Cloth Diapering with a Front Loader

Okay, so I am slowly, slowly working my way through a post that I think will be relatively interesting, but it’s taking me forever. In the meantime, I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, because it took me ages to figure out a good system for keeping the smell out of my cloth diapers while only washing them twice a week. This system also seems to have done away with our persistent diaper rash problem, so it’s a double win. I know most of you don’t cloth diaper, so please skip this post (because truly, it will be BORING), but I want to put it up there for those who do cloth diaper, in case they may find it helpful.

Our cloth diapering situation:

– we have a mixture of Kawaii baby pocket diapers (both day and overnight heavy wetters), GroBaby/GroVias and a set of bamboo inserts.

– We use fleece liners to protect diapers from creams and to protect Monito’s skin from wetness.

– My in-laws watch Monito during the days and are willing to use cloth diapers for us.

– We have a front loading washing machine.

– I work outside the home (80% of full time) and can only wash cloth diapers 2x a week (every 3.5 days, instead of the recommended every 2 days)

– Our son has very sensitive skin and we battle eczema and diaper rashes constantly.

– We were having really bad odor problems–the diapers smelled very strongly of ammonia when wet.

– I had tried four different detergents, and while they all worked well for a few washes, eventually the smell returned

Dirty Diaper Storage System

– I take apart diapers (remove inserts from pockets/covers) after I change them. I keep pockets/covers in a hanging wet bag, fleece liners (and the washcloths I use to wipe his skin) in a separate, smaller, wet bag and urine soaked inserts in a diaper pail (I just got the ubbi and I really like it so far). I separate them mostly to save space; the diaper pail doesn’t have the capacity for 3 days worth of shells and inserts, and since the inserts smell worse, I put them in the pail and leave the pockets/shells in the bag.

(Also, my inlaws keep their dirty diapers in a wet bag with a zipper.)

– I rinse poopy diapers with a sprayer into the toilet. I keep them in an old tupperware by the bathroom until I’m ready to wash the diapers. They generally don’t smell if they’ve been rinsed, and Monito doesn’t poop much, only once ever 1-3 days, so I never have more than three poopy diapers in the bathroom at once. Sometimes I bring them down to the laundry (in the garage) if I happen to be going down there.

Soaking/Rinsing/Washing System

– On Tuesday nights I soak the pockets/covers and the inserts. Since they are already separated, and because they don’t fit in one bucket, I soak them separately. I use big buckets (from Home Depot) and fill them with cold water, 1/4-1/2 cup of powdered Calgon water softener (cheaper than the liquid stuff), a tiny bit of mild detergent and 1/2 cup baking soda. I use an agitator to mix them up with the water before I let them soak. I keep the fleece liners and washcloths separate throughout the process (they sometimes have creams on them, and the creams have to be kept separate from the rest of the diaper pieces or they will hinder their absorbency).

– On Wednesday, when I get home from work, I empty the buckets and put the pockets/covers and inserts into the washing machine. I ring out the inserts by hand before putting them into the washer. I put vinegar in both the detergent compartment and the softener compartment of the machine (about 1/2 cup total) and then run a “quick wash” load on cold. This rinses the diapers well with vinegar (which is necessary to offset the pH change created by soaking them in baking soda) and gets all the water out of them before they are washed.

– When that run is done, I add the wet bags (which haven’t been soaked in baking soda) and do a big load. I put 3/4 (of the recommended total) cap of liquid Calgon water softener (the powdered stuff clumps in my detergent compartment) and 1 scoop of Nellies Laundry Soda in the detergent section of my machine and run a Cotton/Normal load, on Warm. I also switch the spin cycle to the highest and the “soil level” to the highest (to add agitation time), plus I add 2-3 extra rinses. (These are all options on my LG washing machine.) The whole run takes almost two hours!

– When that load is done, I hang the pocket/covers and put the inserts in the dryer. If it’s sunny on Saturday (I wash the diapers on Wednesday and Saturday) I will hang the inserts in the sun (this further disinfects and helps remove stains/smells).

– I soak the fleece liners and washcloths separately from the diapers (only for a few hours) and then do them on a separate quick run or with the towels. I have enough fleece liners to last a whole week.

Assembling Diapers

– I assemble all the Kawaii pocket diapers at once, and give them to my inlaws on Monday and Thursday mornings. I assemble the GroBaby/GroVias and overnight diapers as I use them.

 

So that is my system. I think the thing that has really made a difference in the smell situation is using the Calgon water softener when I soak and wash the diapers (evidently our water is very hard, and the build up of minerals makes the diapers smell, and makes them less absorbent) and soaking them in baking soda. I also wonder if the vinegar rinse helps keep away diaper rash (it’s one of the ways you treat diapers when you have thrush).

Either way, this system works really well for us. It’s hard to get diapers clean using a front loader (because the diapers are never fully submerged in water), but soaking/agitating seems to help. Now my diapers smell great, even when they’re dirty. I was just noticing that the diaper pail doesn’t even smell bad when I open it (it used to be abominable), and Monito hasn’t had a diaper rash in over a month, so this system clearly works really well for us.

I hope this post is helpful to someone. It’s the product of months and months of research and trying different things until I finally found a solution. It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it to keep over a thousand disposables out of landfills. It’s also saving me money, since we already had everything from using with Osita.

Do you use cloth diapers? What system works for you?

Breast Is (Not Actually?) Best

Last week the Fearless Formula Feeder wrote about a study that just came out, a study suggesting that children who are fed breast milk don’t actually outperform children who are fed formula on a series of metrics. In previous studies, breastfed babies out performed their formula fed peers, but in this study they did not. The difference? SIBLINGS!!!!

In a study based out of Ohio, 8,000 children were compared. 25% of them were siblings who were fed differently (one breastfed, one formula fed) during infancy. When comparing children from different households, the breastfed children measured better on 10 of 11 outcomes, but when comparing the “discordant sibling pairs” there was virtually no difference between the children.

Slate.com’s New Study Confirms it: Breast-Feeding Benefits Have Been Drastically Overstated states it like this:

When children from different families were compared, the kids who were breast-fed did better on those 11 measures than kids who were not breast-fed. But, as Colen points out, mothers who breast-feed their kids are disproportionately advantaged—they tend to be wealthier and better educated. When children fed differently within the same family were compared—those discordant sibling pairs—there was no statistically significant difference in any of the measures, except for asthma. Children who were breast-fed were at a higher risk for asthma than children who drank formula.

Wow. So the only significant difference between children who were breastfed and those who were not is that the children who were breastfed were at GREATER risk for asthma. Eye opening, isn’t it?

A review of the study on Babble.com, explains why this shows us what others studies could not:

Studying siblings is the key component here. Siblings raised in the same family — one who was breastfed and another who was bottle fed — were compared, as opposed to children from different families. This factor is hugely important because as the study’s lead author, Ohio State University assistant professor Cynthia Colen notes in a press release, “Many previous studies suffer from selection bias. They either do not or cannot statistically control for factors such as race, age, family income, mother’s employment — things we know that can affect both breast-feeding and health outcomes.” The study then measured those siblings for 11 outcomes, including BMI, obesity, asthma, different measures of intelligence, hyperactivity, and parental attachment. Guess what? There was no difference in the siblings who were breastfed over those who were bottle-fed.

I, for one, am immensely grateful for this study and its implications. I believe the “breast is best” campaign has gotten out of hand and studies like this go a long way in supporting women who are finding that breastfeeding is just not working for them (or simply didn’t want to breastfeed in the first place). I love the way Jessica Shortall describes it on Has “Breast is Best” Jumped The Shark: (spoiler: yes, it has):

The “breast is best” thing has totally jumped the shark. I understand, and applaud and am grateful for, the early crusading work of women who have fought the fight to make sure that breastfeeding is promoted, valued, and legally protected – because there was a time when it was none of these things. Every single time I nurse my child somewhere while I’m out and about (never a fun or comfortable experience, but one has to leave the house eventually, and it’s frowned upon to leave the baby alone at home), I think about these women with gratitude. I am grateful to them because I know that if someone approaches (and reproaches) me about it, I am protected by law – even here in the grand old State of Texas – to feed my child.

But here’s the thing – this “breast is best” thing has taken on a tinge of accusation and a tone of judgment. “Breast is best” no longer comes across only as “…so leave the poor woman alone who is trying to nurse her hungry baby on a park bench.” It no longer comes across as just “provide a lactation room for new mothers at your workplace – one that does not require her to sit on a germy toilet while she produces food for a baby.”

Lately, it’s starting to sound a bit like “…so if you don’t do it, you obviously don’t love your baby or want what’s best for he/she.”

That is exactly what it’s starting to sound like. And when studies like this come out, I don’t see how any woman can be made to feel guilty for making the best choice for her, even if that means not breast feeding.

I think breastfeeding is great. I WISH I could have a positive breastfeeding experience. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for me. At all. In fact, breastfeeding has been the opposite of positive, and I know I’m not the only one. Yes, I think breastfeeding is great, but I don’t think it’s great that women feel pressured to breastfeed, despite low milk supply, treatment resistant thrush, recurrent mastitis, unsupportive pumping situations at work, prescribed medications that are not safe while breastfeeding. Many women choose not to breastfeed, and many don’t even have a choice. These women shouldn’t be made to feel inferior, and the “breast is best” campaign has become a force that can do just that. I’m so glad this study helps clarify that while breast milk is great, it’s not the end all, be all of infant feeding, that babies who are formula fed do just as well as their breast fed cohorts. In fact, they have exactly the same chances of being happy, healthy babies who grow up into happy, healthy kids as breastfed babies have. And I, for one, think that is truly awesome news.

Are you surprised by these findings? How do you think they will shape the “breast is best” rhetoric? Do you feel differently about your infant feeding choices/circumstances knowing these results?

Eczema

My poor baby boy has some pretty awful eczema. His stomach is covered in aggravated red patches. He arms and legs are covered in rough, scaly skin. His face and head have been completely taken over by cradle cap (which also manifests at rough, scaly skin that flakes constantly). The poor boy is just plagued by dry, dry skin.

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At his three month appointment the doctor assured me it was just eczema caused by severely dry skin. She suggested I slather him up with something 3-4 times a day to keep his skin hydrated, but she didn’t really have a suggestion of what I might use. I said I was using shea butter (100%, raw, nothing else added) and it seemed to have helped his cradle cap but wasn’t making much difference on the rest of his body. She said to keep using it, just use it more frequently.

The thing is, I really don’t think it’s going to be enough. I’ve read testimonials all over the internet saying that shea butter is AMAZING for eczema and I had high hopes that it would help my son’s rash but it doesn’t seem to be touching it. Neither does coconut oil, or a balm made out of both. Nothing natural seems to be working.

A friend’s friend recommended CeraVe (her son also has very bad eczema), so I picked up some of that. It seems to have helped a little; the rash on his stomach seems less aggravated than it was, but it’s definitely still there. I’m continuing to use it three times a day but I don’t think it’s going to clear it up completely. Perhaps nothing will.

I hate that my poor boy’s body is covered in this stuff. It looks so painful. It clearly itches, he’s constantly breaking his own skin on his head and face, making himself bleed. I put him down to sleep tonight with newborn mittens on his hands, otherwise he’ll wake up with a face that looks like it got in a fight with our bitch of a cat.

I will admit, I wanted to use only natural ingredients on my son’s skin. I have done a lot of research on what natural butters and oils best combat the dryness that causes eczema. I had such high hopes that shea butter or coconut oil would help, but they don’t seem to be making much difference. So now I’m ready to turn to some of the more intense creams, you know, the ones with ingredients I can’t pronounce.

So here is where I ask you, dear readers, what you recommend. Have any of you dealt with stubborn eczema? What worked/works for you? Right now I’m doing the following:

– using only unscented, super sensitive laundry detergent

– washing him with California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo every night

– rubbing unscented baby oil all over his body before I give him a bath

– slathering his entire head and face in shea butter 3x/day

– slathering his body with CeraVe 3x/day

– slathering his body with a shea butter/coconut oil balm before bed

– using Aveeno oatmeal bath 1-2x/week (I can’t really afford to use it more frequently–that shit is expensive)

Do you have any lotions or treatments you recommend? Is there anything else I can be doing to make this better. Babies are supposed to have super soft skin; my poor boy’s skins is scaly red rash. It makes me sad.

Systems

As a suffer of ADD, I am easily overwhelmed by tasks that others find routine or simple. Disorganization is a huge part of my life and if something needs to get done, I need to have a system in order to do it. These systems are of the utmost important. Not only do they assure me that important tasks get accomplished, they also bring me invaluable piece of mind. Knowing what steps are necessary to complete my most important tasks makes me feel like I have a handle on my life.

Right now I have two very important systems that I’m falling back on. One is the pumping/bottle feeding/washing parts system. My system is not all that elaborate but right now, it works for me. Knowing what I need to do and when helps me feel in control of the whole situation; when I see bottles lying around the house I don’t feel overwhelmed, I know where to put them and what to do with them. This is important to me.

The other system is for cloth diapers. I am using cloth diapers again, much to my mother and mother-in-law’s dismay. They both think I’m taking on too much but I feel strongly about using cloth diapers, especially this time around. For one, it saves us money. We already have EVERYTHING we need, and it all required a considerable investment the first time around. This is when all the supplies I bought last time become worth my while; I’m not about to give them all away and use disposables, especially when paper diapers cost as much as they do. I also feel I have to take advantage of my awesome washing machine, complete with sanitize cycle. I washed my daughter’s cloth diapers in the coin-fed washing machine under my old apartment. Now I have my own machine so I don’t have to wait for anyone else to be done and I don’t have to hoard quarters to do a load. With all the supplies, and a washer/dryer at my disposal, it seems obvious to me that cloth diapers are the best choice.

These two systems are small and relatively unimportant but they bring structure to my days. They help me feel like I know what I’m doing, like I have even the slightest handle on my life. When all the household tasks build up around me, falling back on those systems make me feel like I’m accomplishing something. And right now, I really need to feel like I’m getting something done.

My maternity leave is more than half over. I have to start thinking about going back to work. I have so many little projects I need to get done before that happens. Most importantly, I need to get Monito’s room ready. This includes a lot of steps, like cleaning off and selling the computer desk and moving the elliptical machine (we only need to move it from one wall to another but I don’t know how we’ll manage even that–the thing weighs hundreds of pounds). Then I have to build his crib and organize all his things. Right now the room is in varying stages of disarray; we only really use it to change diapers and store his clothes. A lot needs to get done before that room is ready, but I need it to be set up by early January so we can start sleep training this boy before I go to work. Blerg, just thinking about it stresses me out.

I also need to clean our room, badly. There are so many piles of shit in there and they all need to be sorted, organized and stored so we can move some of the stuff from the computer desk in Monito’s room into our room.

I’m also going through Osita’s stuff, culling the crap she’s accumulated in the three short years of her life (really it’s all from the last 18 months, since we moved into this house). I’m throwing some out (actually, giving it away), moving some into Monito’s room and organizing the rest in her space. I hope that by doing this now, I’ll have made space for the mountains of stuff she’s sure to get from “Santa.”

All these spaces… I don’t have systems for how to tackle them. It leaves me feeling ineffectual and overwhelmed. So I fall back on the systems I do have, trying to take some solace in the fact that I can manage my pumping/feed/wash regiment and that I can keep my baby boy in clean cloth diapers and clothes. These are important reminders when everything else is feeling so out of my control.

What systems are important in your life? How do you assume control when things feel overwhelming?

“Don’t Quit on the Hardest Day”

I am in awe at the outpouring of support and information bestowed upon me in my last post. Bloggers I don’t even know came over at the request of my readers to give me tips and advice. Everything everyone said was useful, relevant and helpful. I now have so much more hope that my breastfeeding relationship will improve with time, effort and diligence.

By far the best piece of advice I got was “don’t quit on the hardest day.” (Thank you Cloud). I really love that sentiment and while I don’t think I’m the kind of person who would quit in the heat of a horrible moment, it helped to be reminded that the hopelessness I was feeling yesterday was based on the despair of a nadir moment. Things aren’t always that bad and continuing to breastfeed doesn’t always seem that tortuous. It was good to be reminded of that, and to promise myself that I’d only consider stopping after days and weeks of a better experience.

The other piece of advice I really clung to yesterday was actually from an old post of my own, that I happened to come across randomly yesterday when I was reading posts from a year ago (a practice I cherish; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across the perfect little reminders when reading my own archives). This advice came in the form of a quote from a mindfulness meditation program I was working on at the time. I have come back to it many times in the past 24 hours.

If a painful sensation arises in the body, and you add to it a fearful anticipation of the future, or terrible self-judgement, then your painful physical sensation will change into great mental suffering… See the difference between experiencing the pain directly in this moment without adding the past… See the difference between experiencing it directly in this moment and adding a story. Can you open to the experience in the moment as it is, constantly changing?

Insight Meditation by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein

The truth is, each breastfeeding session, in and of itself, is manageable. It’s only when I start projecting into the future, seeing the hundreds of breastfeeding sessions stacked like painful, nipple shredding dominos into the abyss of tomorrow, that I start to panic. But the truth is I don’t know what the future will hold, I don’t know what breastfeeding will look like in one week–let alone a month–and I need to focus only on what is right in front of me, our breastfeeding experience RIGHT NOW. If I can get through that then I am still breastfeeding and that is all that matters.

Of course I appreciate researching more about how overactive letdown affects breastfeeding and what a correct latch looks like. I’ve been watching videos, pouring over how-to’s on achieving a proper latch and dissecting photos and diagrams of what a good latch looks like and I think I finally have an idea of what I’m trying to achieve and how I might achieve it. I just hope that at four weeks old, we’re not too late to correct the bad habits we’ve started.

So thank you all, again, for helping me tackle this difficult breastfeeding experience, for sharing your own difficult breastfeeding experiences so I don’t feel so alone and reminding me that for most people, it does get better. With perseverance I do think we can improve our situation, despite my overactive letdown. I’ll keep you updated on how things are going.

And I promise I won’t quit on the hardest day.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

It seems I’ve become that person, the weird one who doesn’t use shampoo anymore. In fact I haven’t since July. I’ve been washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar.

You may or may not remember (probably not, as I’m sure you have better things to do than remember the minutiae of my life and plans) that I was hoping to switch to a baking soda and vinegar routine this summer, when I had time away from the world to let my hair do the super oily adjustment I’d read I should expect.

To prepare I bought myself some low-poo shampoo and its corresponding conditioner. When I used a 2-in-1 (yes, I previously used a 2-in-1 because I’m lazy and it worked) I had to wash my hair every day or it started to look so oily that it seemed wet. But I found that after a few months of the low-poo shampoo I didn’t need to wash my hair as often. I started washing it every other day and eventually was only washing it three times a week.

I will admit that I was starting to like the low-poo shampoo and didn’t really think much about making the final switch to baking soda and vinegar until I started to work out more this summer. The weather got hot and between working in my yard and using the elliptical trainer, I needed to take a shower pretty much every day. I didn’t want to start washing my hair that frequently again, so I decided to use the baking soda and vinegar routine on the days in between my regular washes.

And then, I ended up liking the baking soda and vinegar enough to abandon my low-poo shampoo altogether. And I realized that even if I only washed my hair every other day, like I was doing before, my hair didn’t look oily or dirty at all. So I kind of ended up making the transition by accident and I haven’t looked back.

For tips on how to wash your hair with baking soda and vinegar, I recommend this post.

Of course, the question everyone asks is WHY? And honestly, I don’t have a very good answer. When I first read that the reason my hair was oily was because my shampoo was stripping it of it’s natural moisture and my scalp was overcompensating to return moisture to my hair, it seemed to make sense to stop that cycle if I could. I also figured I was a good candidate to try baking soda and vinegar because I never do anything with my hair but put it up, so I didn’t have to worry about product building up. I also liked the idea of being kinder to the environment, though that was low on my list of reasons to give it a try. Mostly I guess, I was just curious what it would be like.

I have to admit, I had my reservations. First of all, my trusty Dove 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner didn’t cost much and worked fine for what little I tried to accomplish with my hair. When it started getting harder to find, though, and I didn’t like the other 2-in-1s as much, there was another reason to try something totally different.

I will say that washing your hair with baking soda and vinegar is not perfect in every way. The biggest draw back for me is that you have to prepare the baking soda and water mixture right before you take a shower, as the water activates the baking soda. That means you can’t just jump into the shower super quick, you have to remember to grab your bottle and measure out the baking soda and water before getting in. The vinegar/water/essential oils (added to  mix can be pre-made and lasts indefinitely. The bottle I have for the vinegar rinse holds enough to last three shampoos, so about a week.

As for cost, I’m sure it would save someone who buys more expensive shampoos a lot of money. I’m sure it saves me some, but my one bottle of Dove 2-in-1 was not costing me much and while Costco sized bags of baking soda and bottles of vinegar are cheap, the essential oils cost about $6 a pop (except for Sandlewood which was $67 for a 1 oz bottle!). Of course they also last for months and months as you only need a few drops here and there.

The one thing I thought I’d miss the most was the satisfying feeling of lathering my hair. While it was hard to transition to the low-poo shampoo, which created minimal lather, I didn’t notice the lack of lather at all when using baking soda. The whole thing feels so different, I didn’t miss lathering my hair at all and my hair still felt clean despite the lack of bubbles.

All in all I’d say I’m happy washing my hair this way and I doubt I’ll go back anytime soon. I wonder if it will be hard to travel while doing this–luckily we don’t travel much, if at all, so that isn’t an issue for me. I like the way my hair looks when I wash it this way and I appreciate only have to wash it every other day. If you’ve been thinking about washing your hair with baking soda and vinegar I recommend you read that post I sent you (it’s where I got all my information) and then feel free to send me any questions you may have; I’ll try my best to answer them.

Fetal Dopplers: Better to Rent or Buy?

{I’m sure this post will be boring to most, and if you are “most” I know I you know what to do (skip it!). I’m writing this because I was really hoping to come across something similar myself a month ago and was disappointed when no such comparison existed. I hope this post will be helpful to those who are trying to decide if renting or buying a fetal doppler is the better move for them.}

I didn’t buy a doppler until late in my first pregnancy. I don’t remember why. I think I was warned that not finding the heartbeat would send me into such a state that the mere possibility of that happening wasn’t worth the piece of mind it might afford me if I could find the heartbeat consistently. Or maybe I didn’t even really know they were out there until I could already feel the baby kick. In any case, I bought a cheapie later in my pregnancy and used it only a handful of times, when I hadn’t felt the baby kick in ages and the old stand by of a cup of juice plus laying on my side wasn’t jump starting her into action.

Of course, during my first pregnancy I managed to scam my way into the OB’s office about once ever 1-2 weeks for the first trimester. I needed to be reassured constantly that everything was okay.

This time, I got a doppler at 9 weeks, after I read that it was possible to find the heartbeat between 8 and 12 weeks. I was hoping that with the help of a Doppler I could stay out of my OB’s office for the long stretches they seemed comfortable with but that sent me into a panicked frenzy. (You mean don’t want to see again me until next month?! As in four weeks from now?! SERIOUSLY?!).

I tried to do a lot of research on which Doppler to get, on whether it made more sense to buy the Sonoline B (3mhz) that everyone seemed to recommend or to rent something better (I assumed rentals were better). Unfortunately no one had experience with BOTH purchased and rented Dopplers so most people’s recommendations included a simple statement like, “I bought my Sonoline and I LOVED it!” Or “I rented from –insert popular doppler rental site here– and it was great!” I appreciated these reviews and they helped me to bite the bullet and get a Doppler at all, but they didn’t help me to know which route I should take. Was it worth spending the $30-$50 a month for a rental? If they were that much better I would have no qualms shelling out the money. Piece of mind is worth a lot to me right now.

First I ended up buying the Sonoline B with the 3mhz probe. That seemed to get nothing but positive reviews from both my blog readers, and random reviewers alike. Sadly Sonolines are no longer sold on my trusty Amazon.com but I was able to find a site (link removed) that sold them for the going eBay rate (around $60), plus they threw in a free tuve of gel and offered free shipping (I’m a big sucker for free shipping).

When the doppler arrived I was super excited. Then I opened it up and realized it looked exactly like the cheapie doppler I already had. Queue being significantly less excited. I found and pulled out my old doppler (which I assumed would not be sensitive enough to detect a heartbeat this early) and sure enough, they looked exactly the same, except for the probes (my old one was less sensitive at 2mhz). To be fair, the name of my old Doppler was Sonitrax (or that was the name printed on the instructions), so I wasn’t completely idiotic in buying the Sonoline B, but it seemed clear they were actually the same doppler, despite the name change. Boo.

Still, I was excited to try my new doppler out and at $60 I wasn’t too upset that I’d repurchased what I already had. The first time I tried it was I surprised how immediately I heard the heartbeat. Then I realized that insanely loud WHOOSH, WHOOSH, WHOOSH was my own heartbeat pulsing throughout my body. It took a while to find the baby’s actual heartbeat, but once I did it was very distinguishable. It’s so much shorter and faster than my own heartbeat, there really is no comparison.

During my research I’d read that it was best to only use the Doppler a couple of times a week as doctors are still unsure if constant exposure can adversely affect the fetus. I found waiting every three to four days manageable and I was usually able to find the heartbeat quickly enough to avoid freaking out.

{There was one instance when I couldn’t find the heartbeat for a long while and frustration and a dulled panic eventually caused me to break down. Luckily the crying break was all I needed to start fresh and I quickly found the heartbeat afterward. Regalito was way up by my belly button that day. (I didn’t even realize my uterus was that high yet so I hadn’t been checking there.) He was probably up so high in an attempt to flee from the cursed doppler.}

At some point during all this, I decided I wanted to try out a rented Doppler, to see what a product that cost almost as much a month as what I had paid to purchase mine forever, could do. So I started researching all the rental sites, trying to find the absolute BEST rental doppler, the cadillac of fetal heart monitors, if you will.

I ended up getting the Huntleigh FD1 Fetal Doppler with Heartrate display and 2mhz probe from Stork Radio. This baby costs $49 a month–it is literally the most expensive rental available–and it is advertised as being the most commonly used by medical professionals. It even works on obese women!

So I paid the $49 dollars, consented to all the rental agreements and waited with bated breath for my doppler. And I waited. And I waited. It ended up taking over a week for it to arrive via ground shipping (the only free shipping available) which made me realize how awesome it was that my purchased Doppler arrived in 3-4 days. What was even more upsetting was the realization that I had paid for that week as part of my rental. By the time it got to my house, I had less than three weeks to enjoy it before I had to send it back, otherwise I’d be paying for the next month.

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So far I’ve used both dopplers a handful of times, and honestly, the rental is no better than the one I purchased. While I prefer the look of the rental doppler (it’s also heavier and more compact, which makes it feel more “professional” for some reason), it doesn’t find the heartbeat any faster or more easily than the Sonoline B. Maybe it’s the difference in probe sensitivities–I wish there was a 3mhz option on the Huntleigh but there wasn’t. The only thing the rental does better is measure the bpm (beats per minute). The Sonoline B is kind of useless at registering accurate bpm; it always tracks mine at 120bpm (too high) and the baby’s at 130 (too low). The Huntleigh usually shows the baby’s heartbeat at 160-170bpm which is where you want it to be.

After 3 weeks of use (and I will admit to using it 3x a week for the past two weeks), I can find the heartbeat pretty quickly. I know right where Regalito likes to hang out and it literally takes me mere seconds to find his little heartbeat thumping away. I absolutely believe having a Fetal Doppler has reduced my anxiety level and given me immeasurable reassurance that my baby is okay. I haven’t felt the need to make an appointment once since 8 weeks.

I also believe that the Sonoline B is the much better deal, costing only $60 total instead of $50/month and finding the heartbeat as effectively (if not more so) than the more expensive rental. In fact, the only reason I could see for opting for the rental is that it registers bpm more accurately; if you want to check that the baby’s heart rate is on track, the rental would be the way to go. If you just want to know that your baby’s heart is still beating–and save some significant cash over the course of your pregnancy–definitely get the Sonoline B with the 3mhz probe.