If you’re just catching up, you may find my previous postpartum blog posts here:
As I mentioned before, I decided to break my Q&A post up into two separate posts to address all of the questions I received in a way that didn’t feel too overwhelming. Today I am addressing all of your questions related to breastfeeding and the two-kid transition. You may find answers to questions about my physical and emotional recovery, postpartum body thoughts, how I feel about having two boys and Ryder in my previous Q&A post.
- How do you handle nursing hunger? I’m starving all the time!
Oh man, I feel you on this one!! I am so, so ravenous when I’m nursing. Thankfully my hunger has settled a little bit now that we’re three months into our breastfeeding journey but it’s still definitely elevated. In the beginning I truly felt like I could not eat enough and was a snacking machine. I still need to snack all the time and can almost feel like Ryder is physically draining my energy if I’m nursing and haven’t eaten in a while. Is that crazy!? I don’t know but I need to eat a lot and I need to eat often!
When it comes to satisfying my nursing hunger, I’ve found some of the more satiating snacks to be smoothies/smoothie bowls (I make them daily), chia seed pudding, nut butter (either on a spoon or on top of fruit, a muffin, toast, etc.), energy bites, a small wrap with leftover chicken or salmon, veggies, mayo and mustard, Greek yogurt with nuts and berries… Pretty much anything that includes a healthy combination of protein, fats, carbs and fiber.
Is this what my snacks look like all the time? Absolutely not, as convenience wins out sometimes and I grab whatever food is on hand in the pantry or fridge that is fast and appealing. However, when I take a moment to assemble a more well-rounded snack, it is waaay more satisfying and usually worth the little bit of extra effort. I actually want to do a post about some of my healthy prep-ahead nursing snacks that I’ll make in the beginning of the week to snack on, so stay tuned for that one!
- Do you pump? Will you be bottle feeding?
I actually just started pumping and freezing breastmilk for the first time last week. Since I will be home with Ryder all day, I will probably do what I did with Chase which is mostly nurse but I do want to try to give Ryder bottles here and there so he’s comfortable with them should I want/need to be away from him for more than an hour or two.
- Do you have the excess lipase issue with your breastmilk this time?
I’m not sure since we haven’t given Ryder a bottle since his time in the NICU but I really, really hope not!
For those in the dark about the excess lipase enzyme issue, according to KellyMom (<—a great breastfeeding resource for any new moms out there!), breastfeeding women who notice that their breastmilk turns bad quickly may have an excess of the enzyme lipase in their milk, which begins to break down the milk fat soon after the milk is expressed. Most babies do not mind a mild change in taste, and the milk is not harmful, but the stronger the taste the more likely a baby will reject it.
I had NO idea this was my issue with Chase rejecting bottled breastmilk and wanted to highlight this here again for any moms out there who might be scratching their heads and feeling frustrated when their breastmilk seems to turn bad so quickly.
- Do you have a nursing bra you’d recommend?
YES! Without a doubt my favorite nursing bra is the Bravado! seamless nursing bra. It’s incredibly soft and comfortable and doesn’t make your boobs look weird through clothing. All the important stuff!
For sleep or just to wear under casual clothing, I also really love the Bravado! ballet sleep bra. It’s a pull-on style bra that doesn’t dig into my sides at all. It’s a great go-to nursing bra to have in a few colors.
- What workout clothes do you wear that are easy for breastfeeding?
For some reason I haven’t really adopted a breastfeeding-friendly workout wardrobe. In addition to not wanting to buy tops I won’t wear for all that long, to be honest I find a lot of the nursing-friendly tops and bras just plain ugly. I’m mostly wearing my normal workout gear but I also don’t really mind simply lifting up my shirt, rolling up a sports bra over one breast and nursing Ryder that way. (This might be a little more feasible for me since I have a rather small chest… not sure!)
I do much prefer high-waisted leggings though since they keep my stomach covered during on-the-fly nursing sessions. My current favorites are the lululemon Align Pant (the same ones that were my pregnancy obsession — I bought four pairs!), Zella Live In High Waist Leggings and Fabletics High-Waisted Powerhold 7/8 Leggings.
As far as sports bras are concerned, I made the mistake of wearing a sports bra with no lining to boot camp last week and it was not the best idea. I dropped Chase off at preschool and then nursed Ryder in the car before boot camp and didn’t realize that the breast Ryder wasn’t nursing from apparently felt left out and decided to leak as he fed. Let’s just say I walked into boot camp with a wet milk mark in a rather embarrassing spot that day. Yeesh! Thankfully the Burn Boot Camp crew is a supportive and encouraging one and my friends just laughed it off with me but it’s not a mistake I plan to make again. I’ll be sticking to lined sports bras and am currently loving the Reebok CrossFit sports bras I’ve had for years, Montiel Teardrop sports bras, lululemon Free to Be bra and the super-soft bras from Balance Collection that I find at TJMaxx or Marshalls.
- I’m wondering how you juggle getting out of the house with nursing? Do you nurse in public a lot?
Right now I try to be as flexible with my schedule as possible to accommodate nursing. I try my best to time leaving the house right after a good nursing session so Ryder is full and happy. Of course this is not always feasible and I’ve done a lot of nursing in my (parked) car. I keep a Boppy breastfeeding pillow in my car which helps a lot with both Ryder’s comfort and my own during on-the-fly nursing sessions.
I’ve also become fairly comfortable nursing in public and just look for more secluded areas to nurse since added stimulation around Ryder leads to distracted nursing. (He’ll come on and off my breast and I’ll end up spraying milk everywhere which is not the most fun.) I also always have a muslin blanket with me to drape over us if I’m in a really public place but many times I just forget a cover and do my best to be as discreet as possible. Ryder, like his big brother, doesn’t seem to like to be covered when nursing and I’ve pretty much adopted the attitude that if someone has a problem with me nursing in public, that’s their problem and not mine.
(Nursing in the airport last month.)
I feel like for the most part Ryder’s head covers the important areas when he’s nursing anyway so I’ve become a lot more relaxed about nursing in public.
- What are your favorite postpartum clothing items? Loose clothing? Compression? Any other nursing-friendly tops you love?
I am all about casual, flowy tops and elastic waistbands right now! Like I mentioned above, I am opting for a lot of tops I can roll up if I want to nurse on the go and love comfy v-neck t-shirts in a size or two up from my pre-pregnancy size. I am living in Victoria’s Secret Perfect V-Neck Tees (size large which worked both during pregnancy and postpartum) and LAmade V-Pocket Tee which I love for the added length.
If I know I’m going to be nursing in public a lot, I will often wear a nursing tank underneath whatever top I’m wearing. My absolute favorite nursing tanks are the Gilligan & O’Malley camis you guys recommended to me after Chase was born. I’m wearing the same ones I wore after my first pregnancy and they’ve held up well.
As far as dresses, I LOVE my Gap Maternity Nursing T-shirt Dress. It’s comfortable and makes nursing in public much easier. I can dress it up with wedges or down with sneakers and a denim jacket and have worn it everywhere!
For nursing-friendly pajamas you cannot beat Nordstrom’s Moonlight Pajamas. I wore them in the hospital after delivery and have been living in them! I own both the pants and shorts versions and even gave a pair to my sister at her baby shower, too. They’re the best!
- How do you explain nursing to Chase? What do you do when you need to feed Ryder but Chase needs attention?
Chase is incredibly curious and interested in just about everything in the world and nursing is no different! I’ve tried my best to explain nursing to him in a way he can understand and he seems to get it. When it came time to talk to him about nursing, I took a similar approach to the one I used to explaining potty training and his questions about private parts. I try my best to be as accurate and open as possible and use proper names for everything. Even though Chase says milk comes out of Mom’s “nibbles,” I think he gets it and he will often tell me that Ryder “needs some milk” when he gets fussy. I let him watch and sit next to me if he wants to but usually he gets bored and wanders off to play with his toys.
(I snapped that picture when Chase told me Elmo needed milk “from his nibbles” when Ryder was 10 days old. Ha!)
When Chase is in a mood or extra fussy and Ryder needs to nurse, I try really hard to speak to him calmly and explain that we can do x, y, z once Ryder is done eating. I’ll also often provide some ideas for things he can do while I’m nursing (play with trains, draw a picture and Mom will guess what it is, pick out a book for Mom to read to you, etc.). While I initially worried that emphasizing Ryder’s needs over Chase’s would lead to jealousy, I’ve let that go during nursing sessions because I think it’s honestly a good thing for Chase to learn from a young age that sometimes we need to be patient and wait to get whatever it is we want when someone else needs attention.
The Two-Kid Transition
- How do you handle nap time with both boys? How do you get Chase or Ryder down when the other child is awake and noisy?
My answer to this question is admittedly kind of crazy and I have no idea why or how I started to handle nap time this way but it’s all about embracing whatever works, right!? We are ALL about a pre-nap time “picnic” over here these days. When Ryder is awake and playful during the time I need to begin to settle Chase down for his nap, the three of us head into Chase’s room with a snack for a “floor picnic” and some stories. Ryder will happily kick and look around the room while Chase eats a snack and I read some books. When I can tell Ryder is getting fussy, I wrap up story time and then tuck Chase into his bed and head out. This shockingly works REALLY well for us and we do pre-nap picnics ALL the time.
As far as how I handle naps for one of the boys when the other one is awake, needy and noisy, I try to be flexible on timing. If Ryder is crying and needs attention, Chase’s nap will get pushed back until Ryder is soothed. Ryder is thankfully still at the age where he can sleep in a rather noisy environment, so he naps in his Rock ‘n’ Play in our family room while Chase plays and it usually works out well. While this doesn’t happen every day, this strategy has actually helped get both of the boys napping around a similar time in the afternoon since Ryder is often awake for longer spurts when Chase is up and noisy and then he sleeps for longer stretches when Chase is asleep and things are calmer around him.
- How do you handle bedtime with two kids when your husband isn’t home and your baby is cranky?
Sometimes bed time can feel like one battle after the next, especially on the nights when Ryan is working late or traveling. I’ve tackled bed time alone many times at this point and more often than not I feel like I’m making things up on the fly.
When bed time rolls around, I just try to be calm and firm but also flexible. It is much harder for me to soothe Ryder, nurse him, swaddle him and get him down for the night when Chase is still awake so I typically don’t even try. I try to take advantage of the time when Ryder is awake and happy to begin settling Chase. Only after I have Chase in bed does it feel possible to nurse and swaddle Ryder and get him down for the night. (Note: This is very different from the way I handle Ryder’s daytime naps which feel much more laid back and the daytime nap soothing often takes place with Chase around. Ryder sleeps in a bassinet in our room at night with a noise machine and I want nighttime sleep to feel different than daytime naps to hopefully cultivate deeper and longer stretches of sleep. Ryder also typically needs a very calm, stimulation-free environment to go to sleep at night which isn’t possible when Chase is awake.)
One HUGE thing I’ve learned about bed time with two kids is to start the process WAY early. We typically stay home in the afternoon and begin the winding down process immediately after dinner. If I want Chase in bed with the door to his room closed by 7:30 p.m., I try my best to make my way upstairs with the boys by 6:30 p.m. This gives us time ease into bed time which Chase responds to better than a rushed “we need to get to bed NOW” strategy.
- What was Chase’s reaction when he found out you had a boy?
I like to joke and say it was a non-event to Chase. It was almost like a “duh” moment for him because he really and truly never believed we’d be having a girl. Anytime someone would ask him about the baby in my belly, he’d confidently tell them it was a boy named Thomas the Train and get almost defiant if they ever said it might be a girl. When Ryder arrived, I think Chase simply got the baby brother he expected!
- How has Chase handled the adjustment/shift in attention?
You may read all about how Chase has handled becoming a big brother in the first few weeks of Ryder’s life in this post: Chase’s Three Year Update. To elaborate a bit more, Chase is adjusting really, really well and is so sweet with Ryder for the most part buuuut something happened around 9 weeks and a switch flipped and Chase was all of the sudden fussier and needier than usual. This coincided with a cold (which, in retrospect, I think was to blame for a LOT of his weepy emotions), a bunch of back-to-back dropped afternoon naps and Ryder needing more attention (he was no longer sleeping all day long) and we just seemed to have an all-around whinier and more tearful three-year-old. All Chase wanted all week long was Mom and my undivided attention. That was a really, really tough week. Thankfully that seemed to be fleeting and Chase is back to being his sweet and joyful self but just thinking back on that week makes me feel exhausted and tearful all over again. It was HARD.
Now, on a day to day basis, things are going really well with our two boys! Chase asks me to put Ryder on a blanket on the floor for him to play with multiple times a day every day.
Chase loves incorporating Ryder into imagination games and enjoys trying to “teach” him things as well as dancing for him and making silly voices to try to get Ryder to smile, coo and chirp. Chase gives Ryder kisses all the time and talks about being a big brother in a very positive way when people ask him about his little brother which melts my heart. Ryder is enamored with Chase and stares at him all the time! Overall, Chase has absolutely exceeded my expectations and handled the transition really well and we try really hard to praise Chase for his kind, inclusive, gentle and positive behavior around his little brother.
- How are you finding time and energy to cook?
I seriously swear by meal planning. In the beginning I gave myself a lot of grace when it came to preparing meals and we did a lot of sandwiches, smoothies, wraps, pasta and simple one-dish recipes. Now that we’re emerging from the newborn fog, I’m trying to get back into meal planning and it’s making a big difference. I have a much stronger desire to put time and energy into meals when I have a plan versus when I find myself opening the fridge, freezer or pantry and waiting for inspiration to strike.
I also try hard to do a lot of food prep/cooking when Chase is awake. Chase loves helping in the kitchen and this makes cooking and food prep an interactive activity and also frees up any free time that might pop up during nap time for me to work. (Yes, this means our kitchen is often a mess but lowering my expectations for a sparkling clean house at the end of every day is crucial during this phase of life.) If Chase is content to play by himself and Ryder is napping or happy and awake, I’ll chop veggies, whip up a batch of muffins, begin dinner prep, etc.
I’ve also become a HUGE fan of Instacart. I never thought I’d be the type to order groceries delivered to our house but grocery shopping with both boys isn’t exactly a blast and since I usually do my meal planning on Sundays, if Ryan or I don’t make it to the grocery store over the weekend, I’ll often have an Instacart delivery come to the house on Monday. This may die down a bit now that Chase is in preschool but Instacart seriously saved us for a few weeks there and helped prevent us from ordering takeout all the time. Though there is a delivery fee, there are often promotions in place that make delivery free that I take advantage of and I truly think Instacart saves me money in the long run since I’m not impulse buying things during trips to the grocery store. Anything I can do to streamline the process of cooking/shopping/meal planning sounds great to me right now! We also love Blue Apron for easy, delicious meals delivered to our house and have ordered a handful of Blue Apron deliveries, too.
When it comes to lunches, I look to leftovers, smoothies or wraps and I am also still on a huge Daily Harvest harvest bowl kick. I love the way their harvest bowls come packed with veggies, herbs and good-for-you ingredients. The prep work is done for me and I typically just add something like leftover chicken, salmon or black beans to the bowls to make them a little more satiating. I chatted with one of my friends last week about how the first few months with a new baby is all about convenience and making things work and these are a few things that have helped me a lot!
- Did you make any freezer-friendly meals to have on hand before you had Ryder?
I didn’t but I wish I would have! Pinch of Yum just shared an awesome blog post featuring 12 healthy freezer meals that seems like it would be incredibly helpful to anyone looking to prep some freezer-friendly dinners before baby.
- More details on sleep! How do you get longer stretches?
I mentioned this briefly in my first postpartum post, but I am increasingly becoming a believer that some babies are naturally good sleepers and some aren’t and Ryan and I can now say we’ve had one of each. Looking back, Chase was a tough baby when it came to sleep and we were up with him constantly for months and months. (I don’t think he officially slept through the night until I stopped nursing at 15 months!) I would love to give more advice to help those of you out there struggling with baby sleep and while I do think following a schedule or certain sleep training methods can absolutely work, with Ryder we honestly haven’t done much to cultivate good sleep habits but I do have a few staples I swear by for baby sleep. None of these are anything new and you’ve probably read about all of them but just in case, I’ll detail them below.
With Ryder’s naps, I’m pretty laid back since he’s still young and not really on a schedule yet but I am already much more rigid with nighttime sleep. We always have a white noise machine on at night and try to keep our room as dark as possible for night time sleep. I also swaddle Ryder in his Ollie swaddle every night (that thing is a MIRACLE worker for those who struggle to snuggly swaddle their babies) and once he was around 6 weeks old and I got the okay from my pediatrician, I tried to hold off from responding to every little peep and chirp from his bassinet. (I still respond to any cries but in the beginning I was responding to everything.) I think this helped Ryder get used to longer stretches of sleep at night from an earlier age. Ryder’s weight is heavier than Chase by a ways (Chase was born in the first percentile for weight) and I have to think his extra weight also helps him go longer between feedings and sleep better through the night. Who knows if this is really the case, but I’m just counting my blessings for a decent sleeper this time around… and I am also well aware this could change at any moment!
- I was wondering how Ryan finds energy to work out at 5 a.m. everyday while you have a newborn in the home? We are expecting our second child any day now and I know my husband is worried about having energy to get to the gym for his normal routine.
I should probably let Ryan answer this question but I know after Chase was born, he didn’t stick to his normal 5 a.m. routine for months because we were up so often in the night trying to soothe and settle Chase. This actually led to him outfitting our home gym so he could squeeze in a quick workout before work rather than have to take the extra time to drive to and from the gym before work.
With Ryder, I honestly have no idea how Ryan kept to his 5 a.m. workouts for the first few weeks there, but somehow he did. I think this may be because I was (and still am) really the only one up with Ryder during his nighttime feedings since we haven’t done the bottle thing yet. (This is by choice since I hate pumping and would rather just nurse right now.) Ryan is also blessed with the ability to not hear baby noises like my sonic ears do and can somehow often sleep through nursing sessions without realizing Ryder and I were just up. (You know that joke, “Forget sleeping like a baby, I want to sleep like my husband.” Yep, that definitely applies here!)
Ryder was also pretty good about nursing and going back to sleep fairly quickly (totally opposite from Chase) so this undoubtedly helped! So basically I don’t have any words of wisdom to offer here but if you have the space/ability to create a place where you might be able to work out from home, that might help with consistency once you’ve both emerged from the newborn fog!
- How do you plan to balance working from home and being a mom to two? Will you have babysitting help?
Oh man this question is a tough one! When I was pregnant with Chase, I truly thought I’d have childcare help but never ended up going that route. I tried my best to do as much work as possible in the early morning before Chase was up, during his nap time and then during his preschool time once he turned two years old and was in preschool two mornings a week. I am not sure how feasible squeezing in small spurts of work is with two kids in the mix (especially when naps don’t align) and I am trying to figure everything out right now.
Honestly, focusing on being a mom is where my heart wants to be in this phase of life and if that means scaling back on what I have the time to share in this space for a while, I am okay with that right now. I absolutely love blogging and connecting with all of you and it’s something that continues to bring me joy, so I absolutely want to keep writing and sharing my life, recipes, workouts and randomness here with you guys. I also have a bazillion blog posts I’m dying to write!
My gut tells me I will likely not seek out childcare but if all of the sudden I feel like I’m drowning and need help, I’ll absolutely go that route and would probably look to find a nanny to help with Ryder a few mornings a week when Chase is at preschool so I’d have some solo work time. Buuut we will see!
- Do you want to have more children?
The short answer to this question is yes. Neither Ryan nor I feel done having kids but I am admittedly a much more anxious person when I think about pregnancy and babies these days. Neither are a given in life and right now we’re focusing on our amazing boys and enjoying our family!
I didn’t get my cycle back until Chase was almost completely weaned at 15 months old and breastfeeding is a priority for me so even if we wanted to have another child ASAP, I think my body would want me to wait a bit. (And yes, I know breastfeeding is not a reliable form of birth control but I also know it can effect fertility.) Buuut when we talk about the future we definitely do talk about a shared desire for more children.