Monday, April 26, 2010

Love your Post-Baby Body: Hapari Swimsuit Review

{All photos courtesy of}

Ready or not, it's swimsuit season. And if you're like me, you're a little self-conscious about showing off the battle wounds you've gained from pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

So when Hapari sent me the Girl's Night Out Butterfly Tankini swimsuit for review, I was excited (and just a little nervous) to put it on. But I was very pleased. Why? Because the bottoms have a nifty little feature called Tummy Tuk — a thick band that slightly sucks in that little pooch and smooths out those not-so-lovable love handles. The bottoms are brief style, so they provide all the coverage I need and want. Also, for support and shape, the top has an empire seam and soft cups. Thank you. (I haven't tried them, but Hapari also offers Illusions —silicone inserts for a full-bust look without the surgery.) Another cool thing is that the top's straps can be changed into a halter, tank or criss-cross.

I love the flattering fit of this suit and feel like I can face my first post-baby swimsuit season relatively unafraid. Thanks, Hapari!

{This is the suit. Sexy, huh? NO that is not me. Did you really think I would post a photo of me in a swimsuit here?}

{This is the back. Love it!}

If you are looking for stylish, tankini swimwear, visit!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Return of Aunt Flo

I know there are a couple males who follow this blog out of curiosity — or better yet, out of a genuine desire to understand their pregnant wife better. Right gentlemen? Either way, consider yourself warned: this post is all about menstrual cycles.

Let us begin. A year and two months of no period was bliss. A definite perk of pregnancy and subsequent nursing. But I got a little too comfortable with the absense of that not-so-pleasant gift from mother nature. I hoped and almost assumed it would stay away for months to come. But Monday turned into a dreaded day when I marked the return of my least favorite "aunt."

I forgot just how unpleasant she is. And I forgot how strikinlgy she resembles her wicked step-sister, labor recovery. The back pain, the bloodflow and the inability to stand for too long because of the pressure bearing down gave me flashbacks of recovering from my baby's birth, and the birth itself ... because my contractions felt a lot like intense waves of period pain.

In my opinion, it would have been considerate of mother nature to let me ease back into the world of having a period with a gentle one. No such luck. I was not exempt from experiencing the full-blown package: the wacked-out emotions of PMS, cramps, bloating — you name it.

So, I breathe a sigh of defeat, dust off my boxes of tampons and reclaim my status as a menstruating woman. I guess I should be thankful I even have one, right? It means I'm healthy and can have babies. I think I'll work on that thankfulness later.

Pregos— relish your non-period bliss. Really relish it.

Oh and by the way, it was getting back on birth control that forced my period to come. Talk about a love-hate relationship.

—Kim (the Belly Mama on her period. Bleh!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Giveaway Winners ...

Well there were two prizes, and two people entered. :) You both win tickets to the Utah Valley Women's Expo, MS BabyPlan and Nicole! E-mail us to claim your prize and we will tell ya how to get your tix.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Giveaway #2! You have until TUESDAY, APR. 20TH.

Ever been to the Utah Valley Women's Expo? If not, you're missing out! This expo is about all things women: Food, fashion shows, prize drawings and plenty of shopping. It makes for a fun day out with the girls. You can bring your little ones too, of course. The show always has pregnancy and newborn items like the Belly Button and the ModMum wrap.

The expo is happening April 23 and 24 from 11am to 8pm. Tickets are usually $5 per person, but we are giving away two sets of two tickets so you can grab a friend or family member and check it out. Remember to leave a seperate comment for each entry.

1 entry: (mandatory) Become a follower of Belly Mamas using the link on the right.

Extra entries:

3 entries: Add the Belly Mamas button to your own blog and leave a comment here with a link to your blog.
3 entries: Send an e-mail to 10 of your friends with a link to Belly Mamas, and copy
2 entries: Become a fan of Belly Mamas on Facebook and leave a comment on the wall.
2 entries: Blog about Belly Mamas on your own blog, and leave us a comment with the link to your post.
1 entry: E-mail us with a question about pregnancy or newborns.
1 entry: Leave a comment on one of our past posts.

Good luck!

P.S. Fear not, outside-Utah readers! We have pa-lenty of giveaways coming up for you.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Unmedicated Childbirth — Is it for You?

{Photo courtesy of Forever Bliss photography}

Since we just had a post about epidurals, I figured we'd have one about the alternative too. First, let me echo what Noelle wrote — this is a personal choice and you need to do what you are most comfortable with, and not let other people make you feel inferior for your decision. People can make you feel wimpy for automatically choosing an epidural, and people can make you feel crazy for choosing to skip it. Either way, you will probably get all sorts of opinions from people, but you get to choose how you react to what they say.

There were plenty of people who told me I was crazy for not wanting an edpidural. I remember talking to some friends about my decision when a lady who was standing nearby and heard what I was saying told me her husband was an OB GYN and basically said I had no idea what I was talking about — that childbirth without an epidural is excruciatingly painful and anyone who chooses to do it is loony. That couldn't have been less true for me. Well, maybe I am a little loony but that has nothing to do with my birthing preferences.

Some of my reasons for choosing to go sans epidural included my lifelong fear of needles, my tendency to favor the natural way of doing things especially regarding health (you'd be hard-pressed to even get me to take a Tylenol for a headache), and just plain wanting to see if I could conquer the challenge. I was also a little wary of the side-effects and risks (although rare) epidurals can pose. {Most of my friends and family have had epidurals and had great experiences with them, so I don't think it's anything to seriously worry about.} Whatever you decide, I think there is a lot of value in researching both options so you can make an educated, personal decision and know what you are getting into.

Everyone's childbirth experience is so different, and there are many cases when even though the mother has planned out her ideal chilbirth scenario, things go unexpectedly and they have to adjust their plan or completely throw it out the window. But for those of you who are serious about going unmedicated, here are some things I recommend. Most of these tips would be great for any kind of birth you choose.

Commit to your decision as early as possible.
Even as a teenager, I always thought "natural" childbirth was intriguing. When I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to go that route, but once I started really looking into it I realized it was no walk in the park and that for me to be able to mentally and physically handle it, I would need to commit to that decision 100 percent from the start so I could be prepared. I didn't commit right away, because I knew once I did, I wasn't going to retreat. I needed time to decide if I was up to the task and if it would be worth it. After a lot of thinking, praying, reading and talking to people who  had experienced childbirth with and without epidurals, I decided to commit. There were definitely still times when I questioned myself and got scared, but as I tried to stay confident and positive, I felt excited for the challenge.

Take a specialized class.
I took a Hypnobabies course about a month before my due date, and for me, it was the key to being able to give birth without the edpidural while staying relaxed and positive. Hypnosis for childbirth definitely sounded hokey to me at first, but it isn't as wierd as it sounds. It just teaches you powerful relaxation techniques that work wonders if you jump into the training with both feet. But even if I had gone the epidural route, the things I learned in the course would still have helped me immensely. Epidural or not, you are going to feel some contractions, and learning what to expect and how to relax your mind and body makes them a lot easier to deal with. Also, the course teaches you a ton about pregnancy and childbirth so you can see the whole picture and make the decisions that are best for you. One of the things I like best about the course is that it encourages a positive outlook on labor, which is so valuable especially with the inevitable horror stories that surround pregnant women. This is who I took my Hypnobabies course from. Worth every penny.

Stay positive.
There are undoubtedly going to be times when you question your ability to do this. You're inevitably going to hear a lot of horror stories. People are probably going try to talk you out of your decision. But you are not them and their horrible experiences are not yours (Hypnobabies does a great job of teaching you how to enter your bubble of peace whenever people talk negatively about childbirth). You can do this. Stick with your decision and be excited and confident about it every single day, even if you have to tell yourself affirmations in the mirror (or listen to them on your Hypnobabies CD).  

Get a doula.
Don't know what a doula does? Click here. You may have the same hesitations I did when I first heard about doulas. I thought I wanted the least amount of people in that delivery room as possible, and inviting some lady I didn't even know to witness such a personal experience didn't make sense to me. And I figured my husband or my mom could help in the same way she did. Not so. Believe me — if you get a great doula (like Melissa) you won't regret it. She was on call for me from the time I hired her early in my pregnancy until a couple of weeks after I gave birth. Actually, I still contact her once in awhile with my questions! It was so comforting to always know I could call her, even in the wee hours of the morning with questions or concerns. She instilled confidence in me that I was more than strong enough to have a wonderful unmedicated childbirth. She came to my house as soon as I felt like labor had begun. She was chipper, even though it was 3 a.m. and she had a 36-hour birthing marathon ahead of her. She made meals for us, put pain-relieving pressure on my back during contractions, helped me find comfortable positions, helped me know what was going on and when to go to the hospital, she stayed by my side while Clay got some much-needed rest, she helped communicate to the hospital staff how I wanted things to go, and she helped us both stay calm and reassured during my 36-hour labor (most of which was spent at home),which brings me to my next tip:

Plan to labor at home as long as possible. 
You will be much more comfortable and much less likely to get an epidural. For me, I wasn't even dilated enough to be admitted after 19 1/2 hours of labor at home. While that long isn't the norm, most (not all, but most) first-time moms do experience a pretty long first stage of labor.

Bring a birthing ball.
I would not have been able to do it without my big, pink exercise ball. It is amazing how getting into different positions on the ball eased the pressure of my contractions. I used it throughout my entire labor.

Make a music mix.
You've heard about all the studies about how music can ease stress and depression and just plain make you happy. That definitely comes in handy during labor. I made a calm, wordless mix for when I needed to rest and relax and an upbeat mix for when I needed extra energy and had to get down to business. The delivery staff loved working to some good tunes too. Feel free to e-mail me if you want to know the songs I had on my labor day mix.

Be flexible.
Do everything you can to prepare for the birth of your dreams, but remember this is something you and your body have never done before. Your labor may be harder or longer than you expect and there may be unforeseen complications. If you end up deciding an epidural is in the best interest for you and your baby, don't beat yourself up over it. A safe, healthy, happy baby (and mom) is the first priority here. And when you hold your own sweet baby in your arms, how he or she got there probably isn't going to seem so important anymore. 

You can read my full birth story here. And I am more than happy to answer your questions or give you pep talks :)


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Getting an Epidural — Is it for You?

So epidurals. If you look anywhere on the Internet, you’re going to find myriad studies that say epidurals do cause labor to slow down and increase the risk of C-sections and fetal distress, and you’re going to find just as many that say the exact opposite. Basically, it’s hard to create an end-all study with so many factors at play, such as obstetrical monitoring, amount and type of medication used, patient factors (which vary a great deal), and investigator bias.

Anyway, this post would be uber long if we went into all those studies here, so my best advice is to do your research and talk to your doctor—and also to refrain from judging other moms who made the opposite choice you did. If you elected natural childbirth, you’re not morally superior to the mom who got an epidural as soon as possible. And if you got an epidural, the natural crowd isn’t crazy. All I’ve got for ya is my opinion and experience, so take from it what you will.

I opted in favor of an epidural for a few reasons, the most important of which I didn’t want to be so exhausted from hours of contractions that I was too zonked out to fully appreciate the arrival of my baby. I was in labor for a long time, and from my experience with the contractions I had before I received my epidural, I knew I would have been completely dead by the time my baby arrived—eighteen hours later. I also wanted to spend the last hours with my husband sans baby in relative peace instead of pain (I know some of you feel that pain is a mental thing, but let’s just agree to disagree on that point.) One other point I’d like to make here: I was super nervous about a big needle being inserted into my back. But it was just the mental image I needed to get past. Reality was totally fine. The anesthesiologist will give you a shot with an itty bitty needle first to numb the area and then give you the epidural. All I felt was the prick of the first needle, and was nothing compared to a contraction.

An epidural was right for me. It helped me feel like myself, and it helped me focus on what was happening around me. It also made contractions a breeze. However, an epidural might not be for you. I’d also like to point out that good advice was given in a previous post—even if you are 100 percent planning on an epidural, be prepared for the possibility (don’t worry, it’s relatively unlikely, but still) that you might not be able to get one if the right combination of events align.