All posts by Gina Notes

About Gina Notes

Gina is a Brooklyn based animation producer and freelance writer who loves fashion, fitness, photography, film & traveling. She is the creator and owner of the personal life & style blog, Popcorn and Pandas, and she is also the mama to an adorable little boy. In her spare time, you can find her coaching three-year old soccer with her toddler on her back or recreating recipes from her Italian grandmother. She’s no Lisa Simpson, but she can also play a note or two on the saxophone. She’s always down for an adventure, and is really excited to share her parenting experiences at 24/7 Mom.

best exercises during pregnancy

Best Exercises During Pregnancy

Should you exercise during your pregnancy? During your first trimester, it can be hard to even get out of bed let alone exercise, because you are so exhausted. However, I am a big fan of exercise during pregnancy. Not only does it surprisingly give you more energy, it also boosts your mood, improves sleep, and helps with the aches and pains of pregnancy. Exercise strengthens your muscles for labor and delivery, and makes it much easier to get back to normal after the birth of your baby.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women exercise for at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week. You want to get your heart pumping, increase your flexibility, manage weight gain, and prep your muscles, but you also need to make sure you don’t overdo it and cause stress for you or the baby.

If you were exercising before your pregnancy, there is no reason to stop once you get pregnant. Many women continue to run or weight train during their pregnancies. However, you do not want to start a rigorous routine when you are pregnant if you were not a big exerciser beforehand. Modify your workouts based on your fitness level and speak to your doctor about what the best plan would be for you.

With my first baby, I didn’t do a whole lot of exercise other than tons of walking. I had miscarried my first pregnancy, and was a little nervous about overdoing anything. So I spent lots of time walking for exercise, which was great, but this time around with baby 2, I decided to try a little more. I have been doing a combo of pilates and yoga about 4-5 days a week, and I still walk as well. I have found that overall, I feel healthier and lighter this pregnancy. Of course my little basketball belly is growing and growing, but the other areas like my arms, thighs, booty, etc. are still feeling strong and toned.

Some people may think that pregnancy limits your exercise. That is true to an extent, but there are SO many things you can do during your pregnancy for exercise including walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics, dancing, yoga, stretching, weight training, barre, or spin classes.

If you can’t make it to a gym, there are also many mini workouts and exercises you can do from the comfort of your own living room. Some of my favorites include planks and side planks, squats, wall push-ups, pelvic tilts, leg lifts, step-ups, calf raises, and seated rows.

Do you plan to exercise during your pregnancy? What are your favorite ways to exercise while pregnant?

Baby Name Tag

Naming Your Baby To Avoid Hospital Errors

Did you choose your baby’s name before you made it to the hospital? Some parents know far in advance what they will call their child, but others don’t make a decision until after the baby has arrived. There is new research from the American Academy of Pediatrics that shows not naming your baby right away can result in more medical errors in the hospital…especially in the NICU, or neonatal intensive care unit.

A newborn baby needs a wristband in the hospital right away, and if there is no name attached to the child, they were previously assigning temporary names such as “Babygirl” or “Babyboy.” Many researchers believe that using these indistinct names has been contributing to mistakes such as giving the wrong treatment to a patient.

Their solution? Give the baby a more distinct temporary name. Jason Adelman, author of this study and internist and patient safety officer at Montefiore Health System in New York, and his colleagues have come up with a new system where they name the baby using the mother’s first name. (For example, Wendysgirl, for a baby girl.)

For this study, they used a RAR (Retract-and-Reorder) tool which detects the outcome of wrong-patient electronic orders. It identifies orders placed on a patient that have been retracted within 10 minutes and then placed by the same clinician on another patient within the next 10 minutes. When using this new naming method, they noticed a 36% decline in potential errors made. Now, the problem with this tool is that it’s not actually measuring errors, but near-errors. However, it could be a strong enough reason for hospitals to consider switching their naming methods. Researchers also believe the new naming system will cut down on other hospital mistakes caused by other factors such as human distraction or poor lighting.

My first thought after hearing this report is that I am happy I have a name for my baby on the way. However, after thinking about it a bit more, do I believe that just because I name my baby in advance that they will actually use that name in the hospital? Not necessarily. Some mother’s and baby’s have different last names, which could be confusing and my thinking is that hospitals would use a uniform system in which everyone was named in the same manner. When my last child was born, I don’t think they wrote his first name anywhere until we wrote it on the paperwork during discharge. However, we did have matching wristbands/ankle-bands with the same number to link us.

That being said, I do feel hopeful that hospitals and medical professionals are looking to discover new ways to cut down on mistakes being made on a regular basis, especially when it comes to babies in the NICU.

How do you feel about this new naming system? Do you think it will make a difference in the errors made? Will you now come to the hospital with a name for baby?

2nd Birthday Party

Tips for Planning Your Kid’s 2nd Birthday Party

Although many will say the “twos are terrible,” this age can actually be a ton of fun! The birthday parties can be great fun as well! Your two-year-old won’t have any expectations at this age, so there is no need to go crazy on an extravagant party. However, a fun theme, an activity or two, and little bit of planning can go a long way! Here are a few tips for a successful second birthday party:

Invite Both Parents and Children

At this age, the parties are mostly about inviting close family and friends. Make sure if you are inviting small children that the parents are also invited to the festivities, because you will need to have the extra supervision. Note how your child does with different sized groups, and take that into consideration when making your guest list.

Schedule Around Naptime

Most toddlers are still taking an afternoon nap, so take this into account when party planning. For example, my son usually naps from around 1-3pm, so the best timing for us to have a party was either in the morning at 10am or in the afternoon at 4pm. We went with the later party time so we would have more of the day to prep, and that worked well for us.

Choose a Fun Theme

Although a theme isn’t necessary for a toddler party, it might make things more fun and easier to plan if you have a vision in mind. If your child has a favorite animal, toy, or character, you can choose a theme around that and plan food, decor, and maybe even some activities around it. We did a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme for my son’s second birthday, and created felt masks for all the kids, blew up balloons with complete with turtle masks (a huge hit!), had a themed cake, and made turtle goodie bags for the kids to take home. The goodie bags were filled with snacks, a ball, stickers, and other small things for the kids to get excited about. My son was definitely into the idea of having a theme around the party, and it made for adorable photos as well!

Gather Ideas from Pinterest

If you do decide to have a themed event, it’s almost guaranteed that someone on Pinterest may have some great ideas for your party! We were able to find many DIY ideas and fun activities to make the party more interesting. Pick a few of your favorites and run with it!

Serve Finger Foods

Finger foods are the perfect party food for kids this age. Things like mini pizzas, fruits, veggies, sandwiches, or other things they can pick up with their hands will make it easy for them to eat…and easier for the parents!

Plan a Few Activities

Two-year-olds have short attention spans, and things could get a little crazy if there aren’t a few organized activities for them to do. I have also found that kids really do enjoy and are excited by a party activity. For example, last year we hired a musician for my son’s birthday. He played guitar and drums, and all the kids had little instruments to shake and bang along. They loved it, and all the kids were very engaged! This year, it was a hot day, and we decided to blow up a little pool outside for them to play in along with a water table. The kids had an absolute blast splashing around and having something to do. If you have outdoor space, things like sidewalk chalk and bubbles are also fun outdoor activities for a party.

Do you have any tips to add for planning your kid’s second birthday party?

crib mattress recall

What To Do If Your Crib Mattress Gets Recalled

On July 30th the Stork Craft foam crib mattress was recalled due to failure to meet the mandatory federal mattress flammability standard for open flames, posing a fire hazard.

It can be alarming or scary if one of your baby products gets recalled, especially your crib mattress. However, many times there is no cause for panic in a crib mattress recall, and often there is an easy fix. First and foremost, make sure your crib mattress is registered so if there is a recall, you will be contacted immediately by the manufacturer. I would recommend you do this for the majority of items purchased for your baby including stroller, car seat, crib, high chair, swing, etc. If you have lost or thrown away your registration cards, you can usually contact your manufacturer with the product and serial number to register that way as well.

If you find your crib mattress has been recalled, stop using the mattress immediately and contact your manufacturer to make sure you own the correct product affected by the recall. If so, the manufacturer will give you detailed instructions for a solution to the problem. For example, in the case above, a free, zippered mattress barrier cover was provided to consumers to be placed over the mattress foam core and under the white mattress cover provided with the mattress to remedy the problem.

In an example of an Ikea crib mattress recall earlier this year, the size of the mattress was an issue, and there was a risk of entrapment for the child. Consumers were advised that if there was a gap of more than 2 inches between the mattress and the crib that they should contact the store and return the product for an exchange or full refund.

If you are purchasing a used mattress, it is important to check a site like the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure the product was not involved in a past recall, and if it has, be sure that all the proper steps have been taken to remedy the problem. It may even be good practice to check the site every so often to make sure one of the products you own has not been recalled recently.

Before reselling or donating your crib mattress, also please make sure to remedy any problems due to a manufacturer recall as you do not want to put anyone else’s child in danger.

Have you ever had one of your baby products recalled? What did you do?

pregnancy ultrasound

Too Many Ultrasounds During Your Pregnancy?

How many ultrasounds are medically necessary during a healthy low-risk pregnancy? And how many are women typically getting these days?  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that many women are getting more ultrasounds than needed from their doctors and that these frequent scans are not justified.

A study by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology from May 2014 states that most low-risk pregnancies called for one or two ultrasounds. Typically they fall around the 12th week and the 20th week. However, most women are getting four or five ultrasounds during their pregnancies.

Are these extra ultrasounds harmful to mom or baby? Not necessarily. But then again, there is no definitive research on the newer equipment that is now used. The old research was conducted on equipment dated back to 1992 or prior. The most important concern was that too many ultrasounds could increase the amount of false alarms in relation to fetal size and result in potentially unnecessary Cesarean sections.

There are many clear benefits to an ultrasound including more accurate estimates of conception dates, helping doctors determine when to induce labor, identifying multiple fetuses, or detecting abnormalities in pregnancy. Many high risk pregnancies need additional scans for the safety of both mother and child. It is also a good bonding technique for parents.

Why are doctors doing these additional scans? Some say because of malpractice suits. Being that this specialty pays one of the highest premiums, doctors are afraid they may miss something. Others say some doctors are collecting extra money from these additional scans. There is also an element of patients requesting additional scans and even outsourcing scans at other locations for a better view of their child.

When I read about the growing number of ultrasounds pregnant women are undergoing, it really struck a chord with me. During my pregnancy with my first child, I had tons of scans. My doctors informed me that my baby was measuring smaller than average, and that I would need to get growth scans every 2-3 weeks to make sure he was growing properly. Each time we went, he did grow at a decent rate, but he was still smaller than normal, so they wanted to continue the scans to be safe and make sure everything was okay. At the time, I never thought that it could be unsafe or that it would create false alarms. I figured I would rather be safe than sorry. At the same time, I believed things were normal with my child. I am not average size and neither is my husband, so why should we expect to have an average sized baby?

When I went into my 38 week appointment with no dilation or contractions, I expected to go to work after my check up. I was then told that since my baby was still measuring small that I should be induced that day. Say what?!?! I was beyond shocked. I never knew that was a possible scenario, and honestly I was skeptical. Still, to this day, I am not sure if that was the best decision. My biggest fear in being induced early was that I was not ready, that my baby was not ready, and I would end up having an unnecessary Cesarean section. I was told that the alternative in waiting it out could be infant death…a VERY slight chance…but all the same…how could I sit and wait for two weeks with THAT on my mind? So I went through with the induction…two inductions actually (since the first one did not progress me nearly enough). Luckily, my pregnancy did not result in a C-section, but it could have, and that’s what weighs on my mind as I go through my current pregnancy.

This pregnancy started very similarly with multiple scans in the beginning due to having another child who was measuring small. Again, having been through this before and ending up with a healthy child, I felt that all the testing and the scans were maybe not necessary. But at the same time, how would I feel if I were wrong? So I did them. Luckily, after a few good growth scans in a row, my doctor’s decided to stop the scans this time around based on my history and good growth. So I haven’t had an ultrasound in awhile, and I am hoping they will let me go on as a normal low-risk pregnancy as long as everything continues on that path. I felt that during my last pregnancy the extra scans may have caused concern where there didn’t need to be and maybe an early induction that didn’t need to happen. This time around I am hopefully that I can go into natural labor and let my body do what it’s supposed to do at the appropriate time.

How many ultrasounds did you have during your pregnancy? Would you question your doctor’s recommendations after learning that so many women have unnecessary scans?

Father's Day Style

Father’s Day Style: Stylish Gifts for Dad

Father’s Day is quickly approaching, and what better way to let Dad know you appreciate him than the gift of style? Men usually hate choosing these type of things… either that or they don’t know where to begin when it comes to shopping. So let’s help him out this holiday. Whether it’s clothing, accessories, cologne, or a new phone case, there are many options for Father’s Day style gifting. These items are fresh, fun, and could be great for all the wonderful men in your life… dad, your husband, grandfather, son, brother…take your pick!
Which gift would YOU choose?
Father's Day Style


 For the History Buff: Hip Dinosaur Tee
For the Dad Who’s Too Cool for School: Ray Ban Aviator’s
For the Techie: Best Dad Ever Phone Case
For the Dad Who Loves Cold Brews: Insulated Keg Mug
For the Laid-Back Dad: Graphic Leaf Button Down
For the Modern & Sophisticated Dad: John Varvatos Fragrance Set
For the Beach Bum: Shark Tooth Board Shorts
For the Dapper Dad: Spot Bow Tie
Survive Your Summer Pregnancy

How to Survive Your Summer Pregnancy

It’s hard enough getting through that summer heat, but to be pregnant in the summer?!?! Whew! My first baby was born August 29th, and I’m currently pregnant with my second due August 31st. Now you might wonder what the heck is wrong with me for such having poor planning. But I have to say, I’m pretty much a pro when it comes to being pregnant in the summertime now! It’s also important to note that I live in Brooklyn where there’s lots of walking to be done and it’s hard to avoid the outdoors and the heat if I need to do anything outside of the house. That being said, I do have a few tips on how to survive your summer pregnancy.

Drink TONS of water

Hydration is absolutely key. On a trip to Arizona during my first pregnancy, I quickly learned that dehydration can be seriously dangerous for a pregnant woman. Dehydration can cause early contractions and even pre-term labor. Luckily, everything turned out ok in my story, but my lesson was learned! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water is best, but coconut water is also great, and feel free to spruce up your drink with lemon, lime, watermelon, mint, berries, etc. I just bought a water infuser, and it has seriously helped to up my daily water intake. A fruit popsicle is also a great way to get some water down and cool you off.

Take a Dip!

Water is not just for drinking! Carry a spritz bottle around, use a cold washcloth, take a cold shower, jump in a pool, or hang out at the beach or lake. I guarantee you will feel much cooler after taking a nice swim!

Breathable Clothing

It can be really uncomfortable when you are sweating through your clothing and getting heat rash, so make sure you find clothing items that let your body BREATHE! Choose fabrics like linen or cotton and pieces that are flowy. My favorite things to wear while pregnant during those summer days are maxi dresses and flip-flops!

Prevent Swelling

Your body will definitely retain water toward the end of your pregnancy, so to avoid swelling, make sure you aren’t eating too much salt (and are, yep, drinking plenty of water). You can also kick back with your feet up to help with the swelling in your legs and feet. You may also want to take off your rings if you find you are swelling a lot, because it won’t be fun to have them cut off later.

Shade Yourself

When you’re outdoors, try to head out in the earlier hours before the heat reaches its daily max. Hide under an umbrella at the beach, lather up with sunscreen, and wear a sunhat to protect yourself.

Prenatal Massage

Get comfy! A massage can also reduce swelling, and let’s be honest, it just feels amazing as your body gets larger, you start carrying more weight around, and you start to ache. Not to mention a massage usually happens indoors…where it’s cooler!

Air Conditioning

Speaking of the cool indoors, you may want to spend some time with the AC on! Although I love to get outside in the summer time, you definitely want to make sure you don’t get overheated, and relaxing with the AC on is a great way to keep cool and stay safe and comfortable during your pregnancy.

Mom365 has more tips on surviving a summer pregnancy healthy and happy!

Do you have any survival tips to add for a summer pregnancy? Would love to hear your thoughts on how you made it through!

choose the right childbirth class for you

How to Choose the Right Childbirth Class for You

There are so many different types of childbirth classes out there. How do you choose the one that’s right for you? I would first suggest you ask yourself a few questions: What does your ideal birth look like? What are your biggest concerns about labor and delivery? What do you think might be most helpful? Some people may have clear answers for these questions, but it’s totally okay if the answers are I don’t know. There are definitely classes that explore a variety of options.

The second piece of advice is to do your research. Familiarize yourself with the different methods of childbirth (Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, Bradley Method, Kitzinger Method, Birthing from Within, etc.). Once you have an idea of what type of birth plan you are interested in, that may help to narrow down your options. If you aren’t sure, or you want to “see how it goes” in the delivery room, then find a class that gives you a general education about the process and discusses multiple options and methods.

Any type of class you choose should discuss the process of labor and birth, the signs and stages of labor, when to go to the hospital/birthing center or call your provider, coping strategies and comfort techniques, pain management, the importance of labor support, movement and positioning, medical interventions, risks, and alternatives, the best way to communicate with your health care provider, and the right questions to ask before and during labor. Many classes also include a newborn care and breastfeeding class. If it doesn’t, then I would definitely look into finding a separate one that does. CPR class is another important one to round out that list.

The best ways to find a class in your area is to ask your ob/gyn or midwife, take a class in the hospital or birthing center you will be delivering in, research independent classes in your area, or ask experienced friends or neighbors in the area for recommendations.

At the end of the day, you want to make sure you ask the following important questions:

  • What are the credentials or certifications of the instructor?
  • What are the philosophies of the class and do they match mine?
  • What topics will be discussed?
  • What is the partner’s role in the process?
  • What is the cost?
  • What is the time commitment of the class?

Make sure you find an instructor who makes you feel comfortable and you will likely have a positive experience!

How did you choose your childbirth class? Did you feel that you made a good choice?

Old Navy Maternity Dress

Where to Buy Maternity Clothes

While I definitely suggest getting as much wear as you possibly can from your regular wardrobe in the beginning stages of pregnancy, eventually you will more than likely get to a point where you will need to do a little shopping for maternity clothes. Because maternity clothing is produced in fewer quantities than regular clothing, prices tend to be a little high for something you’ll only wear for a short time, so I have a few suggestions on where to buy maternity clothes that are also fairly budget friendly.

Motherhood Maternity / Pea in a Pod

Motherhood Maternity is pretty much your one stop shop for most of your maternity basics. Ruched tees and tanks, tanks, dresses, nursing bras for once the baby arrives…they pretty much have it all. You may even find a few cute pairs of printed pants or stretchy leggings for those seriously uncomfortable days. Pea in a Pod is more on the higher end of the cost spectrum. However, you can get a very nice pair of designer maternity jeans if that’s your jam.

Old Navy / GAP

Old Navy is one of my favorite spots for a good maternity find. The clothing is stylish yet completely affordable. Because their clothing also tends to run a tad on the larger side, you may also be able to find some regular items here and just get a size up. During my first pregnancy, I purchased both sweaters and tanks from Old Navy in one size up, and they fit me perfectly throughout the entirety of my pregnancy. I could also wear them post-partum. Gap is along similar lines, except a little more expensive for the better quality of material in their clothing. Their maternity line is also stylish and comfortable, especially their leggings!


The trendiest option you will find in maternity wear! I am completely obsessed with this line of maternity clothing. While you can find many basics (and often boring items) at many other stores, this is definitely your best stop for something fashion forward. They go above and beyond to create pieces that you would want to wear regardless of whether or not you are pregnant, and they really make you feel like a “cool mom.” There are many affordable options here, and some splurge items as well. I would recommend finding a gorgeous dress here to take your maternity photos!

Poshmark / Threadflip / Ebay, etc.

Don’t want to spend a ton of money on brand new maternity items? Check out some of these options for consigned items. Many maternity pieces only get worn a few times, so most are still in fabulous condition, and you can bargain down sellers to get a very reasonable price!

Neighborhood Listserve

Along these same lines, ask friends who have been pregnant in the past or locals in your neighborhood if they have any maternity clothing they are ready to part with. Many times people who aren’t planning to have any more children are more than willing to give away these pieces or sell them on the cheap to create more space in their homes. / Hautelook / Rue La La

Check out one of these flash sale websites for many maternity items at discount prices. They each generally have a baby/kids section that includes maternity clothes and you can sometimes find a really good deal on a designer piece.


Because let’s face it…Target has everything. During my pregnancy I got an adorable maternity bathing suit and a beautiful long maxi dress at a fabulous price. Their section isn’t large, but the quality is terrific for the price. I also found that I was able to shop in the regular section during the summer time for dresses and maxis that were made of stretchy materials. Score!

Have you found any great items at these locations? What was your favorite place to buy maternity clothes?

pregnant Mother's Day

Should I Celebrate Mother’s Day While Pregnant?

So, you’re pregnant. It’s Mother’s Day. Should you celebrate this holiday before the baby is born? There are a plethora of opinions out there, but I honestly feel it’s a personal choice. But if you decide to partake in it, you should probably let your partner know in advance…because he will probably not assume you want to celebrate it. It may depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy. If you haven’t made any announcements yet, Mother’s Day could be a great time to do so. Another option is to celebrate a “Mother-to-Be” Day if you don’t feel comfortable having a full-on Mother’s Day celebration.

My personal feeling when I was pregnant for the first time was that I definitely felt like a mom and wanted to at least acknowledge that fact. I had a baby inside of me that I was nurturing, worrying about, getting sick and nauseous over, changing my diet for, making sacrifices for, loving, talking to, shopping for, and preparing for. That sounds like motherhood to me. Just because I hadn’t changed a diaper yet or stayed up all night didn’t change my opinion or feeling about being a mother. Motherhood is all about stages. My kids have not gone to kindergarten or graduated college… we haven’t made it to those stages yet. But does that make me less of a mother? I don’t think so. So I personally believe that pregnancy is the beginning stages of motherhood, and if you want to celebrate that, then by all means, you should!

We didn’t go overboard in my family… in fact, I actually I think my husband was one of those who didn’t realize the celebration (or at least a card) was important to me, and he skipped the whole thing. My grandmother, however, did send me a “mother-to-be” card, which was much appreciated. This time around I have a 1-year-old, and I’m also pregnant with my second. I think some flowers and a pregnancy body pillow would be the perfect gift for a pregnant mama. A prenatal massage works too. Hint hint 😉

What do you think? Did you celebrate Mother’s Day when you were pregnant?