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A Joyful Birth & Postpartum: My Recipe for Success

Jan. 10, 2018

After having had a difficult postpartum experience with my first child, I knew I would need to bolster my supports and work hard to set myself up for success with my second. At eight weeks postpartum, I am thrilled to report that I achieved my dream of a beautiful, joyful birth and postpartum. I hope the tools I list here are as helpful for others as they were for me.

Mother and Baby

After having had a difficult postpartum experience with my first child (you can read about that here), I was initially petrified to think of having another. When she was about 6 months old, I got rid of all her baby clothes, convinced that although I loved her with a love more intense than anything I had ever experienced, I could never go through “that” again. Fast forward to about three years later, after I started pursuing myriad forms of self care, and I was finally able to fathom going through another pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. By the time I got pregnant, I was referring to myself as “cautiously optimistic”-- optimistic that my pregnancy might not be a miserable period of nausea and self doubt; optimistic that I could have a birth that was not traumatic and where I felt fully supported; optimistic that I might have a postpartum where I felt I could ask for help and not be overwhelmed, anxious, and angry. 

I am now eight weeks postpartum and I can tell you that my most optimistic expectations became realities! My hope is that by sharing with you how I managed to turn things around for my second postpartum, other women can benefit from the wisdom of my experience. 

Santawearing

You will find below a list of the tools I found integral to this process:

  1. Therapy. This was the first service I pursued upon coming to grips with the fact that I was still in the throws of postpartum depression and anxiety, 2.5 years after my daughter was born. A therapist who specializes in perinatal mental health (perinatal refers to pregnancy through postpartum) can help you learn tactics to cope with the stresses of become a new parent, which can range from feeling like your body is no longer your own to constantly feeling irritated by your partner. Most women in our culture are shocked by how much a new baby throws one’s life upside down. Whether you suspect you have mental health issues or not, I recommend seeing a therapist at least a few times during pregnancy and in the first couple of months postpartum. I promise you, issues will arise! I worked with Leslie McKeough of Core Values, LLC in Lynnfield, and there are many other postpartum specialists on the North Shore and elsewhere.

  2. Posture and Core Work. You can learn more about how posture affects your core and pelvic floor function here. After experiencing chronic pain after my daughter was born, which was exacerbated by incorrect posture, I knew I needed to be exceptionally careful with how I carried myself during pregnancy. I was very consistent with my core and pelvic floor exercise during pregnancy, adapting it as necessary as my pregnancy progressed. MotherTend offers private posture, core, and pelvic floor training; email me for more information!

  3. Chiropractic. A good chiropractor who works with a lot of pregnant/postpartum women is an incredible gift during and after pregnancy! Adjustments realigned my spine and pelvis, allowing me to more effectively hold proper posture and making my muscles fire more effectively during core/pelvic floor exercise. It also turns out that my baby is not a great pooper; I now refer to my chiropractor as the “poop fairy” because every adjustment works it right out! I highly recommend Dr. Courtney Brooks Neill at Inner Source Wellness in Beverly for perinatal and infant chiropractic!

    Infant Chiropractic
    Dr Courtney performing a home visit to adjust mom and baby.

  4. Naturopathy & Nutrition Response Testing (NRT). NRT uses your neurological reflexes and acupressure points to determine what is causing illness or dysfunction, whether it be a pathogen, food intolerance, or nutrient deficiency. An advanced nutritionist/naturopathist specializing in NRT is not easy to find, but for me it has been one of the most life-changing services I have ever experienced. Through NRT, I found out that I was suffering from a parasite, in conjunction with several food sensitivities and nutritional deficiencies. Essentially this was causing me to have a “leaky gut” as it is often referred to in lay terms, which can in turn affect hormones, the thyroid, and basically your entire system. That explains why treatment for the parasite, diet changes, and supplements reversed the extreme weight loss I experienced postpartum and reduced my chronic pain levels, in addition to essentially eliminating my IBS, eczema, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. I fully realize this sounds like an “as seen on TV” type advertisement, but I cannot express enough how much this treatment helped me. Dr. Jennah Dieter at Healthcare Complete in Newburyport is incredibly knowledgeable and caring, and will take the time to answer all your questions!

  5. Build a Strong Support Network. I knew I would need all the help I could get this time around: I found a midwife who was aligned with my birth values, a doula with is both strong and loving, mom friends who “get it”... If you don’t have friends who are already parents, I strongly recommend joining a prenatal yoga class, a local parenting group, a birth class, La Leche League Meetings… whatever you can get to! I wish I had done this before my daughter was born; I was fairly young so my friends had not yet had children. It’s much harder to make new friends during the throws of postpartum anxiety-- plan ahead! 

    Doula
    Having a much needed chat with my doula (Jennifer Lynn Frye) about letting go so my labor could progress.

  6. Communication. Communicate with everyone in your support network: your partner, your family members, your friends, your birth attendants… even your neighbors! In a society that often fails to support mothers, it pays to be as vocal as you can about your needs, worries, and desires, leading up to and following your child’s birth. My husband and I had so many long talks after our daughter's bedtime during pregnancy. I felt so connected to him in a way that I had lost during postpartum with our daughter. One thing I have learned from my second run through all this is that nobody can ready my mind. If I want help with something or I’m unsure where someone is at emotionally, I need to ask. Your support people want to help you; they may just need a little direction! 

I truly believe that the above was the recipe for success with my second baby. I feel so grateful to everyone who has helped me achieve my dream of a beautiful, joyful birth and postpartum, and I hope these tips and tools help you to have the best experience possible, as well!

Mom and kids

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Postpartum Pads Tutorial

Nov. 8, 2017

As cloth diapers re-enter mainstream, “mama cloth” has also become more popular, but unfortunately it is still a niche market and cloth pads are relatively expensive. As it turns out, making them yourself is actually extremely easy as sewing projects go, and I’ll bet you can do it, too!


Postpartum Pads Tutorial

As I prepare for Baby #2 to make his debut, I found myself Pinning project after project on Pinterest. When it came down to it, I’ll admit I accomplished few of my sewing projects, as I was also finishing up work with clients, cleaning like a mad woman, and baking to freeze snacks for postpartum.


One of the projects I did manage to get around to, however, was making postpartum pads. I hate how much waste is involved in feminine hygiene products-- not just the products themselves, but the packaging, shipping, and production as well. I already have a Lunette menstrual cup and three pair of Thinx panties that I use as backup, but since nothing is meant to inserted immediately postpartum, I needed to come up with another reusable option. As cloth diapers re-enter mainstream, “mama cloth” has also become more popular, but unfortunately it is still a niche market and cloth pads are relatively expensive. As it turns out, making them yourself is actually extremely easy as sewing projects go, and I’ll bet you can do it, too!


All you will need is a half decent sewing machine, thread, about a ½ yard of fleece, ½ yard of flannel, and ½ yard of Zorb fabric, as well as either sew-on snaps or a snap setter. I sewed mine on myself because I was trying to save money. I suppose velcro could work too, but keep in mind that it will be loud when you remove your pad, which may be undesirable when using a public bathroom. You can buy pretty fabrics you love, but remember that a) no one is going to see these and b) it’s unlikely that they’ll stay pretty. I just used stuff I had on hand, aside from buying the Zorb online.


So, here’s what you’re aiming for:

Postpartum cloth pad

I started by looking at other people’s tutorials and patterns. I was unable to find one that I really liked; the first one I made had the flannel fabric going all the way out to the wings, which worried me because I wondered if liquid would wick into the flannel and around the underwear edges. What I wound up doing was using this pattern minus the wings to cut two layers of Zorb and then adding a (½ inch maybe?) seam allowance around it (again, no wings) to cut the flannel and fleece-- 1 layer each. Then I made wings separately out of fleece (1 layer but cut 2). My patterns looked like this; sorry I don’t know how to upload them to actual size so you can print them out!

Pattern

In the end, my Zorb was still a little too big to fit into the pocket created by the fleece and flannel, so I wound up trimming off another ¼ inch or so from the entire “Night/Heavy Pad” pattern.


Now, go ahead and start cutting. I found that the process was a little more efficient if I cut everything out at once and then sewed after, especially if I folded the fabric to cut more than one at a time. I prepped enough fabric for 8 pads, figuring I’d probably need about 4 per day. I’ll be doing cloth diaper laundry about every other day anyway, so it should work out well. Cut 2 layers of Zorb using the smaller pattern, 1 layer each of fleece and flannel with the larger pattern, and two wings from fleece.

Fabric

Next, lay your fleece right side up (if you pull on it in the direction of the stretch, it will fold inward toward the “wrong” side). Place the wings right sides down on either side of the narrower part of the fleece, with straight edges on fleece edges, so the curved edges face inward. Then lay the flannel right side down on top of that. It should look like this:


Fabric layers

Pin in place if you like; I found that the flannel and fleece stuck together relatively well so I didn’t bother. Starting at the edge of one end, sew all the way around to the opposite edge of the same end, leaving the end open for turning and inserting your Zorb.

Sewing tutorial

Trim off excess seam edges, but do not trim the open edge since you need that fabric to fold in on the next step.


Turn right side out and make sure the seam goes all the way around both the flannel and fleece, and that the wings are securely attached. Now take your 2 layers of Zorb and stuff them in the open end until they lie flat inside of the pad exterior.

Zorb

Once you get it all the way in, turn the edges of the flannel and fabric inward on the unfinished end and pin.

Pinning

Sew around the pinned area about ½ inch from the edge, then continue around the entire pad (excluding the wings) to make a nice border.

Topstitching

You’re almost done! Next I added a topstitch down the middle and on either side, just to help add a little contour for the liquid to get directed into:

Topstitch contour

You could do a fancier topstitch than just a straight line, but again, who’s gonna see it? ;-)


The last step is to sew or press on a snap on either side of the wings. You want the two snaps to overlap snugly, but without needing to stretch the fleece; otherwise it’ll pull on the edges of your underwear.


Voila! You did it! Admittedly, I sewed the snaps on after I took this photo. It’s a nice, mindless project to do while you watch a movie.

Postpartum mama cloth

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Biking with Baby (or child)

May 16, 2017

Are you thinking about starting to cycle with your child? We all want our kids to be safe and biking with children can seem daunting at first. There are so many questions to consider... Trailer or child seat? Rear- or front-mounted seat? Why are some much more expensive than others? What features are right for my family? This helpful guide from MotherTend will help you find the best option for you and get those wheels rolling!

Biking with Baby (or child)

Trailer or Child Seat?

The biggest decision most parents or caregivers struggle with when thinking about biking with children is whether it's safer/better to use a bicycle trailer or a child bike seat. Each has its advantages and disadvantages in both safety and convenience. 

The advantages of the bicycle trailer include:

  1. It is fully enclosed, essentially comprised of a full "roll bar" that protects the contents inside, even if it flips over, and it is lower to the ground than a bike seat
  2. If you fall over on your bike at a stop or slow speed, it stays upright
  3. You do not need to worry about steadying the bike while putting/strapping the child in
  4. If the child drops a toy or snack, it stays inside the trailer (as opposed to in your rear wheel or on the road)
  5. Keeps your child out of the elements
  6. Does not interfere with your stearing, balance, or ability to stand and pedal as much as a bike-mounted child seat
  7. Most models include some storage space for snacks, toys, picnic accessories, a few groceries, etc. (you can use a pannier with some bike seats, but the seat may block the rack somewhat)
  8. Many models double as jogging strollers and/or xc ski trailers
  9. Generally more comfortable if the child falls asleep
  10. Higher weight limit than a child seat and some models accommodate two children side-by-side

Bike trailer

The advantages of a child seat include:

  1. Higher off the ground = much more visible to cars
  2. Does not stick out further than you and your bike, unlike the trailer, which is a wider "target" for passing cars
  3. Fits better in small spaces, such as narrow sidewalks
  4. Locks directly to the bike so you do not need to carry an extra cable lock and spend extra time shimmying it to a bike rack
  5. More compact for storage, can go directly on a rear-mounted bike rack with your bike, takes less time to get ready to go (assuming you leave it mounted on the bike)
  6. Child can see more (according to my daughter, it's "more fun" than a trailer!)
  7. Child is closer to you, so you can see if she decided to try to unbuckle herself or her helmet, is choking on a snack, etc.
  8. You can hear what your child is saying better than if she's in a trailer a few feet behind you

Cute front mount bike seat

My Recommendation

Just like with all aspects of parenting, there is no one perfect solution for everyone. This is why I make different recommendations on trailer versus bike seat based on the parent/child duo. 

A bike seat may work best for you if:

  • You are an experienced cyclist or bike commuter, but one who intends to bike with the child for transportation, rather than exercise (i.e. you won't be trying to go super fast)
  • You will be traveling a lot in a city where you may need to fit in small spaces, such as hopping up onto a narrow sidewalk
  • You will be locking/unlocking the bike to a bike rack frequently
  • You are not traveling long distances

A bike trailer will likely be the better option for you if:

  • You are cycling for exercise, i.e. you may be going faster and do not want to be impeded by a bike seat, which can make standing to climb difficult
  • You are not an experienced cyclist or bike commuter, increasing the risk of you falling on the bike
  • You will be traveling on streets with bike lanes or wide curbs
  • You will be traveling long distances
  • You need storage space

Features/Brands

While we are lucky that there are so many options available today for biking with kids, it can be really overwhelming when you're trying to make a decision! If possible, it's always a great idea to buy in person so you can look at a few options and even try them out.  There are some features and brands I recommend and having tried out a couple different brands of both seats and trailers, I am happy to share what I have learned!

When I was still pregnant with my now almost four year old, I asked for the Croozer Kid on my baby shower registry. This decision was based on the fact that it was one of the cheapest trailers out there, it doubled as a jogging stroller, and awe also just happened to have had the same brand for our dog, believe it or not (yes, we're those people, ha!).

Dog trailer

Unfortunately, the Croozer turned out to be incredibly heavy and cumbersome, and not very comfortable for my daughter. Fast forward to a couple years later, when we decided to bite the bullet and give trailers another try. I was able to find a Chariot Cougar trailer that was in excellent condition for a steal on Craigslist. WE LOVE IT. Here's why:

  • It has decent suspension, making the ride more comfortable for our daughter
  • It's fairly lightweight and more streamlined than the Croozer, so we are a smaller/narrower "target" for passing cars
  • The seat is more supportive and comfortable, and there is more transparent plastic so the child can see better
  • It has a wide array of attachments you can buy, including one for cross-country skiing! This was a big sell for us, since skiing is possibly the only thing we love doing together than biking

XC Ski Trailer


We also have tried a couple different child bike seats. We started out with a front-mounted Yepp Mini child seat; it was designed in The Netherlands and we figured the Dutch know what they're doing when it comes to family biking! I did love having my daughter between my arms, where I could see that she was comfortable and safe. She loved being able to see everything I could see and feeling like we were basically snuggling. The down side to a front-mounted seat is that it impacts your steering quite a bit. Because it mounts on the front stem, you are limited in how far you can turn your handlebars. This is primarily only an issue if you are trying to make a U-Turn; I was able to make normal turns onto other streets just fine. The other down side to the front mount is that the seat may get in the way of your legs. Not only could I not stand to pedal, I had to pedal with my knees slightly rotated out, which is not ideal either for power or comfort. However, for short trips, it was super fun and we enjoyed it. I will say that what I did not like about the Yepp specifically was that the harness was always sliding down her shoulders and was difficult to adjust. it's also a rather shallow seat, in that there isn't much side impact protection. 


When my daughter grew too big for the front seat (you'll know-- you won't be able to see over her head anymore!), we decided to try a Thule RideAlong and it was the best decision! What I love about this particular seat is:

  • It has suspension, which makes the ride more comfortable for our daughter (also she thinks the bouncing is fun!)
  • It has a little bump-out on the side for a little more impact protection, as well as allowing you to lean the bike against a wall while you get your child in, without risking pinching they're little fingers between the wall and the seat
  • It reclines, so if your child falls asleep during the ride, her head doesn't bob around as much (this is such an important feature!!)
  • The straps stay up better than the Yepp and have more padding
  • It is super easy to adjust

Rear mounted bike seat

Other General Family Biking Safety

Just a few more things to throw at you before I leave you to it! First, no matter whether your child is in a trailer or bike seat, she should always wear a helmet. Second, if you are using a trailer, always ride with a visibility flag; if yours didn't come with one, buy one. It doesn't hurt to throw a few blinking rear lights on your trailer or child seat either, even during the day, especially if it's raining. Monitor your bike break pads for any wear and replace regularly, or consider investing in a bike with disc brakes (it will change your life!)-- child seats and trailers both add substantial weight to your bike, which subsequently adds momentum and makes braking slower. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for your seat or trailer; generally infants younger than 6 months of age or who cannot sit unassisted should not be transported by bike. Some families will put their infant in a car seat and place that in the trailer; this is not recommended as there has been no research on safety of car seats in trailers. Finally, and this is more of a general fyi than a safety tip, if you and your partner or another caregiver want to take turns biking with your child(ren), consider investing in a second trailer attachment or bike seat mount. That way you can swap without having to go through the whole installation process each time!


Have fun and be safe!!

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Fur Babies & Human Babies

April 1, 2017

Preparing Dog for Baby

Our dog was our first child... or so we thought until our "real" baby came along. No matter how attached you are to your pet, he will need to learn to share your attention and to get along with your furless baby. If you put some time and effort into preparing your dog for the transition while you are still pregnant, it will pay off when the baby comes by reducing tension and stress, for both you and your pet. 

Preparing Dog for Baby

Our dog was our first child... or so we thought until our "real" baby came along. No matter how attached you are to your pet, he will need to learn to share your attention and to get along with your furless baby. If you put some time and effort into preparing your dog for the transition while you are still pregnant, it will pay off when the baby comes by reducing tension and stress, for both you and your pet.*

*Note that this post is geared toward dog owners, as we did not get a cat until my daughter was older. For more on preparing your cat for life with a baby, see this ASPCA article.

During Pregnancy**

**Most of these tips assume that your dog already knows basic obedience, e.g. walking without pulling, commands like sit, stay, come, and leave it. If your dog does not have basic obedience skills, consider taking a dog or puppy training class, such as those offered at PetSmart.

I highly recommend keeping a bag of treats in your purse or coat pocket at all times. Pregnancy can make you tired and forgetful, and if you are not consistent about rewarding your dog for good behavior during this time, training will be less effective. Treat your dog for walking next to you without pulling. This may seem silly if your dog generally walks well, but especially give treats for being calm and staying by you when another dog, person, or animal is nearby. Think about how dangerous it could be if you fell while heavily pregnant, wearing your baby in a carrier, or pushing a stroller on a hill. On the other hand, think about how helpful it would be if instead of trying to take off when he sees a squirrel, your dog instead looks at you and salivates. That's what you want: you want him to associate a stimulus with a treat so that he is focused on you and listening. Don't skimp if your dog is picky; this is the time to pull out the big guns: cheese, hot dogs, bacon... whatever he can't resist. 

Leash walkingRefreshing our dog on good leash behavior.

Listen to baby sounds. There are plenty of videos of babies and children on YouTube. Get your dog used to those sounds and treat him for staying calm. Try having your dog do tricks (sit, speak, lie down, etc.) while the sounds are on so he learns to focus on you even when distracted. Again, don't skimp on treats.

If you have friends or neighbors with babies or children, ask if they would help you train your dog to be calm around children. Make sure they know beforehand that it will be a short visit and that you likely won't be able to socialize the whole time. At least part of your focus should be on your pet, treating him for staying calm, again attempting to get him to sit, lie down, etc. If the visiting child is older, and both dog and child are calm, ask if the child would like to treat the dog him or herself, even just by throwing the treat. You are trying to teach your pet that child/baby = food. Okay maybe that came out wrong... child/baby = I gets treats!

Look ahead to life with your new baby and how this will affect your dog's routine. About a month or two before your due date, start getting your dog used to that schedule so it does not come as an additional shock to him. For instance, if you are currently walking your dog three times a day, consider taking him for two walks per day. If you are planning on hiring a dog walker or having a friend help out for a time, have him or her come a few times before the baby is born so your dog is used to the new person. Don't shower your dog with extra attention in preparation for the coming decrease in attention; this will only make it more stressful for him when the baby comes. Gradually decrease attention and teach your dog the "go away" command: throw a treat several feet away and say "go away." Repeat several times a day for a few days and then begin saying "go away" without throwing the treat. When your dog moves away from you, say "yes!" and throw the treat.

Make sure your dog knows his toys from the baby's. If you have electronic baby toys, such as a musical play mat, turn it on once a day so your dog knows the sound, but again practice commands like sit and lie down, treating your dog for listening. If your dog likes to chew stuffed toys, teach him which ones are for him to chew and which ones are not; if he grabs the wrong toy, use the "leave it" command and redirect him to his own toys.

Refresh your dog on manners. If he has a bad habit of jumping up on you, be very firm about not allowing this behavior. Say "NO" and turn away from your dog, refusing to give him attention until he has "all four on the floor." If he likes to come up on the couch or bed and you do not want to allow that when the baby comes, get him used to this now. Do not feed him scraps of food from the table, since when your baby gets older and starts solids, he may just help himself! If your dog is a big barker, check out this article from the ASPCA on barking. This is one thing I failed to train out of my dog; some breeds are instinctively vocal and it can be really difficult! For those dogs, I highly recommend putting a sign up outside your door for package delivery people; between gifts and online purchases for the new baby, there will be a lot of packages coming and you don't want the delivery person ringing the doorbell unless a signature is required!

Spoiled doggyClearly our dog needed to learn a few more boundaries!

Get your dog used to your attention being directed toward something in your arms. A doll works well for this, but we used to do it with an oven mitt! Just hold something in your arms and coo at it, talk to it, sing to it, read a book to it... whatever activities you'll be doing with your baby. If necessary, use commands with your dog like "quiet," "lie down," or "go away." When your dog is calm, treat him and allow him to sniff the "baby." Your dog needs to use his manners again throughout all of this; if he does not, use commands to correct him or ignore him until he is behaving again, then treat him.

Meeting the Furless Baby

If you are planning a home birth, consider how your dog will behave during the process. We thought it would be nice to have our dog there so he knows what's happening and will be introduced to the baby that way, but he was incredibly anxious about all the hubbub, so we had a friend come and take him for the night. Even if you plan on letting him stay, have a backup plan in place so you have somewhere to send him if he is stressed by the process. Ask whoever is taking him to get him a good walk so he is relaxed when he returns home after the baby is born. Have your partner or someone your dog knows well there to greet him with attention before introducing him to the baby.

If you are having a birth outside the home, consider having your partner or someone your dog is comfortable with come home first to greet him with their full attention. It may also be helpful for this person to bring a receiving blanket with the baby's scent on it for the dog to smell before you bring in your baby. Have this person keep your dog on a leash when you come in with the baby if he still occasionally jumps. Reward him for staying down and calm; if he is too excited, ask your helper to take the dog out for some exercise and then try again.

Life with baby

Continue to treat and praise your dog for being calm around the baby and using good manners. If you were consistent about this during pregnancy, you may not need to be quite as diligent postpartum. It is, however, important for maintaining good behavior to continue to treat and praise periodically. Do not be surprised if your dog is initially confused or concerned. I swear our dog went through some of the stages of grief when our daughter was born. At first he was in denial and if I called him over, he would turn around and show me his back end, refusing to make eye contact. Then he whined at every sound the baby made. Finally, he settled in but admittedly acted a little blue about the whole situation. I am happy to say that he got over it and finally accepted the baby, and now that she's old enough to play with him and pet him, he enjoys the extra attention (most of the time!). 

Dog and baby"It's okay, doggy, someday you'll learn to love me!"

Exercise precaution in situations where your dog could get upset. Never allow your baby to be close to your dog while he is eating or to take a favorite toy from him. Your baby needs to learn good manners around dogs too; if she is bothering the dog, redirect her to her toys or another activity. When she is older, you can talk to her about boundaries and consequences around the dog. Always supervise your dog around your baby; if you need to step away, take your baby with you or put your dog in another room with the door shut. If you are still struggling to get your dog used to your baby, consider hiring a professional dog trainer to help. 

Don't forget that MotherTend provides pet care as part of postpartum doula care! It can be so helpful to have an extra person around to exercise your pet; they are much calmer and more likely to behave if they are tired. Check out my services page for more information on what a postpartum doula can do for you!

Dog walkerPhoto courtesy of Jessica Militello Photography.

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DIY Maternity Leggings

March 27, 2017

Maternity leggings
If you follow me on social media, you may have already heard the news; I'm expecting a new little one this fall! I was caught a little off guard by how much earlier baby #2 has decided to make its presence known via an expending waistline. My maternity tights from my first pregnancy are so stretched out and saggy that I decided to just toss them; I'm amazed at how much more they charge for maternity clothing and yet how horribly lacking it is in durability! Fortunately I figured out that it's super easy to add a maternity band to an existing pair of leggings. Really, I know you can do it!

If you follow me on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), you may have already heard the news; I'm expecting a new little one this fall! I was caught a little off guard by how much earlier baby #2 has decided to make its presence known via an expending waistline. My maternity tights from my first pregnancy are so stretched out and saggy that I decided to just toss them; I'm amazed at how much more they charge for maternity clothing and yet how horribly lacking it is in durability! Fortunately I figured out that it's super easy to add a maternity band to an existing pair of leggings. Really, I know you can do it!

MotherTend is Expecting

Right before I got pregnant, despite knowing that I was trying, I stupidly bought two new pairs of leggings from American Eagle. They were on sale and arrived already borderline tight, so I didn't feel terrible about deciding to alter them. I headed to Jo-Ann Fabrics and bought a yard of stretchy knit fabric. I was surprised that they didn't have many options in the stretch fabric section, so I wound up with a boring old gray. Next time I might buy online (fabric.com is a good place to start). 

Tutorial

Fold your fabric in half in both directions (so you have a raw edge at the bottom and folded edge at top, same on sides; some stretch fabric comes in a "tube," in which case it will already be folded in half sideways) and lay it out, making sure that the direction of stretch is side-to-side. Take a tight-fitting shirt and lie it on top, with one side of the shirt lined up with the fold of the knit fabric. Cut the knit fabric on the non-folded side to the same width as the shirt. Don't alter the height.

Shirt measure

Next, bring the fabric over to your sewing machine. If your fabric has a right/wrong side, put right sides together, lining up the raw edges you just cut. Pin if you want-- I was lazy and didn't bother. You'll need a ballpoint needle for this (usually the sewing machine will come with one), since they're made for stretch fabrics. Pick a setting that is also made for knits-- I have a Brother machine and picked a setting that sews and finishes seams at the same time. Once you're done with that seam, turn it right side out-- you will have a tube of fabric with a folded edge and raw edge.

Waist band

Now take your tights and cut off the waist band just below the elastic.

Waist band cut

Carefully place the fabric tube around the top of the pants, upside down, so raw edges of the tube line up with the raw edges you just cut on the pants. Pin with the pins on the inside of the pants so you can see them as you're sewing.

Pinning maternity waist band

Bring the whole thing over to the sewing machine and sew all the way around the raw edge. Give yourself a decent seam allowance... if you're trying to finish the seam edges and you have some extra fabric stick out, you can always trim it off afterwards. I made the mistake of sewing too close to the edge and had some raw edges of the new waistband exposed afterward, so now I'll have to hand sew them with a ladder stitch-- boo!

Sewing maternity waist band

Now pull the waist band upward so the seam is hidden inside and VOILA! You have yourself a new pair of maternity tights! You can wear them with the waist panel folded down (works well for early pregnancy), or all the way up (for when your belly is really popping). Wishing you a comfortable, easy pregnancy!

DIY Maternity LeggingsPanel folded down.

Full panel

Full panel.

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