Benefits of Having Pets and Babies in the Same House

Pets and babies. Do they mix? Absolutely! Thank goodness that’s the answer celebrity vet, Dr. Kate Adams gives to that question. Of course I already knew the answer to that question seeing as though Baxter and Brooks are already best mates! Take a look at the fun chat Dr. Kate and I had about all the benefits of having animals in the house. So often you hear about the negatives. Well… we are sharing several positives! So what good things are associated with lifestyles which include pets? Everything from greater socialization skills to better gut health to lower rates of asthmas and respiratory illnesses.

Read More
Nursery Themes that Create Baby Zen

Pulling together your first born's nursery - it's kind of a right of passage as a woman. Do you feel me? I was super duper excited about decorating our nursery from pretty much the pregnancy get go. I had these visions like you see in the movies. You know the type. Where the mom to be is heavily pregnant, painting the walls, while wearing cute overalls or something else cliche, with a big basketball showing through. Well, that didn't happen exactly! In fact at the end of pregnancy my basketball had turned into an overgrown beachball. People would often say things like, "Are you sure there aren't two in there?!" Haha! I had loads of fluid in my legs and feet. The last thing I felt like doing was painting!

But... I did manage to pull together what is very close to my dream nursery! It is so special. I spend a lot of time in there breastfeeding Brooks in the wee hours of the night, so it better be cozy. And if we want a zenned out little bubby, it better have a relaxing vibe. Tick. Tick. Tick! Check out the personalized baby bunting, teepee, play mat, and crib set by Hoot DesignZ. LOVE! We also have a salt lamp and a paradise iDream app going in there 24/7. Sometimes I wish it was my little nook for taking naps!

I went with the classic, baby blue as the main color, complemented by navy and black. Similar to our Central Park wedding, I knew I wanted the nursery to have a travel theme. Travel is near and dear to me because my husband and I dated internationally in some of the world's most amazing cities before he moved to NYC and then we moved to his home country, Australia. I focused on finding accessories that featured planes, trains, globes, maps, etc. I found an amazing company here in Oz that specializes in custom nursery designs. After telling the owner of Hoot DesignZ my ideas, she gave me several different fabric options. They were all great. How to choose!? I decided on the one you see here because I had read the contrast would be good for our little one's vision development.

Below you will find a Q and A with the owner of Hoot DesignZ, Rhonda Daniel about how to pick the perfect nursery theme for you and your baby. If you're looking for info about the French inspired, rocking nursing chair by Life of Style, click here. If you like the crib and change table from the Spindle range at Incy Interiors, click here.

Read More
An Easier Way to Swaddle, What Works with our Baby Escape Artist

An easier way to swaddle. Doesn't that have a nice ring to it!?! This post should hopefully help you find the best way to swaddle your baby. I think I have seriously discovered the secret to swaddling a baby in a way that is easy for parents, won't wake up the baby, won't scare the baby, and won't allow the baby to wiggle out!

When my baby boy, Brooks was born I had stocked up on about a dozen muslin wraps I planned to use for swaddling. While in hospital, my husband and I tried the swaddle method we had learned in our parenting classes. After Brooks wiggle out, we had a midwife show us another method. Well, we quickly realized we had an escape artist on our hands. Brooks would wiggle his way out every time. Because of all the SIDS warnings from our instructor and all the baby literature we had been reading in the months leading up to his birth, we thought we better find another way. As new parents of course we were concerned he could wiggle out, kick up the muslin, and God forbid something horrible happen. It wasn't an unhealthy fear, but something we thought we had better sort out. Along with the safety hazards, I also realized every time I would take Brooks out of the swaddle to change his diaper, I would end up waking him, by having to move him around so much as wrapping him in. Some of these small failures may have been because I was new at swaddling, but I just thought, there has to be an easier way.

I tried another method which involves a velcro swaddle. Although it kept Brooks nice and snug and he was unable to wiggle out, any time I would undo the velcro, he would get quite a fright from the loud noise. 

Finally... a break came that would help all three of us get some extra shut eye! Some Aussie friends of my hubby's gave us what they called a summer, newborn, sleep suit. They swore by it, so we thought we would give it a try. It was dummy proof! We would just put our newborn in the suit, and zip him in! Brooks slept very well in it. His little arms were up by his face rather than in a straight jacket at his sides. He was able to soothe himself by still sucking on his hands, albeit through the light fabric.

The sleepy suit as we now call it is called Swaddle Up by Love to Dream. We loved it instantaneously and haven't looked back since. As the weather turned a little cooler and Brooks grew, we moved up to a size medium and a thicker fabric. He just started rolling a couple weeks ago so we are now using a version that allows the wings to zip off, allowing his arms to move freely. We initially just unzipped one side so he could get used to the new sleepy suit. He now has both arms free and is certainly sleeping like a baby! There is also a twin zip feature that allows caretakers to unzip the sleepy suit from the top to get bubby out, or from the bottom up to change his/her diaper while minimizing disturbances in position. 

I can't recommend these enough! The only downside I can see is the price tag. It will run you about $60 a pop! But I have to say, it has been a lifesaver for me. I can easily see why it won the award of Most Popular Swaddle award last year from the Mother and Baby Awards in Australia.

Below you will find a Q and A about swaddling methods with the founder of Love to Dream, Hana-Lia Krawchuk.

Read More
Modern Moms Dress to Impress with Breastfeeding Friendly Fashion

I love fashion - beautiful dresses in particular. But it can be a massive challenge trying to feel feminine and fabulous when making sure I have easy access to 'the girls' in order to nurse my baby boy. I've made a conscious effort to seek out fashions to make this special time in my life a little easier. Because let's face it. It can be stressful to have a crying hungry baby out in public, trying to feed in peace. I believe wearing stylish nursing clothes will help me stick to my commitment to breastfeed Brooks. It seems every credible health (including WHO) or parenting website I go to recommends babies get human breastmilk for at least the first 6 months of their lives. So let's explore a few ways to stack our wardrobes with flattering clothes and accessories that take the stress out of it.

Although there are certainly days when I don't venture out of my activewear, don't wash my hair, or put on a stitch of makeup - for the most part at least once a day, I like to look halfway put together. It is easy to lose our identity as new moms. Putting all our time, energy, and effort into our bubbies, forgetting about what makes us feel like ourselves - particularly when we don't physically look or feel like our old selves. Nursing fashion has come a longgggg way! Even my friends with kids a few years older say they can't believe how the market and industry has evolved.  Nursing tops and bras have too. Medela offers several styles. At least one has holes complete for helping mamas pump!

Below you will find a Q and A with the founder of an amazing clothing retailer dedicated 100% to helping new moms look and feel great while nursing their babies. Verity owns Breastfeeding Wear Australia and has impeccable taste that won't break the bank! The fashions are all breastfeeding friendly, but not necessarily designed for nursing. You will want to wear these threads even when your infant grows out of the breastfeeding phase!

Read More
Baby Photographer Shares Secrets to Get Great Pictures

Looking at these sweet newborn images three months after Brooks was born, I almost can’t believe how small he was! Don’t get me wrong though. He’s still very much an infant, only recently able to hold his own head up (and it’s still a little bobbly wobbly!).

I’m currently back in the USA right now introducing Brooks to my friends and family. I put together a book filled with these images for his grandparents and great grandmothers. It’s a great way to treasure these moments forever… and a great way for them to easily show him off to their friends and family at church, in the neighborhood, and nursing home! ;-)

I am so happy my husband and I made the decision to take newborn pictures when Brooks was less than a week old. He is so cuddly and squishy! I am simply melting once again over these images!

Below you will find a Q and A with an amazing Aussie photographer, Kath Mclean. She shares why taking pictures early is best, how to get good light, what to do if the baby is crying, and several other secrets to snapping such heartwarming pictures.

Read More
How Pumping Helps Keep the Breastfeeding Commitment

I have been exclusively breastfeeding Brooks for 12 weeks now. Pumping has helped me get some necessary 'me time' that makes me the best mom I can be. I try to pump once a day to make sure there is some milk in the refrigerator for my husband to give Brooks if he gets hungry while I'm out and about for a couple hours. I have heard loads of moms complain about how having a newborn can be isolating. I believe it is very important to have a bit of time each day to myself. Activities that have helped me feeling good? Going for a coastal walk, enjoying lunch with a girlfriend, shopping at the local boutiques, or getting a small pump or swim on at the gym.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding newborns for at least 6 months, in combination with solid foods until 12 months, and continuing longer if mother and baby desire. The benefits for baby seem to be endless. Which is why I have made the commitment to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. But that's exactly what breastfeeding is... a commitment. I love how it helps me bond with my baby boy, Brooks, but as every new mom will tell you, there are a lot of challenges associated with it. Many women complain about cracked nipples, clogged milk ducts (and even sometimes getting sick with mastitis), overall breast soreness, and the need to never be too far from baby. Some moms have even said they feel chained to their baby by breastfeeding. Pumping can help new moms gain independence while still ensuring their babies reap the rewards of their mother's milk.

I love thinking about breastmilk like a superfood... made by me! It is such a special phenomenon. It makes me feel like super woman! Breastmilk contains antibodies to protect our babies from infection and disease.  It also contains nutrients that help with gut and brain development.  It is easiest and best for babies to digest and absorb.  I am making the commitment because babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory infections, diabetes (type 1), allergies, eczema, asthma, and obesity. 

Below you will find a Q and A I did about pumping basics with one of the leading pump brands, Spectra.

Read More
Baby Milestones: When Will Baby Do What!?!

Brooks has just turned 10 weeks old... or young I should say!  He is very smiley, lifts his head and can turn it from side to side when having tummy time, coos when he is on his own, and seems to almost try to get words out (cute random, sounds really) while making intense eye contact. As a new mom, I can't help but wonder, when he will laugh, roll over, crawl, walk, talk, etc. From my reading I have learned developmental milestones are grouped into the following categories: physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language. A great app I have been using for the last month or so is called, "The Wonder Weeks."

To learn about baby milestones, I have done a YouTube interview with GP,  Dr. Jill Gamberg from Double Bay Doctors. The video is below. She has also given us a few bullet points for reference.

Read More
Fox and Friends: A Special Baby Announcement

Brooks getting an international welcome via the number one cable morning show in the world, Fox and Friends. A very big thank you to my colleagues at Fox News in New York City for the most lovely way to announce the birth of my first born child, Brooks Kooiman Stuckey. My heart is absolutely exploding!!!

Read More
Belly Binding Post-Baby: Good or Bad Idea?

In the early hours after giving birth to my first born son, Brooks, I chose to use a belly wrap. I have read a lot about them and have friends who swear it has helped them get their 'inside bits back in order!' A woman's uterus needs to shrink back to its usual size and the bands are supposed to help. Critics say it is unnecessary because women have been having babies for the ages with out wrapping their bellies. But several friends have also told me the wraps have helped their tummies flatten out faster and that it's been good for building better posture. I have been wearing mine quite religiously and have noticed positive results. My doctor actually recommended that I wear mine while I begin gently easing into my new fitness routine. So far so good!

Below you will find a Q and A I've done with the three sisters behind the ever popular brand, Belly Bandit.

Read More
How to Prep Your Pup for Baby's Arrival

As I count down the day's until may baby's arrival, I can't help but wonder what it will be like to have my first born 'real' baby meet my first born 'fur' baby! HaHa I want to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. Baxter is a 100 pound yellow lab that has been my rock for nearly 11 years. I’ve had BaxMan since he was a few weeks old. He’s lived with me in Ohio, North Carolina, three New York City apartments, San Francisco, & now Sydney, Australia. He is one cool pup.

As I imagine most of you at home would agree, these fur babies truly are part of the family, aren’t they? So what happens when our families expand? How do our animals react to the new pecking order? What can we do to ensure our homes are not only safe environments, but also happy environments, free of unnecessary tensions?

Below you will find a Q and A with Baxter's doctor from Bondi Vet, Dr. Kate Adams. Dr. Adams is one of the brilliant vets who helped save Baxter from the infamous corn cob that nearly took his life a couple months ago. Read the piece I wrote for Fox News here.

I have found Dr. Kate's answers very useful in my quest to make my home both baby and doggy friendly. I hope her answers resonate with you or someone you know!

Read More
9 Months Pregnant, Final Beach Workouts with Speedo Fitness Club

I'm 9 months pregnant and about to pop! But I want to stay motivated until bub arrives. I feel as big as a whale and I've been dealing with a ridiculous amount of swelling in my feet, ankles, and legs, In fact I wrote about my 'cankles' in this piece for Fox News. But I feel so much better when I am active. So as long as I can, I'll be doing modified workouts.

I do plan on slowing down even more once I welcome my little man into this world. Along with the mommy/baby bonding, I also think recovery is so critical for both the mind and body.

In this video, Speedo Fitness Club manager and trainer, Levi Darby leads me through a less intense version of three exercises safe for month nine of pregnancy. Levi says his number one tip is to listen to your body. This is not the time to be increasing fitness levels. He also says to make sure not to let your heart rate or blood pressure get too high. And make sure to stay hydrated. Levi recommends focusing on low impact exercise and movements. Carrying the extra weight of your bub adds pressure to your joints as well as inflammation so avoid any sudden impacts or movements likely to aggravate. Practice positions that help prepare your body for birth. Deep squats are great for encouraging your pelvis to open and for your bubb to move into a great position for birth.

My friends, I truly hope these tips help keep you motivated though your pregnancy the way they have motivated me! As always, remember to always consult with your doctor.

LADIES: Please send this to a friend if you think she would enjoy this content from AnnaKooiman.com. And don't forget to leave me some comment love on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I LOVE to hear from you!

Read More
DIY Natural Baby Products, A Lovely Afternoon with My Sister-In-Law

Want to save some cash and save your baby from chemicals at the same time? I do! Read on to see what I mean.

I am now in my 39th week of pregnancy and doing last minute odds and ends awaiting my baby boy to tell us he's ready to come into the world. Hopefully my water breaks soon! LOL I am so ready to meet him and see his sweet face! This year for Christmas, my amazing sister-in-law gave me the perfect gift. She organized an afternoon together to spend some quality time while concocting some natural baby products. We had a lovely day putting together all kinds of DIY baby potions. I'm thankful she had the idea of pinching a few pennies all while enabling me to use natural baby products on my sweet boy once he gets here.

Below are recipes my sister-in-law found for homemade diaper cream, nipple butter, baby wash & shampoo.

Read More
Should I Eat My Placenta?! I'm Researching the Concept

"I'll have bacon, eggs, and a side of PLACENTA, please!" Wait, what's going on here? What world are we living in? 

I recently got into a funny television exchange about placenta encapsulation (steaming, drying, and consuming placenta in a vitamin-like pill form) while guest hosting my favorite Aussie morning show, Studio Ten. The topic came up during the commercial break, and given the hosts' intrigue with the concept, it was worked into our hot topics of the morning. Although not particularly common, each of the hosts had heard of the practice and all had different ideas on how it could be consumed. Raw? Fried in a pan with your breakfast? Baked like a brisket? Lolli-pops? Combined in a smoothie? Dried and encapsulated?

Most mammals eat their placenta after birthing their offspring. But does that really mean humans should be doing it too? Most other mammals also don't go to college, live in air-conditioned homes, or drive cars to work. But, for all the naysayers, I've had a couple friends tell me they ate their placenta after childbirth, and highly recommend it. The reasoning? It is believed, by some, to carry a whole host of benefits such as assisting with milk production for the all important breast feeding - and helping keep away postpartum depression.

The minimal scientific studies that have been done seem to be inconclusive as to the benefits, but that doesn't stop women from raving about it. A large amount of information I have found comes from published anecdotes from women who have consumed their placenta post childbirth and are true believers. They say it's helped their ability to  breastfeed and bond with their newborn, decreased blood loss, and improved mood and energy levels. On the flip side, many medical minds are skeptical, and strongly warn against it if the mother has an infection.

So here goes... Should I eat my placenta!?  I can't say it's a question I thought would be coming up a few days before I go into labor with my baby boy. Although the concept may sound quite out there, I am open to trying alternative practices, as long as reputable doctors (including my trusted OBGYN) don't think there is potential harm.

My baby boy is due any day now, so if this is something I'm going to try, I need to know it is safe, and I need to make sure a highly regarded placenta specialist is available. As part of my research, below you will find interviews I've done with Dr. Jill Gamberg, a General Physician from Bondi Doctors and Georgie Jhet, a doula who specializes in placenta encapsulation (recommended by my acupuncturist). If you are considering this practice, make sure you consult with your doctor first.

Ladies! Check out the full Q and A's below and let me know what you think. Is this too weird? Or is it something that will become mainstream down the track? Be sure to comment on my Instagram, Facebook, Twiiter, and YouTube pages.

Read More
The Best Baby Cribs, How to Pick One

As a first time mom, I am so so so excited about setting up the nursery. It feels like such a right of passage as a woman - and it makes this whole pregnancy thing seem REAL!

When it came time to choose the perfect baby crib, I had so many questions. After a lot of research about safety and a lot of scrolling through my Instagram feed at cute possibilities, I settled on a lovely white crib by Incy Interiors. It should be arriving any day now. I can't wait! I imagine a lot of you will have the same questions I had when I started this process, so I wanted to go to an expert for you! 

I asked the founder of Incy Interiors why she started the company and why she continues to be passionate about helping new moms find the perfect cribs/cots for their nurseries. Here is Kristy's response and a Q and A about how you can choose the best crib/cot for your needs. You will notice that Aussies call the piece of furniture 'cots' while Americans call them 'cribs.' 

Read More
Diaper Bags, Selecting the Ultimate Style for Your Lifestyle

Like most ladies, I LOVE handbags. So how on Earth am I supposed to choose just one diaper bag? Well, I didn't! LOL I chose two. But for very different occasions of course. :-) Both bags have several compartments and are backpack style so I can go hands free when need be.

Since moving to Australia I have learned a lot of Aussie slang and Aussie synonyms. Throughout this post you will notice Aussies call these functional accessories, 'nappy bags'.... while Americans refer to them as 'diaper bags.' I love all the cultural nuances!!

I knew I wanted a casual bag and a dressier bag. I also knew I didn't want an old school diaper bag that looks like a baby quilt. As a southern girl from the USA, I've had my fair share of Vera Bradley bags in my day, so I'm not doggin on that style, I just knew it wasn't for me, for this purpose. I also knew there was no way in hell my husband would carry a bag like that if it came down to it!

The casual bag I selected is by Uashmama, an Italian brand that has a gorgeous store in my neighborhood at Bondi Beach. I joke that I have seen a few 'yummy mummies' strolling around Bondi with this bag and it looks so chic and well suited for the area. The straps come off and on - and are easily attached to the pram/stroller. I actually have the bag in gold and have used it as a travel bag all over Asia, Italy, and Switzerland recently. But again, I thought a more gender neutral carbon color would be more suited for days my husband is on diaper duty. Here is the Uashmama link.

The dressier bag I selected is by Il Tutto, an Aussie brand designed in Melbourne. I love the black leather and gold detailing. This nappy/diaper bag is seriously, the ultimate! I can't wait to use the included accessories.  Here is the Il Tutto link

Before making my final decisions, I asked the Il Tutto owner and designer, Leanne Boyd, several questions about how to select the ultimate nappy/diaper bag for individualized needs. New mamas... I hope the information serves you well!

Read More
Active Truth Maternity Interviewed Me for Their 'How She Does It' Series

Active Truth has become one of my favorite maternity lines to wear at the gym or around Bondi Beach, Australia. It is an activewear company that serves women of every shape and size. Their designs specialize in super small to super big sizes so that no body is left out - and that includes pregnant women like me. I have tried out several lines of maternity activewear and just like some everyday-wear maternity lines, the quality is often sub-par. BUT, that is not the case with Active Truth. It is up there with Lululemon - and that's saying a lot in my book. Anyway, the founder, Nadia Tucker, recently interviewed me about my prenatal fitness routine for their 'How She Does It' series. The Q and A about my prenatal fitness and nutrition routine is below.

Read More
Battle Ropes Modified Workout for Month 9 of Pregnancy

Modified Battle Ropes Pregnancy Workout with Speedo Fitness Club: Trainer, Levi Darby leads me through a less intense version of the cardio session for month nine of pregnancy. Remember not to start new fitness routines when pregnant.

Read More
Tips to Style Your Bump from 'Ripe Maternity' and Yours Truly

Now that I'm in my 9th month of pregnancy, I feel like I finally have maternity fashion figured out! Ha! But I have to say in the first few months, there was a lot of trial and error. It's a funny spot for all of us first time mommies to be in. First we notice that we just look a little thick, bloated, or chubby and we don't know how to keep looking and feeling great in the fashion realm. We also don't know what we need to buy and what we can skip in order to save some cash.

Then once the big bump actually comes in, we enjoy feeling our bub kick, twist, and turn in our tummies... and also enjoy people knowing we are pregnant and not just packing on the pounds!  We are then left to figure out what we can wear that will accentuate our cute baby belly, and conceal some of the less flattering body changes that come along with pregnancy. We are also again left wondering what maternity fashion pieces to invest in and which ones to pass on to save time, money, and precious closet space!

So what has worked for me? I have found the two pairs of maternity jeans I invested in early on have each been worn about 1,000 times. I have a few body con dresses that I have worn for television gigs, parties, or nice dinners. Long flowy dresses with empire waists have also been a staple - particularly as I have been getting bigger and more uncomfortable! In fact, as I creep toward due day, my fashion has really been heading in this direction! ! When I'm not in activewear, I am almost 100% of the time in a long dress and Birkenstocks. This combo covers up my fluid filled legs and ankles - and supports my aching feet! I have also found BIG accessories work wonders with a simple black dress.

As you will notice from my social media posts, I have had a lot of luck at Ripe Maternity. The clothing is good quality, on trend, and many pieces can double as nursing attire once baby arrives.

Below you will find a Q and A with the co-founder and creative director of Ripe Maternity, Lisa Balakas.

Read More