As 2017 approaches, we are looking for new ways to reach the women we serve. One of those ways is through a consistent team of contributing story sharers on our blog. Yes, story sharers. You don't have to be a 'writer', have your own blog or have anything published to contribute. We want real-life mamas sharing real-life things. Good things like the joys of motherhood; ways you have learned and grown as a woman; ways you have been empowered through your story or struggle. Hard things like depression and anxiety; miscarriage and loss; unmet expectations. Stories of the day to day and what that looks like...and how it changes. We're looking for women who would be willing to contribute 5-10 posts/YEAR. That's it! Sometimes we may ask for a specific topic, other times we will just share what it is that you're passionate about sharing. We want YOUR STORIES...your beautifully messy, imperfect stories. If you are interested, please contact our blog editor, Alisha, at email@example.com. We can't wait to hear from you!
How you feed your infant is your choice. The Motherhood Collective supports your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. It is of utmost importance to us. In a world full of mixed messages, you need to be assured that you are the best mother for your child. You are innately able to care for your baby. You are strong. You are powerful.
Early the next morning, I curiously looked up the definition of the word nurse. Over one hundred years ago, Florence Nightingale defined it as “the act of utilizing the environment of the patient to assist him in his recovery.”
A very special day has come! You might remember my post back on March 2nd about our local hospital's push to become Baby-Friendly (read here.) Well, friends, advocates, mothers-to-be, mothers, grandmothers, and all of Lynchburg, VA. THEY DID IT! The call came in yesterday that Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital is now a Baby-Friendly Hospital. The Administration, Nursing Staff, Lactation Staff, and Care Providers have all worked tirelessly to put bring about a positive change in maternal and infant health. We could not be more proud. Please know that this was not an easy undertaking. There has been much education, many policy changes, some protocol changes, and so much more. All for YOU.
As a reminder, Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the following Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation.
The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.
Join us in congratulating the hardworking team at Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital!
A short piece by the local news can be found here.
One of the things we most desire as an organization is to advocate for a positive change in maternal health on a community level. It is for that reason that we are proud to stand behind our local hospital (Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital) in their effort to obtain the coveted, Baby-Friendly USA designation. The staff and administration have worked relentlessly to integrate the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding best practices. Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in - allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.
Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital will have their site visit for accreditation by Baby-Friendly USA on March 10 and 11, 2015. They have a request for you, the mothers of our local community. The goal of the 2 site assessors will be to see moms here in the hospital, but they may need to call moms on the phone to ask about their stay. If you were a patient in the last 6 weeks you have the potential to hear from a Baby-Friendly assessor. Questions could include: Was your baby offered a pacifier? How long did you do skin to skin? Was your baby taken from your room? Would you be willing to take the time to speak honestly and truthfully with the assessors? Would you be willing to think about your answers to these questions in preparation? We know your time is limited and precious, and we thank you in advance for considering your response. Together we will support this momentum for a positive change in maternal health in our community.
If you have any questions or concerns, Jackie Weaver (Unit Manager, Mother Baby) would love to hear from you, her office number is 200-4630!
For more details about the practices put into place and the road to Baby-Friendly, read on:
The journey to this site visit is what led our hospital to add many of the wonderful processes you may have experienced recently. Skin to skin is now possible for 100% of our vaginal deliveries as long as everyone is stable. We offer skin to skin for our C-section patients as well as long as mom and baby are stable. Even if skin to skin is not possible after your C-section, we have an increased focus on non-separation of mom from her baby. This can include a care partner holding the baby close by in the operating room or mom meeting her baby in recovery. Skin to skin should last as long as mom wants and at least through the first feeding. This process has been very rewarding for our staff as we watch babies transition significantly better on mom’s chest.
Other practices influenced by our journey include rooming in and lactation education for all our staff members. Rooming in helps mom and babies learn to be a team by matching sleep cycles and becoming familiar with babies unique cues. All staff members received lactation education and training. We now have a team of lactation consultants who see moms (formula and breast milk) in the hospital as well as outpatient at our Baby Café.
We are so thankful to groups such as yours for your support and collaboration. Through your discussions, patient experience stories, and questions we have been able to influence the population health of our community. With the support of the wonderful moms in our area, we now have a breastfeeding rate of 90%.
Jackie Weaver | Unit Manager, Mother Baby
We need YOU! The Virginia Department of Health’s Central Virginia Health District and Live Healthy Lynchburg are showing their love for moms with the launch of their Breastfeeding Welcome campaign! From February 14 through Mother’s Day, CVHD, LHL, and community partners (YOU!) will be visiting Lynchburg-area businesses to encourage them to become breastfeeding friendly!
The campaign will utilize volunteers to spread the benefits of breastfeeding to local organizations. Those wishing to become a “Breastfeeding Friendly Organization” will post the campaign’s “Breastfeeding Welcome” sticker in their windows, a signal to the 90% of moms that leave Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital breastfeeding that they are welcome to do so inside.
Would you and a group of friends be willing to cover an area of our community? We are encouraging our volunteers to visit businesses that they currently frequent, using phrases like, “I’d love to post a sticker in your window to let other breastfeeding mothers know that you welcome them, just as you’ve welcomed me!”
More information below:
By becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Organization, area locations will enjoy several benefits, including free advertising from Live Healthy Lynchburg and area media. Families searching for breastfeeding-friendly venues will also be directed to these establishments. By allowing women to breastfeed on premise, organizations will also be in compliance with state legislation. Virginia statute § 18.2-387 on indecent exposure states that, "No person shall be deemed to be in violation of this section for breastfeeding a child in any public place or any place where others are present."
Becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Organization has great benefits for the community as well, as breastfeeding has a positive impact on the health of both babies and mothers. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of later childhood obesity, and evidence has shown that obese children are more likely to become obese adults. It also protects the infant against short- and long-term illnesses, lowers the risk of postneonatal mortality (infant death), and is protective against SIDS. Breastfeeding is great for mothers, too, by helping shed baby weight, providing bonding time, and decreasing mom’s risk of certain cancers.
Our panelists: Kirstin Magnuson (Therapist and Mama) and Jill Stroud (Personal Trainer and Mama), and our moderator, Lauren Barnes.
This morning’s discussion can be an extremely touchy topic and could easily be full of judgment and eye rolling...our goal is to have an honest and kind conversation. We hope we can all accept that we each view our bodies differently and that we each come into this discussion with our own views of health, image, insecurities, and perceptions. This is not a conversation that will “fix” anything. Instead, it is simply the start of a conversation that alerts us all to the fact that we might need to pause before we assume.
Our first question is for the audience. When asked how they would describe their bodies, in one word, BEFORE they had children, here were some of the responses: awesome, free-of-stretch-marks, healthy, strong, tan, energized, less gravitational pull, and fertile.
Kirstin was warned by “helpful” strangers and acquaintances about the horrors of a postpartum body while she was pregnant. Her friends approached the subject with more love while remaining honest. Jill did not know what to expect from her body, and was surprised by how out of control she felt. She felt additional pressure about her body as a trainer because of how she was on display in her career. The usual methods she would have used for weight loss (cutting calories, increasing workout intensity) were not always an option during and after pregnancy. So many factors (breastfeeding, lack of sleep and energy, etc.) are involved in the changes in your body and how you can get back into shape.
Why are we insecure about our bodies and why do we compare ourselves as women? Kirstin says that the inundation of “perfection” in models and in the media make us feel that that is normal, and that our own bodies are somehow wrong. Jill says that usually our expectations are unrealistic. She said that while some women can “snap back” and get back into shape quickly, that is not the norm for everyone. Comparing ourselves to others makes our own journey harder.
As an audience so many of us have had insensitive comments made about our bodies after having children. We have been asked if we're pregnant when we're not, or heard snarky comments about remaining baby weight. We've been told that our expectations are too high or that we're somehow selfish for wanting to get back to a healthy and active lifestyle postpartum.
Jill says the keyword is healthy, and that does not look the same for everyone. So often our goal is thin or sexy instead of a healthy body. Thin does not mean healthy, there is often a lack of muscle mass after pregnancy that is not healthy even if you can fit back into your pre-pregnancy clothes. While Kirstin didn't have trouble losing weight, she found that she was out of shape and didn't like it. She was easily winded and sore, and found that being more active let her feel better about herself regardless of how she looked.
So often on social media we only see the success stories. When we're proud of our bodies we want to share it, but doing so can be damaging to others who haven't had the same success. We should all be proud of these strong bodies who have nurtured and labored and birthed these children. One audience member reminds us that we can choose what we see on social media and the internet. We can block or unfollow or choose to ignore those who are damaging to us. She has found several groups and individuals to follow who are encouraging and uplifting, some of whom are in great shape and serve as positive inspiration without bringing her down emotionally. It is your choice to join a group that is supportive for you and your needs. Even well-meaning mothers can make us feel down, especially from a person that you expect support from. Generational differences can make it difficult for older women to support us in new and conventional maternity clothing and postpartum experiences.
From our husbands, we get various responses and methods of support. Some stories: one mama's husband brought her the same shirt in every size postpartum, while another's took her to buy bigger pants with nothing but joy and support. One dear husband makes brownies when his wife is upset, which is so sweet but really not helping her postpartum body insecurities.
Jill says that the best way to get back into shape after birth is strength training. High intensity strength training and setting strength goals is very effective. Picking a goal that is not a number on the scale or a jean size will help you to get to healthy place. Instead of the outcome, she recommends focusing on the process. As you meet and move on to different goals, you will eventually get to your desired outcome but in a healthy and natural way. For breastfeeding mothers she recommends listening to your body (and your baby!) and eating enough to keep your body energized. Staying hydrated and keeping your body nourished will help allow you to maintain your breast milk supply, as long as your workout is moderate and reasonable.
Lauren questions whether our true measure of beauty should be our outward appearance or our inner selves. Kirstin tells a story about a time that her child waited patiently while she had an adult conversation, and she recognized that she would like to achieve that patience too. That is how she would like to be recognized and seen as beautiful, for her heart and her person. Jill points out that we do this to children too, telling them how cute or beautiful they are, as opposed to pointing out a great personality trait or behavior. The mother of some attractive children would reply to these “you're so beautiful” complements with “but what's in your heart?” to remind children that looks are not what matters. What moms do want to be complemented on: our work accomplishments, our efforts as mothers, and the ways we give of ourselves. One audience member sees unshowered mothers as beautiful, because she knows that the sacrifice of a shower was made so that a baby would not be left crying. One grandmother knows that just being pregnant, giving birth or having a newborn would each be a feat on their own, and yet we do all three without a break; she reminds mothers to be kind to themselves. She also says we have progress days and maintenance days, and some days are just survival days. Appreciate each of these days and know that they are all for a reason and purpose.
Some strengths we have gained since having children: patience, fearlessness, responsibility, endurance, and capability. Please feel free to share some of your postpartum experiences, good and bad, in the comments.
The Motherhood Collective is thankful to Heidi for letting us share her post today! Please check out Heidi's blog over at Notes From Heidi!
After six weeks of breastfeeding for the second time, it’s confession time: I don’t love breastfeeding. In fact, I don’t really even like it that much.
I first acknowledged this a couple of weeks ago and it’s actually made my struggle to breastfeed a little easier. Oh, and before I go further, know that I’m not writing this to complain, but quite the contrary. Giving up the desire to love breastfeeding means relinquishing an area of motherhood that I have little control over. It means sacrificing my expectations for something more important. These are both good things.
I write this to share a little of my journey with my boys and to hopefully shed some light on a couple of breastfeeding struggles which might be a surprise to other couples (because they certainly threw us for a loop at first!).
My boys haven’t been easy. Callan took several weeks to latch, so most of my milk expression was via pumping, which I found incredibly awkward. He had a golden time of a couple of months when we did great, but most of the time he was claustrophobic and pulled to get away. That made me constantly sore and unable to do anything but hold on til he was done. Sean, while he latched immediately and that was wonderful, has reflux issues. He spends about half of our nursing sessions gasping, choking, and getting frustrated because he can’t get more than a couple of mouthfuls at a time. If I keep him on a strict two hour schedule he does better, but anytime I give in and feed him more frequently he nurses worse and more often, since he can’t get as much to eat.
My boys’ struggles are pretty easy to figure out and pinpoint; but they’re only half of the equation. My problems are a little more difficult to manage, and I have to overcome them nearly every single time I nurse. First off, I don’t like the feeling of nursing. It’s a relief, sure, especially then I’m swollen to twice my normal size and sore. But once the relief is over I don’t like the way it feels. I have to force myself to relax, hold the baby loosely, and try to think about something else. Then there is the let down, when the milk starts to flow, accompanied by a hormonal crash. I literally spend a few minutes in a deep depression with the let down and have to just ride it out til things stabilize. We’ve learned that most discussions have to simply wait til I’m done nursing; I’ve even cried when Alex was joking, solely because of the hormones.
I am blessed to have a wonderfully supportive husband when it comes to breastfeeding. I am still tempted with Sean to pump and just give him a bottle; Alex helps me stick it out. During those really hard days with Callan he would sit with me through every nursing session he was home and just be there. I didn’t want to be touched or helped, but I spent so many nursing sessions crying because it was so hard that having his company encouraged me to keep trying, even though it took over a month to get the hang of it.
No, I don’t like it. But when I see Sean’s chubby cheeks and look back at pictures of Callan (too big for his Bumbo at five months!), I try to remember that it’s worth it. That the long term benefits of this bit of short term discomfort for me means my boys are healthy and thriving. If I can just keep that in mind, my breastfeeding journey will, in the grand scheme of things, be a good one.
Note: I starting thinking through this blog post in the thick of the reflux battle with Sean. Since then we’ve stuck to a strict schedule and he’s gotten much better; I’ve even had a couple of “in love” moments while watching him nurse. It appears that with the highs, lows, and middles of breastfeeding, we’re on middle ground for a little while…thank goodness!
Our panelists: Jilayne Luckey (Mama and PPMD Support Group Leader), Nycole Fox Formo (Mama and PPMD Support Group Leader), Julie Brown (Mama and RN), and Danielle Hunter (Mama), and our moderator, Lauren Barnes.
Childbirth is very intense physically on our bodies. Six weeks is the typical time for a postpartum followup appointment with your OB or Midwife. At this point most women are told that they can resume their everyday lifestyle, with the exception of very strenuous exercise. In reality, our audience felt that it took about 2 months or more before they felt normal again vaginally. Another unexpected postpartum symptom: night sweats. The hormones in our body cause many women to wake up completely sweaty during the night. Keep a towel or change of clothes nearby!
In terms of breastfeeding, our bodies go through several stages. Julie explains that when the placenta is delivered the body starts producing colostrum (a yellow, nutrient-rich milk). Even without feeling full, it is very important to nurse at this point as it will help increase your milk supply. A few days after birth (up to about 5-6 days with a C-section), your milk will come in and your breasts will feel full and heavy (sometimes engorged). It is totally normal to be confused or unsure about your milk and whether it has come in or not. Contact a lactation consultant for reassurance or help with breastfeeding.
Jilayne advises to keep in mind that even after several pregnancies, there can be physical symptoms you're unprepared for after birth. Some experienced mothers are met with the attitude that they know what they're doing and don't need help. With several children to care for, this is not true! Each child and birth are unique and bring their own challenges. Danielle was surprised that the recovery with her second birth was so much different than with her first.
Changes in appetite, hair loss, continually sore joints, mood swings, several weeks of spotting or bleeding, and strange dreams are other normal physical symptoms of the postpartum period.
Emotionally, there may be several hardships to overcome. Many women do not feel the immediate bond with their newborn that they expect. Nycole talks of the vulnerability that you are exposed to by the tremendous feelings you have for your child. Expectations can be hard to overcome if things do not go as you think they will. Babies can be very unpredictable and this is hard for some women who like to be in control. Reaction versus response is an important distinction. If you can accept your reaction you will have a better time responding appropriately to your child's needs.
The birth of Jilayne's third child, her son, was very difficult emotionally for her. Much of the first three months she does not remember, as she was struggling. At about three months postpartum her husband recognized her depression and acknowledgement of this was huge for her. She found herself acting in ways that she didn't want to, yelling at her children more than necessary, but she couldn't find the strength or grace to handle the situation as well as she wanted to. She bonded well with her son, but felt that she had no right asking for help since she had wanted this child and brought this upon herself. Her advice is to please remember that your are the best mom for your child, and there is no shame in asking for help (no matter how many children you have!).
Danielle was expecting her newborn to be the struggle, but instead found that her preschool daughter was the one exhausting her emotionally and physically. Asking for help with older children can be very important in allowing you to care and bond with your newborn.
Julie says to give yourself a head start with breastfeeding, take a local class and educate yourself as much as possible. Read, talk to other mothers and be aware of any potential problems or hardships. Mastitis, thrush, an incorrect latch, supply issues and more can all make breastfeeding more difficult. Learning proper breastfeeding positions, especially for newborns, is important for breastfeeding success as well. Follow this link for a video that gives instruction on hand expression, a helpful technique for new breastfeeding mothers. Another resources is La Leche League (local link). Also keep in mind that breastfeeding can be difficult physically and emotionally even if everything goes well. The first few days after birth are difficult and it is normal to feel overwhelmed with breastfeeding and other parenting issues.
Julie recommends the following local resources for postpartum breastfeeding help: VBH has lactation support 7 days a week. You can request an LC to come see you. Centra's Lactation Warm Line: 434-401-9344 (outpatient) Centra's Baby Cafe: every Tuesday and Thursday from 10-12 noon in the Center for Family and Childbirth Education. (Outpatient). Central Virginia Lactation Consultants: (Lisa Settje) 434-239-2852 Best Start: (Jane Bradshaw) 434-384-6262 La Leche League:(Lisa:434-316-6040; Catherine:434-229-0852) Kellymom.com
On the other hand, formula feeding can also be difficult for mothers emotionally. Sometimes a mother wishes to breastfeed, but is unable to for whatever reason. Remember that doing what is best for your baby is what is important, and try not to let yourself listen to those who don't support your decisions. Find a support system that is positive and will help you move forward with the best choices for your newborn.
Being aware of resources for grief, breastfeeding and other postpartum issues ahead of time can help you choose those resources if you need them later. Educate yourself to the issues and the possible outcomes of your birth, be honest with yourself, and get help however you need it. Nycole suggests the book Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child.
The Motherhood Collective is very thankful to Paola Parsons (http://loveandcupcakesblog.com/) for allowing us to share her post today!
I’ve been wanting to write this post since Cielo was born but I thought I’d wait a little to see how things pan out. One month in and I stand by the statement that breastfeeding is hard. And you know what? Every single mom that I have spoken to since Cielo’s birth has said the exact same thing. One even told me she thought it was almost harder than labor itself!
So why is this something I never knew before having the baby? Why isn’t this topic shared in more birth classes and prenatal appointments? Why didn’t my midwife tell me I may have a hard time with one of the most elementary aspects of being a mom? Breastfeeding has been the number one topic of conversation concerning the baby in my household. And after speaking to so many moms and hearing similar stories to mine, I thought it was time we had an open and honest conversation about the trials and triumphs of breastfeeding. I want to know your stories. Did you find it hard to nurse your baby? How did you cope? Were you more successful? What can you share with new moms to help them along?
I encourage everyone to comment on this post (the more advice, stories, knowledge, the better), but let’s all be supportive of each others thoughts and parenting philosophies (including mine). How you feed your baby can be such a hot topic and I don’t believe in parent shaming. We all do what we need to do to keep our kids safe, happy and healthy, right? Right!
So let’s talk about breastfeeding…
Less than an hour after Cielo was born, she was latched to my left breast with such ferocity. Her suck was so strong. She had done it all on her own and I was so proud of her. I thought to myself, we did it. We’re breastfeeding. I expressed my right breast and saw that colostrum was oozing out. It felt amazing to be feeding my baby from my own body. I felt superhuman. Not only did my body grow new life inside of it, I had given birth– an experience only those who have gone through can understand. And now, I was nursing my new baby from my own bosom. She knew her job and I knew mine. Nature is so amazing, I thought.
By the next day, I had nursed the baby about one million times (no joke!). My nipples were starting to feel a little sore. No one ever told me how often newborns liked to feed. And I was following the “feed on demand” or “breast on demand” philosophy, which states to nurse baby whenever she suckles or roots– this includes baby sucking on her hand, which Cielo would do non-stop! So, I obliged my hungry baby and nursed her…and nursed her…and nursed her. Although I received some guidance from my midwife on how to get her to properly latch and what sensations I should be feeling (deep tugs within my breast and contractions in my uterus), my actual lactation consultant (LC) didn’t see me until the middle of the second day postpartum. By then, my nipples were no longer just sore; they were cracked and almost bloody. I also started to notice that Cielo was getting frustrated when she nursed sometimes and would cry out hysterically, even with my boob sitting in her mouth. The LC decided to check inside of Cielo’s little mouth. She explained to us that the baby had a tight frenulum (tongue-tie) and that we should have it clipped. CLIP MY BABY’S TONGUE?!! I thought. Heck no! That sounded really awful! I asked to speak with my midwife immediately. She came in and I explained what the horrible LC had told us. Our midwife stared back blankly. She said it was no big deal, lots of baby’s have a tight frenulum and that the procedure was totally routine and performed daily. A tight frenulum is often the cause of a poor latch which is frustrating for baby because her tongue doesn’t stick out far enough to let down the milk she so desperately wants. A poor latch can also damage the nipple. I had never heard of tongue tie and no one had ever mentioned it as a possibility so naturally, I was a bit skeptical.
From the beginning of our pregnancy, Evan and I made the decision that we would not allow anyone– be it a medical professional, a family member or a friend– pressure us into doing or feeling anything that didn’t fit into our vision of a healthy pregnancy and birth. And we wanted to continue that thinking once the baby was here. So, instead of hastily clipping the frenulum, we decided we’d wait, get more opinions and do more research. In all, we sought the opinions of three pediatricians, three lactation consultants, two nurses, one midwife and countless websites, and they all said the same thing– her frenulum was indeed tight and that we should have it clipped.
So finally we did, but it was a whole six days after her birth. We’re proud of ourselves for having the wherewithal to follow our guts and do more research on the topic, but sadly, days one through five of our breastfeeding life become progressively worse as a result. Cielo became increasingly unhappy the days following our homecoming from the hospital…as did my nipples. By night three, I was dripping blood from one nipple. I decided, I shouldn’t breastfeed. Instead, I would just pump. Pumping was proving to be more successful. We were feeding Cielo with a syringe to avoid nipple confusion. Between pumps, I would lube up with Neosporin and sit around with no top on so that my nipples had enough air to breath and heal faster. Cielo was still fussy, but she seemed to be getting enough milk to keep her satisfied for the time being. It wasn’t until our fifth night with our newborn that shit really hit the fan. While I was pumping, my left breast began to spew blood into the bottle, then, as if cued by the left, the right one followed suit. Both of my breasts were now pumping large amounts of blood. Too much to feed the baby. It was the middle of the night. Cielo began to cry. I began to cry. How was I going to feed our baby?! That was my job, she was trying to do hers. I was devastated. And scared. I had no idea how to put food in my baby’s belly at that moment. Then Evan blurted out the F word…FORMULA. I looked at him in horror and cried some more. Formula was not part of my vision. It was not part of my plan. I was a natural mom. I labored for 26 hours and not once asked for pain medicine. I spent nine months eating healthy and exercising. I was a breastfeeding mom, not a formula mom. But in that moment Cielo was all that mattered and she was crying out in hunger…and I couldn’t bear it anymore. It was 3am when we hit our breaking point. Evan threw on his pajama pants (inside out– we can laugh about this now) and drove as fast as he could to the nearest open drug store. We hadn’t even opened the three bottles we had purchased “just in case” we ever needed one.
The moment the bottle touched her lips, Cielo was sucking as hard as she could. She inhaled the formula. And then she stopped crying. And then she curled up and went to sleep. She had been up for hours crying, rooting, sucking on her hands…she was hungry that whole time. My heart still breaks thinking of this. In that moment, I understood that maternal instinct of needing to do whatever it takes to keep your baby safe and happy. I would kill. I would die. I would give my baby formula forever if it meant that she was better off.
I left my formula feeding prejudices behind that night. In fact, I left all of my parenting prejudices behind that night. Happy, healthy, safe – that’s my new philosophy. And whatever road it takes to get there, that’s of no importance to me (within reason, of course).
We formula fed for the next two days while my nipples fully healed. Cielo turned into a whole new baby. She was content, she was full, she was sleeping– she was the kind of baby we had hoped to have all along.
When I finally felt ready to get back to nursing, I started off slow. Nursed a little, pumped a little and continued to supplement with formula as needed. In a matter of a few days, I was back to breastfeeding full-time. Cielo’s latch is great now and I know when she’s getting enough milk. My supply has come in healthily and continues to grow each day. I now even pump once a day for the freezer and I’m still able to feed the baby sufficiently.
AND…we continue to use formula as needed. No qualms about it.
I’m a happier, more confident mom now. Evan has been able to participate in feedings more directly and connect with Cielo during that intimate time. In retrospect, there are a number of things I could have done differently to have avoided all of our breastfeeding woes, but we’re happy with the cards that were dealt to us. We learned a great deal about ourselves, our baby and what kind of parents we want and need to be to keep her happy, healthy and safe.
A few suggestions (take them or leave them):
1) Find a lactation consultant that you like and trust, and consult her as often as necessary. Many LC’s will make house calls or talk you through any dilemmas over the phone.
2) Find a support group. Whether a friend, family member or postpartum group, seek out your peers to help you. These are women that have gone through or are going through a similar scenario to you. Help each other.
3) Make sure to have the necessary tools for successful nursing– nipple guards, creams and ointments, soothing pads, ice packs, a good pump, plenty of bottles or feeding utensils (there are many alternatives to bottles), etc.
4) NEVER feel bad for the decisions you have made when it comes to keeping your baby happy, healthy and safe. You don’t have to defend yourself. You are the mom (or dad) and ONLY YOU know what your child needs.
5) If nursing is your end goal, DON’T GIVE UP!!! Breastfeeding is hard, but the more you do it, the better and easier it gets. Take your time and keep at it.
I hope my story is helpful to any other moms who are having trouble with nursing. Know that you’ll get through it and YOU’RE NOT ALONE!!!
The Motherhood Collective is very thankful to Megan Morton (www.yourbestnestindy.com) for allowing us to share her post today!
by Megan Minneman Morton
Ever since we brought our new daughter home, her older brothers have been the first to tell me when she is crying, whimpering, or smelling a little suspicious. “Somebody needs you,” they say. I have no idea how this little saying started, but at first it sort of annoyed me. I could be enjoying a quick shower… “Mommy, somebody needs you. The baby is crying.” Or, sitting down for a second, quite aware that the baby was beginning to stir from a nap…. “Mama, somebody needs you!” Okay! I get it already! And not to mention that the newborn’s needs pale in comparison to the needs of 2 little boys. Somebody always needs a snack, a band-aid, a different sock, ice cubes in their water, a NEW Paw Patrol, a stream of snot wiped, a hug, a story, a kiss. Some days never seem to end, and the monotony of being “needed” can really take its toll. Then, it all started to hit me, they need ME. Not anybody else. Not a single other person in the whole world. They need their Mommy.
The sooner I can accept that being Mommy means that I never go off the clock, the sooner I can find peace in this crazy stage of life. That ‘Mommy’ is my duty, privilege and honor. I am ready to be there when somebody needs me, all day and all night. Mommy means I just put the baby back down after her 4am feeding when a 3-year-old has a nightmare. Mommy means I am surviving on coffee and toddler leftovers. Mommy means my husband and I haven’t had a real conversation in weeks. Mommy means I put their needs before my own, without a thought. Mommy means that my body is full of aches and my heart is full of love.
I am sure there will come a day when no one needs me. My babies will all be long gone and consumed with their own lives. I may sit alone in some assisted living facility watching my body fade away. No one will need me then. I may even be a burden. Sure, they will come visit, but my arms will no longer be their home. My kisses no longer their cure. There will be no more tiny boots to wipe the slush from or seat belts to be buckled. I will have read my last bedtime story, 7 times in a row. I will no longer enforce time outs. There will be no more bags to pack and unpack or snack cups to fill. I am sure my heart will yearn to hear those tiny voices calling out to me, “Mommy, somebody needs you!”
So for now, I find beauty in the peaceful 4am feedings in our cozy little nursery. We are perched above the naked oak trees in our own lavender nest. We watch the silent snow fall and a bunny scampering across its perfect white canvas. It’s just me and my little baby, the neighborhood is dark and still. We alone are up to watch the pale moon rise and the shadows dance along the nursery wall. She and I are the only ones to hear the barn owl hooting in the distance. We snuggle together under a blanket and I rock her back to sleep. It’s 4am and I am exhausted and frustrated, but it’s okay, she needs me. Just me. And maybe, I need her too. Because she makes me Mommy. Some day she will sleep through the night. Some day I will sit in my wheelchair, my arms empty, dreaming of those quiet nights in the nursery. When she needed me and we were the only two people in the world.
Can I enjoy being needed? Sometimes, sure, but often it is tiring. Exhausting. But, it isn’t meant to be enjoyed every moment. It is a duty. God made me their Mom. It is a position I yearned for long before I would ever understand it. Over a 3 day weekend my husband couldn’t believe how many times our boys kept saying, “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy”! “Are they always like this?” he asked not able to hide his terror, and sympathy. “Yep. All day, everyday. That’s my job.” And I have to admit that it is the toughest job I have ever had. In a previous life I was a restaurant manager for a high volume and very popular chain in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. A Saturday night at 7:30pm with the expo window overflowing with dishes, a 2 hour wait, and the electricity inexplicably going out has got nothing on a Tuesday, 5:00pm at the Morton house. And let me tell ya, South Florida diners are some of the toughest to please. But, they are a cake walk compared to sleep-deprived toddlers with low blood sugar.
Once upon a time, I had time. For myself. Now, my toe nails need some love. My bra fits a little differently. My curling iron might not even work anymore, I don’t know. I can’t take a shower without an audience. I’ve started using eye cream. I don’t get carded any more. My proof of motherhood. Proof that somebody needs me. That right now, somebody always needs me. Like last night…
At 3am I hear the little footsteps entering my room. I lay still, barely breathing. Maybe he will retreat to his room. Yeah right.
“Mommy.” A little louder.
“Yes”. I barely whisper.
He pauses, his giant eyes flashing in the dim light.
“I love you.”
And just like that, he is gone. Scampered back to his room. But, his words still hang in the cool night air. If I could reach out and snatch them, I would grab his words and hug them to my chest. His soft voice whispering the best sentence in the world. I love you. A smile curls across my lips and I slowly exhale, almost afraid to blow the memory away. I drift back to sleep and let his words settle into my heart.
One day that little boy will be a big man. There will no longer be any sweet words whispered to me in the wee hours. Just the whir of the sound machine and the snoring husband. I will sleep peacefully through the night, never a worry of a sick child or a crying baby. It will be but a memory. These years of being needed are exhausting, yet fleeting. I have to stop dreaming of “one day” when things will be easier. Because, the truth is, it may get easier, but it will never be better than today. Today, when I am covered in toddler snot and spit up. Today, when I savor those chubby little arms around my neck. Today is perfect. “One day” I will get pedicures and showers alone. “One day” I will get myself back. But, today I give myself away, and I am tired, and dirty and loved SO much, and I gotta go. Somebody needs me.
How to Beat Thrush!
About 90% of all newborns are colonized with the Candida albicans fungal organism (thrush). Once you have been diagnosed with thrush by a healthcare professional, you will need to carefully manage this infection or it can be a pesky reoccurring issue for you and your baby.
Chronic conditions that can cause thrush to become more prevalent are diabetes, anemia, endocrine disorders, PKU, HIV, mother’s with chronic yeast infections, and mother’s and babies that were given antibiotics during labor or immediately after.
Here are some suggestions that can help with the management of thrush. It might seem like this is an overabundance of ideas and information, but it is certainly worth it, if it can shorten your bouts with thrush.
The most common ways that thrush is dealt with are either through prescriptions or alternative treatments. The most commonly used prescriptions for thrush are Nystatin suspension or Diflucan, also known as Fluconazole (this should be used as the last resort). Sometimes these work well on their own, however there are other methods that you can use in addition to these to help beat the thrush bug.
Gentian Violet has been used for many, many years. It is inexpensive, effective, advantageous, and can be purchased over the counter. Always check with your healthcare provider before using Gentian Violet. Gentian Violet commonly comes in a 2% concentration, however this should not be used without diluting to 1%. It can be diluted by the pharmacist or you can dilute it by half with sterilized water as well. Gentian Violet can be used once a day, for 4-6 days, but should not be used past 7 days. The Gentian Violet can be applied to the baby’s mouth with a Q-tip and to the mother’s breast with a Q-tip, gauze pad or cotton ball. It can also be applied to the baby’s hands. It is very messy, so be sure to wear clothing for yourself and the baby that you do not mind getting stained. Another way of application for Gentian Violet tothe baby’s mouth, is to paint the nipple and areola with a cotton ball and quickly bring the baby to the breast to feed. Gentian Violet can be dangerous if used improperly or for too long.
Grapefruit Seed, (taken orally) 250 mg, 3 times daily, or 5 to 15 drops in 5 oz of water, 2-5 times daily. DO NOT USE GRAPE SEED EXTRACT, ONLY GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT.
A probiotic for the momma. Acidopholis Bifidus: 400 million-10 billion viable units daily. This should be used for up to 2 weeks after the symptoms are gone. Based on anecdotal evidence, it is difficult to know how well this works, however it has been used for years. Oral supplements of Acidopholis contain beneficial bacteria that can help to limit the Candida in the digestive track.
- Garlic tablets can be taken in doses of 3 tablets, 3 times a day, for 2 or more weeks.
- Vitamin B- at least 100 mg daily.
Hygiene Protocol for Thrush recipients
All people and parts need to be treated
- Wash hands every time after using the bathroom, changing the baby’s diaper, and before and after every breastfeeding session. All family members who change diapers or bottle feed the baby should follow these guidelines as well. Use soap and water while lathering for 20 seconds.
- Nipples should be rinsed after each nursing with clean water and air dried (Thrush organisms thrive on milk and moisture).
- 1 TBSP of white vinegar in 1 cup water can be applied with cotton ball after nipples are rinsed. Or 1 tsp of baking soda in 1 cup water can be applied with cotton ball, this mixture can also be applied to breast, baby’s mouth, and baby’s hands. (Keep either mixture in a sealed jar to keep sterilized, do not re-dip the cotton ball after it has touched the breast. )
- The diaper rash area needs to be washed and rinsed with clean water every time the diaper is changed.
- Several times a day the baby’s bottom needs to be left out to air dry.
- An appropriate anti-fungal cream can be used.
- Disposable diaper and plastic pants usually aggravate thrush because they hold moisture. Use cloth diapers if possible during thrush.
- Dad’s should be treated as well if Sexual Relations have taken place during the time of infection.
- You do not have to have visible signs for the thrush organisms to be present.
- Even when symptoms seem to be gone it can reoccur easily. So, make sure to continue treatments for 1-2weeks after the Thrush seems to be gone.
- Toys, Pacifiers, Bottle nipples, breastfeeding pump kit parts, medicine droppers, nipple sheilds, and teething toys need to be boiled daily for at least twenty minutes. They first need to be washed in soapy water, then rinsed in clear water/ white vinegar solution and lastly boiled. Pacifiers and other rubber nipples need to be replaced weekly. Nursing pads, bras, diapers, bed sheets, crib sheets, and all towels that are used after hand washing or bathing all items need to be washed in hot water with 1CUP bleach in wash water. If items cannot be bleached use 1CUP white vinegar instead. Items should be dried in a very hot dryer or the sun.
- Paper towels should be used after hand washing whenever possible.
- Toothbrushes and all dish ware should be washed with soap and water with vinegar. These items also need to be run in the dish washer daily, 1CUP of white vinegar can be added.
- Eat 1-2 cups of cultured yogurt daily and/or cottage cheese, preferably unsweetened.
- Try to limit food items with yeast, sugar, and alcohol while trying to get rid of thrush.
- Do not freeze or save any milk that was pumped during infection. Freezing milk does not kill Candida albicans.
- Add as much garlic as possible to your diet during this time.
Sources: “Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding”, La Leche League International, Ameda/Egnell-Hollister Inc., Dr. Jack Newman, M.D.
*All products pictured can be purchased locally at: Health Nut Nutrition 1505 Enterprise Drive Lynchburg, VA 24502 (434)239-5170
Disclaimer : Anticipation and Beyond uses all reasonable effort to provide accurate, up-to-date and evidence-based information for teaching and counseling purposes. All information that is written for blogs, social media posts, and websites is to be used for education and informational purposes only. All data and instruction from Anticipation and Beyond should not be intended to replace or substitute professional or medical advice from your health care provider. Direct all of your family’s concerns, questions, and health issues to your health care provider.
The information provided is not and may not be applicable to every situation. The purpose of Anticipation and Beyond providing guidance and education to new families is two-fold. The first purpose is for the intention of teaching parents about the many choices and alternatives that are available to them. The second motivation is to encourage families to dig down deep and research themselves from reliable resources that will help to enlighten their new journey.
On July 6th, Miss E turned 18 months. On that day I nursed her in the glider I hadn't used for a while. As we sat there I couldn't help but think how far we had come. I want to be honest.
Those first few weeks were HARD! I wish people had been honest about it. The thing I heard most often was, "breastfeeding is natural, your body was made for this". Well, supposedly my body was made to have a baby, too, yet, Miss E was born via an unplanned c-section after 12+ hrs in the hospital. I couldn't push her out, but that's a story for another day.
Anyway here's what I want to say: while I agree formula should not be pushed on anyone, I do believe if used "properly" it can be helpful to a nursing mother. My intent is not to judge how someone chooses to feed their child, but to share how it was beneficial in my own breastfeeding journey. I can already hear the gasps and tsk, tsks from lactation consultants and breastfeeding advocates. But you know what? I don't think I'd still be breastfeeding if supplementing hadn't been suggested.
As a new mom, I was worried about Miss E's lethargy. Her latch was pretty good, but getting her to take an interest in nursing was a bigger problem. I felt that maybe this wasn't the way it should be. I talked to the nurses and they mentioned it to the pediatrician. On his next rounds, he asked me about my concerns and I expressed them. He then shared with me that in his family, his wife, also a pediatrician, struggled with breastfeeding their first child. He said that with all the studies out there, they didn't want to chance nipple confusion by introducing a bottle. It was different with their second child. After much research they decided that supplementing with formula wouldn't be so bad. Their second child was a better breastfeeder. He explained that since my milk hadn't come in yet, Miss E was using a lot of energy for little return and that could be causing the lethargy. He then explained to me how to supplement if I chose to do so. At each feeding, I was instructed to put Miss E to each breast for 10 mins, and only after that was I to give her a bottle. We only did it for her first week. After that I was comfortable enough that my milk had come in and felt she was nursing better.
So what's my point with all this?
I had resolved to breastfeed Miss E, but I know if I had continued to worry about whether or not she was getting what she needed, my resolve may have faltered. Having the formula available allowed me to continue to try breastfeeding without the fear that she would starve. It was a real fear for me, especially after my body "failed" at another natural process, birth. With the formula available, I stressed less about nursing. I knew that if it turned out I couldn't nurse, I had a back up plan.
We also have to be careful when we put so much emphasis on how much of a "superwoman" someone is for breastfeeding. Statements like that neglect the fact that although breastfeeding is natural, not all bodies are made to do it. We would never make a diabetic feel bad for not being able to produce insulin. I think because of my experience, I don't understand why we get into "breastfeeding versus formula feeding mommy wars". Shouldn't the point be that we are feeding our children? There are so many reasons why people choose to breastfeed and there are probably just as many reasons why people choose not to. The important thing for us to remember is cliched, but true. We haven't walked in another woman's shoes and therefore shouldn't judge her decisions.
I would like to put into perspective what is actually needed to fill a newborn tummy over the first few days of life.
A newborn is not thirsty or hungry at birth; the placenta has hydrated the baby for the immediate postpartum hours. The newborn’s golden hour immediately after birth is for bonding, learning how to eat out of the womb, and to start consuming that fabulous colostrum which is excellent medicinally and nutritionally.
How much is too much? Stomach sizes can vary with each baby. Their milk capacity can differ by the gestational age and size of the baby. The average stomach capacity of a newborn is about 7 mL, keeping in mind that 30 mL is 1 ounce. In the first two days of life, 2-15 mL feedings are sufficient for the baby’s well-being.
When babies are given 30-60 mL of artificial milk and are expected to consume this excessive amount, it is an unnatural and unrealistic proportion for their stomachs.
Just to give you a visual of a baby’s tummy…
Age: 1 day Amount Stomach Can Hold: 5-7 mL Comparable Object: hazelnut, thimble, glass marble, thumb nail
Age: 3 days Amount Stomach Can Hold: 22-27 mL (about an ounce) Comparable Object: teaspoon, milk ball, large glass marble
Age: 10 days Amount Stomach Can Hold: 45-60 mL (1.5-2 ounces) Comparable Object: walnut, golf ball, coffee measuring scoop
High volume feeds in the first few days of life can actually stress a newborn’s immature kidneys. That is why colostrum is a low volume, perfectly measured milk. Our bodies know what our babies need. Trust them! --------------- Disclaimer: Anticipation and Beyond uses all reasonable effort to provide accurate, up-to-date and evidence-based information for teaching and counseling purposes. All information that is written for blogs, social media posts, and websites is to be used for education and informational purposes only. All data and instruction from Anticipation and Beyond should not be intended to replace or substitute professional or medical advice from your health care provider. Direct all of your family’s concerns, questions, and health issues to your health care provider. The information provided is not and may not be applicable to every situation. The purpose of Anticipation and Beyond providing guidance and education to new families is two-fold. The ﬁrst purpose is for the intention of teaching parents about the many choices and alternatives that are available to them. The second motivation is to encourage families to dig down deep and research themselves from reliable resources that will help to enlighten their new journey.
I hear so many mothers ask the same questions. Is there any milk? Where is the colostrum everyone is talking about? Is my baby going to starve because it’s only getting a few drops of milk at each feeding? I thought my milk was going to be white? I can’t feel anything coming out, why? Breastfeeding is natural, normal, intuitive, and instinctual, right? Hmm... If that’s the case then why do so many babies not latch on or fall asleep the minute the breast is in its mouth? If colostrum is the ﬁrst milk, then why do you only see yellow gooey stuff coming out of your breast, what is that? Where is this colostrum everyone is talking about and what exactly is it? The yellow, sticky, thick, gooey stuff is what many call liquid gold. It is the most precious liquid nutrition that is known to man. That yellow liquid is your colostrum, the keeper and guard of your baby’s life and health.
Colostrum is wonderfully packed with a punch. Every drop contains bountiful amounts of nutrients, antibodies, live cells, lactoferrin (specialized protein), and oligosaccharides (simple sugars). Now that we have a small window into a few of the beneﬁts of colostrum; let’s look at the larger picture of what colostrum does for our newborns, and how much the baby actually needs. The answer is very surprising. A newborn only needs a small amount of colostrum to build that hedge of protection around its little defenseless body. A newborn’s belly, the ﬁrst few days of its life, is as big as a large marble, by three days it is the size of a ping pong ball, and by day ten a newborn’s belly is the size of a small egg. Colostrum is easily digested because the baby’s body was made to ingest this perfect food. So between the belly size and colostrum’s perfect digestion abilities, a newborn needs to eat often with very small amounts each time for the ﬁrst few days of life.
The colostrum composition changes as your baby gets older, day one colostrum is not the same as day two or day three. Your colostrum and milk change weekly, daily and even hourly to perfectly provide your baby’s needs. The perfect unique nutritional needs of your baby will never go unmet when nursing. Some of these nutritional values include: allergy immunity components, laxative components, and long chain fatty acids. What are all of these things and why does your newborn need them?
The ﬁrst one we will discuss are antibodies. Immunoglobulins are antibodies that focus on one pathogen and destroy one particular pathogen. Each antibody is made for its own assigned pathogen, to un-stabilize it and destroy it. The main immuniglobin is sIgA. It patrols various areas of the body. It is actually made and stored in the breast. It protects the digestive tract by latching on to the fat in the milk so it passes through the whole tract and is not absorbed into the intestines. Instead it can be used in the gut, as soldiers protecting the baby from disease.
Live blood cells are another huge component of breast milk. Every drop of colostrum is loaded with live white blood cells. There are up to ﬁve million white blood cells in each milliliter of colostrum. The average is about one million white blood cells per milliliter that is a hundred times more white blood cells than an adult has in their blood. Just to let you know how big a milliliter is - it is equal to one ﬁfth of a teaspoon. That is a lot of white blood cells! Another type of live blood cells that are contained in colostrum are lymphocytes. They attack and kill germ cells, and they also break down proteins and fats so they can start their immunity functions.
Colostrum contains protein. Lactoferrin is the highest amount of protein that your baby will ever get from breast milk. Colostrum contains three times more protein than mature milk. It is chocked full of protein and lactoferrin that kills viruses, fungi, and many bad bacterial. It has an anti-inﬂammatory component and it also combats E Coli and yeast infections.
Oligosaccharides are simple sugars and carbohydrates in colostrum that keep and seal the digestive tract from harmful pathogens that cause diarrheal diseases, which are the most common threat to newborn health.
The laxative components of colostrum help prepare the baby’s intestines for food intake, which it has not used before its birth. This laxative helps get rid of meconium, which is the bowel substance (ﬁrst poop) that accumulates in the baby during pregnancy. It is important to expel meconium as soon as possible, by doing so the baby is getting rid of unwanted bilirubin.
Jaundice is referred to as an excess of bilirubin. When baby is in the womb it has a need for many extra red blood cells to carry the oxygen through the baby. After birth, the baby obviously breathes from its lungs and has no need for the extra red blood cells. Once the baby is born, it needs to break down the extra red blood cells and dispose of them. The old, unneeded cells release iron and bilirubin during the break-down process. The iron is easily stored in the baby’s liver and other tissues to be used at a later date. However, the bilirubin must be eliminated from the liver. The baby’s small and immature liver cannot always render out the bilirubin as fast as it is made from the old cell breakdown. Physiologic Jaundice is normal and temporary and does not require treatment. The bilirubin is disposed of through the meconium. So the natural laxative and colostrum can highly beneﬁt the baby by keeping the jaundice from turning into pathologic (abnormal) jaundice.
As you can see there are many beneﬁts to colostrum, and these are just a few. Remember the key to an abundant milk supply is to feed the baby as soon as possible after birth and do not go longer than every two hours between feedings. Your ultimate goal should be to feed the baby ten to twelve feedings daily.
Do not be worried or discouraged if the baby just “plays at the breast”. This is common, normal and nature’s way of the baby getting to know you. Sometimes expressing a small amount of colostrum onto the baby’s lips will motivate more aggressive sucking.
Breastfeeding is one of nature’s most perfect gifts. I know this blog is a lot for YOU to digest, however, I just wanted you to know the importance of EVERY drop of colostrum. Enjoy your baby!
--------------- Disclaimer: Anticipation and Beyond uses all reasonable effort to provide accurate, up-to-date and evidence-based information for teaching and counseling purposes. All information that is written for blogs, social media posts, and websites is to be used for education and informational purposes only. All data and instruction from Anticipation and Beyond should not be intended to replace or substitute professional or medical advice from your health care provider. Direct all of your family’s concerns, questions, and health issues to your health care provider. The information provided is not and may not be applicable to every situation. The purpose of Anticipation and Beyond providing guidance and education to new families is two-fold. The ﬁrst purpose is for the intention of teaching parents about the many choices and alternatives that are available to them. The second motivation is to encourage families to dig down deep and research themselves from reliable resources that will help to enlighten their new journey.
Once upon a time I looked at my gorgeous husband and I asked him to give me a baby. He knocked me up faster than a sneeze. It was glorious (on both accounts). I loved being pregnant even though I puked my guts up a bazillion times a day for the first 6 or 7 months. It was magical. People smiled at me in Target and asked me if it was a girl or a boy. They wanted to know my due date. There I was, in Target, with perfect strangers talking to me about my unborn child and through their wrinkled eyes and gray hair they would tell me how wonderful children are. They'd tell me how much I will love having a baby in my life. What I didn't realize was...
These people were GRANDparents. And big, fat stinking liars.
As I type these words my 7 week old is learning the valuable lesson of "Hey! Your mom can't hold you all day long. I have stuff to do! LIKE SHOWER! AND EAT!" So she's watching the blurry colors and absorbing the inappropriate sounds of Family Guy. (MOTHER OF THE YEAR!) Her father will walk through the door and want to play with her, but what he fails to realize is that as soon as the clock strikes 7:15PM my sweet, adorable little girl turns into her own version of Edward Hyde. I swear her sparkly, beautiful blue eyes haze over into this deep, dark gray and she scowls at me with hatred as she recounts her earlier "cry it out session" and the fact that I slammed her against my pelvic bone for an entire hour during labor. Those people
brilliant scientists that claim have proven children don't remember their entrance into the world have clearly never seen the look of resentment, hostility, and disgust their infant gives them at random points in the day. It's as if they're saying,
"Yeah ... I remember you, Dilating Cervix Lady. I remember my cruel descent down your pelvic region. And my crapping on your leg at 3:00 in the morning is just the start to the hellacious plans I have to pay you back! ... Hold on tight, Dilating Cervix Lady."
I'm the middle child of seven children. I was guaranteed to be special. What my parents and siblings failed to understand is that one day this sarcastic, semi-inappropriate individual would reproduce. Now, I am a fantastic mother. (If I say so myself...) I love being a stay at home mom and watching my little girl grow. I love laughing with her and having conversations that she can't understand. It is perfection. But you moms know what I'm talking about when I say every kid hits a nerve at some point. This nerve is buried under about 18 layers of patience, 46 layers of love, and 4 layers of self control. Somehow, someway that 7 week old infant burrows in and finds that nerve and tap dances the crap all over it. More often then not it is moments after she has pooped all over you, is screaming bloody murder, and refusing to nap (even though she needs it). You look around for help and you find two Labrador Retrievers staring at you like you broke the baby and you're going to hell.
Because I am a middle child and sarcasm is my love language, I have started to think of ways to laugh at these situations. And by laugh I mean think of hilarious ways to pay my child back for tap dancing all over my well hidden Mommy Nerve. I've written these down in her journal that I will give to her when she graduates college. If she is my child (my hooha says she is...) she will get a good laugh out of it - and I hope you do too. Better to laugh than cry. Lord knows I'll be crying way too much when she is 13 and realizes I'm not as cool as I think I am.
You're 7 weeks old. And you stress me out sometimes. We'll get through it, but here are some of the ways I wish I would have paid you back. (Or maybe I actually do it ...)
Love, The Best Mom in The World
1) When you poop on me. Why does this keep happening, by the way? You've never pooped on your dad. Did I do something wrong here? Is the pooping ON me really necessary? I follow all diaper changing procedures to protect myself. I've worked in daycares, nannied, babysat ... I'm really good at diaper changes! What gives, kid? Are you some Pooping Prodigy? At any rate, I'm going to let you get that cute puppy that you want so badly. Because I know one day he/she is going to drop a giant one in the house and you're bound to get poop on your hands. Enjoy that, sucker.
2) When you scream for no reason at all other than you want to be held. This, well ... this one is my favorite. It will be really hard not to do this for real. One day you're going to be 13 and hate me. You'll think I'm a loser when I make fangs with candy corn and laugh at my awesomeness. (Shut up, I am awesome! And THAT IS FUNNY!) At this tender age you will ask me to drop you off a block away from school or not "embarrass you in front of your friends." So my payback? When you reject me I would love to throw myself on the ground and wail like I have nothing to live for. I mean go crazy. Tears, snot, running mascara and hyperventilating I want people seeing this spectacle to believe that I am actually dying. I want them to call 9-1-1. And when they ask 'what's the emergency?' I want to scream, 'she won't let me hang out with her all the time and go everywhere she goes and she hates me and has abandoned me and I'm dying. I'M DYING OF A BROKEN HEART!' Sufficient payback. Sufficient indeed.
3) When you scream when I walk out of a room and you can't see me. This is easy. Super easy. Here we are in the living room watching your stupid television shows about some teenage girls liking vampires (because I KNOW it's going to come back like platforms and bellbottoms when you are in your teenage years...) and you get up for a glass of tea. You walk into the kitchen and then all of the sudden you hear a shrill scream. You rush back into the room to find me smiling and happy again. You roll your eyes and walk away. It happens again, only this time it is worse. You run into the living room to find me flipping out like I have demons inside of me and the worst case of constipation to ever occur in the history of mankind. You ask me five times if I am okay, when I hear your voice and realize you're there I smile again and all is right with the world. Repeat. Repeat every stinking time you walk out of a room I am in.
4) Sore breastfeeding nipples. Bengay in your training bra. That's all I'm sayin'.
5) Fighting sleep. Ahh ... my second favorite. I'd like to come into your room at night and tell you stories. Loudly. Screaming them. As I drink espresso. There you are just trying to fall asleep and then there's me yelling to you about the time your dad and I installed the backsplash.
6) Interrupting mommy and daddy's "special time" because your binky fell out. All those nights you try to sit in your boyfriend's car, well I won't be interrupting it just to prevent Mr. Handsy from feeling you up. It's called payback. The worst kind of payback. There's a form of blocking that you're doing ... and I refuse to say that word here. But a blocker? That's what you are.
7) I love you. And you're going to grow up awesome because you have the realest mom in town. Eat your peas. And remember ... the best payback of all? One day you're going to be a mom."
I’m a formula feeding mom. Not by my mind’s choice, but my body’s. Most days I really don’t think twice about it. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel guilty. I just shake up a bottle, hold my little one close and watch her drink up like it’s nectar straight from heaven.
Last night though, she caught her brother’s cold. She couldn’t breathe; she couldn’t sleep. Thoughts of guilt started setting in. If only I could of breastfeed, she wouldn’t be sick. She would be getting all of the garlic and vitamin C I had been downing over the last few days. If I could nurse her, she would be comforted, she could be lulled back to sleep. For a moment, I felt helpless and a bit jilted. But then I remembered, I may not have milk, but I’m her mama. Nursing is not the only way my body was designed to comfort. I picked up her sniffling, crying body and wrapped it up in her soft cotton “baba”. I held her close while I swayed back and forth, pacing the floor. I sang and “shhhhhed” right next to her little ear, feeling her sweet wispy hair on my cheek. I drank in her scent and hoped she was doing the same of me. She relaxed and stopped crying. I sat down and rocked her and held her up against the left side of my chest so she could hear my heart beating. I squeezed her deliciously chubby thighs and patted her back and listened to her breath become slower and more calm. First rest, then sleep, then deep slumber. I had done it.
I prayed for strength and patience, knowing that this routine would be deja vu at 11pm, 2am, 4am and so on. I didn't mind.
Early the next morning, I curiously looked up the definition of the word nurse. Over one hundred years ago, Florence Nightingale defined it as “the act of utilizing the environment of the patient to assist him in his recovery.” I smiled knowing I had not breastfed my baby, but I had nursed.
We thank our educator-in-residence, Laurie Flower, for sharing information on a common (and under-diagnosed) issue! Ankyloglossia, what, you might say? You may think it sounds foreign. It is Greek for crooked tongue. It is the true medical name of a baby being tongue-tied. Many new mothers are not informed about the very common condition of babies being tongue-tied and how it can lead to unsuccessful breastfeeding.
A tongue-tie consists of an abnormally short, tight, or deep lingual frenulum, which restricts the mobility of the tongue. It is a membrane of tissue that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth that constricts movement for feeding. Tongue-ties vary greatly in length and thickness. It is not always at the tip of the tongue, which is what many people commonly look for, which can mislead the diagnosis. Why is that a problem? Freedom of movement is essential for the withdrawal of milk from the breast.
- Sore cracked nipples
- Insufficient milk supply
Symptoms for Baby:
- Short feeds
- Non-stop feeds
- Unsettled baby
- Weight issues
- Tongue can look like it has a heart shaped tip when trying to extend
- Tongue can look square or flat
- Baby can not poke tongue out beyond bottom gums or lip
- The tongue humps up in the middle instead of plunging forward
- Tongue can not move freely to the left or right of mouth
- Baby often makes a clicking or smacking sound while trying to eat
It affects more boys than girls. Babies who have a family history of tongue-tie are more genetically inclined to have tongue-tie as well. Most of the time it is found through moms trying to breastfeed, because it doesn’t appear to hinder babies who bottle feed.
Not only can being tongue-tied affect breastfeeding, it can affect children and adults who desire to play wind instruments. Long term, it can affect dental hygiene, kissing and speech.
For years every baby was checked at birth for tongue-tie to prevent breastfeeding problems. Then, in the 1940’s and 50’s when the number of breastfeeding babies declined, the monitoring of newborn tongue-tie virtually stopped. As breastfeeding rates have risen, it has once again become a potential issue and a nasty nuisance for struggling newborns. As new parents are educating themselves and choosing breastfeeding as the “normal” way of feeding, tongue-tie can be an issue for some mothers and babies.
A breastfeeding baby with a correctly-working tongue should be able to lick his lips and touch the tip of his tongue to the roof of his mouth. The tongue is the major component of breastfeeding. It is what pulls the breast into the mouth and holds the breast in position. When the tongue tip elevates, it traps the milk in the front of the breast and then presses the breast moving the milk from the areola to the nipple. The tongue then helps “catch” the milk and “throws” it smoothly down the throat for the baby to swallow. When that cannot happen, the baby instead struggles to use his lips and jaws to clamp down, and painfully compensates with an incorrect latch. This causes pain to the mother and can contribute to low milk production.
Who Usually Finds a Tongue-Tie?
- Lactation counselors/specialists
- Lactation consultants
- Occasionally pediatricians
Breastfeeding clinicians base their assessment of tongue-tie upon the following:
- Closely monitoring the mother and baby dyad during a feeding
- Comfort/pain level of the mother
- Breast damage
- Babies feeding poorly, if at all.
- Referral for either low milk supply or low baby weight
What to do Once Tongue-Tie has Been Found?
A frenotomy can be an appropriate option for most babies. A referral would be made to one of the following specialists to perform this quick and easy procedure: an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor), general dentist, some pediatricians, some midwives or pediatric surgeons.
What Does the Procedure Entail?
When many new parents are told their baby might need a surgical procedure, they might become very alarmed and filled with concern. However, this office procedure takes less then one minute. Sometimes a local anesthetic or a topical analgesia is used. When the frenulum is released the tongue is then freed to make natural wide movements. This is done by making a small direct cut to the part of the frenulum that is preventing the tongue to move properly. Usually within a minute the baby can go right to the mothers breast to be calmed and also to see if a proper latch can occur. This is a very low risk procedure. On occasion, there can be short term bleeding or infection, but these complications are very uncommon.
The joy, success and the health benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the fear of this extremely common procedure. If you find that you are having any of the above mentioned symptoms, it is imperative to see a breastfeeding specialist/consultant as soon as possible to help you get breastfeeding back on the right track; before too much damage is done to the breast or the milk supply is depleted.