Motherhood, Postpartum

Tips for Drying Up Your Milk

As a woman who has chosen not to breastfeed with both of her children (after a week and a half with Hazel and before birth with Jameson), I deal with drying up my milk at the same time that I am recovering from birth. I have been searching for the best ways to dry up breast milk quickly and as painless as possible… and that is the ultimate dream, because drying up your milk is freaking painful.

I have done this twice now. The first time I had no plan, because I thought I was going to breastfeed, so I just did a basic google search and tried a few of the ideas. This time I had a plan, but the plan had to be tweaked. I am by no means an expert, but I wanted to share from personal experience what has been tried and true for drying up milk for me.

Cabbage

Cabbage is the MVP of drying up milk. It has worked wonders for me both times I have gone through this. I used cabbage immediately and frequently my first time and I recall my milk drying up within a few days. This time around I tried cabbage cream instead of actual cabbage – I started using it in the hospital my first night postpartum and continued to use it for like week before ditching it for real cabbage. After using real cabbage for ONE DAY, I felt relief by that night. I would recommend skipping the cabbage cream and starting with actual cabbage the day your milk comes in. Basically, you put a cabbage leaf in your bra over each breast. I put a folded paper towel between the bra and the cabbage, because it gets wet with cabbage and breastmilk. You can use the cabbage leaves for 2 hours and then switch them out. I have noticed that constantly using the cabbage for a least 2 days (but not while sleeping) will make a drastic difference.

No Milk Tea

Tea has also been a huge asset when it comes to drying up breastmilk. My first time around, I read that peppermint and sage might help, so Jeremiah would make me peppermint tea with a sprig of sage in it. I drank at least one cup every day and feel like it made a difference. This time around I tried just peppermint tea for a couple days and then switched to No Milk Tea. I drink the No More Milk tea three times a days and noticed a huge difference. I also felt like the No More Milk tea tasted really good whereas I just kind of tolerate the peppermint. In addition to No Milk Tea, I am taking No Milk Supplements, but I’m not positive if they are doing anything or not.

Sudafed & Benadryl

Apparently decongestants and allergy medicine can help decrease milk supply. A nurse at the hospital I gave birth at recommended Benadryl to me, so I took that for two nights with little results before reading online about Sudafed being a possible tool. The day I woke up in excruciating pain, I started taking Sudafed every four hours during the day and taking one Sudafed and 1 Benadryl at bedtime, I saw an immediate difference the next day.

Snug Fit Bra

I can’t say for certain whether this is a big one or not, but it is highly recommended and I wore a bra all day and all night both times I dried up my milk. It is helpful for using cabbage and with pads to collect any milk that may be released.

All of these recommendations I use together. Once I started wearing the cabbage in a snug fit bra from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep plus drinking the No Milk Tea in the morning, in the afternoon, and right before bed while taking Sudafed throughout the day and at bedtime with Benadryl, I was NOT seeing any results. By results, I mean less engorgement, smaller breasts, less leaking… getting your milk and drying up your milk is a painful process. I have experienced many tears and breakdowns and feeling like I cannot go on in this much pain, but after starting the regimen above, I noticed results that night. The engorgement has gone down gradually every day. By the third day, my breasts had decreased majorly in size and no longer ridiculously tender to the touch. So personally I know this works and it’s what I am going to start doing on day 1 next time around.

Texas, Travel

A Guide to the Perfect Weekend in Denton, TX

Congratulations on choosing Denton, Texas for the weekend! Whether it be on purpose, by accident, or forced… have no fear, I have an itinerary you can stick to or pick and choose from. Denton is in the northern part of the state about an hour from the Oklahoma border and is the home to two universities, the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. The downtown square is definitely the highlight of the town full of charm and local shops. While in Denton, take in the artsy feel by drinking lots of coffee while thrift shopping.

Saturday

8 a.m. – Get your caffeine fix with a quick drink from Jupiter House. Jupiter House is a coffee shop on the square. The shop burned down back in 2017 and has now been rebuilt and reopened. It looks completely different (and better if you ask me). Not only do they offer good coffee, but great sandwiches as well. You can grab your coffee and relax inside or snag a seat outside and enjoy the morning air.

10 a.m. – Climb the rock wall at the Pohl Rec Center on the University of North Texas campus. You can get a day pass for $5 and climb as many times as you want throughout the day.

12 a.m. – Stop by J&J’s and indulge in some absolutely delicious pizza! J&J’s is my all-time favorite eatery in Denton and I recommend it to everyone. With a very laid back vibe, it is a place anyone can feel comfortable. Just a tip – bring cash unless you want to pay a little extra to process your card.

2 p.m. – Spend the afternoon shopping and relaxing on the downtown Denton square. The square has so many quirky shops to explore including a comic book store, a candy shop, a record store, and a secondhand book shop in an old opera house . Don’t miss out on browsing through the two mini malls (flea markets) – with a little searching, you can find some great stuff for even better prices! Explore the Denton County Courthouse, which has been renovated into a museum, and then lay back and relax on the courthouse lawn.
[Edit: The mini malls are currently closed due to a fire.]

6 p.m. – Enjoy a rooftop dinner at LSA. LSA Burger Co. has indoor seating, but you’ll want to experience the roof with the live music, a view of the Denton square, and – if you’re lucky – a peek at the sunset. LSA boasts a long wait, but a fun, relaxed environment and it is well worth it! Be sure to check out the Texas Last Supper mural right inside the front door.

8 p.m. – After letting your dinner settle, stop into Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream for a sweet cone. Beth Marie’s is a Denton staple with over 50 flavors to choose from – the peppermint is my go-to! Be prepared for the intense smell of waffle cone that hits you as soon as you walk in.

10 p.m. – For evening drinks, you must check out Paschall Bar. It can be easy to miss, but once you travel up the hidden staircase, it feels like you have been transported back in time.¬†The drinks are beautiful and the ambiance is perfect! Also, if you’ve ever wanted to know what it is like to hang out in a Hogwarts Common Room then look no further.

Sunday

9 a.m. – Settle into the day with a cup of coffee from West Oak Coffee Bar. Founded in 2014, it is one of Denton’s newer coffee shops, but it quickly rose to being a local favorite. West Oak offers different types of indoor seating as well as a quaint patio with a great view of the square. Grabbing a spot outside is a fantastic way to meet a friendly face or just people watch.

11 a.m. – Eat brunch at Loco Cafe. It’s a haven for breakfast lovers and has “the best biscuits ever!”¬†Loco Cafe also boasts a vegan friendly and gluten-free menu. The space is open with lots of windows and is the perfect spot to sip coffee, eat pancakes, and catch up with friends.

1 p.m. – Go mural and sculpture hunting throughout the city. Denton is known for being very hipster and artsy, so there is local art everywhere! You can find a list of the murals here. Pick out a few you like and search them down for a good Instagram photo or just drive around see how many you can find.

2 p.m. – Finish your local art hunt at Oak St. Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor by being the “I” in the Lil d sculpture and snapping a photo with the iconic Denton mural. Oak St. has over 70 beers on tap and endorses drinking craft beer. There is limited inside seating, but the real party is outside on the picnic tables under the twinkling lights. They have board games available as well as some yard games to keep everyone entertained.

4 p.m. – Head to Backyard on Bell to grab an early dinner from a local food truck and enjoy some live music. The available food trucks and live music changes from week to week, so find out what is available here.

6 p.m. – Catch a show at the Campus Theatre on the square. You can see shows, showtimes, and purchase tickets here.

9 p.m. – Finish off the night with a drink at East Side. East Side is another local hot spot with late night food trucks and picnic table seating. Bring a few friends or make new friends while drinking and chatting under the stars.

I hope you enjoy all the charm and personality that Denton offers! Be sure to use the infamous Denton hashtags when posting your photos: #dentoning #onlyindenton

Family, Texas, Travel

5 Things to Know Before Visiting The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails & Festival

During the month of April, the small town of Ennis, Texas hosts the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails. They provide 40 miles of mapped driving trails for easy viewing of the beautiful Texas state flower and a festival to celebrate spring and our beloved state flower. Their website and Facebook page provide updates on how the flowers are blooming, so you can plan your visit. The town also has an up-and-coming downtown area for dining and shopping. I was not necessarily prepared when we arrived, so below are five things I think would be helpful when planning your trip.

1. The Trails & Festival are Different

The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails and The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival are two different things. The Trails are open from April 1-30th. You can come basically any time to see the bluebonnets (although peak season is the second and third week of April). The Festival is one weekend in April (this year it is the the third weekend) where the trails are open, but downtown has live music, food, kid activities, and a market.

2. Visit the Welcome Center First

The Welcome Center is located in the heart of Ennis’ downtown and should be where you start your journey. There you can grab a map of the trails and downtown for instructions on where to find the bluebonnets as well as where to eat and shop. You can also hit up the restroom before heading out. There are people there to answer any questions you may have to help you have a seamless time. The Welcome Center also offers a little information seminar – a video and someone to explain the trails – we sat through it, but I didn’t find it very helpful. The Welcome Center address is incorrect on the festival Facebook page, so be sure to go to the right place (because we didn’t at first!).

3. The Trails are NOT All Open for Pictures

It is important to note that not all the trails are open to the public for pictures. There are three trails – two are driving trails only where you view the bluebonnets from your car and are highly discouraged from parking and taking pictures; the other trail includes two parks where you are encouraged to park, walk around, picnic, and take pictures in and around the flowers.

4. Consider Picnicking

Although there are eateries downtown, consider picnicking at a local park. We did not attend the festival as we visited the weekend before, but the restaurants downtown were absolutely packed with hour wait times. Depending on your schedule and your family, this may work for you, but just understand that if you are in a time crunch, eating at a downtown restaurant might take up a lot of your time. The map also includes “coming soon” eateries which I did not find helpful at all, so it looks like there are a decent amount of options, but there are actually only a small handful.

5. Do Not Pick or Trample the Bluebonnets

For any non-Texans reading this or considering visiting, please know you are not supposed to pick or step on the bluebonnets. I just learned this is not actually against the law, but just frowned upon. They often bloom with other flowers, so feel free to pick the other flowers, but just not the bluebonnets.

We visited The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails for the first time this past weekend – Saturday, April 10th. Our pictures were all taken at Veteran’s Memorial Park (one of the acceptable places to take pictures indicated on the map) at around 2pm. From our experience, I would definitely recommend taking your pictures in the morning or evening as the sun was exceptionally bright (note our squinty eyes LOL). I would also highly recommend visiting the weekend of the festival as there isn’t much to do without their provided activities. We did not eat at a downtown restaurant due to wait times nor did we picnic due to not expecting that option, we just ate at a fast food chain on the way to the park, but I would bring a picnic if we visit again.

Motherhood

Baby Butt Cream Brag

We all have those moments where we say or think something that we never thought we would… Seven months ago, I definitely didn’t imagine myself excited to share my favorite diaper rash cream, but here I am.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Hazel had real bad diarrhea and developed a small diaper rash that slowly got worse and worse. I had received Burt’s Bees Diaper Rash Cream as a gift, so that is what we used in the beginning of stages, but it wasn’t doing anything to help. After a few days, we started using A+D Diaper Rash Ointment. The rash was still getting worse and more painful for Hazel. I feel like we used more than that, but I can’t remember at the moment.

In a bit of desperation to help my sweet kiddo, we went to the store to find a different cream to hopefully heal Hazel’s bum. I stood on the diaper rash aisle for quite awhile reading all the options and trying to figure out which one would work the best in the least amount of time. In the end, I chose Boudreaux’s Butt Paste; and Hazel and her little booty are thanking me for it!

Now for the bragging! Within a few days of using Boudreaux’s, we saw a major difference! After the week, Hazel’s rash had shrunk and was much less sensitive to the touch. Now about a week and a half later, I am back to using Burt’s Bees as to not waste this incredible stuff!

My Process for Clearing Up Diaper Rash
  1. Change baby’s diaper about every thirty minutes or as soon as I notice it has been soiled.
  2. Use diapers that are a size up – she was wearing a size two, but I went ahead and bought a size three, so that the mess would not be as up close and personal.
  3. Instead of wiping baby’s bottom, gently dab at the mess using a wet sensitive wipe (no alcohol or fragrance) or a wet washcloth.
  4. Pat baby’s bottom dry and let air out if you can.
  5. Apply diaper rash cream liberally – I recommend Boudreaux’s Butt Paste!
  6. Let baby go without a diaper as much as possible – this can get a bit messy, so be prepared.

Boudreaux’s comes in three different types: original, maximum strength, and natural. We purchased it in maximum strength, because Hazel’s rash was so bad. I plan to buy all three and keep them around the house and the diaper bag, so that we always have some on hand. It also comes in three different sizes: 2oz, 4oz, 16oz. The maximum strength option is so thick and really coats your baby’s skin to protect the rash from future messes. Hazel had a poopy diaper just about every diaper for the past two weeks; it blew my mind how when I would be wiping her bottom, the cream was still there! I can’t recommend it enough. Also, these opinions are solely my own and I am receiving absolutely no compensation for this review – I am just that impressed with this product!

Motherhood

5 Must Have Items to Survive a Newborn

Now that Hazel is past the six month mark, I would say that I have survived the newborn phase! Whoop whoop! But I had a lot of help from my husband, family, friends, and most of all some great gadgets. Since I made it through the first six months, I know you can too! I want to share with you five of my favorite and most successful tools that worked to meet Hazel’s needs and keep me sane.

Parents nowadays get a lot of flack for all the items/tools/devices we have to use for our kids, but I think as long as you are smart about what you use, how you use it, and how often or long you use it, you and your kiddo will be just fine.

1. Infant Lounger

None of my friends or family had an infant lounger, but I had read some great testimonials on why they are an excellent tool, so I took the leap and purchased one. I chose the Snuggle Me Organic Infant Lounger complete with a cover and puddle pad. In the beginning, we used it in her bassinet next to our bed. As an infant, Hazel slept all the time and very hard, but the Snuggle Me kept her snug, warm, and helped her not wiggle out of her swaddle. I think the infant lounger helped her transition from womb to bassinet to crib with ease. Hazel slept in her lounger until we no longer swaddled her and she could roll over. To this day, Hazel is still an excelled sleeper and I am glad we chose to invest in this item. I will no doubt be using it for our next baby. Although we chose the Snuggle Me, there are other options out there such as the Dock-a-Tot.

2. Swaddles

A good swaddle can be a baby calming/sleeping lifesaver! We received so many different kinds of swaddles and have used them all, but not all swaddles are made alike; they come in different sizes and materials. Swaddling in and of itself is an art – there are different techniques and ways to wrap up your little one, so knowing what works will help you decide what kind of swaddle you are looking for. We found out very quickly that Hazel made it her mission to get her arms and feet free, so we realized the bigger and stretchier the better. Before Hazel was born, I stumbled upon Max + Moose a brand that advertises their swaddles as the swaddle blanket that stays swaddled. I didn’t realize what a big deal that actually was until we started dealing with cute swaddles that Hazel could break out of in a matter of minutes. Max + Moose swaddles are an investment – I currently only have one, but will hands down be buying a couple more for our second baby – because they are soft, breathable, huge, and very stretchy! I highly highly recommend this blanket!

3. White Noise

I thought people were downright ridiculous when they raved about white noise being the infant magic music, but no joke, this sound works wonders! There are all sorts of noise machines out there for every budget and I suggest you buy one, because you will not regret it. We did not purchase a sound machine and I just pulled up a white noise video on Youtube one night and it worked, so that was just my go-to sound. This worked for us, because we were on a budget, but not having access to my phone or having it start ringing right next to my sleeping child was no ideal. We actually lucked out when we purchased our baby camera when Hazel moved into her own room at night, it happened to come with white noise built in, but I will probably purchase a portable white noise machine for baby #2.

4. Pacifiers

I tried to be a pacifier free mom and I made it for about two weeks and then I caved. And I caved hard. And I am not ashamed. I was told horror story after horror story of kids becoming too attached or addicted to their pacis, so I was determined to make do without. Well what a joke! Pacifiers were created for a reason and they work well until your baby realizes what their use is for and spits it out. With all that being said, I had rules for the paci. Hazel only uses it when sleeping or when absolutely uncontrollable. She doesn’t ask for it and she spits it out once she falls asleep. Our goal is to break her of them at a year. We use Bibs pacifiers, because they are cute LOL but Hazel likes them and they come in a lot of different colors. With future children, I will more than likely use the paci the same way.

5. Swing

Get a swing! When Hazel would become fussy or upset, we would just swaddle her up and stick her in the swing. She absolutely loved it! I don’t know what kind of swing we have – nothing fancy – and it does the trick. We kept it out in the living room for when she was resting or just hanging out while we worked or did whatever we had to do. Be careful with how long you let your baby lay in a swing because of their malleable heads, but for a few hours here or there, there is no harm done and they will most likely enjoy the movement.

Well those are my newborn survival tips! Those five things are my absolute go-to options when it came to needing some relief from my crying baby or if I was just feeling overwhelmed and needed a minute. Obviously not all babies are the same, so they won’t all respond positively to all of these, but they worked for my baby and I hope they work for yours! Let me know if they help you and if not, what your go-to baby calming tactics are!