Birth Story + Bronson

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Giving birth to Bronson wasn’t exactly how I envisioned. In my mind, I saw a quiet birth at home laboring in a bath filled with relaxing oils and lit by candles. Charles and I took Bradley Birth Method classes and I couldn’t wait to bring our son into this world together. I imagined depending on Charles for encouragement and I wanted him to play as much of a part in Bronson’s birth as possible. I wanted us both to deliver the best thing that had ever happened to us.

If motherhood has taught me anything, it is that nothing will be as imagined. At 32 weeks, I was told that my baby was transverse-breech. I remember laying in the bath the night before my 32-week midwife appointment and practicing a relaxation technique when I felt him turn sideways. I could feel his head and his bum on the sides of my belly with my hands. I was given some exercises by my midwife from the website Spinning Babies. She also gave me a list of suggestions I could try that included chiropractic adjustments, acupressure, acupuncture, essential oils, and manual adjustment.

At our last birthing class, our instructor looked at me with heartbreak in her eyes and told me that I should begin to plan for a gentle C-section–just in case. I knew she was right. I revised my birth plan and prepared myself for a hospital birth that may include surgery. I cried so many times over the realization that I wouldn’t have the birth that I had dreamed. I prayed, I begged, I did headstands to try to turn this baby, but it felt like I might as well have been trying to move mountains. At 37 weeks I went into labor.

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I went to my chiropractor for another adjustment; my third that week. As soon as I walked into the office, I went to the restroom to find that I had lost my mucus plug. Only I didn’t know it at the time. Just in case, I sent Charles a text to come home as soon as possible, but I didn’t tell him why. I had just left the chiropractor’s office when I had the overwhelming urge to stop and buy another giant pack of toilet paper. It was the night before a huge blizzard was going to hit the DC Metro area and the grocery stores were packed. I began having strong contractions in the grocery store. It must have been noticeable because, thank goodness, a cashier took pity and opened up a new checkout line just for me.

As soon as I got home, I called my midwife who confirmed that I may be going into labor. She told me to call her back if I saw any bright red blood and if so, not to delay coming into the hospital. The roads were already getting bad and I had a breech baby. Shortly after hanging up the phone, Charles walked through the door. I explained that we might be having a baby earlier than expected and that we need to make sure that the dog is walked and our bags were packed. I wanted to take a shower, but I wanted to take a bath to relax as well. As Charles walked the dog, I quickly showered and washed my hair, then I ran a hot bath with lavender oils, lit a few candles and got ready to relax. I was determined to have a small piece of the birth I had envisioned. But, fate had a different plan and just before I stepped into the bath, I noticed bright red blood. The universe was relentless, I thought to myself. So I pulled the plug and watched my ritual birthing bath go down the drain. I dressed and Charles packed a few more things to take to the hospital. I said a long goodbye to the dog since it would be the last time that she would be my baby. As we walked out the door, I snatched the Goddess aromatherapy necklace I had made earlier that day and placed a few drops of lavender right on the belly of the pendant. It was my last hope of bringing my dream birth to the hospital with me.

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The usual 7-minute drive took us 20 minutes because the roads really were pretty bad already. I was checked in and sent back pretty quickly to triage. Once there the midwife Kelly came to see me. She said she could smell lavender down the hallway. “There must be a midwife patient here,” she said. A quick ultrasound confirmed that Bronson was still transverse and two OB’s were sent to try manual version. I had heard so many frightening stories about how painful manual version could be. In truth, it was no tickle fest, but it was tolerable. After an hour and a half of trying, the OB turned to me and said that she was sorry. Bronson wouldn’t turn. The anesthesiologist came to introduce himself and asked when and what I had eaten last. I said I had a huge meal an hour before. I lied, I had barely eaten that day, but it bought me some time. I prayed that labor would naturally turn my baby. I was allowed to labor until I was 5 cm dilated. At that point, the nurse could feel the baby’s hand or foot during a vaginal check and my time had run out.

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I had come to terms with the fact that I would in all likelihood, deliver via C-section, or so I thought. I seemed to be taking it pretty well the midwife told me. That was until I began the walk down the hallway to the OR. It was really going to happen, I thought. A small part of me always believed that this baby would turn.  While walking towards the cold and sterile room where my baby would be born, I started to cry. I was helped onto the OR table and the anesthesiologist began to explain the spinal block procedure. Then I completely lost all control of my emotions, the midwife held me as tears poured down my cheeks and I sobbed uncontrollably. She held my hand as I was prepped for surgery, and reviewed my C-section birth plan with the OB. Charles came to be by my side just before the surgery started. I had earbuds in while listing to relaxing meditation music, as suggested by the midwife. But after a few minutes, I took the earbuds out. I didn’t want to feel like I wasn’t there anymore. I wanted to be present while my baby was born; even if it felt like a bad dream. Seconds later, I heard my baby cry for the first time. I started crying again. Not because he was born via C-section but because he was born. I laughed and cried tears of joy. It was then that it hit me. I hadn’t seen him yet but knew I loved him just by hearing his cry. It didn’t matter how Bronson came into this world. I loved him just the same.

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DIY + Teach Your Baby To Read

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The kids have gone back to school. The lunches are packed, first day photos have been posted and moms everywhere let out a sigh of relief as they no longer need to plan activities to occupy their children’s days.

I have a few years before I will need to start back to school planning, but I thought this would be a wonderful time to start a learning routine of our own. Now at 7 months old I know that my little guy is learning and growing every day. In fact, studies show that 60% of all the energy that an infant will expend is concentrated in brain development. This means that if a baby’s body grew at the same rate as their brain, then by one month of age they would weigh 170 pounds. Yikes!

With this information, I thought it was a good time to start using flash cards to help my baby’s brain development. These flash cards are similar to the flash cards that I remember using when I was learning to read. However, starting when your baby is between 6-9 months old greatly improves the chances of having an early reader. This makes sense since children’s brains have formed 1000 trillion connections between neurons by the age of 3.

So pull out your ruler, glue stick, and scissors (assuming you could find any along the barren school supply aisles) because it’s time to get a little crafty.

 

You will need:

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  • Cardstock – I used 140 lb. weight
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Self-adhesive laminate sheets (optional) I found them at target for under $7 a pack and needed two packs.
  • Printable ABC’s – click here and here.

Now the easiest way to create these cards would be to print the images directly onto the cardstock. I found that my printer would not take the thicker cardstock that I used. I simply printed the ABC’s on printer paper and cut them out. Then I glued them onto the cards.

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1. Cut out your cards.

Measure your cardstock (or eyeball if you like to live dangerously) and draw lines where you will cut out your cards. Cut the cards out.

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2. Paste

Glue the ABC’s to the card stock. Letters on the front of the card and pictures on the back.

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3. Round the corners

Optional: round the corners and laminate the cards, then cut the cards out of the laminate sheets. I used a bottle cap to trace half circles to round the corners. I didn’t do this at first but after realizing that my 7-month old wants to eat everything I went back to the craft table.

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4. Admire your work

This is a pretty simple DIY as long as you don’t get frustrated with the laminating sheets. Follow the directs for your sheets carefully and work with half of the sheet at a time, pulling the backing apart slowly.

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When it’s time to learn, Bronson and I sit on the floor with the cards, a few books and toys. We aim for a 30-minute lesson depending on his attention span that day. As I flip through the cards I start with the letter side first and pronounce the letter and word slowly a few times. Then, I flip the card over to show him the picture side and pronounce the word again.

We have been practicing baby sign language so as I show the picture side, I also do the sign for that word. I keep my phone close by in case I need to look up a sign that I haven’t memorized yet. After we are done with each card I hand the card to him so that he can explore it. Once we have finished with all of the cards I scatter the deck so that he can play with them. I also say and sign any card he picks up.

 

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Do you have any fun games for teaching your little one? Have you ever tried baby sign language? Comment below and tell me about your experience or ideas.

Postpartum Wardrobe Essentials

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It’s understandable that we get excited about our bump style and often forget that we may need a few postpartum clothing options. Especially while transitioning from pregnancy to back into our old skinny jeans– assuming that we ever get there…Fingers crossed. Don’t get me wrong, I had a few maternity pieces that I wore after my baby was born. In fact, I’m wearing maternity leggings now, but shhhhh we don’t need to make that common knowledge.

When it came to what I would wear post pregnancy, I didn’t give my wardrobe much thought. Aside from deciding that I was perfectly comfortable with the idea of wearing my maternity clothes long after the baby was born. It seemed like a great idea until that first trip outside of my comfortable home. The sad fact is that I was used to dressing up my baby bump and all of a sudden I had a belly that I desperately wanted to conceal. I quickly learned that some of the clothes that looked great while I was pregnant, gave me that same look post pregnancy… and by this, I mean that I still looked very pregnant. That meant that my favorite body-hugging maternity maxi dress didn’t help. My best advice is to put aside a little cash for a few postpartum wardrobe essentials. Also, try to get as much as you can second hand because the idea is that you won’t wear these clothes forever. Again, fingers crossed.

 

Nursing tanks

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Let’s just be honest, not everything in your postpartum wardrobe needs to be made for nursing. The truth is that if my shirt is stretchy enough to pull down and get my boob out it works for me. Nursing tanks, however, are a gift from the postpartum gods. Trust me when I say that you will want more than a few of these in dark colors. Black = no visible spit up or milk stains. My favorite one is soft and the elastic band is covered with fabric for maximum comfort.

Leggings

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Of course, leggings will be as much of a staple post pregnancy as I am sure they were during pregnancy. Again my top choices are always soft like the jersey knit maternity leggings that I am wearing now. Also try to grab something a little sporty looking, just in case you actually do make it to the gym at 6 weeks PP.

A tunic shirt

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Next up I highly recommend a front button or v neck tunic shirt or dress. If you are nursing then you will want easy access to your assets. The longer cut can help hide new mama hips and postpartum panty lines. Again a dark color will hide any spit, spills, or spots. Also, try to buy fabrics that don’t show stains when wet.

Button-up shirts

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As I pointed out above, those buttons will make nursing easier. I liked having a denim shirt and a plaid shirt. With those two options, you can actually get three different looks each. Fully button up the shirt, leave it unbuttoned and open to throw over a nursing tank, or tie around your waist for a 90’s throwback look.

A thin T-shirt

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You might already have a few flattering thin T-shirts. I was discouraged from wearing any of my favorite T-shirts because I didn’t want to expose my belly by pulling the shirt up to nurse. Then I realized that wouldn’t be necessary. All I had to do was layer the T-shirt over a nursing tank. When it was time to nurse, the T-shirt went up and the tank went down. It also gave me a little more coverage if I wanted privacy. By layering, it meant that I could get away with my T-shirt being a little shorter than I would normally have been comfortable with. This handy trick works with almost any shirt.

A cardigan 

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Similar to wearing a button-up, a cardigan is easy to throw over any shirt. Depending on when your baby is due will determine if you will want something thin and gauzy or something more like a sweater. Either way, you will be thankful that you have something to grab and throw over your tank and yoga pants when the Amazon delivery person is knocking at your door.

A wrap dress or shirt

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This may not be necessary for everyone but you might be heading back to the office. Or maybe Grandma is watching your new baby while you get a much-needed night out….and maybe you just need to find a reason to change out of the leggings that you have been wearing for the past four days. Whatever the case if you’re wanting to dress up a little, a wrap dress or shirt is a must.

Non-slip shoes

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Shoes are not always on the list of things to buy after your baby arrives. After all, you might have needed to go up a size during pregnancy. If you already have safe easy to slip on shoes from before or during pregnancy then, by all means, skip this suggestion. I gave birth in the middle of a blizzard. After most of the snow melted I didn’t need boots anymore but I didn’t want to risk slipping on the wet floor while babywearing. If you are going to buy some new kicks then you should at least make them cute and comfortable. Find the three pictured here, here, and here.

 

 

Baby’s First Foods

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I spent a good portion of my pregnancy researching foods that I hoped my baby would one day love to eat. I had so many strategies for not only feeding him nutritiously but also how I would avoid having a picky eater.

When I read about baby led weaning I thought that all of my dreams had come true. I swore that the idea of handing over a portion of my plate to feed my baby would change my life. Sadly, I had the wrong idea. When Bronson turned 6 months old and we thought that he was ready for solids, I sat him down and handed him an avocado slice. It didn’t exactly go as planned. For starters, the avocado was too slippery for him to grasp. Then after a few attempts at picking it up and moving it into his mouth, he decided he would rather finger paint with it. Although adorable in my book, it didn’t mean that he was eating. Don’t get me wrong, I know that playing is part of learning in his world but I just had a different vision of how this was going to work…. Like almost everything in motherhood.

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My second attempt at letting him feed himself wasn’t as bad. I gave him a banana and I had learned to leave a portion of the peel intact so that he could easily grasp it. It worked out much better seeing as how he was able to take a few bites before throwing it to the dogs. The downfall I quickly found out about BLW was that, in my excitement, I bought way too many fruits and veggies. This resulted in all of the produce ripening at one time. What was a mama supposed to do? We had too much for the whole family to eat before it spoiled. In came purres. I decided I would do a combination of BLW and purees because, why not? It’s not like the baby food/BLW police are going to come knocking on my door.

I quickly found out that, in my excitement, I bought way too many fruits and veggies. This resulted in all of the produce ripening at one time. What was a mama supposed to do? We had too much for the whole family to eat before it spoiled. In came purres. I decided I would do a combination of BLW and purees because, why not? It’s not like the baby food/BLW police are going to come knocking on my door.

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As of now we are still playing with food and learning what works best for us. I’m not terribly concerned about his eating habits at the moment since he is still getting most of his calories and nutrition from breast milk. As we continue to play and learn what is working and what is not I will be happy to write more in the future. For now here is a list of my favorite resources on both BLW and purees.

BLW

Here

Here

Here

Here

Here

Purees

Here

Here

 

 

 

Perfect Parenting + Penny for Your Thoughts

 

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It breaks my heart that we live in a world of parents shaming parents.

Maybe it’s because of social media, but I see mom/parent shaming too often. It is easy to act big and bad behind the keyboard. Saying things that would never be said in person.

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I wish I had a great piece of advice or wisdom to make it stop or to make it go away. If I’ve learned anything from my baby, it is that motherhood is nothing, if not a humbling experience. I can’t promise that I will be a perfect parent. I can try but the truth is that I will fail.

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Because despite all of the books we read, the advice that we seek, and the google searches, at the end of the day we are all just winging it.

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No one said it would be easy, but it is definitely worth it.

 

Belated Baby Belly

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It would be safe to say that the time for blogging about my pregnancy has passed, especially since my baby is now 6 months old. Speaking from my experience with this first pregnancy, it can be overwhelming. Between finding out that I was expecting and moving during my second trimester, I let blogging go for a while so that I could enjoy my pregnancy.

I was able to keep journals throughout that special time in my life since I knew that I didn’t want to forget how wonderful pregnancy can be.

I pulled together a list of the top memories that I have of being pregnant with my first child.

My heightened sense of smell…

My sense of smell was out of control to say the least. I’m sure you have heard about this early pregnancy symptom, for me it started at about 6 weeks and has continued to this day. I may never lose my ability to smell what the neighbors had for dinner last week, but at least it doesn’t make me sick to my stomach anymore. I never would have survived without Preggie Pop Drops. Made to ease nausea associated with pregnancy, they were seriously my savior. While I didn’t have much in the way of morning sickness, I would feel nauseated with certain smells. I still use them to tame motion sickness.

I was always hungry!

It was no surprise to me that I wanted to eat all of the time. What did come as a surprise was that after a few months, I didn’t have room to eat everything that I put on my plate. I wouldn’t say that I let that discovery stop me from trying to eat like a champion though. I learned early on to pace myself and take a longer lunch break.

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I craved pickles and hot sauce.

Not exactly together, although I did eat them both sometimes too.  I wanted a pickle on the side of every meal and everything smothered in hot sauce. Imagine my disappointment, er rage, when Panerabread would forget my pickle. That’s alright, I always had hot sauce to save the day. That is until it gave me heartburn towards the end. I used this recipe to make a home made version of Claussen pickels. It’s the best! Photo credit: Tasty Kitchen

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I began to “show” around 16-18 weeks.

I swear I was showing at 8 weeks. No one else would confirm that suspicion, probably because I looked like I had eaten a few too many burritos for lunch but my jeans told another story.  Finally around 16-18 weeks, I would turn the corner at work and hear, “Wow! You are showing!”

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I was tired all. of. the. time.

This is to be expected but I wanted to sleep after any activity. I took naps every chance that I could. I also remember it taking me two months to unpack after moving because the routien went like this: work on one box, nap, next box, eat, take a nap, unpack a box, eat, sleep. It wasn’t the most productive time for me. While we are talking about sleep, I also remember hating the snooggle thing everyone loves. I also tried the boppy maternity pillow and hated that even more. What I did love was my cheapo $7  body pillow and the $5 black pillow case that went over it. I named that pillow Drogon. Photo from: Redit.com

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I felt my baby move around 4 months.

I hear a lot of people describe it as butterflies and while I can understand the comparison, to me it felt like something moving inside my body. Haha, I wish I had a better description for you, but it pretty much felt like you would imagine something moving around your stomach to feel like. I can say that I felt the most movement at 7:00 am when I would wake up and when I would lay on my left side. Now that I know my baby liked to have his head on my left side, I can’t say that I blame him for not being comfortable with that situation.

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It’s a girl… No, it’s a boy!

The BEST memory of my pregnancy was finding out the sex of my baby. I was convinced that I was having a girl… CONVINCED! When the tech told me it was a girl, I said, “Yeah we know.” and then the biggest surprise of my life. “Oh, I’m so sorry I made a mistake. It’s a boy!” she said a few minutes later. I did’t have to look at Charles to know he had a giant grin on his face. I could feel how proud and excited he was. I did see the look on the techs face when she continued to apologize for the mix up. I could tell that she really felt bad. But I wasn’t upset, I actually thought that it was funny. I was also thankful that she notice the mistake within a few minutes. Could you imagine if we didn’t find out until he was born?

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Now I will leave you with some of my favorite maternity pictures…

 

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Boho Baby + Mama Essentials

As a first time mom I remember devouring any and all information about what I needed for my new baby while I was pregnant. Now that my son is 6 months old, I feel like I have a pretty good idea about what I actually used, and what was unnecessary. While I could do multiple posts and break down the difference between newborn essentials and what we use most now, honestly what I consider my essentials list has not changed much from birth to 6 months. Here we go….

1. Ring Sling

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I am the biggest fan of baby wearing. I don’t think that I would be able to get anything done without wearing my son. In fact, he is strapped to me now. I pretty much have all forms of baby wearing fashion, a ring sling, a wrap, and an ergo. I love all of them for different reasons, but my ring sling is my favorite. You can carry your baby from newborn all the way up to toddler in these works of art, not to mention that they add to the cuteness of your outfit. In my opinion, a ring sling is the new must have mama accessory. From nap time to lunch time, this sucker has saved me over and over again.

You can find my DIY ring sling here.

2. A well stocked diaper bag

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While I’d like to say that my diaper bag is as well organized now as it was in the picture above, that is not always the case. I do however, make my best attempt to clean it out every other day or so. It can quickly become your newest catch-all. My diaper bag is made by Big Buddha and you can find a similar one here.What I like to keep in my diaper bag:

  • Diapers of course. I like to have three in the bag and I also have a few in the car as well. We cloth diaper so I carry a wet bag too.
  • Wipes, both cloth and disposable.
  • A bib
  • A few toys
  • Three changes of clothes for baby. I also have an extra change of clothes for my baby and myself in the car.
  • Bug spray, sunscreen, homemade hand sanitizing spray, and coconut oil.
  • Blanket
  • Sunglasses for me
  • Snacks for me. I like to have natural applesauce since it is easy for me to eat but I can feed it to my son now that he is old enough for solids.

3. A small purse

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This small wonder holds money, cards/I.D., cell phone, a pen, receipts, lip balm, and anything else  that you would keep in a purse. The beauty of it is that I can throw it in the diaper bag or take it out with me when I’m baby free. I highly recommend an option like this. I purchased this one from Target but you can find a similar one here and here.

4. A safe multi-use cleanerHonest Company home cleaner

I am a total DIY girl. My go to cleaner is normally vinegar but when I was given this as a gift I fell in love. I use it mostly in the kitchen and bathroom. It is a plant based cleaner with a fresh grapefruit scent. Find it here.

5. Coconut Oil

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By now, I think that everyone loves coconut oil. I use it on my face, body and hair, and it is the only thing that I use on my son’s skin. After his bath, I use it in place of lotion or baby oil, and I use it as a diaper rash cream. I can’t get enough of this stuff and it makes us both smell delicious.

6. Slumber Mist

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Nighttime Soothing Slumber Mist…. One spray and my son is in a trance. I can’t say for sure if it is the essential lavender oil or the relaxing sight and sound of spritzing this product on to his PJ’s before bed, but it has a nice little home in our nighttime routine. The fact that it smells like heaven is a giant plus.

7. Nipple Butter

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As one of my favorite product company’s, Earth Mama Angel Baby struck gold when they created this nipple butter. With 6 months of nursing and still going strong, I have used this from day one of motherhood. I also use it on my lips when I can’t find my lip balm.

8. Amber Baby Necklace

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Made of Baltic amber; it is believed that wearing the necklace causes the release of oil containing succinic acid. This is a naturally-occurring substance in the body and when the oil is absorbed, it is said to have an analgesic effect on swollen and sore gums.

9. Mama Teething Necklace

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While we are talking about teething and necklaces, I like to wear this silicone necklace to give my baby something to play with and chew on. It is perfect for baby wearing as it gives your little one something that is within reach, other than your hair. I like to wear it while nursing too since my little guy gets grabby and tries to pull at my face. This one is by My Baby Chews and I love that it is not only functional but stylish.

10. Water

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Last but not least, is water. Staying hydrated is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself and your baby, especially if you are breastfeeding. I am a lover of minerals and crystals so I like to drink crystal elixir water. I have a glass tea infusing water bottle and I simply add my crystals to the mesh infuser. This may sound extra fancy, but as long as you are well hydrated, that is the goal.

 

How about you, do you have any boho baby and mama essentials that you love? Share them in the comments. I would love to take a peak at your list.