Friday, May 23, 2014

Pregnancy Items I'd Love to Review

There are lots and lots of items on the market that are designed for use by pregnant women.  But some of the biggest day-to-day problems still aren't addressed.  I would love if someone would invent these products, I would review them in a second:

1.  Belly protection - Being pregnant while having an older child in the house is wonderful and magical.  That older child really gets to interact with your growing belly.  However, toddlers/preschoolers are accidentally dangerous.  They don't mean to kick/punch/headbutt your belly, but it happens - and you fear every time that a little tiny person is going to fall out of your uterus.  Pregnancy Kevlar vests or something would be a great idea to wear around the house.

2.  Extend-o arms - I know that there's no way to really make your arms longer, but it would be nice if there were some sort of hook or something that could help you put on socks in the morning, or clip/paint your toenails.  There's a certain point in pregnancy at which you just sort of think, "Eh, flip flops are fine, even if my toenails look like a wild animal's."  

3.  Belly rearview mirror - I'm not sure how else to say it, so I'll just go for it.  After a certain point in pregnancy, personal grooming becomes a guessing game.  Please take this poorly-illustrated cartoon as an example of a pregnant woman's field of vision.  
So clearly drawing hands and faces aren't my thing.
That grey area is the area that a woman can see effectively when she's looking downward.  Anywhere from the belly down pretty much becomes a mystery.  You could be growing a goiter on your upper thigh and have no clue (I know that's not medically possible, but stay with me here).  If there were some way to attach a rearview mirror to a belly belt or something so that you can see what you're shaving, it would certainly make things easier.  I don't know many people who love going to weekly OB appointments with unruly body hair all over their lower half.

4.  Food-o-meter - I think I'm fairly well on-top of what you're not supposed to eat when pregnant.  Anything lunch meat-y, fish with mercury, soft cheeses, caffeine.  Wait, there's also herbal tea, alcohol, raw vegetable sprouts, sushi, and more, you say?  Wouldn't it be nice if there were some little sort of food-tasting device that you could put a little bit of the food in question into, and it would tell you if some sort of baby-harming bacteria or chemical is in it?  I suppose a phone app is probably more practical, but sometimes you are really craving that roast beef sandwich and want to know if "just this once" will hurt things or not.

There are lots and lots more, but these were just the ones that came to my mind based off of my last 24 hours of pregnant existence.  I would give any of these the most positive review ever.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Maternity clothes on a budget

There are something like 4 million babies born in the US each year.  I’d guess that would mean there are something like 3.25 to 3.5 million pregnant women, after accommodating for multiples (does that sound reasonable?).  WHERE ARE THEY ALL FINDING THEIR MATERNITY CLOTHES?  I ask this in super-serious all caps because I have scoured most of the state I live in, and I can barely find anything.  What I do find feels like it’s ridiculously expensive for something I’ll wear four or five months at most per pregnancy.

Target does have a maternity section (our local Wal-Mart and K-Marts do not, so I’ll skip mentioning them).  We have a pretty decent-sized Target, and yet there are maybe only three small racks of maternity clothes, and even fewer styles.  Despite the fact that this is a discount store, even the most basic V-neck tees generally run $20 or so.  Their online offering is more robust, and using their Cartwheel app can sometimes score you some discounts that makes it worth asking fellow mamas where the Target is with the biggest maternity section.

Old Navy and Gap both have online selections that are really pretty good.  Their in-store selection definitely varies based off of the location.  Our Gap’s maternity section is at the back of the babyGAP, and it’s about seven or eight racks’ worth.  I’ve found that they generally carry the more expensive items in store, which can be a little annoying, but their pants are probably the most comfortable on the market.  The key is to try and hit at the end of a season and score on the sales (both in-store and online).  Old Navy’s in-store selection is a little more haphazard, in my experience.  It seems less organized, and all of the items are sort of just thrown in a little corner.  I have been able to find a few sale items that I liked, but prefer to shop their selection online, and then return in-store if something doesn’t fit.

Motherhood is our local store that clearly has the biggest selection, as it’s entirely dedicated to maternity and nursing garb.  I will admit – I will usually go to their store to try something on, and then order it online.  The reason for this is that they seem to run more sales online than in the store (a common sale is to buy two clearance items and get the third free).  I also find a bigger selection of petite pants online than I generally do in-store.  

JC Penney and Kohls have a very, very limited section for us locally – two or three racks in each store.  Their selections online are definitely more complete, but a little pricier than most of the above options (other than the Gap).

These next two places don’t have any stores local to me, so I don’t have any experience with them in-store, but they’re both great choices for cheap, cute items.

Asos is a site that I believe originates out of the UK, but they have a US site.  They have lots of options that are inexpensive and trendy.  They have a lot of casual stuff, maybe less in the way of work gear if you work in a formal or business casual office.

H&M has probably the best maternity selection I’ve seen as far as looking remotely modern, and the prices are incredibly reasonable.  What’s great is that you can also pick up some kids’ items at the same time for a low shipping price.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced Breast Pump

While nursing the Pickle, I used a Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced breast pump.  I pumped in varying degrees during the entire two years that she nursed, so I became very familiar with it.

The PISA is sort of known as one of the main workhorse pumps.  It's a dual pump, so if you're more coordinated than I am (this shouldn't be tough), you can pump both sides at the same time.  It has two speed settings - when you first begin pumping, it is a faster/harder suction to accommodate the initial letdown.  Then, after about two minutes, it slows down.  I ended up needing to press the button to go back to the first setting usually just to work with my particular needs, so I sort of wished at the time that it didn't automatically change the suction setting, but I think that would be a bonus to people with more standard needs.

With the pump, you get the following items (or at least you did 3.5 years ago) - cooler bag with ice pack, standard-sized flanges and connectors, tubing, an AC adapter unit for mobile use, and four Medela bottles.  Mine also came with a little sample of a few milk bags, and some Medela lanolin.  We didn't want to have to completely wash all bottles every single evening - since I was pumping multiple times a day at work and even more at home, this meant that we needed about 8 extra bottles.  The bottles have come down in price since then; at the time, this meant about $15 for three extra bottles.  I also needed a different sized flange.  Once I figured out the best system, it worked great.  Our daughter had a small mouth, so we pumped around the clock for the first few months - other than the fact that I felt like the pump was talking to me during the middle of the night pumping sessions on zero sleep, it worked really well despite all of the rigorous use I put it through with round-the-clock pumping.

I got my pump in July of 2010 - it worked great for about a year, and then the motor burnt out.  This was part of a big group of pumps that had this issue during that time frame, so I was able to contact Medela and get a new one sent out immediately.  Their customer service was great - they express sent me the new one and prepaid shipping packaging, so all I had to do was box up the old pump and send it back.  

I'll be using the same pump with our upcoming arrival.  I don't see any reason to change - the only reason I might have considered changing would be to get a hospital-grade pump, but I think those are much more expensive.  This one works great for the cost.