The first 24 hours

I’m a fourth time mama. My baby was born yesterday morning at 9:03am.

While all babies are different, I thought this might encourage you.

I’ve successfully nursed all three other babies and am starting the nursing with my first right off the bat.

Here’s what I’m dealing with even though I have plenty of experience. My babies are all tongue tied, so until I get that fixed, my nipples are really sore. I know we will face engorgement and an overactive let down.

This has been my most difficult labor and my first traumatic one, so healing will take longer… at last three weeks and up to six weeks. Even though I didn’t need a c section, it will still be long. On top of being sore up top, my bottom half is more sore than it’s every been and I’ve suffered a third degree tear which means my anal sphincter had to be sewn back together… but only superficially. It could be worse. Some women’s entire rectum is torn open. My pubic bone was impacted somehow so I can barely walk… it’s a little better a 18 hours after the birth, but the worst healing day will be tomorrow.

And I see so many moms here asking about cluster feeding. Here’s what my newest baby has done so far… which will show you how nonstop it is on day one while baby is working hard to get the milk to come in… and I already have some milk, but it’s not the big engorgement milk that will hit on day three or four.

Last night I had one three hour stretch of sleep, and a two hour stretch of sleep. I had a nap of one hour today and consider that a major blessing. Otherwise, very very broken sleep that was less than an hour at a time, with much of the night actively nursing.

12:10pm Ibuprofen (take 1 every four hours)

1:45pm nurse left

3:20 pm right nurse and left for an hour

4:30pm right

5:23-5:34pm left

6:47pm 2 ibuprofen

7:37pm and 8:19pm right

8:43pm and 9:32 left

9:45pm right

10:15pm left

11:15pm right

11:45pm left and hiccups

3/28/19

12:05am left

2 ibuprofen

12:23 and 12:37 am left (I SLEPT 3 HOURS)

3:39am right 10 min (1st bm for mom) milk in!

3:53am right football hold 10 min

4:10am left 27 min

4:45am left 15 min

4:49am left

5:24am right then left

6:28 am left (I SLEPT TWO HOURS)

8:30am first pee, 2 ibuprofen

8:35am right 25 min

9am left 30 min

9:30am left 30 min pee diaper

11:30am hair wash

11:30am right then left and sleeping

12pm left, 12:23pm left (I SLEPT 1 hour)

3:09pm right, 2 ibuprofen

3:30pm left

4:30pm right

5pm left

6pm right

So here’s what’s helping me. First of all, my mom and sister are here helping with my three kids. I’m not obligating myself to ANY housework or cooking AT ALL.

My midwife told them I’m to stay in bed a full week… like I’m only allowed to get up to use the restroom.

I sent my husband to work now, and he will take off of work after my sister and mom leave… that buys me three weeks of recovery time, which my body really needs right now.

I’m keeping my bladder empty. I was given a catheter in the hospital, and I get frequent UTIs anyhow, so I also take D-Mannose with cranberry every single morning, along with prenatals, electrolytes, probiotics, chloroxygen, herbalmeucil, and colace. At night I take Dr Schultz formula 1. These are all to keep my stool bearable while I’m healing. I can not afford to mess my stitches up.

I am doing tons of skin to skin… and I sleep with my babies, so the only reason baby cries is from wet diapers, hunger or gas, but never because he feels insecure. So some of those nursing sessions above in the middle of the night, I am able to side-lie and go into a haze of sleepy time even if I’m not sleeping. I’m better at that when I’m on my left side for some reason. I’ve always favored the left side for my babies… I think it has something to do with the way our brains read emotion. It’s processed in right brain, so your perception crosses over to left side (maybe I could explain it better, but it doesn’t really matter).

For nipple care, I’m putting some breastmilk on them and air drying. This is much more healing than lanolin. If you don’t have milk yet you could use coconut oil.

Also staying hydrated is wonderful and necessary. So before my husband goes to work I ask him for that battery of supplements I listed before.

So listen, I know not all moms have this amount of help. And I know many of you struggle with supply.

Here are some tips…

Let down has to do with how relaxed you are. Figure out how to be calm about nursing.

Every time your baby nurses you should drink too.

Keep your bladder empty.

Take a shower or bath when you need it.

Eat lactogenic food (fenugreek tea (“mother’s milk tea), lactation cookies, granola bars…)

Avoid gassy or acidic food if you notice your baby is gassy

Feed on demand

Snack when you’re hungry

Hold your baby as long as you want, skin to skin helps your body produce milk and regulate baby’s temperature too.

Don’t expect milk to really be in until day 3-4… and until then your baby will be fussy and want to stay attached to you because he’s “putting his order in” for milk to come.

If you’re pumping, that’s great, but it’s not a true indicator of how much your baby is pulling out of you. Double pumps do about 80% of what a baby will do.

Nursing is so hard. They call them tough titties for a reason. Get help. Hire a lactation consultant. Get the latch right. Re-latch your baby every time it hurts. You’re both learning the right way to do this.

Kellymom.com is a great website with sound information.

If you need to supplement you could try an SNS (supplemental nursing system) before completely going to a bottle because then baby will still stimulate your supply and not get used to the quick flow of a bottle.

Check out your local Le Leche League group, and check your hospitals and midwifery groups for free breastfeeding support groups. These mom friendships will really help you with much more than only nursing… but also questions about poop, sleep, discipline, weaning, development, and much more.

Babies love to be “on you” and expect to remain near you, especially for the first three months. Try wearing your babies – this is wonderfully freeing, and great help if you have more than one baby. I have five types of carriers and I use them at different stages past even two years old.

Here’s how to decipher newborn language:

“Neh” hunger

“Eh” burp

“Heh” discomfort

“Eair” gas

“Owh” sleepy

Lastly, if you cannot or don’t want to nurse, please toss the guilt aside.

If you don’t have as much help, then pick the things on two ends of the spectrum. Pick the things that stress you the most that you can creatively fix… think outside of the box for them, really work hard on finding these solutions… figure out what you can compromise and tell yourself to be okay with it. Pick the things that help you the most and really prioritize them.

For me, my food standards for my kids disappear. Since I have others caring for them, whatever makes it easy for them is what goes. I buy premade snacks, processed food, and all the things I normally wouldn’t do to make it easy for them. I use Instacart so they no one has to shop or leave to get the food.

My home organization standards fall. I’m not cleaning right now, or doing laundry.

My social requirements disappear. If people are here too long, I politely ask them for privacy to sleep. My sister and mom both suggested I start walking around- I reminded them both what my midwife said, which was three weeks bed rest with the first week only going to the bathroom. Otherwise I’m to stay in bed.

The things I need the most are to heal my undercarriage, to nurse my baby, and to stay nourished and love on this new baby. ALL my energy is going here and no where else. And I have NO guilt or frustration in other places – this is a choice… because I could bend and sway these choices. But I’d pay for it, and so would my new son, so I don’t.

I hope this helps some of you to set some wonderful expectations of yourselves and your babies and your family.

Get strong and stay strong. Some of you have tough families with blurry boundaries. Make decisions that are right for you and don’t feel you need to explain them. At the end of the day, you answer to God, yourself, a significant other (for some), and your baby. No one else has to live with your choices, do they? So be a tough mama, and love strong and love well… this includes loving yourself and finding grace for yourself. This will happen all of motherhood. Grace is a big word that you need to learn to love. Forgiveness is another one. Start with you and let that kind of depth of love permeate to your babies, and you will walk beautifully in motherhood.

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The most beautiful time as a woman 

I’m convinced the most feminine time for a woman is when she feels the least attractive. Allow me to explain.

Many woman I know feel like I do when they are pregnant. Heavy. Swollen. Changing. Dealing with uncomfortable comments from some other people – most people, especially women, are full of grace for this time, because they’ve gone through it – but well-intentioned people can say strange things.

Exhibit A.

*I tell someone I’m expecting our third prize in January and pat my belly* 

A wonderfully kind man says “congratulations, and thank you for saving us the embarrassment of asking or wondering if you’re just fat.”

I laugh and say “yes, that’s how I feel.” 

My husband shakes his head for the man, embarrassed on behalf of the male gender species. He can’t help it.

I’m not angry, not one bit. I understand some people just don’t know what to say. And it’s ironic albeit a little more painful to hear, because it’s exactly how I’m feeling: fat!

I was talking with another gal this weekend who told me her pregnancies were a series of planning driving trips around her tendency to throw up. How difficult!! I get it! There is no way to feel good if that’s how your body responds!

And another who told me about her 19 hour labor which ended in emergency c-section and the aftermath of recovery.

Another who recalled her inability to shed the last 20 pounds gained after children.

And my own experience of needing to heal after delivering babies. I remember having my first child, and a male friend who came to visit right after couldn’t hide his surprise when he saw my belly was still looking as if I were six months pregnant. This is not, afterall, how the magazines and moves show us life happens! In the world of mommy makeovers and c-section tummy tucks, women should look more attractive after childbirth, right?

When the reality is, we are red-eyed from sleepless nights, weepy and puffy from crying alongside our new infants and the wave of unpredictable hormones, smelly from spit-up and blow-out diapers, and sore in all the areas one might otherwise take for granted that make the most basic of human functions a challenge. 

But this is when a woman really truly shines. Her body was broken in the moments and months she was giving life. Eve’s sin made pregnancy and childbirth painful. It is a sacrifice in so many ways. And in the aftermath of the birth, her broken body pushes on to nurture that tiny human, robbing Mom of nutrients her own body otherwise would appreciate using to restore all that child-growing stole. 

She nurses the baby. She changes diapers. She sacrifices sleep to provide comfort and more nutrition. And it’s her privilege to do it. 

And then child-rearing is an experience of learning to let go. As the physical grip loosens, a mother’s spiritual grip and dependence on God must tighten. So she focuses more and more on the transforming power of God, out of her own benefit, but much to benefit her own children. She is desperately focused on trying to exemplify and point those tiny souls towards Christ, so they know on whom they can rely. Because moms know we don’t live forever. Our days are numbered, and one days these souls who broke our bodies will have to fend for themselves.

A woman is most beautiful and feminine in her brokenness.

Free (or cheap) Breastfeeding Classes? Really?

I have recently seen advertisements for VERY reduced rate (and even free) breastfeeding classes for expectant parents online, in large department stores and even in hospitals. While these classes may seem so tempting for many reasons, I would like to point out a few flaws in attending these classes.

But isn’t breastfeeding a natural and normal process? It should be easy, right? I shouldn’t even have to take a class for that. Well, isn’t childbirth a natural and normal process as well?

What could possibly be wrong with a free (or cheap) breastfeeding class?

  • Breastfeeding is as important as your birth. It deserves as much attention and respect as childbirth. Many moms-to-be spend countless hours preparing for their birth; attending 6 week class series, reading an average of 2 birth books, interviewing providers, taking fitness classes, researching birthing options, making a solid birth plan, and even composing the perfect playlist for their big day. Just as the placenta nourishes the baby in the womb, the breasts nourish the baby outside the womb. Shouldn’t the same amount of preparation one puts into birth be put into breastfeeding?
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch. Really, there isn’t. Believe me, I’ve been searching for quite some time! Who is producing these ‘free’ online classes? What messages are they trying to convey? Where are they putting in the advertisements and what are their interests? Someone has to benefit from these ‘free’ classes or it is just not profitable. If you think you are the only person benefitting, think again. It’s business.
  • You get what you pay for. A $10 breastfeeding class sounds tempting, but in order for that class to be profitable, there needs to be about 20 couples in that class and the class must last no longer than 2 hours. High volume is the key here. Can 20 couples really learn the basics of breastfeeding in 2 hours? One would expect a lecture, a video or two (so the instructor can catch their breath), plenty of coupons and/or advertisements in a goody bag, and no time for questions. Lecture and video? Feels like I’m back in college. How many dads/partners would fall asleep during THIS class?

Let’s discuss the benefits of an independent, competitively priced class.

  • A smaller class size and longer instruction time allows for optimal learning. This gives couples (especially pregnant ones) plenty of time to process the information as well as ask questions and receive a non-hurried, detailed answer. More one-on-one attention means that couples feel a part of the learning process. They come to find solutions on their own because they are given the time. Plus, dads/partners are less likely to doze off during class.
  • Multiple teaching methods are used in the class. The instructor will likely combine lecture, videos, games, hands on practice, discussion, quizzes, and maybe even stand up comedy to ensure you truly absorb the content being presented.
  • Competitive pricing means that the instructor has gone to great lengths to make sure you get your money’s worth. Instead of reading from a script, the instructor creates unique handouts,presentation slides, reviews notes, creates fun games (often rewarded with candy), makes sure all content reflects the latest research, and strives for your satisfaction in the class.
  • The independent instructor does not have any financial or undisclosed interest in products that are discussed in the class. All of the information given is the honest opinion of the honest instructor.  Working for a hospital, large baby store, or even a pharmaceutical company means the instructor has been told what to say (and what to NOT say).

I can understand the temptation to take a deeply discounted or free class. I really do. Financial times are tough on us all. So what do you do if you really cannot afford another expense?

My honest suggestion is to read a breastfeeding book if you cannot afford a quality class. With a book, you can process the information at your own speed, your partner can read along with you, and you can reference the material as many times as you need to. I highly recommend Breastfeeding Made Simple: 7 Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Kathleen Kendal-Tackett PhD, IBCLC and Nancy Mohrbacher IBCLC, FILCA. This book presents the material in an easy, scientific way that truly makes breastfeeding simple. It is also the reason I am a lactation consultant today.

By Meghan Garcia-Salas, CLC, CBS (Active Mama Milky Maven)

Meghan Garcia-Salas, CLC, CBS is a Certified Lactation Counselor and Certified Breastfeeding Specialist who owns and operates Village Lactation Services. She instructs childbirth professionals on breastfeeding issues as well as facilitates local breastfeeding support groups. She has spent over 1200 hours directly counseling Atlanta’s breastfeeding families and is an active member in ILCA, USLCA, SELCA, GBN, and AABP. She recently took the Board Certification Lactation Consultant Exam in July and is eagerly awaiting exam results.

Come meet her at: http://www.meetup.com/Active-Mamas/events/140615992/