Posts Tagged ‘post-partum’

Lessons in Motherhood

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

 

This week’s blog posts are all about Mothering. It’s an expansive topic no doubt so I’ll start by sharing a few pivotal moments for me on my journey as a mother.

A little background information is that I like to run. What did my runs look like pre-kids? Oh man, it’s fun to reminisce about those runs. They were glorious! Okay maybe I am romanticizing them just a little? But seriously there was nothing that influenced my running pace, distance, or location except me; I would run as far as my body would allow. I ran when, where, and for however long I wanted. I will be honest there were days I would run in the morning and then again in the evening. Running brought me peace, clarity, and gratitude.

Enter baby #1
During my first pregnancy a jogging stroller was an important purchase for me. During pregnancy I missed running and was looking forward to bringing my baby on runs with me. I imagined my baby lying comfortably in the stroller for the duration of my run. I assumed he would enjoy the rhythmic motion and looking all around. I figured my runs would be exactly as they were before except I would have my baby with me. Okay now the experienced moms are probably laughing; of course life is not the same post-baby! But little did I know how much it would change. Despite my best efforts, my first few post-partum “runs” involved me walking and pushing the stroller while carrying my baby. It was not at all like I had envisioned. There was no increase in heart rate, no sweating, no heavy breathing because there was no actual running. The possibility that my baby wouldn’t like being in the stroller never dawned on me. But I was determined to make it work. I thought if I made sure I nursed him right before putting him in there it would be okay. Maybe if I attached some colorful toys to the stroller I could get a few miles in? Perhaps if I waited until he was sleepy he would nap in the stroller while I ran? But every time I went out eager to run, I ended up walking and carrying him home. I quickly realized bringing my wrap with me made the return walk home much easier. How funny I must have looked walking around the neighborhood, pushing an empty stroller and wearing my baby. However, I was granted a valuable lesson in mothering; to be adaptable, flexible, and accommodating to the needs of my baby. Eventually I ditched the stroller all together and would set out on walks with baby in carrier. I accepted that was how “running” was going to look in my life for the time being. It was an activity we enjoyed together once I opened myself up to figuring how to include baby rather than just assume he would be perfectly content on my terms.

Enter baby #2
By the time Baby #2 arrived running had a very minimal place in my life. It was although my role as a mother has become all-consuming and I had no identity outside of motherhood. I felt a lack of balance in my life and largely attributed it to my inability to exercise. At 8 months post-partum, I talked with my husband about my feelings and together we figured out a schedule that would allow me to run 3 times a week while he was home with the kids. Reuniting with my running shoes was amazing! It was such a thrill to be running again. And although my runs where now limited to a particular time, location, and distance I still got that feeling of excitement when I headed out the door for a run. I liked being by myself and getting lost in my thoughts. I even remember feeling so inspired that I did a cart-wheel mid run one day. I felt restored and rejuvenated after a run, as if I was regaining a piece of myself that had been missing. Once again I learned an important aspect of mothering; I needed to take good care of myself so that I could take good care of my children.

Enter Baby #3
When baby #3 arrived, I already knew the significance of running my life, but wasn’t sure exactly where or how to fit it in. Scheduling runs while hubby was home was trickier because life was now a bit fuller. Initially I tried going to the gym and running on a treadmill. This didn’t work out well for two reasons. One, I didn’t like the treadmill and two, baby didn’t like the gym childcare. My next attempt involved me running outdoors with all three kids. My oldest son would ride his bike alongside me while I pushed the younger two in the double jogger. Lo and behold this seemed to work! I never imagined my runs would look like this! Being a mom has definitely expanded my ability to find resolve in conflict and to approach challenges with creativity and patience. I feel as though I have come full circle now that I am back to a place where I fully enjoy running again. And I am extra thankful for my 3 little running partners.

Getting ready for a run

What new insights and wisdom have you gained through your mothering experience? Any important lessons in motherhood you want to share? I would love to hear your story!

-Sarah

Silent Saturday | 3

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Post Partum Herbal Bath

Selecting Maternal Health Care Partners

Friday, September 30th, 2011

When you discover you are pregnant, you face an array of important choices. It can be an overwhelming process at times to sort through all the information provided during pregnancy. The maternal health care partners that support you during this process have a big impact on your experience. Therefore be selective in the care providers you choose! Mothering begins during pregnancy! It is the first time you can consciously make decisions that directly affect your child. Prenatal care, labor, and birth can nurture a sense of empowerment in women and thus motherhood is positively impacted. You are able to approach mothering with a deeper awareness and a stronger consciousness.

Prenatal appointment with midwife done right in the comfort of my own bed

Maternal Health Care Partners include the following professionals:

Obstetrician
An obstetrician (OB) is a medical doctor and the most commonly used type of maternal health care provider by women in the United States.

Midwife
A midwife supports women during their childbearing years to provide health care during pregnancy, labor, birth, and post-partum. The word midwife literally means “with woman”. Rules and regulations for midwives vary widely per state so if you want to work with a midwife it’s important to understand your state’s guidelines for midwifery care. There are midwives who do homebirth, those who work at birth centers, and some who work in hospital settings. Check out Midwives Alliance of North America for more information.

Doula
A doula is a non-medical labor, birth, and post partum support person. They are educated and trained to provide a laboring mother physical and emotional support. There is a strong evidence base of positive birth outcomes and successful breastfeeding when a doula is used. Check out DONA International for more information about doulas.

Lactation Specialist
If you intend to breastfeed, creating a community of support is extremely beneficial. This can include professional support through a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant has training, knowledge, and expertise in helping you establish successful breastfeeding. If you are experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding, a Lactation Consultant can be a wonderful resource. Check out the International Board of Lactation Consultants Examiner for more information.

Childbirth Educator
A childbirth educator undergoes training and completes a certification process to provide pregnant woman with information about pregnancy, labor, and birth. Typically information is shared in a classroom-like format to a small group of women/couples who are at similar stages in their pregnancies. The information from a childbirth education class can help woman/couples better understand the changes that occur during pregnancy, the stages of labor, the pros/cons of medical interventions, and the basics of breastfeeding. Check out International Childbirth Education Association for more information.

An hour after birth...sharing in the joy and happiness with my midwife

Mutually reciprocated respect and trust is the foundation of a positive patient-provider relationship. As in all relationships, effective communication is a key ingredient. If you ever leave a prenatal appointment feeling discouraged, confused, or upset, honor those feelings as valid. Call your care provider and/or schedule another appointment in attempt to resolve any concerns as soon as possible. If you continually have negative interactions or experiences during prenatal appointments, consider choosing a new care provider.

Even if you are very far along in your pregnancy it is okay to make a change. I cannot emphasize this enough! So often I hear stories of a woman feeling discontent with the prenatal care they receive but unsure what to do about it. Then they often go on to have a dissatisfying birth experience with that care provider. If you are in that situation, grant yourself permission to explore all your options. Please don’t continue to receive less than optimal maternal health care. Pregnancy and childbirth are a sacred a time in your life; a time that deserves kind, compassionate, attentive, dedicated, and supportive health care partners. They exist abundantly and it’s worth the extra effort it may take to find the right match for your growing family.

What do you enjoy most about your health care partners? Did you have a doula, a childbirth educator and/or a lactation consultant? What was your experience?

-Sarah