5 Holiday Must Haves for Happy, Healthy Expecting Moms

Expecting moms deserve the best. Here are five holiday must-haves to treat yourself or the mom-to-be in your life.

1. Chewbeads – mommy chic, baby safe.

Greenwich Necklace by Chewbeads

Greenwich Necklace by Chewbeads

The idea for this fabulous company started shortly after the birth of the founder’s son. Soft, non-toxic jewelry that is colorful, chic and, above all else safe. Tons of colors and styles to choose from!

2.    Holiday MocktailsFive tasty recipes for the holiday season.

Cran-raspberry martini

1 tbsp crushed raspberries
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
½ cup all natural cranberry juice
Splash of raspberry flavored sparkling water
Garnish with a thin stirrer with raspberries on it

3.    Special Occasion Dress  — Rent it for just $50 from fashionforwardmaternity.com.

Jacqueline Beaded Long Cocktail Dress

Jacqueline Beaded Long Cocktail Dress

Why buy when you can rent something you’ll only need to wear one time! Rent a designer special occasion dress for just $50, including shipping, and look fabulous this holiday season.

4.    Yoga DVD: Elemental: Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga The program demonstrates exercises safe for all trimesters and they are quick and easy workouts. Many doctors will say the more limber and stronger you are, the easier your birth. This DVD features postnatal exercises as well.

5.    My Baby Book: A Keepsake Journal for Baby’s First Year

This is not anything like a baby book. It’s a birthday book! It was born from the simple idea that birthdays provide the perfect annual opportunity to preserve a sweet moment in time as your child changes from year to year. From the first birthday to age eighteen, this journal contains space to stick birthday photos, fun and thought-provoking interview questions to ask your kid, and a time-capsule envelope for stashing away birthday cards and other odds and ends that represent each year.

Stylish Maternity Sweaters You’ll Love

We’re only a few weeks away from the official start of winter and I’m looking forward to bundling up and bringing out the warm, cozy sweaters. When you’re pregnant, especially nearing the end of your pregnancy though, needing new items for winter may not be something you look forward to spending money on. Instead of buying several sweaters or trying to make do with bulky layers, why not try renting maternity clothing that will keep you looking stylish and fashionable all winter long.

Our collection of stylish maternity clothing, including a great selection (more than 25!) of maternity sweaters that rent for just $23.50 per month it’s both easy and affordable. Shipping is free and all of the maternity clothing from www.fashionforwardmaternity.com is new or nearly new and all items are professionally cleaned using an eco-friendly cleaner before they can be rented. Still have questions? Check out our FAQ page to learn more!

Six Holiday Travel Tips: Low Stress Traveling with Kids

One happy traveler!

AAA predicts 43.6 million people will drive or fly at least 50 miles from home over Thanksgiving this year — wow! Many of those traveling will be families, and whether you’re traveling with an infant for the first time or with little ones who need lots of entertainment on a long flight, we’ve pulled together some useful holiday travel tips that you can use to make the trip a little less stressful and a lot more fun for everyone!

Bring a water bottle for each child (and for yourself!). Even though in most airports you can’t even bring a full water bottle for your child through security, bring the empty water bottle and fill it up just before you get to the gate. I know with my kids, a few sips of water can go a long to maintaining a good mood. If you are breastfeeding and traveling with an infant, make sure to bring a water bottle for yourself. I was constantly thirsty when I was nursing and you don’t realize how long it takes to get that first beverage until you are breastfeeding during takeoff and there’s not a drop of water in sight.

Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. In our family, we can never bring enough snacks on a trip. I like to pack a variety of things that travel well so the kids have a wide range of choices. And even though most times we’ll never get through our whole bag of snacks, that one time we were stuck on the tarmack for 3 hours(!) it was a lifesaver for us to have them along. A lollipop can really help on takeoff and landing for kids who are old enough. And for those who are still nursing, try to wait until you’re sure you are taking off or landing before you let your baby start to nurse . .. it can take a long time to get from the gate to the runway.

Bring a change of clothes! When you’re traveling as a family it’s unlikely you can get away with no checked bags. But I’ve learned from one too many trips where I thought I didn’t need to bring a change of clothes, that it’s a mistake not to! Now I just pack a small carry on suitcase with a change of clothes for everyone in the family in case of spills, accidents, and missed flight connections.

Pack an activity bag. Whether traveling with an infant, toddler, preschooler, or school age child a well-packed activity bag can go a long way to creating a pleasant trip for everyone. If you have a diaper bag along you can always pack a few extra toys, maybe one or two new ones or things your child hasn’t played with in a while, to keep them busy. For the toddler or preschooler, I usually pack books, crayons, paper, small travel games, and these wikki stix which are great for my kids for at least a half hour! If you can, let your kids help pack some of their things so they get excited and are involved in the trip. If you have older kids and have an iPad or other device, having a movie along can certainly make the trip much easier!

Take breaks. If you’re driving, hit rest stops regularly to prevent your kids from getting stir-crazy or going into tantrum mode in the car. For every two hours on the road, children need at least 15 to 30 minutes to stretch their legs and run around.

2 year-old reading airplane magazine while mom nurses 2 month-old!

Carseat, Baby Carrier, Stroller. If you’re flying with a child under 2 years old, it’s best to bring a car seat on the plane if you can. If you don’t want to pay for an extra seat though, and if you aren’t lucky enough to get an empty seat next to you (unlikely to get that these days!) we recommend bringing a hands-free carrier (like the Ergo, Boba, Baby Bjorn, a sling, you get the idea) that you can use once you are in the air. My babies always slept really well in our Ergo and being able to walk around and let them fall asleep once it was safe was a life saver. You’ll be really glad you brought a stroller with you, not only to get through the airport, but especially with all the extra gear you need to bring. I often ended up carrying our baby in the Ergo and packed the stroller down with all of our gear!

If you plan well traveling as a family can actually go smoothly! While you probably won’t get a chance to read that book you’ve been wanting to, or watch a movie yourself, you can manage to have a pleasant trip. Did you hear about this family who went so far as to hand out goodie bags to every passenger on board when they traveled with their infant twins? What do you think? Nice gesture or did they go too far?

We’ll be heading out to Upstate New York in a few days and I’m already starting to put together our activity and snack bags! How about you, are you heading out for Thanksgiving this week? Where are you going?

Maternity Clothing Tips: 5 Maternity Pieces You Should Never Buy (Rent Instead!)

Pregnant women today are luckier than ever. With a vast selection of stylish, high quality clothing and accessories, including new maternity clothing lines being launched by celebrities almost every time we turn around, it’s easier than ever to look beautiful and stylish.

One of the most innovative options available today is the ability to RENT designer maternity clothes. Sure, you may want to purchase some key staples and there are some pieces that you’ll wear again and again, but there are at least 5 items that you should never buy – and now you can rent them instead!

  1. Special Occasion Dress. Why pay $250 or more for a nice, fancy maternity dress that you need for your cousin’s wedding when you’re 8 months pregnant? Rent it instead for just $50! Plus, there’s no need to clean it—just return it using the prepaid shipping label!
  2.  Designer Denim. You know you’ll miss your favorite pair of jeans when your growing belly makes it impossible to fit into them, but maybe you’re not willing to spend the big bucks on a pair of designer maternity jeans. All denim rents for just $23.50/month to keep you comfortable and stylish.
  3. Maternity Work Suit. It’s one thing to invest in several nice suits that you can rotate in your work wardrobe. But when you know that you’ll only need a maternity suit for about 3 months, it’s painful to think about paying $200+ for even just one nice maternity career suit. Fashion Forward Maternity has a great selection of maternity suits and each piece (blazer, skirt, slacks) rents for $23.50 per month so you can get three different suits over the course of three months for what you’d pay to buy just one!
  4. Summer Maxi Dress. Picture this. . . you’re 8 months pregnant and it’s the middle of June. As you go into those warm summer months you realize you need some maternity clothes but who wants to buy a summer wardrobe that you’ll only end up wearing for 2 months? This is an ideal time to rent a few summer pieces, like a stylish and easy maternity maxi dress, that will keep you feeling cool and looking beautiful.
  5.  Winter Coat. A maternity coat is probably the last thing you thought you’d need to purchase (I know I thought I wouldn’t need one!) But then it’s cold and you’re trying on your husband’s huge down jacket and you quickly realize you can’t quite get away with wearing that all winter long.  You could spend $225 for this nice-looking jacket OR you could rent a great coat for 2 months for a total of $100.

About Fashion Forward Maternity

Based on the idea that all women should feel CONFIDENT, BEAUTIFUL, COMFORTABLE, and STYLISH during pregnancy, and every day, Fashion Forward Maternity is an online boutique where savvy professional women can rent high quality and designer maternity fashions at a fraction of the price of new to serve them throughout their pregnancy and nursing time.

We then “pass it forward” by donating all gently used clothes that can no longer be rented to organizations around the country like Dress for Success, Goodwill, and Operation Shower. Our unique model lets women choose the pieces that allow them to maintain their style and fashion-sense during pregnancy and to keep their wardrobe fresh.

Renting your maternity and nursing wardrobe gives you:

  • The right fit throughout your pregnancy and nursing time.
  • Hundreds of styles and sizes to complete your look.
  • No wasted time and energy shopping in overpriced boutiques.

Check us out at http://www.fashionforwardmaternity.com. We’d love to know what you think about renting maternity clothes — please leave us a comment!

Seven Great Gift Ideas for New Moms

Now that Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching it’s time to start thinking about the holidays and gift giving. I just love this season and the smells (mmm, is that apple pie baking?), lights, and sounds that signal the end of the year is approaching. I’ve rounded up this list of seven gift ideas that are perfect for a new mom, one for each day of the week. There are so many simple gestures that a new mom will appreciate after the past 9 months of pregnancy and getting used to life with a newborn, from delivering meals so she doesn’t need to worry about cooking dinner to stocking her fridge with healthy snacks. Even a short visit where you hold her baby while she takes a shower can go a long way in helping her feel good!

All the kind gestures aside, here are some of my favorite gifts for a new mom and her baby:

1.  Baby Carrier. My favorite way to carry my baby during the first few weeks was in a sling. It allowed me to have my hands free and for baby to be snuggled close and safe. There are so many different slings out there today and yes, some styles have been recalled for safety issues, so make sure you choose the right one for you and most importantly, that you use it correctly. I love this design from our friends at Boba, though I never had a chance to use it with my babies.

2. Breastfeeding TopsBefore my first baby was born I hadn’t really even considered special nursing tops. But once I was breastfeeding and found how much easier it was, especially when I was out and my baby needed to nurse, I knew I needed some quality nursing tops.

3. Books. Believe it or not, I found time to read with a new baby, especially once I got the hang of breastfeeding. One of my favorite baby books that I referred to often during the first two years is Dr. Sears’s The Baby Book.  For a fun read with stories that will make you laugh and cry, check out this book about breastfeeding.

4. Mom and Baby Jewelry. A gift of jewelry that shows mom’s love for her baby and lets her share it with the world is something I think any mom would be proud to wear. Our friends at Hot Mama Designs have a great selection of styles that you can customize for the new mom in your life.

5. Diaper Bag. Just because you’re a mom does NOT mean you have to give up your style. A good diaper bag will become a necessity and will replace your cute purse probably for the next few years, but no one will even suspect it’s a diaper bag if you go with one of these gorgeous designs by Amy Michelle Totes.

6. Spa Gift Certificate. Every mom (new and experienced alike) can use a short break. A gift certificate to a spa where she can step out to get a quick manicure or pedicure will give her some quick alone time and will make her feel great!

7. Postpartum Doula. While a new mom’s caring for the baby, who takes care of her? This is where a postpartum doula can work wonders. Postpartum doulas, who specialize in helping families after a baby’s birth, can take care of Mom by washing the dishes, making dinner, or doing the laundry. Plus, doulas are trained to look after newborns, too, so they can help out with the baby when needed. Hire one for a few hours or an entire day and Mom will thank you forever.

So, there you have  it. A gift idea for every day of the week. Now go on and pamper the new Mom in your life. I promise, she’ll be so grateful!

Have you adjusted to the time change?  I was so happy (and a bit surprised that I was this happy) to wake up this morning to find that it wasn’t dark out at 6am! Got to take the dog for a run without feeling like it was still the middle of the night and feel really refreshed and ready for the day. We’ll see how I feel about darkness at 5:30pm tonight but for now, I’m loving it. How do you feel about the end of daylight savings time?

Holiday Dressing: Great Maternity Dresses & Nursing Dresses

Even though Halloween is still a few days away, it’s time to start thinking about what to wear to the holiday parties that are right around the corner. I’m usually going through my closet at the last minute, finding I have nothing to wear, and too late to do anything about it. This year, I’m vowing NOT to do that. At the same time, I don’t want to spend a lot on a few different “holiday” outfits that I’ll probably only wear a few times. I’m actually thinking about trying out a rental service. . . I have too many dresses in my closet that I’ll never wear again, and the concept of renting a special occasion dress just seems too good not to try.

At Fashion Forward Maternity we have  nearly 100 maternity dresses in stock, some more casual ($23.50/month), some more formal ($50.00/month), that you can rent for one month or more. We even have a great selection of nursing dresses that are oh-so-practical for the new mom who wants to look great and still be able to nurse baby without having to completely undress to do so!

We recommend ordering early enough so that you can be sure the dress fits perfectly — and if not, you can exchange it for a different size or a different dress. Since we carry maternity fashions from more than 20 different designers there are plenty of styles that are sure to please. Don’t use your pregnancy as an excuse not to participate in the joys of the holiday season! Take advantage of the fantastic and flattering designer maternity fashions available today, from a simple black cocktail dress to a gold, jeweled nursing dress. You’ll be sure to look beautiful, get loads of compliments, and you’ll feel great about not breaking your budget by doing the smart thing and choosing to rent your maternity dresses for the holidays.

What do you think? Will you be renting a maternity dress or a nursing dress this holiday season?

10 Great Ways to Get Back in Shape After Baby

Even if you were really committed to exercising and healthy eating during pregnancy your body went through lots of changes and you may need to jump start your exercise routine after your baby is born. You want to be careful about starting vigorous exercise too soon, but most women can begin to do 20-30 minutes of cardio after their 6-week post-natal checkup. Just remember to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine, especially after giving birth.

Here are 10 great ways to help you get off the couch and back into a healthy routine after your baby is born.

1. Start Walking! After the initial shock of the sleep deprivation and general feeling of being overwhelmed caring for another human being 24 hours a day subsides, start by taking short walks in your neighborhood with your baby. The Surgeon General says that pushing a stroller 1-2 miles in 30 minutes burns 150 calories.

2. Breastfeed, seriously. When you’re breastfeeding, you need an extra 500 calories a day, or about 2,700 total. But since breastfeeding burns 600 to 800 calories a day, even if all you do is sit comfortably and feed your baby, you could still be losing weight. But beware, this doesn’t happen for all women, and some overcompensate by eating more than they need to while breastfeeding. Make sure you’re getting plenty of water and adjust your eating and exercise routine as your baby starts to incorporate solids into her diet and you are breastfeeding less frequently.

3. Yoga. Whether you take the time to go to a yoga class by yourself or take a Mommy and Me yoga class with your baby, this is a great way to stretch and move your body after pregnancy. A regular yoga program has even been shown to improve your mood and boost energy levels so what’s not to love. Some yoga studios specialize in pre and post-natal yoga, like this one in my home town. Look around, you might be surprised to find a very family-friendly yoga studio in your area.

4. Pure Barre. I recently tried out the regular classes at a local Pure Barre studio and WOW! These are a fantastic way to quickly get strengthen your body and tone your muscles. They have franchises all across the country and offer a special new moms bounce back package and describe their offering as follows: Pure Barre is the safest and most effective way to get back in shape after your baby. In PB there is no impact, you can work at your own pace and it focuses on the areas that need the most attention post-baby (abs, hips & thighs). To help you bounce back after your baby, we offer a special priced 3 month unlimted package for new moms. Check your local studio for details and read the new mom testimonials below to see how PB helped them bounce back! All I can say is that I wish this had been around after my pregnancies!

5. Running. Within about 6 weeks after giving birth (longer if you had a C-section) most women should be able to begin cardio workouts of about 20-30 minutes 4-6 times per week. Running can be an easy way to get out and exercise with your baby if you get a good jogging stroller. While baby naps or takes in the view, you get a nice workout in and get some fresh air — it’s a win-win.

6. Swimming. I was a huge fan of swimming for exercise during pregnancy and I think it’s a great way to get your body moving again after your baby is born. It’s very low stress on your body and really gives you a full body workout. Many gyms offer excellent child care and you can drop baby off for an hour and have some quality time for yourself in the pool. I always felt so rejuvenated after a good swim and felt ready for the often demanding job of being a new mother.

7. Lift Weights. Why not incorporate your baby into your weight lifting routine! You can follow this short workout from Fit Pregnancy to add some strength training and flexibility to your routine.

8. Watch what you eat. Experts advise against going on a diet right after birth, but it is important to watch what you eat. Avoid those empty calories found in sodas and chips. Instead, go for healthy options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy. Also, eating more small meals throughout the day will help you maintain healthy sugar levels and will keep you feeling good and energized throughout the day.

9. Take naps. Studies have shown that women who get more sleep tend to keep extra weight off. Since your sleep cycles will likely change with a newborn in the house and you probably won’t get more than a few hours of sleep at a time, take advantage of your baby’s naps during the day and get some rest yourself. Don’t make the mistake many moms do of cleaning or cooking during the entire time your baby naps because you’ll miss out on that precious nap time for yourself!

10. Join with other new moms. Finding some other moms to exercise with will really help you to maintain and enjoy a new exercise routine after your baby is born. Having friends who can motivate you goes a long way in sticking to a plan.

5 Rules for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise is important during all stages of life, but it can be especially helpful and powerful during pregnancy. Not only can it improve your mood, it can even go a long way towards an easier birth. If you already have an established routine you can probably continue most of what you’re doing, with some modifications as you get further along in your pregnancy. If you’ve been a bit of a couch potato up to now, don’t delay. Now is the perfect time to start a safe, regular exercise program.

We’ve compiled this simple list of 5 rules for safe exercise during pregnancy.

1. This might seem obvious, but it is recommended that you avoid contact sports during pregnancy. In addition, experts recommend that most women steer clear of sports that might throw off your balance easily, like downhill skiing, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

2. The importance of staying hydrated cannot be underestimated. When you’re carrying a baby, it’s even more important to make sure that you’re getting enough water throughout the day. When you’re exercising regularly, you’ll want to bump up your intake even more. How much should you be drinking? A good guideline is to drink one cup (8 ounces) before you exercise, one cup for every 20 minutes of exercise, and one cup after you finish your workout. In hot or humid weather, you’ll need more.

3. Listen to your body. When doing any form of exercise, don’t overdo it, and if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t the right thing for you to be doing. Your body is constantly changing during pregnancy, and what might feel fine one week may not feel right the next. Just listen to your body and make sure that you’re continuing a safe, healthy routine.

4. Take time to cool down after your workout. It’s easier to get light-headed during pregnancy, so make sure that if you’ve worked hard and got your heart rate up while exercising, that you take the time to cool down at the end of your workout. Take 5 or 10 minutes to let your body get back to its natural resting state by walking or doing safe stretches.

5. Make it a habit! As with any exercise routine, it’s most beneficial if you can keep it up on a regular basis. You don’t need to do the same activity every day, but try to get in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 to 7 days a week. You can keep it interesting by varying your routine — great safe exercises during pregnancy include swimming, prenatal yoga, pilates, walking, and dancing. For many women, running and weight training can also be safe to continue. But as always, make sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program!

Did you have a favorite exercise routine that helped you stay in shape during pregnancy? My favorites, hands-down, were swimming and yoga!

How to Choose Your Baby’s Pediatrician

So you’re getting close to your baby’s due date. Have you thought about whom you will choose to be your baby’s pediatrician? While it may be going a bit far to interview every pediatrician in town, I do recommend getting some advice from friends you trust who have children and then finding out a bit more about the doctors’ style and philosophy on some key items. Many pediatricians will offer a “meet and greet” appointment just for this purpose, so scheduling a couple of these appointments 6-8 weeks before your due date might be a good idea.

A couple of good questions to ask during this interview to help figure out if you have found a good fit include:

  • What are good reasons to get a second opinion from a specialist? (A good answer is because either the pediatrician or the parent wants one. A parent should be able to get a second opinion if they think it is important.)
  • How long should I breastfeed my baby?
  • What is your basic philosophy on discipline, potty training, immunizations, prescribing antibiotics, etc.?
  • What is your opinion on alternative medicine, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, etc.?

There are also some practical matters to consider when choosing a pediatrician. Some of these include:

  • Is the pediatrician on your insurance plan?
  • How close is the office to your home, to your office?
  • Does the office offer same day sick appointments?
  • What hospitals is the pediatrician affiliated with?
  • Is there a doctor available on-call after hours?
  • Are there separate sick and well waiting rooms?

It’s important to remember that it doesn’t necessarily matter whether or not your pediatrician went to the best medical school or finished first in her class. You are really looking for someone who is going to care about your child, listen to and respond to your needs, and be available when you need her. Choosing the right pediatrician is important. While you can simply change doctors if you don’t like the first pediatrician you see, if your child is truly sick, the first doctor you see could be making extremely important, life changing decisions about your child. Trust your instincts, but know that it may take several visits or even several years to know for sure that you’ve found the right pediatrician.

When to Get Maternity Clothes

Japanese Weekend 2 Piece Light Summer SweaterMost women will want to start wearing maternity clothes by the end of the third month of their pregnancy. For some, you’ll “pop” much sooner, especially if this is not your first pregnancy. You may not yet be showing but you will notice that your clothes are no longer fitting right and it’s becoming harder, not to mention uncomfortable, to button those pants you’ve been wearing all along! Even if your clothing still fits in other areas such as in the legs and through your hips your waistbands will be too tight and your blouses may pull. You’ll be thrilled the first time you try on maternity pants with a panel or elastic waistband.  When you find the right fit and style you might even wonder why you waited so long.

One of the key things to look for in maternity wear is comfort. Look for high quality materials that are soft and comfortable. Pants, skirts, and shorts will typically have elasticized panels for longer wear but some brands are now making hidden elasticized side panels that don’t look like the typical maternity pants but fit and expand as your belly grows.

As your body changes as your pregnancy matures there are certain areas that will change the most. Your waist and breasts will get bigger, your belly will begin to stick out, and some women will even gain a little weight in their thighs. It’s hard to predict how your body will change during pregnancy and it’s often the case that the pants you bought in your third month will begin to feel too tight and your shirts may even ride up and expose your belly, during the last month or two of your pregnancy. That’s one of the reasons that we feel that renting your maternity clothing is ideal. You get to pick the clothes you want and that fit well. And as your body changes, or as the seasons change, you can exchange them for other maternity pants, maternity tops, and maternity dresses that fit just right.

When deciding on a fabric for your clothing it is best to choose cotton tops. This is because cotton breathes and will not leave you hot and sweaty, as Maternal America Statement Topyou will have a tendency to feel warmer than normal while you are pregnant. If you are worried about wrinkles purchase clothing with a cotton blend. For pants, skirts, and shorts you will most likely notice that these are made from blends of cotton with a small amount of spandex.

All in all, the best type of maternity wear is what you feel comfortable wearing. We recommend a mix of classic pieces that you’ll be happy wearing on a daily basis and a few fun tops and accessories to keep your look fresh and unique.