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Easter is coming y'all and you know what the means...DRESSES GALORE! Unless you're nursing....actually, I have great news for you. You can still wear a dress this year even if you are nursing and it's easier than ever! Here's my guidelines for nursing Mamas and dress wearing:

1. Find a dress you're comfortable in, where the top is easy to slide down and it's not too tight fitting (because that doesn't make it easy for the top to pull down)

2. Grab an Undercover Mama Top Cover

3. Put the top cover on, throw your dress on and you're ready to rule the world--breastfeeding and all!

See how I styled one:

undercover mama

undercover mama

undercover mama

undercover mama

Here's the scoop, that Undercover Mama Top Cover slides right up, while the top of your dress slides right down-- making it an easy little shield and the perfect way to breastfeed. It's a win, win all around and perfect for Easter!

Here's a few of my favorite dresses to rock with a top cover and that's breastfeeding accessible:

This post was written by Jess Oakes. You can find her blogging at Positively Oakes, playing with her new babe and most likely sipping on a Dr. Pepper!

I love a good layered look, so today I'm going to show you 5 of my favorite layered looks for weekdays with my Undercover Mamas shirts.

Monday Business casual

undercover mama positively oakes

Black Shirt | Gray Mama Tank | Blazer | Dress Pants | Shoes

Tuesday Errand Chic

undercover mama positively oakes

Blush Top | White Mama Tank | Ripped Jeans | Nude Flats | Bag

Wednesday Meeting Ready

undercover mama positively oakes

Lace Tank | Black Mama TankSkirt | Heels | Glasses | Watch

Thursday Simple

undercover mama positively oakes

Maxi Dress | Pink Mama Tank | Sandals |

Friday Casual Friday

undercover mama positively oakes

Leggings | Nude Mama Tank | Sweater | Booties

This post was written by, Jess Oakes. She blogs over at Positively Oakes. You can find her enjoying her new journey into Motherhood and sipping on a Dr. Pepper at all times.

Ah, the newborn photo shoot. Funny how those peaceful, sweet images of a sleeping baby reveal nothing of the chaos that so often accompanies this phase of life. Seems like the last thing you want to worry about when you’ve just had a baby is getting their pictures taken, but nothing beats looking back at those photos when the years have transformed your once tiny baby into a bigger, louder, messier version of themselves. With that in mind, here are some tips for making the process go as smoothly as possible:

Take some time to decide what kind of photos you really want

Some questions to ask yourself:

-Do I want formal studio portraits or more casual photos in an informal setting?

-Who do I want in the photos? Just the baby? Baby and parents? Siblings?

-How much money/time/effort do I want to invest in this?

In my case, I knew I wanted something more polished than my amateur iphone photos to document my new babies, but also realized that I didn’t want to spend top dollar on a photographer or dream up a bunch of elaborate props, outfits, etc., especially since I found myself gravitating more towards simple photos of newborns swaddled in their cribs than studio shots of naked babies sleeping in a basket of flowers or perched on a pile of books.

I also wanted my babies’ newborn photos to reflect the life of our family and their surroundings when they first arrived, so I opted to have photos done at home with our whole family present, keeping outfits and backgrounds simple and casual. And since I wasn’t too hung up on the quality of these photos as long as we got one decent group shot and a few great portraits of the baby, I hired amateur photographers that took the photos for a fraction of the price that most professionals charge.

Regardless of which approach you want to take and what your priorities are for your newborn’s moment in the limelight, definitely keep the following in mind:

Plan ahead as much as possible

This could probably prevent most of the stresses in life, right? And photo shoots are no exception. Photographers generally recommend getting newborn photos taken sometime within two weeks of your baby’s arrival, and heaven knows those first couple of days/weeks with a new baby are crazy enough without having to scramble to get ready for a photo session. So try to think through most of the process beforehand:

-Nail down clothing choices for everyone in the photos, not just baby. Even if you aren’t going to buy anything new or wear anything fancy, fish the clothes you have in mind out of the closet and hide them away until it’s time to take pictures. Otherwise you might end up rushing to Old Navy the morning of the shoot to buy your husband a new gray polo shirt because his is stained (not that I speak from experience or anything…)

-Assemble any props, blankets, etc. that you want to use and have them ready to go so that you’re not looking for things while the photographer snaps away. As we’ve established, I like to keep things simple for newborn photos with my babies in white onesies or something similar, but I’ve used different swaddle blankets and accessories to mix things up.

-Browse Pinterest, photographer’s websites, etc. to get an idea of specific poses/photos you want to have and show them to the photographer beforehand.

Set yourself up for success

You might be looking at the photos accompanying this post and think “geez, these babies look kind of big” and that’s because both of my kids didn’t have “newborn” photos taken until they were about a month old.

Maybe by the third baby I’ll feel differently, but with both of my experiences so far I’ve felt a bit of anxiety and depression both at the tail end of my pregnancies and for the first few weeks after the baby is born. Nothing major, but enough that newborn photos are the furthest thing from my mind. So I waited until I felt better and capable of more than just making it through the day to get these photos taken. And even though it resulted in not-your-typical newborn shots (my daughter stayed awake the whole time!) it made for a better experience for everyone involved.

But even if you are feeling on top of the world after having your baby, make sure you’re not sabotaging yourself:

-If you know you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule your baby’s photos first thing in the morning thinking you’ll magically be able to pull it together that one day. Same goes for other times/days, especially if you have other kids involved. Consider when everyone is most likely to be in a good, cooperative mood and schedule your photos for that time.

 

-Calculate how long you need to get yourself and/or everyone else ready (hair, makeup, etc.) and add on an extra hour. Just trust me on this one.

-Feed your baby right before the photo shoot starts, even if they aren’t due for a feeding yet. You want them happy and content. And if you want photos of their cute naked tush, make sure the room you are in is warm enough.  Basically, make sure that they are happy and comfortable.

And last of all—this may be the biggest “do as I say, not as I do” piece of advice on here—but don’t stress too much. Even if the photos turn out terrible and you hate them, I guarantee if you pull them out 6 months later they will magically look better (speaking from personal experience here). And even if they don’t, they’re just pictures, right? Go snuggle your baby and forget about them.  

Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the leaves, stems, seeds, bark, roots, and flowers of plants and have a wide range of physical and emotional uses, including supporting a pregnant and laboring mother. DōTERRA Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) essential oils work great and Jennifer is here to give you some recipes to use as you prepare for labor.  Always consult your doctor or midwife when using essential oils during pregnancy and labor.

BLACK PEPPER

Benefits:

Black Pepper has a warming effect to the touch and can help sooth anxious feelings.

To Use:

Have your doula, midwife or partner mix 1-2 drops in 10-12 drops of fractionated coconut oil in their hands and massage it on your hips during back labor for a soothing warming sensation.

WILD ORANGE

Benefits:

This essential oil possesses stimulating and purifying qualities, making it ideal for supporting healthy immune system function when seasonal threats are high. Wild Orange contains powerful antioxidants that help maintain overall health. Diffusing Wild Orange will energize and uplift the mind and body while purifying the air.

 To Use:

Diffuse 2-3 drops during labor for an energizing effect.  

If no diffuser is available, place 1 drop in your palm, rub your hands together, cup them over your nose and mouth, and inhale.

LAVENDAR, FRANKINCENSE & HELICHRYSUM

Benefits:

These three oils have incredible properties that help our skin. All are known to help reduce skin irritation and imperfections, which make them perfect for preparing the body for labor and facilitating recovery postpartum.

To Use:

Add 10 drops of each essential oil to 2oz of fractionated coconut oil in a glass container or glass spray bottle to apply with perineal massage daily starting around 37 weeks.  The remainder can be used postpartum after daily peri washes. Using a glass spray bottle is the easiest way to apply postpartum.

Add 10 drops of each to 1/2c of raw shea butter and 1/2c of melted coconut oil. Whip together in a mixer, and apply to your growing itchy belly as needed.

Feel free to contact Jennifer, as she specializes in making each of these custom blends for expecting mothers. You can find out more about doTERRa essential oils and purchase undiluted CPTG oils here or email for further information oilybabies@gmail.com

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease.

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Surviving the Last Trimester

Finally, the third trimester of pregnancy! Something about getting there makes it seem like your baby will be here at any moment. Unfortunately, for most women that isn’t the case and the last trimester can feel like an endless waiting game. When people ask how you are, the only thing you can think to say in response is “uncomfortable”! Don’t worry, you are almost there! Here are a few tips to surviving third trimester:

1 – Treat yourself. You have carried this baby for 6 months already so you deserve a little TLC. There are lots of ways to do this. Prenatal massage can be an excellent way to relieve stress on your body, as well as any anxiety you may have as your due date approaches. In many areas you can find Massage Therapists who specialize in prenatal care, and this kind of massage is perfectly safe for you and your baby. Another great way to treat yourself is to get a foot massage or pedicure. Most women experience swelling in their feet or legs toward the end of their pregnancy. Foot massages and pedicures can help with your circulation and reduce swelling. Plus, cute toes make everything better.

2 – Keep Moving. It is easy to become sedentary during your third tri. Moving can seem like a chore when your feet are swollen and you’re feeling pressure in your hips and back, but staying active keeps your muscles strong and again helps with your circulation and swelling. If the weather permits, simply walking around the neighborhood is an easy way to get going. Nothing is a race when you are pregnant, so take it as slow as you need to, but keep moving! If you are stuck indoors prenatal yoga is a great way to strengthen core muscles. Check your local gym or yoga studio for classes, or if you don’t want to pay for a class, YouTube is always good for instructional videos. Bonus! Staying active can also help you sleep better, which is something every pregnant woman needs.

3- Be Mindful. It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel during this time of pregnancy. Every day leading up to delivery can feel like an eternity when you’re uncomfortable. Take time to think about the reason you are putting your body through this. You are creating a human being, and when this trimester is over you will have a beautiful baby. Think about your baby growing up and becoming his or her very own person. This connection that you have with them will be different than any you have yet to experience. Think about how much joy and love you can bring into this little person’s life and what they will bring to yours. Keep in mind that not everyone gets to experience what you will when you see your little one for the first time. Being mindful of what you are getting in the end can make it a lot easier to cope with the stresses of pregnancy.

1. Because planning and preparation help things go smoothly.

You wouldn’t decide to have a wedding then wing it, would you? Even though things rarely go 100% as planned, all of the preparation you did for the big day was essential to your enjoyment of your own wedding. Who wants to be sweating the details day-of? The same goes for labor: you may not get a crystal ball to plan with, but preparing ahead of time will take the edge off.

2. A well-educated and empathetic childbirth educator will help you be ready for every possibility.

A good childbirth educator uses evidence-based curriculum to help you prepare for a full spectrum of possibilities. A great teacher will help you tap into your strongest coping mechanisms. She will walk you through the mental and emotional possibilities of various interventions and outcomes so that if you and your baby’s physiological needs up the ante, you’ll be able to shift gears without feeling emotional trauma later. And while that may not seem like a big deal to some people, it can have a major impact on a woman’s postpartum mental health.

                      3. Because even if you are planning to have an epidural right away, you may still have to wait for it.

Many practitioners will encourage healthy, low-risk pregnant women to go into labor spontaneously. A quality childbirth preparation course will give you and your birth team a full arsenal of tools to help you respond to the sensations of labor. This is especially useful while you pack your bag, sit in the car, and get checked in at the hospital. You’ll be grateful that you practiced!

Best Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

They say that children become readers on the laps of their parents, and although my nerdy English major heart jumps at the prospect of raising a whole bunch of bookworms, there are plenty of other reasons to spend time reading to your kids. Research shows that reading to your baby is one of the best ways to encourage brain development, boost vocabulary, and increase attention span. Pediatricians even recommend reading to children from the time that they are first born, claiming that—though you might feel a bit ridiculous reading to an infant—hearing a variety of words and looking at pictures is oh so good for their little brains.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received about reading to my kids came from their pediatrician. Apart from giving your kids access to lots of books and reading with them frequently, he recommended setting aside a specific time of day (bedtime, morning, naptime, etc.) and designating a few minutes for reading time with your child sitting in your lap as you read aloud and turn the pages, making sure your child sits with you until the book is over. It seemed a bit harsh to me at first, but in my experience this ritual has been so instrumental in connecting with my kids and helping them learn.

My husband and I implemented a bedtime reading ritual in earnest with both of our kids when they were around 9 months old and showed a greater interest in looking at books than throwing or chewing on them .I quickly discovered that many of the picture books I loved and dreamed of reading to my kids were just too long and not visually stimulating enough to hold their attention at such a young age, not to mention the hazard of little hands tearing fragile paper pages! My oldest was and still is such a busybody, so I had to quickly find board books that would hold his interest and make for an enjoyable reading and learning experience for both of us. Below is a sampling of what I’ve found to be some of my favorite books for the littlest readers.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

This Eric Carle classic has been a big favorite with both my kids. The sing-song rhymes coupled with big, colorful illustrations have them glued to every page.

"In My..." Series

This series is a darling way to introduce kids to various animals and their habitats, with the added bonus of a built-in finger puppet to help tell the story. In My Ocean and In My Jungle are both in constant rotation at our house.

First 100 Words

This book is a simple collection of everyday objects, and is such a great way to teach your baby basic words. My 15-month-old loves it, and we spend much of our reading time identifying each picture as she tries to repeat the word. This one is also her favorite to sit and look through on her own.

Boynton's Greatest Hits

Sandra Boynton’s books are such silly fun. Moo, Baa, La La La still sends my 3-year-old into laughing fits. Besides the books in this set, we also love The Going to Bed Book and Opposites.

Touch and Feel Animals

Seems like kids either go for the touch and feel or they don’t. My son didn’t care for them, while my daughter goes bonkers over petting a lamb’s fluffy wool or a puppy’s fur. These are another great option for independent reading and for younger babies.

Goodnight Moon

This has been a surprise hit with both kids. I thought for sure it would be one of those instances where I try to force a “classic” book on them while they squirm and resist, but it turns out that this book is a classic for a reason. Something about the soothing language and alternating black-and-white and color illustrations make for a perfect “wind-down” book before bed, although lately my daughter has taken to reading it on her own as well.

Happy reading!

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3 Parenting Books

I love research. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had this idea that I could research my way to perfect parentdom (hah! Bless my heart). There were only three books that I loved when I read them and, almost 3 years after my son was born, have stuck with me. I still recommend them to friends and practice much of what I learned from them. To me, those are signs of a quality parenting book. We all have different values and different kids, so take it all with your own grain of salt. Without further ado…

1. Your Brain on Childhood by Gabrielle Principe 

a. What it’s about: Neuroscience. While the woman who wrote this book has some impressive credentials, she also writes brilliantly so that average folks like myself can comprehend what she’s got to say. She walks you through the development of the human brain, starting in utero and continuing beyond the teen years; and addresses things that can affect that development for the better or the worse. (Hint: They’re things that are relevant to parenting). She’s got the data to back everything up, too.

b. You may dig it if: You put a lot of emphasis on cognitive and emotional development, you like evidence-based advice, and you’re not interested in someone who is going to tell you only what you want to hear.

c. You might not enjoy it if: You only want someone to tell you what you want to hear; too much information gives you anxiety; or you don’t enjoy books that are information-dense and take some time to finish.

2. How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei Ling Hopgood 

a. What it’s about: This book is not so much a parenting advice book as it is an observation of parenting around the world. Hopgood takes different aspects of parenting and childhood like potty training, meal time, sleep habits, and so on, and looks at how different cultures approach these responsibilities with their children. I ended up adapting much of what I learned in this book to my own parenting style, and I am grateful for that.

b. You may dig it if: You are open to other ways of doing things, you like to challenge the status quo, and your life mantra is “There’s more than one way to skin a cat!”

c. You might not enjoy it if: You want a book that gives you clear commands about what to do, which Hopgood avoids. She simply explores how other cultures approach parenting and what the pros and cons of those methods may be.

3. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross 

a. What it’s about:  After years of working with children, the authors developed several methods and guidelines for improving home environments to help children thrive mentally and emotionally. I applied what I learned from this book before my son was ever born, and feel it has made our home more peaceful for all of us (not just the kid). However, several of my mom friends read this book when their kids were having problems at home, and said that this book helped their children after behavior problems had already set in. 

b. You may dig it if: You are looking for a way to supplement other behavior

c. You might not enjoy it if: Suggestions about re-organizing your home and lifestyle make you feel defensive.

Breastfeeding

If you ever felt like “the most natural thing in the world” was especially frustrating or difficult, you are in good company. The way we evolved to learn how to breastfeed has been lost in our culture for generations, and that is why breastfeeding can sometimes feel like a journey in the dark. We need a guiding light.

I can credit my sister-in-law for how I approached breastfeeding. Years before I became a mother, she did. She unabashedly nursed in front of me - in front of everyone! I would find my jaw agape as she popped her breasts out in front of her dad, brothers and in-laws to feed her children (and nobody batted an eye!). Initially, this made me uncomfortable. It was the first time I had ever been around a nursing mother. Eventually it lost its shock value and I observed how she held her babies, how she latched them on before they got too hungry to be consoled, how she adjusted their lips when they were curled in and couldn’t suck. Without realizing I was learning to breastfeed, I was learning to breastfeed. I had no idea what a goldmine of information I was absorbing when she would talk about things like engorgement, milk let-down, foremilk and hindmilk. Simply by being a mother comfortably and openly, she was educating me.

This passing-along of information by doing was the norm for thousands of years. Before we were blessed with the advent of infant formula, families who could not afford a wet nurse had limited affordable feeding options. This meant that all new moms nursed their babies. Little girls would grow up watching their young mothers, aunties, and older sisters nurse babies. If you had a large community of sisters and cousins, you probably all reached your childbearing years within a few years of each other. You learned from one another’s mis-steps, which made it easier for everyone going forward. You learned to nurse a baby the same way you learned to walk, talk, and use a spoon: by having always been around it, and then having everyone around you guide and instruct when it was your time to hit that milestone.

Today, our culture is much more private. Most of us have ceased to learn about our nursing bodies from family. If you are expecting a child, the act of breastfeeding education falls mostly on your shoulders. There are some wonderful resources available for you, and I encourage you to check them out:

-La Leche League is a fantastic organization.

-Your doctor or midwife may be able to recommend a local breastfeeding class you can take, which I highly recommend if it is available.

-A book that I found encouraging and helpful was Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding, which I read in my last trimester.

-Join a parenting group, and give yourself permission to connect with other mothers about your challenges and concerns.

-Lactation consultants are invaluable if you have access to one. A good LC will help you troubleshoot your challenges and help you form a game plan or supplementation schedule according to you and your baby’s needs.

If you are concerned or frustrated, don’t struggle in the dark; reach out for a guiding light.

Cradle Cap Cure

Almost all first time moms freak out the first time they discover cradle cap on their perfect newborn baby. They want to know what caused it and how to get rid of it.  We've tried all the tricks and thought we'd pass a little of our knowledge on to you!

What Is Cradle Cap?
It is a harmless skin condition on babies that looks like flaky, crusty scale-like patches that are often yellowish.  It isn't painful and wasn't caused by poor hygiene or dry skin (so don't beat yourself up as a mom because you didn't cause it).  And IT'S TEMPORARY!

How to Treat It?
It will eventually disappear on its own, but if you can't resist picking at it (don't just pick it, you could cause sores or other conditions if you ), you can treat it with coconut oil.  The best part, it's all natural and it smells good too!  

coconut oil for cradle cap

1- Rub coconut oil on baby's head and massage deeply into scalp.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes (longer if it is really bad) to soften the scales.

2-  Use a fine tooth comb or soft bristle brush to gently remove them.  The hospital gave me an awesome sponge bristle brush that worked great!  

3-  Wash baby's head as you normally would to remove all the loose flakes.
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