motherhood, Postpartum

What You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom

Myths About Motherhood

There’s a big difference between sound advice and things say to a new mom that actually can end up being harmful.

stop saying to new moms pin.png

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Stop Being a Fixer

Women are fixers, right? So we love to find something encouraging to say- something to make things more rosey. More than that, we feel like we have to have something to say. This is why so many people want to find the right things to say to a new mom. The idea of just letting another woman sit in discomfort and uncertainty- it’s maddening. This is probably the reason why so many things get passed on to new moms that are not always true and often not helpful.

Intentions are good, the result isn’t always. These words of wisdom or encouragement are often taken as expectations and norms and when they don’t pan out, a new mom is left feeling defeated and often like she has done something wrong. Being a new mom is full of transitions and emotions. The last thing we need is for a new mom to feel defeated and like she has done something wrong… can we agree on that?

Sound Advice or Harmful Myths?

From my own experience, and the conversations with clients and friends, I’m breaking down 5 Unhelpful Things We Say to New Moms. I’ll share why these are unhelpful and even offer an alternative way to approach the topic.

There’s a big difference between sound advice and things we pass down to new moms that actually can end up being harmful.

If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

Don’t Say to a New Mom: You Will Lose the Baby Weight from Breastfeeding

do you lose weight from breastfeeding

There’s no doubt about it, breastfeeding burns calories. Whether you’re directly nursing or pumping, your body is doing a lot of work preparing that food! However, breastfeeding is not the only factor when it comes to postpartum weight. Experiences are different for everyone. It’s truly unfair to tell someone to breastfeed to lose weight.

  1. It doesn’t work that way. There are a plethora of other factors that go into weight change in postpartum. Also, some bodies see the biggest change when they wean. Even Serena Williams discusses in this article how she didn’t lose weight until she weaned. This is not a reason TO breastfeed or TO STOP. The overall theme is that bodies are different: body composition, stress, hormones, sleep, genetics… they all play a part. If someone says breastfeeding melted their baby weight off, she’s probably neglecting to realize there were other factors at play.

  2. Even saying this deduces the role of both breastfeeding and postpartum recovery. Breastfeeding can be an amazing experience for women who chose to do so, but there are reasons way beyond weight. Losing weight is also not the overall goal of postpartum recovery, just as a reminder.

Don’t Say to a New Mom: PMADs Only Show Up in the First Few Weeks

At your 4-8 week (average 6) postpartum checkup, you’ll most likely be given an Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale. This will have a series of questions to screen you for Postpartum Depression. While this is a good resource and step, this cannot be our main indicator of needing help with postpartum mood disorders. First, there are a number of postpartum mood disorders that may not be caught by this screening. Secondly, symptoms present themselves in different ways and at different times than we often anticipate.

Postpartum Mood Disorders can be sadness, lack of motivation, wanting to stay in bed, etc., but that is just one picture. It may also be heightened anxiety, becoming OCD, birth trauma PTSD,  having bi-polar episodes, rage, and more. These things do not just happen in the first weeks. In fact, according to Americanpregnancy.org, symptoms can start to show as late a one full year after delivery.

Some women fear to acknowledge their postpartum symptoms thinking that treatment would require them to stop breastfeeding. There are some risks, but overall research has shown the benefits outweigh the risks. You can read more about this here.

postpartum depression and anxiety can show up a year after birth

Don’t Say to a New Mom: It’s Love at First Sight

“You’re just going to fall in love as soon as you see him!” This phrase, while rooted in good intentions, can be very damaging. After the challenges of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, a mom feels things she never has before. Her body, her mind, her emotions have all taken a wild ride. Perhaps she’s exhausted. Perhaps she’s facing trauma. Perhaps she’s not sure how to handle the way life just changed forever. Perhaps she’s coming off of meds and feeling foggy. Perhaps she is feeling overwhelmed with emotions she can’t describe.

Perhaps she doesn’t feel love at first sight. Perhaps she isn’t smitten and giddy. Maybe she, understandably and rightfully, feels any other emotion. What then? Guilt. She feels guilty because she was told that she’d have this instant overcoming of love and if she’s not feeling that right away, she feels like she has missed the mark as a mom right from the start.

She’s not a bad mom.
She hasn’t done anything wrong.
She does and will love this baby deeply… but it may not be her first thought and experience and we have to be there to show up for her in that.
(Momma- if you’ve been carrying guilt about this, let it gooooo. You have a reason for whatever feelings and thoughts you had in those moments, and they do not define you as a mother. Feeling instant love doesn’t make you a better mom than someone who takes some time to transition into it.)

RELATED: Where We Learn about Postpartum

Don’t say to a New Mom: Breastfeeding Won’t Hurt

Seriously. Why are people still saying this? Your nipples- skin, ducts, and tissue- usually aren’t pulled, chomped, sucked four hours a day. Breastfeeding turns that all upside down when a little human who can hardly see and has no practice, starts to pull milk out of those nipples multiple times a day. There is no other part of our body that goes relatively “unused” for years and then, in an instant, becomes arguably the most used part of the body. Anything with that drastic of change is probably going to hurt.

Hear me out- I’m not saying it should be longstanding, crippling pain. There is a good reason for lactation consultants and they can help you to improve the teamwork of you and your baby- but overall, you’re probably going to have some pain. When anyone says breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, I wonder how they define hurt. My son was considered a “great” eater with no tongue tie or lip tie and learned a great latch, but for a while, I was still digging my toes into the carpet at the thought of feeding. I was lathering up the lanolin, coconut oil, and whatever cream I could get my hands on and yet my chest was raw and painful for weeks. Did it get better, yep! We got to the point where there wasn’t pain or anxiety involved but I would never tell a new mom it won’t hurt.

RELATED: The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class (eCourse)

Don’t Say to a New Mom: A Baby is Great for Your Marriage

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Marriage is tough. If you’ve been married for a few hours or more, you probably would agree. I love marriage but it’s the hardest thing I’ve done. I’ve heard people say that a baby will “Be great for your marriage” or “Bring you closer together.” Do you know what doesn’t really help something that’s rocky? An avalanche. I am head over heels for my kids, but I have no problem describing them as avalanches.

Kids come in and turn everything upside down. With them, they bring sleep-deprivation and high physical, mental and emotional needs. If you’re struggling to connect with your partner, a 2 am tiff over who is going to wash the sheets that have been shit and puked on probably isn’t going to turn things into roses.

There’s something incredible about seeing your partner turn into a parent. There are a lot of skills you learn in connecting in shorter time frames and being more creative about how to show your love. However, I would never prescribe a baby as a remedy for marriage woes. Improve as much of your relationship as you can before adding a baby in. Obviously, it’s never going to be perfect but again, don’t count on a baby to “fix” things. It’s both inaccurate and unfair.

Listening Ear Without Judgement Matters

Ladies, (I’m talking about the older generations and the current young moms) we owe it to one another to get real and gritty about motherhood- and to stand by one another in the awkward moments of uncertainty. Sometimes a fix isn’t the answer, but a listening ear without judgment is. If you don’t have something helpful to say, that’s okay. Just be there. No words are better than well-intentioned words that could set your friend up for failure.

If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

Pumping

Hands-Free Pumping: Tips to Make it Easier

Pumping with the Medela Freestyle

This post is written in partnership with Medela who sent me a breast pump in exchange for my opinion and experience with hands-free pumping. My blog contains only my honest opinions. This post may contain affiliate links for related products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for products purchased through the link.

review of medela freestyle pump

Exclusively Pumping and My Breaking Point

“I’m not sure how long I can do this- plugged into the wall multiple times a day while trying to keep the kids safe and occupied.” Tears streamed down my face when I broke down to my husband. When we figured out that direct breastfeeding was not an option for her, the world of exclusively pumping entered my life. Exclusively pumping turned out to be more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I felt torn about breastfeeding. While I wanted to provide my daughter with breastmilk to the best of my ability, I also didn’t want to sacrifice our time together and my own mental state. There had to be a way to make it more manageable and enjoyable. Sure, I already had a hands-free pumping bra, but still, I needed to be mobile to keep up with my kids.

Breastmilk Isn’t Free

Whether you pump full time or part-time, you know the breastmilk you provide isn’t “free.
It’s comes from:

  • Hours of planning, washing, feeding, packing, and pumping.
  • Remembering to have all of your parts if you’re leaving home.
  • Choosing your clothing carefully and timing your outings accordingly.
  • Using your work break or child’s naptime to pump.
  • Taking care of each precious ounce and explaining to caretakers how to do the same.

    It’s a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work to make it more manageable and enjoyable for ourselves and other moms.

At first, I didn’t even know mobile pumping was an option. I assumed, like many women, that a pump needs to be big, bulky, and attached to the wall. So, I calculated 15-20 minutes for each feeding I was pumping for and saw myself losing independence and precious time with my kids. The more I learned, the more I was relieved. With a little digging, I found that companies like Medela are empowering moms through their pumping journeys.

I Needed Hands-Free Pumping for my Sanity

hard to pump with a baby and toddler at home

We all hit a point where we know we have to have something to help us continue the pumping journey. For me, it was my daughter’s surgery date approaching and knowing we would be in the hospital for a week or so. I needed mobility so I could be present for every doctor coming into the room. I needed to be able to multi-task effectively.

Enter the Medela Freestyle into my pumping story. Medela is a name I already trusted. Their Pump In Style is the first pump I used and the Symphony got me through our NICU stay. Not only that, but I was already using a number of pumping and feeding accessories from Medela, so it was a natural fit.

medela free style breast pump review

Questions about Hands-Free Pumping

Prior to its arrival, I had a few questions:
Would the battery life be too short?
Is the suction be comparable to my larger pump?
Would it be too bulky to actually carry around with ease?

As soon as it arrived, I was quick to test it. Setting it up was easy (thank goodness because I am not a fan of multi-step instruction manuals!)

Now I can often be found tucking or clipping the pump into my back pocket as I go about my day (yes, it’s small enough!)

My output in a pumping session is equivalent to my larger pump (and sometimes I get more out of a pumping session because I don’t have to stop to get up and chase a toddler then try to reconnect.)

The adjustable suction is great for women who are used to direct feeding or women who are more regularly using the pump.

The battery lasts me 3 days on average (using it multiple times a day) and the recharge is quick between pumps.

Multi-Tasking with Hands-Free Pumping

Fast forward to pumping while cooking, cleaning, and pushing my toddler on the swing. These days include pumping as I am getting the kids ready in the morning and cleaning up in the evenings. Do the kids want to go to the park or meet up with friends? It’s not a problem because I don’t have to be back in 3-4 hours just to pump. It’s not perfect- pumping is a labor of time and energy and organization, but being mobile while pumping sure does beat being stuck to the wall. I have pumped in the car, on a walk, in our backyard, at the hospital, at family gatherings, and all without being confined to the wall.

RELATED: Making Exclusive Pumping Easier

Tips for Success with Hands-Free Pumping

how to breast pump on the go
  1. Mobility

    When new moms ask me how to successfully breast pump for an extended time, my top answer is mobility. Being tied to the wall and having time “sucked” out of me quickly started to make me feel discouraged and resentful. Pumping felt like a full-time job and I struggled thinking about what I was missing out on by being tied to the pump. The shift to mobile pumping not only was a physical shift but a mental and emotional one too. No longer does pumping taking away from my time with my family. It no longer keeps me stuck on the couch. No longer does it control the timeline of my day.

  2. Support

While mobility has been the top factor for me in overcoming pumping struggles, the second biggest factor is support. We get tired. We get frustrated and have dips in supply. Sometimes we feel “pumped out.” There’s no ideal amount of time to pump, but at any point, support can make all of the difference. Need to track your pumping time or volume? My Medela App gives you a way to keep tabs on it all from your phone. And when you need to troubleshoot or hear from others? Mom’s Room Breastfeeding Support creates a safe space for you.

If you’re a pumping mom- whether exclusively or partially, find ways to make it mobile for you. There are numerous resources and products designed just for this. We reduce the stigma and educate others on their options by finding ways to make it work for us, uniquely. Find your way and be proud of the commitment you’re making! You’re a great mom. Are you pumping and traveling? Pumping on the go? I took the work out of packing your bag with this Free Pump and Travel Checklist.