I had such great feedback on last weeks show which is great because this lets me know that I am speaking about topics that you are interested in. Because you found it so interesting and you told me that you could really relate to the topic, I thought it would be great for me to fill you in on 2 of my consults that I had last week. I followed up with both Lisa and and I would like to tell you how the holidays were for them.
You will remember that Lisa had an 8 day old baby and Ellen had a 5 week old baby. Lisa knew that she could not make Thanksgiving Dinner and she was actually okay with that. It turns out that she has never made a full Thanksgiving Dinner. However, she really did want to come through with her famous Brownies. She knows family members really look forward to her brownies. She usually makes much more then can feed everyone because they take care packages home so they can enjoy them on other days when they are not so overly full from Thanksgiving.
It was Lisa’s first baby and she gave birth about 2 weeks past her due date. She was upset that she did not have the birth that she desired as she had planned on an unmedicated birth. At some point, and for various reasons, it was decided that labor should be induced with a drug called pitocin. This brought on pretty heavy duty and unatural contractions. Lisa found the pain very difficult to manage, so she was fine when the nurse suggested an epidural to handle the pain. Lisa’s labor from induction to birth lasted about 26 hours. Her baby was born vaginally with no health concerns for the baby or mom. She experienced a lovely rooming in period for the 2 days she was in the hospital. Lisa had help with lactation and left the hospital feeling pretty confident with breastfeeding.
Lisa had taken a breastfeeding class with me. Her husband was not able to attend the class and She scheduled a consult with me just because she wanted to be sure all was going well and she had a whole list of questions. She also felt that it would be helpful for her husband too because he kept questioning whether or not their baby had enough to eat and was a bit pushy about giving formula.. just to top baby off, just to be sure she was getting enough. He also felt that her baby was feeding so often and to him this meant that their baby defiinitely was not getting enough.
i walked into a calm household, with a baby that looked great. Weight check showed that her baby was gaining well, output was normal and Lisa seemed to be quite relaxed for a first time mother. Believe me, I was grateful to see this. It is just not the norm. I was happy to answer all of Lisa’s questions, which she found very beneficial. Like she said, you can learn all you want ahead of time, but when you have your baby in your arms, it is a totally different story. I was also very excited to be able to educate her husband and talk to him about normal newborn breastfeeding behavior. How tiny their stomachs were, the reasons for frequent feedings, how much they can take at a setting, what happens to moms supply when you get into the habit of topping a baby off. I verbally talked him through all the signs to know that their baby was getting enough. I could tell this made a huge difference to him as he now had a checklist to refer to. I really like checklists as I find this really helps some people to check things off. Amount of feedings.. Check. Amount of output. Check. Hunger cues before feeding, yes and milk coma appearance when done. Check. Full breasts before feeding. Check. Lot softer and lots of jiggle when done. Check. This checking off helps give you a picture” of what is happening and when you see all the checks in the column that tells you BF is going well, this helps to ease the minds of many partners. Moms and grandparents too!
I talk to partners about spending time with their babies skin to skin. Take their shirts off, take babies outfit off and tuck baby in chest to chest. Wrap a warm blanket around both of you. Talk, sing, hum, read the days news to your baby. This gives them a way of connecting and beginning to learn about their babies also.
About the brownie making. Lisa was doing well, but she was pretty darn tired. My suggestions to her because she really wanted to make those brownies. Send someone else to the store and have them buy all the ingredients. Have a trusted person, take all the ingredients and measure them out for her ahead of time. So, flour in one bowl, salt in another, liquid in another, eggs in another. Make sure her baby had a good feeding before she started to assemble and mix the ingredients. The deal was: if baby needed a diaper change or was fussy, someone had to be there to take over care of the baby for the time she needed to put it together. Once in the oven, she could be with baby. When brownies were done, someone else need to take over while she hecked and made sure they were d one, waiting for them to cool and cut them up.
Someone else had to clean up everything and I meant everything from bowls and mxing stuff to countertops. She was to direct someone else as to where to take out containers she wsa going to put brownies in and when they were coooled down, she would take care of ths part. Lisa, her husband agreed to this and her mom said she would come over and help with set up and clean up and husband would shop for ingredients.
Checked in with Lisa on Monday after Thanksgiving. She said brownies came out great and everyone was happy and she felt quite accomplished and happy she did make them. I asked her if it tired her out and she wished she did not make them. She told me that she was tired, but not so much that she pushed herself over the edge. She had done that the first few days home and that over exhaustion led to her being very weepy and over tired. She said that this probably would have happened if she did not have help throughout the baking process for the other parts that did not seem like such a big deal, but she now can see that they were a big deal pp and how easily you fatigue. Breastfeeding was going fairly easy and her husband was gaining confidence that his baby was being well fed and he had stopped suggesting topping baby off with formula. I was so glad this all worked out so well.
Now we can talk about Ellen who I met when her baby was 5 weeks old. She was suffering from low milk supply. Her baby was happy to go the breast. Breastfeeding was enjoyable. It did not hurt her. Her big problem was that she was just not making enough milk. When I visited with her, she had a whole story of all that had transpired in the weeks before I came to see her. Ellen went through a period of exclusively breastfeeding, to switching to all pumping and bottlefeeding. She reached her goal of making enough for her baby, but when she went back to breastfeeding, it was hurting so she began using a nipple shield. This seemed to work so well, that she stopped pumping, stopped bottlefeeding and went straight to all breastfeeding with the nipple shield in place. By the time I came to see her, she had begun supp. with formula because her baby did not seem to be getting full from breastfeeding anymore. I worked diligently with Ellen and based on all that I observed, the position and latch at breast was adjusted so that without the use of the nipple shield her pain was reduced to soreness, which she felt was doable. I expected good position and latch to resolve several issues. Her feelings of poor posture making her neck and arms sore, her baby able to get better milk transfer, therefore boosting her supply and doing away with the shield. I suspect her babies poor latch with the shield, was causing her supply to drop. I also suggested she do some pumping to help boost her supply.
With all the work I gave her to do, I was very up front and told her that she would probably have to choose between working on the care plan I suggested OR making her Thanksgiving Feast. I know she was not happy with me and at this point with everything I said, the mood shifted and she kept shaking her head up and down and saying, yes, yes, yes, I hear what you are saying. We were alone so it was hard for me to get feedback from any other family member. They could not hear what I was saying and I could not see their reaction. It was hard for me to know if this was pressure Ellen was putting on herself, pressure she felt from others, or major pressure someone was putting on her. I used my words carefully, spoke as kindly as I possibly could, while maintaining a certain degree of firmness when I said that if she paid attention to the plan and was able to focus and follow through, this may very well save her breastfeeding and in a week or so she could be EBF, avoid formula and pumping and bottlefeeding, which is what she said she really want to do. I said that if she was going to put in all the energy t would take to shop and cook for her dinner and clean her house and make it ready for the holiday, there was no way she could keep up with it all and something would have to give.
I was empathetic as I know what it feels like to want to do it all, To be there for everyone. To keep your life clicking along just as it had been before the baby was born. I tried to do that myself many times, and most of the time I failed at not just one thing, but both things I was trying to keep up with. Not happy with anything that I was trying to accomplish. I really wanted Ellen to be successful with BF and I knew that boosting her supply and breastfeeding much more comfortbly wuld be key to her success and I worried that if she did not take the t ime to slow down and prioritize,this would be very difficult. The Thanksgiving dinner would be eaten, people will go home and she will be left with a baby that was more inteested in bottles and with her strugglig to build her supply.
Ellen emailed me on Saturday after Thanksgiving. She told me that she was so tired and so exhausted. Yes, she had cooked the dinner. She actually did not finish all the dishes she wanted to but cooked 3 dishes, the turkey and two side dishes. She did not want to ask anyone else to cook, so she placed a last minute order for 2 other dishes and bought store bought pies for desert. She said she was quite stressed out, her baby did not have lots of bottles, she did not pump as much as she should have. Her self care plan was to rest up on Saturday and Sunday. Stay home and just breastfeed and on Monday start pumping. I thought that was a good plan. I spoke to her on Tuesday morning and she says that her baby has been going to the breast consistently, not fighting her and her pain is down, but she recognizes her supply is also as she is needing to supplement about an ounce for every feeding.
I told her that I thought she was doing great. She was close to a full supply and to keep w ith the plan. I imagine that by this time next week, she will be EBF. Did she follow exactly what I had urged her to do. Nope. But was this okay. Well, it is her body, her baby and she gets to make those decisions. My urgin comes from experience on this job. When moms get too exhausted, they burn out and it is common when moms hit a wall, they just totally stop. I don’t blame them at all. Not al all. It is just that I know how this works and I try my best to prevent this from happening, because moms frequently tell me their hopes and dreams and strong desire to BF and I desperately want them to meet those goals. They are not my goals. They are the moms goals. For Ellen I have a feelling it is all going to work out. For this, I am very happy.
I share these stories with you as the situations are quite common. And I know you. I am speaking to you. Yes, you. This is a busy time of year and I know you want to do it all. I know part of you has convinced yourself you can do it all. Some of you might, but most of you,, you just won’t be able to do it all and be happy. It is just too tiring. too exhausting. Can you do me a favor? Can you make a list of all the things you need to accomplish that is holiday related. Write down all the little things and all the big things. And don’t say you don’t have 30 minutes to sit down and write it all out. If you don’t have t ime to do that, how are you possibly going to find the time to execute all you have to do. Once you have it all written down, give a fair estimate of how long you think each task is going to take you?
You are already working at least 12 – 14 hours each day between feeding and diapering and bathing and soothing a baby. Be realistic. Where are you going to find time to do all the tasks that you have just listed? Is it realistic to think that you can do this? What are some of the things that you can give up doing altogether? What can you delegate to someone else? Ask yourself – what will happen if such and such does not get done? Can you live with this?
I just want you to recognize that it is okay to be different this year. It is okay to not do all the things you normally do each holiday season. Please take a good look at your workload and think of prioritizing you and your baby. When you look back on this time, I can tell you what almost every mother has told me.. who did too much – I wish I would have just laid low, not done too much, spent more time with my baby. They realize that they pushed themselves too hard and have regrets about this. So, please, no regrets – Put mom and baby first and you will be glad you did.
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