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Monthly Archives: May 2015

  • Washing Guidelines for Maternity Clothes

    If you are like most people, doing the laundry is not your favorite pastime. You may notice that it tends to pile up more in the warm weather, when we are actually wearing less clothes, than the winter months. I think we are more active in the summer and with the warmer weather, more sweaty, causing us to wash the clothes more often. If you are pregnant, chances are that you are perspiring a bit more than normal as the weather heats up and your hamper is filling up faster with bigger clothes. The bad news is that this pile of laundry is just going to increase when your family increases (although who doesn’t love putting away cute baby clothes?) But the good news is that we may not need to laundry as often as we do which can conserve water, energy and our own time and energy.

    So, just how often do we need to wash our clothes and what clothes warrant more frequent washing than others? As Americans we shower more than any other culture and we a wash our clothes more frequently. So, as a first rule of thumb we can assume that if we are mostly clean when we are wearing our clothes, and we are changing our clothes every day, then if they are not undergarments and we have not worn them to work out and they pass the smell test and general visual review test, then they are good to wear again.

    Maternity Underwear: The one piece of clothing we absolutely recommend you change and wash after one wearing is, of course, your underwear. If only for health and hygiene issues panties generally should be thrown in the laundry basket and changed every single day. The same goes for socks as our feet are known for their sweat and stink.

    Maternity and Nursing Bras: However, maternity bras and nursing bras may not need to be laundered daily. If you are working out or wearing a workout bra or nursing sports bra, then we can probably assume you worked up a sweat and yes, you should change and launder your bra. However, have not had a very active day, then you can go a couple of days before washing your bra.

    Nursing Pads: If you are nursing and wearing nursing pads under your bra for cushion and to help with leakage, make sure you do change those pads at least daily, but if the bra underneath is clean and did not get leaked on, you are probably good for another 2-3 wears Since bras do not generally come in direct contact with our underarms they actually do not need to be laundered as frequently as our close fitting tees and maternity tops. Also, it’s a good idea to rotate bras every day to give them a chance to recover. A 24 hour rest period as well as less frequent washing allows them to last longer. NOTE: Washing instructions on bras are very important. Most should be washed on the Delicate Gentle Cycle and it is generally a good idea to put these delicate in a washable mesh laundry bag so they do not get tangled up with other clothing in the washer and are more protected. Also, most nursing bras should be line dried. If you do put them in the dryer makes sure it is on the Cool Delicate Cycle.

    Maternity Camis/Nursing Tanks: Other intimate type clothing that is hugging your skin such as camis and nursing bra tanks can be worn 1-2 times depending on perspiration and smell test and how long you were wearing them. Again, these items should be treated delicately and washed on the Gentle Cycle and either line dried or tumbled dry on the Cool Delicate Cycle.

    Maternity Jeans: Denim is an incredibly durable fabric and usually looks better on us as it molds to our curves while wearing them. If you wash your demin too frequently then the heat and detergents can fade your jeans and make them look older more quickly. Maternity jeans in particular have a lot more spandex stretch to them than your regular prepregnancy jeans, so they are more sensitive to heat and detergent. Jeans can be worn up to five times before they need to be washed. When you do wash make sure the heat is not too high and you are better off opting for a more gentle cycle in the washer unless they are truly soiled. Also, be careful with drying as spandex can shrink if you overheat and over dry.

    Maternity Pants/Dress Slacks/Maternity Skirts: If you work indoors in an air conditioned environment, then you can usually wear these items 3-4 times before washing if you haven’t spilled anything on them. To stretch the days you can go between washings it is best to change out of them as soon as you get home and hang them up so the wrinkles fall out. Simply getting into the habit of taking off work clothes/nice days clothes at the end of the day at home and not lounging in them will extend their wear.

    Maternity Sweater, Jackets and Blazers: These are all second layer items that are not in direct contact with our skin and not clothes that we wear to work out in so naturally they require the least amount of cleaning. Make sure you check your fabric labels so that you dry clean or hand wash and line dry as directed. If there is no visible stains and the areas that are closer in contact to the skin such as the sleeve cuffs and collars are clean, then you are good to go 6-7 times. If you have a suit you wear frequently make sure that you get both the suit jacket and slacks cleaned together to prevent uneven fading.

    Maternity Sleepwear: Although you may shower nightly before changing into your maternity or nursing sleepwear, you still shed skin cells at night and you sweat in your sleep. Even if your sleepwear does not seem very dirty we still recommend washing it every 2-3 wearings. For items that are not super dirty but still need to be washed you might consider colder water and less detergent so that you are keeping your clothes clean but not wearing them out or overexposing your skin to chemicals.

    Hopefully the above recommendations are good news to reduce your laundry list and save you more energy for your house, family and self. Along the same lines we are getting more and more feedback from medical research that we really don’t need to be showering as much as we do. Less frequent showering leads to more hydrated skin and healthier hair. Overall less water usage and washing leads to an easier and less expensive way of life which is what we all want in life!

  • Advice to New Moms -Be Yourself!

    link to Art Docent Program Home PageIf you are about to become a first time mom or if you are a new mom, here is my hand me down mom advice for you. Don’t cringe, because it’s advice you’re going to like, not critical unsolicited advice that by virtue of being a mother you will be sure to get a lot of anyway. Here’s my advice, do things your way. Don’t crumble to the pressure to be perfect, or try to be your own mother re-incarnated. You may not be wired to be just like that neighbor or friend who “seems” to do it all perfectly while sewing her kids’ clothes and posting cute Pinterest quality DIY birthday invite, party favors and everything in between. It’s easy to drive yourself crazy from pregnancy onwards trying to figure out how to live up to what you perceive is the perfect mom because, really, no one really is. We can only be our own best version and that’s usually much better than copying somebody else’s version.

    My advice to you and my younger self of 10-12 years ago is try to simply be the best mom you can be without driving yourself crazy. Being the best mom for you might mean that you splurge on a biweekly housekeeper to help you keep your sanity. It also might mean that your husband is the main cook in the house and you all do not fall in the traditional role criteria for Mom and Dad – that’s just fine too. Maybe you are the main breadwinner and both you and your husband work fulltime, so you child is in fulltime daycare. There are many excellent daycares our there that work out wonderfully for families (just be sure to vet them and be willing to pull the plug and change if for any reason you feel you should). It might mean that you hire a babysitter on your day off so you can recuperate and feel human again.

    Yes, being a mom takes sacrifices that 95% of the time you are glad to make. The hard part I find (and in talking with other mom friends it seems to be a theme), is feeling the need to live up to all of the mom standards that seem to be imposed upon us. As your kids get older to preschool and elementary school age, you will find there is tremendous pressure to volunteer. Now volunteering is a good thing and a tremendous benefit to not only your child but other children and can be very fulfilling. But if volunteering becomes an obligation that crowds our calendar out of other priorities and the energy we need to be a good mom at home with our own children, then the balance has tipped too far. Sometimes as moms we feel that it’s okay to sacrifice ourselves to the breaking point and the truth is that when we are totally burnt out and spent and even ill, we are of no use to anyone, including our families. So, it is okay to say no and to ignore the guilt when we feel we do not need to give more if we are not going to giving cheerfully.

    Also, you might find there are certain areas that you enjoy volunteering (and perhaps more gifted at) than others. I have found I enjoy teaching my kid’s reader’s workshop and some art classes, but I get antsy chaperoning for every field trip. My kids whine and complain when I don’t go on many of these field trips, but I tell them there are other moms that do that type of volunteering, but I do the other sort of volunteering in their art classes or reading workshops. The opportunities are endless for volunteering in the class, on the playground, on the soccer teams and for playdates of course. Don’t overcommit yourself or you will become bitter and there’s nothing worse than an unhappy volunteer or an unhappy mom. Choose how you can best contribute and leave your guilt on the doorstep.

    In addition to busyness the other area we need to stand up for as moms (this goes for moms of older kids too), is the right to embrace our own identity. Once a mom, always a mom and that is beautiful thing. In the beginning it’s a new and novel identity that we can revel in or sometimes feel we haven’t quite deserved (don’t worry, that feeling will pass soon!) But, as we give more of our time and selves to our children and families, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle and forget that we have needs too. So, it is important, no matter how silly it may seem, to set a discipline early of not only taking couple time with our partners, and girl time with some friends, but also time alone to do something we really want to do even if it’s read a magazine and have a cup of coffee somewhere where no one will bother us for an hour or taking a little time out each day to walk or hit the gym. By doing this on a regular basis we will reconnect with our inner selves and have a renewed enthusiasm for our family and loved ones.

    Fashion is also a way to connect to our inner selves and something that we can choose to express who we are. A famous fashion icon (can’t remember who) once said something truly revolutionary- it was “if we change the way we dress, we can change the way we think.” The gist of the message was that if we truly dress to express our identity, not necessarily the trend or please our partners (which is not always a bad thing from time to time on a date night), but play with and develop a style that suits our personalities, than that fashion statement becomes a means to expressing our unique personalities in our lives. This is why actors and actresses wear a costume or dress the part for a play or a movie, because not only does it communicate to the audience who they are in their role, but it allows them to fully embody the identity they are portraying. It is the same with fashion and quite liberating and fun as well to experiment with our style and give ourselves permission to change our style, until we find something that truly makes us feel alive and show our truth.

    Pregnancy is wonderful opportunity to experiment with our style and go outside our comfort zone. The pressure is off because when you are pregnant, people are excited for you and your growing bump. The pressure to be thin becomes irrelevant (and should be). Also, you suddenly need to shop for a wardrobe of maternity clothes because you have outgrown everything in your closet. As your body changes, we can suddenly experiment with enhanced cleavage styles and empire waist designs that you might have never tried before. Have fun with it and play dress up on your new form with new styles and colors! Try out that maxi maternity dress or bold prints that were out of your former fashion comfort zone.

    Motherhood is a wonderful time in life but it can also be busy. Focus on the beauty of your children and don’t second guess your instincts. Follow your gut in making smart choices for your child and for yourself. But remember to embrace your unique identity and have fun expressing yourself in your maternity fashion choices.

  • Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

    We all know exercise is important for our health, mind, body and soul. Some of us enter pregnancy in tip top shape and in no mood to slow down while others have had more of a sedentary life, perhaps due to the type of they work do and simply being busy. We all know we should take time to exercise regularly, but if you haven’t been an exercise buff before you were pregnant, chances are you are not super inspired to start exercising once morning sickness and/or pregnancy weight gain and fatigue set in.

    Prego Maternity Empire Tank Maternity Swimsuit Prego Maternity Empire Tank Maternity Swimsuit

    The good news is that you don’t need to embark on exercise full throttle and begin extreme sports or sign up for marathons once you are expecting, but you can begin a gentle exercise regime that could do wonders for your health and energy. Pregnancy is a great time to try low impact sports such as swimming or water aerobics. Staying cool in the pool becomes a more attractive option as the weather heats up and with your basal body temperature naturally higher you are probably feeling even hotter than normal. The weightlessness of swimming and pool exercise can relieve achy joints and the back strains of a growing tummy. Even just a few easy laps in the pool if you are not a regular swimmer is a great way to start off. (BTW it’s a good idea to buy a maternity swimsuit if you plan to do any lap swimming. Don’t even try to squeeze into your pre-pregnancy swimsuit because it will not fit well and it’s not healthy for your body to be minimized or restricted while you are pregnant).

    Other low impact exercises include yoga and stretching. If you are doing yoga for the first time, then go slow and do not try a hot yoga class as they can crank the temperature up to as high as 106 degrees for 90 minutes which is not safe for pregnancy – your baby is cooking enough at your regular temperature as it is! Some gyms do offer a prenatal yoga class, so ask around for any local pregnancy exercise classes. Sometimes these specialty classes are advertised at your OBGYN office and of course you can google it for your zip code. Classes like these are fun as you get to meet other expecting women and you have the same body changes to work around and feel less self-conscious about exercising in a group class. You can laugh together while you stretch out the kinks and adjust yoga poses to your ever evolving pregnancy physique. These same women may end up being your stroller buddies and mom friends down the way after you have your baby.  (Do be careful to not do anything awkward or unusual that you are not comfortable with and take into consideration that your balance is altered with your shifting center of gravity).

    A new study showed that even light cardio (such as power walking) and hand weights in short bursts of up to five minutes about five times a day was even more beneficial than one long intensive daily routine and allowed for better recovery. Apparently this is a long held celebrity training secret that we just got in on! Simple five minute intervals up to five times a day can do wonders for lowering and regulating blood sugar which can climb during pregnancy and cause gestational diabetes. Regular light exercise can also lower blood pressure and resting heart rate which is also subject to rise during pregnancy.  Many women experience preeclampsia for the first time when pregnant due to the extra weight and physical stresses on their body as they progress in their pregnancy. Studies show that exercise can reduce the risk of developing complications such as preeclampsia and improve your overall circulation as well as reducing leg cramps, varicose veins and swollen ankles. Additionally, exercise helps strengthen back muscles that support your belly and helps alleviate aches and pains overall which is a huge benefit to your overall wellbeing and comfort.

    Although exercise can make you feel less energetic initially, if you stay consistent with it your body will adjust and you will eventually have more energy. Equally important, exercise will allow you to sleep better at night as your muscles will be more fatigued and that legitimate physical tired feeling will allow you to get to sleep faster. As a result of better rest you will feel sharper and more alert in the morning and less stressed so you can enjoy your day. It’s a complete 24 hour healthy loop cycle!

    Usually the first association many of us have to exercise is a means to sweat off extra pounds and rev up our metabolism so we can effectively lose weight without starving ourselves. While this is true and often a good goal for non-pregnant women, it is not the goal for pregnant women (although a slightly faster metabolism to help burn extra calories we are craving beyond the recommended weight gain is not a bad thing help keep weight gain in check). Pregnant women are supposed to gain weight and usually do so naturally without consciously trying to eat more. You definitely should not obsess over the scales while pregnant unless their doctor puts you on alert.  Weight gain during pregnancy is not always linear – you might lose weight in the first three months with morning sickness and food aversion and then find your belly has suddenly “popped” as well as your chest and appetite over the next four weeks in the second trimester. BTW expect a second “pop” in the last month of pregnancy, about the time you don’t think you can get any bigger, you do!

    One of the major ways exercise can provide an immediate benefit to everyone, but especially expecting women, is by increasing serotonin levels and balancing out mood swings. As we know hormones are in full swing when you are pregnant and often affecting everything from your diet and feelings of morning sickness to your self-image, mental outlook and emotions. By engaging in regular exercise you gain a sense of control over your body, emotions and positive emotional and mental outlook that may otherwise feel completely out of control. This sense of stability gives us a sense calm and balance which is priceless when you are experiencing daily physical and overall life changes at a breakneck speed.

    Achieving and maintaining a level of fitness during pregnancy also really aids in our postpartum recovery. The ability to stay within our healthy weight range during pregnancy and toning our muscles in the process with supervised light resistance training allows us to regain our energy much quicker postpartum and feel more like our pre-pregnancy selves. If you are tipping the scales with your pregnancy weight do not fear! Unless your doctor has prescribed bed rest or you have a high risk pregnancy then it’s not too late to start a low impact moderate exercise program from which you can continue to reap huge health benefits both during and after pregnancy.

    Do be sure to get your doctors sign off on any out of the ordinary exercise you plan to do during pregnancy (remember no horse riding, downhill skiing, bungee jumping, etc) and it’s recommended to run your exercise plans by your doctor in your prenatal visits, particularly if you have any elevated health risks. But, if you have the green light from your doctor, then get your blood pumping a bit and remember to hydrate!

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