baby kid fall clothing haul

Greyson H&M Fall Haul

With fall quickly approaching, I wanted to make sure Greyson is ready to rock fall in style! I got all of these items from H&M for 15% off and then an additional 10% off for signing up for their loyalty program. I used the code ‘3413’ for the 15% off and then I used Rakuten to get 2% cash back on top of it! Check out my referral link here to get $10 off when you make your first purchase! Just activate the retailer’s website and shop! It’s that simple. 🙂 There’s literally no catch!

Check out my Instagram stories to see each of these adorable items up close! All of the items I purchased were 2-3 years.

  1. Pile Jacket – Blue: so soft and cozy, has pockets – linked two above – one has a hood!
  2. 2 Pack of Henleys – loveee these! They come in a two packs, with two sets of colors. Linked both above! Run on the smaller size, so size up
  3. Roll-up Cotton Pants – you can choose to roll or unroll – your call! Has a drawstring and pockets
  4. Sweatpants – so soft and adorable – drawstring and pockets!
  5. Cotton Sweatshirt – three color block – super cute
  6. Cotton Joggers – lightweight! drawstring and pockets!
  7. Fully Lined Corduroy Pants – SO soft on the inside – perfect to pair with the henleys!
favorite places to shop home decor

My Favorite Places to Shop for Home Decor

My husband and I built our house last year and moved in in August, five days before Greyson was born. Many of you already know that crazy story! Since then, I have spent the past year furnishing our home with items we love and that fit our style.

We are going for the modern farmhouse, cozy look. Many of the items we have found for our home were items that we searched for for months and months because we didn’t want to buy something unless we were completely in love with it. These are the stores we have had the most luck with in the past year that have beautiful home furnishings – we also got many items from the bigger stores on sale! I always love a good deal.

#1: HomeGoods & TJ Maxx

HomeGoods and TJ Maxx are partner companies, so it should come as no surprise that they carry very similar home decor items. TJ Maxx is more clothing based, but they do have a small home section.

We purchased a lot of our kitchen knick knacks from HomeGoods, mainly Calphalon pots and pans. They are much cheaper and I found some pots that have a built in strainer, so that was a bonus! You do need to shop in store at HomeGoods and TJ Maxx.

If you watched my Instagram stories recently, you saw I am on the hunt for chunky rope baskets. I found one originally at HomeGoods last year and bought it for Greyson’s nursery, but I have yet to see the style I want since. In the meantime, we are just storing all of Greyson’s toys in the cubbies in his playroom. Like I said, I’ll wait months before I purchase something just to make sure it is exactly what we want!

We have purchased almost all of our baskets from HomeGoods, as we did a little Konmari method cleaning this past year as well. We have baskets ranging in size from small to large, styles ranging from wood to metal, and they are all beautiful and inexpensive!

We also picked up a beautiful Kate Spade comforter, bathroom decor, and bath towels from HomeGoods!

I found all of the metal baskets and faux plant from HomeGoods. Check out my laundry room makeover! I love it!

favorite places to shop home decor

#2: Target

Target is our go to for more than just home furnishings, but they have a wonderful selection of home decor items as well! We got our bed sheets, bedroom curtains and curtain rods, and kitchen stools from Target, as well as some other little toiletries and knick knacks. We got most of these items on sale as I purchased them online and waited for them to have 25% off home furnishings!

#3: Wayfair

Wayfair’s website is so big that you can literally get lost for hours in all of their pages of home decor. We purchased the majority of our furniture, aside from our living room sectional, from Wayfair. We purchased our bedroom furniture, headboard, foyer clock, baby nursery furniture (check out my nursery post here), dining room chairs, and living room chair from Wayfair. Their customer service is awesome and their items are usually always on sale!

#4: Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn is one of my favorite items to window shop. They have beautiful holiday decor and items that just make the home feel cozy. We purchased our throw pillow covers, both seasonal and every day, as well as serving ware for entertaining. All of our dishes and platters came from Pottery Barn as well! They usually have 20% off your order with free shipping, so make sure you wait for a sale! These are my favorite items from Pottery Barn: dishes, platter, flatware

#5: Crate and Barrel

I love Crate and Barrel for drinkware. We purchased all of our drinking glasses and stemware from Crate and Barrel online and on sale! Everything was shipped in beautiful packaging and nothing was damaged!

We are still furnishing our home with items as we see a need, but I love it so much that I don’t mind it! Where are your favorite places to shop for home decor?

favorite places to shop home decor

Check out my post on our farmhouse bathroom decor here and my post on our DIY farmhouse table here! Enjoy!

Post contains affiliate links.

Back to School College Dorm Room Essentials

I graduated from college in 2011 and a lot has changed since then, but not what the average kid needs for their dorm! Every time I walk through Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Target, they have the cutest prints and patterns for dorm rooms. Not only is everything adorable, but it can be very overwhelming deciding what you truly need, what would be nice to have, and what you don’t really need at all. Back to school shopping is one of my favorite things to do, even though I love being home with my little guy. I am narrowing down your college dorm shopping list to these TEN dorm room essentials. These dorm room ideas are the only things you NEED.

Most of these items are from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, so remember you can use a 20% off coupon if you sign up for their email list. If you use Rakuten (formerly Ebates) you get $10 back once you sign up and make your first purchase! Rakuten is free to use at places you already shop AND you get cash back! I am linking my referral link here!

#1: Comforter and 2 Sets of Bed Sheets

Having a comforter is a dorm room essential and makes your room feel nice and cozy like home. Also, having a comforter gives you an extra layer in case your room is too cold. You can also take off the comforter if you get too hot, but it’s nice to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it!

Having an extra set of bed sheets allows you to change your bed sheets and not have to do laundry right away. Also, if you’re sick and not feeling well, it’s nice to have a spare set of sheets 😉 Make sure you buy Twin XL in both a comforter and sheets!

#2: Portable Fan

Some dorms are hot, some are cold. Some roommates play with the thermostat all night (that was me!) so it’s nice to have a portable fan in case you get too hot!

#3: Mattress Pad

College dorm beds have a firm side and a soft side. They can still feel like you are sleeping on a brick, so buying a mattress pad not only puts a barrier in between the bed a hundred other people used, but also gives you a bit extra cushion in case you like your bed a little softer like me. They make so many different pads nowadays that make your bed extra cozy!

#4: Shower Flip Flops

No one wants athlete’s foot or toenail fungus. Buy these cheap Old Navy rubber flip flops to wear in the shower and protect your feet, please!

#5: Shower Caddy

Organizing your bathroom stuff in a shower caddy lets you grab your stuff and shower without having to schlep everything to the bathroom.

#6: Backpack style laundry bag

I did laundry about once a week when I was in college, but the laundry room was never on my floor! Having a backpack style laundry bag allowed me to throw all of my dirty (or clean!) clothes on my back and carry my detergent down to the laundry room with me!

#7: Storage

Having a good amount of storage in college is vital because you will accumulate stuff. Under bed storage and closet storage is a must! That closet hanging storage is on mega sale right now!

#8: Backpack or Purse

I used a purse when I was in college (this was my FAVORITE), but a backpack is pretty standard!

#9: Two Bath Towels

Kind of like having two pairs of bed sheets, having two bath towels is a college dorm room essential because your towels will get dirty and if you are behind on laundry, it would suck to shower and dry yourself off with a dirty towel!

#10: Mini-Fridge

Some might view this as a luxury, but where else will you keep your leftovers! I loved keeping some groceries and water in my mini-fridge and I still use it to this day. Money went spell!

What are some of the college dorm room essentials you find yourself needing?

Shop the Look

affordable cheap soft jean jacket

The Best Jean Jacket EVER

Okay, so the other day I posted 7 Affordable Summer to Fall Transition Outfits and this jean packet made an appearance in a few of my pictures. I also got so many of you who absolutely LOVED it, so I thought I would share a little bit more about the best jean jacket ever!

affordable cheap soft jean jacket

So for starters, I got this jean jacket on mega sale. Like 60% of sale! It retails for $110, but I got it for under $50! JCrew was having a 50% off sale at the time I bought it and then I used an additional 15% off! When I read the reviews, many of them said that jean jacket ran small and to size up. I did and got a medium, but my goodness was it tight in the shoulders! It fit very nicely everywhere else, but I had to exchange it for a large. I was also afraid that if I washed it, it would shrink, so I wanted to make sure I would be able to layer with it.

The large fits perfectly! So if you plan on purchasing this jean jacket, take my advice, and size up at least one size, if not two. This jacket is so soft and seriously goes with everything. I love the color, not too dark, not too light, and it can be worn day or night! I also think depending on the outfit you wear, you can either style this jean jacket up or down.

I also love rolling up the cuffs instead of keeping them buttoned. Rolling the cuffs makes such a cute look! Enjoy!

affordable cheap soft jean jacket
photobook review

The CUTEST Photobooks and Keepsakes – Photobook Worldwide Review & EXCLUSIVE code for your own free product!

I’m very excited to share my most recent discovery with you! Filling up my phone with pictures of Greyson, my puppies, and everything in between leaves me with a lot of wonderful memories. I’m always looking through my phone, scrolling to find a location, date, or person I want the picture of. Luckily, now I can find all of my most important memories in one place!

Photobook Worldwide, also Photobook America, takes all of the memories on your phone or computer and transforms them into beautiful products. They ship all over the world. Check out their Instagram, too! I am sharing 3 products here with you today! I will also be posting the products on my Instagram stories/highlights you can check out here!

Simple Book

The first product I received is the Simple Book. This fun little hardcover book comes in sizes 6×6, 8×8, and 11×11. I got the 6×6 book and ordered on the app. Search “Photobook Worldwide” on the App Store and you will see a little blue “P.” I have to assume it is the same in the Google Play store! Just pick the pictures you want in your Simple Book, upload them to app, and organize them in the arrangement you want. I uploaded pictures (really quickly, too) from my phone, all from Greyson’s first year of life, to create my own little memory book! You can also add text to the back of the book. I chose to write Greyson’s name. This book would make a great grandparent gift or gift for the holidays! You can order as many copies as you want and give them to friends and family!

I have an exclusive code for you to get your own FREE Simple Book with code GREYPBWW. All you have to pay is shipping! So worth it!

Lil’ Photobook

The next product I am going to share with you is the Lil’ Photobook. You have a choice of making a square photobook (sizes 4×4 or 4×6) or a landscape photobook (sizes 6×4 or 7×5). I made the 4×4 and I am in LOVE. My husband and I built our house last year, so I wanted to put the entire home building process in a memory book for us to look back on and enjoy.

I used their website to create this Photobook because I had so many pictures to upload. The upload process was simple. I selected the pictures that I wanted and clicked “upload.” All of the pictures I selected were uploaded and then all imported into the website. Once I had them on the website, I was able to place the pictures in the order that I wanted them to go in. I started with the pictures when the lot was just dirt, when the framing began, drywall install, fixtures, lighting, etc. 

I love how easy the website was to use and how many options there are to customize the Lil’ Photobook. I could crop pictures, rotate, resize, and adjust them to get the look I wanted. When designing the cover, I put a text box with our address and a picture of the front of our house. I was very impressed with the amount of fonts and color choices available to me in order to get the look I wanted. 

Another thing that I liked about the design process is that when I thought I was finished with my book and clicked next, the website gave me two error messages saying that my text was out of the printable range and to go back and fix it. I like that because I did not know that my text was out of range, so I would messed up the text unknowingly! Thankfully, because of that notification, I was able to go and adjust what I needed in order to make the text fit appropriately on the cover.

Canvas Air

Okay, this product is my favorite. I used the Photobook Worldwide mobile app to upload my pictures and create the most beautiful canvas print of when Greyson was born.

The Canvas Air comes in three different sizes: 8×8, 12×12, and 16×16. I got the 8×8!

Once you choose what size you want, you are able to upload your photos straight from your phone. You can choose to do as few as 1 picture to as many as 4. I chose to upload 4 pictures. Greyson is just too cute to not do 4, ha! There is a little randomizer button that will re-order your chosen pictures into different layouts and positions and you can pick your favorite OR customize your own layout! You can rotate or crop the picture to get the look what you want and then order. Again, super easy to use and I can’t believe the quality of the canvas print! The Canvas Air also comes with mounting directions, so it’s very laid out for you! It was easy to hang and looks so beautiful hanging in Greyson’s room!

Photobook America also has Metal Prints and Wood Prints where you can do the same thing! Our house is a farmhouse style and both of those finishes would look so cute in our house! I can’t wait to try out both!

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the quality of the products and how easy both the mobile app and website are to use. I love that this company ships worldwide and they have sooo many amazing products to choose from! Don’t forget to check them out here.

Don’t forget to use my exclusive code in order to get your FREE Simple Book! Use code GREYPBWW – good until 9/30/19! Also, see these products up close in my Instagram highlights here!

A big thanks to Photobook Worldwide. Products were received for free in exchange for review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

best beauty products tired eyes bright eyes

Three Under Eye Beauty Products I am LOVING right now – IT Cosmetics

Greyson has been sleeping terribly the past few nights. If you saw my Instagram stories the other day, you know what I mean! The Nanit camera recorded his wake ups and detected sounds literally every 5-10 minutes 😳

On the bright side, a third bottom tooth is popping through and it appears that a top tooth is attempting to come through, too! My little man is growing up.

The lack of sleep has made my skin look less than ideal and I have such bad under eye bags that I look like a zombie. Each month, I get a Play! by Sephora (thanks to my amazing friend) that has 6 samples of beauty products. This is how I learned about IT Cosmetics. I loveee their under eye cream that came in one of my Play! boxes. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Cream depuffs, hydrates, smooths, and brightens my tired looking eyes. I put it under my eyes after I clean my face in the morning and my eyes look instantly brighter!

After the under eye cream, I put a little IT Cosmetics Color Correcting Full Coverage CC cream (color Medium) all over my face and rub it in with a foundation brush. It has such great coverage for any blemishes, but I’ve noticed that my summer freckles still come through (as long as I don’t use too much!)

IT Cosmetics Under Eye Concealer

Finally, the absolute best under eye concealer I have ever used in my entire life is IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer (Color Light Nude). I use the smallest amount and dab it under my eyes in little dots. I like to use a lighter color for the under eye concealer, so that my eyes look bright and awake! I use a beauty blender to blend it in and my eyes look instantly more human! I cannot believe the difference in my eyes with this concealer. It is now one of my beauty staples!

pan seared sea scallops

Pan Seared Sea Scallops With Lemon Risotto and Sautéed Power Greens

pan seared sea scallops

Sea scallops are one of my most favorite things to cook. Sea scallops are fairly easy to cook, but they are temperamental. They can overcook quickly and become rubbery, so it is important to watch them closely as you cook them. Pan seared scallops with risotto is a dinner that I like to cook often and when I pair it with power greens, we get an extra boost of vitamins and minerals!

Risotto:

arborio rice lemon risotto

I like to get the risotto going first because it will take at least 20 minutes to cook. Cook risotto according to directions. If you want to make mushroom risotto, sautée 8 oz of fresh mushrooms after you sautée your onions, about 5 minutes and cook as directed. At the end, give a healthy squeeze of lemon. We like a lot of lemon! Be sure to taste the risotto as you go. It should be creamy by the time you are done cooking and the arborio rice should be tender, not hard or mushy. Check out my Instagram Food highlights (@homewithgrey) to watch me make the lemon risotto!

Sautéed Power Greens:

sautéed power greens

Costco sells this HUGE bag of “Power Greens.” Power Greens are basically baby kale, baby swiss chard, and baby spinach. I love them because of how many vitamins and minerals they pack! In a LARGE sautée pan, heat one tbsp of olive oil and one tbsp of butter. Once the butter melts, add at least 4 handfuls of power greens. They will cook down a lot. Feel free to add more. Once they cook down and soften, add salt and pepper to taste.

Sea Scallops: Here’s the fun part, the scallops! I cook them last because you want them to be warm when you eat them! If you know me, you know I am obsessed with Gordon Ramsey and all of his TV shows. He has a sure fire method of cooking sea scallops, so that they come out translucent in the center with a crispy crust on either side. I have been cooking sea scallops this way for the past 5 years and it is the best method out there! Here it is…

  1. Rinse your sea scallops and remove any feet (the crunchy thing that dangles off) – it doesn’t taste good to eat
  2. DRY THE SEA SCALLOPS WELL – the key to a good crust is to dry the sea scallops. Season both sides with salt and pepper
  3. Heat one tbsp of olive oil and one tbsp of butter in a pan until it is HOT. A good way to check if your oil is hot enough is to put a drop of water in the pan. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. If it doesn’t sizzle, don’t put your scallops in yet!
  4. Once the oil is hot, start putting your scallops in the pan one at a time, arranging them clockwise. (Watch my Instagram food stories to watch me do it!)
  5. Once all of the scallops are in the pan, I count to 120. Like 120 Mississippis! Once I count to 120, I flip the scallops over in the order that I put them in the pan. So, the first scallop that was placed in the pan gets flipped first.
  6. Then, count to 90. Again, 90 Mississippis! Have a paper towel lined plate ready to go. After you count to 90, remove the scallops and place them on the paper towel. Again, remove them in the order you put them in.
  7. In order to make a lemon butter sauce, I add another 1/2 tbsp of butter to the pan the sea scallops were cooked in. Then, I add a few squeezes of lemon. Again, we like a lot of lemon!

In order to assemble everything, put the risotto down first, followed by the greens, and finally the scallops with the lemon butter sauce on top. YUM!

exclusive pumping

My Journey With Exclusive Pumping

journey with exclusive pumping

Breastfeeding was always in my “plan” as a new mother. For some reason, I assumed everything would go just swimmingly, I would have no problems, and I’d nurse my son until he was ready to wean. I read all the books, read all the blogs, watched all the videos, etc. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Greyson latched right after birth. He fed like a champ all day long and was even cluster feeding in the hospital. The nurses were amazed at how naturally breastfeeding came to us and I felt like I was on top of the world. We went home, feeling confident… until our first night alone.

Greyson was inconsolable. He wouldn’t latch and more or less cried himself to sleep after HOURS. Jeff and I were beside ourselves. We didn’t know what to do or what was wrong. Was he hungry? Tired? Wet? In pain? We didn’t know whether to drive back to the hospital or whether he had colic. As sleep deprived, new parents, we were at a loss.

I called the pediatrician first thing in the morning, as Greyson hadn’t had any wet diapers in 12 hours. The first thing he told me was to buy was Pedialyte to make sure he wouldn’t get dehydrated. The second thing he told me to buy was formula and supplement my breast feedings with a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce.

“Formula? Why? I’m breastfeeding,” I thought. I’ve always believed in fed is best, so although I was sad that he wasn’t getting breastmilk from me, the only thing I cared about was his health and well-being. So I drove to the store, picked up what the doctor ordered and came home to feed my baby. Let me tell you, that kid DRANK. That sweet innocent newborn was so hungry and that’s when I felt terrible.

I knew my milk had come in, but apparently, it wasn’t enough. This kid was eating triple time in order to make up for the weight he lost since birth, which apparently was a good amount because he hadn’t gained any back. The pediatrician was concerned with his weight gain and encouraged the supplemental feedings in order to ensure he would gain weight.

The more formula I supplemented with, the more he wanted. It took the edge off the empty breast feedings and satiated him. However, being a new mom with no prior breastfeeding experience, I didn’t realize that every formula feed hurt my supply. To this day, I still think, “I could have breastfed more often, I wish I knew about pumping after feeding to increase supply, I wish I knew about power pumping, I should have just had him on a strict 2 hour feeding schedule,” and it eats me up inside.

After a few weeks of supplementing, Greyson started to refuse both the breast and the bottle. He would scream bloody murder every time I tried to feed him. I knew he was hungry. Considering what he had been eating and what he was eating now was next to nothing. Greyson would pull away from the bottle with every other suck and writhe in pain. He would burp or spit up and begin to cry. He would arch his back while he was feeding and even after. Something was up. I began to Google his symptoms (what every new mother does, but also what every new mother shouldn’t do because Google can be evil) and it appeared he might have acid reflux.

I called the doctor and described Greyson’s symptoms. He thought he might have acid reflux as well, yet another hurdle in our breastfeeding journey. He told me to supplement any bottle feedings with a teaspoon of baby oatmeal in order to thicken his feeds. In doing so, the hopes was he would keep the milk down, so it would stop burning his esophagus when he would spit up.

It didn’t work. Greyson would scream every time I tried to feed him. The more I tried to breastfeed him, the more he resisted. I was heartbroken. I called the pediatrician again and we went in for another visit. After checking him over, he decided it was time to start a low dose of medication. We had to get it from a special compounding pharmacy because Greyson needed an alcohol free medication, so it wouldn’t burn his esophagus even more.

We tried the medicine and I kid you not within a matter of days, he was sleeping 4 hour chunks through the night and eating normally. YAY! I was so happy. However, now every time I tried to breastfeed, he was traumatized. He had begun to associate breastfeeding with being in pain and so he refused me more and more. The lactation consultants told me that if he was going to resist me when I offered the breast to just “pump” and don’t worry about it. And honestly, that was probably the worst advice I received because then he stopped latching all together…

This is why I started exclusively pumping. Exclusive pumping wasn’t the vision that I had for myself. Exclusive pumping wasn’t a choice. Exclusive pumping isn’t easy. I still beat myself up every day thinking, “If I had just done this or that,” I wouldn’t be in this position. My son has been on a combination of breastmilk and formula for the past 11 months. I pumped 6-10 times a day for this kid and if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is! Now, my supply has dwindled to the point where I am pumping a total of 2 ounces per day. My exclusive pumping journey is coming to an end for Greyson and even as I type this, I get teary eyed. I know a lot of people don’t make it this long due to a variety of reasons and I should give myself a pat on the back, but ultimately, I still feel like I failed.

I am very thankful for the formula. The formula helped my son to remain healthy and helped provide him with the nutrients he needed when I couldn’t. My son is now in the 98th percentile for both height and weight. He is in size 18 months to 2T clothing at 10.5 months old. I know that the breastmilk I was able to provide him with was a huge part in that, but the extra formula he received was what helped him to grow to his full potential.

I am hopeful for any future children I have that the knowledge and experience I have gained through this experience will help me achieve my goal of breastfeeding exclusively for the first year of life. I am confident in my ability to identify acid reflux signs early on, so that my future children can get the help they need. And finally, I am hopeful that one day I will be able to see how much I have accomplished in these past 10.5 months with exclusive pumping and how I have provided for my son the best I could have.

Because I was able to exclusively pump for so long, I have gained a lot of knowledge that I am hopeful can help others. Read about my exclusive pumping tips and tricks here.

exclusive pumping tips and tricks

Exclusive Pumping Tips & Tricks

tips and tricks for exclusive pumping

Exclusive pumping was not in my original plan. I exclusively pumped for my son Greyson for nearly 11 months. Read more about my journey with exclusive pumping here.

I have learned a lot about exclusive pumping these past 11 months. I am hoping to share with moms who are going through something similar what worked for me can hopefully work for you! While not easy, exclusive pumping is possible.

Tip 1: Pump every 2 – 3 hours to mimic a nursing baby’s breastfeeding schedule

Part of exclusive pumping is ensuring that you are expressing your milk as often as you would feed a nursing baby. I would pump anywhere between 20-30 minutes depending on time, every 2-3 hours. As the baby gets older, you can go 3-4 hours between pumpings. At nighttime, I read somewhere that you shouldn’t go without a pump longer than 5 hours. My exclusive pumping schedule looked like this:

5:30 am-Wake up and pump

7:30 am

10:30 am

1:00 pm

3:30 pm

5:30 (if possible while cooking)

7:30/8 pm

For the first 6 months, I would do a night pumping between 12-1. After that, I skipped the night pumping because I was a ZOMBIE. Greyson was still waking up and stirring prior to six months, so I was up anyway and it wasn’t a big deal, but once he was sleeping better, I needed my sleep.

Tip 2: Lubricate your flanges with coconut oil

coconut oil exclusive pumping

This is a tip I learned from a lactation consultant. Putting coconut oil on the inside of the flanges or on the breasts themselves ensures that your nipple can flow freely in the pump as you go. I was getting so many plugged ducts and little cuts prior to using coconut oil. Once I started using the combination of coconut oil and hand expressing (which I’ll discuss next) I haven’t had one plugged duct since. You’ll know you have a plugged duct if you are very tender in an area and notice a decrease in milk output. Coconut oil is safe for baby, too! Trader Joe’s makes my favorite coconut oil!

Tip 3: Hand express after every pump

This is another tip I wish I knew early on. Hand expressing helps ensure that you get any left over milk out and helps to clear your ducts. The lactation consultant told me that as you hand express and you notice your milk spraying in 10 different directions that that is the duct clearing itself. Once the milk begins to spray as “normal” the duct is cleared. You also won’t feel any more tenderness in that area. You need to get in front of the duct in order to clear it, so the milk can begin flowing again. Read more about hand expressing here from Kelly Mom. Hand expressing also helps you get out a little more milk 😉

Tip 4: Buy at least two sets of pumping supplies and make sure you have the right size flanges

Having two sets (at least!) of pumping supplies is a game changer because then you’re not washing pump parts all the time. I would bring a large Ziploc bag to work to store my pump parts and bottles in the fridge after I used them. I had a private fridge, so I knew they would stay clean. I only used one set of pump parts per day because I always kept them in the fridge after I was done using them. This worked for me and I was okay with it, but that might not be true for you. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable! At night, I would wash all of the parts and put them in the sanitizer. My next set was all dry and ready for the morning from the night before.

Another important thing I realized after many plugged ducts is that you need to have the right size flanges. Your nipple should be able to flow freely in the flange and not have too much or too little room. Read more about flange size from Very Well Family here.

I learned that I am actually a combination of sizes, a 27 mm and 24 mm! That’s perfectly normal and I wish I had learned it earlier. I bought a pair of 27 mm flanges (28 mm with Spectra) and a pair of 24 mm flanges and then just used one of each set when I pump. I bought my extra pump parts on Amazon here! These were cheaper than Spectra’s parts and they were just as good! Be sure to replace your pump parts regularly as you will wear them out as an exclusive pumper.

Tip 5: BUY A PUMPING BRA

This is another thing I wish I had done earlier. I didn’t really think I needed a pumping bra. I was nursing half the time before I became an exclusive pumper, but still, this would have made it so much easier for me. A pumping bra holds the bottles, so you don’t have to! I was able to go hands free, especially with a rechargeable pump. This is the pumping bra I used. Tip: Buy at least two because you will need to wash it every day and it’s helpful to have extras. 🙂

Tip 6: Purchase a rechargeable, battery operated pump

I got a pump through my insurance, but it wasn’t the right fit. I was so restricted because I had to plug into the wall and sit there. The expression mode didn’t work for me, so I researched buying a hospital grade, rechargeable pump. That was the best decision I ever made! Not only was I able to take the dogs out, do the laundry, DRIVE (I know) and cook dinner, but it made the pumping time go by so much quicker. Wearing the pumping bra and using the rechargeable pump was the best. I purchased the Spectra S1 pump and I LOVE IT. I wouldn’t have been able to make it these past 11 months without it. I will use it for every future baby! The battery lasted a long time; at least 4 days with me using it between 6-8 times a day pumping for 20-30 minutes each time. Amazing!

exclusive pumping tips and tricks Spectra S1

Spectra is also an amazing company. My bottles warped after putting them in the sanitizer, so they sent me new ones, no questions asked! Be careful about sanitizing these pump parts daily because they will warp. I recommend a thorough hot water/soap wash and sanitize for the first use. After that, hot water/soap only and sanitize only if necessary. I use after market parts from Nenesupply and I am able to sanitize those daily, but it’s not totally necessary.

Tip 7: Squeeze while you pump

This is another quick way to get extra milk. As your milk begins to let down, squeeze! This helps get more milk out! I noticed an extra ounce or more when I squeezed my breasts as I pumped than if I didn’t.

Tip 8: HYDRATE

Part of breastfeeding in general is remaining hydrated and that stays true for exclusive pumping! I like to drink a bottle of water with every pump. I brought multiple reusable water bottles to work in order to make sure I was drinking at least 100 oz while I was at work. I also love water. 🙂

Tip 9: Supplements and Power Pumping

Galactagogues are things that can increase milk supply. These include lactation cookies, mother’s milk tea, fenugreek, oatmeal, etc. Read more about them from Kelly Mom here. Unfortunately, these things did not work for me. Just because they didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, so give it a shot!

Power pumping is when you mimic a baby’s clusterfeeding. This is also said to increase milk supply, but again, this did not work for me. A power pumping session looks something like this:

Pump for 10 minutes

Break for 10 minutes

Pump for 10 minutes

Break for 10 minutes

Pump for 10 minutes

Break for 10 minutes

Total: 60 minutes

After power pumping, it is said you will a difference in milk output the next day. You should power pump 1-2x a day.

Tip 10: Milk Storage

As I mentioned before, I had a private fridge at work, so I was able to store my milk in there. These Medela milk bags are by far my favorite. As opposed to others, they don’t leak and seal well. Tip: Lay down the milk in the freezer, so it is a flat bag. Once it freezes, it will be easy to store! I stored all of my milk according to the first half of the month and the second half of the month. For example, I labeled my freezer bags, October 1, October 2. I knew I needed to use October 1 first before I broke into 2. I also made sure my bag was packed the night before with everything that I needed (breast milk bags, coconut oil, nursing cover) before I went to bed, so I wouldn’t be rushing around in the morning.

What are some other pumping tips you have come across in your pumping journey?

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women's workout shorts

Top 3 Companies for Women’s Workout Shorts

Now that I’ve finally gotten back into working out after having Greyson (it only took me 10 months), fitting back into my workout gear has been a huge confidence booster. Surprisingly, I was able to wear my normal clothes most of my pregnancy, up until the last trimester when that little bug decided to pop! Here are my top 3 favorite workout shorts that I am obsessed with. Even though two of these workout shorts are labelled as running shorts, I still use them to do HIIT and weight lifting.

#1: Under Armour

I got the Under Armour Running Shorts off of Amazon years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t think they make the same exact style/design now, but the ones I am linking here and here are almost identical. These workout shorts are super comfy, have enough leg room, and are breathable. I really like the band because it is very flattering. I am wearing a medium in these workout shorts and they are a little big on me, but not so big that I would return them.

#2: Nike

I loved these workout shorts the second I saw them on the rack. The adorable pink color caught my eye and I could not be more pleased with their performance. Normally, I’m not a pink person, but if it’s the right kind of pink, I’m obsessed. They wick sweat away from my skin, so there are no weird sweat marks if I have a heavy duty workout. They also have a drawstring, so I can tie them a bit tighter or I can leave it dangling but tuck it in. I am wearing a size small in these shorts and they fit like a glove. I purchased my pair at Dick’s Sporting Goods and I’ve linked a similar pair here.

running shorts

#3: Lululemon

I love Lululemon Run Times shorts for doing sprints. They don’t chafe (neither of the other ones I listed do either) and they feel weightless. I can’t even tell I’m wearing them! I have these in 4 different colors and I’m always on the hunt for a new pattern. I will say, though, my favorite is plain old black! They do have a zipper in the back, so if you use them to do exercises while laying on your back, it might hurt! I size up in these workout shorts because I find that they run a little small for me and I don’t like my shorts to be super tight.

running shorts

What are your favorite workout shorts? I’m always open to hearing about new shorts to try!