Category Archives: Infancy

Tough Stuff: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Tough Stuff: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Being a new mom is tough, and not just for reasons that first come to mind. Pregnancy and motherhood can take a toll on your mental health. Fluctuating hormones and lack of sleep all contribute to postpartum mood disorders. Here, we take a look at two common maternal mental illnesses that are not talked about enough: postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

So, just how common is postpartum depression?

The CDC estimates that 1 in 9 women experience symptoms, but the data varies by state so it could be as high as 1 in 5. Either way, it’s a lot. Postpartum depression is common, but the symptoms and experience are different for everyone.

There are also certain factors that put you at higher risk – most notably a prior history of depression. Nobody had mentioned to me that it was more common in those that suffered from depression/anxiety before pregnancy. There’s not enough information out there for pregnant moms before it happens,” says Kim C from our Super Moms Facebook group.

It’s important to emphasize that postpartum depression is different from stress or having a bad day. Every mom experiences stress or a bad day or two, but it’s important to seek help or take extra steps if you experience symptoms of depression.

Some common symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • Lasting sad, anxious, or “empty” mood.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness.
  • Feelings of irritability or restlessness.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Problems concentrating, recalling details, and making decisions.
  • Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much.
  • Overeating or loss of appetite.
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.

(CDC).

Tough Stuff: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Postpartum Anxiety

A lesser-known condition is postpartum anxiety which can have completely different symptoms from depression. Anxiety affects about 10% of new moms.

“I wish I had known postpartum anxiety was a thing! I had heard of postpartum depression but not anxiety. Everything seemed like such a BIG DEAL to overcome but step by step things started to seem okay again. Talking with family helped.” (Lisolette D in our Super Moms Facebook group).

Symptoms of postpartum anxiety include:

  • Constant worry
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen
  • Racing thoughts
  • Disturbances of sleep and appetite
  • Inability to sit still
  • Dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea

(Postpartum Support International)

Tips to cope with depression and anxiety:

  1. Eat nutritious food and stay hydrated. It’s important to keep your body strong and healthy during tough times.
  2. Exercise. Even if you simply go for a walk around your neighborhood, exercise has been proven to make you feel better and less anxious by releasing endorphins.
  3. On that same note – get outside. Nature and exercise have calming effects.
  4. Practice basic self-care. Take a shower, put on clean clothes and fix your hair up a little even if you don’t feel like it.
  5. Get plenty of sleep. This can be hard with a newborn around, but it’s so important. Find more tips on this here.
  6. Make time for YOU. Enlist your spouse, a family member, or a friend to look after your little one so you can get in some much needed ‘me time.’ Take a yoga class, get a manicure, or just get dinner with a good friend.  

Most importantly, find support and ask for help.

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned in this post, it’s crucial that you seek more information and help. It’s important to remember that this is common, even if it’s not talked about – and that you are not alone. Postpartum Support International provides many resources including a 24-hour helpline and weekly chats with experts. Seeking support from family members, your doctor, or a moms support group are also good options.

Do you have any additional advice on how to manage depression or anxiety? Share it with the community in a comment.

It’s Rough Being an Infant: How to Cope with 5 Normal Issues

It’s Rough Being an Infant: How to Cope with 5 Normal Issues

Infants face many common issues, some of which can seem overwhelming for new moms. Relieving issues such as constipation take patience and practice but we hope that this guide will make your job a little bit easier. Read on for five common (and completely normal) issues plus tips for coping.

Sleeping

The unfortunate reality is that most newborns won’t sleep through the night. The first few weeks are the hardest but it does get better. Split up sleeping schedules between you and your spouse so you’re able to get some rest. Choose a couple of nights per week for your spouse to be on night duty. Consider inviting a relative to stay over and help out.

A common complaint from moms is that it seems like their newborn is sleepy during the day but wants to stay up all night. Try to make contrasts between day and night. Make sure the house is full of light during the day. Keep it darker and quieter at night. Check out this Baby Sleep Cheat Sheet for info on how much sleep your baby needs by age.

Here are some additional tips to try:

  • Try a white noise machine to soothe your newborn. Many moms swear by these!
  • Use blackout curtains to create a clear distinction between day and night.
  • Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it.
  • Rock the baby to sleep on an exercise ball or rocking chair.

It’s Rough Being an Infant: How to Cope with 5 Normal Issues

Gas/Bloating

Infants can have a hard time letting gas out which leads to a bloated belly and discomfort. The gassiness should subside after a few months. Here are some tips for relieving gas:

  • Burp your baby during meals to prevent build up.
  • Gently massage your little one’s tummy to get the air moving.
  • Get baby moving. Lay your baby on her back and move her legs in a gentle bicycle motion to release trapped air.

Teething

Teething starts at around three months and can disrupt baby’s sleep and cause irritability. Luckily, you can help relieve some of the symptoms of teething. Teething toys can help relieve pain and inflammation. We recommend trying the best-selling Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether. It helps to gently massage sore gums. Rashes caused by excess drool are another common symptom. Try applying a natural rash balm or cream.

It’s Rough Being an Infant: How to Cope with 5 Normal Issues

Dry Scalp

Dry scalp or dandruff, also known as “Cradle Cap” is a common skin issue encountered in your baby’s first year. It’s a harmless issue that typically clears up on its own. However, you can take steps to treat areas with dandruff. Wash the areas with warm water and a mild soap or shampoo then rinse thoroughly. Gently massage coconut oil (or another natural plant-based oil) into your baby’s scalp. Leave the oil on for up to 30 minutes then use an infant hairbrush or a soft washcloth to remove dandruff flakes. Repeat as needed.

Constipation

Have diaper changes become infrequent? Your baby is likely suffering from constipation. Constipation symptoms in infants can include a red face or fussiness when trying to pass a stool. Your baby’s belly may also feel bloated and hard. Usually, constipation can be relieved naturally. However, it’s time to see a doctor if you notice bloody or black stools, inflammation, vomiting or fever.

Common causes of constipation include a change in formula, dehydration, fiber deficiency, or gastrointestinal infection (Mom Junction). Before you start worrying, try some simple changes in diet:

  • Increase feeding frequency
  • Try a new formula
  • Try a warm bath
  • Feed baby foods that start with a “P” – prunes, peaches, plums, peas, and apricots (My Little Moppet)
  • Massage baby’s belly with coconut oil

For further reading, check out our 9 Tips for Surviving Your First Week Home With a New Baby.

5 Spring Activities for the Entire Family

5 Spring Activities for the Entire Family

Spring is right around the corner – finally! Towards the end of winter, kids get antsy after staying indoors for too long. Snow days can be fun, but we long for sunshine and warmth and shedding bulky winter coats.

It’s time to get outside and spend quality time together. Read on for five activities for the whole family to enjoy together.

5 Spring Activities for the Entire Family

5 Fun Spring Activities:

  1. Picnic

On a warm day, take the opportunity enjoy lunch outdoors. Pack a basket full of your family’s favorite foods, then head to a nearby park or even just your own backyard. Bring along a blanket, chairs, and maybe some toys or games to play. Don’t forget the sunscreen – skin is particularly fragile after long winters.

  1. Paint pottery

Take the family to a DIY pottery painting studio. Let your kid choose a piece to paint such as a piggy bank or plate. Adults will enjoy channeling their inner artist too. Most people find it relaxing. The best part is that the mess won’t be in your house.

  1. Treasure hunt

Go on an outdoor treasure hunt with Geocache – or create your own if you’re feeling crafty. Use your phone to find a nearby location where other people have hidden objects in a container. Ask your kids to find a small toy in their room that they wouldn’t mind giving up – you’re supposed to replace an item that you find at a Geocache location. This is a great way to get some exercise and explore your own neighborhood.

5 Spring Activities for the Entire Family

  1. Go to the zoo

Most cities have a zoo nearby and this is always a favorite day trip for both kids and adults. You won’t have to do much besides walking around with your very excited kiddo. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes.

  1. Have a movie night

Relax and watch a movie after an active day outdoors. Having a movie night at home is simple, but always fun for all. Plus it’s budget-friendly. Choose a family-friendly film, pop some popcorn, and have everyone get cozy in their PJs.

What are your favorite spring activities? Let us know!

5 Spring Activities for the Entire Family

We’re excited to announce our Spring Contest!

Next month, we’ll be sharing top tips for first-time moms and we’d love your input. What do you wish you knew when you were a first-time mom? Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a personalized diaper bag!

 

What to Expect During a Newborn Photoshoot

What to Expect During a Newborn Photoshoot: Advice from our Super Moms

It’s time for your baby’s first photoshoot! While your professional photographer will do most of the heavy lifting, it’s still a good idea to do a little preparation beforehand. Whether your newborn photos will be taken at the hospital or at home, these are all relevant considerations. Our Bella Baby Super Moms offer some advice based on their newborn photo experiences.

Here’s what to consider:

1. Discuss strategy with your spouse

You might think preparing for photos is no big deal, but not including your spouse in the conversation can leave them feeling left out. They may not want to be involved at all, but it’s better to ask than assume. If your spouse seems uninterested in the direction of photos, then do some planning on your own and check in with them again when it comes time to make final decisions.

“My husband loves to wear t-shirts, but I made him pack one nicer shirt so that he was prepared for the photo shoot.”

2. Decide on a budget

All of your decisions will be based, in part, on your budget, so figure this out early on. You’ll likely want to include your spouse in this decision, even if he or she doesn’t want to be involved in other decisions. Reading through the rest of this list will help you decide on your budget.

3. Include siblings or other family members in the shoot

What to Expect During a Newborn Photoshoot

You’ll want to decide beforehand who exactly will be in the photos. Including older siblings will not only make for sweet moments but is also a great way to make sure they feel included in their newly expanding family.  

“If you want to include your other children in the session, try to pick a time of day that will work for them (keeping nap schedules in mind) as you don’t want a cranky toddler in your photos.”

4. Consider holidays

Are there any upcoming holidays? If Christmas is around the corner, you might want to dress your family in festive attire so that you can use your photos again on holiday cards. Or, maybe just bring a few props – Santa hat, candy canes – that you can add in for just a few photos. It’s a great way to get more for your budget.

5. Think ahead to gifts

What kind of a photo does grandma want on her mantle? It’s helpful to think about who you’ll be gifting the photos to in the future. That could provide some additional direction in terms of types of photos to take and formats to order. This could affect your budget as well.

6. Choose everyone’s outfits

Of course, you need to choose what your baby will wear, but you should also think about outfits for siblings and for YOU! Consider the previous two question, then pick something out for your baby and put it in your hospital bag. It’s best to choose solid colors and avoid busy patterns that will be distracting and take the focus away from your newborn. Coordinate your own outfit and other family members so there are no clashing colors.

“We weren’t sure if we were having a boy or girl, so we brought a neutral blanket and then a couple of headbands and a little bow tie so that we were prepared either way.”

7. Bring some props

In addition to clothing, you’ll want to have some additional items for the photographer to utilize during the photoshoot. Think blankets, hats, stuffed animals, or other toys. Again, choose solid colors.

What to Expect During a Newborn Photoshoot

8. “Don’t forget to pack your makeup or at least a little concealer.”

If your photos are at the hospital, you’ll want to pack a few cosmetics and maybe a hairbrush to touch up a little. You will have just given birth, after all. A dark pink or red lipstick will instantly make you look and feel more put together. Oil blotting sheets and pressed powder will keep shine away. A bit of under-eye concealer and mascara will make your eyes pop on camera.  

9. “Try to feed your newborn right before the session so that they are calm and asleep for the photographer.”

10. Treasure the moment.

“With my first daughter, I didn’t want to be in any of the pictures (as I just had a baby), but the photographer talked me into being in one and I am really glad that she did. Your baby grows up so fast, be a part of every moment, you’ll be glad you have the pictures.”

11. Smile and leave the rest to your photographer!

Your photographer is experienced and knows what types of angles and shots look best. You can give them some initial thoughts, then leave the work to them and don’t intervene too much. Most importantly, enjoy the experience.

Are you expecting? We would love to capture those first precious moments with your newborn. Find a photographer near you and feel free to reach out to us with any additional questions.

 

Take the Best Holiday Photos: 7 Success Stories From Bella Photographers

Take the Best Holiday Photos: 7 Success Stories From Bella Photographers

The holidays are right around the corner which means it’s time to think about photos for your holiday cards and gifts. Avoid the stress of waiting until the last minute to take photos. The results will be far better with a little planning. We’ve sourced some top tips from Bella Baby Photographers on how to take the best holiday photos, whether you hire a professional or use your iPhone.

How to Take the Best Holiday Photos: 

1. Do not wear matching clothes – wear color-coordinated clothes. Don’t be afraid of color! Stay away from the all white or black shirts and jeans look. – Christina Kennedy

2. Solids in coordinated colors are awesome! 1-2 clothing items in a pattern is fine, but everyone wearing different stripes and plaid is less great. – Susan Howard

3. Have fun. Parents tend to stress to get the “perfect” pose and get kids smiling a certain way. Trust your photographer and let them work their magic. Kids don’t relax and enjoy pictures when mom and dad keep telling them to smile. – Carrie Ostreko

Take the Best Holiday Photos: 7 Success Stories From Bella Photographers

4. If you’re doing outdoor photos, don’t over layer. I’ve heard people complain later that they looked too puffy or heavy in photos but it’s often just the clothes they picked. Well fitting clothes are always better than bigger and too many layers. Instead… bring a blanket for in between shots if you’re cold and then snap some cute cuddle pics wrapped up in that too. – Carrie Ostreko

5. Maybe bring a little gift (depending on the kids’ ages) and let them hold them and take photos with those and then maybe getting some opening them. It’s a surprise for a great shoot and makes for fun images! – Carrie Ostreko

6. Warm up first! Don’t go for “the shot” right away when everyone may still be stiff. Get everyone relaxed, laugh, and to let their guards down… then their true joy will come through! – Beth Malonoski

Take the Best Holiday Photos: 7 Success Stories From Bella Photographers

7. Instead of looking at the camera, look at each other, interact with each other, make each other smile and laugh, hug each other and get in tight! This will result in a more relaxed, real, and natural photograph of your family. – Kim Hoessler Price

We recommend hiring one of our baby photographers as there truly is no replacement for a professional. Our photographers capture the beauty of your family with a natural, artistic style. Your photos will create memories and gifts that last a lifetime.

Have any additional tips to add? Leave us a comment below.