Little moments, big questions... Let us help you get off to a great start.

How to Better Understand Baby Sleep

When I was pregnant with my first child, someone told me that having to pee often at night was God’s way of preparing me for the frequent night feedings to come! My fear of sleep deprivation and quest for a good night’s sleep began before my baby had even arrived.

My newborn did feed often. Especially at night. I am convinced he fed every 2 hours at night until he was well over a year old. While I enjoyed nursing my baby to sleep (and it seemed to be the best way to get him to sleep), I had the nagging feeling I was doing something wrong and that he would never learn to sleep on his own.

I know I am not alone. Sleep is a huge issue for new families. Parents of babies only two or three days old ask me if they have started a bad habit because the only way their baby will sleep is tucked into bed beside them.

Desperate for sleep, parents look for a baby sleep solution. I know I did. None, however, felt right to my parenting heart.

I love what IBCLC Meg Nagle (aka The Milk Meg) had to say about one of the common sleep training methods. She graciously allowed us to reprint her article below. We would love to hear your comments and learn what worked for you.

-Cindy   

How-to-Understand-Baby-Sleep

 

Why “Feed, Play, Sleep” routines make no sense for a breastfed baby…

 

*Just to clarify, I don’t think it makes sense for ANY baby, bottle or breastfed to be on this routine…however it makes even LESS sense for breastfed babies. Also, if you are doing this routine and it’s working for you then great! This article isn’t for you (although I’d love for you to keep reading anyway)! This is for the millions of women who are told they “should” be doing this routine but know it’s just not working for them and they are wondering why. Because the reality is that for most women who breastfeed on demand, it doesn’t work! Here’s why…

If you live in a western culture you will have definitely heard of the “Feed, play, sleep” routine. This is a well known and frequently suggested method of getting your baby into a little pattern of eating, playing and then yes, you guessed it…sleeping. Every day. Now as a exhausted pregnant woman (or new mother) how awesome does this sound?! Sounds great until the baby actually arrives and they are on and off the boob constantly.

We find ourselves reading these books and websites about this wonderful routine wondering, “What is WRONG with my baby?! He won’t sleep longer than 40 minutes and half that time my boob has to be in his mouth! He wants to breastfeed before waking, after waking, during his play time and then to fall asleep again! Why is my baby not fitting into this schedule?! What is wrong with me? Why is this happening?!”

I’ll tell you why this is happening…because your baby is normal. Your baby is born incredibly prematurely compared to other mammals. Your baby is an actual person. A person who cannot do anything for themselves. Your baby needs cuddles, breastfeeds, cuddles and breastfeeds. Breastfeeding is not meant to be scheduled. It’s makes no sense from a biological, cultural or evolutionary perspective.

 

Here is why this little routine does not make sense for breastfed babies…

  • Breastfed babies have virtually all of their needs met by breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is not just about “feeding” but is about comfort, hunger, thirst, pain relief, boredom buster, tantrum stopper and basically answer to everything elixir. You may not know what is wrong with your baby but chances are…boob will fix it. So throw out that book that’s telling you to stretch out the next breastfeed until it’s “time”. Just whip it out. “When in doubt…whip it out”!

  • Your baby is actually a person…not a cookiecutter clone.

This is something that gets my panties in a bunch…your little baby is a person. This little person is going through many changes. They’ve just gone from a nice warm womb to a cold, crazy world. Your little person is not going to follow a schedule…if they do then pat yourself on the back and do a happy dance that you have a little weirdo (and I mean in a good way) baby! But it’s definitely not the norm.

  • Your breastmilk is MADE to put your little one to sleep.

As I’ve mentioned in my book and in my blog countless times, your milk has components in it to help put your child to sleep! It’s amazing! Just pop them on and watch them fall asleep. Most babies do this. This is not a habit that needs to be broken. It is what they are meant to do. It is important. It is the biological norm.

  • A breastfed baby on a routine means less frequent draining of the breasts which means less milk production.

Breastmilk production is simple…supply and demand. The more well drained your breasts are…the more they will make. Trying to distract a baby to not breastfeed since it’s not “feeding time” can affect your supply and put you at risk for needing to supplement or pump. Even though these routines stress how you can be “flexible” with some of these times, books and websites state that at a certain age you can stick to these routines by the minute…try telling that to most breastfed babies or toddlers and they will respond with a cry asking to be breastfed!

  • Breastfed babies need a breastfeed to help them work through feelings and to help calm themselves.

Breastfeeding is not just about “the milk”. Breastfeeding will happen at various times throughout the day and night that have NOTHING to do with hunger or the need for food.

  • Bottle fed babies find comfort through a pacifier…breasts ARE a breastfed baby’s pacifier.

This is one of the biggest differences in doing these routines with a breastfed baby compared to a bottle fed baby. A baby bottle feeds because they are hungry. When they are no longer hungry you can give them a pacifier and either rock them to sleep or put them down to sleep where they nod off by themselves. Cue the breastfed baby…this baby breastfeeds TO ACTUAL SLEEP because this is how they pacify themselves! They’ll breastfeed to wake up, breastfeed during their play time and then breastfeed back to sleep. They are calmed at the breast.

Here is the typical recommended schedule for people on how to do the “feed, play, sleep” routine…

When your baby wakes up:

  • Offer a feed.
  • Change your baby’s nappy.
  • Take time for talk and play.
  • Put your baby back down for a sleep.

And here is how it usually goes for a breastfed baby who is fed on demand and is with their mother 24/7…

When your baby wakes up:

  • Feed.
  • Change nappy.
  • Talk, Play, Feed
  • Carry around.
  • Feed.
  • Feed/sleep/feed.
  • Play/feed/play.
  • Feed.
  • Sleep.

Or to be more exact for the breastfeeding woman (because breastfeeding is not just about “FEEDING”…)

Now don’t think for one second that I don’t think routines are good ideas…Babies and children LOVE routines. They thrive on knowing what is going to happen when. However, I strongly believe that breastfeeding can happen before, during and after these rituals you do every day. Before sleep times you can read a book, sing them a song, give them a bath…all of this can happen while breastfeeding here there or everywhere in between these rituals you do. Remember your baby is a little human. A little person…and this little person needs frequent breastfeeds and frequent cuddles day and night. You are mothering through breastfeeding…not creating a soldier for the next graduating class of military cadets. Relax and just enjoy your baby.

xx

Meg

 

Learn more about newborns and sleep: 11 Ways to Cope with Sleep Deprivation and Baby’s “Days and Nights Mixed-Up”

 

Meg Nagle. The Milk Meg. Photo


About Meg:

In between breastfeeding her youngest boy, chasing after her oldest two boys, blogging and occasionally sleeping  …Meg Nagle works with women to help them reach their breastfeeding goals! Meg has also written a book, “Boobin’ All Day…Boobin’ All Night. A Gentle Approach To Sleep For Breastfeeding Mothers” which can be found HERE.

0 comments

Simply Breastfeeding Online Course

While the first weeks with a newborn can be amazing and filled with wonder, they can also be frustrating and filled with worry. Through years of working with new families, we have seen a pattern of common concerns.

 

Parents worry if their baby is getting enough milk.

They wonder if they are doing something wrong because their baby feeds often at night.  

Mom’s nipples are painful and they don’t know if it is normal.

 

When a new baby arrives, sleep deprivation and the steady stream of visitors make it difficult for new parents to learn what they need to know to feel confident.

 

We knew there must be a better way. What if parents could learn the answers to the most common breastfeeding questions BEFORE their baby was born? Once their newborn arrived, they could spend more snuggling instead of Googling.

 

As a first step to solving this problem, we began to teach a prenatal breastfeeding class in our hometown (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). The feedback from families was very encouraging. Moms told us they felt more confident and prepared for baby’s arrival.

 

We began to get requests for an online version. These requests were from:

  • Families who lived too far away to drive to our in person class.
  • Mothers who prefered to learn at their own pace, in the comfort of their own home.
  • Women whose partners worked out of town and were unavailable to attend the in person class.

 

We got busy filming and created a 12 lesson online video prenatal breastfeeding course, Simply Breastfeeding. In addition to the videos, each lesson is accompanied by summary notes and bonus downloadable content.

 

Here are a few of the things we want every expectant parent to know!

 

Your breasts will be soft in the first few days after birth but you do have milk! It’s a thick golden milk, full of germ fighting properties that are important for your baby. (We explain more about colostrum in the ‘Baby’s Very First Feed’ lesson.)

You will experience baby’s “Ravenous Second Night”. Your baby will want to feed very very often and you won’t get much sleep. It will be tiring but it is normal; your baby is doing exactly what we expect. This frequent feeding will signal your body to begin to make a larger volume of milk. The following nights will be easier. (We explain more in the lesson ‘Time to Feed? Watch Your Baby, Not the Clock’.)

You will spend 10 to 12 hours a day breastfeeding. You will want to be comfortable! Watch our free preview lesson about breastfeeding positions here. (‘Breastfeeding Positions: Getting Mom and Baby Comfy’)

You don’t have to endure sore nipples. It is common for nipples to feel ‘tender’ in the first week or two but you should not have pain that makes you curl your toes and bring your shoulders up to your ears. Latching baby deeply to the breast can help you to avoid sore nipples. (We explore how to get a comfortable latch in the ‘The Deep Secret of Latching’ lesson.)

You may worry whether you have enough milk. Concern about milk supply is the most common reason women stop breastfeeding or begin to give formula. Although it may seem logical, pumping is NOT a good way to tell if you have enough milk. (We cover how to know baby is getting enough milk in the lesson: ‘Is Baby Getting Enough? How to Know for Sure’.)

You are going to get lots of advice about breastfeeding; not all of it will be good advice. In fact, some women are told to avoid chocolate and caffeine. Thankfully, this is not accurate advice! A cup or two of coffee or tea and moderate amounts of chocolate are not off limits for breastfeeding mothers! (We tackle this and other common questions in the ‘FAQ’ lesson.)

 

The Simply Breastfeeding course is for:

 

  • Expectant mothers who are trying to decide out whether or not they want to breastfeed
  • Expectant mothers who want to learn more about how to breastfeed their baby before giving birth
  • Mothers who recently gave birth but quickly realized they needed to learn more about breastfeeding

Let the Simply Breastfeeding course help you to make the first weeks with your newborn as relaxing and stress free as possible.

Breastfeeding-(3)


thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

 

0 comments

10 Benefits of Breastfeeding You are Going to Love

Imagine a medicine that could decrease your baby’s risk of pneumonia, colds, ear infections, stomach infections and diarrhea! What if this same medicine could also decrease your baby’s chance of developing diabetes, obesity and some cancers? Imagine if this medicine was available for free!

Breastfeeding is that medicine. It provides all of these benefits for babies, but the benefits of breastfeeding don’t stop there! Here are an additional 10 cool things about breastfeeding you may not know.

 

1) Stronger bones for mom.

Breastfeeding helps your body absorb calcium more efficiently, meaning less chance of osteoporosis!

2) It burns calories while you sit on the couch.

It is like going to the gym without leaving your house. You burn a whopping 500 calories per day, equivalent to running on a treadmill for 45 minutes, cleaning the house for 2 hours or doing one hour of Zumba.

3) It’s environmentally friendly.

There is no pollution or garbage involved!

4) There is no risk of contamination.

There have, however, been cases of contamination in powdered infant formula. You can learn more about Cronobacter infection in formula here.

5) Once established, it is pretty simple.

When your baby is hungry, no prep is required! Your milk is the perfect temperature, always delivered fresh and ready to serve. Now that makes life easy when you are out of the house!

10BenefitsOfBreastfeeding

6) Fewer missed days when you return to work.

When a breastfeeding mom and baby are exposed to a germ in their environment, the mother’s body makes antibodies to that specific germ. Mom then passes that protective antibody to her baby through the breast milk. This means less illness for baby (and less time away from work for mom!)

7) It saves money.

You will save up to $3200 per year by not having to buy formula. Check out what you could buy instead. Fewer trips to the doctor and less hospital visits compound the savings.

8) You will get a leave of absence from your period.

Breastfeeding exclusively (giving no other food or liquid) around the clock delays the return of menstruation. For some, this means no periods for a full year. More money saved on feminine products and birth control!

9) Available in a variety of flavours.

The flavour of breast milk changes according to mom’s diet. Formula, on the other hand, tastes the same, day after day. The varying flavour of breast milk  is thought to make the introduction of solids foods that much easier.

10) It ensures lots of snuggle time.

Breastfeeding is a great reason to stop, sit down and simply hold your baby. Gazing into those little eyes leads to a strong connection.

The decision about how you will feed your baby could be one of the most most important decisions you will make as a new parent. Want to discover some skills and techniques proven to make breastfeeding easier (and essential to meeting your breastfeeding goals)? Register for our FREE email series, Getting Ready to Breastfeed.

References:

  1. Horta, Bernardo L., and Cesar G. Victora. Long-term Effects of Breastfeeding: A Systematic Review. Publication. N.p.: World Health Organization, 2013.
  2. The Baby Friendly Initiative | Research | Breastfeeding Research – An Overview.” Unicef UK, n.d. Web.

 

Want to learn more? Preparing to Breastfeed in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding – Getting Started


thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

 

0 comments

Free for World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated August 1-7, 2016 in over 176 countries! This year we are highlighting the link between breastfeeding and wellbeing.

To celebrate, we have a couple of free gifts for you!

Breastfeeding is important not only for the wellbeing of babies but for their mothers as well. There are numerous benefits for both short and long term health. Read here about a few you might not have known. If you prefer to learn about the benefits in video format, we have a new FREE video course Getting Ready to Breastfeed. In addition to learning the importance of breastfeeding, you will also learn about some common breastfeeding myths and how to prepare for breastfeeding before baby arrives.

Women tell us they wish they had prepared for breastfeeding the way they prepared for the birth. Learn now what these women wish they had known BEFORE their baby arrived.

WorldBreastfeedingWeek

You can also snap up our NuuNest app for FREE this entire week. NuuNest offers everything new parents need to know about their newborn’s feeds, weight and diapers. It includes “All About Mom”, what’s normal after childbirth and when to worry.

Let’s celebrate next World Breastfeeding Week together, valuing well-being from the very start of life. Quite a beautiful thing!

 

Read more about preparing for breastfeeding here.


thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

0 comments

Jana’s Birth Story: Trauma and Recovery

Birth is a powerful moment for women. Our birth stories become part of us; something we will carry in our hearts until we leave this earth. Ask any elderly woman and undoubtedly she will remember the details of her baby’s birth.

 

But not all births go as planned… Some women are traumatized, reliving what has happened to their body and to their mind. Supporting women who have been traumatized brings back memories of my own birth story.

 

Jana’s story

My story took place over 18 years ago, yet there are moments of the experience that are as vivid as if they happened last week.

…The panic in my mother’s voice as we were stuck at the red light, the beach towel between my legs saturated with bright red blood.

…The image of my mother waving her arms out the window telling the driver in front to get out of the way as we needed to get to the hospital quickly.

…The feeling of floating as it all drifted away.

 

The trauma in my story happened when my daughter Bryn was 14 days old. My delivery and recovery had been uneventful up to that point. As a nurse, I knew that the gushes of bright red bleeding were not normal, especially when they continued past a week. My doctor sent me for an ultrasound to make sure there were no bits of placenta left in my uterus. When a third person was brought in to examine my ultrasound, I knew that something was up.

 

I was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation, basically arteries and veins twisted together and bulging into my uterus. The diagnosis happened on a Friday. I was to return Monday morning to see if it was getting larger or smaller.

 

Sunday night, I prepared supper for my mother, aunt and uncle who were visiting that day. My husband was working late. For some strange reason I remember we were having spaghetti. As I sat down at the table to eat, I felt a small popping sensation, then warm liquid running down my legs. I was bleeding heavily.

 

Thinking it was quicker than calling an ambulance, my mom drove me to the hospital. Thankfully my aunt and uncle were there to stay with my baby. They reassured me that they would be able to prepare formula and give Bryn a bottle if needed. This was something I never wanted to do but sometimes you don’t get to choose.

 

It was only a 6 minute trip to the hospital. We learned that a lot can happen in 6 minutes. My first memory after watching my mom hanging out the vehicle window, yelling for drivers to get out of the way is of bright lights. Not THE bright light, but the light of the trauma room in Emergency.

 

My poor husband was called out of a meeting and told his wife was hemorrhaging. He needed to pick up Bryn and come to the hospital immediately. This experience was so traumatic for him that I was almost unable to convince him to have another baby. (I say “almost” because three years later my son Brett arrived. I got my happy ending.)

 

Memories too painful to forget

Before my happy ending however, there was a nightmare that no one should have to endure. There are memories I won’t forget:

  • my mom trying to help me latch my hungry daughter to my breast.

I was passing out due to blood loss. My bed was tilted downward with my head much lower than my feet. My mom held my daughter nearly upside down as I tried to feed her. My determination should have been my first clue that I would become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant the following year.

  • hearing the beep on the blood pressure machine and knowing the numbers were much too close to zero.

This “holy crap I might die” moment will never leave me. The memory makes me teary even as I write this 18 years later, especially as I can now look back and realize what I would have missed.

  • the desperation in the voice of the lab tech.

He recognized the severity of my situation. My veins were collapsing, despite the 5 IV’s pumping saline into my body.

  • the experience of being a patient when you are a nurse.

Being given a warm blanket when I felt chilled to my inner core. Having my nurse care enough to share her tears when the bleeding stopped.

  • my grief as the head nurse told me about Sheehan’s Syndrome.

A potential complication of severe hemorrhaging is that your body may be unable to make milk for your baby.

  • my desperation to make my nurse promise to wake me every 3 hours to double pump.

I needed to tell my saline overloaded body that Sheehan’s syndrome would not stand a chance. I was challenged to make  myself upright enough so I could pump, but reclined enough so that I would not pass out!. After 2 weeks, my body began to make milk again and we went on to breastfeed for the next 2 years.

  • I remember lying in bed and learning of Princess Diana’s death and thinking that we could have died the same day.

I also heard about a new mother who lived 1 ½ hours out of my city. She had hemorrhaged the same day but wasn’t so lucky. Hearing of her death made the severity of my situation real.

 

…I am so grateful.

—  Jana

Jana and Bryn today

Jana and Bryn today

 


thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

1 comments

Pregnant? Learn How To Avoid 8 Mistakes New Mothers Make

For nine months, pregnant women look forward to meeting their newborn. They dream of spending their days snuggling and inhaling their new baby’s scent. Unfortunately, the reality of baby’s first weeks often doesn’t live up to these expectations. Life with a newborn can be exhausting, filled with frustration and uncertainty.

Mothers tell us they wish they had the chance to redo this special time to avoid making some crucial mistakes. Learn what new mothers wish they had done differently.

Women wish they had rested more at the end of their pregnancy.

Pregnancy is not always seen as a reason to slow down. Women feel pressured to maintain their pre-pregnancy lifestyle. The combination of home, work and social obligations can be exhausting.

The physical demands of pregnancy have been compared to climbing a mountain. It is crucial to take time to rest and care for yourself.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Scheduling time for naps in the same way you would schedule time for a haircut or doctor’s appointment.
  • Beginning your maternity leave a week or two early; use the extra time to rest.

Women wish they had learned more about breastfeeding while still pregnant.

“I wish I had prepared for breastfeeding like I prepared for the birth. We had a hard time at the beginning.”

Breastfeeding is natural but it is a skill both mom and baby will need to learn. Knowing some basics about breastfeeding and newborn behavior can help you to sidestep the most common difficulties.

Avoid this mistake by learning:

  • how to position yourself comfortably to breastfeed.
  • how to help your baby latch deeply on the breast.
  • how often newborns feed and how to know you have enough milk
  • where to go for help if needed.

Surround yourself with women who have breastfed: friends, family or mother-to-mother support groups like La Leche League.

To learn more, download our free guide: 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.

Families wish they had had fewer visitors in the hospital.

Friends, family and co-workers will be eager to celebrate the arrival of your newborn. You will be excited to introduce them to your brand new baby.

Too many visitors in hospital, however, can leave you exhausted. You may miss a nap or you may miss precious time to learn from nurses about how to care for yourself and your new baby.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Limiting company in the hospital. Let your family and friends know your wishes well before baby’s arrival.
  • Consider posting a Do Not Disturb sign on your hospital door.

“It felt a little cruel, as I knew there were many who were excited to meet our latest. But it took away so much pressure knowing that I didn’t have to look presentable or make small talk. I could doze in and out of sleep and it allowed me endless skin-to-skin time… I really cherish the memories of that.”

Families wish they had less visitors at home in the first weeks after birth.

Almost every new family has too many visitors during baby’s first few weeks at home.

Many visitors intend to “just pop by for a short visit”. Unfortunately, even a quick visit may mean you may miss an opportunity to nap. Babies who are held by visitors tend to sleep more in the daytime, a guarantee they will be feeding more often at night!

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Putting your phone on silent, ignoring non-essential texts and emails.
  • Asking a trusted family member to “be the bad guy”, spreading the word that you are not up to company just yet.
  • Blaming the nurse! Feel free to say “The nurse said I shouldn’t have visitors for the first couple of weeks”.
  • Posting a message on Facebook: “Our baby has arrived. She weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces. We’re settling in but not getting much sleep. We will let you know when we are ready for visitors.”

8MostCommonMistakesNewMothersMake

Families wish they had asked for help.

Caring for a newborn is a time consuming job. While you may not want visitors that you have to entertain, you may want to ask a trusted friend or family member to help with household tasks. If others can cook and clean, it will allow you more time to simply focus on baby’s needs and recovering from childbirth.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Saying “yes!” to friends or relatives who offer to help. Be specific about ways they can support you such as picking up groceries, doing laundry, walking your dog or simply holding your baby while you take a bath.

Women wish they had rested while their baby slept.

When women look back on baby’s first weeks, they realize just how tired they were. They wish they had given themselves permission to rest.

“Sleep while the baby sleeps” is easier said than done. There will always be one more thing to accomplish during baby’s nap.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Laying down to rest in the day, even if you are unable to sleep. It makes getting up for night feeds just a little easier.

Women wish they had spent more time simply snuggling their baby.

The immediate postpartum period is a busy time. You will be feeding at least 10 times a day and changing about the same number of diapers. You may long for your home to be as clean and organized as it was before the birth.

You will feel cheated, however, if you don’t take time to simply sit and hold your baby. The old saying is true: “Housework can wait but babies can’t”.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Giving yourself permission to ignore the housework; put your feet up, your phone down and simply enjoy your baby.

Women wish they had trusted their instincts.

The amount of baby information available is mind-boggling. ‘Googling’ leads to pages and pages of answers. Friends, family and even strangers will be quick to offer advice. Much of what you read and hear will be contradictory.

There will never be a perfect way to raise a child. It’s okay to listen to outside information but pay special attention to your maternal instincts. Babies have different personalities and preferences; no one will know and love your baby as much as you.

Avoid this mistake by:

  • Taking in advice but doing what works best for you and your baby.

So there you have it, 8 new mom mistakes you can avoid. Take some time to learn about breastfeeding. Prioritize your rest both now and once baby arrives. Make a plan for how you will handle visitors. Most importantly, get ready to spend lots of time simply snuggling and enjoying your new baby.

 

Keep learning with these posts: Breast Milk and Formula: Is there Really a Difference? and 7 Important Ways Dads can Help with Breastfeeding


thumbnail-cindy-and-janaAbout the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

 

0 comments

Postpartum Depression to Recovery: Danis’ Story

I would like to share my story with other mothers in order to prevent postpartum depression. I am so thankful that there is growing awareness on this issue and that we don’t have to be afraid to tell our stories. If I can help even one person, that’s all that matters. This is my story.

My story.

DanisMy name is Danis. I had my first son, Phoenix, when I was 26 years old. It was a bright and happy time in my life. I had just graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Native American Studies from the University of Lethbridge. I had met the love of my life, Ian, and he was also about to finish his Bachelor of Management degree in First Nations Governance.

We shared a great group of friends in the University community and a great support system. We weren’t rich as we were both students, but we were healthy, happy, and full of excitement about our life together.

When I was about 6 months pregnant, I developed insomnia. I was concerned but everyone told me that it was just my body preparing for all the sleepless nights ahead. Everyone told me, “It will pass.”

On December 5, 2009, the joy of our life, our son, Phoenix, was born. He weighed 8 pounds 2 oz., was completely healthy and carried to full term. What an amazing gift. We brought him home on a snowy blustery day and our lives began as parents.

We were both completely in love with our baby. The only concern I had was the ongoing insomnia. Nursing was going wonderfully, no problems with Phoenix, but the sleeplessness started getting worse. I would be awake for 30 hours, sleep for 3 or 4, and then the cycle would repeat. I was fighting to function for my family.

When Phoenix was 2 months old, Ian’s mother offered to come stay with us until Ian finished his degree. The plan was that she would help us move to Ian’s hometown of Saskatoon. My mother in law ended up being a tremendous support to us and I loved seeing how close my son was to his grandmother as I was also close to mine. When Phoenix was 6 months old we made our move. Ian found work with his degree and I stayed home with Phoenix.

 

I was completely depressed and felt so alone.

Being in a new city, having no friends of my own and dealing with insomnia proved to be too much for me. I was completely depressed and felt so alone. I remember days and days passing by where everything felt dark.

Why can’t I sleep? I would ask myself.

I constantly felt frightened and at times even paranoid.

I loved my baby with the most infinite love and yet I constantly felt guilty as if I wasn’t a good parent.

I hated Saskatoon and longed to be back with my family in BC.

It was then I realized I needed help. I called the local Postpartum Depression Support Group and they arranged for a taxi to pick us up once a week and drive us home. That group became my lifeline. I met other women like me who were struggling with depression and who wanted to become strong for their children.

I attended the group for 7 months until Phoenix was 13 months old. That group gave me a place to share what I was going through. I remember going there when I had barely slept for two days. All I felt was supported and no judgment. I started making friends with the other moms and arranging times to hang out on weekends. There was a little faint light at the end of the tunnel.

 

No matter what happens. I am going to be ok.

I remember when the insomnia ended. I was lying in bed wide-awake. I stopped fighting. This empowering realization came to me. “No matter what happens. I am going to be ok. No matter what. Even if I don’t sleep tonight. Even if I don’t sleep tomorrow. No matter what happens with my life. I am going to be alright.” I know it sounds too good to be true, but I actually slept after that.

Then, the real progress began. Ian and I started getting relationship and individual counseling. I began medication for anxiety. I have always loved helping others, and I began working as an education assistant with children who have special needs. Phoenix started at a daycare center where he thrived, and finally he began Kindergarten.

I didn’t think I would ever have another baby. I couldn’t bear thinking of going through postpartum depression again. When Phoenix turned 5, I realized that I did, in fact, want one more child. I started imagining the kind of mother I wanted to be for a newborn- healthy, happy, confident and peaceful.

AMothersJourneyfromPostpartumDepressiontoRecovery

Another baby on the way.

When we found out we were expecting, we were thrilled and cautious. I decided to go off of the antidepressant for my pregnancy and did not experience negative side effects. Most of the pregnancy was joyful and productive. At around 6-½ months gestation, I began to feel a shortness of breath in the evenings. It became overwhelming and I would wake up unable to catch a full breath.

Then, my feet began to swell. I looked puffy and I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I had seen my doctor at 6 months pregnant and everything was fine so I didn’t think anything was wrong. I thought I had a bad case of edema. A new school year had begun, and I was working full days without too much stress. I was just frustrated by how big I was getting.

On September 2nd, exactly two months from my due date, I decided that these symptoms were too strange and it was time to get checked by a doctor. My mother in law came over to watch Phoenix.

Ian and I drove to the hospital. They told us to go to straight upstairs to the postpartum ward and they hooked me up to a fetal monitor. They discovered a very scary fact. The baby’s heartbeat was barely audible and my blood pressure was off the charts high.

 

We have to get the baby out right now!

Suddenly, a hospital employee came into the room and barely acknowledged me. Another lady came in and said, “Unhook the bed.” The doctor returned to the room and said “Danis, we have to get the baby out right now.”

There was nothing calm about this experience. It truly was an emergency C-section. Professionals looked scared. I was frightened beyond belief. I thought I was going to go home and take care of my 5 year old. Now I was going to have the baby?

They rushed me into a room. I was shaking. The anesthesiologist got my permission to operate and bring my baby out into the world. A kind and thoughtful nurse kept rubbing my hair and telling me I would be all right. I wish I could find that woman and thank her. She kept me from losing it. Ian was not allowed to be with us. I was told he could come in after. Then, everything was black and they delivered my sweet baby boy.

Our second son, Bodhi, was born at 31 weeks gestation at only 2 pounds. I couldn’t believe that I carried a baby that tiny. I was completely in shock. Preeclampsia was the diagnosis. Both of us nearly died. The doctor told me that if I had waited even one more day to get checked, my precious baby would have passed away and I may have had a stroke.

The recovery from the C-section was horrible. The physical pain was unbearable. I didn’t see my baby until almost 48 hours after his birth because I was in too much pain to leave my room.

When we saw him, I felt so much love and simultaneously, an uncertainty for his future. He was the tiniest baby I had ever seen. Our baby was in the hospital for 88 days. He went through surgery to repair an inguinal hernia, he overcame feeding difficulties, jaundice, and our family was at the hospital constantly.

November 23rd was the happiest day ever. He was finally allowed to come home. I remember the moment I removed his last wire that hooked him up to the machines. Such a great moment.

Today, Bodhi is 9 months old. Bodhi is perfectly healthy, and he is the happiest person I have ever met. I am so grateful beyond words. We all are. Every day I’m so grateful that we are both here!

 

Steps I took to prevent postpartum depression from happening a second time.

When I was in the hospital, one of the nurses who was unaware of my history of postpartum depression told me that I was at risk to go through it because of the premature birth. I chose not to tell her my fears. Instead, I immediately took steps to prevent myself from slipping.

There were many challenges we endured as a family. These are some of the steps I took to prevent postpartum depression from happening a second time.

  • I called a counsellor a.s.a.p. to help me through the process of Bodhi’s hospital stay. This was invaluable, as a woman can experience PTSD symptoms from traumatic birth experiences. I needed to talk to a professional to process that and the painful feelings of being away from my baby.
  • I went back on antidepressants. I didn’t want to, but I knew that I wanted to do everything possible to be healthy for my children.
  • I connected with friends. The last thing I wanted to do was be social, but I had one of my best friends come to stay with me and she was a great encouragement. I also visited with friends on afternoons when I needed a break from being at the hospital. I have a great group of mom friends who get together at least once a week now and it’s amazing how much happiness this brings.
  • Finally, here is the key to my recovery. I started looking at my health as a mother, a woman and individual through concepts I had learned in my education of the medicine wheel. We are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings. Every day I take care of each of the parts of my life and do things to stay whole and balanced. Daily exercise and healthy nutrition is not optional for me. I stay vigilant in taking care of myself. It’s not selfish, it’s a gift to our children to take care of ourselves.

So, that’s my story. Today, I’m enjoying my life and my family. Postpartum depression does not have to happen. I think we as a society, need to get serious about postnatal and antenatal health. It starts with talking about it and having the hard conversations. We can all help one another!

– Danis Clare

**Thank you to our guest poster, Danis Clare, for sharing so openly and honestly about her journey.  
Cindy and Jana

thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

0 comments

Sun Safety for Babies

Summer weather is here! There is no reason to stay inside. With a little planning, you and your baby can enjoy the outdoors.

 

Tips to make your outings safe and enjoyable:

 

  • Baby’s skin is delicate. Avoid direct sun exposure, especially during the peak heat hours (10am-2pm). Choose a well shaded area or use an umbrella. A wide brimmed hat will protect baby’s face and neck.

 

  • If your baby is less than 6 months old and you are not able to avoid the sun, use sunscreen on small areas such as your baby’s hands and feet. If your baby is over 6 months, you can apply sunscreen to all areas, but be careful when applying around the eyes.

 

  • Just like adults, babies are thirstier on hot days. Feed your baby frequently. Breast milk is 88% water making it an excellent choice for hot summer days. If you are formula feeding, take extra with you to help quench baby’s thirst. Water supplements are not recommended for babies under 6 months of age.

 

  • Your baby’s ability to regulate temperature is still developing. Protection from heat as well as the sun is important. Baby’s feet and hands may feel cool but if the back of your baby’s neck is sweaty, your baby is too warm. As a general guideline, your baby will need one more layer of clothing than you need. Choose lightweight, light-colored clothing.

 

  • Babies should never be left alone in a vehicle, even for a minute. Enclosed vehicles can quickly become dangerously hot.

 

  • A bug screen over your stroller or carrier is a chemical-free way to prevent insect bites. Insect repellent with DEET should not be used on infants less than six months of age.

 

Get out and enjoy the summer weather with your baby.

Updated June 9, 2016

SunSafetyforBabies

 

References and More Information:

  1. Guidelines for Offering Water to Breastfed Babies.” KellyMomcom, 31 Mar. 2016. Web.
  2. Insect Repellents: How to Protect Your Child from Insect Bites.” Caring for Kids. Canadian Paediatric Society, Mar. 2012. Web.
  3. Sun Safety: Information for Parents About Sunburn & Sunscreen.” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web.

Related posts: Yes You Can! Outdoor Adventures with Baby and 7 Reasons You will Love Camping with Your Baby.

 


IMG_9687 4

About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

1 comments

6 Tips for Surviving the Newborn Period

 

Settling in with a new baby is a time of HUGE adjustments. Moms are often sore as they recover from birth. Sleep deprivation and unsolicited advice are at an all time high. Older children and pets may be vying for attention.

 

Feeding a newborn requires at least 8 to 10 hours a day; diapering requires another 1 ½ – 2 hours. That doesn’t leave much time for self-care!

 

Here are 6 tips to make the newborn period more enjoyable and a lot less stressful.


Note: To help make feeding your baby less stressful, we’ve written a FREE ebook, 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding. Download it here.


6 tips for surviving

 

1. Limit visitors

 

Everyone loves a new baby! Visitors get caught up in the excitement and may forget that you have been up most of the night. Even short visits can interfere with an opportunity to nap.

When a friend or relative asks, “When can I drop by?” respond, “I’d love you to visit, but we need a few days (or a few weeks!) to get some rest”. Ask a trusted family member to be your ‘gate-keeper’, answering phone calls and the door, telling well-wishers you are not up to company just yet.

 

Tips from other parents:

  • Let others know your wishes well before the birth. “We know we will need time to settle in, so we won’t be having company for at least 2 weeks.”
  • Take your newborn to see others rather than having visitors at your house. That way, you can keep the visit short.
  • Consider changing your voicemail. “Our baby has arrived. 6 pounds, 3 ounces. We are doing well but we are very tired. We appreciate your message but we may not get back to you for a couple of weeks.”

 

2. Let go of the perfect home

wall-panel-416041_640

 

With 12 or more hours a day spent on baby care, it is impossible for your home to look the way it used to. Caring for a newborn takes a lot of energy.

Try to let go of your expectations. Concentrate on resting and getting to know your new baby.

 

Tips from other parents:

  • If a family member offers to help, say yes! Ask them to dust, do laundry or vacuum the floors.
  • Focus on keeping one room tidy; retreat to this sanctuary when you feel overwhelmed.
  • If there are tasks that cannot wait, use a wrap or a baby carrier and wear your baby while you accomplish the essentials.

 

3. Plan simple meals

 

This is not the time for gourmet food. Keep meals simple and nutritious. Yogurt, fresh fruit and pre-cut veggies are excellent snacks. Nuts are a quick and easy source of protein. Keep snacks and a glass of water within reach.

When people offer to help, suggest they make a meal. If eggs and toast or peanut butter sandwiches are appealing, go ahead and make it for supper 3 nights in a row.

 

Tips from other parents:

  • Ordering takeout can be a lifesaver.
  • Keep protein bars on hand.
  • Make meals that can be eaten with one hand (e.g. wraps).

 

4. Ignore unsolicited advice

 

 

false-98375_640New parents get a lot of advice and it can be very overwhelming. Many times, the advice will be contradictory. Your aunt may advise, “Never wake a sleeping baby” but the nurse tells you “Feed your baby at least every 3 hours.” (Note: we wrote a post on this topic here.)

Please trust your instincts. No two babies are the same. What works for one family will not necessarily work for others.

 

Tips from other parents:

  • Say “Thank you for that idea. I will discuss it with my partner. “
  • Simply smile and say ‘Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind.”
  • Pretend to be preoccupied with your baby. Ignore the advice and change the subject.

 

5. Mom’s bath is more important than baby’s

 

To keep stitches clean and to speed healing, moms that delivered vaginally should have a tub soak at least twice a day. C-section moms should shower daily to keep their incision clean. In the busy days with a newborn, this can be challenging.

We encourage mothers to prioritize their own bath rather than their baby’s. A baby doesn’t need a complete bath every day. Instead, concentrate on washing baby’s face and neck daily and baby’s bottom with every diaper change. (You can learn more about infant bathing here.)

 

6. Make resting a priority

sleep-330869_640

Newborns feed at least 8 to 12 times a day. It’s no wonder that new parents feel sleep deprived! It may be difficult to ignore the laundry and the undone dishes but try to make resting your first priority.

Some women find it difficult to sleep in the daytime. Try to lie down and rest even if you are unable to sleep. You could read a book or listen to music. Rest is important as you heal from the birth.

 

Tips from other parents:

  • Keeping your bedroom blind closed will help you fall asleep when you have the chance.
  • Live in clothes that are comfortable for napping.
  • Put your phone on silent.
  • Ask your husband, a friend or a relative to take the baby for an hour or two so you can rest.

 

The newborn period is a short window in a lifetime. Shifting your priorities to facilitate rest will make this time less stressful and more enjoyable.

Other posts you may find helpful: Days and Nights Mixed Up and Newborn Period, A – Z.


thumbnail-cindy-and-janaCindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



 

4 comments

Exposing the Myths about Foremilk and Hindmilk

If we had the power to eliminate just one misunderstood notion about breastfeeding, it would be the concept of foremilk and hindmilk!

Science has shown that the breast milk a baby receives toward the end of a feeding (hindmilk) is higher in fat than the milk at the beginning of a feeding (foremilk). That part is true!

 

This bit of science, however, has been taken out of context. Breastfeeding literature and well meaning friends or health professionals may advise to “make sure baby feeds long enough to get the hindmilk” (higher fat milk). This advice can lead to confusion and mismanagement of breastfeeding.

 

Women are left wondering:

  • How long on a breast is “long enough” to get to the hind milk?
  • Should I feed from only one breast each feed to help my baby gain weight?

 

Lactation Consultants explain how worrying about foremilk and hindmilk may actually be harming breastfeeding.

 

Knowing these facts may help to answer those questions:

  • The increased fat content of breastmilk during a feed is gradual; there is not an exact time when “foremilk” ends and “hindmilk” begins.
  • Expressed breast milk does not look like the cow’s milk you are used to purchasing at the grocery store. Instead, it has a thin and watery appearance. This is normal!
  • The length of a breastfeed varies between babies as well as from feed to feed.
  • Some women have an abundant milk supply and only need to feed from one breast at a feed. Other women need to feed from both breasts every feed to satisfy their babies. One is not ‘better’ than the other. Both are normal.

Learn more about breastfeeding myths in our free online video breastfeeding course,“Getting Ready to Breastfeed.” Download it here.


If you are concerned about whether your baby gets enough hindmilk, please take note of how your baby is feeding at the breast rather than watching the time. Is your baby swallowing milk at the breast? Is your baby content and relaxed after feeds?

 

The concept of foremilk and hindmilk in breastfeeding has been misunderstood. Lactation Consultants hope to clear up the misunderstandings with this post.

There are only a few situations where women may need to pay attention to foremilk and hindmilk. These are very specific situations, centered around a problem (e.g. a very low birth weight baby, a very fussy, gassy fast gaining infant.) Consult with your healthcare provider or Lactation Consultant if your baby is fussy or not gaining weight.

 

The concept of foremilk and hindmilk has caused breastfeeding women unnecessary worry. It is more important to watch your baby rather than the clock.

 

Relax, put your feet up and let your baby lead the way!

 

References and More Information:

  1. Aksit, Sadik, Nese Ozkayin, and Suat Caglayan. “Effect of Sucking Characteristics on Breast Milk Creamatocrit.Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 16.4 (2002): 355-60.
  2. Bonyata, Kelly. “Foremilk and Hindmilk – What Does This Mean?KellyMomcom. 29 Aug. 2011.
  3. Kent, J. C., L. R. Mitoulas, M. D. Cregan, D. T. Ramsay, D. A. Doherty, and P. E. Hartmann. “Volume and Frequency of Breastfeedings and Fat Content of Breast Milk Throughout the Day.Pediatrics 117.3 (2006): E387-395.
  4. Mohrbacher, Nancy. “Worries About Foremilk and Hindmilk.RSS. N.p., 27 June 2010.

 

Other posts you may enjoy: Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk? and Breastfeeding Trivia: 16 Random Facts.


thumbnail cindy and jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

2 comments