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Breastfeeding After a C-Section

How formula helped lay the foundation for one mama’s nursing success.

Breastfeeding After a C-Section

*This post is sponsored by Enfamil. Join the Enfamil Family Beginnings® program to get Enfamil baby formula coupons, baby formula samples, special offers and other savings. You’ll get up to $400 in free gifts for you and your baby throughout your pregnancy, baby’s first year and into toddlerhood.

Most of us head into motherhood with a lot of expectations, especially when it comes to feeding your baby. It doesn’t help that everyone seems to have an opinion, even though there is no more personal decision than how to feed your baby. Breastfeeding, formula-feeding, or combo-feeding — only you can decide what is right for you and your family.

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Our opinion? You’re doing great. And we’re proud of you, no matter how you choose to feed your baby. But in case you need a little more inspiration, we’ve partnered with Enfamil to share the very diverse feeding journeys of some very diverse parents, from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, and the very blurred lines in between.

Beauty blogger Larisa Courtien had her heart set on breastfeeding, but an emergency C-section threatened to derail her feeding plan. Supplementing with formula helped her get through those first few days with her newborn and laid the foundation for a successful nursing journey. Seven months later, she’s exclusively breastfeeding -- at busy restaurants, on airplanes, at Ikea and every place in between. Below, she talks about her personal feeding journey, and why it’s so important to share images of women feeding their babies, no matter how they do it.

What did you envision your feeding experience to be like when you were pregnant?

I tried really hard not to put a lot of pressure on myself about breastfeeding when I was pregnant. There were certain things I really liked about breastfeeding, that it is wonderful for the baby, provides a mommy-baby bond, and that it’s “free.” So in my heart, I knew I wanted to nurse exclusively. I told my husband, and he was on board from the get-go. However, I was worried it might not work out, and I did not want to be disappointed, so I was not going to be “against” bottle-feeding.

After a birth story that wasn’t anything like I imagined, I was so relieved that my daughter latched immediately. After 3 long days of laboring and a C-section due to my body’s failure to progress, I finally felt like I was doing something right.

Once she did latch well, it became clear to me that I wanted to nurse exclusively. And even then, the goal was to get to just 3 weeks. Then 3 months. Then 6 months. As each milestone has passed, I get more and more shocked with how well we’ve done.

Tell us how formula played a role in your breastfeeding plan.

My milk did not come in right away, which is fairly common, especially in first time moms who have a C-section. The baby lost too much weight, and we were told we had to start giving her the bottle. I felt sad, but not defeated, because I was never against formula to begin with. I did, however, make sure that we continued to practice nursing. So I did as the doctor recommended: nursed for 5 minutes on either side, then gave her a bottle. I also would put some of the formula on my nipple to encourage her to keep sucking. When she regained enough weight and my milk finally came in, we got the go-ahead to stop the bottle and start exclusively nursing again. We got so lucky because she still took the breast and didn’t look for the bottle once we stopped using it.

What have been some of your biggest challenges breastfeeding?

The biggest challenges of breastfeeding have honestly been dodging weird questions about it. If you don’t breastfeed, everyone tells you that you need to try harder because the baby needs your milk. But once you get the hang of it, people are all “don’t become that mom who is obsessed with it and nurses until the baby is 8!” I find that the biggest issues with breastfeeding are not my issues or my baby’s issues.

How important was it to have a breastfeeding community?

I’m so lucky because my husband was incredibly supportive and actually really strongly wanted our daughter to be nursed exclusively. So anytime I was tired in those first few weeks, he would remind me of our goal to exclusively breastfeed, and then give me the mental strength to do it.

Why do you feel it’s important for you to share images and experiences of breastfeeding?

I think it’s just important to share all images of motherhood, no matter what they look like. Everyone’s experiences are different, and I think sharing them creates an awareness and a broadens people’s worldview. Specifically for breastfeeding, I think it is so important to share images through online media because it helps to normalize what is a truly normal act. There was a lot of embarrassment that has surrounded breastfeeding.

When women share their images of nursing it takes away the embarrassment that has previously been associated with it. It allows mothers in the same situations to feel more comfortable about how they feed their baby, and it allows non-mothers and the general public to become more accustomed to seeing nursing so that if and when they encounter it in real life, it isn’t a shock. It’s normal.

What are some of the craziest places you’ve breastfed?

I’ve breastfed while walking through an Ikea, at a Starbucks, at a busy restaurant in midtown during pre-theater hour, in my husband’s office, and on an airplane. But the craziest places I’ve ever breastfed are in front of my in-laws and my family! I know that “traditionally” most people would hide away in a room somewhere, but I don’t like having to lock myself away if we don’t need to. We’re still a part of the family so we stay out and feed in front of family no matter what.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable or shamed about your feeding decision?

I’ve truly never felt uncomfortable with my body being slightly exposed, therefore I never really feel uncomfortable when I’m nursing. Only now that she is getting a little bit older do I ever feel that I get shamed for still nursing. The APA recommends you nurse until the baby is 12 months old, but a lot of older generations will quiver and make a face at me when I mention that fact! It’s so crazy - I got praised for nursing when she was a newborn but now that she is crawling around everyone asks me when we plan to stop.

How can breastfeeding be positive, empowering emotional experience?

Breastfeeding is a continuation of the miracle that childbearing is -- it is a magical experience that feels so incredibly normal, and yet so incredibly majestic and jaw-dropping all at the same time. It is empowering to know that my body knows just what my daughter needs and how to provide it. I love that my body continues to nourish my child and put her nutritional needs above my own even after she has left my womb. It is a powerful feeling knowing that only you, a mother, can provide such a specific food that is tailored to your baby.

Being a new mom in general is an emotional experience, so although breastfeeding is time consuming and draining, the positivity it has brought in my life and the bond it has helped create between my daughter is so worth it. I am so incredibly blessed and never forget how privileged I am to be able to stay at home and nurse exclusively.

What kind of encouragement or advice would you give to a new mom struggling to figure out how to feed her baby?

Find the support you need to be able to feed your baby the way you want to. Share with your partner your truest goals, whether it be to exclusively nurse or bottle-feed. Make sure your partner is on board, have the name of a lactation consultant just in case, and lean on your partner to help you follow through or remind you of whatever goal you may have had.

And mostly, don’t beat yourself up about anything. Motherhood is hard enough without you being hard on yourself - we have to nurture our hearts and our souls just as much as we are nurturing our newborns. Take care of yourself and remember that no matter how you do it, fed is best.

Photography by Belle Savransky of Augusta Belle.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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