Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shall We Dance? And Nurse?

Breastfeeding a toddler is so fun! As many moms will tell you, breast-feeding a toddler is definitely different from breast-feeding an infant. My daughter is currently 13 months old and we have very few nursing sessions where she lays quietly and nurses. The majority of our nursing sessions are quick (5 minutes or less) and full of activity! Here are a few of my favorite thing she does while breast-feeding:

Dancing. She loves to dance and breast-feeding never slows her down! If she is in the middle of a meal and a catchy tune plays on TV, it is dance time. She shakes her little booty while never losing her latch!

Clapping. One of her new favorite things to do is clap. She claps along with the TV and at her brother's football games. She will clap while she is breast-feeding, no problem! This little cheerleader is already a pro at multitasking.

Waving goodbye. If daddy has to leave for work and she's in the middle of her morning snack, she can wave goodbye without ever unlatching.

Smiling. This one is one of my favorites! Whether I tickle her belly or she mimics my laugh, I love seeing that sweet little smile while she nurses.

Yoga. Otherwise known as gym"nurse"tics! My little girl will stretch her legs, touch her toes, pull her foot up to her eye, stand up and pull herself into a downward dog... All while breastfeeding. She has some serious talent. 

Everyday my little Miss Marlie does something new to amaze me. We have made it so far in our breast-feeding journey and I can't wait to see what the future brings. If you have never breastfed a toddler, I highly recommend it! 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

10 Reasons I Love Breastfeeding

In honor of world breastfeeding week, I would like to post 10 reasons I love to breastfeed:

10. I know breastfeeding provides the best possible nutrition for my daughter. It allows me to let her eat all of the candy she wants and I don't feel guilty! Just kidding! 

9. Breastfeeding allows us to take a break and spend quiet moments together. It's our break from the crazy. We have days when we rush and are busy, sometimes we can't help that. But breastfeeding allows us both to take a breath and find our center. 

8. Breastfeeding fixes everything. Tired? Hungry? Thirsty? Teething? Take a tumble? Scared? There's a Breast for that. 

7. We don't have to spend money on formula. Breastmilk is freeeee! 

6. I don't have to wash bottles. That is awesome. 

5. I don't have to worry about packing bottles, formula, and water in the diaper bag. The other day I left the house with no diapers or wipes in the diaper bag. I don't want to even know what would happen if I had to remember one more thing! 

4. I've become empowered in a new way. I've learned to be more comfortable with my body (even -especially- my squishy postpartum body). I've learned to think of my breasts as having a real purpose. (Yep, the girls aren't here just to impress guys). 

3. I've become an advocate for breastfeeding parents everywhere. Isn't it funny how sometimes you don't really care about an issue until it effects you or someone you love? Well now I care about breastfeeding, deeply, and I deeply care about all of the breastfeeding parents and their rights. I will stand up for the mother who wants to breastfeed in public, or private, with a cover or without. I will stand behind the parent who wants to breastfeed, even when our culture sends discouraging messages- and gallons of free formula samples. 

2. Who would clean my teeth or pick my nose if I didn't breastfeed? And I love those big blue eyes staring at me. I love those milky smiles. And those milk drunk naps- they. are. the. best. 

1. My daughter is me and I am her. There's a constant ebb and flow between  us. My milk helps her grow and she helps make my milk. It's an incredible cycle of love and nutrition, giving and receiving. Breastfeeding my daughter has been this amazing life force between us, and it's something I will cherish for as long as I can. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dear St. Louis, where are your AP friendly doctors?

I have been on the search, high and low, for attachment parenting friendly doctors in the St. Louis area. By AP friendly, I mean support breast-feeding, gentle parenting, and no sleep training. 

The first doctor I took my daughter to recommended using the CIO, cry it out, method of sleep training. I made it very clear that I was against this method, and all sleep training, but this doctor did not offer any other encouragement or suggestions. This doctor also recommended that I give my daughter rice cereal at four months. (The American Academy of pediatrics recommends that babies are six months of age or older before beginning any solid food.) Needless to say, although this doctor seemed like a very nice person, I was not impressed and felt like we were not on the same page.

I asked for suggestions for attachment parenting friendly doctors from some of my AP friendly Facebook groups. I was given a recommendation for another pediatrician. This pediatrician reportedly specializes in breast-feeding. One can imagine my disappointment when this doctor recommended night weaning my breast-fed baby before one year AND recommended long periods of CIO and sleep training. When I told this doctor I did not feel comfortable with sleep training, this doctor told me that it would be hard to listen to all of the crying, but I would just need to do it.

So I'm continuing my search and asking people for recommendations. People have told me that these type of physicians do not exist, and that I should continue to see a doctor that is not AP friendly and just ignore everything they have to say in regards to parenting style.

Every few weeks, I see a question from another mother asking where they can see an AP friendly doctor that does not recommend sleep training and supports breast-feeding. So far I have only heard of two recommendations, one in O'Fallon, Missouri and one in Webster Groves. These doctors either do not accept new patients or are limited in the insurance plans they accept.

This is completely unacceptable. Are St. Louis doctors not educated on the benefits of breast-feeding and the dangers of infant sleep training? Are St. Louis doctors not continuing their education to the point where they are recommending outdated nutritional information? 

Sure, I could continue to take my children to a doctor that I do not trust and that I am unwilling to ask parenting questions. But I believe that as a city, parents here deserve better than that. So St. Louis, where are your educated, AP friendly doctors?

Friday, June 19, 2015

The case of playing vs. the iPad Mini...

I noticed something today while spending time with my nephew and niece (ages 10 and 8). Our day goes smoother without electronics. Trust me, I love me some iPhone and Chromecast and all kinds of technology. I think technology is awesome and fun. But I think something has to be said for the case of playing vs. the iPad mini.

My nephew and niece were having a fabulous rainy day. We live in St. Louis and are in the middle of a summer rain streak here. We had found some activities inside to keep us busy. My niece opened up her new paint mixing set. Her and my nephew created different colors and thought up creative names for their new paints. Some of the names include "hot tamale" and "bright sunshine". There was a small dispute over who would name which colors, but all in all they were having fun.

After paint mixing they decided they were going to put on another dance show. You can read about their first show HERE. They ran off upstairs to play. They were running throughout the house making plans for costumes, songs, dance moves, and deciding who would be the "manager" and who would be the performer. They were having fun, using their imaginations, and getting along. It was an aunt's dream.

Then I did it. I found the iPad charger. My nephew plugged in and started playing online games, leaving his sister in the dust with her dead iPad. A small argument began. It started with arguing over who would get the charger, then about my nephew not playing with my niece. The two of them were bickering back and forth until finally I told my nephew that we needed to take a break from the iPad. I told him the break just had to be 10 minutes to let it charge. Luckily, he soon forgot about the iPad and got caught up in planning the show with his sister again.

Just for everyone's information, the show was fabulously creative. It began with formal wear and a slow dance to "Beauty and the Beast", including my 10 month old daughter. The middle number was "Baby Baluga" which featured my nephew swinging my daughter in his arms while she smiled and laughed. There was a costume change for the finale, from formal wear to bath robes and slippers, and the kids free-styled some hip hop to "I Got A Feeling". They performed for my sister the second she got home from work. They were so excited to show her what they created.

Without knowing anything that had happened earlier in the day, my sister says to me, "you know, I think they actually play better without their iPads". I laughed because she completely read my mind.

I think from now on we will be using the iPad Mini as a last resort. When we have exhausted all other options of play, maybe we will plug in for a little while. But playing wins. Playing definitely wins.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How we saw the benefit of slow parenting today

This summer I am spending time with my 10-year-old nephew and my eight-year-old niece. Sometimes we have errands to run and places to go and we are busy throughout the day. Then there are days when we are allowed to have more freedom. Today was one of those days and it was great.

I started out the summer with a schedule full of activities and places to go and things to do. Boy was that a mistake! I ended up with little people who expected activities and treats every day. I was frustrated, they were frustrated, it was a bad combination.

We decided to take a different route and avoid scheduling. Today was a day where I got to see the benefit of letting them have free time. 

In addition to spending time with them, I have a 10-month-old baby. She has been missing her naps the summer so I am trying to allow time for her to get some rest during the day. 

Instead of having a planned activity for the kids to do during her nap time, I told them it was up to them to play. I told them they could play with toys, go outside, and use their imaginations. To be honest, I was a little nervous of how this would turn out. 

What happened next was great. I took the baby upstairs for her nap and I could hear them playing downstairs. I heard my nephew reading stories to my niece, I heard them playing games, and I heard them planning a talent show for me and the baby after her nap. I could hear them going outside to play and talking about riding their bikes.

After the baby's nap, they performed a three act talent show with full costumes. I was impressed with their creativity! They had set up stations where they read books and played games. They played together, helped each other, and were kind to one another.

Every day I have to remind myself to slow down, not over commit, and to do the same for the children to spend time with. Today we all reaped the benefits of slow parenting and in true Snail Mommy fashion, will be spending more days taking it easy, slowing down, and enjoying the little things.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

My View is the Best View

In this moment I appreciate slowing down a little. As I watch my baby sleep, I remember why I want to learn to take life at a slower pace. I don't want to rush. I don't want to race through her infancy. There are 100 other things I could be doing right now. They can wait. Today I'm making the choice to breathe deep, slow down, and enjoy my incredible view.

Love, Michelle
(Snail Mommy)

Friday, May 22, 2015

How I used essential oils this week

"I'm not really sure about essential oils. Will I really use them?"

Yes! You most definitely will! And the more you learn about them, the more you will use them. Let me share with you the ways that my family used Essential Oils...just this week!

Let's talk heartburn and stomach aches. Remember when you were a little bit younger and you could eat all that spicy food? Yea, me too!

Sometimes I forget that there will be consequences after eating spicy food. Yesterday I had a bowl of spicy jambalaya rice. Later in the evening I was regretting it. As I was laying in bed falling asleep I could feel the heat rising up in my throat. That's when I reached for the digestive blend. I have it in a roller bottle, diluted with coconut oil and ready to use. I rolled some on my belly, on my chest, and on my throat. When I woke up with the baby two hours later, The burning feeling was gone! I was so happy to have that next to my bed! 

Healing salve, or as I call it "all better balm" is something I use quite frequently! This morning I noticed my daughter's bottom was a little pink. I put a little balm on it and... All better! Last night, my son had what looked like hives on his arm and back. He had been playing out in the grass the night before. We put some balm on his skin to soothe it. We use this balm all the time! It's made with Lavender, Geranium, and Melaleuca. These essential oils are combined with Beeswax, coconut oil, and olive oil to make the salve. It's wonderful!

My daughter is nine months old she puts her mouth on everything! I mixed up a surface and hand sanitizer made from an anti-viral blend and lemon essential oil. Just this afternoon, we went to the park and what's the first thing my baby does? She puts her mouth on the baby swing. Gross. Luckily I had my sanitizing spray with me! 

One way we enjoy essential oils is by diffusing them. My family loves the smell of citrus oils, so this week I diffused a citrus blend and wild orange. My house smelled delish! Citrus oils are uplifting and energizing for your mood as well. 

Speaking of citrus oils, I put wild orange and lime in my water this week. Both of them are great! Just one drop does the trick, and don't forget you can not use plastic bottles with essential oils. I use a glass water bottle that I got from target for $6.99! I also put a drop of a metabolic blend in my water this week. It supports a healthy metabolism and appetite. 

So that's just a few of the ways we used our essential oils this week! I would love to hear about how you used your oils this week! Leave me a comment below!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why I Started Using Essential Oils

I began using essential oils when I was pregnant with my daughter last summer (2014). A friend of mine had been using them for a while and had incredible results. Maybe one day I will get to post her story, but to summarize, essential oils have been life changing for her and her children. After seeing how amazing essential oils had been for her, I wanted to give them a try.

I loved the concept of using plants and natural elements to ease aches and pains and create a healthier lifestyle for me and my family. During my pregnancy I became more natural minded. I paid closer attention to the ingredients in my foods and medications. I learned that there are unbelievable benefits to living a more natural lifestyle. I wanted to make some changes in my life and using essential oils was one small thing I could try to begin my journey.

I started out attending a "make and take" party at my friend's home. It was fun and casual. She talked about what the oils were and how the brand she uses is a high quality brand. I had some delicious peppermint brownies, apple slices soaked in a protective blend, and water with a drop of grapefruit essential oil. I made a roller bottle for my killer stuffy nose symptoms and went on my way.

About a month later a attended another "make and take" party at my friend's home. My due date was any day and I was looking for some oils to help labor progress naturally and assist with contractions. My friend helped me figure out what oils would be most beneficial and she sent me home with an awesome goody bag that included a postpartum mama mix and a container of healing salve (what I call the "All Better Balm"). These items were game changers.

I used the postpartum mixture and it was amazing! The oils helped relieve after birth soreness. During her first few weeks of life, my baby developed really dry skin. Her legs were dry and scaly and even my organic baby lotions weren't helping. After about a week of applying healing salve twice per day, her legs were smooth again! My daughter is 9 months old now and I still use the healing salve on her skin once every few weeks. It is the best! I also use it on myself for dry skin, burns, bites, and all other skin issues. My husband has even put it on after he shaves.

So I tried and I enjoyed and I couldn't wait to do more. There is so much to do with essential oils! So many everyday health concerns can be relieved with the use of essential oils. I have used oils to relieve symptoms of headaches, all kinds of stomach issues, achy muscles, allergies, and emotional changes. Not to mention there are endless amounts of DIY products! I talked it over with my husband and we decided to buy an enrollment kit. I thought it was a great value and fit well with the kind of budget we were on.

After purchasing the kit, I learned more and more about what I could use oils for. Now, when I have an everyday health concern, I go to my essential oils group on Facebook, or research suggestions for which oil to use. I used to take Tylenol or ibuprofen almost everyday. Now, I have taken it two days in the past three months. I love reaching for my oils instead of making costly trips to the drug store. I feel good about using oils on my baby and my teenage son. I love that my husband has joined me in being committed to more natural healthcare for all of us.

I would love to answer any questions that I can about essential oils. Feel free to contact me through email, this blog, or social media. I am available to teach classes or one on one sessions. Thanks for taking time to read my story!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Introducing Essential Oil Products

Snail Mommy will begin selling essential oil products at local farmers markets!

Some of the products include: 

Homemade Bug Spray
Foot Powder
Hand Sanitizer 
Salve/Soothing Lotion
Ready to Use Roller Bottles
(Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint)

All products are made with high quality essential oils! 

I am so happy to be sharing practical uses for essential oils with my community!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Baby Led Weaning: Food #1

Baby led weaning is a term used to describe a way to start baby on solid foods by feeding themselves. It is important to note that "weaning" in this context does not mean to end breastfeeding or formula feeding. With baby led weaning, there are no purees or typical "baby foods". Baby starts out on soft solid foods, such as avocado or bananas. One of the benefits of baby led weaning is that is helps to teach babies to chew foods. I am excited to chronicle our journey here!

Here is the baby led weaning website:

Baby Led Weaning

I also found a great group on Facebook:

Baby Led Weaning for Beginners

We started Marlene with baby led weaning just a few days before her 6 month birthday. She was showing signs of readiness, such as sitting up, and displaying an interest in our foods. I had conducted a lot of research and educated myself, my husband, and our teenage son on what to do if she were to choke. I think this is absolutely necessary, even if you aren't doing baby led weaning. 

Her first food was avocado. I chose avocados that were ripe and cut them into long slices. She immediately picked up a slice and put it in her mouth. She sucked on a few slices here and there, but I'm not too sure if she really ate any of it. 

I gave her a slice of avocado at meal times for the next few days. Each day she would play with the avocado and suck on it. Sometimes it would get a little slimey and I would pat it dry. 

What I liked about giving her avocado is that it is soft, easily sliced, and nutritious. What I did not like was that it was hard to store. Since she ate so little at each feeding, some of it went bad, or I ate a lot of avocado that week!

Overall, our first few days of baby led weaning were a great success! 

What was your baby's first food? I'd love to hear any questions or comments! 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

There Goes My Nipple on Facebook

I can't resist posting pictures of my milk drunk little baby. After she fills up on breastmilk, she passes out and takes a nap. It's a sweet moment for both of us. It's also one of the best times to take pictures of her to share with friends and family on Facebook and other social media. As I have posted before, I don't mind sharing my breastfeeding photos on the internet. However, I usually make an effort to not show my actual nipple. I will either crop the photo or twist and turn my body to skip the nip shot. Well, the other day I accidentally posted a picture of my milk drunk little baby...nipple and all. I didn't even notice until someone commented on how cute my baby is. When I saw the enlarged photo, I realized there was nipple in the picture. I thought for a moment and then decided "what the hell, it's ok, there goes my nipple on Facebook".

See, nipples are kind of a big part of breastfeeding, and I like to normalize breastfeeding. I like to normalize it in public and on social media. I want the other women in my newsfeed to know that it's ok if your nipple sneaks its way into a breastfeeding photo. You don't need to be afraid of taking those pictures of your snugly milk drunk baby and sharing them with friends. What's a little nipple between friends anyways?

My husband asked me if I realized that my nipple was showing in the picture. I told him I did and asked him if it bothered him. He told me that it didn't bother him at all, he just wanted to make sure I knew. My older sister also wanted to make sure I knew. I am happy that I have people looking out for me and my nipples.

I will leave you with this snugly, milk drunk baby (and nipple)...

Using Essential Oils: Day #1

I am so excited that I have began using essential oils! I received my enrollment kit yesterday and used some oils last night. Here is what happened on day 1 of using my essential oils kit.

My 6 month old daughter has had a bad cold over the past week or so. She has been coughing, congested and her little nose has been running. Since she has been teething (which started about a month ago) she wakes up at 3am or 4am, then again at 7am. Mama has not been getting consistent sleep!

Before bed last night, I put a drop of lavender essential oil on my pillow, which is close to baby. We cosleep, and baby sleeps in her snuggle nest in my bed. I also put about 4 drops of the respiratory essential oil blend on a baby washcloth and put that over the nozzle on our humidifier. Would you like to know the results?

Baby slept 8.5 hours. Straight. I woke up and checked her breathing (like all parents do), and went back to sleep, enjoying that I didn't have to wake up just yet. I didn't hear her cough in her sleep, which is amazing since she has been coughing every night for the past week.

Coincidence? Maybe. But I really doubt it. Some people say that oils have a placebo effect (which I don't buy), but in any case, you can't placebo effect a 6 month old.

What were some of the first essential oils that you tried? Do you have questions about essential oils? Leave them in the comments below!

Stay tuned as I chronicle more of my essential oil experiences.

To check out more oils, please email me!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why I Encourage My Family to Wear My Baby

I love baby wearing! I also love to encourage my family members to wear my daughter. I do this because my daughter loves to be worn in a carrier and I want her to feel comfortable being worn by other people besides myself. I also feel like it strengthens the bond between her and that family member.

Sure, someone can just hold her or put her in a stroller, but that's not the same thing. She can't hear your heartbeat or feel your breath from a stroller. And I have to say, arms get tired after a while! 

My little brother is 17 and I encouraged him to wear my daughter in her Tula. He is always amazed at how calm and quiet she is when I wear her. He told me that he will have to remember all of the things I'm doing for when he has kids. I just love that he can see the benefits of babywearing and will pass that on. 

My husband and my 14 year old son wear her on a regular basis and they both enjoy it. It warms my heart to be passing on something that is good for both baby and family! 

My 17 year old brother wearing my daughter in the Tula

My husband wearing our daughter in the Tula
My younger sister wearing my daughter in the Moby Wrap

My 14 year old son wearing his sister in the Tula
This is me, wearing my daughter in her Tula

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I never thought I would show my boobs on the internet


Since my daughter's birth, I have posted more pictures of my boobs on the internet than I had ever anticipated. Ok, I never really anticipated ANY pictures of my breasts lingering on the internet, but that's beside the point. I was nervous about posting my first breastfeeding selfie, I was scared of what others would say or think. But then I thought, "if I don't post breastfeeding selfies, who will?". 

The truth is that lots of people do, and I'm glad that's the case. See, I always post pictures of things I love and everything my baby does. Breastfeeding is a huge part of our lives now, and I'm happy to share that. 

The truth is, I love breastfeeding. I remember crying through cluster feedings and cracked nipples (yikes). There have been many ups and downs, but overall, it's definitely love. I love the closeness breastfeeding brings to me and my daughter. I love the awesomeness of being the sole provider of her nutrition. I love being able to comfort her at any moment. There are so many things that I love about breastfeeding. And now, I'm sharing them through photos on the internet. 

If you would've told me a year ago that I would be posting weekly photos of my breasts on the Internet, I might have called you crazy. Now I proudly share photos of my little nursling, usually sleeping at the breast. I proudly post these photos and hashtag them (#breastfeeding #boobsrock #nursing #normalizebreastfeeding). I hope that these photos will not only share my love for my daughter and breastfeeding, but also inspire others and help to normalize breastfeeding. 

It's important to me, and it's important to my daughter. 
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