Monday, December 3, 2012

December Giveaways!!

So….Christmas and the Holiday Season is upon us.

This can bring on feelings that run the gamut – from peace, immense joy, feelings of love, precious family time, and hope, to stress, depression, craziness, and financial pain.

We here at Elegant Mommy want you to know that we are here throughout the season. We have an open door that we welcome you to walk through anytime you need a place of respite from the hubbub of the season. Yes, we are a retail store, but we are so much more. If you just need to get away for a bit, do some laid-back shopping, or just come in on a weekend day and enjoy a hot cup of hot apple cider, we will be here to welcome you!

In the spirit of the giving season, we want to give back to you! We appreciate you, our customers and friends so very much! To show our appreciation for you (and to help with your Holiday meal planning) we will be giving away a $25.00 Hy-Vee gift certificate to one of our customers every week until Christmas. That’s right – just make a purchase online or in our store to be entered! We will draw one winner each Monday until Christmas!

So, come on in and enjoy a little peaceful shopping time (or you can buy something from the comfort of your own home…even in your jammies J), get some Christmas gifts (or a little something for yourself), and get entered to win!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful November - L

L is for lessons. I am thankful for Life’s Little Lessons (see all the L’s there J )

More specifically I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve been learning the past couple of years regarding husbands, homeschooling, and homebirth.

My husband and I will be married 11 years this December. We will have been together for 14 years and I’m still learning about him, about myself, and how to be the wife God has called me to be. Perhaps the most pivotal lesson I’ve learned about husbands is just *how* important they are. To me, to our children, and to the decisions we make going forward as a family.

This is our second year homeschooling. That has been another huge lesson! Figuring out how my children learn, what speaks to them, and what are they passionate about. I thought I knew my kids, but after a year of homeschooling I realized just how much I was missing. I was missing nuances of their nature, I was missing learning more about them as a person, how they learn, how they think, etc. It is very much an example of the saying ignorance is bliss. I didn’t know what I was missing until I wasn’t missing it any longer.
 My husband has been instrumental in helping me figure out what curriculum works best for each kid, what teaching style applies to each kid, and figuring out exactly what makes them tick. Learning our kids’ love languages has also been integral to teaching them successfully.

My husband is a critical thinker and a researcher. If he doesn’t have the answer to something he wants to know about, he WILL find it out. He will spend hours researching the subject  exhaustively until he is as close to being an expert as he can be. This attribute came in especially handy when we decided to have a *homebirth*.  There I said it. We had a homebirth. To some of you that may not seem like an earth shattering confession, but if you had told me two years ago I would be having our 5th baby in our living room I would have looked at you like you had six heads.

I recall the first time I heard that someone had their baby at home. I smiled politely, but inside I thought “seriously? People still do that? She must be slightly off her rocker.” Fast forward a year and a half. We have now watched “The Business of Being Born” on Netflix and our eyes have been opened. My husband said “if we ever have another baby, we’re doing a homebirth.”  A few months after that we learned we were pregnant. We were excited, yet nervous. How does this work? Who do we talk to? Eek! We talked with those that had delivered at home, we researched our options, and ultimately decided to do an unassisted home birth. I did seek prenatal care with a midwife (which was so amazing!) but we decided this was the best option for our family. We ordered an inflatable birth pool online and all the supplies needed. My husband researched endlessly during those months until he was completely comfortable doing this on his own. It was so amazing to be able to be in our own home, wake our older kids up for the event and then go sleep in my own bed. Our older kids had no trouble adjusting to the new baby and they seem to have a stronger bond with her than they did with each other previously.

For these reasons and many more I am so thankful that God is not content to leave me where I am and He sees fit to continue to teach me. I am so thankful for those He has placed in my life to be His instruments in teaching me these lessons and many others. As I learn, I am able to share with others. I think that is vital as we learn in life. Never be content to keep your knowledge to yourself, but to share freely so others may make informed choices as well.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful November - U

I am thankful for the Unexpected.

I love to plan.  I love it when things go as planned. I want all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. 

That being said, I am thankful for the unexpected.  If I allow myself to relax and let the unexpected things not stress me, it is amazing what joy comes.  Whether it is a big unexpected, such as when we found out we were expecting our 3rd child or a small unexpected such as guests for dinner or a change in schedule, I can choose to enjoy or stress out.  

By choosing to enjoy I find unexpected blessings in deeper friendships, special moments with my children, and things that I couldn't have made happen even if I planned.  I am also finding great joy in planning unexpected moments for my children; the note next to their bed that they see when they first wake up, the surprise day trip, the spontaneous dance party. I believe that by helping them go with the flow then when some not so fun unexpecteds appear, we can look together to find the joy in the situation.  

So I choose to like the unexpected even though it sometimes makes my blood pressure rise for a few minutes.  I take a deep breath and just go for it.

~ Katie Brown 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful November - F

F for Friends

This time of year, most people when asked would tell you how thankful they are for their family.  And while I am so blessed and thankful for my 5 beautiful children, and my wonderful husband, and our families, I can’t help but think about our friends, and how blessed we are to have them in our lives.

We don’t live anywhere near our extended family, and only rarely do we get the privilege of being with them for holidays, birthdays and other general life celebrations and sorrows.  Instead we have been blessed to have friends who love us, and have become our “family” to celebrate and share our lives with. 

In the 13 years that we have lived in Sioux Falls, we have made so many close friends!  When we can’t make the trip to be with our families for holidays, we have friends who we know we can count on to make the holiday special with us.  And when we need last minute babysitters, a favor, a prayer, an ear to listen, or just a break, I know there is someone that I can count on to be there for me. 

In our technology age, I have some friends that I’ve never met in real life and I may never have the privilege of meeting in person ever, but they are friends just the same. I have a wonderful group of mom’s that I met because of a message board when I was pregnant with my fourth child.  My husband used to laugh when I would tell him a story about one of my “May Mommy Friends,” but after 5 years, he’s used to it. J  I also have my “Wrap Pack” friends, who all share my passion for wrapping candy.  Both groups are very special to me, and I love that we share ideas, encouragement, tears, prayers, and laughs.     

However God brought you into my life, whether it’s through my church, my kids, my hobbies, or a chance meeting at Elegant Mommy, you are my friend, and you are very special to me.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful November - K

K for Kids

Like many, I say it everyday. I'm thankful for my kids. We all say it for different reasons but it all leads to the same thing in the end. It is because we love our kids. I'm not just thankful for my own kids I'm thankful for my nieces & nephews too.

Before I had kids of my own I had 10 nieces & nephews. I was 13 when my first nephew was born. So I have pretty much grown up with all my nieces & nephews. Which has made me very close with them. I have always been thankful that I had them around & that I was able to have such a close relationship with them.

Of all of my nieces & nephews I am closest with my nephew Austin. He is not just my nephew but he is also my Godson. I was 16 when he was born. He only lived a half mile away from us so we have spent a lot of time together. Back in 2001 Austin was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This form of muscular dystrophy only affects boys. My sister has 3 boys so her other 2 had to be tested as well. We soon found out that her youngest, Mason had the same form of MD. We also found out this form of MD is only passed through females so before my husband & I were able to have kids of our own we had to go through genetic testing to be sure that I was not carrier of the gene. It took us over a year & a half but thankfully I was not a carrier so we were able to have kids of our own.

Over the past 11 years we have gone through a lot with both my nephews. Even thought they have gone through a lot over the years they are 2 of the most positive & inspiring kids I have ever met. They have taught all of us what life is about & how we need to be thankful everyday for all we have. Especially our kids & the fact that they are healthy. We are so thankful to have 2 beautiful kids of our own now. We welcomed Jace in March of 2009 & Brooklynn in July of 2011. Everyday I look at both of my kids & and thank God for bring them into our lives. I thank him for each and everyone of my nieces & nephews. I thank him for Austin & Mason. I know that even if they had not been diagnosed with MD I would still be thankful for my own kids & my nieces & nephews. I think it has just made me more aware that I must be thankful everyday for each & everyone of these great kids that I am so blessed to have in my life.

When you look into your kids' eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth


Monday, November 19, 2012

Childbirth Professional Day - Meet Lisa Stephens

~ What is your Childbirth Profession?
I am a Birth Doula
~ Desscribe your profession and why someone would want to choose your profession for support in pregnancy and/or childbirth
I support the pregnant woman and her partner & Family emotionally and physically during the prenatal, labor and childbirth, and also the postpartum period.I also help establish breastfeeding with the newborn.  I use relaxation techniques with my moms/partners including meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing, and aromatherapy.  Acupressure and reflexology are also used to aid in pain relief during the phases of labor, and birth. I also make postpartum visits, to follow up with how the delivery went, how breastfeeding is going, how the parents are adjusting, and also any siblings! I will also help with any light house work, snuggling baby while mom and dad catch a nap, helping with sibling adjustment, and also to help the family and new mom with any questions, and also make sure she is feeling well emotionally, and physically.
~ Why did you get started in your profession?
I became pregnant in 1998 and delivered a stillborn daughter in 1999, and really felt out of sorts, and lost with the delivery process, and didn't have a positive birth experience, besides the stillbirth, the nursing support was not up to par, and that led me to start researching and helping friends and family in their pregnancies and deliveries. I really noticed that this was my calling, when I worked with a very close friend, being her support while her husband was away. This really brought it closer to me, and I knew that this was my true calling. I want all moms and dads to-be, to be supported emotionally and physically during the precious birth of their child, letting them have the best possible birth experience.
~In detail, what is your personal childbirth philosophy?
My childbirth philosophy, is for a woman to have the best possible experience with her labor and childbirth, and to involve the partner and family as much as possible in this beautiful, intimate, miraculous time..  Medicated or not.
~If you could tell all pregnant women in the world something, what would it be?
I would tell pregnant mommas, (as I call them) to relax, enjoy, and become one with your body. You CAN do it!
~ How long have you been in your profession? Are you certified? If yes, by who?
I began my journey with being a Birth Doula in 2005, and I have begun the certification process via this past Summer. I will be also obtaining certification in Postpartum Doula as well, following my current studies. I have experience in emergency pre hospital medicine, high risk pregnancies, stillbirth, and post-stillbirth pregnancy and childbirth, and also teen and young mom pregnancies!
~Do you have a business name? How can people contact you for pregnancy and chilbrith support?
I work independantly, as Lisa Stephens, Birth Doula, and also volunteer services to any women that husbands/partners are deployed overseas. I also volunteer my services to at-risk women, and do base my fees on income, so that ALL women can benefit from the supports of a Birth Doula, no matter their current financial situation!  I do take last minute clients, and I am available by phone: 605-759-7252, and!
~ Where do you practice?
I work within the Watertown and surrounding areas

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thankful November - N

What am I thankful for?

Well….I’m thankful for a lot of things. I actually write about them quite often here on the blog. I have been richly blessed in oh, so many ways. Today though, I’m thankful for…are you ready for it? Naps. Yep, naps. Sounds pretty boring, huh? Not to me.

Those of you Work at Home (and Stay at Home) moms out there will *definitely* get this…seriously, even those of you that work outside of the home will get this – everyone has days off when you are home all day.

But here it is: When the kids nap, I can get stuff done!

Now, don’t get me wrong…I love our kids more than almost anything, and I adore spending time with them as much as possible. That said, this mama has a lot of friggin stuff to do! Nap time is THE one time of day that I can do what needs to be done without being interrupted.  This is my time where I can clean up the kitchen, work on laundry, post a blog post for EM, do some childbirth or breastfeeding research, do any of the other things that need to be done for EM, work on some sewing,  or figure out what we’re having for supper.

You see, I’ve made a commitment to myself that if the kids need something, I will drop what I’m doing and attend to them. Their little minds and the things that excite them are super important! I want them to know now that I will drop what I’m doing for them so they know the same thing as they grow older. I have seen a saying posted around facebook and pinterest that says something to the effect of “Listen intently to your kids when they are little and have little things to say. They will then talk to you when they are older and have big things to say. Because when they are little, everything is big.” I don’t know who originally said it, but I love it. And yes, I know this isn’t the actual quote, but it’s close enough you get the picture. Anyway, I have taken that to heart, and want to make sure the kids know I am here to listen to them and truly care about what they are saying.

So, when it’s nap time, I can whip through things so much faster than when I’m interrupted by their “big things” J.

Also? The one time every other month that I get to sneak in a nap…even a short one….totally rocks.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankful November - A

I’m thankful for alcohol. That’s right, I said it. I’m thankful for alcohol. 

You see, my husband works as a salesman for a liquor distribution company. His job is to sell alcoholic products (and some non-alcoholic ones) to bars, restaurants and stores. His job provides us with medical insurance so we don’t need to worry about whether or not we can afford a doctor’s visit when one of our kids gets sick or whether or not we can afford a new pair of glasses for me if one of our kids gets a hold of mine. 

The people who run his company are very family-oriented. Whenever a promotion or new job opportunity has come up for my husband, his boss always tells him to talk things over with me first and will often ask how I feel about his job or his hours. 

Most of all, my husband’s job provides us with enough money to pay our bills and put food on our table. Because of that, I don’t have to worry about making money to help make ends meet. I can continue working at a job that I love without being concerned about how many hours I’m getting each month or even how much I get paid. 

I work at Elegant Mommy because I truly enjoy working there. Getting paid for it is just icing on the cake. I get to help women who have questions about pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding (three things I’m very passionate and, I like to think, knowledgeable about) or grandparents looking for the perfect gift for their newest granddaughter or grandson. Every day when I leave my job, I leave feeling like I’ve helped someone or made a difference in their life, however small it may have been. 

And that is why I am thankful for alcohol.

~Caitlin A

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful November - H

As Sesame Street would say, this gratitude is brought to you by the letter H.  H alone is an important letter to me. It is the first letter of my maiden name, as well as my married name.  It starts the words hugs, health, happiness, and hot chocolate, all of which I am blessed to enjoy regularly.  I could write for pages on any of these topics, but the word that most comes to mind when it comes to my family and the gratitude I have for them, is hijinks.

My first clue that this word and my family are closely related is that my word processor is telling me it is spelled wrong (the dictionary promises that it is a word though!).  This indicates that it, along with my small family unit, is nowhere near ordinary.  In fact, we are able to find hijinks where ever we go, even at home. 

Just yesterday, my daughter Laila found one of my old nursing bras and decided that it would make a fabulous hat.  She proudly wore her “hat” around the house for about an hour.  In another instance, when browsing through Target, it became apparent that a family dance party was necessary, and we rocked it out right then and there.  Another time, Laila grabbed my empty Starbucks cup while we were shopping and pretended to drink out of it for the remainder of the trip, earning me many a “worst mother ever” stare.  These are the moments that keep me laughing.
My husband is an amazing person.  He is able to find the fun in every moment.  He can turn anything into hijinks.  Making dinner quickly turns into a trivia contest, and bath time becomes an epic story involving characters with names like Admiral Fishcat and ducks named Penelope.  What should be ordinary grocery shopping soon morphs into a musical experience (no music necessary!).  I love that he and I can continuously run a commentary on what we assume our daughter would say if she could talk. I am forever grateful for all his hijinks and optimism. 
We are a young family.  I am the first of my friends to have a baby.  Most like to think that life becomes boring when you marry and have children.  This is ironic to me because I have had more laughter, adventures and hijinks since having Laila then I have in my entire life.  We are not simply responsible for raising another human to succeed; we are raising another human to be freakishly awesome! We are teaching her to find laughter in even boring tasks. 
One of my favorite clich├ęs is, “don’t take life too seriously; no one gets out alive anyway”.  What a true statement! Yes, we have gotten some looks from others for acting silly in public places.  Miss Manners might not approve of two adults and a baby rolling around on a grassy hill on the first warm day of spring.  However, I feel that we are teaching our daughter that you can be involved in hijinks no matter how old you are.  Most importantly I hope we are teaching Laila that her family will always be there to make her laugh and take away her burdens. 
Are we perfect? Not even close.  I take all the suggestions I can get when it comes to being a good wife and mother.  Even so, I do feel that if we are laughing and loving, we are truly living. And after all, life is the greatest hijinks of all.  

~Laurel H

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thankful November - T

Today, I am Thankful for TIME.

I am thankful for the time that I have been given.

Each day that we are blessed enough to wake up, we have the choice to make the most of that time. We can choose to make a difference in the world or we can choose to just idly get by each day.

Each day we can choose the words that come out of our mouth - we can make them positive or negative. We can choose to have uplifting conversations or we can choose to put others down with our words. We can choose to listen to our heart when we see that Mom struggling with her kids in the store or we can choose to look the other way and walk away. We can choose to treat others how we would want to be treated or we can choose to live as if *our* lives have a different standard than the rest of the world. We can choose to be role models for our children or we can teach them do as I say and don’t do as I do. We can choose to be generous or we can choose to be greedy. We can choose to walk by the bell ringers this holiday season, we can choose to walk by the giving trees, we can choose to walk by the food pantry donation boxes, or we can choose to put ourselves in the position of those who need those services.

Today, the Lord has blessed all of us with another day on this Earth. I hope we are all able to make the most of our TIME and in the infamous words of Tim McGraw “Live Like You Were Dying”.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Birth Practices on Breastfeeding….Part 3

In the first two parts of this series I talked about the effects of drugs/epidurals and cesareans on breastfeeding. I haven’t really talked about *why* all this matters, though. Why do we care about the effect something has on the breastfeeding relationship? Well, the bottom line, is that breastfeeding is physiologically superior to artificial milk. Breast is not only “best”, it is NORMAL, and is *the* perfect food for your baby! In fact, not breastfeeding can actually be risky, and in fact, formula-fed babies are more likely to die. (1)

Ok, so what about these other interventions? Things like induction of labor, instrumentation (vacuum, forceps), suctioning and intubation, separation from mother for any reason, and maternal hydration?

Well, let me give you a quick rundown.

First of all, when labor is induced, it can trigger a cascade of interventions, including a high likelihood of an epidural, which of course leads to increased chances of having a surgical birth, and by reading the first two posts on this subject, you can see the well-studied and proven negative affect those can both have on breastfeeding.

And then there’s birth trauma. What is birth trauma? Well, it can materialize in several ways. The obvious is injury or damage to an infant’s body and the response a care provider has in treating the damage. Maybe not-so-obvious is the emotional and mental trauma that can affect both baby and mother by the use of instrumentation – there may be feelings of failure, violation if not handled properly by the provider, etc. Also, if a baby has been suctioned or intubated, it makes sense that they might be hesitant to open their mouths to breastfeed successfully.

The conclusion of one study on birth trauma states that the impact of birth trauma on mothers’ breast-feeding experiences can lead women down two strikingly different paths. One path can propel women into persevering in breast-feeding, whereas the other path can lead to distressing impediments that curtailed women’s breast-feeding attempts. (2)

I’ve talked about the separation of baby and mother a little bit in my other posts, but I want to emphasize here that when the baby is separated from his mother, he has a reaction of protest which includes frantic crying and initiates a cascade of stress reactions that eventually turns into despair, where the baby basically “gives up” and goes into an instinctive adaptation to avoid attracting attention. Despair causes harm to the baby’s development. If a baby is in despair, he won’t initiate breastfeeding while a baby who is comfortable and with mom constantly definitely will.

Lastly, I want to talk about IV Hydration in mothers. Keep in mind that with almost any intervention that can take place during labor, oral drinking and eating will be discontinued, and moms will be given IV fluids. This can cause excess fluid, causing edema, excess infant birth weight, and imbalance of fluids. It can also cause a delayed onset of lactogenesis (milk production), and cause excess newborn weight loss (3).

So, the bottom line is that to maximize your success with breastfeeding, be educated about the effects of birth practices, know your options in birth, and make sure to include breastfeeding outcomes when weighing your options as you make decisions throughout labor!


(1) “[USA] excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants ($10.5 billion and 741 deaths at 80% compliance” (Bartick & Reinhold, Pediatrics 2010)
(2) Beck, C. T., & Watson, S. (2008). Impact of birth trauma on breast-feeding: a tale of two pathways. Nurs Res, 57(4), 228-236.
(3) Chantry, C. J., Nommsen-Rivers, L. A., Peerson, J. M., Cohen, R. J., & Dewey, K. G. (2011). Excess Weight Loss in First-Born Breastfed Newborns Relates to Maternal Intrapartum Fluid Balance. Pediatrics, 127(1), e171-e179.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Teaching our Daughters

I came to a stark realization a couple weeks ago.

Much of what’s wrong with our maternity care system these days can be attributed to parents. Yep, that’s right. You and me.

Ok, now before you get angry with me and say “Hey, wait a minute….I’m working to FIX the problem, how dare you say that I’m part of the problem?”

Well, here’s why. **And before I start my explanation, let me just say that we are NOT the reason that we got here to begin with…there’s a long, sordid history of why the US maternity care system is where it is today. It’s not because of us, and sometime maybe I’ll go into some of that history for you…now is not that time.**

So, awhile back I was scrolling through my newsfeed on facebook and came across a friend’s post that said something about how her morning had been a barrage of tough questions from her five year old daughter. She said that she “dodged” them pretty well then sent her off to school. One of those questions was “how do babies get out of their mommy’s tummy?” She told her daughter that the Dr decides – but her daughter corrected her. Yes. She said the *doctor* gets to decide. No simple explanation of how a baby really comes out, no education on how sometimes surgery is needed, but normally they come out our vaginas (or whatever their household refers to the female reproductive anatomy as). No – she told her that some other person gets control over mommies’ bodies when they have babies. I have to say that I love that her daughter corrected her, though - J.

Then, imagine my aghast when one of her friends chimes in with a comment saying that she has told all her kids (I don’t know how many) that “the doctor cuts them out under the belly button because for some this is true and it stops their curiosity.”

Wait. What?!?!

Since *when* do we want to stop our children’s curiosity?? Not only that, but since *when* is it acceptable to tell our children that babies are removed from our body via MAJOR abdominal surgery without mention of the real way our bodies are designed?

So, I want to make a disclaimer here that this post and what follows is much more opinionated than I normally am when I write – I’m usually much more diplomatic, but this comment thread has riled me up. I have a serious problem with parents trying to stamp out their kids’ curiosity…how in the world are they supposed to learn if they aren’t curious about things and ask questions? But then on top of it to give a dishonest answer just because the correct answer presumably makes the parents uncomfortable? Let me break it to ya: kids don’t lose their curiosity, they just find other ways to get answers to their questions. No wonder we have such a skewed view of sex, breastfeeding, birth, body image, etc. in our culture today. This goes so much deeper than just birth. It’s about health and life.

Obviously, I’m not a perfect mom…I don’t know a single person who is. However, one thing I think I’m doing right is that I’m always honest with our kids when they ask me questions. They both know the difference between boys and girls – in real words, not just “wee wee” and “hoo ha”, they both know how babies are born (Vienna used to say “they just pop out of mommies’ vaginas” J), and they both know that babies grow in a mommy’s tummy when a mommy and daddy love each other very much. They aren’t old enough to know more than that, but when they are, my husband and I will be honest with them. I’d rather them get the real story from me or their daddy than from some kid on the playground who’s  folks don’t take the time to explain things, so they got their answers from movies, music videos, random Internet sites, or Carl’s Junior commercials.

I think it’s time we as mommies and daddies who care take a stand for honesty and commitment to our kids. I think it’s time we tell them the truth (age appropriately, of course) about sex, birth, breastfeeding, self image, and take the time to explain those truths to them as they can understand it. Surgical birth is NOT the way women’s bodies were designed to give birth. Though we are SO grateful to have it for true emergency situations and medicalreasons, perhaps one of the reasons one in three mamas give birth surgically is because of the mis-information given to young girls that carries through to the rest of their lives.

All because we were “uncomfortable” in telling them the truth.

We can do better.

So, I challenge us all as parents to tell our kids, and especially our daughters, the truth about birth, breastfeeding, etc, etc. We owe it to them to teach them not to be ashamed of their bodies…by demonstrating and talking about how breastfeeding is normal – even in public, to trust that their bodies will work without surgery…demonstrating and talking about how vaginal birth is normal, and most of all that they are beautiful and perfect just the way that God made them.

Because they are. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Time for Gratitude - Medical Technology

Ok, so in my work as a doula and as I work on my childbirth educator certification, I'm really all about natural, intervention-free, normal, physiological birth. Obviously (or, I hope it's obvious), as a doula, I'm not going to tell any of my clients what they should and should not do...that's not my job. I mean, if a mama wants an epidural and she knows that she wants one, I'm not going to tell her that she shouldn't have one for "this reason or another". But, I am going to make sure she understands what an epidural does and ensure that she's making an informed decision, and not just doing it because her friend said she'll love it.

I believe that women's bodies were designed by God to give birth.The majority of women can have a normal physiological birth without medical intervention.

And then there are those mamas who are exceptions to the rule and have a true medical reason that they need some intervention.

These mamas are the ones I'm going to talk about a little bit today.

I'm going to tell you a story about a mama who wanted a completely normal, natural, physiological birth. It was their first baby, and she and her husband prepared for it, they studied up on it, they took a natural birthing class, they talked to their doula often, they had a great midwife as their provider, and they were ready. As ready as any couple could be.

And then she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.

She did all the right things to minimize her risk...she upped her protein intake, she rested well, she ate healthy, did her best to keep her stress down, etc, etc.

Her blood pressure still spiked and she needed to be admitted for induction before she was ready. It was a difficult time, but once she came to terms with the fact that she was going to need to be induced, she was ready. She armed herself with as much information as possible, she relied on her midwife and doula for informative support, and her husband was right there by her side as they began the magnesium sulfate and induction.

She did a great job laboring through her contractions, and never once asked for any pain medication or epidural. As her labor progressed and things got more difficult, however, her cervix didn't dilate. She was having strong contractions, she was doing a great job of relaxing through them and working with her labor instead of against it. She had even more challenges because *she couldn't move* during labor. Everytime she moved - got up to go to the bathroom or anything - her blood pressure spiked. High. There were only three positions she could be in comfortably that they could also get the baby's heart rate (making sure baby is ok while on magnesium sulfate and pitocin is very important).

She was at the same dilation for eight hours. Since her contractions were so strong (pitocin contractions) and she wasn't able to move much, she wasn't able to try to get her baby in a different position, and frankly, she was getting tired! She had such a wonderful many providers would have whisked her off to a cesarean since she would have been considered "failure to progress". She was blessed to have a provider that wasn't in a hurry.

After her eight hours of very little progress, no dilation, and utter exhaustion, her midwife suggested something that she rarely, if ever, does. She suggested that she try an epidural. Hopefully it would help her pelvis relax just enough that her baby could move in just the way she needed to and mama would begin dilating. Her midwife also very gently told her that if her baby didn't move and she begin to progress, she would likely need a cesarean. She was in no hurry, though, as long as baby was stable.

So, mama got the epidural (she was even quite relieved to get it at that point!), and got comfortable so she could get some did her husband and doula.

And to her and her husband's relief she began dilating - hooray! It only took her a few hours to finish dilating and for baby to move down enough to begin pushing. At this point she felt her contractions, knew exactly when to push, followed her body's cues, and vaginally birthed her beautiful baby.

This is an example of when medical intervention is truly indicated, and I'm SO grateful that we have things like pitocin, continuous fetal heart monitoring, epidurals, and cesareans! I am not grateful for the amount of unnecessary usage of these medical technologies....just that they exist so they can be used as needed for women like the one I told about here.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Etc Expo for Her Tickets!

Have you ever been to the Etc Expo for Her?

Well, being held here in Sioux Falls this coming Friday and Saturday, it's a great place to find local information on *everything* for "Her"!

Elegant Mommy will be there, and we want you to come see us, so we are giving away 2 tickets to 9 lucky winners!

Winners will be announced on Thursday morning, and will need to pick up their tickets at our store before the expo.

Enter below:

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Birth Practices on Breastfeeding – Part 2

So last week I shared with you some of what Linda Smith shared at the SD Breastfeeding Summit. It was a summary of how epidurals and other meds during labor and delivery can and do affect breastfeeding.

As I said in my last post, ANY medical intervention during birth can have an effect on breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship/ability of your baby.

Since approximately one in three mamas have a surgical birth (cesarean) in the United States today, it is extremely important for us to talk about the consequences of this statistic for those 33%. There are essentially three different kinds of cesarean: Elective (scheduled) without labor, Cesarean with labor, and Emergency.

An elective cesarean without labor has shown in several studies to increase infant respiratory problems and also decrease breastfeeding success (studies listed below). This makes complete sense to me. For one thing, if there isn’t any labor initiated by the baby, then baby obviously isn’t ready (baby is the one that releases the hormone that begins labor)! If baby isn’t ready, then there is a higher risk of respiratory problems – after all, the lungs are the last major organ to develop. If there are respiratory problems – you know – if the baby can’t breathe, then baby will clearly have a difficult time eating at the breast. That all seems like a no-brainer. Also, I have read several articles recently that talk about the hormones released in labor and how they are so important for baby (and mama). Without labor, baby and mama don’t get them. Even a little labor is better than none. So, bottom line: Elective cesareans without labor are risky to baby (and mama), particularly in the breastfeeding relationship.

Studies also show that any cesarean (even with a trial of labor) can have negative effects on breastfeeding.

Again, if you think about this, it really makes a lot of sense. First of all, according to the World Health Organization, we (the U.S.) are over double the acceptable level of cesareans based on their standards. They figure that 10-15% of all births should reasonably be surgical based on medical necessity. Anything over that is considered unnecessary.  

So, if you are one that needs a surgical birth, how can you minimize the risk of impeding breastfeeding?

Let’s think for a minute what happens during a normal cesarean surgery in this country (Please note I am not referring to medically emergent surgical births here. There are things that happen when a true emergency is happening that I’m not going to go into. This is a normal, non-emergent cesarean that I’m talking about). In the simplest of terms, during a surgical birth, mom is going to have an epidural or spinal block (remember what I said about epidurals last week?), a screen is going to be put up to ensure a sterile incision site, mom’s arms are going to be strapped down, doc will make incision through all layers of mom’s abdomen through her uterus, he will pull baby out of the uterus, clamp/cut the cord, baby will be lifted high enough for mom to see, then will be taken over to the warmer to get vitals, footprints, weight, APGARs, etc, etc, then baby will be swaddled tight with a hat on his head, dad may get to hold him for a bit, then after a kiss from mom and some snapshots he will be taken away to the nursery until mom has been sewn back up and is out of recovery. Obviously, there will be some variation of all of this depending on provider and facility, but you get the idea.

So to minimize the risk of jeopardizing breastfeeding, there are things that we need to be asking for and yes, demanding, from our care providers. Surgical births don’t need to be traumatic experiences where mom doesn’t even get to touch baby other than maybe a kiss until after recovery. One thing that we heard about a lot at the SD Regional Breastfeeding Summit was the importance of skin-to-skin contact with mama and baby. I’ll talk more about that later this month, but for now, just believe me that immediate skin-to-skin is of utmost importance. Dr Raylene Phillips actually showed a demonstration of what they are doing at her hospital in California for all cesarean surgeries, and it seems to me that it’s a really important, easy, and cost-free step that we can ask our hospitals and providers to begin taking.

It’s pretty simple, but basically instead of whisking baby away after he is born, therefore having a time of very stressful (for mama and baby) separation, they simply put a diaper on baby (to keep environment as clean and sterile as possible) and put him on mom’s chest while closing her up. Dad is right there and makes sure baby stays on mom’s chest, and baby is happy, can initialize breastfeeding on his own, gets all the warmth, love, oxytocin, and mama-bonding time that he needs. She said that this simple step has eliminated all kinds of things: Anesthesiologists are loving it because it makes their job keeping mom comfortable and stable SO much easier! Babies are obviously loving it, because they get their mommies and can just follow their instincts and go straight to the breast without the trauma of separation. Dads feel important, because they can actually do something instead of just watching the ones they love shivering and stressed because they don’t have their baby near them. Seriously – everyone wins!

So let’s start the conversation. If you are pregnant, talk with your provider about this! If you end up needing a surgical birth, you will be SO glad you did! If we all start talking to our providers and encouraging our friends to do the same, we can help make changes that affect everyone involved positively!


  • Tita, A. T. N., Landon, M. B., Spong, C. Y., Lai, Y., Leveno, K. J., Varner, M. W., et al. (2009). Timing of Elective Repeat Cesarean Delivery at Term and Neonatal Outcomes. N Engl J Med, 360(2), 111-120.
  • Kamath, B. D., Todd, J.K., Glanzner, J. E., Lezotte, D., & Lynch, A. M. (2009). Neonatal outcomes after elective cesarean delivery. Obstet Gynecol, 113(6), 1231-1238.
  • Wiklund, I., Edman, G., & Andolf, E. (2007). Cesarean section on maternal request: reasons for the request, self-estimated health, expectations, experience of birth and signs of depression among first-time mothers. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 86(4), 451-456.
  • Dewey, K. G., Nommsen-Rivers, L. A., Heinig, M. J., & Cohen, R. J. (2003). Risk factors for suboptimal infant breastfeeding behavior, delayed onset of lactation, and excess neonatal weight loss. Pediatrics, 112(3 Pt 1), 607-619.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Birth Practices on Breastfeeding...Part 1

For the rest of this month I’m going to be talking about some issues surrounding birth. Since I’m freshly back from the SD Regional Breastfeeding Summit, I really want to give you some highlights of one of LindaSmith’s presentations on how birth affects breastfeeding.

I wrote briefly about this awhile back where I posted an excerpt from the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I had long suspected this was the case, and in recent months have found and received information and research verifying that yes, birth in fact *does* have an impact on the breastfeeding relationship. It actually can have a very big impact. So, I was very excited when I learned that this was going to be one of Linda’s topics. (insert happy dance for doula, blogger, and studying childbirth educator-to-be)

Ok, so what about today’s birth practices can have such a big impact and why?

Well, it’s going to be difficult to put all the information Linda gave us on this topic in one little blog post, so I’m actually going to do a mini-series on it, but let me give you the bottom line: ANY intervention can have an effect on breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship/ability of your baby.

Linda gave us the following practices that compromise infant status and/or feeding ability:
  •          ALL labor drugs - *including* epidurals
  •          Cesarean surgery
  •          Induction of labor
  •          Instruments (vacuums, forceps)
  •          Suctioning, intubation
  •          Separation from mother for ANY reason
  •          Maternal IV hydration

Today I’m going to talk about labor drugs that are commonly used.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard - from all sorts of different people…from other women to  medical providers to random strangers on the Internet that epidurals are safe – that they don’t reach the baby anyway, so really all that’s happening is mom is more comfortable as she labors (well, sometimes she is – that’s the goal anyway).

I’m going to repeat Linda here: All drugs reach the baby within seconds. Period.

First of all, several types of analgesia given to the mother during labor may interfere with the newborn’s spontaneous breast-seeking and breastfeeding behaviors and increase the newborn’s temperature and crying (1) and disturbs newborn behavior in general. There can be *measurable* effects for at least 30 days after birth! (Sepkoski) Can you believe that? No wonder some babies sleep so much!

Epidurals are actually a combination of narcotic (i.e. fentanyl or morphine) and anesthesia (i.e. bupivacaine or lidocaine) that is administered via a small catheter into a woman’s epidural space in her spine. Each hospital and anesthesiologist will differ on the dosages and combinations of medication, so you may want to talk with your provider about theirs. One reason to ask about dosages, is that there are significant negative effects from high dosages of fentanyl. In fact, in the study that Linda cited, the conclusion was that among women who breast-fed previously, those who were randomly assigned to receive high-dose labor epidural fentanyl were more likely to have stopped breast-feeding 6 weeks postpartum than women who were randomly assigned to receive less fentanyl or no fentanyl. (2) And as we know, not breastfeeding is a risk to baby's health!

There are other reasons that epidurals and drugs in labor affect breastfeeding…since all of these drugs go directly into baby’s blood, baby is actually altered and can have a more difficult time feeding, latching on, etc. Drugs can undermine a mother’s confidence, block or reduce endorphins that are released in labor (endorphins are natural pain relievers), and can also suppress onset of lactation because the baby isn’t feeding effectively enough.(3)

So, if you don’t get anything else from today’s post, please just be really educated about risks vs benefits of things like epidurals and other drugs that are often given in labor and delivery. Drugs can have a significant effect on not only your birth, but your breastfeeding relationship with your baby and success, so please weigh your options carefully before proceeding.

In the next post, I’m going to go through even more birth practices that Linda talked about that have shown to have an effect on breastfeeding.


  1. Ransjo-Arvidson, A., Matthiesen, A., Lilja, G., Nissen, E., Widstrom, A., & Uvnas-Moberg, K. (2001). Maternal analgesia during labor disturbs newborn behavior. Birth, 28, 5-12.
  2. BeilinY et al. Effect of labor epidural analgesia with and without fentanyl on infant breastfeeding: A prospective, randomized, double-blind study. Anesthesiology 2005, 103(6), 1211-1217
  3. Smith, L., Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding 2012, Drugs for Pain Management Clinical Implications, 12.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding

We had the distinct pleasure to be a supporting sponsor of the SD Regional Breastfeeding Summit yesterday in Brookings, which was hosted by the newly re-formed SD Breastfeeding Coalition, and I personally want to say what an amazing day it was. We had the honor of getting to hear from Dr Raylene Phillips as well as Linda Smith and I know I learned a ton. So, in the next months I will be sharing some of the information they shared with us.

One of the things we talked about was the Surgeon General's 2011 Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Because of this Call to Action, there has been a nationwide movement to increase breastfeeding awareness, support, and to help mommies breastfeed for longer.

The following is from the Call to Action's fact sheet found at Take a minute and read through won't be sorry :)

What are the health benefits of breastfeeding?

  • Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma.
  • Children who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese.
  • Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

What are the economic benefits of breastfeeding?

  • Families who follow optimal breastfeeding practices can save between $1,200–$1,500 in expenditures on infant formula in the first year alone.
  • A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics estimated that if 90% of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the U.S. would annually save $13 billion from reduced medical and other costs.
  • For both employers and employees, better infant health means fewer health insurance claims, less employee time off to care for sick children, and higher productivity.
  • Mutual of Omaha found that health care costs for newborns are three times lower for babies whose mothers participate in the company’s employee maternity and lactation program.

What obstacles do mothers encounter when they attempt to breastfeed?

  • Lack of experience or understanding among family members of how best to support mothers and babies.
  • Not enough opportunities to communicate with other breastfeeding mothers.
  • Lack of up-to-date instruction and information from health care professionals.
  • Hospital practices that make it hard to get started with successful breastfeeding.
  • Lack of accommodation to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace.

What can employers do?

  • Start and maintain high-quality lactation support programs for employees.
  • Provide clean places for mothers to breastfeed.
  • Work toward establishing paid maternity leave for employed mothers.

What can community leaders do?

  • Strengthen programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling.
  • Use community organizations to promote and support breastfeeding.

What can families and friends of mothers do?

  • Give mothers the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed.
  • Take advantage of programs to educate fathers and grandmothers about breastfeeding.

So, what can you do?

  • You can come to events and classes at Educated Mommy to learn about and help support mamas in their breastfeeding journey. As a bonus, while you are supporting others, you will get the support that you need!
  • Join Milk Monologues on Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m., Going Back to Work on the 2nd Saturday of each month at 9:00 a.m., and of course, join us for La Leche League this Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Participant - MamaBaby Threads

What is the name of your business and what products do you make (or services do you provide)?

MamaBaby Threads
Handcrafted for mom and a mom and her baby!
* Knit & Woven Wrap Baby Carriers
* Knit Rebozos: For Late Pregnancy & Labor Use
* Before & After Labor Skirts
* Aromatherapy Neck Rolls & Square Packs
* Swaddle Blankets: Light & Warm Weights
* Baby Burpies & Bibs
* 'BandanaBand' Hair Bands
* Anything Leashes
* Infinity & Open-End Scarves
* Uh-Oh Packs
* Mama Cloth
* Various Custom Made Items

Tell us about the history of your business/company…how did it start?
We started out sewing a few things here and there as new grand-kiddos joined our family. Soon friends began to ask my daughter, "Where did you get that?", immediately followed by, "Can I get one too?". And that's when MamaBaby Threads was born. We are now joined by a daughter-in-law as well.
I grew up in a fairly large family (the first of eleven children) and learned about sustainability and resourceful living long before it was a part of popular conversation!  At MamaBaby Threads, we continue many of the practices I learned years ago.
Priority #1 is to not be wasteful. We cut so as to make full use of our fabrics, that is, with as little as possible getting sent to the "scrap pile".  Since we preshrink almost all fabric, there will be no surprises for the customer; but it does mean that sometimes we are!  In most cases, we are able to make the fabric may be a little narrower or shorter, but the main purpose will not be affected.

What makes your products or services stand out – what makes them special?
We are very particular about workmanship.  After preshrinking, we straighten the grain of all fabrics before cutting to eliminate twisted or lopsided items.  We also hand-tie and triple-knot all thread ends.  These steps require extra time on our end, but help ensure our customers have products that will last.
If you are a small business or Work at Home Mom, tell us how you make it all work with your family, kiddos, activities, and other life obligations

We all have very busy lives, so scheduling *work days* requires that we be flexible.  We really enjoy what we do and are especially committed to helping moms (and dads) safely and comfortably wear their babies.

How can someone find out more about your products/services? What is your website?

We are on facebook at   Call us at 507-347-3229 and let us know if we can answer any questions.  We love sewing something special for moms and babies!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Participant - Master Creative Designs

What is the name of your business and what products do you make (or services do you provide)?
Master Creative Designs
I make full color personalized labels for chocolate bars and other fun products for your holidays, events and occasions to make your celebrations even more fun.  Chocolate and celebrations make a perfect pair!

What makes your products or services stand out – what makes them special?
We have three sizes of chocolate bars, mintbooks (think a matchbook with a wrapped mint inside) water bottles, and candy arrangements made from personalized products, so we have something for every celebration.  We have literally hundreds of predesigned labels to choose from, and many that I’ve personally designed on my own.  And because I know how important it is that every detail is perfect for your celebrations, I take my time and make sure that you are completely satisfied with the design we’ve chosen or created before we print anything.  I’ve also been known to whip up an order very last minute and love to help accommodate my customer’s needs whenever I can.

Tell us about the history of your business/company…how did it start?
Four years ago, I knew that I wanted to do something fun, and I was pretty sure that I wanted to own my own business, but knew that being a mom first and foremost was very important.  I was presented with an opportunity to purchase some software, and rights to purchase predesigned labels from a supplier company so we started with that.  In the last four years it has grown leaps and bounds beyond being tied to predesigned labels and only using their software.  My favorite thing to do is create something to see my clients smile.  Whether it’s to announce a new baby, wedding favors, just because, or a thousand other reasons, everything that I make comes with a piece of my heart in it. 

If you are a small business or Work at Home Mom, tell us how you make it all work with your family, kiddos, activities, and other life obligations
As a WAHM, and the mom of five, it can get hairy at times when trying to juggle all of our obligations and activities.  But my husband and I made the decision when we started this business, that I was a wife, a mom, and then a small business owner, so that helps to keep our priorities in check.  Sometimes around the holiday’s it can get a little crazy, but I have the best built in helpers a mom could ask for.  My children love to help me count, sort and glue, so it’s a fun family activity. 

How can someone find out more about your products/services? What is your website?
My website is  I also have a facebook page ( where I enjoy putting pictures of the products that I’ve created for people to see.  You can find out more information from either place, or you may call or text me at 605-940-0019, or email me at

Scavenger Hunt Participant - Nana Pants by Betsy

What is the name of your business and what products do you make (or services do you provide)?
Nana Pants by Betsy offers many products through etsy, our web page, and Elegant Mommy.  Currently at Elegant Mommy, we offer wetbags, changing pads, pail liners, key chains, pee pee tee pees, doll diapers, solid, print and embroidered diapers.  

Ruffle Diaper
What makes your products or services stand out - what makes them special?
My specialty item would be the well-made embroidered and ruffled diapers.

Tell us about the history of your business/ did it start?
Our journey into modern cloth diapering began months ago when our son and his wife told us of their desire to use cloth diapers on their expected son. During the next several months, with the help of my daughter and her then 2-month old, we have tested and re-tested materials and designs to come up with what really works. We also offer the unique opportunity to have the diapers embroidered to make them personal and fun!

If you are a small business or Work at Home Mom, tell us how you make it all work with your family, kiddos, activities, and other life obligations
The picture above is my inspiration for starting Nana Pants by Betsy...three of my grandsons.  We now have 5 grandsons and a granddaughter due to arrive any day! When beginning Nana Pants, I was also a full-time preschool teacher.  I have now retired from teaching and doing Nana Pants by Betsy full-time.  My daugher, Erin, now helps with sewing, cutting and all-around helping.  My daughter-in-law Amanda, helps with the etsy shop, keeping it up-to-date.

How can someone find out more about your products/services? What is your website?
facebook: Nana Pants by Betsy
Thanksgiving & Christmas Dipes

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More Scavenger Hunt Giveaways!!

So, you all know about our scavenger hunt going on right now (you can find official rules and a link to the submission form HERE), right?

All entries must be received by Saturday at NOON to be eligible to win the amazing Grand Prize/Prize Pack (Seen over there >>>>). Cool looking stuff, huh?

Ok, well....we wanted to give you even more ways to win, so how about even more ways to enter??

All you have to do is "like" all of our participating business' facebook pages (directly from the entry form below - so it's SUPER easy), and you will be entered to win one of FIVE $5.00 gift certificates to Elegant Mommy. How sweet is that??

Just enter below before the end of the day on Saturday (Sept 29) for your chance to win! Winners will be emailed on Monday.

Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway