Posts Tagged ‘family planning’

I’m Not Sure I Want Another Baby

Monday, January 4th, 2016

I'm not sure I want another baby“So, when are you going to have another baby?”

That dreaded question that no mother of an only child wants to hear. Some people know right from the start exactly how many children they want to have or if they want an only child. Other people, like me, have an idea of how many children they want and have always dreamed about, but then once they have one, everything changes.

I don’t get that question quite as often anymore now that my daughter is almost five. Most people seem to assume that we’ve made the decision to have an only child–but the truth is we haven’t made any decisions. When my daughter was younger I would have conversations with friends who would tell me that they just loved their child so much they wanted to have more of that amazing love with another child. My thought process was the polar opposite. I love my daughter SO much that I couldn’t imagine ever loving another human being that much.

For the most part that fear has faded for me and at times the thought of holding a new, squishy, chubby, sweet smelling human being that I gave birth to in my arms holds an incredible amount of appeal. On other days the thought of having to start over with the breastfeeding, the staying up all night, the potty training and everything else makes me want to hide under my bed and never come out. My daughter had colic, is still a terrible sleeper, broke my heart with screams of terror being dropped off at childcare and sometimes still at preschool, hates being away from me for any period of time and refuses to be left alone with anyone that she doesn’t know very, very, very well. But she is worth every second of it and I would do it again for her because of course, I just love her so much.

So what’s a girl to do? I’m not getting any younger and every month I continue to wait makes the age gap between my daughter and potential baby number two even bigger. I’m already tired; I’ll only be more tired the older I get, right? But then once my daughter’s in school full time it’ll be easier right? But what if the baby is born right when she’s starting kindergarten and she has trouble adjusting? But won’t my daughter will be old enough to help with the baby? Do we make enough money for two kids to do all the things that one has been able to do?

The questions and doubts are endless. There’s no good time to have a baby, I’ve lived that story and it was the best blessing I could imagine. If you happen to come up with the perfect pros and cons list on whether or not to have another child, please send it to me because trying to decide is agony.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

Finding Your new Normal

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Finding Your New NormalSo many new things invigorate you (or keep you up at night) when a newborn comes into your life. Just like the mysteries of parenthood, your body will keep its secrets too. Once you manage your postpartum care in those first few weeks after childbirth, you may not need to pull your pads, cups, or sponges out again for a while. It varies from woman to woman and even from one woman’s pregnancy to her next.

Breastfeeding hormones can impact the return of your menstruation. Hormones, like prolactin, involved in nursing can also affect your other bits, though your ability to get pregnant may be present before your period returns. Some argue that the chance of getting pregnant while breastfeeding are no higher than when using some forms of birth control, especially if you are in tune with your body’s symptoms of ovulation.

When nursing, many women find their period returns when there is a decrease in nursing frequency, such as once baby sleeps through the night or begins taking solids. For others, the period remains long gone through the entire first year or until they finish breastfeeding entirely. During these months of ever-changing hormones, you could experience infrequent periods. On the flip side, exclusive or part-time formula use is more often associated with an earlier return of your menstruation cycle, as early as 4 to 12 weeks after birth. Pun intended, you just have to go with the flow, and all of these scenarios are within the realm of typical.

Every woman needs to have a plan in place before you experience your first postpartum period. Recall your 9th grade Health 101 class. Ovulation occurs (roughly) two weeks before your period arrives.  Ovulation and your period are not mutually exclusive, meaning you could have one without the other. Only you know what is in your plans for the game of life, but it is helpful to consult your doctor or other appropriate, trusted source if you want to play a game of risk, play it extra safe, or plan for another birth in quick succession to your newborn.

Another mystery in learning your new normal involves the characteristics of your new period. For many mamas, the old normal is the new normal. Others might be excited to see some of their previous harsher symptoms—intense cramping, very heavy flows—disappear to more manageable symptoms. The opposite is true for some mamas who will miss their light periods as fuller, longer, more intense symptoms become the new normal. You may also find more spotting book-ending your period or more clotting passing through the heaviest days.

If your period doesn’t return or you have any symptoms that concern you, contact your doctor to discuss them. A doctor can rule out fibroids or any other number of issues that can affect your cycle. If you deliver your baby in your late thirties or beyond, a long-absent period could be a sign of premature menopause. All of these variances are all the more reason to see this life experience as a new discovery, getting to know your body anew, your new normal.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 2 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Nursing While Pregnant

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Nursing While PregnantI’m sleeping! Baby has a schedule! Breastfeeding is natural and seamless! And BAM–I’m pregnant.

This is a situation many moms find themselves in. When celebrating this exciting news, so many questions about our current nursling arise. How we choose to modify our breastfeeding relationship once pregnant is a deeply personal decision. For me, I was committed to extended breastfeeding and baby-led weaning. I treasured my nursing relationship with my then 18-month-old, and I had no plans of making him adjust because I got pregnant. I knew that it isn’t always possible to nurse through pregnancy, but I was going to give it my best shot. That’s all we can do as mothers.

In the beginning breastfeeding didn’t feel any different, but it wasn’t too long before nursing was uncomfortable. The second trimester was by far the most challenging. During this trimester, my milk production was severely low, if not absent. Dry nursing–nursing with very little supply–and the lovely pregnancy hormones that make our nipples tender, was challenging for me. The third trimester, while better, still had its challenges. I would feel touched-out, and nursing made my skin crawl. I had to make some changes to our nursing relationship if I was going to continue through pregnancy and beyond, so here is what we did.

Limit frequency

The first change was frequency. We had already gradually reduced our nursing sessions, but now that I was experiencing the painful side of nursing while pregnant I needed a schedule. We settled on morning, nap, and bedtime. This helped me mentally prepare, but I would be lying if I said that we had a positive breastfeeding relationship at this time. It hurt; it felt like he was biting. Sometimes I would holler out “You’re biting,” or “OK, if you are biting we are done.” My poor son would get upset and cry. It took me a while to realize he wasn’t biting. It wasn’t about what he was doing, but the fact that my body was undergoing massive changes.

No Blaming

I had to stop blaming him for any pain I had. This was hard. Sometimes I would nurse with my teeth clenched tight, unable to look at him and enjoy this time together that I used to treasure. I had to consciously make an effort to lock eyes with him, smile, and stroke his hair, everything I used to do so naturally. Instead of crying out and blaming him when the pain seemed unbearable, I started a count down. “5…4…3…2…1, OK, no more Milkies!” This way he knew it was almost time to “put the milkies away.”

Time Limit

As time went on, more changes were necessary to preserve any sort of nursing relationship. In conjunction with my countdown, I also put a 5-minute time limit on our nursing sessions. This helped me make sure I was giving him enough time to touch base and get his cuddles in before ending the nursing session. Nursing wasn’t about food at this point; it was about the physical bond and connection we shared. At the end of each 5-minute period I would count down and make sure he knew we could snuggle.

These three changes, a long with my own determination, were integral in helping me continue nursing while pregnant. At first, all of these changes were hard for my son. But I was consistent with all of them, and he learned quickly that this was our new routine. Every time I thought about just weaning him, we would have a wonderful nursing session, he would stroke my cheek, or sign and say, “Milkies, please.”

Some nursing sessions were easier than others, but we did what was best for us. No matter what everyone is telling you as a mom, you have to do what is best for you and your family. No two people experience nursing the same. There is no right or wrong when determining something like when to wean or when to carry on. The important thing is to do what works and supports a happy mom and a happy baby.

Casey Mix-McNulty, RN, BSN is a full-time mom to an imaginative little boy and a feisty little girl.   She is also a pediatric nurse aspiring towards becoming an IBCLC.

Gentle Night Weaning IS possible!

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Night weaning is the process of weaning your baby from having breast milk during the night. There are several different approaches to night weaning. Most of the tips here are for older babies (approximately one year and up), however you could possibly adapt for a younger baby. One important thing to keep in mind is that gentle night weaning is a process that takes time, patience, creativity, and flexibility. It also takes a certain readiness on baby’s behalf.

There are different reasons for wanting to night wean your baby. Obviously a primary incentive is for mom to get more quality sleep. However other factors can influence the decision as well. Sometimes family planning/fertility plays a role. For example, some woman’s monthly cycle does not return until she stops nursing through the night. “The milk-making hormones that suppress ovulation are highest between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m” (Ask Dr. Sears, Breastfeeding and Fertility). A pregnancy may encourage a mom to night wean as sleeping comfortably becomes more and more difficult. Or if a new baby is on the way, a mom might decide to night wean so she only has one night time nursling. Another situation might be if baby needs to spend the night under the care of someone other than mom (due to any number of circumstances) having baby night weaned becomes necessary.

A first step would be to examine baby’s current night time sleep and nursing patterns. This will give you an idea of where to begin and what is a reasonable expectation. For example if your baby is still waking up several times a night to nurse every day of the week, then you might want to start with the goal of reducing night time feedings rather than eliminating them altogether. If baby is only nursing one to two times a night, your baby might be more ready for night weaning.

Once you have determined what your ideal outcome is (number of feedings, length of time between feedings, or to completely eliminate feedings, etc) the next step is to talk to baby about it. I feel like this is a really important step regardless of baby’s age, developmental level, and understanding of language. Breastfeeding is a relationship you share with your baby and if you are proposing changes to that relationship, explaining that to baby is honoring and respecting the reciprocity of the relationship.  You might pick a time when baby is calm and use really simple langague. For example when my oldest was 15 months, we decided it was time to night wean (sleep deprivation peaked for me at that time and we wanted to start trying for baby #2). One day while nursing him I gently told him that mama’s milk was going to start sleeping at night because we all needed to get better sleep. Using simple, kind language I explained that I knew it might be a hard for transition for us, but that I believed it would be okay. The conversation was obviously one sided since he was so young, but definitely think it helped going into the process by providing a sense of peace/comfort to us both.

Night weaning is typically much easier if you have the help of someone else to comfort baby during the night when he/she wants milk. It is typically very difficult for mom to offer alternative comfort to a baby who really just wants mama’s milk. Often this may be a spouse or a partner, but it can be anyone the baby has a close, trusted relationship with. For example, a friend of mine who is a single mom, had her mother help with night weaning. My husband would be the one comforting baby back to sleep during the night weaning process, so we started by inserting daddy into the role of providing comfort during non-sleep times. For example if baby tumbled, daddy would be the one to comfort him. Whatever the reason, if baby was upset and daddy was present, we had daddy be the one to comfort baby. This was to help establish him in that role both for himself and for baby. We did this for maybe close to two weeks before beginning night weaning. If you have the opportunity to do something similar with whomever your support person is, it can be a helpful step in the night weaning process. It’s a conscious shift in providing alternate comfort by an alternate person.

Another important factor to consider is that baby is accustom to getting some of their nutritional and calorie needs met during night time feedings. Therefore providing a dense, high calorie, protein snack before putting baby to bed starting a week or two before night weaning might help re-adjust baby’s food intake needs.

Now that you have done some preparation for night weaning by talking with baby, eliciting help from a support person, and establishing the habit of a bed time snack, you might feel more prepared and at ease about approaching the night wakings. How this looks for each family is going to vary greatly. Sometimes this entails a new sleep arrangment. I personally find it’s easiest to only make one transition at a time, however some families do use night weaning as an opportunity to transition baby to his/her own sleep space.  Another important element is timing; trying to night wean a sick or teething baby will be far more difficult so be sure baby is healthy, well, and comfortable when night weaning begins.

When baby wakes up asking to nurse, have daddy (or whomever the support person is) offer baby comfort by holding, rocking, offering a sippy cup of water, talking to baby, singing to baby, etc. Here’s the hard part…baby is probably going to cry. BUT while some may disagree with me, I do feel this is a different practice than crying it out. In this process someone is still offering comfort to baby and assuring them they are loved and safe. Another important factor is knowing your baby’s cries and assessing the intensity of it and responding accordingly. My husband and I had agreed ahead of time we were comfortable with about 10 minutes of daddy trying to soothe baby and if crying continued to esculate I would nurse baby back to sleep and we would just try again next time baby woke up. It really was a delicate balance of imposing our desires on baby while still respecting his needs.

With my fist son, night weaning was relatively easy the first go-around. After the prelimanary steps we took and a few nights of daddy providing comfort he was night weaned. I think a big factor in the ease of the process was readiness on my son’s behalf as well as his adaptable nature. With my second son, the process was a little more difficult. The first attempt ended after a few days of trying. We decided he wasn’t ready and that we would try again in a month or two. About six weeks later we tried again and in just a few relatively easy nights of soothing from daddy, he was night weaned. We have yet to approach night weaning with my 3rd son as he is only 11 months old. He still needs/wants access to mama’s milk at night and I am happy to provide that for him.

Have you night weaned in a gentle way? If so what tips or suggestions do you have? Would love to hear your experience! :)

-Sarah