Tag Archive | support

Breastfeeding in Real Life: One Mom’s Story.

Breastfeeding in Real Life: Doula Molly’s story.

When I was pregnant with my first son, I had “planned” to breastfeed him. Though it wasn’t really a plan. It went more like this”I’ll try to breastfeed.” I was indifferent  about it. It wasn’t a goal. It wasn’t the most important thing. It was just a thing that I was going to try. I didn’t read any books, or do any research. I looked at the pamphlets that my hospital gave out in the welcome packs. They said things like, “breast is best”, and “nutrients” “antibodies”.  I was totally on board with this whole breastfeeding thing right? I mean I read the pamphlets what more could I do?! I didn’t know there was more I should do. I had my first son december 23, 2007. It was such a joyous time. I had just given birth and I was overwhelmed with emotions. I was also exhausted! After he was done being weighed and cleaned up the nurse brought him over to me swaddled in the hospital blanket and his knit blue hat to feed him. She showed me how to do the “football hold” and she sat next to me to help him latch. Nothing. We tried massaging (she called it massaging but it was more like playing the congas on my breasts) to help get some colostrum out to encourage him to latch. Nothing. After a few hours of trying and getting nowhere, they brought him a bottle of formula. This was all he had at the hospital. After that first time of trying, nobody came in to ask if I wanted more help, or offer me a breast pump. I didn’t know to ask for that help either. So that was that. After two days in the hospital we returned home I was feeling very engorged. My aunt come over, who happened to be a nurse, and luckily she thought to bring a breast pump. She asked if it was okay for her to show me how to use it, to which I reluctantly agreed. I was a hormonal wreck. I was tired and sore. I didn’t want to think about this, let alone deal with it! She set up the pump and helped me get comfortable. She turned it on and whoa, that was a weird feeling. I started to tense up so she began to encourage me, telling me that giving my baby breast milk was the best thing I could do for him, about how everything my baby would need would be in my milk. How it would boost his immune system, and how healthy it would be for him and how healthy it could make him. Before I knew it I looked down and had pumped 4 oz of breastmilk for my baby. I was amazed! My body had just made food for my baby! I wasn’t worried about him latching any longer. I could just pump my milk for him, how convenient. I was fine with this method, I didn’t have worry about trying to get him to latch! I had this whole new responsibility of keeping this human being alive! I pumped for him for about 8 weeks. Until I got the flu. Or what I thought was the flu. Really it was Mastisis. Mastisis is described as an infection in the breast tissue and usually comes with flu-like symptoms as well as red, hot tender spots on one or both breasts. I didn’t know what this was, I had never heard of it. I didn’t know that it could be caused from milk that isn’t removed regularly or well, or from an unnoticed clogged duct. I knew that I had the chills, and that my fever was 103 for three days straight. I know that my whole body ached. I thought I had the flu so I rested and tried to sleep it off. I wasn’t pumping because I was in so much pain. After three days of this and the fever starting to go down, I sat down to pump. I was so engorged from not pumping that I was too sore to pump! You see I wasn’t following my baby’s cues on when to feed because I was pumping. I made my own schedule. I just pumped when I felt like it. This is more than likely the culprit for my mastisits. I also didn’t know that you could nurse or pump through the flu, like I thought I was having. I didn’t know anything about breastfeeding, I didn’t prepare myself at all! I stopped pumping for my baby because I didn’t really understand what was going on. I thought I would make him sick if I continued, so I stopped. My breastfeeding journey ended in pain, confusion, guilt and many  many tears.  I didn’t know that I needed to ask questions about this either.

Four years later I became pregnant again. This time I wanted to breastfeed so badly. I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about it. I read books, and things on the internet. I wanted to familiarize myself with all things breastfeeding to enhance my success! To my surprise,  my second son was born he latched immediately. We went on our nursing journey with very little issues. I went on to have two more sons, one I nursed for 18 months and one is still currently nursing at 7 months with plans to continue for a long time. I’ve grown to love nursing! Not just for all the health benefits for my baby, but also the bonding and to be honest, the convenience of it! Having your baby cuddled up to your body, nursing, and sighing and looking up at you is one of the best feelings. Your whole body responds when you are nursing! According to the book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” there is a surge of hormones in your body every time you breastfeed that makes you feel loving and nurturing. These hormones are prolaction and oxytocin. These hormones also help you recover from the emotional and physical stress of birth. I can attest to this. After my first birth, I was very hormonal , cried very easily and was very tense and in pain. I did not experience this with any of my other births where my babies started nursing right away. Thanks to the hormones released by breastfeeding it can slow down the hormonal roller coaster and help fight against the development for postpartum depression.

 

(This does not mean that if you breastfeed you won’t experience the baby blues or other forms of PPD/PPA, but that it *can* help lower your likelihood of developing this issues)

 

So what was the difference between my first breastfeeding journey compared to the last three? I can tell you without a doubt that it was knowledge and support. I knew nothing about breastfeeding my first go around, and you don’t know what you don’t know. If I had known that I needed to be pumping every two and half to three hours maybe I wouldn’t have got mastisis or maybe I would have got him to latch and had been able to breastfeed longer. So if you “plan” on breastfeeding, do just that and make a plan! Find out everything you can and also prepare yourself  for hurdles. Because you will face hurdles! In Illinois 77.4% of moms breast feed ever, and 47% are still nursing at 6 months and even less at 12 months. ( according to the CDC). But the World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continuing after introducing solids for up two years or longer. Which leads me to support. Support is possibly even more important than knowledge. With my first I had a partner who didn’t really care whether I breastfeed or not. He was unenthusiastic about it. When I would talk about pain, or having to sit long periods of time to pump, his solution was to just quit. I was also a young mother at 20 years old. I was the first of my friends to have a baby so I had little support or knowledge from them. Aside from my aunt the nurse, I had no support. With the next time I had a partner (now husband) who understood why I wanted to breastfeed so badly. I explained to him how important it was to me and that I would most definitely need his support. I joined a breastfeeding facebook group online, which helped tremendously. To read other mom’s feeling and going through the same things with me in my journey was encouraging! So in honor national breastfeeding month, get yourself a plan, get yourself equipped with knowledge, and find your tribe for your support on your breastfeeding journey!

 

Trinity Doula Services offers Lactation Support – in your home or ours. We also have a Southern Illinois Milk Sharing group on facebook should you find yourself in need of donor milk or looking to donate milk to help other local moms and babies.

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The fight against PPD rages on…

You may remember me from a blog about postpartum depression that was posted a while back. In that blog, I laid bare my experience of the previous weeks. I was raw, open and honest about what it is really like to struggle with postpartum depression. By the end of the blog, you may have thought that “the worst is over”. I thought so too! But here I am 3 months after having my baby and the last two weeks have been hell. I have felt like I was losing that grip on happiness that I had found just a few weeks ago. Around the time that I wrote that blog, I had felt like I had finally peeked my head above the fog. I was still in the thick of it, but I was rising and could see the sunlight and the beauty of my new “normal”. But now, just a few short weeks later, I am sinking back below that fog, clawing at whatever I can to stay up. But I’ll be honest. I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under me just when I think I have a good handle on things. So I am writing another blog, which I did not plan to do, because there may be someone reading this that feels tired too.

To the mom that feels like she will never be enough for her family. To the mom that worries she is starting to annoy her friends with her constant anxiety about ridiculous things. To the mom that looks at herself in pictures and wonders if her eyes will ever look happy again. To the mom who feels total guilt for losing patience with their older child who you know is only acting up because they are jealous of the new baby. To the mom who feels guilt because you aren’t as sad as you should be when you drop your kids off at daycare to go to work. To the mom giving her child popcorn for supper because she doesn’t have the mental fortitude tonight to handle a crying baby and a clingy toddler and cook a nice meal. To the mom who cries in the shower because she doesn’t want her partner to know just how awful she feels.

I see you.

To the mom who sometimes wonders if she made the right decision having another child. To the mom who loves both of her children so much more than she could ever explain but still briefly considers running away. To the mom who is touched out. To the mom who feels guilty for depending too much on her partner for the third month in a row. To the mom who’s nerves are shot. To the mom who sometimes feels like her family and friends would be so much better off without her bothering them. To the mom who worries that her toddler can feel her sadness.

I see you.

We will get through this. If you ever read any mom blog ever, you know that this is a phase. Right now it feels hopeless and endless, but eventually, it will end. Things may not get easier, but they will get more “normal” and we will be able to cope. Parenting is one of the most incredible journeys a person could ever take. But we’d be lying if we pretended that things were always great. No, children aren’t the worst (most of the time), and parenting isn’t terrible (again, most of the time). But it is SO. DAMN. HARD. And it’s even harder when you are battling the beast that is PPD. AND IT IS A BATTLE. We fight this fight daily. Some days, it’s a fight to smile and some days, it’s a fight to get out of bed. But we continue to fight because we know that eventually that fog will lift again. Eventually we will climb back up to the sunshine and the beauty. Eventually we will smile again and actually mean it.
Please continue to fight this fight with me. I won’t give up on you. – Doula Megan

November Special!

We have some specials from time to time. During this Thanksgiving Season we are offering our best deal yet!

For new clients who sign with us during the month of November, you will receive 20% off the total fee when you  combine any Birth package and Placenta encapsulation.

This deal is only good for new clients who sign with us before December 1st!! It’s never too early or too late to hire a doula!

Call or message us today!

to-show-our-thanksclient-appreciation-sale

My experiences in the O.R. – as a mother & as a doula

Having a cesarean birth is too common in this country, about 1 in 3 births are surgical. I’ve blogged about my births before, mainly my vbacs. I want to talk about what it’s like to be the one on the operating table and what it’s like to be supporting the mother going through the operation.

When I gave birth to my second daughter via cesarean, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been in an operating room before. I knew it would be bright, cold and busy. No one really talked to me during the surgery, I remember not even being told they had started. After a few minutes I hear the words ‘uterine incision’, well if I had any question about what was going on, that sure answered it. I tried to find out what was going on from the anesthesiologist since he was the closest to me, but he didn’t seem interested in answering me or my questions. Soon I heard those great words every parent loves to hear “It’s a Girl!” Then my daughter started to cry. She was here and it was over. Or not. I saw her briefly and then she was taken to the nursery, taking my only support person with her. I started to feel weird, I wasn’t sure if I was even breathing. I tried to look down at my chest to see if it was rising because I couldn’t feel anything besides my head and arms. I started to shake a lot. I asked the anesthesiologist if it was normal for me to be shivering and shaking so much. He said he would give me a little something to help. Then as they were cleaning everything up the nurse sees that my legs are broken out in hives, and so is the rest of my body.

Whatever it was that was put in my IV to help with the shakes, I was having an allergic reaction to it. This caused me to have a longer time in the recovery room and be separated from my baby for even longer.

It was rough. But it taught me things. It has given me insight on how to best support women during a cesarean birth because I know what it’s like, I’ve been there before.

I was able to support a client in the O.R. recently, this wasn’t my first client to have a cesarean birth but it was the first time the medical staff allowed a second support person into the operating room. So this was new for me. Once I was able to enter the O.R. I immediately checked on my client. How was she feeling? Did she need her spouse to hold her hand? She requested pictures as soon as baby was born and I happily obliged. While Dad was across the room meeting his new baby, I made sure my client never felt alone. There isn’t much I can do physically during a cesarean but emotionally; that can mean everything to a woman. My client got everything she wanted: skin to skin in the O.R., baby never left her sight, kept her placenta for encapsulation. I assisted her with breastfeeding and making sure she was comfortable, took more pictures and made sure dad was involved too. After getting her settled into her postpartum room I left to encapsulate her placenta. She was so happy and so was I. It was very different seeing the O.R. from this point of view, how the medical staff flowed and worked together to bring this new life into the world.

A cesarean birth may not be ideal for some, and for others it may be just what they want. It doesn’t have to be traumatic or scary. It can be beautiful and healing too.  No matter what your perfect birth looks like Trinity Doula Services is here to support you.

How do I know my breastfed newborn is getting enough to eat?

Your baby is finally here! You get through the first 24-48 hours at the hospital with the nurses everywhere and offering assistance at every turn. Then you go home. You nurse your precious baby, she drifts off to sleep and all is right with the world. Then what seems like instantly baby is hungry and nursing again. Ok, no big deal. Maybe baby just fell asleep before being finished a little bit ago. She nurses for a while and dozes back off. Awesome, now you can get some rest. Less than hour baby is awake and wants to nurse already. This goes on all day, and night, then into the next day and night. So you start to wonder “Is baby getting enough? Do I not have enough milk? Am I starving my baby!?”.

Short answer, No. That is highly unlikely that baby is not getting enough. Very rarely can a woman not supply her infant with breastmilk of some amount. A newborn baby’s stomach is so very small at birth, only 5-7 ml, the size of a small marble. This gradual grows to about the size of a ping pong ball within the first week. So, not only does baby has an itty bitty tummy that fills very quickly, breastmilk is the perfect food newborns so it is digested faster than formula. This is why it seems like baby is always hungry, because they are. They are growing at some crazy rates and need the nutrition to help grow big and strong. Keep in mind that babies will lose some of their birth weight and can take up to 2 weeks (or a little longer in some cases) to get back up and surpass that. So weight may not be a good indicator that baby is getting enough right away. You want to look for several wet and dirty diapers per day as a good sign of nutrition and hydration. Some like to weigh baby before a feeding and then immediately after to show the amount that baby has taken in.

It is very good for a newborn to nurse frequently and have lots of skin to skin time with mommy. This is how baby is building your milk supply. It is all about supply and demand. Baby will demand a lot, and I mean A LOT, and your body CAN supply it. It may seem tempting to give baby a bottle of formula or a pacifier in that first few weeks but this can derail your plans of breastfeeding exclusively (if that was your plan).

Before baby comes is the time to think and plan for this immediate postpartum time when baby will be attached to you from the outside. Find a pediatrician that is knowledgeable about breastfeeding if possible, find out where your local lactation consultants are, read some books on breastfeeding and stock up on nursing pads and other essentials. Any time you hit a bump in the road do not be afraid to reach out.

Trinity Doula Services offers lactation support as well as a monthly Breastfeeding Support Group for moms near the Harrisburg, IL area. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding these services.

Are these contractions really labor?

First, second, third and beyond time moms almost always get to that point in their pregnancy where they have some contractions. A tightening  and something just uncomfortable happening. So they wonder ‘Oh, is this IT?! Is it time NOW!?’ and get excited, nervous, worried and overjoyed all at the same time. Things keep going for a bit so you start to time them. Eight minutes apart, yes this must be it! Seven minutes apart, they are getting closer! Then…..nothing. It piddled out. Again. How frustrating.

Let’s talk about the differences in type of contractions. There are Braxton Hicks contractions, also referred to as BH in pregnancy groups online. BH are usually irregular, sometimes they seem to be in a pattern, (7 to 9 minutes for example) but then you’ll have some that space back out before coming back closer together again. BH also do not get more intense. They do not get more painful, which most women do not describe them as painful anyways. They may be uncomfortable and bothersome, but they usually do not get any worse.  BH can usually be made to go away, or at least slowed down tremendously. Drinking a big glass of water, taking a bath/shower, laying down or getting up. Just changing what you are doing activity wise can cause BH to stop.

Real labor can be confusing at first. Early labor contractions can seem as though they are Braxton Hicks contractions. People always tell you “When it’s really time, you will know” and chances are you want them to shut up because that’s crazy, how will I ‘just know’? I’m not a turkey with the little red thing that pops out when it’s done!! The majority of the time, this is true, you will know. Or at the very least, you will be thinking that it is time or almost time. Real labor contractions can start off irregular and inconsistent. This is the time to play the ‘I’m not in labor game’, to ignore the contractions the best you can. Eat a meal, take a nap, whatever. Gather your strength, you will need it! Labor contractions will get stronger, they will become more intense. For some women it takes a lot longer for that happen than others. So this where the gathering your strength and resting is very important. If you think your contractions are BH and you do all the little things that can make them go away but they do not, then you probably are looking at real labor contractions. When they are the real deal, nothing will make them stop.

I don’t like to use the term ‘false labor’ because there is nothing false about what you may be feeling! It is very real, it is preparing your baby and your body for the work out that is labor. If you are unsure about what you are feeling or are concerned in any way never hesitate to call your care provider. No one will think you are silly, I promise!

My baby is breech, now what?

So you go to your 37 week prenatal appointment and the doctor feels your abdomen like usual, only is taking a lot longer this time. Then the words are said “I think baby is breech now”. So you have an ultrasound and it confirms that baby is now head up and butt down.

Now what? Your mind is likely racing with questions with the biggest one being ‘I have to have a c-section now, don’t I?’ The answer to that question can be a bit complicated. The biggest factors will be your care providers and your preferences. Is your doctor skilled in breech vaginal births? Do you want to have a breech vaginal birth? Is your doctor only giving you one option, having a cesarean birth? Would you prefer a cesarean birth?

In 2001 the choice of vaginal vs cesarean birth for breech babies went away. Many doctors since then have not been trained how to handle breech vaginal births in medical school. Most care providers that do still attend breech vaginal births are older and are starting to retire out of the baby catching business. So finding one who will give you the options you desire can be difficult.

Like all things in life it is a matter of weighing risks vs benefits. Depending on who you ask will determine the type of answer you get about which method is safer or better for mom/baby.

ACOG states that the preferred method of delivery is cesarean birth. But they go on to say that women should be counseled on their options and be able to make informed choices. You can read about their full opinion here.

There are a few studies that have been done more recently and they seem to have differing opinions on which is the best method of delivery for a breech baby.  Some like to point out the risks of attempting a vaginal breech birth, while others point out the risk factors with cesarean births. Both are valid arguments.

Let’s talk about those for a minute. The risks are usually small, but they are still there and a chance these things could happen. Risks of a cesarean birth:

  • Infection
  • Excess blood loss
  • Blood clots
  • Nausea, vomiting and severe headache due to spinal anesthesia(also known as a spinal headache)
  • Bowel problems
  • Injury to other organs(bladder, bowels,etc)
  • Maternal death
  • Injury to baby during surgery
  • Need for baby to go to NICU
  • Respiratory distress and other breathing complications, immature lungs
  • Premature delivery (since due dates are often wrong)

Risks of a breech vaginal birth: again, small risks but still chance of happening

  • Head entrapment (this is where a skilled provider is key)
  • Cord prolapse (which can happen in head down babies too)
  • Insufficient head molding
  • Internal organ injury (seems to happen with inexperienced providers)
  • Shoulder dystocia and nuchal arms
  • Nuchal cord (common, happens in 1 out of 3 births regardless of presentation)
  • Fetal death

I want to take a minute and talk about the risk of head entrapment. In our Southern Illinois area there is one provider that I have had a conversation with regarding breech vaginal births. I specifically asked about a baby’s head getting stuck after the body has emerged. He explained to me that in full term sized infants that the buttocks and hips are the same size (or almost) as the head and if those came out, usually the head does as well with little to no issue. After some research, I found that to be true. Not that I ever doubted him or his skills. If you are interested in learning more about this care provider please message us.

Here is a link that goes in-depth about the risks of a vaginal breech birth.

Now let’s talk about after birth. If you have a vaginal birth, you will likely have an easier recovery and shorter healing period versus a cesarean birth. If you are planning more children, then having a cesarean can cause complications in future pregnancies. Depending on your care provider having a vaginal birth after a cesarean can be difficult to achieve. You can read Sarah’s personal VBAC stories here. Making a decision that is often time sensitive can be stressful. Take a breath, do research, talk to a professional(or two or three), talk to your partner, express concerns and talk it out. Be prepared to hear opinions or advice from well-meaning friends and family members and to take it with a grain of salt.

Make your decision based out of confidence and not fear, not a decision that was made for you from a lack of options. Your body, your baby, your birth.

No matter what you decide, Trinity Doula Services supports you.