motherhood, Postpartum

Mom Guilt: Why it’s Bullsh*t and How to Give it the Middle Finger

When you bring up the term “mom guilt” women will open up about their story: Working mom guilt, stay at home mom guilt, single mom guilt, daycare guilt, household guilt.

There are so many things we can feel guilty about as new moms.

Today we’re talking more about this guilt. We’ll discuss where it comes from and how we can work to overcome mom guilt so that we can be more present and confident in motherhood.

Watch it:

Read it: The transcript

Hello and welcome back to that Taboo ABCs of Postpartum!

G is for guilt and we are talking about working mom guilt stay at home mom guilt, bottle feeding guilt, nursing guilt, introverted mom guilt extroverted mom guilt…
You guys, there are so many freaking ways to feel mom guilt.

Many New Moms Feel Guilt

Every single time I talk to a new mom, I hear the word guilty. I feel guilty that ______. Go ahead, fill in the blank for yourself. And then we’re going to talk about what to do with this guilt, why we have mom guilt, and how we can overcome it so that we can be more confident and connected in our own motherhood journey. Guilt takes an even bigger toll for many in the family situations during COVID.

For those of you tuning in for the first time, my name is Chelsea Skaggs, I am the founder of postpartum together where we work to help women overcome the pressure to be Pinterest perfect, and to find more confidence, connection and communication and just some freakin joy in their journey, I focus on working with women between three to 10-ish months after baby because listen, as the fog starts to lift, that’s when we have all of these feelings and thoughts and ideas, processing all the changes. And it’s the perfect time to figure out how we move forward as women as moms and all the things that make up our identity.

So today we’re talking about guilt and I want to share with you some of the things I have heard from my clients recently.

As a Mom, I feel guilty about:

-how I’m feeding my baby

– The way I birthed my baby

-Amount of time I do or don’t spend with my baby

– I feel guilty for not giving enough of myself to my partner

-Not being social enough

-Because my house isn’t cleaned

– For wanting any space to myself and to get away from my family.

All right, so if you’ve ever thought any of those thoughts, listen, you’re not alone. Because these are all things that I have heard from moms just like you recently.

 

 
Tips for getting rid of mom guilt

4 Ways to Get Rid of Mom Guilt

So let’s talk about four ways to get rid of mom guilt. Because sister it’s not looking good on you. Just kidding, I just want you to be feeling confident. I want you to feel like you are not behind, to feel like you don’t have to live in the world of shoulds and guilts. And I want you to feel that you can be connected and competent in your way of motherhood.

1. Teach your support people how you need to be affirmed and cared for.

Maybe it’s that you need someone to notice that the house is clean. Alright, we are going to have to teach our support people to say that or to acknowledge that if that is what makes us feel fulfilled and not feel guilty. Maybe it is that we are feeding in a different way than we expected to talk to your support people about how difficult that is for you. If it’s difficult if you’re feeling guilt, acknowledge it, talk about it and make a space to say hey, this is actually what I need to help me come back this guilt so we are teaching the people around us how to better support us because the chances are they want to support us.

2. Take a break from the things that make you feel shitty, and cause comparison.

This is often social media or magazines or that trashy ass reality show that you find yourself watching. If you are feeling this ongoing comparison it can sound many ways. Like you just can’t keep up with this person or she can do it so easily, or look how good she looks, her house looks, or her kids look then it’s causing you some stress and comparison. This then piles right into the feelings of guilt that you have because you’re shaming yourself and listen, you can step away, you can turn it off, you can take a break, you can mute whatever it is that you need to serve you so that you’re not drowning in this pile of guilt.

3. Honestly reflect on each day and celebrate one win when we are in the throes of postpartum

When the days are blurring together, we’re hardly getting a chance to shower. Whatever that looks like for you in those early days, it can be hard to feel like we have done enough or done good enough.

Maybe it’s when you’re returning to work or you’re getting into the stay at home rhythm or you are you know figuring out what you’re doing. Social life and friendship and relationships can be tough in this season. It’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough because again, that comparison game tells us that other people are doing it better, they’re doing it more, they’re doing it easier, like they are winning and we are losing. And that makes us feel guilt for not being good enough. So I want you to take time to reflect each day on one win that you’ve had. And listen, if you’ve had one win, that is a day worth celebrating.

4. Schedule five to 10 minutes a day to think or feel for yourself about yourself.

Do this so that you can be proactive in your brain, reminding yourself and affirming yourself. Know that you are not dictated by the comparison outside or by what other people think or what other people are doing, but spend that time with you.

Is the Mom Guilt Helpful?

Here’s the question I want to leave you with:
-What guilt am I carrying that isn’t helping me, my baby or my family?
-Next, how will I process that and let it go so that it doesn’t have a hold on me?
This takes work, intention and practice.

And if you’re looking for a safe space, to process out all the changes of postpartum to put tools and resources into place to have accountability to have connection we are here for it. Check out our next postpartum together small group offerings at postpartumtogether.com/groupcoaching and make sure that you subscribe to this channel (and blog) so that you can get the next videos in the taboo ABCs of postpartum series.

Postpartum, Pumping

Boost Milk Supply: 5 Ways to Make More Breastmilk and Feed Your Baby

manual breast pump for better milk supply

As a new mom, one thing I found myself feeling stressed about often was breast milk supply. I was constantly looking for ways to boost breast milk supply. There is a lot of pressure on new moms when it comes to breastfeeding choices. From “Fed is best” campaigns and “Is she breastfeeding?” as a question that comes up more times than you can count in the first few months, a lot of moms carry heavy feelings around breastfeeding and their breast milk supply.

Wondering about the safety of drinking while breastfeeding? Learn more from my post on the Zulily Blog here.

At Postpartum Together, we believe there is no perfect way to feed a baby. We encourage you to find the way that works for you and we support your choices to honor yourself and your baby. If you find that using breast milk is what works best for you and your family, these tips are for you. If you decide that breastfeeding is taking a mental and emotional toll on you, we encourage you to evaluate other ways of feeding (Formula is not a bad word!)

Like every part of motherhood, what works for one mom may or may not work for another. Our bodies are different. We produce breastmilk differently and respond to supplements differently. For example, some women swear by Fenugreek to boost milk supply, while others experience a decrease in milk supply from the supplement Fenugreek.

Tracking Your Breast Milk Output as you Boost Milk Supply:

One way to evaluate whether the methods are working is to measure your breast milk output. For many women, though, this is very stressful. If you are directly nursing, you can watch feeding times and windows between feeds to see if baby seems satisfied and full. If you are pumping, you can measure the ounces during each session. Remember, though, your worth is not measured in ounces! If you are pumping, a favorite tip of mine is to put a sock over the bottles so you are not constantly watching the measurement on the bottle. That kind of stress does not help anyone!

5 Tips That Can Help You Boost Low Breast Milk Supply

 1. Lots of water

When you are making milk and liquid is leaving your body, you need to be putting that hydration back into your body! Many new moms find themselves struggling to get in enough water due to the busyness of the days. Make a commitment to drinking more water- aim for at least ½ of your weight in ounces (and then some). In one of my recent New Mom Growth and Empowerment Groups with Postpartum Together, all the moms ended up with this huge water bottle to keep them on track!

2. Feed/Pump during the morning (between 1-5am)

Your body tends to produce the most during the 1-5am hours. Many women do not take advantage of this time because, well, it is early and inconvenient. However, if you are looking to increase your output to build a freezer stash or plan for the day ahead, an early pump session can be very beneficial. If you plan to go back to sleep after this session, keep the lights low and do not spend the time on your phone so that it is easier to fall back asleep.  If you are getting up at 4 or 5am and staying up for the day, get to bed early enough!

3. Lactation Cookies

You do not have to convince me to try cookies for helping anything. So when I learned about lactation cookies, it was a no-brainer. Popular lactation cookie recipes are heavy on the oats which are galactagogues. Some also include brewers years, another galactagogue many believe increases milk production. If you want to skip the baking you can send the recipe to a friend or family member when they ask “What do you need?” or you can buy them pre-made. (I never used pre-made so I cannot recommend a brand or type, but I can say that the ones I made myself were heavy on the chocolate chips because… why not!?) Here is one of my favorite cookbooks for breastfeeding (or not!) mamas. It’s a must!

4. Dark stout beer

Want to learn more about the safety of alcohol while breastfeeding, learn more from my piece on the Zulily Blog here.

Some research links lower cognition to alcohol usage, though the usage researched is typically numerous drinks. Dark malty or stout beers have galactogogues and for many, increase milk production when used in moderation (1 drink).  Personally, I had one dark stout beer right after a pumping or feeding session and could see the output increase in the following sessions. These types of beers have the same components as oatmeal and brewer’s yeast and so it makes sense it would have the same impact. Drinking out of moderation can have a number of negative effects, so keep to a moderate amount.

5. Power pumping session

In order for the body to make milk, it needs to be told that milk is needed. When we want to increase milk output, we can increase the “request” we make on the body. Power pumping is a way to tell the body that more is needed. It is not something you make a long-term habit, but something you do for a couple of days. Whether you are exclusively nursing, exclusively breastfeeding or a combination, power pumping can be a helpful way to stimulate your breasts for more milk.

Example Power Pumping Schedule:

-Pump 20 minutes

-Rest 10 mintues

-Pump 10 minutes

-Rest 10 minutes

-Pump 10 minutes

Do this 1-2 times a day for a day or two to give your breasts a “make more” signal.

Tips for power pumping

1. Don’t sit and watch the ounces. Use a sock to cover the bottle and do not take it off until your session is complete

2. Drink lots of water

3. Do something to relax

4. Do a warm compress and/or massage before starting.

Related: Maximize your pumping output

Do You Really Need to Increase My Supply?

When you are looking to increase your breastmilk supply, ask yourself why you are doing so.
Are you feeling pressure to have a huge freezer stash?
Are you truly not making enough milk and want to try to produce more?
Are you afraid of supplementing with or using formula? Why?

Remember every body is different. Milk production looks different for every mom. Your worth is not measured in ounces. Your mental and emotional wellness is necessary.

Wondering about the safety of drinking while breastfeeding? Learn more from my post on the Zulily Blog here.

Birth, pregnancy

First Trimester: How to Handle it and What To Do

Maybe it was feeling morning sickness or perhaps you missed your period. Maybe you just felt different and thought to take a pregnancy test. No matter how you learned you were pregnant, the realization makes you think about all the things to do in the first trimester. Let’s not forget, all the things to avoid during the first trimester.

I’m not going to give you a lecture or 20-point to do list, but let’s talk about how you can start taking care of yourself and that growing baby in the first trimester weeks.

To learn more about the first trimester timeline and baby’s development, check out my post on the Zulily Blog about Baby Development During the First Trimester.

Pregnancy Trimesters

There are 3 trimesters in pregnancy and a “fourth trimester” which describes the first 3 months after you have your baby. The weeks of the pregnancy trimesters are:

First trimester: 0-13 weeks

Second trimester: 14-26 weeks

Third trimester: 27-40 weeks

The first trimester may not look like a lot of change on the outside, but a lot is happening as baby grows and your body changes to take care of your new baby.

What do I Need to Do in the First Trimester?

Enjoy your cravings and also work in nutritious choices.

It can be fun and curious when you have strange cravings. I first thought I might be pregnant when I came home from work and put hot sauce on a spoonful of peanut butter. Yep, pregnant. I also tried to make a salt and vinegar ice cream. That did not work very well. Enjoy those cravings and have fun with it! When it comes to working in nutrition choices during the first trimester, work in vegetables, fruits, fibers and lean meats if you consume meat.

Avoid fish high in mercury, don’t eat cat litter (but really let someone else handle the cat litter) and stay away from anything that you think could give you an infection from being uncooked or unpasteurized. It is also wise to try to cut back on caffeine. This can be hard since you may be feeling so tired, but work to reduce intake. This is also a good time to start prenatal vitamins and folic acid. First trimester sickness (morning sickness but it can hit at anytime of the day!) can make it hard to eat and drink enough, so keep some healthy snacks and water nearby at all times (this is a water bottle that I happen to love). Oh and stop any tobacco, alcohol or drug usage. If you need help stopping, find a program nearby to assist you (getting help is always better than suffering alone!).

Find a trusted provider

Your pregnancy and birth team is very important. If you do not have a trusting relationship with your current provider, it is okay to switch to someone that makes you feel more confident. Find a provider that will listen to you, has an approach to pregnancy and birth that you align with, and will help you understand all the changes and choices you will experience. If you have a history of anxiety or depression, or are feeling depressed during pregnancy, ensure that you have a good relationship with your provider and can bring these things up.

Give yourself permission to rest

Chances are you will feel fatigue throughout pregnancy, but it can be most evident in the first trimester. While you are cutting back on caffeine, you can also be adding in rest. Let go of something on your to-do list and add in a nap. Communicate with your partner (if applicable) that all the hormone and body changes mean you need more rest.

Protect yourself from getting overwhelmed by comparison

It can feel like there are hundreds of things to do after you find out you are pregnant. You may get tempted to download every app and join every Facebook group. Figure out what makes you feel seen and connected and identify anything that traps you in comparison. If you love bump pics and fruit sizes, great, but if you do not, that is okay too.

You do not have to do everything possible to have a good and loving pregnancy. Check out our free Facebook group for the space you need for REAL talk about postpartum- preparation, education, advocacy, communication, connection. We help you prepare for life after baby and support you through the first year with resources, small group coaching, 1-on-1 consults, courses

Plan your parental leave

Start to explore parental leave at your place of work and your partner’s place of work. Look into your contract and any HR policies to see what will be available to you. Plan accordingly so that you are able to have a leave.

Related: Communication after baby

Should I Announce My Pregnancy in the First Trimester?

Deciding if and when to announce your pregnancy is a very personal choice. Some people will tell you that you HAVE to wait until after 12 weeks, when the risk of miscarriage declines. You do not have to wait. It can be very valuable to have people in your corner no matter what the outcome of your pregnancy is- we need community in our joy and in our pain.

Some people will tell you to announce right away and make it big. You do not have to do that either. If you want to keep your pregnancy intimate, that is totally fine.

If you and your partner do not agree on when to disclose your pregnancy, spend time communicating, discussing your values, and working to find a compromise. Sometimes an outside counselor or trusted friend can be a good third party to help you talk through it.

Related: Communication after baby

woman looks for a doctor during the first trimester

Preparing for Birth and Postpartum

When you find out you are expecting, you want to think about birth preparation and postpartum preparation. Birth preparation includes your preferences for how and where you birth. Postpartum preparation includes setting yourself up for success with life after baby and the transition home and beyond.

Birth prep can be completed via an online course like Birth It Up or at your hospital or through a local birth educator.

Postpartum prep is more difficult to find. At Postpartum Together, we offer an eCourse paired with a small group to guide you through making a postpartum plan so that you and your partner can be prepared for bringing home baby, having support, staying connected in your relationship and more.

Everyone has their own idea of first trimester tips. Prioritize taking good care of yourself, getting in tune with your body, establishing important relationships with your support team and learning about the changes happening in you and your baby.

making a plan for postpartum
motherhood, Postpartum

Friendship After Baby: Making and Keeping Mom Friends

The Ins and Outs of Friendship After Baby

Friendship after baby can be full of new emotions, conversations, and priorities. When you are parenting a newborn, you need different kinds of friends to support you. Making and keeping mom friends almost feels like dating. Below we discuss the ways friendships change after baby and making friends as a new mom.

Watch the video and read the transcript below!

Looking for a place where other moms GET YOU? Check out the group offerings we have coming up and find the group that best fits your needs- automatic mom friends!

Video Transcript:

In the taboo ABCs of postpartum, F is for friendship. Friendship can feel so different after baby.

Maybe you’re asking yourself if your friendships are going to change or if it’s normal for new friends to come? And how do you even make new friends as a new mom? And what to expect from some of your old friends after baby? There are so many different parts to this:
-How we make new mom friends
-What kind of friends we need
-How this looks different after baby?
How do we expect our existing friends to show up for us how our friends can help us after baby?
What it’s like to have friends with babies themselves and with friends who don’t have babies?

Factors that Impact Your Friendship After Baby

So we are looking at all these different changes in friendship after baby. When it comes to your pre-baby friends, there are some questions that you’re probably going to ask yoursel
Do you still have common interests?
Are you able to align your schedules?
Are you able to enter some of the places that you overlap to maybe that was your work friends, or you’re going out friends or a hobby friends?
And do you maybe have the same kind of approach and values and styles?

And when you become a mom, you’re likely going to make new friends. This might be because your children are the same age or maybe you’re running in a similar circle. Maybe it’s a playgroup, maybe it’s a hobby group, maybe it is work or a daycare setting, you might be making a new friend, because you have a similar parenting style. And maybe because you have some common interests.

Loneliness as a New Mom

I hear from a lot of moms that they didn’t expect it to feel this lonely, you feel like you’re the only one struggling with something. Maybe you’re trying to keep up with so much and there are all these different changes. Friendships after baby can be more difficult, but they’re also still extremely important. I encourage my mom clients to ask yourself a few things.

What is making you feel disconnected from some of your existing friendships? Or from making new friendships? Is it a fear? Is it a lack of confidence that you have in your new mothering style is it because you’re not identifying with hobbies or interests that you used to? Are there some things that are being said that might feel triggering and disconnecting for you?

Related: Postpartum depression and anxiety stories

There are a lot of different kinds of friends that we need when we’re new moms. And I want to give you a couple examples of those.

Examples of Mom Friend Types After Babyfriendships after baby

The Listener Mom Friend

The person that you can call up whenever, however, you need to show up and they’re just going to listen, you may need the wisdom friend, this is the person who probably already has kids. Maybe they’re a little older or they are in a stage that’s a few months or years ahead and they can be the person to help you gain that wisdom and feel comfortable and confident.

The Keep It Real Mom Friend

You need that keep it real friend, the friend that you can talk to about anything, nothing’s off the table. Nothing is too taboo

The Nurturing Mom Friend

You need the nurturer friend. This is the person you can turn to when you just feel heavy and hard and you need someone to wrap you up in some love and encouragement and be nurtured.

The Advocate Mom Friend

You need the advocate friends, that friend who is going to help you to find your voice and use your voice and be your own advocate.

The Cheerleader Mom Friend

You need the cheerleader, the one who reminds you that even when it’s really hard, you can do this.

The Fun Mom Friend

The Things in Common Mom Friend

New Mom Groups: Find Your New Mom Friends Here

Looking for a place where other moms GET YOU? Check out the group offerings we have coming up and find the group that best fits your needs- automatic mom friends!

motherhood

Invisible Load of Motherhood During the Holidays

As a mom, you want to enjoy the holidays. You also want everyone else to enjoy the holidays and you feel responsible for making that happen. But there is this invisible load of motherhood lingering in the midst of the holiday cheer.

You:
-Do most of the planning.

-Find the perfect gifts for your children.

-Decorate the house for added joy.

-Outline the menu and coordinate the gatherings.

-Hide the gifts and wrap them during those scarce moments when the kids are asleep.

You carry the holiday invisible load and it can be heavy. 

This piece is written in conjunction with Zulily’s ode to Mrs. Claus. Read the open letter to moms this season and sign the change.org petition!

In 2020, you have additional factors of

  •  A world pandemic

  • Months of isolation

  • Modified activity options

  • Lack of childcare

  • Additional schooling responsibilities

  • Changed work culture.

**Let’s stop for a deep breath together because this is a lot.**

The text from grandparents and aunts come in:

What would Elizabeth like for Christmas?
Will we gather for the candle lightings each night or are we using Zoom to celebrate Kwanzaa?
Who will get together for the Thanksgiving feast?

When you’re already experiencing stress and anxiety, each text or phone call can feel like another layer bogging you down. If you feel overwhelmed from the holidays, it can be easy to lose the joy you want to experience.

The Pressure of “Supermom” During the Holidays

The holidays were meant to be a time of celebration, closeness, and laughter and for many moms, the pressure to be “Supermom” through the holidays is a breaking point. Supermom, this illusional character many moms hold in their minds, tells us that we are not doing enough. She tells us that we need to work harder. Do more. Produce more. She tells us that a holiday is not fulfilling for our children without crafts, decorations, gifts, meals, traditions, pictures, and themed-activities. Supermom tells us that we are responsible for doing and being all of this and carrying the checklist in our minds. She tells us that if we sleep or rest or take a moment to breathe, we are failing our children and families.

Related: Myths About Motherhood

How did we get the supermom illusion? How does it impact the invisible load of motherhood?

The Supermom is like a modern-day “Keeping up with the Joneses” story. It is not new and not new to moms, but the way we experience it is different and in many ways a strong force than before.

People “Kept up with the Joneses” by having a well-manicured yard and a nice car. You worked to maintain an image from the outside. It was a family affair.

Now, the super mom illusion requires you to go deeper, go inside, go public. The supermom illusion is present in movies and TV shows, on social media and mom blogs, and beyond. There are endless opportunities to compare, to judge yourself, and to think about MORE to do and be as a mom.
Here’s how we often experience it:

The Supermom Puzzle Theory:

Jane sees 5 different moms on social media today

-#1 is gifted in crafts and shares super-cute crafts she does with her kids
-#2 is an amazing cook and highlights her family meals
-#3 is a fitness expert and coordinates workouts with her toddlers
-#4 is great with organization and interior design and her house always looks like a magazine
-#5 is a make-up and style guru and always looks so put together

Jane, the one taking in these images and words, sees these moms and puts each together like pieces of a puzzle. This puzzle is the image of a “Supermom” that Jane sees and expects of herself. She does not realize in that moment that each mom is only highlighting one expert area of her life and does not show all the other aspects. Jane feels like she needs to be the culmination of all of these moms in order to be a “good mom.”

The Impact of The Invisible Load of Motherhood on Moms

During the holidays, the supermom becomes the mom who creates picture-perfect memories for her family. Many women take on this stress by worrying about creating a great holiday for her family. According to recent research conducted by Zulily, 74% of moms feel they do the majority of work and emotional support during the holidays. This research also indicated 88% of moms say their role in the family is primarily that of the “giver.” Another study, conducted by Mount Sinai South Nassau in 2019 showed that 46% of women polled indicated a high or very high level of holiday-induced anxiety. “Women under the age of 50, especially those who work outside the home, feel the most stress during the holidays and at home, levels that impact their mental and physical health.”

Read more:
An Open Letter to Moms Everywhere this Holiday Season (Zulily)

How to have a less-stressed holiday

Evaluate your true priorities

It can be easy to believe we “have” to do everything we see others do. We can take on responsibilities because others are doing it. Look at your task list and priorities and ask yourself: Am I doing this because it aligns with our family values or because I think I “should” do it to keep up with others? Once you look closely, you will be able to identify the tasks that can fall of the list and stick to the priorities that align with your values.

Communicate proactively

Do not wait until high-stress or emotional times to make decisions about the holidays. Talk with your family beforehand about plans and boundaries. Look at the tasks and experiences ahead of time and use your support team to help. Let others (your partner, family, etc.) know how they can be helpful with clear communication.

Related: Communication after baby

Form a team, not a pyramid

Remember, the holidays are a family affair and you do not have to be over everything. Take some of the pressure off of yourself and create a team with your partner and/or supports. Think about what you really enjoy and love and be over that- allow others to take the lead on other things. Do not pressure yourself to take on the invisible load of motherhood alone.

Create boundaries

You cannot do everything with everyone without losing your mind. No one can. Create boundaries around your time and energy. This looks different for everyone but evaluate your triggers and needs and let boundaries come from that. Do too many toys stress you out? Set boundaries around gift-giving. Are you someone who will stay up too late to do things that are not necessary? Create boundaries around your sleep and rest.

Related: Setting boundaries after baby

Start and end your day with a connection

Remember, the holidays are about connecting with others. We can get so caught up in tasks and plans that we miss opportunities to connect with those we love. Create a way to connect first thing in the morning and before bedtime in the evening. This could be reading a special story together, setting a timer for family snuggle time, sitting down for one meal a day together with no electronic interruption or another way your family enjoys connecting.

SIGN IT: Change.com Give Mrs. Claus the Credit She Deserves

Over the holidays remember this moms:

You do not have to deplete yourself to be a good mom.
We do not have to be stressed and overwhelmed to provide a good holiday.
You do not have to do this by yourself.

There is no reward for “Supermom” who did it all herself.

I know what can help you get through the holidays with more joy and less-stress. I’m bringing you connection, community, coaching and recognizing the really heavy invisible load you’re carrying.