we needed in the present and I will continue to take this journey one day at a time. And getting to climb into bed now is such a sweet reward! I love this life of mine ❤️

How long did you rock your children to sleep?

Four Random Things I Hope to Teach My Daughters

Here’s a little secret: Before I had kids, I thought I was destined to be a boy mom. Having sons seemed easier and more fun and I really was hoping to avoid the drama of raising girls. Truthfully, when we found out our first baby was a girl, I was a little shocked, confused and straight up scared. To help me get used to the idea, I started writing out a few different things that I’ve learned about being a girl that I hoped my daughter would take to heart. Fast forward to the present and I now have two little girls that I love dearly and I cannot wait to pass these four random truths onto them.

1. Your Body Can Do Amazing Things.

Our culture communicates endless messages about the female body every single day. But what I want my girls to understand the most is that their bodies can do amazing things. From accomplishing athletic goals to growing, birthing, and feeding babies, the human body is simply incredible. With that great ability comes an ever important duty to take care of our bodies. We must treat our bodies well and use them the right way. We do need to exercise and we do need to eat well, not so that we look good, but so that our bodies can perform to their highest ability. When we do this, we are rewarded multiple times over. It’s simply thrilling.

4 Random Things I Want to Teach my Daughters

2. Finding the “Right Man” Is Important, but Becoming the “Right Woman” Should Be Your Main Focus.

Little girls and teenagers everywhere are obsessed with finding “the one.” Almost every movie carries this theme and somehow it becomes the ultimate mission. But what no one is telling these girls is that marriage is very hard work regardless of if you found that one perfect guy or not. And even if you have carefully chosen who to marry, you will not be able to control his actions. The only thing you can control is yourself. So I can’t wait to start teaching my girls (hopefully by example) about what it means to be the “right woman” for someone else. I hope they learn what it means to be selfless, giving, and loving no matter what. I hope they learn how to be strong and deal with conflict effectively and respectfully. I know these are things that I have to work everyday to change in myself so I pray that they see that and start working on it in themselves immediately so that one day they can bring it to a beautiful marriage.

4 random things I hope to teach my daughters

3. Watch Out for Common Denominators (and Definitely Don’t Be One)

This wisdom comes from my own mother and is something I have lived by since I was a young girl. She taught me that in the world of girl drama, there is often someone who seems to be involved in disagreements with almost everyone. She may claim that other people are always the problem, but the fact that she has trouble getting along with so many different people makes her what my mom called “the common denominator” and likely, all of her relationships will be a little bit rocky.

Unfortunately, common denominators are also often popular personalities making them hard to spot and making it easy to want to be friends with them.

First of all, I hope to teach my girls that good friendships require you to be loving, invested, and encouraging toward other people. Secondly, I hope I can help my girls understand that a friendship with a common denominator is ok to pursue but only with the understanding that it may include drama. And ultimately, if this drama is too much heartache for my girls to handle I hope they can confidently and lovingly distance themselves from that person and seek out more prosocial friends who understand what good relationships look like. These friendships can be hard to find but are so worth it!

4 random things I want to teach my daughters

4. How You Feel Matters but How You Act Matters Most.

It’s no secret that many young girls are highly emotional creatures. It’s part of their beauty. But culture tends to deal with strong emotions in two opposite, extreme ways. Either we completely disregard a woman’s emotions, calling her hysterical or we highly validate those feelings and encourage acting them out.

I want my girls to know that neither of these options are acceptable. I hope they always believe that they can tell me how they feel, even if those feelings are exaggerated, selfish, or hard to understand. One of my deepest desires is to work through those emotions with them. But it’s very important to me that they know that just because you feel a certain way does not mean that you can act like it. Emotions are not the end all be all, they are not absolute truth, and they are not more important than how we treat others. I hope they can be brave when they feel scared, persevere when they feel hopeless, and most importantly, love when they feel angry.

I’m sure being a girl mom is going to be full of challenges and this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all of the things I’m going to have to try to teach my daughters. But writing them down has helped me organize my thoughts and feel more prepared the day that I’ll need to address these issues.

What would you add to the list?? I would love to hear it!

My love for you is limited; but the love of our Father God is limitlessCheck out the image to read about the MOST important thing I could teach my daughters.

Four random things I want to teach my daughters

Myths Moms Believe About Daily Devotions That Keep Them From Doing It

All Christians know that spending time in the Word of God is a must but many of us have a hard time actually doing it. As a mom of young children, this task can feel even harder.

Truthfully, it took me a long time to find my groove when I became a mom a couple years ago and devotions were really not part of my life. But then I listened to Risen Motherhood’s Episode “She Reads Truth: God’s Word Everyday, in Every Season” with the founders of She Reads Truth, Raechel and Amanda. They talked about some of the common hangups that moms face when trying to get in a “quiet time” with the Lord each day and the episode really opened my eyes to a new way of approaching devotions.

I was blown away by some of the myths we believe and since busting them, I’ve slowly started to be able to make reading the Word a routine part of my day again. So here’s a rundown of the myths moms believe about daily devotions that keep us from doing them.

1. Devotions must be in the morning…

I get it. It makes sense that we should start our day off in the Word of God. It sets our focus for the day and helps us to wake up filled with joy and grace.

But for moms of young kids, mornings can be truly crazy. Toddlers often hit the ground running and everyone needs breakfast and clothes right away. To top it off, many moms are up half the night with a baby which means they need to sleep as much as they can to face the day.

For these reasons, daily devotions first thing in the morning felt impossible for me.

But because I believed the lie that I must do them in the morning, I ended up skipping them all together rather than doing them later in the day.

Once I gave myself permission to do my devotions at different times of the day, so many more opportunities suddenly popped up and it felt so much easier to make time in the Word a priority in my day.

2. We must do devotions when we’re all alone…

The second myth we believe is that we must do our devotions in solitude. I think this probably comes from Matthew 6:6 which says,

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

This instruction was meant to keep us from trying to impress others with our prayers and fellowship with God so we’ve come to believe that it’s good practice to do our devotions in private.

Unfortunately, most moms do not have much alone time so we often feel like we don’t have a chance to read the Word.

I would argue however, that it is vitally important that our kids see us reading the Bible and praying to God. Simply telling our kids that devotions are important is not enough. They have to see it to believe it.

So don’t worry if your kids are watching you or even sitting on your lap while you read and pray. It’s good for them to see and so much better for you than to not do any devotions at all.

5 myths moms believe about daily devotions that keep them from doing it

3. Our daily quiet time must be an uninterrupted 30 minute chunk…

We often feel like our time in the Word is supposed to be a certain length and we must be able to do it all in one setting. I’m not sure exactly where we get this idea from other than it helps us to know we’re “doing enough.”

But for many moms, finding a time of day where they can sit uninterrupted is difficult which stops them from trying at all.

Since busting this myth, I’ve resolved to simply start my devotions each day. I leave my books and my Bible out on the couch and even though I have to stop to grab my toddler a snack or nurse my baby, I try to just keep coming back to my reading until I’m done.

I’ve found that not only do I spend time in the Word this way, but I think about what I’m studying for longer because I’m reading little by little all day long.

4. Daily devotions must be a quiet time…

Another synonym we use for time spent reading the Bible is “quiet time” with God. So in our minds we often picture sitting on the back porch with a coffee cup in hand and peaceful nature sounds all around.

But when this luxurious quiet time is hard to find, we end up skipping out on devotions all together.

I completely understand that we can focus a little better and dig a little deeper into scripture when we’re in a quiet room but we can’t focus on the Word at all if we aren’t taking the time to open up the Bible in the first place.

Full disclosure, I often read my Bible while my toddler is watching TV. I truly think it’s worth the screen time and I’ve learned to just tune out the background noise.

5 myths moms believe about daily devotions that keep them from doing it.

5. This season is just too hard…

And finally, the last myth we believe about our time in the Word of God is that it would be easier to do in a different season of life.

We remember the pleasant old days when we were free to do whatever we want whenever we wanted or we daydream about the day when we can drop all the kids off at school and come home to a quiet house.

We tell ourselves that we would be so much better at reading our Bibles in those seasons than the one we’re currently in.

But the truth is, making our daily devotions a priority is always hard. Life is busy and there will constantly be other things that try to take up our time. Furthermore, it takes discipline to read the Word because the sin inside us is constantly telling us we don’t need to abide in Him.

So truthfully, it won’t be any easier in the next season of life. In fact, the only way to make it easier is to simply start now. The more we read His Word, the more of a habit it becomes and the more delight we find in Him.

Even though there may be plenty of reasons why doing daily devotions is difficult, there are even more reasons why it’s actually a great idea, especially in this tough season of motherhood. So mama, go ahead and pick out a new devotional, grab a fresh notebook, and get in the Bible. Your “quiet time” may not be uninterrupted, private, or quiet at all but His Word is still living, active, powerful, and perfect for today ♥️

My love for you is limited but the love of our Father God is limitlessIf you liked this post, click the image to read more about how a mother’s love compares to God’s love.