I’ve always had a weird relationship with makeup. In theory, I’m obsessed with its transformative properties and will tumble down a rabbit hole of makeup-related YouTube videos faster than you can say “smoky eye tutorial.” In practice, however, I don’t find myself wearing a lot of it on a regular basis. Partly because I hate the expectation that women need to wear makeup to look presentable (I think this whole #nomakeup movement is great) and, as a mom of two little kids that also works part-time, I just don’t have the desire to spend more than a few minutes staring into a mirror every day.
That said, I do my best to make those few minutes count. I’ve found that a bit of makeup can be a fun little pick-me- up when much of your life might not feel very glamorous and the long days (and nights!) of motherhood are showing on your face. So I’m always thrilled when I discover great products that maximize my simple beauty routine. Below are a few of my current favorites.
If I had to pick only one item of makeup to wear, it would be under eye concealer. Brightening up that area and covering up my ever present dark circles really seems to lighten up my whole face. I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect concealer for years now, which basically means I’ve spent a small fortune trying to look like I consistently get 8 hours of sleep at night. And although I’ve tried products that cost three times as much and others that are specially formulated for the under eye area, I keep coming back to this NYX concealer. The coverage is great, it’s creamy and blendable, and you can’t beat the price.
I’d been using the elf knockoff version of this set for a couple of weeks when I stopped into Sephora to compare the two, and in my opinion the NARS version is worth every penny of the price difference. There’s a reason that Orgasm blush is such a cult beauty product, since it is indeed that perfect peachy pink that makes your face look slightly flushed and dewy, and the accompanying Laguna bronzer subtly warms up your face without making it look dirty or orange. Both products are silky enough to blend right into your skin without making it look dry or powdery, and the sleek miniature packaging is great for saving space in your makeup bag. I use this kit for quick contouring with this brush:
Real Techniques brushes are one of the best beauty bargains out there, and this one is a great multitasker. You can use it for powder, bronzer, or blush and I’ve found that it works perfectly for applying bronzer in the hollows of my cheekbones for subtle contouring. Since I tend to do my makeup on the go a lot and keep all my essentials in one bag, I also love that this brush is compact and has a cap to keep it from getting dirty.
It’s a real bummer when you take the time to apply makeup only to have it rub off or fade within a couple of hours. I was skeptical of this Urban Decay setting spray when it claimed to extend the life of your makeup by 16 hours, but after using it I can definitely tell a considerable difference. Even after a long day of two little kids pawing at my face, my makeup still looks fresh and polished.
If there is one product on this list that has been a total game changer for me, it’s this. I have always been super lazy about skincare and have slept in my makeup more often than I care to admit. Most cleansers or makeup removers make my skin feel funky, and washing my face just feels like way too much of a production when I’m bone tired at night. Enter micellar water. You can read all about the science and benefits of this stuff here, but the short version is that it removes makeup and cleanses skin in one easy step with no rinsing required. It also has zero fragrance or residue and doesn’t dry out my skin. I’ve been using it for a year and am completely converted. (Note: this brand also sells pre-soaked micellar wipes, which are fine in a pinch but I really prefer using it out of the bottle with a cotton pad).
What are some of your beauty favorites?
It’s not surprising that pregnancy and childbirth can take a huge toll on a woman’s body. A recent study reported that giving birth can be as taxing on a woman’s body as running a marathon, and in countries outside the U.S. it is common for women to seek out physical therapy to help them recover after having a baby.
I was fortunate enough to have relatively comfortable pregnancies, but a long labor and forceps delivery with my second baby left me dealing with intense hip and low back pain for the better part of a year. I tried seeing orthopedists, chiropractors, and physical therapists, as well as doing various stretches and exercises on my own, but nothing really helped. I was uncomfortable performing basic tasks most days, and could no longer do so many of the things I loved. In short, I was miserable.
Luckily a friend of mine that knew about my situation referred me to Susan McLaughlin at Align Health and Wellness. Susan is a Salt Lake City-based physical therapist that specializes in management of the pelvic floor and orthopedic dysfunction. Her approach to healing was so much more positive and simple than the other physical therapists I had seen, and within a month of doing the basic, relaxing exercises she gave me I felt significantly better and on the road to recovery. It felt like Susan gave me the tools to get back on track, and I cannot say enough good things about my experience with her.
In addition to one-on-one physical therapy sessions, Susan offers prenatal and postpartum workshops for women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby. These 3-hour classes will help you feel your best at this physically demanding time of life. Spots are still available in the workshops scheduled for June 2016; find out more information and register here. Be sure to enter the drawing at the end of this post to win a spot in the workshop of your choice!
One of my favorite things about Susan’s practice is her emphasis on self-care. Her blog is a wealth of information and useful exercises for any aches and pains you may have. Below are links to three posts she recommends for relief of sciatica, a common complaint for so many pregnant women:
An electric breast pump can be one of a nursing mama’s most valuable tools. Even if you don’t need to bottle feed your baby often, a pump can help maintain milk supply, relieve engorgement, and serves as a great backup in case an emergency comes up and you are unable to nurse your baby.
I remember registering for baby items when I was pregnant with my first baby and having some serious sticker shock when I saw the price tags on the electric breast pumps. I knew that I needed to get one, so I figured I would just cough up the few hundred bucks.
Luckily a co-worker of mine was pregnant at the same time and, as we compared baby prep checklists, mentioned that our health insurance plan covered the cost of a breast pump. I called my health insurance company and a representative said that the cost of my pump would be covered if A) I got a prescription from my doctor and B) I bought the pump from a participating medical supply store. A bit of a hassle to be sure, but I was able to get a Medela double electric pump that has now lasted me through nursing two babies without any issues.
Although healthcare legislation requires most medical insurance plans to cover the cost of a pump, sometimes the process can be more complicated and time-consuming than my experience. And in any case, what new or expectant mother wants to spend her time filling out paperwork or making phone calls?
Enter Pumping Essentials. This company, run by moms, handles the logistics for you. All you have to do is fill out the registration form on their website, choose a brand of pump, and let Pumping Essentials take care of getting the prescription from your doctor’s office, filing the claim with your insurance company, and mailing you the pump.
Best of all, Pumping Essentials offers a free or discounted hands-free pumping bra (Simple Wishes is our favorite) with every pump purchase, and provides discounts on other pumping and breastfeeding items such as pump/diaper bags, milk storage supplies, etc. So if you are in need of a breast pump, visit pumpingessentials.com and let someone else navigate the insurance process for you.
A C-section is not something that every mom-to-be plans for. Though many moms, especially after their first child, opt for a C-section, for most it can come as a surprise. My husband and I just had our second child via C-section, and the whole experience including the recovery was much different than with our first who was delivered vaginally. I found myself coming home from the hospital feeling completely different, and needing different types of remedies to help my body recover. So whether you're planning a C-section or have to have one unexpectedly, here are some helpful tips to help your at home recovery.
Pillows are your friend. After my C-section, I surrounded myself with pillows. When you have a C-section, you quickly realize how much the core muscles engage during simple everyday acts, such as sneezing, coughing and laughing. If you hold a pillow over your stomach when you feel a cough or sneeze coming on it can soften the blow. Watching a TV comedy was not fun when every time I laughed I felt a twinge at my incision. So I kept pillows nearby and grabbed one when I started to laugh. The pillow trick also saved me from the pain when going over a speed bump or hitting a pot hole. You may also want to use a nursing pillow, such as a boppy, to prevent your baby from sitting right on your incision while you're nursing. This will stop any irritation and make nursing more comfortable.
2- ABDOMINAL SUPPORT
Wear abdominal support. While you're in the hospital, your doctors will most likely offer you a belly binder. Take it, use it, love it. Not only does it help train your belly to go back into position and shrink your uterus, but it can also give you the support you need to get up and move around. The doctor will tell you to get moving as soon as possible, but it's tricky when your abs are out of commission. The binder tightens around your core and makes it easier to pull yourself up. Once you've been home a few days, the hospital grade binder may be too large and cumbersome to wear, so you can switch to a pair of high waisted compression underwear, like these C-Panty High Waist C-Section Recovery Panty from Upspring Baby:
Both the binder and support underwear will also provide a barrier between your incision and your clothes, keeping it free from irritation.
3- SAY YES
Just say yes. Delivering a baby takes its toll no matter how it happens, and you cannot do it without family and friends for support. With a C-section you'll need help in new ways. For the first few weeks, you should plan to have someone else drive you around. Driving can be painful (remember the potholes and speed bumps?), and can tug at your stitches. You are also limited on what you can lift. Most doctors say no more than a baby in a carrier, but even that amount of weight can be difficult the first couple weeks. Having someone around to help with the lifting is a life saver. Bending over to pick things up will also be tricky so forget about cleaning by yourself. Let a spouse or others who offer take care of that. You may also want to schedule someone to help with other kids, especially if they are super active. Running and chasing a toddler is not gonna work when you're healing from a C-section. For your sanity and the sanity of your other children, organize play dates and outings with someone you trust. It will help to get your child's wiggles out and allows you time to relax. The people who love you want to help. Say yes when they ask, and you will be much happier.
We've teamed up with Upspring Baby to give away an Undercover Mama and a C-Panty!
There is a lot of baby gear out there these days and it's hard to know exactly what you need. We've put together a list of our favorite baby registry items to give you a little help.
This is a wardrobe staple for every Nursing Mama. Expand your nursing wardrobe with this purchase and make any shirt a nursing shirt!
We love this travel system because it rides smooth, is light, and compresses easily. It makes transporting a baby a little easier, and who doesn't want that?
These super soft pads soothe chaffed nipples, they are ultra-absorbant and stop leaks, and they are washable so you save money! Give them a try, you'll thank us later!
We love this carrier for so many reasons: great ergonomic design, fun colors that my husband could live with, and a forward facing feature that my baby loves! When he needs a nap, I still carry him facing me.
A great nursing bra that is also a pumping bra! It is supportive, easy to use, and turns any pump into a hands- free pump.
Every new mama needs an awesome diaper bag and we love Ju-Ju-Be and their newest collection of black and white prints makes you feel less like you are carrying a diaper bag and more like you are carrying a purse.
This doctor developed and doctor recommended nasal aspirator is amazing at keeping babies naturally snot free. Ingeniously simple Swedish design features a tube that is placed against the nostril (not inside). Parents use their own suction to draw mucus out of their child's nose. Sounds a little gross, but it is amazing!
8- Skwish Toy
One of our favorite classic toys, it skwishes and returns to its original shape. Perfect for little hands.
Who doesn't love a good book? This board book is based on the simplicity of objects outlined in black & white that can be easily recognized by babies in their daily surroundings. This is one of those rare books that will interest even a newborn.
One of our favorite blankets ever! The double layer cotton knit makes it super soft and we love the gender neutral designs.
Summer is coming y'all which means, tank tops and shorts are coming out! For the nursing Mamas that means the dreaded layers and a whole lot of sweat...but maybe not? I've got you covered girl ;) First off ALL of Undercover Mamas tanks are super breathable and lightweight meaning you're not going to get over heated. Plus they make a specific "Cool Mama" option! Second off they're perfect to dress up a tank and allow you to nurse without a problem wherever you are! I've put together 3 of my favorite tank looks with my Undercover Mama tanks right here, right now!
This post was written by Jess Oakes. You can find her blogging at Positively Oakes and enjoying her new journey of Motherhood with a Dr. Pepper in her hand ;)
5 Reasons To Reduce Your Kids’ Screen Time That Have Nothing To Do with Mommy Guilt or Medical Data
1. The feeling you get when you start to realize the TV noise has been constant. You know the feeling I’m talking about. You’re going about your daily business but your nerves start feeling a little bit raw and your patience starts feeling a little bit thin and you start to realize it’s because the sound of theme songs and squeaky cartoon character voices are about as soothing as nails on a chalkboard.
2. You absorb the noise and it sticks to the deepest recesses of your soul. You think your home is finally quiet and calm and filled only with the sounds of your kids (finally!) playing contentedly in the next room or back yard. And then it happens. You catch yourself trying to fix a kitchen appliance and singing, “Can we fix it? YES WE CAN!” Or you’re humming the Curious George theme song in your cubicle and driving your colleagues insane. It never stops. It haunts you. It haunts everyone.
3. Your Hulu suggestions are officially the worst. You finally get the kids to bed, pull out the good snacks (the chocolatey ones the kids don’t know about), and snuggle in next to your partner to watch something new, with bad words and everything. Ahhhh… but wait. What’s this? All of your personalized suggestions are whiney animations. By the time you remember how to clear your viewing activity, your husband is snoring next to you. What. A. Buzzkill.
4. It’s burning a hole in your wallet I’m not talking about the cable bill, or even the data plan. I’m talking about all the toys and gear we get guilted into buying. The shows may be free, but they get ya with branding! Your kid loves Sesame Street? Expect her Christmas wish list to begin and end with everything Elmo. He loves superheros? Clothes shopping is going to end in tears (yours and his) if you don’t walk out with some superhero stuff that you don’t even like. Sweet were the days we could buy the cheaper, generic necessities.
5. Your future grandchildren may end up with names like Muck and Caillou.
And nobody deserves a grandchild named after Caillou.
If you asked me to name my newborn essentials, included among the list of standard baby items would be a subscription to an online streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. As draining as those first few weeks stuck at home nursing a newborn can be, they are also a perfect time to indulge in some major TV binge watching.
When my kids were born, part of what got me through those first exhausting weeks was the promise of a little “me time” in the form of catching up on some TV while I nursed. This usually happened during the late evening feeding when I was at my most worn out and, quite frankly, just tired of having a baby clamped to my chest.
I quickly discovered that in my postpartum state not just any TV white noise would fit the bill. What I wanted was something that didn’t require me to think too much (not the time for hard-hitting documentaries); was addicting but not too addicting (I wanted to look forward to watching it but not to the point of being distracted at other times of the day); and most of all, wasn’t too emotional or dramatic (postpartum hormones had me sobbing at random Target commercials, so you can only imagine the devastation that something like Game of Thrones would have caused).
If I were nursing a newborn right now, these would be my top Netflix picks (currently streaming as of February 2016):
This mother-daughter dramedy is charming, well-written, and just a pleasure to watch. I tuned in faithfully when it was on the air, and as luck would have it Netflix added all seven seasons one week after my daughter was born. I spent many an evening listening to Lorelai and Rory exchange witty banter while cuddling with my new baby girl. I’m betting that my milk would still magically let down if I heard Carole King singing “Where you lead, I will follow….”
Parks and Recreation
Although I would argue that it doesn’t fully hit its stride until season 3, Parks and Rec is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms. Amy Poehler is at her best playing devoted civil servant Leslie Knope, and the supporting cast members are all hilarious.
The Great British Baking Show
A huge hit in the U.K., this baking competition is reality TV without the drama or intensity of the shows that air in the U.S. It really is just a bunch of nice British people baking amazing stuff in the beautiful English countryside (basically Xanax in TV form). And without exception everyone that I have recommended it to has loved it. Fair warning: if you’re like me and have the appetite of a teenage boy going through a growth spurt while you’re nursing, you might want to arm yourself with some snacks before sitting down to watch this parade of mouthwatering creations.
Hart of Dixie
This pick falls solidly in the guilty pleasure category, so watch it when you’re feeling particularly braindead or immune to cheesy dialogue and far-fetched plotlines. Rachel Bilson (remember her from The OC?) stars as Zoe Hart, a doctor from Manhattan that moves to the charming town of Bluebell, Alabama to take over a medical practice. Love triangles, catfights, and random shenanigans ensue.
I’m usually not a big HGTV fan, but I really enjoy this show. Hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines help their clients find a house in need of some TLC and proceed to transform it into something amazing. Again, reality TV without the drama. Unless maybe your husband decided to rip out your master bathroom when you were 39 weeks pregnant (a story for another time) and the thought of home renovations sends you into a fit of rage. Then maybe skip this one.
What are your Netflix favorites?