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To Nurse or Not to Nurse...

Sometimes the hardest decisions you have to make post-birth simply make themselves.

To Nurse or Not to Nurse...

There’s a lot to process in the first few hours of motherhood. After nine months of creating a little human being, hundreds of logged hours reading baby books, and, possibly, several days of intense labor, it’s suddenly go-time – you and the babe, center stage.

Nursing is one of those major parenting decisions that most moms make well before the baby makes its debut. But even with the best preparation, it’s hard to fully comprehend this incredible process until the suckeling – or not suckling – begins.

At Well Rounded NY, we like to think of ourselves as a community of all-inclusive, non-judgmental mamas, because we know that every baby and every mama is different. Nothing could be truer of us, Well Rounded’s founders, whose personal experiences have spanned a wide spectrum of pregnancy and birth. So we thought we’d share our very personal conversations with you.

FEATURED VIDEO

First topic? Nursing, and our individual decisions to feed our babies in the healthiest ways we knew how.

Kaity Velez: You had Libby first, so let’s start with you - did you know you wanted to nurse before delivery?

Jessica Pallay: Absolutely. I had done a ton of reading about nursing, took a breastfeeding class, and even practiced with my pump before the baby arrived. I gave myself the recommended “private time” with Libby immediately after birth, and rang the bell for the hospital lactation specialist every time I heard so much as a whimper. But Libby and I struggled to make that nursing connection very early on, and I left the hospital without ever truly finding a good latch.

KV: Did it get easier at home?

JP: Unfortunately, no. I called in every big gun I could think of, from nipple guards to lactation consultants, and I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I had a lot of guilt about “giving up,” but after three days of crying (both mommy and baby!), I put away my boobs and turned to formula feeding. For me, that’s when I could finally begin to enjoy motherhood. Of course, I knew the health benefits associated with nursing, but I also realized that a happy mom is a healthy mom, and a healthy mom makes for a healthy baby.

JP: Was it easier for you? Did Oliver latch immediately at the hospital?

KV: While he did latch, it wasn’t easy. Oliver (in image above) ended up being delivered by C-section (which is a whole other conversation) so like many other C-section mamas, my body didn’t know it had a baby. Therefore my milk took a little longer to come in. I remember at one point the nurses rolling in a giant hospital pump, vaguely explaining to me how to use it, then leaving the room. I sat there with this loud machine hysterically crying, watching nothing come out... and then colostrum, but the nurses in the hospital I was at still insisted I give him some formula. Feeling scared, I did. Thankfully a lactation consultant came in before I left the hospital and kept insisting supply and demand. So while I did partially supplement with formula because of dry diaper scares, I also kept nursing him every time he cried. I just kept hoping more milk would come out each time, and smiled each time I saw that blue line on his diapers. Over the following weeks we went from two bottles a day, to one, to a few a week, to none.

JP: After that rocky start, what made you want to stick it out?

KV: I think the C-section. Unlike you, I wasn’t dedicated to breastfeeding before the birth. I knew it would be the best for my baby but I thought I’d give it a try and if it didn’t work, well hey, I was raised on formula. But feeling like I had lost all control with my birth plan I was determined to make it work. Honestly, I was ready to quit everyday for the first six weeks. And I do think supplementing those first few weeks helped give me tiny breaks with a baby that wanted to nurse every two hours (and sometimes every hour!). I thought I would never leave the couch again. I didn’t start enjoying breastfeeding for a few months. But I guess at the end of the day, knowing that I was literally the fuel for my baby (which still amazes me) kept me dedicated.

KV: Other than obviously nourishing your baby, what are some benefits you think you got to enjoy through bottle feedings?

JP: It was truly a pleasure sharing the feeding with Libby’s daddy. Seeing my husband get up to do a midnight feeding – and seeing him and his daughter lock their tired eyes – made me fall in love with him all over again. And to be honest, I came to relish in the flexibility that bottle-feeding offered. It enabled me to regain some life balance post-baby, knowing that I could rely on others to feed Libby when I couldn’t be with her for longer stretches of time.

JP: Tell me about nursing in public. What’s it like pulling out a boob in a restaurant or at the park? Did it ever make you uncomfortable?

KV: In the beginning it did, but then I found a local mom group that I started meeting up with weekly when Oliver was six weeks, and we’d literally meet for coffee or lunch, talk and basically breastfeed (or bottle feed) in a group. Something I NEVER thought I’d do (I was admittedly a public breastfeeding judger pre-pregnancy). But after a few months of struggling to make sure I scheduled everything around our breastfeeding schedule I decided “screw it.” I just always made sure to wear a shirt or bring a scarf that would cover my boob and breastfeed so I could breastfeed wherever I went. I’d usually spare male friends or family members though and go to another room.

KV: You probably avoided awkward situations with bottle feeding, right?

JP: Actually, in some neighborhoods in New York City, it seems much more acceptable to nurse in public than to use a bottle! I remember the first time I went to yoga with Libby. I was the only mama using a bottle in a room full of breastfeeders. I felt like I had a Scarlet “F” for formula (or failure!) on my chest. Of course, the older she got, the more common it was to see more bottles... and the more comfortable I got with my own decisions as a mother.

JP: I know you were able to nurse with success for much of Oliver’s babyhood. That must give you such a sense of accomplishment!

KV: It does. It’s funny, I remember when Oliver was around 6 months he was a chubber, and my step dad asked “that’s all you?” It was all me! I never thought I’d nurse past 6 months but he’s 17 months and I’m still nursing in the evenings. I feel really grateful that nursing worked for us.

KV: So, you’re about to have your second baby. Do you think you’ll try nursing again?

JP: That’s my plan. I know so many women that had success with nursing their second time around, and I hope I’m one of those women! But I’ll also keep in mind that there’s so much more to being a great mama than your decision to nurse or not to nurse.

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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