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October 9, 2015

When You Decide Not To Breastfeed

One thing that I was really concerned about during my pregnancy with Graeme was whether or not breastfeeding would work for me. It didn't go as planned when Owen was a newborn, and I was feeling anxious throughout my entire pregnancy with Graeme about our decision surrounding breastfeeding.

When I decided to forgo breastfeeding, I really wasn't sure what to expect from my body. I felt emotionally and mentally confident with my decision, but I had no idea what was going to happen with my body, and how to cope.

Boobs are boobs...and when your milk comes in, there will be engorgement. It can be painful, and if you are not intending to breastfeed it can be difficult to find relief. Ice in freezer bags, cabbage leaves, and ibuprofen can all help with discomfort and pain.

The best tip that I got from my dear friend Stephanie at A Grande Life was to not let the warm (or hot) water of the shower or bath touch my breasts. Sure, it would bring instant relief that will feel incredible and allow the milk to leak a little, but it would also send signals to my body to make more milk to replace the amount that had leaked out. 

Suppressing your supply is probably the most important thing to deal with when you decide that you aren't going to be breatfeeding. Essentially, you have to limit the amount your breasts leak, and you have to not encourage your body to make more milk.

Yes, this means avoiding pumping, warm showers, breast massage and nipple stimulation.

If you're going back on birth control, ones with estrogen have been found to dry up milk supply, and you will want to make sure to stay hydrated as well. Dehydration can trigger milk supply, strangely enough!

At the end of the day, if you decide not to breastfeed...know that it is completely fine. I remember those feelings all too well of guilt, inadequacy, and worry over other people's opinions but ultimately, I had to do what was best for me, my baby and my family. And it didn't make me any less of a mom.

Your supply will dry up. Your hormones will level off.
There will be a day where you feel confident about your decision.

In the meantime, we are here for you to help with the transition.

It's not an easy decision to make, but know in your heart that you are making the best decision that you can for your family. It is absolutely noone elses place to judge, for they are not living in your body, give birth to your baby, tending to your newborn in the middle of the night, or feeling what you are feeling.

You are.

Feel confident in your decision. Feed your baby, your way.


October 6, 2015

How to Process your Birth Experience

Processing your birth experience is an important thing to do whether you just gave birth and have a newborn at home, or you gave birth years ago and are starting to think about adding another baby to your family.

In the past, I've talked about processing birth trauma, but this is a little different. This is about processing everything that went on leading up to and immediately after the birth of your baby, be it good, great, bad or traumatic.

Trust someone enough to tell them

This is a big one following the birth of your baby...trust. If things didn't go to plan, or you made a decision that you were unsure of, trusting someone enough to tell them what happened during birth may be difficult. Think about all of the people in your support circle, and choose the one that you trust the most. Female, male, sister, mother, grandmother, friend. It really doesn't matter so long as you trust them.

Let go of guilt

Was your plan for a home birth, and you opted to go to the hospital? Did you opt to cut the cord right away? Did you want extended skin to skin and quiet in the room following the birth? No matter what the decisions you made about your birth were, they were right for you in that moment. You are the only one who lived through your pregnancy, and you are the only one who can decide what is right for you, your body and your baby. Noone is in a position to judge you. Let go of the guilt, and know that you birthed your baby exactly how you needed to.

Talk about the trauma

If something happened that went extremely against your plan, like an emergency cesarean or life saving measures, we encourage you to talk about it. The longer you sweep it under the rug and ignore it, the more intensity it will build. In subsequent pregnancies, that anxiety, fear, guilt, trauma....all of those intense feelings that have been brewing may just explode, which isn't healthy for anyone. Know that those around you are listening, and are there to support you.

Celebrate it

You are the one who gave birth. Not your nurses, not your doctors, not your doula and not your midwives. You. This birth was completely and entirely yours (and your partners!) Celebrate the moment that you became a parent. Toast to a job well done, because let's face it...giving birth is hard!

Birth doesn't always go to plan, and sometimes scary things happen. When we bottle it up and let it take over our thoughts, things can get spun around and what we remember having happened may not have actually happened. If you have a doula present at your birth, debrief with them within a week of the birth to make sure everything you remember is accurate. If you feel jaded or angry about anything that happened, express that to someone and then let it go.

You did a great job bringing your baby into the world. Acknowledge that. Celebrate that. Be proud of that.


October 1, 2015

Recharge Yourself with a Girls Weekend! #selfcare

Holidays....as in Christmas. I know, I know...it's not even Thanksgiving (Canadian), Halloween or Thanksgiving yet, but soon the busy holiday season will be upon us and that brings one thing with it.


And lots of it!

This month, before the weather turns nasty and the bitter cold is knocking at your door, plan a girls weekend away. Do something silly and fun.

Drink wine.
Eat great food.
Laugh some more.

And no kids! Sure...talk about them (because, really, it's inevitable) but no kids allowed! This is an opportunity for you and your girlfriends to detress and recharge.

September 30, 2015

Self Care Checkin...how did you change?

This month we have heavily embraced change. We have grown, we have evolved, we have opened ourselves up to new possibilities.

The results are pretty incredible from where we stand.

How did you change this month?

Check in with yourself and see if there was something new that you tried. Maybe it was simply giving yourself that dedicated self care time that you had been depriving yourself of previously.

Whatever you changed, embrace it fully with the best intentions. Then try something new next month! Set the course for a constant flow of change in your own world, and open yourself up to new possibilities.


September 22, 2015

So Your Partner Works Shift Work....

Whether your partner was able to take two weeks or wasn’t able to take any time at all, having your partner return to work can be scary. You’ve adapted to life at home as a new family and now need to adjust to spending a good portion of the day/night alone, completely and entirely responsible for your new baby.

My son was born on a Sunday, we were discharged from the hospital two days later on the Tuesday, and my partner returned to work at 7pm on Wednesday. He worked 12 weeks of continental nights - that is, he worked Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and every other Saturday 7pm-7am. His shifts were then switched to 5 days a week, 8-hour rotations of midnights (11pm-7am), afternoons (3pm-11pm), and days (7am-3pm).

No matter how many visitors you have and how long your partner was able to stay home for, it’s very easy to feel alone the moment he/she leaves for work.

But I promise, you are not alone! I was that new mom who fought back the tears but cried as soon as he turned his back. One year later and there are still days where all I want is for him to call in sick.

It sucks having your partner leave, even when it’s just for work. It sucks even more when they are gone for work all night and sleep all day. But there are things that you can do together in order to get through the week and ensure that you feel confident and supported during the times you are alone.   

Remember, what works for one couple might not work for your family.

Creating a system is essential. It will take a bit of experimenting and compromising but it’s worth it. Establishing a routine will make it easy for your partner to know exactly his/her role depending on what shift they are working and take away the feeling of frustration when you were getting overwhelmed.

For example, when your partner works midnights, is it better if they go to bed as soon as they get home at 7am and sleep until 4pm? Or is it best if they stay awake until noon and sleep until just before they go into work? For us, my partner goes to bed between 8am and 9am (he has troubles winding down) and sleeps until 4pm or 5pm. He then wakes up, showers, cooks dinner, and puts our son to bed by 8pm.

Open communication is key. It’s hard to keep an open line of communication when you are exhausted and your partner is working shifts, especially when his/her family is at home sleeping. But in order for your partner to know how you are feeling and how they can best help you, you need to communicate with them. It’s important for both parties to take the position of the other in order to understand each perspective.

Here are some tips for keeping communication open.
1. Message board. Have a board where you and your partner can add notes of appreciation or concern. This could be extremely helpful when you have a busy week and don’t have time to have a full conversation regarding the issues.
2. Texts. Texting is so convenient, especially when you need help or need to discuss something with your partner right away.
3. Weekly check-ins. Once a week, you and your partner could touch base. Discuss what is working and what is not.

It is important to keep the following in mind when creating your family routine:

Be open. The last thing you want is for your partner to feel that you are not listening or judging what they have to say. This includes obviously being antsy to “cut in” and respond. Keep an open mind and remember that they will do the same for you.

Time of day. It’s probably not best to discuss any concerns or problems after a long day. Find a time when you are both able to relax, open up, and are mentally “there”.

Appreciate. Be sure to show your partner respect when they voice a concern; let them know how they help already and that you appreciate this help. 

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