That makes “SENS-ory”

Having children is such a life changing perspective… it gives you a different understanding about life. For one, it is no longer just about ME and MY wants or needs… it’s about this beautiful little child and all HIS wants or needs. It has been so cool and such a blessing to be able to apply my own clinical experience into real “at home” activities that help my family’s lives stay peaceful…. LETS GET REAL, parenting is tough! It is challenging and growing and sometimes it hurts… when you combine hormones with sleep deprivation and a dirty house it is enough to make any “sane” person go bonkers…Every single challenge and tear is worth it when you get to watch this little person grow so fast and learn so many new things. Every parent has those moments when you think/say, “HOLY CRAP is this  (fill in the blank) normal?”  and you frantically search google, call your parents/friends/colleagues with questions. I love the spiritual growth I have gained from becoming a parent and thank God every day. Thanks to this new human I get to play, crawl in the grass, sit in the pebbles, play in the sand, blow bubbles, and I always have someone to talk to no matter where I go. 😊 Now you don’t need a child to do all of these things! Actually, thanks to my husband ( if you don’t know him… rarely will you meet someone who doesn’t fall in love with his child like loving nature) who has helped bring out the kid in me, I hope I always stay a kid at heart! ❤ 

A great passion of mine has been to connect everything I have been learning in my functional neurology studies and my clinical practice with children….And now at home with my own kiddo.

I think most people would agree that sensory development is very important.

What is sensory? The Latin for sens- is “perceive”. Therefore, sensory is just that, our perception of the physical senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. These are the basic examples of sensory.  We also have different types of sensory inputs that we are minimally aware of occurring all of the time. For example, your inner ear sensory system is telling your brain right now where your head is in space and is calculating all of that information constantly.

The brain has the most neuronal connections as a baby and during childhood.  As the brain develops, more mature and specific connections start to become efficient at certain tasks. Therefore, more specific activation to these neurons equals more specific connections being made.

What are some sensory exercises we can do to facilitate our baby’s growth that  allows them to explore the world…

  • One “step” would be letting them step without shoes 😊 especially when they are learning how to walk. Letting babies walk without shoes helps send more information to the cerebellum (balance and coordination) and higher centers of the 20180105_142216(1).jpgbrain. One way to think is the more textures you can provide for the hands and/or feet, the better.

 

  • Next, let them touch everything… within reason… I am not saying let them play with knife as a baby (I’m saying this for Ross 😊) People tell me all the time “I can’t believe you are going to let him crawl around on this floor”. Research has shown that kids who eat dirt have better immune systems and kids who touch more “stuff” and explore their surroundings have more neuronal connections.

 

Encourage crawling for as long as possible… Even if it is you getting down on all fours and playing follow the leader or chase, just try to get them to crawl. I know some kids who just want to walk and don’t have time for that crawling business ;-)…

(Yes there is a mattress and blanket tents in the living room :))

Try stacking pillows or building little obstacle courses where they are forced to climb over things to get around. Crawling builds strong mid-line connections in the brain and helps develop proper core and truncal stability/strength for a healthy spine and brain in the future. The cross crawl pattern itself involves complex firing of neurons together. This cross crawl pattern is also important later in life when it comes to “copy/pasting” tasks. Meaning, looking at the chalkboard and then writing what you see onto paper.  This is in part due to the primitive symmetrical tonic neck reflex.

 

  • Creating a sensory encouraging environment. (Some of my sensory games are a little questionable with a toddler that puts everything in his mouth… therefore all of these games are under adult supervision 😊.) Pinterest is the BEST!!! Most of my sensory game ideas came from there. Paxton loves twisting tops, taking lids off, pretty much playing with anything that is not a “toy”. So we bought some containers from Dollar Tree and spent about $20 on all these sensory games.

Learning colors with paint bags- Okay….  Soooo Ross was entertained by this more than Paxton 😊 ( No… Really… He probably sat there for 30 to 45 minutes playing)

 

Sensory Squish bag- Paxton liked this more than paint, but again I’m pretty sure Ross enjoyed it more… hahaha…

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Bean bucket… This was questionable… Paxton loves to play in the pebbles outside our house and he puts rocks in his mouth, but very nicely spits them into our hand when we ask. So I thought a bean bucket was still a good idea, but we have found a couple beans in his poo. Of course this was super messy so I have to vacuum after, but it was an awesome game for a good hour… which is awesome when you see this chart of a toddler attention span.

 

Tiny insect and animal tub- I learned this interning at the Brain Balance Center. It’s a cool and simple activity, just dump out a ton of small objects to encourage fine motor skills and is perfect practice for pincer grip.  Also identifying the object helps vocabulary.

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Cotton balls- we went to visit some friends a couple weeks back and they had this silver antique container with a flip down lid full of cotton swaps and Paxton loved that better than any of the baby toys around. So I got the plastic tub with a twist lid full of cotton balls for him to pull out… again great for developing fine motor skills. (Don’t have a pic for this)

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20170911_144535(0).jpgTouching and tasting foods- In the beginning, introducing foods is all about experimenting different tastes and textures. We probably waste more food than he actually consumes.

SLIME- ?!?!?! Literally, as I am putting this blog together my best friend’s daughter decides she wants to makes slime… AHHHH… at first I think, “Can you wait for your mom?” lol… BUT nope, it is all about that SENSORY input so we made some for everyone to enjoy! It was actually a lot easier than I expected.

Chiropractic Care-  This isn’t exactly a game… but most of the kids really enjoy going to the Chiropractor… “The brain grows from the brain stem, the least complex area, to the cerebral cortex, the most complex.” (1) The brain grows because of the input from our outside world. If there is a subtle birth trauma or an obvious trauma the input from your body to your brain will be altered. A Chiropractor is trained to find these areas in the spine and help correct them. Every birth has it’s own set of trauma, and actually research has shown that an average of 60-90 pounds of pressure is applied to the cervical spine during birth. Therefore, every child should be checked by a Chiropractor.  🙂

These are just a few of the many things we have tried… Some were epic fails, but let your inner child come out and play with some of these fun ideas. If there is anything you have tried personally or thought was cool, please comment below!

Happy Playing! Love you all!

 

 

References:

(1) https://books.google.com/books/about/Disconnected_Kids.html?id=97SXj6eurLcC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3400202/

(3) http://www.mckillicanchiropractic.com/subluxation-at-birth-the-effect/

 

My nipple shield experience… Using to weaning the shield

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This is purely my experience and opinions. I love how ever a baby is fed because chunky little cheeks are now my favorite! 4792_1503623604389This is just a part of my breastfeeding journey, and I want to share for other moms who may be having a similar experience. Breastfeeding did not come natural for me, but I wanted it so bad that I was absolutely determined to make it happen. My breasts literally grew from a B cup to a triple D or more. So maneuvering these bad boys was NOT like the YouTube videos I watched… (a mom with perky boobs that is able to wear a nursing tank without a bra while discretely latching baby on, MEANWHILE… mine flop to my stomach for the entire world to see) lol

YEP MAMAS… ALL MODESTY IS OUT THE WINDOW!

If you have read my blog about my birth story then you already know things don’t always go as planned… On day 3 of breastfeeding I decided to contact a lactation consultant about my little guy’s latch.  This is after cranial work, chiropractic adjustments, and some breath stealing latches…. 😦 OUCH! The lactation specialist from Natural Beginnings came to our house the same day and she was absolutely amazing.  I recommend that every first-time mom or even experienced moms contact a lactation consultant. We had one in the hospital, but sometimes you don’t realize how much help you need until you get home.

I had bloody, cracked nipples, and Paxton did not want to latch on the left side at all. The LC also checked immediately for lip or tongue ties. She determined that I had flat nipples and the left nipple was slightly inverted (apparently this is pretty common… your nipples will change with time). At this point in motherhood… I was afraid to introduce pacifiers, bottles, etc… because of the fear of nipple confusion or refusal to go back to the breast. 20160902_152544

(Obviously that didn’t last long… this is my guilty face after telling my husband for 5 weeks that he wasn’t allowed to give Paxton the pacifier yet.)

The LC recommended we use the nipple shields  for a short period until my nipples healed. I immediately felt relief using the shield, and I was extremely happy that I was able to continue breastfeeding.

nipple shieldOkay so what is a shield?… A nipple shield is a clear, thin, and flexible silicone nipple, worn over your nipple. Most nipple shields today have a small cut out that should be placed where the baby’s nose will be. This allows the baby to smell mama and still have skin-to-skin contact. The best way to create a good seal with the shield is to run it under warm water until it softens and then slightly invert it before sticking it to the breast.  Basically the shield pulls the nipple out and makes the nipple large enough for baby to latch.

The shield weaning attempt… About 1-2 weeks later my nipples were completely healed and little guy DID NOT want to go back to the breast without the shield. The shields made it easier for him to latch and weaning was torture for both of us (and my husband). Torture meaning screaming and frustrated Paxton= STRESSED MAMA. I read tons of blogs, watched videos, but there really wasn’t too much information out there. A lot of moms talked about just going cold turkey and forcing baby to adapt. I personally didn’t feel right about doing that because I wanted our breastfeeding relationship to be a peaceful and pleasant experience. I also talked with other moms who used the shield their entire breastfeeding relationship, and they were thankful to be able to continue breastfeeding. So this helped encourage me to make peace with the shields. Yes they were a pain at times but my conclusion was…

#1 Baby is still at the breast

#2 My nipples don’t hurt 🙂

#3 Baby is gaining weight, he is pooping and has plenty of wet diapers

#4 My milk supply is great (because of decreased stimulation to the nipple sometimes milk supply can decrease)

Once I accepted the shields I released the “need” to wean. There were days we would give it a shot without the shield.  Sometimes he would latch for 2 minutes, sometimes 10 minutes. Some days he was so cranky, and I decided not to mess with that little lion cub. 🙂 Some days I just felt like relaxing and not thinking about it, so I didn’t. Even though we had some frustrating nights of losing that clear almost invisible shield, we made it work. My point to all of that is if you’re struggling with weaning I would recommend as long as baby is gaining weight, there are no lip/tongue tie issues, and your milk supply is sufficient then DO NOT stress about it. I totally get it though, using a shield makes breastfeeding a little more difficult in public or for night feedings, but the main focus is that your baby is still able to receive your nutritious, perfectly formulated milk.

Ultimately as usual Paxton had his own plans… I specifically remember waking up in the middle of the night to him latched on without the shield… sooo I knew he could do it! He slowly started latching longer until one day he literally took the shield off and latched on and we haven’t looked back since. Some babies will just learn that they can get milk quicker without the shield and learn to prefer the breast… This happened for us at a little over 3 months old, so it is possible!  The truth is now that teeth are involved, parts of me miss that annoying shield.

Here are some suggestions for trying to wean off the shields…

#1 Give it time and patience, try to feed baby without the shield when baby is most relaxed… for us this was our morning feed.

#2 Buy a Nipple Everter.  This little tool is so much easier than getting the pump out every time. It basically pulls your nipple out some to help the baby latch. For moms with flat nipples, and if your nipples are not cracked or bleeding, I would try this before the shield.  However, if you are already using the shield and you want baby to practice latching without, give this a try!

nipple everter
Nipple Everter

#3 Along with the nipple everter try some ice on the nipple to make them hard then try the latch again.

#4 Increase skin-to-skin contact as much as possible. We took lots of baths together, co-slept, and did lots of babywearing (keep an eye out for my next blog on babywearing:) )

#5 This really should be number one ;), but CHIROPRACTIC CARE!!! I cannot stress this enough, cranial issues and mild birth traumas can play a role in latch issues. (BTW… mild birth traumas can occur in any birth) So be sure to take your baby to visit a chiropractor with experience in pediatrics to have their cranials, upper cervical spine, and temporal mandibular joints (TMJ) checked for possible dysfunctions.

A special shout out to all the mamas out there whether you are exclusively pumping, exclusively breastfeeding, formula feeding, using or not using a shield, have tried breastfeeding and for whatever reason you are not anymore, YOU ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL and you are all feeding beautiful babies. I look forward watching our future generations change the world! I love you all!

Please share any personal experiences in the comments section! These are just a few tricks that helped us, but I look forward to hearing from other mom’s experiences!

Happy Breastfeeding!!

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Sweet poem from another mama using a shield!!!

Nipple Shields: A Review of the Literature by Anne Chevalier McKechnie and Anne Eglash, from  Breastfeed Med. 2010 Dec; 5(6): 309–314. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2010.0003

Continue reading “My nipple shield experience… Using to weaning the shield”

My Birth Story

My Birth Story- The RAW truth

Let me start by saying… Knowing you are about to give birth is so exciting! Months of planning and preparation leads to this amazing moment in every parent’s life. I still cannot even believe this really happened… Except for that sleeping baby in the other room. 🙂

This is MY birth story… I believe everything happens exactly the way it is supposed to happen, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened at all 🙂

After feelings of happiness, sadness, excitements, self-doubts, what ifs, guilt, anger, disappointment, just about every possible human emotion, about 8 weeks later I have finally decided to write my birth story. ( and 1 year later I’m finally putting it on my first blog)

I have battled with whether or not to share this blog, but I decided that if I help one mama then it is worth it! I have talked to so many mom’s who felt like they had to “mourn” their birth plan. Whether they had to have c-sections or ended up with pitocin or epidural, this time in a mama’s life is sacred. Therefore, it sometimes is hard to find peace and acceptance with how the birth turned out. Even though, every mom understands that the most important thing is that baby and mom are safe. With that being said… HERE WE GO….

Let us start with my own quote “I don’t have expectations” (secretly having expectations). My secret/subconscious person wants a birth center birth. Seems simple right… All I wanted was this beautiful peaceful birth I have seen numerous times on hundreds of YouTube videos and my own visualizations. I have been preparing for what feels like my whole life to bring another life into this world with candles lit, dim lighting, warm bath water, eating berries and staying hydrated, as I calmly breathe through each contraction allowing my body to open up. I saw immediate skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, herbal bath, and no interventions. I saw an end where I was showered and dad was holding baby, and then we peacefully weighed and measured baby. I imagined beautiful pictures of this brand new human on crisp white sheets, and then when all that was done we would load up to go home, and enjoy the bliss of a non-hospital birth. I wanted to prove to myself and to others that I could do this because my beliefs say this is the best/healthiest/most natural way to birth and this is what my body was designed to do…. SO yea definitely some EGO involved … What really happened was actually this biggest life experience yet…

From beginning to end this is what I can remember in my haze of what is left of this weekend long event of 56 hours without sleep (maybe a few 15 minute naps here and there), and about 42 hours of labor. (GUYS this gets graphic so beware)

Friday morning I noticed I had a little more mucus discharge than usual. I remember joking with Ross maybe he should just stay home and say I am in labor, and he joked back saying “Paxton would wait until Friday night”. Haha. All week he had been anticipating not having to go back to work. At this point I was about a week past my due date(s). I had basically stopped believing that I even knew what it was going to feel like to be in labor. Later, I started to feel what I could describe as period cramps off and on. I realized I was in labor around 5-7ish that night. My mom started the timer to track what were possibly very small contractions. I tried to lay and watch a movie with Ross and Kolson, but the contractions were starting to get more intense and laying only made them worse. I rocked in the rocking chair, bounced on the ball, took baths, and walked.  This went on for a few hours until I decided to talk to Heidi (my doula) and she came over.

We walked around our apartments, and I was just beginning to learn what these contractions actually felt like. I tried eating, but I wasn’t able to hold any food or water down.  I got in the bath and was able to relax more, but the throwing up continued. (If you know me, you know there is nothing I dislike more than vomiting)

We decided to make our way to the birthing center early Saturday morning. This is when things begin to blur.  I walked, sat on the birthing ball, did yoga, drank as much as I could. I held onto my husband, my mom, my doula, and continued progressing in labor. I watched the sun come up and then I watched the sun go down, and then I saw the sun come up again, and go down again. It was a long, exhausting, emotional experience. We got to a point when every time I got in the tub, my labor would basically stop. While my midwife was checking my progress my water broke. At this point I was at a 9, and she told us the baby should be here in the next couple hours. I mustered up some energy to get things moving again and when she checked me about an hour after that she told me my cervix was beginning to swell and I was back at a 7…UMMMM…..OKAY…. WHAT….??? (I did not even know that could happen)

I was devastated and just plain exhausted. I wanted to keep trying… but my contractions were not progressing.  I had some tough conversations with my doula, with Ross, and ultimately we decided to go to the hospital.

The hospital was my absolute worst fear… I was scared of everything… I was afraid of judgement, feared them taking my baby away, and worst I was afraid of a C-section.

The reality… They were so amazing. My midwife called them ahead and they knew I was headed their way. They met me at the door with a wheel chair and they immediately got me into a room. They started me on an IV and it took about 3.5 bags to get me hydrated properly.  At this point, I don’t want to say I gave up as much as gave in… I was exhausted and I just wanted to rest. My midwife recommended an epidural to help give my body a chance to relax, and honestly at this point as much as I feared the epidural I was ready for it.  (I’m going to skip the epidural drama 😊 If you want details private message me) Then finally after hours of relaxing with the peanut ball between my legs and resting, it was time to push. I pushed for about 20 minutes and then finally I got to meet the most precious human being in the entire world. Once I had that beautiful little guy in my arms all my worries of a hospital birth disappeared.  I had an amazing nurse that came in with the exact energy and spunk I needed to give me and my family confidence that we could still have a successful vaginal birth. The midwife and the nurse delivered our baby without ever having to see the OB. They were so understanding and considerate of all my birth wishes. (BTW… I still got delayed cord clamping, immediate skin-to-skin, midwife assisted birth, no antibiotics, dimmed lighting, and a beautiful baby boy.)

As much as I wanted things to happen differently, I am forever grateful for all the people we had the honor of meeting. I am so thankful for the opportunity to experience almost every type of birth plan all wrapped up in one.

The bottom right picture of baby’s head is the perfect description of the incredible journey we (all humans) take to get into this world, and it is so important for every baby and mom to be adjusted after birth. (Thank goodness for Dr. Taryn Lowery at Peace of Life Chiropractic who helped make those cranials beautiful that night!!)

Special thanks first and foremost to my beautiful, sweet, supportive, and most amazing husband in the entire world! Thank you for always making me feel beautiful and for sticking by my side and supporting my birth wishes and goals. I literally could not have done this without you! Thank you to my amazing mom… who came almost every weekend of my pregnancy to visit and stayed with me for weeks waiting for this precious little guy to come! Thank you for supporting my wishes (even though they made you nervous).  Thank you for trusting me and believing in me! It filled my heart with so much joy seeing you there and having you hold me and give me love!! I love you soooo much. Thank you to my rockstar doula Heidi Beck for taking so much time from her family to literally stand by my side the entire process. Her grace and love was exactly what I needed. Thank you to Donna Miller, Jaylnn, and Grace for your love and patience! Thank you to Kolson for watching grandpa, Jake, Duke, and Monkey all weekend!! 🙂

Have a HAPPY day! Thank you for reading! Love you all!