What I Learned by Requesting My Labor and Delivery Notes…

Maura’s birth story has had a strong impact on my life. It has impacted my health, priorities, interests, and work. I’ve shared my story of Maura’s birth on the blog, and added to it as the story seemed to drag on long after I had Maura in my arms. I’m not even sure when that story ended and life got back to (new) normal. (I want to say around 15 months postpartum)

Throughout the last 2+ years, I’ve talked to numerous women about their birth experiences. Although I’ve heard stories similar to mine, and others very traumatic, the majority of stories I hear are relatively smooth sailing, even if they diverged slightly from the plan. Each time I shared my story,  I noticed my feelings surrounding it become more powerful. I was jealous of the smooth deliveries and the friends who returned to running or their old hobbies so quickly. I wanted to feel empowered by my birthing experience, but I felt defeated.

I tried to determine what went wrong, and who was to blame… because if there wasn’t something or someone to blame, how could I prevent the same story from happening again? If we couldn’t prevent it, how would I go forward and even consider having another child? If I were to have the same experience again, would I be able to handle it emotionally? I don’t know. I still don’t know.

What felt like as soon as Maura was born, people began asking when we would have another child. The first year or so, I always responded “Ha! Whenever I recover from having the first.” At first people would laugh, but then over time they looked confused, so I stopped making that joke. I got the point – people didn’t understand how I wasn’t recovered yet and not everyone was looking for a long conversation about pelvic floor health and birth trauma. This got me thinking, my daughter is two, I am 34, and I am physically healed. Maura is very busy, but overall a pretty easy kid. I have no reason to postpone having another child, other than the emotions that become stirred up thinking about my birthing experiences. I need to heal emotionally from the events surrounding Maura’s birth, and if it hasn’t naturally happened in two years – I have to do something about it myself. So I requested my medical records. (labor and delivery notes, progress notes, labs, etc.)

I read the notes over several times. Put them down. Read through them several more times. Had Greg read them. They didn’t tell a traumatic story. I’m not sure what I expected to read, but what I got was a step by step emotionless description of a pretty typical sounding birth. Had I made the experience more traumatic than it had actually been? Am I exaggerating the negatives in my story? No, I don’t think do.

I picked apart those notes and googled the heck out of every number and detail. It verified that several incidents that I remember very clearly did in fact happen (I pushed for a long time, I tore extensively, and lost a significant amount of blood) – It was not an easy delivery, but when described medically (without any emotion) it didn’t sound as traumatic as ‘it should‘ based on my feelings now. I even went back and read the Birth story that I wrote, it didn’t sound traumatic either. And oddly, thinking back to writing it – I didn’t feel like it was traumatic to me then. So where did this anxiety surrounding the story come from? Postpartum. I had an awful year postpartum. 

After Maura was born, I was in rough shape. I had “an uncountable” number of stitches according to my doctor. I hurt. I remember not thinking I could make it from the hospital room to the car without fainting. At Maura’s 2 day appointment, our lactation consultant assumed Maura was born via cesarean because I looked like I had major surgery, I barely could walk into the room. My nipples were also in awful shape. Maura had an awful latch that pretty much tore my boobs apart. I never reported it because it didn’t hurt as much as everything else. The LC had never seen someone nursing with such damage – and Maura ate every 1.5 hours as a newborn…. About a week postpartum my stitches became infected. Around 3 weeks my swelling went down enough to feel those stupid stitches, I hurt even more. At my 6 week check, I was NOT cleared for exercise and told to wait “maybe another month” to have sex. My tears still had not healed completely. I reported feeling a prolapse and started PT at 8 weeks for 2nd-3rd degree cystocele. I continued PT for almost 8 months. I really struggled emotionally with the slow pace of recovery and wondering if I’d ever heal. I saw specialists, tried every option and was pretty much convinced that I’d need surgery. During this same time I had a series of abnormal pap smears that led to a biopsy being taken – it was benign and confirmed as “changes due to chronic inflammation” – which oddly made sense, because around 3-4 months postpartum my joints had also become inflamed. I think I was at a doctors office every week all year. Add in the start of Maura’s hip journey and I can easily see the that the traumatic part of my story was not the birth, it was the entire year after. 

I did learn that I was anemic when I got to the hospital. Due to the blood loss (approx 1,000mL), I was critically anemic on discharge. This was why I felt so weak in the weeks to come, as well as contributed to my slow rate of healing. A blood transfusion was mentioned, but in my foggy state I refused (according to the notes, I don’t remember being offered). In the future, I can definitely monitor my iron more closely during pregnancy. And now I know the consequence of not having a transfusion – I might be more open if that were to come up again.

My goal was to use the notes to determine what went wrong, and what I can do to prevent a similar story in the future. Other than the anemia, they didn’t point out anything crazy that I didn’t know. No one is to blame, and nothing specific went wrong. They did however, give me the opportunity to review, think clearly, and begin to determine what I can do differently next time around. I’ve got a list, but I’ll save that for another post. Should you request your Labor and Delivery notes? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m glad I did. I learned that my focus was on the birth experience itself, and maybe I should be looking to my preparation for labor and creating a postpartum care plan next time rather than just a birth plan.

I also feel the need to say – I’m NOT pregnant. I need to know that I am completely healed physically and emotionally before wrapping my head around the idea.

 

 

 

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Posture, Breathing, and Postpartum Injury Prevention

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I like to think that I was in shape leading up to, and during pregnancy. I was running consistently before, and until 18 weeks pregnant (stopped due to pubic symphysis dysfunction), and lifted weights 2-3 times a week, I never stopped walking or moving my body. So why did I end up with an injured spasmy back on several occasions? Why did my prolapse persist long after my doctors predicted? I’m learning that it may have had more to do with my posture and alignment, than with my fitness or strength.

Let’s start with pregnancy posture’s effect on the back. During pregnancy, a woman is forced to carry a significant load of weight in the front of her body. The weight of the belly and breasts might round her shoulders and upper back forward. Her back arches in attempt to balance the weight in front of her. While this load increases, her abdominal muscles stretch and become less effective.  Her back muscles tighten in order to hold her upright and work overtime without the help of her abs for stability. She may shift her hips forward and clench her glutes to compensate (a permanently clenched muscle is a weak muscle.) Each woman is different, but the one thing that is the same is that there is a major muscle imbalance between front and the back after that baby load is gone. What does this imbalance mean? It means that every time a postpartum woman bends over, picks up her baby, lugs her baby in it’s carseat (the worst!), or reaches for something in front of her, her overworked back muscles are put at risk. It might take time to retrain and strengthen the abs after their extended rest, but there are changes that can be made to protect the back in the mean time.

Other common injuries postpartum women suffer from are diastasis recti (DR) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Both of these are in part caused by weak/stretched/damaged connective tissues and mismanaged intra-abdominal pressure.  DR is a separation of abdominal muscles due to weak connective tissue that then may bulge out under pressure, and POP being the decent of pelvic organs due to weak supporting ligaments and tissue that may bulge down under pressure. We can’t always fix the damage, but we can make postural and breathing changes to better regulate internal pressure that often increases the severity of both conditions and prevents healing.

OK. So how do we protect ourselves. Fix our posture and breath. Easy? Some changes are, some changes aren’t. Here are the easy ones:

  1. Make sure you’re practicing 360 breathing as often as possible. If we practice something only once or twice a day for a a few seconds, it’s easy to fall back into our normal shallow breathing patterns. You should feel your ribs expand in every direction (including your back), and you should feel your breath go all the way down to your pelvic floor. If your pelvic floor expands on your inhale – it will automatically contract on exhale – therefore strengthening it. A good 360 breath also evenly distributes pressure! If you pull your belly in on an inhale – the pressure that would have gone to your belly may redirect as excessive pressure down on your pelvic floor. Alternatively, breathing only into your belly (and not ribs) puts pressure against the abdominal wall every single breath preventing a DR from healing.
  2. Cue proper posture. Slouching, slumping, over arching backs, tucking bums, etc. don’t just cause aches and pains. Poor posture can limit 360 breathing and alter intra-abdominal pressure, it also can contribute to muscle imbalances and therefore puts people at risk for injury. Correcting posture can take a lot of work and specialized exercises, especially if poor posture has been present long term. Luckily, there are a few cues to help you get in better posture now.
  • ‘Imagine a string pulling up from your pubic bone through the crown of your head’
  • ‘Pretend you are ease dropping on a conversation taking place behind you’
  • ‘Stack your ribs over your pelvis’ (You want your ribs to aim for your hip bones, opposed to flaring out as seen when women thrust their chests forward)

3. Focus on both breathing and posture in ALL of your movements. Below are some of the most common movements that new moms do repeatedly – that we can focus on.

Lifting the baby. 

The tendency is to let the back round when we bend and not take breathing into consideration at all. The problem is that this posture puts strain on isolated back muscles and prevents a deep breath that would engage the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. This lack of engagement puts both at risk of extra pressure.

What we should do is keep our backs nice and straight (squat or bend the knees if needed) take a deep inhale in preparation, and begin our exhale just before we exert ourselves. The exhale engages our pelvic floor and abs so that we don’t end up putting extra pressure on them.

Other controllable things to consider:

Raise the height of your changing table so that you’re not bending, or change where you change the baby so the the muscles worked are different each time.

Bring the baby close to your body before standing up. This alters the center of gravity and decreases the load on your back. (This was huge for me when Maura was placed in her cast. She could no longer be changed on our changing table and gained 5 pounds overnight, literally… This was also the second time I strained my back. If I knelt next to her on the floor, pulled her onto my lap, then stood up from a squat – my back was spared.)

Baby Carrying (with and without carriers)

The tendency here is to let posture go out the window.

With a newborn lacking head control women often lean back and let their hips go forward – this is a great angle for the baby but not for your abs/back/pelvic floor.

With a bigger baby and toddler it’s common to stick one hip out to support the weight, and even worse many women favor one side which leads the major muscle imbalances (and eventually rotational scoliosis in my case… oops!)

Often with a baby carrier, we feel like it’s easier on our bodies – but if the straps are too lose women can end up tensing the shoulders and back. If the waist/hip band is too low or loose she may end up with the same lean back, hips forward position to support the new baby. If the carrier is too tight, it may limit moms ability to breath deeply.

The best thing to do here is be aware of your posture and how carrying your child alters it. Do your best to remain up tall with the same cues as above. Change the position you have your child in frequently and rely on your arms (instead of your core) as often as possible. – Best to start that with your tiny newborn than attempt the change with your 30 lb toddler… holy arm burn!

Pushing a stroller

Keep yourself up tall, ribs over pelvis. Pushing the stroller with arms extended may shift posture by encouraging you to stick your bum out or bend at the waist. Keeping your elbows nice and close to your sides and again relying on your arms will protect you.

Lugging a baby in a car seat

I have no advice. I think I may try to avoid the click in baby seat if we have another round. I can’t think of any way to lift and lug this combo that is safe. If you must do it, remember the exhale on effort to protect yourself. Try to limit the distance the car seat is carried. Use a stroller even when it’s less convenient. I definitely am guilty of lugging the car seat only in and out of doctor appointments, and even through parking lots into stores etc. Thinking back, I easily could have cut down on that! Live and Learn.

The postpartum period is not easy on a women’s body. Hopefully some of this information can make your postpartum experience free of injury!

Coming soon will be a post on ‘Why I requested my Birth Records’ and I also noticed I have a half of a post written on the end of our Maple Syruping adventures that I never finished….. It’ll be long past season when I get around to it, but I’ll get there!

 

 

First Exercises Postpartum

Three weeks into my Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist course and I love it! It is incredibly informative and I wish I had this knowledge two years ago after I had Maura. It makes me even more excited to get working with moms (new and old) in person again.

Our first week we discussed the early postpartum period (the first 4 months). The biggest difference here, compared to what seems to be common practice, is that we’re not categorizing our fitness abilities into clear cut timelines, just because you gave birth 6 weeks ago doesn’t make you able to go for a run. Before even considering impact exercise you need to heal, strengthen, and correct your body. It takes about 4 months for your ligaments to tighten back up OR until you’re down to 3 or less nursing sessions a day! For me – that wouldn’t have been until about 18 months postpartum! Even with a prolapse my PT had told me running was safe…. that might not have been the case. Luckily, my body told me when it was uncomfortable and I think I did pretty well listening to it. I do think I would have felt better emotionally – had I known that waiting that long was more than ok.

Many women, especially those who were fit throughout pregnancy, or had relatively easy pregnancies and deliveries feel ready to jump right back into exercise. So if you feel good early on why wait? Consider the changes your body goes through during pregnancy – regardless if you struggled or not: Diaphram (breathing muscle) altered it’s positioning and changed your breathing patterns, your pelvic floor held the weight of your growing baby (even if you had a c-section, and took even more pressure if you ran through pregnancy), your abs stretched and essentially rested for several months, your back muscles increased their load to create stability (Hello muscle imbalances!), your posture changed, your ligaments are still loose and now that you’ve got a newborn you are sleep deprived and stressed as well.

So before you head out for a run, what should you do? Take a look at your breathing, your core strength, and posture. Shallow breathing, core weakness or imbalances, and wonky posture can wreck havoc on your body over time – increasing the risk of back injuries and prolapse, incontinence, and slowing down healing. Where to start?

Start Here.

Between 2 and 6 weeks postpartum you can start adding some gentle stretching and exercises to your walking (Of course always verify with your doctor!) The first weeks should focus on waking up the muscles that have been resting, and get your core (diaphram, abs, back, pelvic floor) muscles working together again.

360 degree breathing: Side lying is a great first position to practice breathing in. When you inhale, you should feel your back, sides, chest, belly expand AND your pelvic floor relax down. On your exhale, belly goes down, ribs go back in, and the pelvic floor tightens back up. (If you don’t feel your inhale reach your pelvic floor, your pelvic floor cannot heal. It needs to relax before it can strengthen.)

Another great position to practice your breath in is on your back with your knees up. Place your arms out to the sides bent at 90 degrees. This position also stretches our your chest – a great stretch if you’re nursing! On your exhale – slide your arms over head. Remember to follow the cues above for a good 360 degree breath! In this position you should feel your mid back press into the floor on inhale if you’re getting good rib expansion.

Cat/Cow yoga stretch: Positioned on your hands and knees – let your back/belly sink and arch while stretching your head and neck up tall. Then slowly raise your back/belly up into a rounded position. Practice your 360 breathing in both positions.

If your abs are weak, you may find yourself tightening your glutes (butt) or raising your shoulders towards your ears. Your goal is no NOT let the glutes or shoulders compensate.

Next post I’ll go over some injury prevention strategies and posture changes for postpartum! So excited to share some of what I’m learning with everyone.

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This was my first walk. Maura was almost a week old. I made it about 400 meters and remember feeling awwwwful. I know most women don’t have the same experiences that I did – but it would have been great to be armed with good information rather than the pressure to ‘get back at it’.

 

 

41 weeks on, 41 weeks off… (9 month postpartum update)

This week Maura has officially been in the outside world as long as she was inside me. I’m

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On the left, I’d been having contractions for 12 hours, ready to go to the hospital and had NO idea it’d be another 13 hours until Maura made her appearance! On the right, “Hi!” from Maura and I. Cast and all, our combo weight is still less than what I weighted on the left, ha.

sure you’ve heard 9 months on, 9 months off referring to allowing yourself 9 months after baby is born to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight and feel like your old self, I gave myself an extra week or so since Maura did the same for herself on the inside, haha.

I’ve been eyeing my weight, but not focusing on dieting or losing it. I also had to take quite a lengthy break from formal exercise. I can finally say that I’m feeling pretty good! It took 3 different doctors and 7 months of physical therapy…. but I feel good. Maybe the 9 month wait has some truth to it after all. The one thing that all three doctors told me was that a woman is considered postpartum for a full year, not 6 weeks or 12 weeks but an entire year. This was so important for me to hear! There is so much pressure to jump back into a fitness routine and lose the baby weight immediately and I felt awful about myself that not only could I not start running again at 6 weeks, I could barely get through the day without feeling terrible.

Since my 6 month update, things have improved tremendously. At 6 months, I was feeling really frustrated with the lack of improvements to my pelvic floor and prolapse issues even with physical therapy. I was pretty much told there was nothing left for me to do, and I couldn’t except that. I ended up making an appointment with a specialist in urogynecology. (Basically a GYN who also has specialized training in pelvic floor organs, not just tissue). I was SO glad that I kept seeking answers because my appointment went great. Which is so weird to say, haha. My appointment was around 7 and a half months postpartum. The Dr. did the exam and immediately said that the prolapse was very minor. This confused me because I had been diagnosed with stage 2 bladder prolapse by two separate people… and I was still experiencing a lot of discomfort. She then explained that I had a ton of scarring and inflammation, making everything so sensitive that I was feeling symptoms from the level of prolapse that most women who have it don’t even know. She prescribed Estrogen and it’s been helping a lot. I won’t need it forever, and chances are once I stop breastfeeding my hormones will recover on their own and I’ll be able to put this behind me. She also sent me back to physical therapy after taking a month or so off because my pelvic floor muscles were extremely tight – we still aren’t sure why they became tight when they weren’t before – but I have a feeling it’s a combination of desperately attempting kegels (which I still can’t do). I also don’t know why the prolapse got better. The only thing I can think of is that I was slower to recover/heal than most due to the anemia and what takes most women 6 months, took me closer to 8. I debated not writing about this again… it’s so personal, yet if it helps one other person going through similar, I’ll risk it. Women’s health needs to be discussed, even if it does feel embarrassing. The message I want to drill into others is that you can and should get help. There are doctors out there who want to help you, you might have to see a few… but it’s worth it in the end. Don’t be embarrassed, don’t suck it up because you think it’s just part of having a baby, just go get yourself back to feeling good.

*If things had NOT gotten better on their own – for anyone who is looking for a story with a different ending – the specialist said that there are hundreds of types of pessaries, and that she often sets up whole afternoons for women to do fittings – and try and try until one works for them. Other Drs who don’t specialize in this may let you try one or two, but a specialist has more available. She also said that unless symptoms are severe, they do not recommend surgery for younger women (meaning non menopausal). My other tip is do not google. Google had me in tears almost every night until I got things figured out, just stop searching for answers on your own and see someone who is trained to help.*

The past 9 months (closer to 10) have been about getting my health back, the next 3ish months are going to be about getting my fitness back.

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Six Month Postpartum Update

The past six months have been incredible in so many ways, and awful in so many others. Incredible in every aspect related to the amazing little human I now have in my life, but my recovery isn’t what I expected. I am no where close to where I thought I would be at six months postpartum. Heck, I’m not even where I thought I would have been six weeks postpartum!!! If anyone needs the back story, you can find it here. Be warned that there might be a little TMI involved in both the back story and below….

If you don’t want to read about postpartum issues – feel free to stop reading now. You’ve been warned.

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Whenever I feel down, I look at this face and can’t feel anything but happiness.

I’ve actually been dreading this six month mark. I was told at the beginning of PT that 70% of mild/moderate postpartum prolapses are either gone or no longer symptomatic at 6 months. When I was told this I remember thinking ‘How can I handle feeling like this for 6 months!?’ but now it’s 6 months, and I’m still symptomatic. I’m not in that 70%. What happens to the other 30%? Will I feel like this forever? I don’t think so…. I have improved, but I just haven’t gotten to a point that I’m happy with. I can’t run comfortably, I can’t lift heavy, and I often just feel crappy by the end of the day. I also admit that I really let this get to me often and feel pretty alone and isolated – which is my motivation to share some of my story – if anyone else feels alone in it too. It’s apparently common, but no one talks about it…

I have progressed significantly with my PT exercises. As I said before, there are many muscle groups effecting the pelvic floor and I have increased my strength in all off them…. except my kegel strength. One a scale of 0-5 (0 being that you cannot contract the kegel muscles at all) I started PT at 7 weeks pp at a 1. At that time, my PT was impressed because many women with delivery injuries are a 0. Unfortunately, at 4 months I was still a 1…. maybe a 1.5… but definitely not a 2 yet. I was extremely discouraged, and my PT was surprised given the amount of strength I had increased elsewhere – I was clearly doing my exercises. We began to suspect nerve damage from delivery that wasn’t allowing me to send signals to an area of my pelvic floor.

We discussed a few options. One was the use of a pessary. A pessary is a device that you can put in and take out on your own and it supports the prolapsed organs to relieve symptoms. It would allow me to run and lift and get back into my old routine. I went and got fitted by my OB. When I was at the office, it felt great and I was really hopeful. I planned on only using it during workouts, and did a few times but I don’t feel like it fits correctly. I’m in the process of getting another appointment to see what other shapes there are, if there is another that would work better for me. I find this one painful to get in and out, and I feel irritated after wearing it…. blah. I really had my hopes up for this. Second was the use of estim. I’ve heard of estim for other muscles, but for vaginal muscles…. eek. Estim sends an electrical impulse through the muscle contracting it. Sometimes it can help the muscle memory and bring back your ability to contract the muscle on your own. Being desperate I said let’s do it. I borrowed a machine from the PT office and was instructed to use it a minimum of 3 times a week for a month. That would be the minimum frequency that would show any improvement. I hate it. It’s kind of painful. But, I’m determined. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this helps. If it does…. it will be a few more months to get those kegel muscles up to strength. My other chance is that when I stop breastfeeding, estrogen levels may help to firm things up and reduce symptoms also. I don’t have intentions of weaning anytime soon though…

Postpartum other than prolapse…. is not bad. My hair has been falling out since month 4, but I think it’s slowing down. I’m still up about 8 pounds, but am giving myself until New Years to lose that…. 9 months on, 9 months off right? My energy feels pretty good – I’m tired, but not sick-tired like I used to feel.

Progress is being made, slowly. I find it really difficult to watch other new moms bounce back into their old routines. I’m jealous. I shared my story with my Mom class (they asked who was willing to share birth stories), and although sympathetic – my instructor said “But it was worth it right?” and Yes… it was. If you told me this would happen prior to having Maura, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I couldn’t imagine my life without her. But just because it’s worth it, doesn’t mean it’s fair. Why did I have to pay a bigger price? Life isn’t fair though and there’s got to be a silver lining. I’m just still looking for it.

I’ll keep you posted. Not because I really want to share super personal information on the internet, but because when I looked for stories I found a lot of menopausal women’s stories, and stories that ended before 6 months. I want women to know this is a possibility, but also something to hopefully overcome.

A week of exercise (8/28-9/3)…

Last week was the first full week since I officially started running again. I’m tempted to say I started “running” again…. but I should give myself some more credit. I ran – slow – but I ran. I figured I’d try and keep track of what my early weeks look like getting back into a routine. Thus far – it’s run when I feel like it and it’s convenient. The other days we walk. Don’t underestimate the power of a good walk! I was unable to run for quite a long time, but I think walking almost every day makes the transition back to running that much easier (even though it’s never easy after much time off).

My week:

Sun – 5 minutes walk, 20 minutes run, 30 minutes walk (This was my 3rd run back… the first two were 15/16 minutes each)

Mon – 55 minutes of slow walking with the stroller

Tues – I honestly have no idea…. I think I must have strolled a slow walk somewhere in the day – maybe 30ish minutes? My mom brain really has no clue…. how scary!

Wed – 5 minutes walk, 30 minutes run, 25 minutes walk (This was a whole family run! My husband had the dog, I pushed Maura… she LOVED watching the dog run alongside her and giggled constantly at him… motivation to keep going!)

Thurs – 30 minute slow walk with Maura in the carrier while she resisted nap time… the second half was quicker than the first because she ended up screaming until we were in the driveway returning home. She then fell asleep for 5 minutes only to wake up once I tried to move her to her crib… :sigh:

Fri – Nada….My husband took both ‘kids’ out for a run while I stayed home and tried to get a little work done in peace.

Sat – Hour long walk

The week doesn’t look like much, but it’s something. Seeing it in writing helps keep me accountable. I also realize that my PT exercises have become more sparatic – I think I’m just frustrated. Doing them has been reminding me of how slow going recovery has been. This coming week I’ll try to keep track of when I do those as well. I’m not helping myself by skipping them!

It’s only the beginning but I’m able to see the light at the end of this lack of fitness tunnel. I cannot wait until we can take long hikes and trail runs with Maura and introduce her to our love of being active and out there.

Why I like breastfeeding…

Every book I read about pregnancy and caring for newborns include a large portion dedicated to breastfeeding. A lot of sources are heavy on pro-breast or “breast is best” and I don’t want to add to the guilt many moms end up feeling if they aren’t able to breastfeed for whatever reason. However, I do know that a lot of women want to keep breastfeeding and are physically able but end up stopping due to various reasons.

I dreaded every feeding at the beginning.  It hurt. We struggled. Our first LC thought Maura had a posterior tongue tie that caused her latch to be shallow and therefore cause significant damage to my nipples. The second LC watched her eat and determined that she’s actually just an aggressive eater! She gets so eager to eat that her latch was just terrible. After some practice (and nipple shields while I healed up), we got the hang of it and things turned around. Maura still feeds on average every 2 hours throughout the day and has since she was born. Maybe this is why I’ve had to look for the positives – if we start a feeding every two hours and some feedings last almost an hour … that’s a lot of time spent with a baby on the boob.

So for those new moms who want to keep breastfeeding but need a little help wrapping their mind around keeping at it long term…. Here’s the list I came up with about why I like breast feeding:

  • It quiets my crying baby and brings instant peace (once she’s latched – sometimes it takes a minute or two)
  • It’s a forced time-out from the hustle of the day.
  • I don’t have to do anything else.
  • I get to soak in how small my baby is and just look at her.
  • If I want to get out of a situation – I can go nurse, and no one will question it (think too many visitors? or people staying a little longer than welcome…)
  • I can meditate or just zone out.
  • I can plan things out – meal plans, daily schedule, etc.
  • I can check my phone, social media, text, and even chat on the phone without distraction or feeling bad for not paying complete attention.
  • It’s me time as well as our time together.

And also remember that it gets easier. Feeds get shorter, frequency decreases. She’s only little for so long and breastfeeding gives me the chance to soak her in just a little bit more each day.