Managing Birth Expectations

DSCN1032The birth plan … I took a twelve (twelve!!) week class on natural childbirth (and infant care) before the birth of my first son. Part of the class was, after educating everyone on different options (including passing around an epidural needle set to terrify everybody by the sheer size of the thing), crafting the birth plan, using a multi-page checklist as the starter point.

My birth plan was pretty laid back, and mine included no epidural, but still, the head nurse checking me in snickered and told me that I should get an epidural right then at check-in, as there was no guarantee the anesthesiologist could ever get back in time again (assuming that I would inevitably ask for one).

After all of this, guess what? Nothing really went according to plan. And even though I thought I was super laid back about my expectations (you know, the old, “I want a natural birth if possible, but as long as my baby is healthy it’s good”), I was massively disappointed in how my birth story played out. I ended up with an emergency c-section, the only non-natural birth from our class.

Moral of the Story: I think it’s very important to be educated on the birth process and the different options out there, and to know beforehand what you personally are comfortable with. It’s also important to remember that while there are many options out there concerning birth, they will not all necessarily be an option for you. You may want an epidural, but your labor may progress so quickly it’s not possible. You may want a home birth, but likewise your individual circumstances may not allow it.

If you are concerned about your birth plan, hiring a doula is a good way to make sure that your voice is heard in the delivery room and that you are supported the whole way by an educated and experienced third party.

Finally, moms and dads, we need to stop judging the birth plans of everybody else. Using scare tactics against pain relief methods, snickering at patients’ pain relief plans, and bashing each other all on choices made during pregnancy and labor/delivery over the Internet–this helps none of us. No matter the events leading up to the birth, ultimately, that’s a healthy baby is the goal, and everyone of us that has been blessed with a healthy birth should be able to celebrate that, without a cloud of guilt or disappointment over our heads.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys, both born healthy, despite how their birth plans turned out. 

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Natural Mama: Week-by-Week Pregnancy Updates for the Crunchy Mom

natural mama pregnancy updatesThis is my third pregnancy, and let’s be honest. I have days where I forget I am pregnant. With my first, I was addicted to Babycenter and all of their weekly updates. There was so much information online that I felt like I needed to know.  I wanted to know what vegetable was comparable for the week and what I should and shouldn’t be feeling. This time around, I have been elated to have discovered Mama Natural.

Genevieve is Mama Natural. She shares her story, personal experience, and wisdom on her website. Recently, they started a week by week guide to pregnancy as Genevieve is going through pregnancy as well. Let’s just say this will rock your world.

Each week, you get a text delivered to your phone. Hello! How easy is that! The text has a little greeting, reminds you where you are in your pregnancy, and provides a link to view more information that is relevant for you. It’s basically a week-by-week email and web series that gives you updates.

This week, I am just past 20 weeks pregnant. My weekly update provided:

  • Information on what baby is like at 20 weeks
  • A nice pep talk for how momma is at 20 weeks pregnant
  • A video of Genevieve at 20 weeks pregnant (So nice to see another momma with a growing tummy like mine)
  • A spotlight article on how to sleep safely while pregnant
  • Additional links about pregnancy (Love the Doula Interview!)
  • Things to do at 20 weeks

This update is practical but also creative and different. I even received another text this week with a bonus video about natural childbirth. Mama Natural has not been a disappointment. These days I barely remember to take my prenatals, so a weekly text delivered to my IPhone is just perfect. I’ll admit I don’t always read every article or watch the video each week. But, it’s there if I have the time and energy.

So, momma, if you’re expecting, try this website and updates out. It’s much more entertaining that Babycenter, and I promise you will feel like you are doing you and your baby some good.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Southern Illinois at the current moment. She can’t wait to meet baby #3 this fall.

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When Baby Won’t Take a Bottle

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One day when my son was about 6 weeks old, I left the house for a few hours and when I returned, the kitchen sink was full of various kinds of used baby bottles, tubes, shot glasses and baby spoons.  A baby boy who wouldn’t take a bottle was the guest of honor at the party that went on while I was gone.

I wanted so badly to make breastfeeding work for my son and I.  We struggled as soon as he was born with nursing.  He fought it and it was stressful and uncomfortable for me.  He couldn’t figure out how to latch and would just scream instead of drink milk.  Doctors required me to supplement with formula for 24 hours until he started gaining weight and I was devastated.

Fast forward two months from after he was born and he refused to do anything but breastfeed.

Since breastfeeding was such a struggle from the start, I was too nervous to offer my son a bottle or a pacifier until two weeks before my maternity leave was going to end when he was 6 weeks old.  There were many attempts by my husband and a few friends to get my son to take a bottle of pumped breast milk. They all resulted in him screaming.

Finally, a few days before I needed to return to work and bring him to daycare part-time, my son drank a few ounces from a bottle.  I felt hopeful.  The first two weeks that he went to daycare, I was so relieved that he cooperated.  Then, something happened.  He changed his mind.  He started refusing a bottle from all the staff at the daycare and screamed until I would arrive to nurse him.  We received a lot of advice, but nothing encouraged him to drink from a bottle.  Occasionally, he would drink almost an ounce from a daycare worker if they would sit him in a bouncy chair, sit behind him so that he couldn’t see them and offer him a bottle.  It was a tip we received from a lactation nurse who said that some breastfed babies do not want to be fed by anyone besides their mother.

I lasted 2 months of working and visiting my son at least two times a day at daycare, so I could nurse him there and return to work.  Morning drop-offs were torture for everyone as we knew what the day would most likely look like.  That stress went away when I left my job and became a stay at home mom.  The reality became that I could dump my pump and feed my son on demand once I was home with him all day.  Unfortunately, my schedule was still limited he turned a year old, because I needed to always be available at his bedtime and for other feedings.  But, just like with other baby bumps in the road, we survived.

My second baby refused a bottle also, so luckily I had practice and knew I would get through it.

Sarah Cole is a freelance writer and stay at home mommy to two busy toddlers who wanted nothing to do with baby bottles.

 

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What is PPMD?

PPMD“So what brought you into the emergency room tonight?” I was seated across from the patient’s bed, desperate to remain composed and professional. It was the beginning of my shift, so professionalism should not have been a problem: I was rested, refreshed, and should have been focused. However, this particular patient had a three-week-old baby in the room, and it was taking all of my energy to pay attention to the adult and not the adorable bundle she brought with her.

My priorities realigned, however, when I noticed the strained smile on her face. There was a pause before she answered, as she struggled to compose her response, and suddenly tears spilled from her eyes as quickly as the string of words expressing desperation, sorrow, and guilt over how she was feeling about her new role as Mom.

Postpartum mood disorders affect up to 25 percent of new mothers, and symptoms can develop immediately after birth or months after your little one has come into the world. Depression manifests differently in different people, but typical symptoms include chronic crying, increased anxiety, feelings of despair or guilt, weight loss/gain, sleep disturbance, feeling distant from your child, and fixation on your child’s safety out of paranoia that something dangerous could happen, or thoughts of hurting your child yourself. Dealing with depression by itself is an exhausting task, and doing it while caring for a child can border on the impossible. Doing it without help can create dangerous situations, for both you and your child, and it’s important to ask for support when you recognize that things feel harder than they should.

So what can you do if you feel you or a loved one is having a hard time adjusting to parenthood?

  • Know the signs. Postpartum mental health concerns can arise at any point of the journey, including during pregnancy. Taking the time to check in with your own mental health on a regular basis can help you recognize when things are taking a turn, and knowing what to look for can help you see the red flags sooner rather than later.
  • Have a support person. Depending on where you live, the resources available for treating postpartum mental health can be difficult to navigate. Having someone to advocate for you while you find a good therapist and/or medication provider can make the difference between getting help and giving up.
  • Know that you aren’t alone. There are more individuals who experience postpartum depression each year than who sprain an ankle in that same year. As postpartum mental health becomes more widely understood, a “Congratulations!” will ideally be accompanied with a genuine, “How are you doing?”

When you’re feeling isolated, alone, and experiencing all the difficulties of depression/anxiety/OCD/psychosis, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to reach out and ask for help. If you are struggling, know that you deserve support, not only because it will benefit your child, but also because it will benefit you.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

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Signs of Food Intolerance

signs of food intoleranceI could tell something wasn’t right when my baby spent most of the evening hours screaming if she was not sleeping in my arms.  If I put her down, she would wake up and scream.  I couldn’t figure it out, so I did what many moms might do, I did a search online for something like “newborns who scream all night long.”  One search result that caught my interest was the possibility of a food intolerance for my baby.

So, I hopped to it and cut out my dinnertime glass of milk that I had each night since dairy was one of the top intolerances for many babies.  I figured it was easy enough.  At my daughter’s 2-week check up, I informed our pediatrician that I thought that my daughter was intolerant of dairy.  When she asked me to tell her why I thought this, these are the symptoms that I told her about:

  • My baby screamed in pain and did not want to be put down.

  • Tons of spit up!  I used receiving blankets as burp cloths.  At least 4 per day.  She went through many sleepers and swaddles each and every day.

  • She had projectile diarrhea numerous times per day.  It flew out of her during diaper changes.  A diaper change sometimes required 2 people and 5 diapers.

  • She went through triple the amount of diapers in a day as my first baby.  I never felt like I had enough diapers on hand unless I had a box of diapers from Costco.

  • She had a constant diaper rash.  It was so sad.  Nothing would clear the rash up.

  • Her breathing was affected at times.  She would have high pitched hiccups that didn’t sound right.

Our pediatrician agreed that something wasn’t right, but warned me that cutting out dairy was going to be much more involved than eliminating a glass of milk each day.  She offered me the option to try dairy-free formulas, but I was determined to try to make it work with breastfeeding.

It took a ton of research, self-education, and commitment, but I was able to eliminate dairy and soy from my diet for over 14 months.  My daughter’s negative symptoms disappeared as soon as dairy and soy were out of my system.  By the age of 16 months, she outgrew her intolerances and we were thrilled to introduce her to our favorite food, pizza!

Sarah Cole is a freelance write and stay at home mom to two busy toddlers. She eliminated dairy and soy out of her diet for over 14 months so she could continue to breastfeed her baby even though her favorite food is melted cheese.  

 

 

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