My kids were born with obstructive sleep apnea

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Before I was a childbirth educator, I was a mom of a little girl. I’ve written about her birth before; I haven’t really ever thought to talk about how both of my kids were born with sleep apnea, and how it took forever to find a pediatrician who would actually believe me.

When I first brought her home from the hospital, I noticed almost immediately that my baby girl would regularly stop breathing for a couple of seconds, only to gasp for air. Initially, my new mama instinct wasn’t sure if I was just being overly paranoid, or if she really did stop breathing for a couple of seconds before the big gasps I didn’t think were normal. Her Mayo Clinic doctor (who was a total and complete ass, BTW), ignored my concerns– he told me she was just congested, and moved on to something else.

(As an aside, I should tell you some day about the nonsense “parenting education” material they would give me every visit. Knowing what I know now, there was very little actual evidence behind it. All it did was foster doubt an insecurity by creating parenting expectations that would never be biologically normal. Even better, if I could find the sheets, it’d be a total hoot to go through it with a big red marker!)

When my daughter was about 4 weeks old, after sleepless nights and too many days nodding off during the day while I fed her on the couch, a friend encouraged me to look into safe bedsharing. I found the safety guidelines online, and during one nap time, I latched her on while in the side-lying position in my bed, and we both fell asleep for a life-changing 2 hours. I was a convert from then on out. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that since she and I started sharing a safe sleep surface, I no longer noticed that she would stop breathing. Instead of sleeping next to me in her bassinet on her back (which, until very recently, was the only AAP-sanctioned sleep scenario), she spent her nights cuddled up next to me, on her side. Sometimes I’d wake up and find out that I’d been feeding her without remembering when or how the feeding started. And then, when she was 9 months old or so, she started to turn sideways in the middle of the night and stretch out as much as she possibly could. That’s when we transitioned her to a crib in her own room. And at 9 months, she would sleep in whatever position she felt like sleeping in that night. By that point, she was not only rolling and crawling, but walking on her own, too. SIDS and back-to-sleep stuff was no longer technically an issue for her.

However– she was back having very, very audible sleep apnea. We’d listen to what I now understand was the sound made when her tongue would fall into the back of her mouth, then the little “kuh” sound she’d make right before the gasp as she started breathing again. We’d joke in a moribund manner that the gasp at least told us she was breathing…eventually. Moreover, we’d started to notice that when she slept, she always slept on her stomach or he side with her head tilted back to straighten and open her airway.

When she was 2 years old–maybe?– we brought it up again with her doctor. Keep in mind, smart phones weren’t a thing yet. iPods were big and bulky and only had hard drives and were only for music. We could really only convey what we were noticing by trying to recreate it ourselves. Her family med doc was again dismissive, though he did say he could refer us for a pediatric sleep study, but that it would take 6 months before we’d be able to get in. Shortly after that, our basement flooded, my husband got a new job that required him to commute 90 minutes each way, and then I got pregnant with her little brother… and life got super chaotic.

Once my son was born, bedsharing was started from day 1. However, he didn’t really nap on his own until he was about 8 months old, and when he did, he’d do what his sister did– he’d stop breathing. As he neared the 9 month mark, when I would put them both down for a nap in the same room, I’d listen to the baby monitor as they took turns having apnea episodes (which I’m sure did NOT help my anxiety). I can’t remember if it was at a well baby visit for him or a well child visit for her, but I mentioned the apnea episodes their pediatrician, who referred us to a pediatric ENT. She got her tonsils out shortly after her 4th birthday. At that point, they had grown so large that she barely had any room to breathe while she slept. A few days after the tonsillectomy, we noticed that when she slept–there was silence.

My son had his tonsils and adenoid out when he was 3 years old. He was also able to breathe perfectly while sleeping a couple days after surgery.

So there you go. My kids had obstructive sleep apnea, and now they don’t. I do think that both of them had and have tongue ties for a BUNCH of reasons. I had recurrent mastitis, nursing was super painful at first with my daughter, she didn’t gain weight all that fast, both kids had EPIC spit-ups. One child had speech issues that have been resolved. The other one tongue-thrusts to swallow and is very sensitive to food texture.I often wonder if I had had them sleeping on their own in a room from day 1, on their backs and not near me–would we have had a different outcome? We know (and the AAP recognizes this) that babies NEED to sleep in close range to their parents for at least the first 9 months, in part to help them regulate their breathing. When humans sleep on their backs, the tongue can fall to the back of the mouth, causing snoring and apnea.

Finally, I do want parents to know that if your little one stops breathing and then gasps for air, that is NOT NORMAL. If they sleep with their head always tilted back—again, not normal. Listen to your gut, and if your child’s care provider dismisses you–get a second opinion. Or a third. I know that there’s so much more to learn about this, SIDS, and other sleep issues, but I do think that parents can go a long way if we share our stories and compare notes.

On that note, Happy New Year!

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 sudden slide into depression

semi colonI’ve been pretty open about my daily life as someone who lives with anxiety. I do have enough readers and I do know that what I say has helped others reach out and feel less alone. What I haven’t been as eager to be open about is that, as long as I can remember, I’ve also had at least one depressive episode per year. It’s nothing so extreme that suicide is contemplated, but it’s definitely more than just feeling sad.

The anxiety has been a struggle this year. A big struggle. At some point last year I switched from Zoloft to Celexa. The Celexa never really did much. In retrospect, this was a terrible decision, but as I felt the creep of anxiety increasing, I was desperate to stave it off. This spring, I ended up switching to Prozac and Buspar (seriously one of the stupidest names ever). That’s when the sideways slide into depression really began.

The thing about depression is that I don’t notice it’s hit until the dark thoughts begin. Maybe this is normal, but since we don’t talk about the reality of mental health openly very often, I don’t have anything else to go off of. Someone pointed out today that we should talk about mental health the way we talk about physical health– like asthma (which I have) or allergies (which I also have); it’s a chronic condition. Most of the time these things are under control. Sometimes, the medications that I take to manage the asthma, allergies, or anxiety aren’t enough, though.

Starting in April, and through May, I was trying to help my grandmother recover from a very serious illness that needed weeks of hospital and rehabilitation center care. I mostly got through it ok, but I was without one of my teachers due to maternity leave, and some of the things about owning a business really got very seriously neglected to the point where I wasn’t capable of doing more that just showing up to teach.

It’s manageable to own a business with anxiety; the act of doing things to promote and grow and run the business become fantastic ways to soothe the nerves. If I’m doing something, I’m less anxious. It is, however, impossible to run a business once a full-blown depressive episode hits. Returning phone calls? It seemed like too much work. Reach out to providers and partners in the community? Nope, I’ll stay balled up in bed instead. Check out what others are doing to get a feel for the market? Thanks, but the mean voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough have enough fuel for their fire. And as I did less I felt more shame, inadequacy, and doubt about my ability to run a business.

Depression lies. The narrative in my head got darker as summer began. I grew desperate. I did meet with my therapist, but that didn’t help. Finally, in late June, everything came crashing down. I never got to the point of suicide being an issue, but the screening forms for anxiety and depression were startling; since I work so much with mental health through the nonprofit, seeing the scores on paper was scary.

I was so desperate to feel better. The anguish of the sadness and hopelessness grew. I’m lucky that I have wonderful friends and family did everything they could to keep me afloat. But still…

I don’t remember much from the last week of June and the first week of August. I remember feeling an overwhelming desire to check myself into a mental health unit and be hospitalized, but I also rationally knew that beds are very hard to find, and going through the hell of finding a place to be didn’t sound appealing. Again, if it was an asthma flare up, the steps would be obvious; if I got to the point of not being able to breathe, I’d go to the ED. There would be plenty of beds I could stay in while I got the meds I needed to be able to breathe. This simply is not an option during depression or anxiety flare ups.

This is what’s so bleeping frustrating about our system: while the barriers to care have slightly improved, as has been studied over and over, it’s still hard for anyone to get access to mental health for people with more minor challenges; for someone is crisis, a helpline isn’t enough. The mental health infrastructure just does not exist. We essentially have a two-lane road made of a mishmash of bricks, asphalt, concrete, and gravel that really needs to be upgraded to an eight-lane highway. Politicians like to talk a lot about “improving mental health”, but money isn’t going into building the clinics and hospitals and coverage and creating easy access to the mental health care providers that families need when they reach a point of desperation.

I am getting better. I am better. I went back on my old-old meds, and they finally kicked in July 10th. Yes I remember that day because I needed to make sure I placed my marker back into the passage of time rather than just float through the days and months as I had before.  The fog is still lifting, but I am finally getting back into the groove of life, or parenting, of running BabyLove and the non-profit. I’m getting there. I had so many friends and family, especially my husband, who held out their hands so that I had something to hold onto until I had the strength to hold on myself. I have anxiety and depression, but that’s not all who I am, and if you’re in the same place I am, it is not all who you are, either. My value, your value, is still there. We’re still here. Let’s stay here and help each other get through this thing called life.

Finally, if you are reading this an need help, you can find local and national resources over on NAMI Minnesota’s website. More work is needed to fund these community mental health response teams, though. We need more funding, more training in our state and in the US to make sure it’s as easy to get the right care for severe depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns as it would be to get help for an asthma attack.

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.

Do we expect too much from dads at births?

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This month is International Doula Month, and as such, I’ve been thinking about what I really wanted to say about doulas that I maybe haven’t said before. There have been a few interactions I’ve had lately that really got me thinking, although this is nothing I haven’t thought about before or even mentioned in classes.

We expect FAR too much from dads during birth.

So, here’s the deal:

Back in the day, like 130 years ago or more, when a woman went into labor, the local midwife would come into her home. The mom’s female friends and family would come to help– they would prepare her a birth space,  soothe her, help keep her fed, hydrated, and reassure her. Birth was a normal part of life, something that most woman would be familiar with long before it came time for them to give birth as well.

I’ll say this again: Birth was a normal part of life.

The role of a birth doula is to try to bring into the picture those women who were very experienced when it came to birth. Unless you’ve been around a couple of women as they give birth before, birth is a pretty weird process that no amount of videos can ever prepare you for. So while I’m not saying we should go back to the time when it was considered “improper” for men to witness births, I’m saying that the idea of a partner having to bear the responsibility of caring for emotionally and physically supporting a mom through birth is unfair to everyone– it’s unfair to the partner, it’s unfair to the mother, and it’s unfair to the baby.

We have mounting evidence of dads (there is no info out on same-sex partners) experiencing PTSD as a result of being at the birth of their babies. Even if there aren’t ANY complications, while we should try very hard to prepare partners to be active participants at birth, there’s nothing to really prepare anyone for the twists and turns of birth. Doulas can’t predict how a birth will go, but they are prepared to walk the journey with families, no matter what that ends up looking like. Doulas provide that reassurance to EVERYONE during the process, no matter what, helping reduce trauma.

Doulas aren’t emotionally attached, not do they have to bear the responsibility for the medical care being provided.

Hiring a doula isn’t a value judgment on the state of your relationship; in fact, having a doula can help provide the space and time for those critical moments during labor and birth that can bring couples closer together.

Hiring a doula will not take away from a partner’s role at birth; having a doula present will give him more confidence to be involved in a way that he’s comfortable with.

Hiring a doula means that the laboring mother will have what’s very biologically normal– the care and support of an experienced woman who will stay with her through the whole process.

Hiring a doula isn’t a luxury. Hiring a doula should not be a status symbol. Hiring a doula should not be political. Hiring a birth doula is a logical, critical, SMART choice that can help ensure that no matter what happens at a birth, everyone in the room was able to benefit from the professionalism and reassurance and care that a birth doula provides.

I believe in birth doula care SO MUCH that I have created a non-profit that, in addition to providing mental health services, provides doula care on a free and sliding-fee basis. Families who are interested in doula care through The BabyLove Alliance can come to our Information Nights. Upcoming dates are May 20th, June 24th, and July 29th at 7 PM at BabyLove. Find out more information about our unique program here.

Hire a doula. It’s important.

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.

#RealMomConfessions: Therapy Rocks

Real Mom Confessions

At a certain point, I think we all get sick and tired of “National X Day” and “International Y Month”, but this month is Mental Health Awareness Month and International Doula Month. Both are really important things in my world, but today, as a mom* of two, I want to talk about mental health. More specifically, I want to talk about therapy.

I’ve been seeing my therapist for 15 months. It took a long time for me to get brave enough to start seeing anyone. I think I may have mentioned here before, but I saw some really yucky professionals in college and right after. They were so callous and uncaring that I thought that therapy had to be them versus me.

I was wrong.

I found my current therapist after asking an acquaintance for a referral. He gave me two names. One couldn’t take my insurance (but now is a trusted mental health professional in the non-profit), and the other is now my therapist. Thankfully, I really hit it off with my therapist, even though there were major hurdles in the beginning to get me into the building for every session. And no, I don’t want to talk about that. It had nothing to do with her, but everything to do with the demons I was facing.

Therapy has given me a safe place to process things happening in my life, as well as process things that happened in the past. She gives me perspective. She gives me courage. It’s my safe space to discuss what’s going on and helps me work things out in a totally non-judgmental way. I like myself better than I ever have. I feel great about the relationships I have. I feel completely OK about the relationships I’ve said goodbye to. I’m learning to trust myself, and that’s something you can never put a price tag on.

The hardest part about therapy is finding someone you click with. If you don’t click with someone, it’s OK to keep looking. Some therapists will even let you do a free consult to see if you are a fit. I mean, I talk here all the time about working to find a good fit for maternity care, and the same is true for mental health. Also? The most prominent names in the field, with the fanciest clinics, are probably not a good fit for anyone.

However, all of this is worth it. Taking care of your mental health, even on the days when you really suck at keeping it together, is worth it. Therapy is worth it.

You are worth it.

*The really crappy thing about mental health is that, once you have it in your record that you have an issue, it can, in some cases, become a stigma. Sometimes, when I make the decision to talk about these things publicly, I worry that people will look at it as a way to discredit me, my abilities, and my self worth/ You know what? Forget them. I’m not alone in what I live with. I just may be braver than some.

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 Problem* with Breastfeeding

Problem with breastfeeding

When I meet people for the first time and tell them that I’m a doula, Lamaze educator, lactation counselor, and car seat technician, it’s interesting how they react. Some people respond by telling me all sorts of things. I end up being told birth stories, completely unprompted, or they tell me about a friend who is also a doula, or they tell me what their breastfeeding journey was like. Sometimes, there’s an air of defensiveness to their confessions. And I get it– I really do. Breastfeeding isn’t the most cut and dry thing to wrap our arms around.

1) We have no good way to tell how much milk a mom is making- If a mom pumps milk, we assume that the pump, which is this expensive machine that’s supposed to be really good at getting milk out of human mammals, is going to do so efficiently and is a good way to determine if a mom has supply issues or not. Yeah, that’s not the case. Not everyone responds well to pumping, especially in the first week or so, and if you use pumping to see if a mom is making enough milk, there’s a good chance that her pumping output is going to be disappointingly low. Ignorant providers use this as proof that a mom’s body is broken and can’t produce enough milk. Oh, and by the way….those pumps are having major quality issues and breaking all the time.

2) Since there’s no gauge on the side of the breast, we have to guess how much milk a baby is taking in- There’s an elaborate method of weighing a baby before and after a feeding to estimate how many ounces of milk a baby took in, but that’s still not bullet proof. It’s not an uncommon impulse to have so little confidence in the breastfeeding process that providers will make mothers bottle feed babies just to verify input. Even when bottle feeding pumped human milk, the message is strong–you can’t be trusted, your body can’t be trusted, and only the bottle can be trusted.

3) The nutritional content isn’t static, so it’s really hard to know what the caloric content is- The more we understand breastfeeding and the production of breast milk, it’s become startlingly clear that the milk a mom makes for her baby changes hour by hour, day by day, month by month. It changes depending on which child you’re feeding. If you have a preemie, we’ve just realized your milk is really a lot more calorically dense than we ever thought. We do know that on average, breast milk is a lot more calorically dense than formula, so it does take a higher volume of formula to approach the nutritional needs of a baby. At least, though, health care providers know exactly what is in it, unlike breastmilk, which changes if baby is getting sick, or needs more calories, or based on the time of the day.

4) It’s really hard to trust that you’re breastfeeding the baby as much as you say you are- When we talk about breastfeeding, we tell moms to watch for cues. We call them hunger cues, but babies also cue out of thirst. News flash– babies are human and get thirsty, even when they aren’t hungry. Expecting a baby to get hungry and thirsty on a set, quantifiable schedule is about as crazy as expecting you to only be thirsty every 3 hours. So with breastfeeding, every time you sit down to nurse baby can be different in length and frequency, which is maddeningly hard to plan out and account for.

5) Only a few people are qualified to help you- Breastfeeding has a learning curve. It’s not easy for most moms and babies at first, but if they can make it past the 2-3 week mark, it usually gets much easier. However, getting past that hump can be really, really %@$*!#* hard. If you had a baby 100 or 200 years ago, by the time you had your own kids you would have watched lots and lots of babies be breastfed, and most women knew enough about breastfeeding that they could help each other. Now, we not only have so few people (including medical professionals) that are appropriately and accurately trained to help with breastfeeding, but we wall them off and only make them available during banking hours. It can take a lot of dedication, perseverance, and tenacity to get through the early breastfeeding struggles, but there’s a huge role that luck plays. If you find the right lactation specialist, you’re good. If you have a bunch of lactation specialists who don’t really care…you’re probably screwed.

6) Your mom didn’t breastfeed, and her mom didn’t either- Breastfeeding rates have risen since the 1950s, when only about 5% of moms ever breastfed their babies, but the 6 week breastfeeding rates in the US are still pretty low. Initiation rates are high, but almost 70% of moms give up breastfeeding before they initially planned to. There are a lot of moms out there who had bad breastfeeding experiences. This makes breastfeeding seem impossible; more tragically, it can unintentionally undermine a mom’s desires for feeding if she’s hearing from others that it’s just not important. And this one is the trickiest thing about breastfeeding. We know there’s a sociological component to breastfeeding. The barriers aren’t just biological. The biological barriers can be real, but we still struggle to have good, healthy conversations about breastfeeding within the larger construct of motherhood.

As is the case with most medicine, we’re realizing more an more that there’s a whole hell of a lot of nuance with breastfeeding that we have to get used to. Pumping and bottle feeding human milk can seem like a good solution, but most people who suggest it completely ignore how draining the process of pumping for every feeding or after every feeding becomes. They suggest pumping and make it seem that it’s as easy as brushing your teeth. Constant pumping sucks. I don’t have anything super simple to offer as a solution to any of these things, other than education. Humans are mammals. We are mammals with young that need fed. Rather than think that the process is broken, I’d posit that breastfeeding usually works– but we are the ones who are making it not work with our bad information, lack of trust, and unrealistic expectations.

*I decided to couch it in these terms. It’s kind of tongue in cheek.

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: What is Postpartum Anxiety?

Today’s guest post comes from Sarah Letischuh, who sees patients in my building and is part of The BabyLove Alliance, Ltd. Anxiety is something I have struggled with all my life, with a bout after the birth of my son being one of the worst times I had anxiety. Sarah works with kids as well as adults and moms who are struggling with Perinatal Mood Disorders. One of the things I love about Sarah is how kind she is to everyone. She also has a lot of experience dealing with trauma, a must when we’re talking about pregnancy and birth. She’s truly wonderful. Check out her recent post on Postpartum Anxiety.
-Veronica

In my personal experience as a mom-to-be, I often heard about postpartum depression.    My doctors screened for it.  My friends experienced it.  It was talked about in the news.   On the other hand, I don’t remember hearing about postpartum anxiety until I began to learn more about perinatal mental health, in my role as a therapist.

6% of pregnant women develop anxiety.

10% of women develop anxiety during the postpartum period.

It is certainly normal to experience some anxiety during pregnancy and after the birth of a child.   Anxiety is a natural response to change and we know that being pregnant means lots of changes are occurring and will continue to occur.   The symptoms of perinatal  anxiety (anxiety during pregnancy or the postpartum period) are more intense and last longer than fleeting worries.

Symptoms of perinatal anxiety may include:

  • Constant worry
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Change in appetite (eating too much or not enough)
  • Intense fear or expecting something bad to happen
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches or feeling shaky

If you believe you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of perinatal anxiety please know you are not alone, even if no one else is talking about it.   These symptoms can be very overwhelming.  You may feel like no one understands what you are experiencing, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out for help.

A trained mental health provider can help you assess your symptoms and determine the best treatment option in order to help you obtain some relief from your anxiety.

I am available to meet with new parents in the South Metro to assess and treat symptoms of perinatal anxiety.   Please click here to read more about the counseling services I offer for new or expecting parents.   I can also be reached at 952-457-2322 or sarah@sarahleitschuhcounseling.com.

If you are from outside of Minnesota, I suggest visiting the Postpartum Support International  website to locate support in your area.
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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.

Real Mom Confessions: Body Image Edition

Real Mom Confessions

It’s now the end of summer vacation for the kids, and I’m happy to say we all made it through in one piece. Coordinating care for the kids wasn’t too bad; I had lots of help from my husband and mother-in-law.  I’m now trying to get back into the swing of things around the office, figure out my schedule, and cook up lots of other wonderful things here at BabyLove Headquarters.

As I type this, I’m wearing a pair of jeans for the first time in…10 months? A year? It’s not just that jeans aren’t very comfortable, but I didn’t have a pair that fit me until last week. Why? Well, for the myriad of usual reasons, my weight has inched ever-upward since last fall. I had to face reality when I was at my last check with my doctor for my anxiety meds and saw the number on the scale.

I’m not sharing this just to bitch or complain, but I have had a lot of thoughts about this issue as I struggled with my own response to my weight gain. Weight and health are such a complicated issue, and I’m not a doctor or even weight loss expert (obviously!), but maybe some of what I’ve come up with will resonate with you, too.

First, yes, my weight gain jumped up a little after my first pregnancy; it didn’t help that the resident I was seeing during my pregnancy didn’t blink once as I gained 89 pounds during my first pregnancy. By the time I was pregnant with #2, I was lucky to have a great midwife who WOULD speak up if I started to gain too much weight as my pregnancy went along. I think I gained something like 34 pounds before I gave birth to my son. By the time I was going back to work, I had mostly lost all of the pregnancy weight; the milk I was pumping while I was gone was 75% fat. However, once we quit breastfeeding, my weight started the slow, irritating creep upwards, up to where I am today.

With a pre-teen daughter who is just starting to understand body changes and body image, I don’t want her to buy into the seduction of thinness and body shame. I’m trying very hard to dress and act and speak in a very body-positive way. I don’t want her to see me “dieting”. I absolutely, under no circumstances, want her to label entire groups of food as “bad”.  I think it’s OK to talk about “sometimes” and “almost never” foods, but beyond that–it’s important to me to have kids who have a positive relationship with food. To that end, I try not to telegraph my own complicated relationship with food. When I eat a salad or lots of veggies, I try to emphasize how my body feels better when it gets fresh fruits and veggies. Instead of it being something I have to do, it’s something I enjoy doing. So that means a rigorous, strict diet plan is totally out.

I’m aware that I could be trying to get more exercise, but that has it’s own challenges: namely, time and money. We did the whole gym membership thing for a year; we had no time to use it and it cost us an annoyingly significant chunk of money. I have other excuses, too: child care, my asthma, my wrist injury…all of them add up to me not formally “exercising”. I am trying to be more active throughout the day and count the steps with my phone, and I do notice some things have started to get easier. I’m going to try to keep up the extra movement as the Fall rolls on.

Beyond that, I’m trying to practice self-acceptance. My blood pressure is far better than it was a year ago. I’m making some better choices. My mental health is DEFINITELY better than it was a year ago.

My old pants may not fit. I may not look as svelte in pictures as I used to. This is my mommy body. This is the container that carries me. I’ll try to like myself a little better, take each day and each choice as it comes, and maybe, just maybe…you can find the courage to do the same. Comparing my body to yours and trying to make a value judgement about either one of us is just plain silly, right? Right.

Now, pass the veggie tray and box of chocolates. Ahem.

With love,

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.

Summer Workshops: VBACs, Sibling Prep, and Pregnancy After Loss

We’re kicking off this summer with a set of workshops presented by the various providers here at BabyLove. We’ve chosen some common topics, like sibling preparation, and some not so common ones, like Pregnancy after Loss. All of them have low registration fees, and we’d love to have you join us. Tell your friends and family, too! Workshops currently listed include:

  • Your Growing Family: Preparing parents and siblings for the birth of a new baby, Wednesday, June 24th 6pm-7pm; $10/ family
  • Make & Take “Coping Box” Activity, Thursday, June 25 10am-12pm; $3.50/ child
  • Make & Take workshop: Summery essential oils products, Wednesday, July 8at 7:00pm – 8:00pm; $7-$10
  • After a Cesarean (or two): VBAC versus a repeat cesarean, Wednesday, July 22nd 6pm-7:30pm; $10/ family
  • Another Beginning: Pregnancy after loss, Wednesday, August 12th 6pm-7:30pm; $10/family
  • Self Care for Moms, Wednesday, September 16th 6pm-7:30pm; $10

For more information and links to register, visit the workshop page.

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.

Am I biased? You bet.

BiasedBiased

Recently, although I’ve heard it before, the charge was leveled at me that I am biased in my classes. I was called, “Pro-breastfeeding, anti-drugs.” I spoke with a few other Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators, and it seems that this charge is something that we’ve all heard. So, I think it’s time that I out myself for all of my biases.

First of all, I teach what’s best practice, what’s evidence-based, and what’s biologically normal. Now, keep in mind that it takes, on average, 17 years from the time something is deemed best practice (ie. safest) in maternity care before it used on a regular basis. 17 years. When new practice bulletins come out from ACOG, when the American College of Nurse Midwives issue statements, when the AAP put out new guidelines, guess what? That’s what I’m teaching. If I only taught what was being done by doctors and midwives– well, I have major ethical concerns with that. In an environment of “shared responsibility,” there’s a moral imperative to give families the information that they need to know if they are getting safe and competent care.

As for the “pro-breastfeeding” charge; I’m always interested to know why someone’s motivated to make that charge. Yes, I am a Certified Lactation Counselor. So? In classes, I teach the American Academy of Pediatric’s guidelines on infant feeding and mention what the World Health Organization’s stance is on the issue. Maybe the issue is that my classes meet the standards as set forth in the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Again…so? We have 6 hospitals in the Twin Cities that are certified as meeting the Baby-Friendly requirements, all of the Healtheast system, one HealthPartners hospital, HCMC, and the U of M hospital, I hardly think I hold a renegade position. If those hospitals want to maintain Baby-Friendly status, they need to make sure their childbirth education classes have the same content as mine do. With almost 90% of moms initiating breastfeeding, I’ll stand with and support them. This is not about condemning one feeding choice, it’s about helping moms reach the goals they have for themselves.

What else?

I believe that it’s important to teach an understanding of the processes that are the biological norm.

I believe in maternity care transparency.

I believe that moms need to be responsible for finding competent care. They need to learn what that looks like and how to find it.

I believe that infant car seats are usually a waste of money and, since they are more often recalled and used incorrectly, can quickly become not as safe as convertible car seats. I also hate that parents aren’t taking their babies out and more than half of kids now have flat heads by age 1.

I believe in teaching about healthy choices and safe choices.

I believe in judging a hospital and birth center by their outcomes, not their wallpaper.

Are these things really that bad? Is it wrong to make sure parents aren’t being lied to? Is it wrong to be critical of those “educators” who are giving parents unsafe information because it’s the cultural norm? Is it wrong to help parents seek out safe care? Is it bad that I advocate for the right of a mother to be listened to? I hope not.

Every day, I hear birth stories and breastfeeding stories from moms who didn’t get the education or support that they needed and either they ended up with poor outcomes or their babies did. And you know what? I’m going to stay the course, because moms, babies, and families deserve it.

-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.

Refresh Wednesday: A guest post on self-care strategies

I’m in the middle of about a bajillion projects right now: planning our open house on 5/2, trying to raise money in the last 7 days of our crowdfunding effort for the non-profit I co-founded, hiring doulas for my agency, and working on securing insurance coverage for childbirth classes. It’s safe to say I’m a wee bit stressed out. I was talking to Sarah Leitschuh, who sees patients here on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and she said I should check out her blog. I did, and there’s a lot of great stuff there! You need to go check out all of her posts, but here’s one she said was OK to share here. Enjoy! -Veronica

Are you ready to stop making excuses for not prioritizing self care?   Are you looking for suggested strategies that may help you enhance your approach to self care?  If so, this is the post for you.    Not quite there yet?   Click here to read some quotes to inspire you or check out my last post on excuses for not prioritizing self care.

As you review the list of self care strategies below, I encourage you to remember that self care looks different for each person because we all have unique needs and interests.    I hope this list can be used to help you start thinking about and exploring which strategies may work best for you.  It may take some experimentation to identify which self care strategies you find to be the most effective.

Possible Self Care Strategies:

  • Engage in physical activity
  • Commit to healthy eating
  • Participate in deep breathing or other relaxation exercises
  • Meditation
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Engage in creative activities
  • Make time to do things that you enjoy
  • Journal
  • Pamper yourself (Whatever that means for you!)
  • Spend time with those individuals who you find to be the most supportive
  • Commit to getting enough sleep
  • Massage
  • Allow yourself time to be playful or silly
  • Seek the support of friends, family and/or a mental health professional, when needed

Still looking for more ideas?   Another great resource is a blog post written by Jodie Gale. Jodie compiled over 50 self care tips from therapist across the world.   Click here to read Jodie’s post.

As you consider what types of self care strategies you would like to try, it may also be helpful to take a look at my post about Refining Your Approach to Self Care.  That post included a list of reflection questions to help individuals assess their strengths and growth areas in their current approach to self care.

What are your favorite self care activities?   Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments area below.

Ready, Set, Take Care of YOU!

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About Sarah:

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MN #1771).  I have experience working with children, adolescents, adults and families.  I have provided individual, family and group therapy for people who have experienced depression, anxiety, abuse, struggles with relationships and difficulty               managing anger.

I have extensive experience working with individuals who have been involved with the child protection and juvenile justice systems. A primary emphasis of my work has been in working with children and adolescents who have been affected by sexual abuse.

I tailor  my therapy approach to the needs of each individual client or family.

I am a wife and mother of two young children.   My family owns a lively dog.   In my free time I enjoy playing with my children, going for walks with my family, traveling, reading and watching movies.

Contact Sarah at 952-457-2322 or Sarah@SarahLeitschuhCounseling.com

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.