A Letter To Soon-To-Be Moms

It’s ok…

It’s ok to feel nervous and anxious about giving birth,
It’s ok to want to have a natural birth, it’s ok if you prefer a c-section,
It’s ok to want to get pain reliefs during birth, it’s ok if you don’t,
It’s ok if you despair and lose control, it’s ok if you are zen,

It’s ok to want to give breastmilk, it’s ok if you prefer formula,

It’s ok to quit breastfeeding after 2 weeks, it’s ok to continue breastfeeding after 2 years,
It’s ok if you are too tired to take care of your newborn, it’s ok if you are energetic,
It’s ok to have your newborn attached to your breasts for hours,
It’s ok. your breast milk is ok. Your baby is ok. You might be experiencing your first growth spurt,

It’s ok to co-sleep with your baby for one day, it’s ok to still do it after 5 years,

It’s ok to feel insecure, it’s ok if you don’t,
It’s ok to feel exhausted, it’s ok if you feel fresh as a daisy,
It’s ok to be jealous of your partner, it’s ok to ask him for help,
It’s ok to feel hungry all the time, it’s ok to eat all the time,
It’s ok if your clothes don’t fit, it’s ok if they do,

It’s ok to lose the pregnancy weight in two weeks, it’s ok if you lose it in two years,
It’s ok if you never lose the pregnancy weight,
It’s ok if you don’t like your new body, it’s ok to be kind to your new body.

It’s ok to hold your baby all day long,
It’s ok for your baby to be clingy, it’s ok if you enjoy it,
It’s ok if you get tired and ask for help,
It’s ok to sleep-train your baby, it’s ok if your baby sleeps only on top of you,

In the motherhood road, everything is not only ok, but it’s normal. If you think and feel that what you are doing is the best for your baby and for you, then you are doing the right thing.

You can do this, I believe in you.

Picture Marisa Elisa Photography
A peek into my baby’s closet

With Love,
Alisson

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Things You Can Do While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful but exhausting jobs as a mom. It requires physical and emotional strength. In order to be more successful at the job, the best is if you are in peace. Breastfeeding gives moms a chance to sit down and relax. The first months are very beautiful. You keep on wondering how lucky you are to be able to feed your baby by putting it on your breast. As time passes it might get a little tiring and the wondering stops been a good motivation to keep it up. In order to make the breastfeeding sessions more fun, there are some things you can do. You can bond with your baby, write down your to-do list or just have some time for yourself.

Here are some things you can do while breastfeeding:

  1. Talk or sing to your baby. You can invent a song if you don’t remember any lyrics.
  2. Listen to your favorite music and sing if you feel like it.
  3. Read a book. In silence or out loud. Remember that your baby loves to hear your voice.
  4. Listen to audiobooks.
  5. Meditate. An easy app to this is ‘Headspace’.
  6. Eat a snack. Nuts, crackers, yogurt, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches. Grab an easy snack that you can eat with one hand. Now that you have the time :).
  7. Bond with the family. If the close family is visiting you, you can feed your baby in front of them. ( Only if you feel comfortable) That way you get to interact with them and your baby will hear and get used to their voices.
  8. Catch up with your friends and family. Send them messages to keep up the relationship.
  9. Watch your favorite series.
  10. Write down your thoughts in a diary.
  11. Write down your blessings.
  12. Rest with your baby.
Breastfeeding is beautiful
Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography

Each month is getting easier but it never stops being challenging. How is it for you? What do you like to do while you are breastfeeding?
Let me know in the comments below.

With love,

Alisson

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The Benefits​ of Sensory Play

As soon as babies are born, their curiosity starts developing. Every little thing a baby is exposed to is an amazing thing to be explored. With their eyes, ears, mouths, noses, and fingers. There are activities that help develop the senses of a baby. Stimulating a baby is therefore very important. Early stimulation can help improve attention span, memory, curiosity, and nervous system development. The first year of a child is the time when the brain grows the fastest that it ever will.

There are a lot of games and ways you can stimulate your child. You can do it at home or you can join baby lessons where you will learn how to play with your baby. A famous class it’s called Baby Sensory. This programme was founded by UK’s leading parenting expert Dr. Lin Day. The course offers a complete approach to learning and sensory development from birth to 13 months. It is designed to stimulate and educate a child during the first year of life.

During the classes, parents are provided with ideas for creative play, massage, tummy time, and movement in simple ways that can be easily repeated at home. All of the activities are accompanied by music and sensory signing to help develop early speech and language skills. A sensory environment rich in sights, sounds, smells, and textures promote brain growth, increases the capacity for intellectual development and forms the foundation for all future learning. Every week the activities are different. There’s always something new and exciting to look forward to.

This summer I joined the Baby Sensory lessons in Amersfoort. The class is held by Linda Veldman in the south of the city. The lessons start always with a beautiful song called ‘Say hello to the sun’ and follow with different activities. Linda is very sweet and good with parents and babies. The lessons take one hour. During this time, we play, we sing and we discover new sensations. My fifteen-week baby doesn’t make it, to be awake and alert the whole class. At some point during the class, she will feed or nap. And that is ok. Every lesson she is more awake and eager to learn. These classes have helped me to learn how to play with my baby. It also helps me to feel more confident and happy as a parent.

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Father and daughter during a car washing time.

You can join Baby Sensory lessons too! Check here to see where is the closest location to you. If you live in Amersfoort, there are two locations. In de Leusderkwartier and in Vathorst. You can contact Linda for more information at amersfoort@babysensory.nl

With Love,
Alisson

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How I Survived The First Weeks Postpartum

For nine months, I was preparing myself for the big day of giving birth. I went to pregnancy centering, took breathing technique lessons and read about hypnobirthing. One thing I was not prepared for: the postpartum time. I guess I was too relax because in The Netherlands, through your health insurance, you will get a maternity nurse. She will help you the first days after giving birth. The one I got was very kind and helpful. She taught us a lot in terms of how to take care of the baby. Besides checking the health of the baby, she was also checking my health and my recovery process.

Apart from the help of the nurse, here are some things that helped me to have a gentle ease into motherhood:

1. Let your partner take the first two weeks off (or longer).
You probably heard it before, every labor is different. But there is one thing ALL labors have in common. You end up feeling tired, weak and exhausted. On top of that, because of the episiotomy I got during my labor (Ouch!), It took me weeks to be able to stand, walk and sit again. Making me feel a little bit handicapped. Which means, my partner was full-time helping me. Our routine was like this: when the baby woke up, my partner would wake up too, take the baby and bring her to my side. I would breastfeed her on one breast. Then my partner would take her again, change her diaper and give her back to me to breastfeed her on the other breast. When she was done, he would put her back in to her crib. We worked like this until one and a half weeks. After that, I was feeling stronger and was able to walk and grab the baby myself. My partner was still helping me a lot during the first four weeks.

2. Rent/lend a double pump.
While I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I was lucky that she latched well since the beginning. I was only having trouble with my milk supply. Around five days postpartum, I rented a double pump and under the advice of a lactation expert, I was pumping every three to four hours to stimulate my milk production. The double pump was great because it saved me a lot of time. After two days of intense pumping, my milk supply was increasing and I went back to live feeding my baby. After that, I kept a single pump that I still use to extract milk when I want to have some time off from live feeding.

3. Wear sanitary pads and comfy undies made of cotton.
Right after birth, the bleeding starts and it seems to have no end. During the first days post-partum, I was using pads made of organic cotton and zero plastic. For me, it was the best due to the episiotomy. The stitches felt very painful. The cotton pads helped with the air circulation down there, so the healing process was going well. I was lucky I didn’t get any infection. After a couple of weeks of bleeding, when I realized that it was not going to stop soon, I bought washable sanitary pads. They are very soft and easy to use and wash. I liked them because the blood doesn’t stink as much as with disposable pads. Through the whole time (and still now) I wear organic cotton underwear from Organic Basics.

4. Have family close to you.

I considered myself lucky. Five days after my baby was born my mom came all the way from Colombia to The Netherlands. She stayed with us for two months. Her help was amazing. She not only took care of my baby, she also cared for me and my partner. The first weeks post-partum are very intense and I was in a lot of pain. My mother would help me to take care of my baby so that I could rest. This really helped me to heal and feel better within weeks.

5. Eat healthy, every meal.
Due to the help of my mother I was able to eat healthy in the morning, at lunch and for dinner. I was also having a lot of snacks due to the breastfeeding hunger. The days before my mother was with us, we had someone of my partner’s family cooking for us. Every day someone else. They cooked bigger portions so that my partner and I could eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.

6. Shower every day.
This point seems obvious but I have to mention it because this really helped me to feel good. As soon as the baby went to sleep I would walk to the shower and have a moment for myself. After that, I felt like a person again instead of a living zombie.

7. Wear comfortable clothes.
For me, comfort was more important than anything else. During the first weeks, I mostly wore leggings, big comfy sweaters, and socks. The first week was very painful. The comfy clothes helped me to feel a little bit better.

8. Have as less visit as possible.
This might sound anti-social but I was glad we didn’t get any visit except for close family during the first weeks. My baby was having a routine every three hours. First, change the diaper, then feed her, then she would go to sleep and in two hours it would start again. My partner and I were full-time busy with our baby. Every hour we could get ‘off’ we would rather rest. Of course, grandma, grandad, aunts, and uncle were welcome but no one else. This was really relaxed for us. After a month when I was feeling better and able to walk and sit, we started having more people around.

9. Stayed away from social media.
The first four weeks after birth, I didn’t check any of my social media channels. While I was very happy that everything went ok, I was also very tired and exhausted. I consciously didn’t want to be on social media seeing how amazing everyone’s lives where, while I was in pain and feeling handicapped, laying on my bed. This ‘digital detox’ helped me to focus on my baby and live in the present.

Giving birth was the most bizarre experience of my life. All of a sudden there was a tiny new person with us and all we wanted to do was taking care of her.
The days after giving birth were very painful to me. I felt muscle pain everywhere, I had pain in the stitches, pain in my breasts and felt very uncomfortable on my back door. I have to admit that due to the pain, I felt that I wasn’t able to enjoy my baby the first days. But I had the best of the supports. My partner and my mother (and the kraamzoorg). They made the first days easy for me. As soon as I was able to walk and bend over to grab my baby, I started to enjoy more of this rollercoaster of having a newborn.

Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography

I hope these tips help you to have an easy start to motherhood.
Are there any tips I am missing? Let me know in the comments below.

With Love,

Alisson

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Another Dutchie Thing: Geboortekaartjes

Geboortekaartjes. A Dutch tradition of which I thought it was weird and unnecessary. A waste of paper. I even made fun of it on this blog post, I’m sorry. I could never understand or care about this ‘sending cards’. I didn’t grow up with that. Even when I was pregnant in The Netherlands and I actually had to start thinking of this, I was against it.
But one day, when I was six months pregnant, my partner and I visited my mother-in-law for a coffee. Chatting with her I found out that she collected all the birth cards she ever received from her friends and family, included her first two grandchildren. ‘how can I miss a card from Luna?’ Not only her collection was important, also the tradition of presenting the baby with a postcard is very important, she told me. It’s also a nice way to keep contact with family members you otherwise don’t have contact with at all.

It was after that visit that I decided to join the tradition of sending birth cards. One thing I was clear about, it needed to be simple and super easy to do. That is when I found Hip Design.

Hip Design has different categories with hundreds of different cards. It also has the possibility of uploading your own design. From the category ‘geboortekaartjes’, my partner and I decided to go for a minimalistic card for baby Luna. We chose a simple template and we adjusted the colors, the font, and the size. On this website, it’s very easy to edit the cards. User friendly approved. When we finished our first draft we ordered a ‘proefdruk’. We received that with samples of colors for the envelopes and the kind of papers for the card.

After some corrections, we were happy with the end result.

This is how our card looks like:

Baby Birth Announcement
Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography

We opt to send it in a lilac envelope. Once Luna was born, my partner took care of all the arrangements and sent the cards to his (our) family. I took advantage and also sent some cards to my friends in Germany. Unfortunately, the delivery service to Colombia is really bad. Otherwise, I would have sent some to my family as well.

Even before we sent Luna’s birth cards, we received a lot of cards from family and friends expressing their congratulations. This felt very special. I have to admit that I liked to receive beautiful messages in the form of cards. I’m glad I joined the tradition.

How did you like this tradition? Let me know in the comments below.

With Love,
Alisson

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