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Hey, Momma! Don’t Forget To Care For Yourself!

Guest Article By Leslie Campos,

If you are a first-time, breastfeeding mom, congratulations! Nursing your baby is an intimate experience that you will never forget. But one thing you may forget is that you have to take care of yourself, too, if you want to be the very best mom and caregiver for your little one. Without further ado, here are some tips on how to do that during the first precious months (or years) of your breastfeeding journey.

Read — a lot.

If your bundle has yet to make their debut, get to work by reading. Your study sessions should include online blogs, like Integrated Mama, as well as books on pregnancy and motherhood. Look for information and helpful tips on things pertinent to your life. This might be bringing a new baby home when you have dogs in the house or caring for a child when you have a disability. There is no such thing as too much knowledge, as long as it comes from a reputable source.

Pack well before your due date. 

There are few things more stressful to a pre-parent than getting close to your due date without a hospital bag packed. Trust that the sooner you are ready to head out the door, the better. You want to make sure you have everything from a delivery gown to your baby’s car seat. For your hospital clothing, make sure you have garments that are cozy, comfortable, and familiar and can be easily used to breastfeed. You’ll also want to pack snacks for you and your partner, lip balm to address dry and cracked lips, and all the paperwork needed by the hospital or birthing center.

Address breastfeeding issues early on.

Once the baby arrives, you should have access to a lactation nurse that can show you the ropes. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and find a lactation consultant to address issues early. Breastfeeding problems can range from low supply to your infant being tongue-tied, so having an expert on call from the beginning will save you from an immeasurable amount of worry and heartache.

Sleep when you can.

Newborn babies sleep a lot — but they wake up a lot, too. If possible, sleep when your baby sleeps, but also ask for help from your partner, close friends, or family so that you get at least a few long stretches of shuteye. Do yourself a favor and learn how to swaddle before you leave the hospital. Swaddling will help suppress the jerking movements from your baby’s startle reflex, which can wake them prematurely from a sound sleep.

Enjoy a warm bath every night. 

A warm bath does wonders for the soul, but the moist heat also increases your milk supply. Further, a 30-minute dip in the tub can soothe tired muscles and, as the Inner Splendor blog explains, even lower your blood pressure. A special note here: If you do have high blood pressure, consult with your child’s pediatrician about whether or not your current medications may pass onto your breast milk.

There are many self-care acts that you can do for yourself when you’re breastfeeding. Obviously, you need to eat well and exercise, but being your best is more than that. These are just a few tips that can help you be good to yourself and your baby. This is an exciting time and one that you will never forget, so treat yourself well and enjoy every moment.

Integrated Mama is a treasure trove of inspiration and wellness tips for first-time and experienced moms alike. Like the Facebook page to stay abreast of information on pregnancy, nursing, and motherhood. 

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Welcome to the World, Little One

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After a short blog hiatus, I am back. In this post, I’m sharing Mira Ingrid’s birth story. I love writing my kids birth story while it is still fresh in my memory. All of my feelings are still close at heart. I find my 13-year-old still loves to hear his story, so writing it in mama’s words is a nice memento.

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The Planner

My pregnancy with Mira was my easiest one. My other two were delivered early due to complications from preeclampsia. This time we made it through all of our prenatal appointments, nothing alarming or risky. We had a plan for this birth. A planned c-section, the date chosen by our doctor. She was delivered at exactly 39 weeks. My bags were packed weeks in advance (just in case), and we loaded the car the night before my surgery.

May 20th was the date, and our surgery time was 7:30 am. We woke up that morning at 4:00 am, I had my shower, my husband made his coffee and we left the house around 4:45 am, not disturbing the other kids or grandma who was holding down the fort while we were away. We were at the hospital by 5 am.

As I said, my other births were emergency c-sections and totally had that feel. Emergent. This time we walked into Labor and Delivery and were greeted by name. The nurse walked us to our room, had me change clothes, give a urine sample, and I was hooked up to a fetal monitor for a half an hour or so. I filled out all of the required paperwork, had my IV inserted, and waited patiently until my doctor and anesthesiologist came in to talk before we walked to the operating room. I was also given literature on donating my placenta, which I chose to do since I had no other plans for it.

My husband was given his surgical suit and was told to put it on while they prepared me in the OR. I walked myself in the OR with the anesthesiologist and my nurse. It was nice to be aware of what was going on, seeing all of the surgical instruments, the chart with my information on the wall, and my catheter was not inserted until I was numbed with the spinal. Another huge difference– spinal anesthesia vs. epidural. It was an easier insertion and I felt less “drugged” afterward.

I did feel sick from the IV antibiotics and had the feeling for about 30 seconds that I would pass out and throw up, which was remedied very quickly by adding another med to my IV.

Surgery started roughly at 7:30 am and the baby was born before 8 am. My doctor talked to me throughout the process. After the baby’s waters were broken and right before she was born, my husband said my entire bed was shaking and the doctor had to stand on a stool to pull her out. Apparently, she was lodged into my pelvis pretty tightly and took some extra work to dislodge.

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Expect the Unexpected

I heard her cry, I knew she was born but we did not hear any updates from the nurses or doctors behind the drape. I’m not sure how many minutes we waited to hear an update, but it seemed like an eternity. Finally, the pediatrician and 2 nurses walked past us and told us she had swallowed some fluid and had to go to the NICU for some extra care. The other staff reassured us that she would be fine with her care in the NICU, and the anesthesiologist joked that she drank the jacuzzi water.

My husband and I waited for the rest of the surgery to be finished, and my doctor was still very gracious and talked us through his processes. He told me how much longer, and what he was doing as he finished up with my tubal ligation. After all was said and done, I was cleaned up, my doctor joked that he received quite the work out from Mira’s birth and he left letting us know he would be around later to check on me. Gus was finally able to leave to see Mira in the NICU, which was very close– the next room over and he came back with some photos so I could see what she looked like as I moved to recovery.

The rest of the day was a blur, I can’t recall the time frame although I know I texted my friends, made a Facebook post and I ate lunch without a problem. Gus went to visit Mira many times throughout the day, he wasn’t allowed to hold her and I wasn’t allowed to nurse her until her breathing regulated and her x-rays and bloodwork were clear.

This NICU stay was a hiccup in our “plan” but not traumatic. After being informed by the staff and some personal googling, I knew all would be well and we would be okay. I made sure to start pumping my breastmilk right away and my husband was awesome and would deliver it to the nurses every 2 hours. Sometime later that evening, I was told my catheter would be removed and I could get up and walk. At that moment, I was in pain and didn’t believe there was a way I could ever get out of bed. I cried to my husband that I couldn’t handle anymore and after that moment of self-pity passed, I sucked it up and went for it so I could make my first visit to meet my baby face-to-face.

It was difficult emotionally not to be able to put her to my breast and feel her skin-to-skin, but ultimately I knew this was how it was going to be, so I just made friends with my breast pump so that I wouldn’t have any supply issues or have to supplement her with formula. Thankfully, the rest of our stay was smooth. I was able to start breastfeeding her within 36 hours and she was good at latching and making progress. We both were discharged a little more than 48 hours later and went home to find our new rhythm as a family of 5.

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Feeling Supported

5 weeks have passed, life is taking on its new form and we are finding our groove and figuring out this little human. We had a ton of support in the first few postpartum weeks. We had wonderful friends and neighbors prepare food, grandmas visiting to help with the other kids and visitors stopping by to show their love and care. All of these actions have been much appreciated and really helped us adjust and bring a sense of ease in the first few weeks.

We are in love and feel loved. Sometimes we are tired and fumble through our days but all in all we are living our dream and are blessed beyond measure. Life is good.

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You’re Going to Be a Big Brother

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One of the most perplexing things about being pregnant with baby #3, has been how to prepare or introduce the new baby to Ezra. I know that siblings have been introduced into families since the beginning of time, and I should not over think it. It is just a difficult transition in my mind when he has been the “baby” for the last 2 years. My older son was 11 when he learned he was going to be a big brother, so logic was in place and the preparations were easy.

My 2-year old seems to have a vague concept of there being a baby in my tummy. He attends prenatal appointments, hears baby Mira’s heartbeat, and has seen her on the “TV” screen during our ultrasound scans.  But, does he really “get it”? Probably not, is my opinion.

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How have we been preparing?

Reading + Repetition

I ran across a beautifully illustrated book, Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford which we have been reading frequently. Over the months since we have introduced the book, he seems to make the connection that his mama’s belly is “rising up like a wave”. He will now point to my breasts or belly when asked where his baby sister is.

I do not buy multiple books about the same subject, I tend to find one we love and read over and over. I have heard many times that we tend to learn by shock or repetition, so for a toddler, repetition seems to work well.

Attending appointments

As I mentioned above, Ezra has attended most of our OB appointments. Our doctor is great about talking directly to Ezra and showing him the doppler and explaining it is the new baby. Again, I am not sure he “gets it”, but the repetition and expansion of my tummy may be helping him grasp the concept. Also, the familiarity of seeing the doctor and the office may make my hospital stay less of a shock.


We are not big proponents of tv time with Ezra. When we do allow screen time, we try to keep his exposure to “quieter” cartoons like Little Bear. However, Daniel Tiger Season 5 deals with Daniel becoming a big brother. We have watched these episodes multiple times as a teaching tool.

Visiting Other Babies

Luckily, we are in an environment where we have many friends and acquaintances who have new babies. We have been exposing him during story times, play dates, and even when we are walking in the store we will point out the new babies and explain that he will have a new baby soon.

Preparing the House

As we have set up the room (which he will be sharing eventually), we have explained who the new items are for. Her clothes are in the drawers and closets, so he sees them often and we have even installed her car seat to establish the new seating routine in our van.

We have also introduced more stuffed animals into his life, and he is bonding with them. With the animals, we reinforce “gentle touches” animals so that he can make a similar connection with the new baby.



There are many blogs and articles with tips and tricks to introduce a toddler to a new baby. We are doing these small steps to include our toddler in the process. Ultimately, we will allow it to unfold naturally and deal with the transition as it comes. Our childcare comes a few days before our scheduled birth-day, so that will be another aspect we will talk up and make exciting! A sleepover with bestemor and big brother! How have you introduced a new sibling? Any tried and true tips?



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Lactation Cookies

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I have scoured the internet and tried many varieties of lactation cookies. I have been underwhelmed with many tastes, textures, and baking thus far so decided to tweak some recipes until I found my own favorite. I am sharing my version today on my blog after receiving postive feedback on my instagram yesterday. They are gluten free (I buy gluten free oats), refined sugar free– and if you wanted to make them completely sugar free, you could omit the maple syrup. The dates add quite a bit of sweetness. I could not find fenugreek at any of our local stores, so I had to order from Amazon.

Lactation Cookies

2 T Fenugreek seeds
1 T Anise seeds
1/3 c. Flax seeds
1 c. Almonds, chopped
1 c. Dates
1/2 c. Coconut oil, melted
1/3 c. Shredded unsweetened coconut
1 c. Oatmeal, soaked overnight
1 c. Almond flour
1 T. Vanilla extract
1 tsp. Baking powder
5 eggs
1/2 c. Maple syrup
1 c. Lily’s chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put fenugreek, anise, flax and dates in a food processor, blend until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients.
4. Add in date mixture and mix well.
5. Scoop heaping tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheet.
6. Bake 12-15 min.

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Preparing for Postpartum: Mama Essentials


I had a moment of clarity that I was never preparing for postpartum the way I was preparing for my births.  January Harshe

I ran across this quote on Instagram and thought it was genius. I have had two boys, and of course spent a lot of time and energy preparing for their arrival. Both boys were born early, and as I shared in another post– I didn’t even have a hospital bag prepared. It is amazing how the third pregnancy is so different. I am not stressing anything. We have clothes, a bed, some accessories and I feel we are good to go. I do not have endless baby “to-do” lists, and it is quite a freeing feeling.

The thing I am preparing for is postpartum. With our last birth, I was out of sorts for many months after delivery. I could not quite get my balance back after my c-section, Ezra’s NICU stay, and adjusting to a newborn and sleep deprivation. This time I am going to make sure I have my main bases covered so that when I return from the hospital, our family can easily adjust to our “new normal”.


Postpartum Recovery

Regardless of how the birth occurs, vaginal or cesarean, it takes the body 6 weeks or so to heal. Pregnancy stretches and changes our anatomy over a 9 month period and it takes time to rebound and recover.

A c-section is a bit slower recovery since we are dealing with an incision and surgical healing. Either way, there are many support tools to have around to aid in the recovery and make things feel as comfortable as possible.

  1. Postpartum Girdle— This was a newbie for me after my last birth and it made a world of difference with mobility. Some insurance companies will even cover the cost of one. I’m in awe with this bellefit girdle and am excited to try it after Mira’s birth (yeah, I know I’m weird). It doesn’t matter if you have a vaginal or c-section delivery, I’ve read many reviews on how the support helps with body mechanics, getting back into pre-pregnancy clothing quicker and general post-delivery achiness.
  2. Perineum careHerbal sitz bath, perineal spray, padsicles or ice packs. If you have a vaginal birth, these are a MUST. Caring for this delicate area and helping aid in healing is important and these tools will help you bounce back faster.
  3. Pads/disposable undies— Tampons and menstrual cups are a no-no and you will likely have a pretty heavy flow for some time. I like organic, chlorine free pads and have even been known to use mama cloth.
  4. Peri Bottle— This is an important tool for mama’s, no matter how you delivered. So important that they send you home from the hospital with one. The fact is, we all will have about 6 weeks of lochia, which is the bleeding and discharge after birth. It is nice to have something to help rinse it away from delicate skin after a vaginal birth and just for extra hygiene post-cesarean. I have heard great things about the Fridet by FridaBaby
  5. Water Bottle— Hydration is a necessity, I love my stainless steel cup and straw or a big mason jar with a stainless steel straw. I know that drinking 4 full glasses per day I’m staying hydrated and after birth and while breastfeeding the more water, the better!
  6. Constipation Remedies— I’m crazy about my probiotic and fiber supplements. They have withstood pregnancy constipation and will be the remedies I use postpartum. Drinking plenty of water is important to reduce constipation, I mentioned some essential oil remedies in this post, as well as the constipation tea from Pink Stork.
  7. Walking— Staying active and moving around after delivery actually speeds up recovery. Muscles will rebound quicker, and your joints and fascia will stay in top condition. Walking around the neighborhood with the baby in a carrier or stroller can do wonders for the psyche. I live near the beach and that was a place we frequented for fresh air and vitamin D.
  8. Meal Prep or Healthy Food Delivery Service & Healthy Snacks— I am prepping 2 weeks of dinners for postpartum. This is something I have not done with my past pregnancies and have learned this is an essential step for ease during the postpartum period. It is nice to not think too much about groceries, cooking and cleaning for the first days when you are bonding with baby, sleeping very little, and trying to regain strength. A food delivery service is another idea, and a gift we received after our 2 year olds birth. It was extremely helpful and took a lot of pressure off of meal prep. There are many food delivery services to cater to different dietary specifications and where we live, we have several local services. Stocking the pantry with healthy, nutrient dense snacks is also vital. Birth and breastfeeding is very depleting, so making sure to things readily available takes the mindlessness out of snacking.

What to Do After the Initial “Recovery” Period

I have never completely felt human until month 3 or 4 post delivery and will often put exercise on the back burner. It is a priority! Things to do after you are physically recovered are moving gently back into an exercise program. I plan on doing a Postpartum Recovery Class which targets pelvic floor and core.

I also kept chiropractic care in my routine, my body was misaligned for quite a while after my c-section and the chiropractor was a major help. Even carrying a new baby, sleeping differently, and nursing a baby can throw the body out of alignment, so maintenance checks are life-savers.

Making the decision to get out and join mommy and me groups, finding a tribe was another biggie for postpartum recovery. New mommyhood can be isolating and redundant (and full of joy and beauty, don’t get me wrong). Women need women, so making time for friends does wonders for healing and rebounding from birth.

Emotional Healing & Helpers

Being prepared for the emotional shift that happens with childbirth is also important. Baby blues is completely normal, however postpartum depression and anxiety are also very real. If your emotions feel out of control, please talk to your doctor and get support from trusted friends or family.

  1. Natural Mood Boosters— Essential oils are my go-to’s for mood uplifting. I use Young Living only, and my favorites are Valor, Peace and Calming, Joy, Frankincense.
  2. Enlist Help– Friends and family are invaluable. Having someone over to hold the baby so you can shower or nap is helpful. A postpartum doula is also a wonderful resource. An additional pair of loving hands can ease pressure and help you find balance in your “new normal”.
  3. Nutritional Support– I suffered from postpartum anxiety, and my major relief happened when I found that I was having many triggers from the food I was eating. I have posted about this many times in my blog. For me healthy fats, removing grains, sugars and processed foods and filling up on good veggies did a world of good for my anxiety. My baby also benefitted greatly, the of my milk improved, his weight improved and his jaundice reduced. Adding some additional supplementation was also a necessity.
    • B-Vitamin Complex– I wrote an entire post about the importance of b-vitamins. Research is now pointing to a vitamin-b deficiency as a link to postpartum depression/anxiety.
    • Probiotics– Oh my goodness, not another recommendation for gut-health. But, yes. There are actually strains of bacteria in our guts that affect our mental health. The probiotic I use is quite potent and contains all of the necessary strains for balanced mental health. The thing is, not all probiotics– no matter how wonderfully packaged and the price-tag– can survive the digestive juices and acids. Which means that you can take a probiotic and never actually receive the benefit. Clearer mind and a calmer emotional state are the first things I noticed with my current choice.
    • Collagen HA- I wrote another post all about collagen. This has been a game-changer in my life. Period.


Nursing Mamas

Choosing to breastfeed is wonderful, and I am partial to it. Being prepared for it is important as well. Nursing a newborn is a round-the-clock experience and can be challenging at first. Having adequate support and supplies makes the transition much easier.

  1. Comfortable Nursing Clothes–  I basically live in nursing tanks and yoga pants those first few weeks. Being able to be accessible to the baby, having plenty of skin-to-skin contact and mobility make a difference.
  2. A Good Pump– A good pump is great to have around. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of one. I’m not a daily pumper, but I do like having a stash and I use a pump to increase supply when needed. It is also nice to have one to relieve engorgement.
  3. Cabbage Leaves– If engorgement does occur, which mine always happens around day 6, putting cold cabbage leaves in my bra alleviate it very quickly. I did not believe this would be the case, but am always happily surprised.
  4. Milk Production Support– There are many galactagogues, or things to help enhance milk production. My favorites are fennel essential oil, Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk Tea, and power pumping. Having some yummy lactation cookies are also nice to make, freeze and have on hand. Most of the commercial brands are loaded with junk, so making my own or using the brand I linked above is my preference.

This post is quite long, and full of information and recommendations I have found and researched over my 3 pregnancies and doula life. I will follow-up with some freezer meal ideas, more breastfeeding tips, and anything else that is helpful that I find along the way.