Partners, here's how you can help your breastfeeding moms

Partners that don't do the feeding can feel useless, silly, and like they're missing out on valuable bonding time. Moments of clusterfeeds feel never ending, but you can be a part of the process. In fact you are important.

Below are some tips, for romantic or non-romantic partners, on how to support your busy partner (breastfeeding is hard work) and get some bonding time of your own.

Partners, you are a vital part of the nursing process. Your support can affect positive nursing outcomes!!

Hydration

You know those Big Gulp cups from the gas station? Fill one of those up with water. Put it within reach. She will thank you. Seriously, SO PARCHING to breastfeed. (Is that a word?)

Snacks, snacks, snacks

Dehydrated string beans, Peanut M&Ms, apple slices, pizza, bagels, meatballs, the list could go on. Cravings do not subside for nursing moms. Some even claim the cravings are more intense! So break out the bag of Cheetos and pair it with some pepper slices.

Burp & change baby

This is your moment to be the burp expert and the speedy diaper changer. Your newborn might even still be alert and thus, you'll get some beautiful face time.

Skin to skin isn't just for breastfeeding

All baby needs is to be in a diaper. Non-breastfeeding partner, you can take off your shirt or open your shirt and place baby on your chest. Make sure to cover baby in a blanket so he or she is warm. Soak in all those baby smells and noises. And they will do the same for you! Skin to skin helps regulate babies warmth, calm them, and get them used to being on the outside of the womb.

Baby transport

If it is the middle of the night and mom needs to feed the baby (which is often and for a long time usually), get the baby, change the baby after feeding, and lay the baby back down. You can very much be a part of this process! Leaving your partner to do all the night wakings is lonely business.

Honor her space

Nursing is hard work. Anyone who is working hard might want accompaniment or to be left alone. Find out what your partner wants and then honor that. This is usually best discovered by talking and not trying to read minds!

Depending on how old baby is, partners can begin to feed baby from a bottle occasionally (the recommendation is around 6 weeks and to pace bottle feed). Until then, send this blog to an expecting partner and get the conversation started!

Breastfeeding Cincinnati

The New Overwhelming Anxiety of Being a Mother

Anxiety for me personally began as a whisper after Ivy was born. While she slept, I wondered “Is she breathing?” and “If she is on her back and spits up, will she choke? Will I wake up to hear her?”

I spent feverish hours online scouring message boards and WebMD. I texted friends and took videos in case I needed to show the doctor.

Then one night turned into two, three, a week, a month, many months of worries accumulating. Worries about sleeping, nutrition, cognitive development. I read books, but all of the books said things that didn't match. In fact, it seemed that expert advice varied so much that people could just find any doctor to rationalize their own choices.

It occured to me that this was a mood disorder. I had anxiety.

As a postpartum doula, I know the importance of identifying these mood disorders early and often, but not everyone hires a doula, so I want to empower you to know the signs.

Three different postpartum mood disorders

Depression

Excessive crying, overwhelming fatigue but inability to sleep, severe mood swings, hopelessness, recurring thoughts of death, intense feelings of inadequacy, and withdrawn behavior. You don't have to display all of these to be depressed.

Anxiety

Inability to relax or sleep, nausea and dizziness, feelings of dress that something bad will happen to the baby. Again, you don't have to display all of these to have anxiety.

OCD

Intrusive and repetitive thoughts or images of something happening to the baby--it’s almost like anxiety but on repeat. That is the important difference between anxiety and OCD, because the two can seem similar, the feelings of horror becoming obsessive.

Many woman (and men too!!) have experienced mood disorders, but fewer report them, so giving you a statistic wouldn't be accurate or helpful. Even fewer dads report mood disorders.

So let me specify that this is different than Baby Blues that happen pretty soon after birth. Hormones take a little while to level out and while that happens, moms experience bouts of crying for no reason, joy, sorrow-- all of the feels rapidly changing. When these feelings take root is when they become a disorder.

Overall, it is harder becoming a mother than anyone is able to tell you and sometimes the anxiety doesn't go away.

There's no way to prepare a person for the emotional transition of motherhood. The most common unsolicited advice a pregnant mother will get, is to enjoy her sleep while she can. And while that's partially true-- there's more helpful advice we can circulate.

Some things that will absolutely help after baby is born is sleep, nutrition, and support. SNS!!!

But more importantly, that fear we have for our children doesn't go away just because we take a little Zoloft and/or exercise more.

As parents we may always live with the low functioning worry that potential harm could come to our kids. For some this stays until we grow old. Why? I'm no expert, but as soon as a baby is born, death is also born.

Coming to terms with this is a very difficult thing to do, but we are all experiencing this together.

In the meantime, here’s how to manage the low level anxiety of being a mom:

Don't go down the rabbit hole of internet searches.

This has never ever made anyone feel better. Ever.

Don't act on fear. Talk through it.

With a doctor, your spouse, your parents. Whoever.

Have a good support system.

Go join my Facebook Mom group! (Search What about Mom?!?) Or join any other Facebook group that welcomes you in with judgement free support.

Just know you're not alone, really.

Postpartum