Real Mom Confessions: June 3rd

Real Mom Confessions

Hey. Hi! Welcome to June. While I got a chance to snuggle with lots of itsy bitsy babies this week, they didn’t distract me from the insanity that’s been my life as a mom of 2 school age munchkins. One thing I can’t emphasize enough? As parents, you will always have to make tough decisions about your kids. Birth is just the beginning, you guys.

I have a preteen who hates me in one breath, and can’t get enough love from me in the next. I can be doing her hair in the morning while she cries about both putting up her hair and leaving it down; she will hate both options and her inability to choose leads to a crisis of epic proportions.

So, dear moms, here’s what I need to confess this week:

  • My biggest weakness as a mom is that my kids haven’t ever taken proper swimming lessons. It’s literally the only thing I feel guilty about. This summer isn’t very likely to change that; not because I don’t want to figure out how to make them work, but my kids are, for some reason, throwing huge fits about taking swimming lessons.
  • Yesterday I was at my breaking point with figuring out summer, trying to make sure the kids have good educational opportunities for next year, and advocating for some things on the state level. It got so bad that I had to tell the kids that I needed to be left alone before I had a complete breakdown. I was ready to snap; thankfully, I didn’t snap.
  • We are a full load of dishes behind this week. I’ve gotten very good at washing my hands in the perfect place so that water cascades down the piles of dirty dishes and stays in the sink rather than spilling all over the counter.
  • I was so thankful that it was rainy today. We have a rule in my house: movies are for rainy days and sick days. Thank goodness today was a rainy day; the kids stayed entertained with Despicable Me 2 while I fielded half a dozen phone calls.
  • I fed the family spinach patties for dinner.
  • I have been so busy that I ran out of Sertraline refills and have yet to find time to fix the situation. Big huge FAIL in the mental health and self-care category, but at least I’m doing miles better than I was last year and actually seeing a therapist weekly. I’ll get the refill soon, though.

There ya go. See? I’m not the perfect mom or the perfect person. I’m breathlessly waiting for the weekend, for the full moon to pass, and for everything to fall into place. If you need even more reassurance, head on over to check out Anna’s, the creator of #RealMomConfessions, confessions.

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Adult Tongue Tie Release Redux

tongue tie release result

So, today I went back for a check in and follow up on my tongue tie revision. I’ve found it really interesting to go through this entire experience. It’s brought me worlds of understanding about what babies and kids are probably going through. I’ve also noticed additional physical changes since my last post. I’ve also had some thoughts about tongue ties that aren’t proven, but I think connect some dots about things we already knew about.

First of all, this is what my tongue looked like this morning:

photo of tongue tie

 

 

Notice something that we didn’t see before? There are three attachments that you didn’t see before. As my tongue healed, they became more and more noticeable. Also, starting at the end of last week (2 1/2 weeks after the initial revision), I started to feel the tension that I had before, but on the right side of my body. It’s also interesting to note that the attachment on the right side of my tongue was the least prominent of the 3. I had severe scalp pain on Sunday. too.

There are a few things I’ve observed that I really want parents AND providers to know about:

  • First of all, these additional attachments came forward on their own as my body resettled and all of my bones and muscles shifted post-revision. So if you see attachments after a revision is healed, do not assume the professional who did the revision didn’t do a complete job. Furthermore, professionals who do revisions SHOULD do additional revisions at no extra fee, or figure out a way to make such an arrangement work.
  • There was some tissue that did almost look like it reattached, but that tissue did not affect the function of my tongue.
  • As the new attachments came forward, especially the center attachment, stretching my tongue became painful. It was very clear that this was tissue that had never been stretched like that before.
  • Post-revision body work is essential. I’ve been going in for adjustments to my head and shoulders (knees and toes) right after the revisions and then even a couple of times in between the revisions. Don’t skip this!
  • The pain afterwards has been manageable. Eating hasn’t been too bad. However, if your baby was revised and you’re breastfeeding, keep your baby skin to skin a lot that first day and nurse a lot. Breastfeeding reduces pain.
  • In addition to the stretches, rinsing with salt water and applying coconut oil to the underside of my tongue has been really helpful in the healing process.

I’ll follow up in a couple of days with additional thoughts that I have as things heal from this last revision. In the meantime, I leave you with this thought:

Tongue ties have been revised for hundreds if not thousands of years. There is already some really interesting research that’s starting to point towards the short term and long term impact of revision (or not revising).  However…there are some assumptions that are being made that really need to stop. No, Cranial Sacral Therapy isn’t the only way to do bodywork prior to and after revision, just like not assuming ENTs or any other discipline know how to properly assess what we see. Also, I like being able to measure things just as much as the next person, but I’d strongly caution anyone who wants to ONLY revise according to very rigid standards. There can be a lot of different ways these ties can exist. As I keep saying over and over, providers need to listen to parents and be willing to learn from them and each other. I’ve learned SO MUCH just by talking to parents, kids, and other adults, and some of my biggest revelations have come from consulting with other specialties. I encourage others to do the same.

I’ll check in again soon.

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

When the parent knows more than the physician

parent versus physician

Two articles that I’ve read In the last 3 days have compelled me to share something here on the blog. The first was a story in this month’s The Atlantic that talked about the amount of burnout that physicians face, largely due to the insane demands of charting and other administrative functions. The other was a story from The New York Times about how parents can sometimes do so much research that they know more about their kids’ health conditions than the doctors who end up treating them, largely because the parents have made time for the research that the already-frazzled physicians don’t have.

I’ve told my story before about my daughter’s birth, and I detailed her lip tie release last year. (Oh, and by the way, her front two teeth no longer have a gap. Take that, lip tie deniers.) There’s another story, though, that had way more of an impact on me as a mother and as an educator. It’s the story of my daughter’s obstructive sleep apnea.

I get that all new moms are anxious when it comes to their baby’s sleep. I mean, we do talk about SIDS quite a lot, so there is naturally going to be some worry about making sleep safe. But, in those first few days at home, in the middle of the night, I was disturbed to realize: my daughter would stop breathing while asleep for 3-4 seconds at a time, and then start breathing again with a small gasp. At first I thought it was my imagination, but the hours I spent sleeping with my hand on her while she was asleep in her bassinet next to me did eventually convince me there was a problem that I wasn’t making up.

I shouldn’t tell you this, but things were a little better when I finally threw in the towel and put my daughter to sleep on her side instead of the officially approved back position. When on her side, she was able to flex her neck, and she would tilt back her neck far enough to open and straighten her airway while she slept. She would continue to sleep in that position, neck bent and mouth open, for the entire first four years of her life.

When I finally ventured out of the house with my 4 week old daughter to have lunch with a friend, it was my very, very exhausted self who had been holding her upright for every nap that was gently counseled to try cosleeping. “Just try it for a nap,” she suggested. That afternoon, after looking up all of the safety guidelines, I did, in fact, try cosleeping for the first time. It was a life-changing revelation. From that nap forward, my daughter did co sleep with me until she was 9 months old.

The researchers who do study safe sleep have found that when breastfeeding mothers and babies sleep close together, either in the same bed (again, following the established safety guidelines) or in a crib or bassinet within arms reach of moms, there is a synchronization of sleep patterns that is believed to be important for newborns who aren’t very good at regulating their breathing during sleep on their own. Furthermore, as researcher Kathleen Kendall Tackett once told a plenary session at a conference in Boston that I was attending, for babies with obstructive sleep apnea, co sleeping and bed sharing can be critically important for helping those babies keep breathing.

Now, my story isn’t as much about co sleeping as what happened when I tried to get help for my daughter. At one of her very first well baby checks, I mentioned to her doctor that she would stop breathing when she was asleep. As a new mom, he dismissed any of my claims. As she grew and started to take naps on her own, my husband and I got used to listening to her regular gasps for air over the baby monitor. In a messed up way, those gasps were reassuring: they told us she was still breathing, just not correctly.

Later on, after doing some more research and after it was abundantly clear that she would always have short periods of apnea while sleeping, I did broach the subject again with her doctor. He finally listened and said a sleep study should be done, but the wait list was months long. Shortly after that, our lives spun into chaos: our basement was destroyed during a very heavy rainstorm, requiring us to gut the entire thing and start over from scratch, my husband, sensing an impending layoff, got a job in downtown Minneapolis and had a 12 hour workday and commute, and I became pregnant with my son. (Looking back, it was probably inevitable that I’d end up with postpartum anxiety.)

Tomorrow: The advocacy journey continues

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Social media, the internet, and motherhood: The good, the bad, and the ugly

social media

This is a blog post I’ve been wanting to write since I got home from the Lamaze/DONA Confluence last month. The last two conferences I went to spent a TON of time covering social media basics. I’m on social media personally and professionally. BabyLove has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Google Plus page, an account on Pinterest, and is on Instagram, too. Me, personally, for the human being behind the smiling avitar….I like twitter (though my no-nonsense, very straightforward, always honest tweets don’t always land well.)

We’ve all had to grapple with the really crummy parts of the internet and social media. I know we know they are there. But I still want to take some time to touch on some things that I’ve been thinking about for the last month, especially in relation to pregnancy and motherhood.

The Good:

OK, so there are some really great things that social media can do for pregnant and new moms. I look at the various tongue tie support groups out there and know that if it weren’t for the internet and social media, we wouldn’t have so much progress in a movement that’s been parent-driven. It’s so grassroots, so worldwide…it would have never moved forward without Facebook groups and websites. Truthfully, it would have gone nowhere, as no community would ever be able to gain enough momentum on its own.

Sometimes social media can put you into contact with people you NEVER would have otherwise been able to meet and get to know. In my case, Twitter is where my people (AKA Tweeps) are. It’s where I’ve met people who I genuinely like and enjoy chatting with, even though I’ve only met a tiny handful IRL (That’s “in real life” if you didn’t know.) And the nice thing about twitter, too, is that there are things like #ppdchat that exist to help new moms navigate the challenges of coping with our ever-changing lives. While Facebook isn’t always a great place if you want to stick to civil discussions, there have been a few times where it’s made me like someone more. And for those of us who are very, very busy moms, it can be one of the few ways we can connect with each other in any way, shape, or form.

To sum it up: not all of us become mothers with a super tight group of women surrounding us. Some of us are introverts. Some of us have social anxiety that can make going to playgroups absolutely hellish. However, thanks to the internet we can get that connection, interaction, and support we need to keep up afloat in even the choppiest water.

The Bad:

As I wrote in my previous post about not googling your birth, the internet and social media is full of way too many opinions and it’s hard to find the facts. So while it may seem easier to search for an answer yourself, it can quickly get to be too much. I’m sure your social media connections are perfectly fine people, but again– you’re just getting a lot of opinions. Now, for superficial things, like where to buy clothes for your child or ideas for parks to go to, opinions are fine. But when it comes to your health and wellbeing or your child’s health and safety, you NEED to find people who know what they are talking about. If you take someone’s opinion and they were wrong…that’s bad.

The Ugly:

You know what’s coming: the trolling, the name calling, the bullying…and I’m talking about adults, not teenagers! Because SO MUCH of motherhood that we hold near and dear (specifically birth and breastfeeding) isn’t controlled by what WE want as women and mothers, but rather by the doctors, midwives, nurses, and lactation professionals we come into contact with, when we have lost our say in the outcomes, we feel small, violated, and wronged. It’s from THAT place of anger that I think most of the vitriol stems. And it’s fair to be angry when we go to someone we trust and they refuse to help. It’s just not fair to transfer that anger to innocent women in that mommy Facebook group.

Then there will always be those moms who get a kick out of stirring up anger and controversy, spreading gossip, using social media to target moms that…OK, you know what? I don’t know why those women behave that way. Having been that target, all I know is that it sucks. I’m sure someone who specializes in this area of things would be able to articulate it better, but I find those moms are usually dealing with a huge amount of anger, a lack of self-esteem, or they just get their kicks out of manipulating other people. I don’t have any easy answers for that, especially if they are people you know IRL.

Bottom line? Being a mom is isolating in about a million ways. If you’re struggling with Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, or just floundering in general, there are some amazing resources out there. But do not belittle, name call, stalk, or harass other moms. I’m not saying you would, but…just don’t do it. And if you ask the internets for help, do so from a place that’s genuinely open to what you’ll get back. If you need to whine about something, whine away…just don’t ask for help when all you really want to say is, “THIS SUCKS.”

Of course, it can take awhile to find your place. And do only what you are comfortable with–It’s hard enough to figure out who you are as an adult without throwing the sticky layer of motherhood on top of it.

That’s what I have for today. Be kind to yourself and others.

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

What your baby wants you to know…

what a baby needs

Dear parents of mine,

Thanks to brainwave to text technology, I’ve been give a chance to write down some of the things babies like myself really want you to know.

First of all, we have no idea what year it is or where we are. That comes later. To us, at the time of birth we only know a few things–we need mommy there or we could die, we need to stay warm, we need to start nursing really soon, and we can manage to find the breast on our own, if we have to.

Second, despite many years of people saying otherwise, we’re a lot like adults in many ways–only, we’re BETTER. We don’t lie. We don’t cheat. We can’t manipulate (no matter what anyone says). Our brains, for most of the first year, are designed to make sure we live. and as babies, survival means being around mom, it means being fed when we are hungry AND thirsty, and it means sleeping close to mom help us learn healthy sleep habits.

And you know all of those things you had people buy you before I was born? The ones that are still piled up in the living room? I really hate the ones meant to keep me away from you, my parents or other caregivers, for a really long time. I am a carry mammal. I need to be carried to make sure my brain develops correctly. I need to be carried because, unlike horse babies, I can’t walk right after birth.  So all those “must have” baby items are a scam. They aren’t for me. They make millions of dollars for multinational corporations. (Look at my awesome vocab. Ivy League, here I come!)

Then, we need to talk about eating. I mean, come ON! Do you like to have to swallow your entire cup of coffee while lying perfectly horizontal? Do YOU like it  if someone tickles your lips with a sandwich and then shoves it in to you mouth? Or, let’s say you’re thirsty, you ask for a drink of water, and you boss tells you to wait another two hours. Not cool, right? Then why are these things OK for me? I’m going to do the best when I’m comfortable. relaxed, and it’s on my own time. Hey, you get to eat or drink when you want! Just because I can’t walk to the fridge doesn’t mean I don’t have needs.

And, finally, some times I have bad days. Some times, when I just start to crawl, I may fall down. You’ll laugh, but my shoulder will stay sore for awhile. Or sometimes I have a headache, which can lead to sleeping and breastfeeding issues. I can feel pain, and it affects everything I do. Please, I need you to pay attention to me when I’m having an off day. Help me fix it. I promise, I’m not trying to piss you off.

You are good parents, really. There are a lot of people who have made millions and millions of dollars on manipulating parents and preying on their fear. But if you just think for a moment how YOU would react if you were in my onesie–my cries may make more sense.

I love you. <BURP>

-Your baby

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Childbirth Education: Is it still relevant?

Childbirth classes Twin Cities
Wisdom from a dad about vaginal exams. He’s so right!

It’s no secret childbirth education class attendance has gone down in the last decade. The reasons are a combination of many things:

  • Hospitals cutting back on options for families as cost controls put pressure on small departments
  • Reliance on online resources by families
  • Doctors and Midwives actively discouraging patients from taking classes
  • The rapid inflation of class prices
  • Too many years of big, impersonal, boring classes that leave parents unlikely to recommend childbirth classes to others
  • The resurgence of named “method” classes

Again, as one of the few area independent educators (only?) who started my career teaching for hospital programs, I’ve had a very different experience with the role of childbirth education in the community. I’ve watched the attitudes flip, where moms are scared to take classes, or think the information is so obvious that they don’t need to spend any time in a classroom. And as much as I love doulas and I know they are evidence-based, there is a limitation to both the training and scope of practice that means that doulas aren’t meant to take the place of education. Once parents actually GET into my classes, there are a few things they are all pleasantly surprised about:

First, the ability to ASK questions and discuss a wide spectrum of topics with an educator who is neutral and can address things like evidence-based care and best practices. Asking those questions on social media and message boards don’t help parents get facts….just a lot of opinions, which can make it all seem relative, useless, and a waste of time to figure out. Instead, I find that when classes are run in a way that allows for conversation about topics between parents, with the guide of an educator, help parents sort through the opinions, and put other ideas and experiences into context.

Second, good classes are structured in a way that leads to many “AHA!” moments for parents that can’t happen when trying to get information from a book or online. Those moments are what then spurs other questions, helps pull together the larger picture, and inspires confidence. Part of what I LOVE as an educator is when I hear parents coming up with gems of wisdom that prove to me that the process of sitting through 8, 12, or 15 hours of classes is valuable, helpful, and worthwhile.

Third, and I’ve had this conversation with educators who have been teaching longer than I have– what we’re missing in the Twin Cities is the importance of having families from all walks of life and circumstances sitting in the same room. As is the case with so many things, the “boutiquification” of pregnancy and birth in everything from strollers to childbirth education is further separating us from each other, leading to a more fractured, less inclusive, less diverse experience. That leads to an echo chamber of sorts, and parents don’t have a chance to hear that there are other ways to see things, and other families might be facing different situations.

Finally, I want to point out that every doctor and midwife SHOULD be supporting the process of evidence-based childbirth education. Evidence-based. NOT outcome-based. If we are going to reverse current trends in the US of poorer outcomes for mothers and babies over the last 10 years, we can ONLY do that by bringing childbirth education attendance rates back up. It’s so very hard to put into words, but I’ll try: Even with the best care providers, there’s a limitation to the amount of time they can put into educating and giving resources to families. As a childbirth educator, my role in the community isn’t just to educate, but to help encourage families to have healthier pregnancies, find providers appropriate to their situations, and catching a myriad of things that otherwise fall through the cracks. It might not make sense, but I know my BabyLove families get it.

I’ll be headed to Kansas City next month to be inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators. I’m honored to join a group of smart, caring, passionate women (maybe men? Hmmm…) who feel as strongly about the importance of childbirth education as I do. It’s not flashy, it’s not trendy, but I know that childbirth education is as vital in 2014 as it was when Elizabeth Bing first started teaching in the 1950s. And hopefully, class attendance will reverse trends.

That’s what I have today.

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Finding Day Care

Finding Day Care

When I was in college one summer and then for a year after I graduated from college (thanks, recession), I worked in day cares. I worked for one not so great place over the summer, and then for a really awesome company after college. I also had the not-so-awesome experience as a mom of finding day care for my daughter, as I went back to work when she was only 6 weeks old (Thanks, employers who unenrolled me from short term and long term disability once you found out I was pregnant so I’d have no choice). Finding good providers is really hard, but there are some really amazing resources out there. I’ll give you my 2 cents first, and I’ll also link a bunch of things to this post to help you sort through your options as well.

First of all, if you’re looking for a space for a newborn, start calling early. Because Minnesota has strict 1:4 ratios for babies in centers, those spaces for good centers fill up quickly. For home day cares, the rules are a little more confusing; the limits on the number of children under the age of 1 depends on the type of setting and the licensed capacity.

Second, make sure you go visit the places while kids are there before you put your name on any waiting list. I’ll link to other resources below, but some things, I feel, are VERY important.

  • Is the place clean? Are there spills and stains all over?
  • Is there food from previous meals all over the floor?
  • Are there toys all over the floor, to the point that it’s impossible to walk without tripping on them?
  • Does everyone have a runny nose? (Yes, I know kids get sick, but TRUST ME– that’s a sign that toys and surfaces aren’t cleaned properly or often enough.)
  • Is it loud? Chaotic? With lots of fighting? That’s no good. Chaos equals injuries, sad kids, and sick kids.
  • Do they have the babies sleeping in safe surfaces?
  • What do they feed the kids for meals?
  • Are the babies held when being given a bottle? (Bottle propping a really, really big no-no.)
  • Is the TV on?
  • What do they do for older kids to sleep? Do they rock babies? Do they rub backs for older kids? Or do they expect ALL kids to fall asleep on their own?

Third, make sure you check references, and, in the case of in-home providers, call the county licensing department to find out what kind of complaints they have on file. Here’s a list of things you should be asking.

Minnesota has some really amazing resources out there for families. Child Care Aware Minnesota has a checklist, including a pdf of the checklist, that’s very detailed that you can use to help you make sure you’re asking all of the relevant questions. To locate options, there’s Parent Aware.

It’s important that you make sure you are totally at peace with your choice. I can tell you from my own experience that there’s nothing worse as a mom to find out that your child hasn’t been well taken care of. Hopefully these tools will help you dig through the options and you can find the right fit for your family.

Anything to add? Share below!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Postpartum Lifehacks

Postpartum advice

I was reminded this week by some moms that I don’t always share all of the tips and tricks I’ve figured out over the years with every single class. Some I’ve figured out on my own, some other moms have shared with me. So, to make your post-birth recovery easier and less stressful, I offer the following tips and tricks:

The magic of prunes:

This one my midwife shared with me when my son was born.  The stuff they usually tell you to take to deal with constipation is, in my experience, pretty useless. So, to really get things moving along, do this: take 5 prunes, put them in a glass of water, and let them soak overnight. In the morning, drink the water the prunes were in and eat the prunes. Is it kind of weird? Yes. Does it work? HECK YES.

Calm the curlicues:

This one a mama shared with us at Mama Cafe. As your hairs starts to fall out after baby is born, you will often end up with little tufts of wispy hair around your hairline in the front. Wide cloth headbands are the secret to tame them until they grow out. As a bonus, headbands hide greasy roots.

Don’t chop your locks too soon:

Again, one I learned the hard way (and had a 2 hour appointment with the owner of the salon having to fix what the stylist did). While it’s tempting to chop your hair after baby is born, realize that your cut won’t always work well if you get a drastic haircut before you’ve lost the extra hair.

Forget the Tucks:

While the tub of witch hazel pads you get postpartum are nice, they are pretty thin. Instead, buy some witch hazel at the store (usually found in the first aid aisle), and get some cotton rounds (by the cotton balls, but they are flat circles) and put some witch hazel on the rounds to place on your pad instead of the pre-made ones.

Protect your sheets:

Milk leaking while your sleeping, baby’s diaper leaking during a feeding, spit-up….all of these can interrupt your night when you realize you’re lying in a puddle. To avoid middle of the night sheet changes, use lap pads (like these) under you and change them out as needed. Those same lap pads are amazing for the changing table, too.

Cushion your bum:

After a vaginal birth, you need to take a couple short tub soaks every day. If you needed a lot of stitches or ended up with hemorrhoids, the hard tub may hurt to sit in. Take a towel (either a small bath towel or a hand towel) and fold it up and sit on it whilst soaking in the tub.

Control the visitors:

One of the worst things to happen in the first few weeks is to have an endless stream of visitors. Mom won’t get enough sleep, baby may not get enough to eat, and baby is exposed to more germs. Set up strict visiting hours 2-3 days a week for a couple of hours in the early evening for your coworkers, friends, and Aunt Lucy to drop by. HELPFUL visitors who want to come cook, clean, or grocery shop are welcome any time, but if they say they want to stop by to “see the baby and drop off a little gift they bought for the baby,” they need to come during visiting hours.

Have a peace offering:

If there are older siblings who are about 3 1/2 or younger, you can convince them that the new baby brought gifts. Don’t ask me how that is supposed to have any logical explanation, but if there’s something super special your other children would like, but it, wrap it up, and have it ready for the first time they see the new baby. Everyone will have gifts for the baby–this helps older kids feel less left out.

Those are what I figured out over the years. Have any hacks to share? Add them below!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

The real co-sleeping dangers

dangerous baby sleep

Today is Friday. I don’t usually blog on a Friday, but I saw something this morning on social media that was so blatantly dangerous and disturbing, I needed to speak up.

If I had dug around my box of old family pictures for awhile, I could have posted, for #ThrowbackThursday, one picture that still upsets me to this day: it’s a picture of my dad, sleeping on the couch, with me as a teeny tiny baby on his chest. It’s not like he knew it was dangerous, but as I always tell parents a) He did the best he could with the information he had and b) Now we know better, so we do better.

So, here’s the thing: While maybe their message is well meaning, when the “never sleep with your baby”, “back to sleep”, and “don’t breastfeed while drunk” messages get pushed and pushed and pushed by the powers that be, it discourages and blurs the lines about what is safe and what really isn’t. If you pay attention to the headlines, you’ll notice that two things ARE truly leading to the deaths of babies: Parents sleeping with babies in couches and chairs, and parents falling asleep on a couches or chairs while drunk or on drugs (legal or not).

What, really then, is dangerous?

Never fall asleep with your baby while on a couch or in a chair

Never share bed space with your baby if you smoke

Do not fall asleep with your baby if you’ve been drinking

Do not share sleep space with your baby if you are on any kind of sleep medication

Waterbeds and sagging mattresses are very dangerous sleep spaces for babies

Do not share sleep space with your baby on a bed that is pushed up against a wall

Do not allow pets or older children to share the same sleep space with you and your baby

If you want a good handout to share with patients or family members, the always-amazing Kathleen Kendall-Tackett has a PDF on her website on safe sleep. She also has this really great video you can watch:

The reality is, it’s not uncommon for mothers to fall asleep while breastfeeding at 3am. They are exhausted, eyelids droop shut, and….zzzzzzzzz.  It happens. BUT…if you’re going to fall asleep while nursing, make sure that if it does happen it’s in the safest situation possible: On a firm mattress without heavy blankets, no pets, that your hair is tied back, and you are not under the influence of anything.

Listen, accidents can and do happen. It’s imperative that parents make safe choices for their kids. While so much of parenting seems like you can just make whatever choice you want, there are a few things that are not negotiable:

Always use properly-installed car seats and seat belts for your child, and make sure whatever method of child restraint you are using is appropriate for his or her age, height, and developmental stage.

Lock up your guns if you have young children. (Yeah, I went there. I don’t care.)

Don’t leave a baby or toddler unattended in the bathtub or around pools, lakes, or rivers.

Don’t put infant car seats on top of shopping carts, restaurant high chairs, chairs, tables, or anything else that’s not the car seat base in the car or compatible stroller.

Don’t parent while very intoxicated.

Don’t sleep with your baby on the couch.

Don’t sleep with your baby while sitting in the chair.

OK. Sorry. Soapbox done. Carry on, and make safe choices. Your child’s life depends on it.

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Guest Post: Craft Night Saves Lives

Last night was the return of Craft Night at BabyLove.  It was wonderful. If you saw it and thought, “That would be fun,” you were right. But one mama, Mari Koeck, attended the most recent craft night and sent along these really amazing thoughts.  Enjoy!

-Veronica

Some days as a mom I feel like Mother Theresa. Other days I feel like Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. Today was not a good day. The kids were communicating solely in unintelligible alien shrieks, everything was escalating, and I was not coping well. I could feel my stress level rise, but I was not Mother Theresa. I am thankful I held it together enough to avoid creating headlines, but, barely.

A couple of years ago I watched a National Geographic documentary about stress. The gist of it was that the chemicals released for our “fight or flight” response to problems need to be burned off or they start attacking our cells, causing them to age more quickly, subtly attacking and killing part of our physical body. Thank God the documentary didn’t end there. Can you imagine the tailspin of depression and unbearable stress that would send any viewer into?

They went on to talk about how researchers studied a group of people who suffer from prolonged, chronic stress. They chose parents of children with special needs and they were surprised by what they saw. Yes, chronic stress was every bit as serious as they knew, but they observed something new. Many of the mothers in their study were part of mom groups with other moms raising children with special needs. The mothers who attended these groups had lower stress levels than those who didn’t, but researchers were shocked to discover that the physical damage to cells caused by stress wasn’t simply limited by their relational connection, it was reversed.

After my painfully un-Hallmark worthy day, I was at the end of my rope. It was as if I couldn’t just feel the stress physically killing my cells, but I could feel it killing the deepest part of me that makes me know I’m alive. But tonight wasn’t just any night, it was BabyLove’s Craft Night. It is a simple concept, any kind of moms can come together and…craft. While there’s something deeply satisfying about creating something with your hands, it was the relational aspect of simply chatting with other moms that was better than any medicine or therapy for me today. There wasn’t any program or attempt to make it into “something.” It just was what it was, simple, but profound. It was meeting my real need at the end of a stressful day for some mom relationships to undue the harm that stress was trying to do to me.

When I first came to BabyLove, I thought I was bringing my son to Mama Cafe to hang with other babies. The reason I kept coming was because of the way just being together with other mamas from all backgrounds nurtured the best parts of me. When I was in such a positive place, not only did I never once get a whiff of the “mommy wars,” but I felt deeply loved and I wanted to love those around me. I was renewed and energized by these meetings and I need to remember that it isn’t just in my head, but there is a physical need for this kind of relationship as well.

If you’re a bit of a worrier – like me – and are still hung up on the fact that stress is killing you, then you need to: 1) Watch this TED video “How to make stress your friend” by Kelly McGonigal (Available here) and 2) Do something about it by finding other moms to connect with whether in your neighborhood, your church, your child’s school, or BabyLove. It takes a bit of extra effort, but it is an investment in not just reducing stress and improving your health, it is ensuring more Mother Theresa moments for you and your kids, and we all need more of those.

Mari is a mother of two and head writer for Koeck Communications, LLC

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.