Breast milk is dynamic--the amount of fat, antibodies and proteins adapts according to the baby's needs, mom's diet, and time of day. But Nighttime Breast Milk has a Super-Power: Melatonin! Melatonin is a hormone adults produce at night that makes you feel drowsy. As it turns out, breastmilk produced at night contains melatonin--making baby more drowsy and reducing colic. (Melatonin also relaxes the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, reducing colic.) Daytime milk has no detectable level of melatonin.
This bit of information could be critical for moms who are pumping--labeling and offering nighttime milk at night could help your baby sleep better! Meanwhile, this helps explain how breastfed babies sleep better than their formula fed peers. Incredible how moms' milk can help regulate a baby's circadian rhythm.
To read more about the studies: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8370707
Somewhere within all new moms lies a secret fear...What if you can't really do this? Or can't do it like your sister, friend, neighbor, or what's-her-name on Facebook--the one with exclusively organic homemade food & insanely clean home. Or, perhaps worst of all, can't do it the way you always imagined and expected you would?
When it comes to mothering, there will always be someone who you think is doing it better than you. Often this is just a projection of insecurity. Just because her Instagram shows a perfectly clean corner of her house doesn't mean every aspect of her mothering is perfect. I've worked intimately with over 100 moms in the last 13 years, and what I can tell you is MOTHERING IS HARD. EVERY MOM HAS HER STRUGGLES, QUESTIONS HER CHOICES, AND FEELS INADEQUATE AT TIMES. What varies is the specific issue (breastfeeding, working/SAHM, sleeping. etc.) and how upfront she is about it. Some moms are really good at putting their best foot forward, but that doesn't mean they aren't struggling.
Two keys to surviving: Connect with moms you click with and let you share your struggles....It's vital to have real support whether you find it in moms' support group, your church, your friends, or family. Secondly, accept that there is no perfection--you just have to do your best with what you've got.
There's an unsettling reality to Postpartum here....Moms who aren't clinically depressed, but are barely functioning. I call them the "walking wounded" and I see them everywhere. Often they're blaming themselves for not being able to do it all alone...when it is absolutely our culture that is to blame.
To see significant change, these 4 keys need to be addressed:
Postpartum recovery is as serious as surgical recovery....Often trickier because women are waking frequently to care for their babies, and possibly other children, too. Finally, America could join the rest of the world in understanding that women need time to rest and recuperate after birth. Naturally, they may be more sensitive and people should be considerate in their appoach (NOT critical!).
Connection with positive, helpful groups and access to evidence-based information--both in-person and online.
3--Six Weeks of Meals, Household Help, and Child Care:
Seriously. I do not care if it's provided by health insurance, co-operatives, relatives, or some sort of community Postpartum Doula Program....As long as it's considerate to the individual family's needs, I'll take it! At minimum, we need 3 weeks of complete reprieve and 2-3 weeks of partial help.
4--Paid Maternity & Paternity Leave For All.
Honestly, this wouldn't fix everything, but how much easier would your experience have been with these 4 changes? This is what I'm hoping and working for, because the best thing we can do for babies is nurture their moms. <3
Exhaustion amplifies every postpartum complication. If you can't catch up on sleep during the day, these 3 keys will help.
First and foremost: stop trying to do it all. Seriously, delegate, delegate, delegate! Your energy is too precious to waste on housework or anything anyone else can do for you. Do whatever you have to do to rest and recover.
Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation that could literally change your world. It's four times as restorative as sleep. (So, spending 30 mins doing this meditation, is like 120 mins of sleep!) Check out my favorite here: BoldTranquility
FLOAT Did you know that getting into a float tank (super bouyant salt water) for an hour is as restorative as 4 hours of sleep? Not to mention relieving stress and anxiety! We are so lucky to have the option right here in Asbury Park at TaoMassage.
Most new mamas are so concerned with taking care of their baby, that they fail to meet their own most basic needs. Your baby gets the best care if you are healthy and strong.
Patholigically independent. Stubbornly insisting on finding my own way. Will power got me through every life struggle....until my first baby was born.
I read voraciously about pregnancy and birth. But NOTHING about Postpartum. I had cared for babies most of my life. How different could it be?
I projected my normal, healthy, pre-pregnant self into every future scenario. I had no idea how I would feel while recovering from childbirth, breastfeeding, and caring for my precious newborn....so suddenly finding myself there was a deep shock.
I was brought to my knees. No matter what I did, I was unable to get it together. I was so emotionally raw and physically tired, I didn't trust myself to say what I truly and desperately needed: HELP! What few resources I had were so focused on the baby, it seemed overwhelming to try to explain why I needed to eat, drink or help with laundry.
My daughter was 18 months old when I read about a "Postpartum Doula." This was EVERYTHING I wished I could have had--someone to gently guide me through the dark night of my soul.... to help me realize that it is impossible to care for your baby if you are not meeting your most basic needs....someone to remind me that, as overwhelming as it is in the moment, it wouldn't always feel like this.
So I became the change I most wanted to see. Truly understanding Postpartum as a separate and distinct life transition, I felt relief. I was not flawed. I was completely unprepared. I didn't realize the impact of not having any support. (Here's a list of lcoal support groups.)
Ultimately, I'm truly grateful for my experience. I learned the hard way, but those pains brought me to one of the greatest joys in my life--being able to help families with new babies.
Of course you want to keep your baby clean! But, many mainstream baby skin care products can actually make their skin dry, rough, cause rashes....Or worse.
Everything you put on your baby's skin is absorbed into their body. Some very popular products contain BPA, parabens and other chemicals we wouldn't choose to expose our children to.
Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group (a non-profit consumer advocacy organization) has made finding safe products completely effortless! Use their Skin Deep Database to instantly get a safety rating and list of hazardous chemicals. Their free app allows you to scan bar codes with your phone.
*Stick to the basics--the fewer the ingredients, the better!
*Also, double check your detergent....Like me, you might be shocked by Dreft's rating!! Fabric softener is unnecessary--skip it.
*Newborn skin is delicate--limit bathing to twice a week (or less).
*Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an great moisturizer and works wonders on cradle cap, too! (Apply generously to flaky parts of scalp. Allow to saturate for 10-20 mins. Then, brush gently with baby brush to remove debris or bathe them to remove.)
If your baby is fussing, here are my go-to calming strategies.
1) Motion. Hold your baby (most prefer upright, against your shoulder with their tummy on your upper chest) and walk around. If this doesn't cut it, pat their back gently, too.
2) Sound. White noise can help a baby settle. There are apps, but most also love a good stove exhaust fan. Music is another alternative.
3) Water. Depending on your baby's age and level of upset, try standing in front of a running faucet/shower, or put their feet in warm water. Most newborns enjoy having running water on their scalp, too. (added bonus: doesn't require full outfit change--just wrap a towel around their body and tilt the back of their head under warm running water.) For bouts of gas, serious need to reset, a bath may be in order.
4) Wear your baby. If your baby is 0-3 months old, try a sling. (i.e. Maya sling, Over-the-Shoulder Baby Holder) If your baby is bigger or 3 months old or older, the Boba Baby or Ergo carrier is simple to use and very comfortable for mom or dad. (There are countless instructional youtube videos or you can go to a Moms' group for hands-on instruction.)
5) A change in scenery. Sometimes simply going outside is enough to distract your baby from whatever is causing distress. Often stepping out onto the porch for a few minutes is enough.
If your baby is fussing frequently and not easily soothed, consider food sensitivities.
For a more complete listing of "Colic Causing Foods in Breastfeeding" please visit Dr. Sears' website:
Pssssst. If you're close to someone who is pregnant or has a baby, this is for you.
New parents are in a sensitive state: sleep deprivation, the emotional
rollercoaster of birth and the pressure of trying to maintain their households (or jobs) takes its toll. Most cultures do not expect people to resume their former lives after the birth. They have traditions for supporting the growing family.
Mothers are strained the most--babies require round the clock care when new mamas are recovering from birth. Breastfeeding takes up a lot of time and energy in the first few weeks. Because our culture does not recognize the need for extra help in a baby's first weeks, many moms feel inadequate.
Here's how you can help.
*BE GENTLE! HOW you offer help is as important as WHAT you offer. Be sure to listen to what they want. Be respectful of their space and time--as much as they want to share their baby with you, they also need to rest.
*FOOD: New parents need to eat, but have little to no time to shop, cook or prepare food. There are many ways options: home-cooked casseroles, frozen foods, take-out. The point is to get them food and not expect to be entertained in the process. Drop it on their porch or have it delivered.
*HOUSEHOLD HELP: This is can be a little more complicated, depending on how well you know the new parents. If they aren't using a service, they'll definitely appreciate help with laundry, running dishwasher, vaccuuming, and generally straightening up.
*ERRANDS: Running to the store, dry cleaner, can become very challenging with a newborn. Ask if they need anything from the drug or grocery store.
*OLDER CHILDREN/PETS: If this is not their first baby, the older children will really need extra attention. Playdates and park outtings can be a real life saver. Additionally, if they have pets, offer to help with their needs, too.
By giving REAL help, you take the pressure off of parents who may feel overwhelmed and not know how to ask you to bring them lunch or take their two year old to the playground. It's too vague to say, "Let me know if you need anything." Step up with specific suggestions.
I'll be sharing more specific techniques on how to assemble or be a part of a Welcome Baby Team at Natural Beginnings on Feb. 28, 2013 at 8pm. If you're expecting your first (or third) or if you know someone who is, please come! This presentation is for the whole Welcome Baby Team--Grandparents, relatives, neighbors are encouraged to attend. Donations will benefit the Having Healthy Babies Foundation. For more information: www.naturalbeginningsNJ.com
New Jersey has the highest C-Section Rate in the US (39.9%), so I've helped a lot of recovering mamas. Here are a few tips to share with any mamas who are or will be recovering from a Cesarean...And their partners or families!
1--Take it slow. While you had 40 weeks to adjust to pregnancy, your body shifts to non-pregnancy in minutes. Huge hormonal shift + major abdominal surgery + newborn care. Do as little as possible--if you push until you feel it, it's too late. By resting and letting your body recover, you'll reduce your risk of infection and other complications.
2--Probiotics. Your digestive system was artificially stopped and you may have had antibiotics. Get some good probiotics (acidophilus, etc.) ASAP. This will make you more comfortable, help protect you from thrush/yeast, and support your immune system.
3--Epsoms. If you've had IV fluids, you might be more swollen now than before the surgery. Soak your feet in epsom salt bath. (Pour up to a pound in a pot or foot bath and soak for 20 mins. Available at all pharmacies and almost all grocery stores in the first aid section.) Most moms see improvement the first use, but you can do it 2-3 times a day. (Assuming your partner or helper is filling it for you!)
4--Support belt or postpartum support. Most moms have discomfort when their incision-site is moving around. The support will prevent unnecessary motion and offer some mild counterpressure. You can ask for one at the hospital. (Many cultures traditionally wrap all postpartum moms.)
5--Connect with other moms. Especially if you are having a difficult time processing your hospital experience or C-Section--the sooner you share your feelings in a supportive place the better you'll feel. Check out your local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) or any of these great resources in Monmouth County: Mom Support Resources.
Sometimes, being still is harder than being busy. Acknowlede the limitations, give your body the time and energy it needs to heal properly, be gentle to yourself....Your baby needs you to be healthy and strong. By taking proper care now, you'll have a better recovery.
Feel free to comment or share your tips! If you (or someone you know) had a C-Section, what helped them the most?
Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Mother of Three.