motherhood, Postpartum

Improved Maternity Leave in the US Could Save Lives

Imagine a world where women did not have to rush their body recovery after giving birth. A world where women did not have to choose between feeding their babies and going back to the workplace. A place where women are given the time and support to mentally and emotionally recuperate after a huge life transition. Imagine fathers and partners with more opportunities to get to know the newborn and help their partner heal. Where employee turnover rates after birth were not so high. This is imagining a world with maternity leave policies that support and care for families.

Get it now: 5 Questions to Ask Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

We Should Not Have to Dream of Better Maternity Leave

To cut to the point we should not have to imagine this. We should be able to live it. The United States is a progressive country. An adequate maternity leave and parental leave policy should not be hard to imagine. According to the UNICEF Office of Research, the United States falls last on parental leave policies of high and middle-income countries. The United States is the only country in the world that does not guarantee paid parental leave. How progressive. How “land of the free, home of the brave.”


This is bullshit.

As a Postpartum and New Mom Coach, I get to work with clients around the world. Most of my clients are in the United States. These clients face the struggle of deciding if and when to take maternity leave, and how to make up for unpaid time off. My clients from other countries come with different experiences. Places like Canada, France, and Ireland (to name a few places I have had clients from), share their maternity leave with a different approach. You can see how the US compares to other countries when it comes to maternity leave policies.

The Result of Shitty Maternity Leave in the United States?

-Increased rates of mental health struggles.
-Increased rates of divorce or marriage strain.
-Decreased rates of breastfeeding.
-More turnover within the workplace.
-Unaddressed pelvic floor issues.
-Higher rates of infant mortality.

Yes, lack of maternity leave is a deadly problem in the United States and one of the most pro-life things we can do is to address and improve parental leave and care.

In a recent study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16% of employees in 2018 had access to paid family leave. SIXTEEN PERCENT. That is not a lot. This same study found that 88% of employees had access to unpaid family leave (FMLA). This leaves 12% with nothing to protect their job if they decide to take any time off for the birth of a child. For those of you who have not birthed a child, allow me to include here that it is no small task. Time to recover without losing your job should not be a luxury. Time to recover, maintain your job, and get paid should not be a luxury.

There are currently only 8/50 US States, and the District of Columbia which have a State Paid Family Leave law. These laws differ by state, but go beyond the federal laws and offerings.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3056957/this-is-what-paid-leave-looks-like-in-every-us-state

 

The Struggles We Face With Poor Maternity Leave

When we are not providing adequate coverage for women after giving birth, we are taking away from her and her family, and our society as a whole.

Our capitalistic values can only go so far before we hit a wall and see a breakdown in families and individuals. We are already seeing it.

Infant Mortality & Wellness

According to a 2019 study in the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, the implication is made that “Providing a needs-based income replacement policy to mothers who wish to take parental leave after the birth of a child may be the best policy to decrease IMR for infants from all socioeconomic backgrounds.” There are a number of factors that could impact this outcome. The mental health of the mother being a big factor. Another leading factor is when a mother has paid leave time, she is not forced to use all of her PTO for maternity leave, allowing her to save hours and days to attend necessary pediatric appointments and keep tabs on her baby’s wellness.

Women can also experience healthier prenatal care when they are not concerned with saving all of their paid or unpaid work leave for the postpartum period.

Mental Health of Mothers

There are a number of factors when it comes to a mother’s postpartum mental health. When thinking about maternity leave there are direct impacts. One is the lack of rest a mom gets (in general) and even more when returning to work. The body takes around 18 months to heal. Hormones take months to regulate. Many moms find themselves more stressed with the pressures of childcare, logistics, fitting in appointments, breastmilk supply (if applicable), and more.

Breastfeeding

For families who choose to breastfeed, improved maternity leave policies lead to improved breastfeeding outcomes. A recent California study shows marked increase in breastfeeding duration for women who have paid medical leave.

Partner Involvement

This article is primarily focuses on maternity leave. However, it is important to also note the lack of overall parental leave (including partners) can lead to a lack of partner involvement. Retuning to work early can interfere with bonding and also make relationship balance difficult. Partners who are able to take that time for early bonding, interaction, and involvement are more likely to continue being involved parents.

Employee Morale and Turnover After Maternity Leave

If the benefits for the family are not enough (though they should be), companies and capitalism would benefit. High turnover happens around insufficient maternity leave policies. The cost of employee turnover includes trainings, the loss of knowledge from an existing employee, HR costs and beyond. Maintaining a good employee who is also a mother is in the company’s best interest.

Get it now: 5 Questions to Ask Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Female Workplace Leadership

Women who are able to return to their place of work once they have had sufficient time to recover and enter into motherhood are more likely to advance in their workplaces. The fear of losing a job from taking time off can impact the confidence and performance of a working parent, though women particularly feel this. Also, normalizing and standardizing maternity leave across companies would remove the pressure some women feel to return to work before their leave or not take their full leave in fear of losing opportunities or advancements.

What Women Have to Say About the Benefits of Improved Maternity Leave

Get it now: 5 Questions to Ask Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

I asked members of my community to share how paid maternity leave would have impacted their decisions and experience. Here are a few of the responses:

Back to Work with a 6 Week Old With No Sick Days

“The leave I had that was unpaid was nearly impossible. I had saved all my sick and vacation days and would have to pick to use one to three of those days a week just so I had some money coming in. Which meant I went back to work with a just six week old baby and absolutely no time off to use if either of us were sick. It added a lot of extra stress. Taking leave without pay is often a dicey choice and I couldn’t afford to lose my job. It just was an exhausting juggling feat.”

With my Third, I resigned.

I would have still had vacation/PTO to use later in the year, instead I had zero time off and had to work over to cover appointments until more time accrued. For my third I took FMLA until I officially resigned. FMLA was nice as it allowed us to slowly settle into a lower income and get a budget in order before I was totally cut off.

I Could have Returned to Work

I would have had money to save to eventually pay for a sitter /childcare, but instead, I just can’t afford to work. Of course, the cost of childcare is a whole separate issue, but at least this would have helped. Also, I might have felt valued as an employee and chosen to return to my prior workplace.

A Good Policy: Peace of Mind

I took 3 months and was paid by employer. They were fantastic. I did part time work to stay plugged in during the little’s naps, but I had so much peace of mind.

Two Different Maternity Leave Experiences

With Landon I did not have any paid maternity leave so I had to go back to work pretty quickly and even the little time I was off we racked up credit card bills. The amount of stress that I was under was crazy! And you know stress causes other problems to like lack of milk production which just made me stress even more that I wasn’t producing enough And I wasn’t back to work and we had 1 million bills. It was a viscous cycle.

Fast Forward 8 1/2 years and with this pregnancy I had maternity leave and disability pay because I was on bedrest and never went without a paycheck.. My overall pay was decreased because we get 80% of our total pay and I also was not working on the ambulance or at the college so there was 0% for that… Even the 80% was amazing we were able to readjust our lives. I was home all the time so we were eating in more and we were watching our spending and somehow during my leave we were actually able to even put Money into savings. Way less stressed this time around.

I Didn’t Take Care of Myself Because of Costs

Being first time parents is hard enough without added extreme financial struggles to the mix. I had postpartum anxiety and depression that I didn’t seek treatment for until a year postpartum because I worried it would cost too much. I wasn’t eating healthy foods because cheap foods are less healthy. My husband and I went on one date in the first year and one again during the second year.

Postpartum Depression

I had terrible postpartum (depression) that stemmed from having to leave my daughter before I was ready. I had 6 weeks of 60% pay from long term disability and 2 weeks of vacation. If I had been given the opportunity to stay home longer, I honestly think my mental health would not have suffered as significantly as it did. My mental health was the biggest area that was affected by short term “leave”.

America is Better than This: We Could Thrive With Improved Maternity Leave Laws & Policies

With all of this information both anecdotally and research-based, we can conclude that paid and sufficient maternity leave is beneficial for our society as a whole. Imagine a whole generation with adequate time to adjust and recover. There is progress happening on a number of fronts, but it cannot happen fast enough. If you believe in this, here are a few things you can do:

1. Share this post. Share it with friends, family, your HR director, on LinkedIn, etc.

2. Talk to your company about maternity leave policies. Ask what it would take for these policies to be approved.

3. Keep your eyes out for petitions and advocacy opportunities in your state or on a federal level.

4. Speak up. Use your voice and your story to continue the conversation and influence change. 

Get it now: 5 Questions to Ask Before Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Postpartum, Pumping

The Pressure to Breastfeed: Feeding Choices of New Moms

Even in 2020, there is still a lot of pressure to breastfeed or explain how you choose to feed your baby. Phrases like “breast is best” and “liquid gold” circulate mommy blogs and instagram posts. Whether you are deciding between breastfeeding or formula feeding, deciding the best formula to give your baby, switching from breastmilk to formula, supplementing or mixing breastmilk and formula, or any other kind of feeding, the reality is there are a lot of opinions. If anyone talks to you about this by making you feel guilty for your feeding choices or needs, you have permission to ask

The Best Way to Feed Your Baby is the Way that Works for You

At Postpartum Together, we believe the best thing for your baby is taking care of yourself.
We believe in making choices that are informed and empowered.
We believe the pressure to breastfeed can damage new moms and families.
How you feed your baby is not the mark of how good of a mom you are (because there’s not a “better” way) and we believe that you deserve safe spaces to explore and make choices.

Below, 4 women have shared their stories about the feeding choices they made, the feelings they went through, and the ways they have taken care of their babies- all in different ways. If you are here for an answer on what you should do, you will not find that here. But what you will find are real stories, real moms, real choices and a ton of support for you as you take care of yourself and your baby.


Read More: How to Choose Between Breast and Bottle Feeding (My Zulily Blog Contribution)

Ashley’s Story: However You Feed Your Baby is Okay.
There Shouldn’t be Pressure to Breastfeed

What is the biggest thing I wish I would have known after having my son? That society puts way too much pressure to breastfeed or to feed your baby a certain way. That you don’t have to listen to what society thinks. ALSO…It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

At my son’s 1-week check-up the informed me that he had lost 10% of his body weight. His doctor said that this was because he wasn’t getting enough breastmilk and that I needed to start supplementing. In my head, I instantly blamed myself. “My body is failing me.” “It seems so easy for other moms.” “I am one week into being a mom and I already suck at this.”

Introducing Formula to a Newborn When You Planned to Exclusively Breastfeed

Introducing formula was devastating to me. I planned on exclusively breastfeeding. At this point, I was breastfeeding, pumping, and formula feeding every two hours. It was exhausting, my mental health was suffering, yet, friends and family STILL put an emphasis on how he needed my breastmilk. So, I kept on breastfeeding while I suffered silently with horrible anxiety and didn’t listen to my intuition.

At 4 months I decided enough was enough. We switched to 100% formula. It was sad but it was honestly the best thing I could have done. I wish I would have listened to myself earlier in the process. And, I wish I would have had someone say that it was okay and that I wasn’t failing.

Your Mental Health and Breastfeeding

Now, I wish that other moms who see this know that however they are feeding their baby is okay. That your mental health is also a priority. And that there is so much support out there to help you with whatever decision you make. Whether you breastfeed, pump, formula feed, or all of the above, you should never feel like a failure. You are doing what’s best for you and your family and nothing else matters.

Ashley Lyon
DONA Certified Postpartum Doula
Founder of
Bloom Mama

Devra’s Story: “Failing” as a Crunchy Mom
The Crunchy Pressure to Breastfeed

We had my first daughter in ’07, back when blogs were just beginning and there was no Facebook or Instagram. From what I’d been able to learn about feeding babies from books or talking to our midwife, I thought there were two options: nursing or formula feeding. Because I was in my crunchy-granola earth mother phase and thought formula was evil, I wanted to nurse so badly. But nursing was painful for me–like someone was pulling shards of glass through my nipples painful. Latch checks and weight gain all seemed to say she was getting enough milk but I was in tears at every session.

After about six weeks, I said to my sweet patient husband, “I feel like a failure but I don’t think I can do this anymore.” I’d already started pumping when I went back to work managing a live-performance theater, so he said “Why don’t you just pump more and we’ll bottle feed her?” And thus our journey with exclusive pumping began.

Turning to Exclusive Pumping

Jump forward 12 years and we were surprised with another precious daughter. Again, I longed to nurse, because that is what we’re built for, right? Thank goodness we now have Instagram and amazing people like @postpartumtogether, @exclusivepumping, and @pump_momma_pump. Along with Sarah Lester, my local IBCLC, when my second nursing try started to go the same painful way as my first, they were able to get me on a great exclusive pumping plan to keep LO thriving now for 10 months.

Jokes on me, too: dried up naturally at six months with the first and we won’t quite make it to a year of frozen milk with the second, so formula still made an appearance. I’m fully committed to “fed is best” and I know we’re doing everything we can to make sure our girls are healthy.

Katherine’s Story: Fairytale Motherhood Plans Changed
No More Pressure to Breastfeed

I believe most women imagine an idealized fairytale version of childbirth and motherhood. So many resources encourage developing a birth plan or at least thinking about your preferences. Unfortunately, so few resources tell you that your plans will change. The more prepared you are to go with the flow, the more at peace you will become.

Child birth and motherhood are so unpredictable. The birth of my son did not go the way I always envisioned it, but many of the decisions were my own. I didn’t realize how not getting any part of my idealized birth story would affect me. It manifested in an “obsession” to breastfeed. Thankfully, once my milk came in, breastfeeding was relatively easy. I had a dreadfully slow eater; most feedings in the beginning lasted an hour; but he steadily gained weight. This motherhood thing is definitely a marathon. 

I exclusively breastfed (and pumped a few times a day due to an oversupply and the desire to build a freezer stash) for six months. During this time, my husband and I had several conversations about timing around a second child and what it would take to get pregnant again. We needed the support of a reproductive endocrinologist to get pregnant with my son.

Weaning and Pregnancy

Many of these conversations got quite heated because I would have preferred to breastfeed for the entire first year. There was an ultimate compromise to start weaning when my son was six months old. I did not want to wean. But marriage is all about compromise, or so they say. The spacing between our children has always been extremely important to my husband. He is ten years older than me. We did not rush into marriage and we did not rush into starting our family (fur children excluded). Deep down I knew future me would appreciate our children being close in age. I know how much it means to my husband; he has a chronic illness and is overtly aware of his mortality.

Weaning was slow. And deliberate. Although extremely anxious and uneasy about weaning, I convinced myself that starting around six months made the most sense, as I was also starting solids with my son at this time. I could not stand the sight and smell of the first formula I started to supplement with, and so the research began. I was quickly able to settle on a much better looking and smelling formula that my son didn’t mind. 

Adding Formula to Breastfeeding

I was convinced my son would hate me forever. I felt the pressure to breastfeed. Cue the extreme mom guilt. I have no idea what I did to deserve it, but I was blessed with an angel from above. After about a week of my son being unsure about formula, we fell into a weaning routine. Every week or two, I would cut out a breastfeeding session and replace it with formula. At the same time, I slowly cut down on the duration of my pumping sessions. It took us two months to wean completely. My son then got frozen breastmilk twice a day until my freezer stash was gone, which was a little after his first birthday. Thankfully my son never really pulled at my shirt or chest. And there were never any real meltdowns about taking a bottle instead of my breast.

I hated having to deal with formula. Breastfeeding was easy while I was on the go with my son. If there wasn’t a private, quiet place to feed, there was always the backseat of my car. I found formula feeding annoying. Did I pack enough formula? Do I have extra if we get stuck or our plans change? Do I have enough water? What about a way to warm it up a little bit? Do I need to bring a hot water bath, or can I get something while we are out? This continued to feed my guilt and angst.

Shame, Guilt & Breastfeeding

My shame and guilt eased up as I saw how adaptable and resilient my son has become. His personality really made weaning easier on me. Cue Covid-19. All the shame and guilt came rushing back. Why didn’t I keep breastfeeding? My son would benefit immensely from the continued antibodies. How can I comfort him without breastfeeding? Then our fertility office shutdown. Cue even more guilt and frustration. Why did I even stop breastfeeding?! My son is going to get sick and I can’t even get pregnant now. Again, my son remained my anchor. Everything about him remained cheerful and resilient. He was growing and developing perfectly. With everything going on in 2020, this was starting to feel right.

Katherine A. Barbieri @kbarbie85 / @sahm.learning.to.thrive

Sarah’s Story: We are Both Alive Because She Formula Fed

I knew very quickly that something was wrong. My baby couldn’t latch and had earned the nickname “Miss. Chomper” from the many lactation consultants we saw. But I was determined. My mom is a big breast feeding advocate in the community, everyone knew my name and always asked how breast feeding was going. There was such an intense shame that it wasn’t going well. To top off my experience, no one warned me that let downs can come with this horrible sense of dread and overwhelming feeling of just nastiness. Let downs were few and far between, which at the time I was thankful for because it meant I didn’t get this overwhelming desire to just get my kid off me instantly.

RELATED: DMER: Weird feeling while breastfeeding

While still in the hospital, I knew something was wrong with both my baby and myself. I could not sleep and was having obsessive and intrusive thoughts within hours after birth. Baby couldn’t latch. I remember her screaming as the LC attempted to just jam her face into my breast. Crying and crying until this sweet nurse ask me if I wanted to try SNS. I said yes, and for a brief moment I felt relief as I knew my baby was getting something. Then, I had to sign a waiver to give my baby formula in the hospital. Unfortunately, postpartum OCD took away SNS feeding from me. Cleaning those tiny tubes is a pain and no matter how hot of water I ran through them, I was convinced they were not clean.

Trying a Bottle After Struggle to Latch

They held me a few days due to the fact my kid couldn’t latch and the LCs made follow up appointments so I could be discharged. The sweet nurse who saw my struggle asked me as I was being discharged if she could show me how to give her a bottle. I cried so much in that moment and the nurse showed me how to just pop the bottle in her mouth. Cue instant mom guilt but my baby was fed. I tried really hard to only give her one or two bottles a day and I honestly had no idea how much she needed to have per feeding. She was drastically underfed by both my body and by my lack of knowledge in formula feeding.

The next weeks were a blur but the highlights are:
1) being told that I am giving my baby a burger instead of a salad and I shouldn’t have such a problem breastfeeding because I was well endowed
2) a swarm of LCs and doctors appointments, including having to give my week old baby a suppository because she wasn’t getting enough from me to get the merconium out
3) a trip to the ER at 3 weeks with the official diagnosis of feeding problems.

At this point, 3 weeks into my daughter’s life, we knew breastfeeding just wasn’t for her even after had felt the pressure to breastfeed. And I tried exclusively pumping for a week. These feelings of just being out of my body and feeling just generally distraught with let downs just being came worse and worse as I tried to pump. Not understanding why I felt like this, I began to dread the pump. My postpartum OCD just spiraled out of control. No one ever mentioned D-mer. Never.

Mental Health and The Pressure to Breastfeed

I assumed that I just hated this experience so much that it was manifesting in physical symptoms. It felt like my mental health was slipping away 30 seconds at a time every pumping session. Finally, I snapped. My mental health was deteriorating to the point that I did not want to exist. That I regretted this choice to have this very much wanted and loved baby. I even thought about fleeing the country and starting a new life. I’m serious. It was a full fledged plan. That is when everyone told me to just stop. And I did.

I gave the baby to my husband, I slept 6 solid hours, pumped once for relief that day, and that was it. That was the end of my breast feeding journey.

I was able to start medication for my postpartum OCD and depression without fear of impacting my breastmilk. And, I was finally able to bond with my baby as she happily drank her bottles of formula and smiled.

Anyone who tells you bottle feeding hurts your bond, slap them for me. This can absolutely improve your bond. It can save your life. This can save your baby’s life. It is not this demon or great shame.. It is there for a reason. And in a heart beat, I would formula feed my child again. She is healthy, strong as an oxen (just as stubborn too), and our bond is strong and beautiful because of bottles of formula.p

My life and her life is better because she was formula fed. We are both alive because she was formula fed. The pressure to breastfeed could not take that away.

A Reminder To You, Momma

This motherhood shit is beautiful and it’s hard. No matter how you feed your baby. No matter what diapers you choose. If you stay at home or go to work… it’s beautiful and hard all at the same time. The pressure to breastfeed or bottle feed is just that, outside opinions and pressure. Really, it is a choice. It’s a choice that you are equipped to make. It is a choice that does not define who you are. It is a choice that you can use to prioritize your health and wellness and that of your baby. Feed your baby in the way that works for your family and do not let shame sneak in.

Read More: How to Choose Between Breast and Bottle Feeding (My Zulily Blog Contribution)
Feeding a Baby On the Go (My BabyCenter contribution)

dr browns feeding system bottle for colic
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!

Postpartum

Postpartum Sex Drive: Impact on Libido and How to Get Your Sex Drive Back After Giving Birth

Postpartum Sex Drive: Libido & Lube After Giving Birth

Transcript:
L is for lube and libido, you guys, I couldn’t separate the two, we had to go into them both. Libido is sex drive and we are talking about postpartum sex drive. 

Lube and libido, both things that have a huge impact on our sex and intimacy after baby, and we’re going to break down, what happens to our libido after we have a baby, what kind of lube might be right for you, and how we can kind of get into this sexual intimacy space again, without feeling like shit.
And without just trying to get it done.
Because believe me,I know that some of us have had these experiences where we’re just trying to get it over with. And actually, I want your intimacy to be fulfilling and exciting and good for you, even as a new mom.

What Is Libido and Does It Change After Giving Birth?

Things that impact sex drive, libido in new moms

First, what is libido? And how is it impacted in the lives of new moms?
So libido is this term used to describe the sex drive or desire that one has. It might be a high libido it might be a low libido. A high sex drive, or we’re ready we’re raring to go, or low sex drive- no, I’m not interested.

Your libido can be impacted by internal and external factors. This means the hormones that are inside speak to your body, your body talks to itself and interacts with other parts, and so our hormones can tell us if our sex drive is elevated or not.

Sleep, Hormones and Libido After Birth

Other things like stress, lack of sleep, and other circumstances can impact this postpartum sex drive or libido. Specifically, when it comes to new moms, libido can be impacted by hormone levels, which we know in postpartum are all over. They’re like riding this roller coaster for a number of reasons.

But our hormones are changing, they’re going up, they’re or going down, they’re regulating in different areas. And so for some women, this might mean an escalated libido, maybe you are feeling it more than you ever did. Or, more often than not, this can be decreased levels of postpartum sex drive and libido.

Breastfeeding Impact on Sex Drive

Second, but not totally unrelated, is breastfeeding. So if you are nursing, or perhaps you’re pumping, the breastfeeding can impact libido because of the way that breastfeeding requires hormone levels to fluctuate and to change. And so what it takes to produce the prolactin that we need for lactating can also have a negative impact on our libido, it can make it much harder for us to have that desire.
RELATED: Boob Problems After Birth 

Touched out and Postpartum Sex Drive

Along the same lines is this touch out. When you are breastfeeding or you are holding your baby or snuggling, you’re doing skin to skin you have someone really dependent on you, you can very easily become touched out, you’re done. You don’t want this physical intimacy, you want your body to be left alone. This is another common factor I hear.

Feeling Too Overwhelmed and Exhausted for Sex

Another thing that can impact libido is mental overwhelm. And linked to that is exhaustion. So if you are so overwhelmed, you have so many things running through your brain, you have no time to give your brain the space to de-stress and to enter a place of even thinking about having a sex drive and having intimacy. Along with that is the exhaustion. We can’t get mental clarity, we can’t be proactive, we can’t have a lot of the things that it requires to get into that libido, sex drive space, when we have mental overwhelm and exhaustion.

Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Sex Drive

Postpartum depression, again, we’re talking about hormones. We’re talking about this kind of mental and emotional shift. Postpartum depression is often linked to low libido. Unfortunately, a lot of the medications (but not all of them) that we use to treat postpartum depression, these different SSRIs can have a side effect of lowering your libido as well. And so this is something to discuss with your medical provider.
Related: Postpartum Resources

How to Deal with Low Libido After Giving Birth

1. First, I encourage you to take away the pressure to make it to a certain ending point. Okay, so when you’re re-entering intimacy with your partner, when there’s this pressure to get to this certain place, such as an orgasm, then we have this kind of mental overwhelm. With this pressure we feel guilty. There’s a lot of interacting factors here. So take off that pressure as you’re getting back into intimacy.

Don’t focus on the ending point, but focus on the experience.Not the destination, the journey and work on how you can reinvigorate that intimacy.

RELATED: Sex After Baby, Am I Ready?

2. It’s important to know that it can take a lot more time and energy for you to warm up. This means more foreplay, which may be physical foreplay, but this might also be this mental and emotional connection that you’re requiring from your partner. If you’re feeling extremely overwhelmed, you’re going to need this communication and connection point with your partner. So that you can get into a place of knowing things are taking care of, I can take this space, I can enter a space of even thinking about intimacy and trying to reinvigorate my libido.
So let your partner know what you need.

Maybe it’s some sexy text throughout the day, maybe it is taking care of the kitchen and making sure that’s all cleaned up so that you don’t have to think about it and you can enter this intimate space. Maybe it is some physical kind of foreplay. Think about what it requires for you to warm up and give your libido a chance to even be activated.

Vaginal Dryness After Having a Baby

how to choose a good lube for postpartum sex

When you get to the place where you’re like, Okay, I found my sex drive and entering this space, I can start to get into it again, you might notice that you have a lot of dryness. So we’re going to talk also about lube and how this plays into everything.

So these hormone shifts of postpartum can also cause a lot of vaginal dryness. Breastfeeding can prolong this. I’m telling you lube, lube, lube, liberal amounts of lube when you are returning to intimacy after having a baby.

PSST: Want to know my two favorite natural lubes? Cocolube & Good Clean Love

Which Lube Will Work for You for Postpartum Sex?

For some of you that might be unusual. Maybe that wasn’t what you were used to before. Maybe you feel a little discouraged, like, Oh, do I even want this? Is my body telling me a different message? But know that vaginal dryness is very common. It won’t last forever, and lube can be your best friend.

So when we’re looking for lube, I’m actually encouraging you to be mindful of what kind of lube you’re using.
-Because it’s going in and on your vagina, which is kind of a delicate space and worth taking care of.
-Because some of them can actually not work well with you.

So one question you want to ask yourself is if this will pull any of the natural moisture out of your vagina, we don’t want this. These are the lubes with propylene glycol and glycerol. These two elements can actually extract the moisture from your vagina instead of adding extra to it.

Another question you want to ask yourself is if the lube you’re using is compatible with whatever your preferences are. So if you’re using condoms, is this a lube that is compatible with condoms? Is it something that you can use in the water? Is it toy friendly?

How to get over low sex drive after having a baby

Postpartum Sex Drive: Learn More & Talk to Other Moms

So for the taboo ABCs of postpartum for L we have chosen lube and libido because these are such important parts. And these are things that are so commonly experienced by women but not talked about. So don’t be afraid to bring this up with your medical provider with your friends with the postpartum together new mom groups because it is common to have a change in libido and it is also common to need some extra lube and there should be no shame about that.

Back in the Sack Postpartum Sex eCourse

Want to learn more about the changes in your body, mind, and emotions after a baby and how it can impact your intimacy?
Is your partner sexually frustrated and you’re unsure how to talk about postpartum sex and intimacy?
Do you want to communicate and connect better so that your sex life can improve?
Want ideas for ways to connect?

Check out Back in the Sack: A self-paced eCourse.
In this eCourse you’ll hear from a number of experts who share all about your body and brain after baby and how you can get back into the groove with confidence and connection (instead of resentment and fear).

Postpartum, pregnancy

Disappointment as a Mom: How Gender, Birth Plans & Health Impacts New Moms

Gender disappointment and Birth Disappointment

In the taboo ABCs of postpartum D is for disappointment.

Disappointment can come a lot of ways when it comes to being a new mom. And we’re actually going to back this up and even talk about what disappointment can look like in pregnancy. This can impact our confidence and more specifically, our self judgment and criticism as new moms. Moms may feel sad about the outcome of something but those feelings can cause shame.We’re talking about gender disappointment, medical disappointment, and birth disappointment.

Maybe it’s just not being ready to be a mom yet.
Maybe it’s the disappointment of how something has gone differently than the way you anticipated.

The struggle I see here is that we don’t often feel okay to have joy and disappointment coexisting with gratitude. Many new moms have this feeling of grief and disappointment over how something has gone.

Gender Disappointment

Gender disappointment is one that is common one that I experienced myself. I always picture myself as a boy mom. And so when my second turned out to be a girl, for a while, I was disappointed. I couldn’t imagine what that would look like. It wasn’t what I had envisioned for myself. I was excited to have her. I love her to pieces now, but I did feel a little bit of that gender disappointment.

Whether it’s at a gender reveal party, or whether you wait to find the gender of your baby at birth, you can feel this disappointment, probably because you pictured it one way and it turns out to be another. If you really wanted a boy and find out you are having a girl of if you wanted a girl and found out you are having a boy, you can feel sad.

Medical Disappointment

You also may experience disappointment with something medical, maybe you’re in the NICU with your baby. Maybe there was something that became unexpected about your baby, and you’re just feeling this disappointment about things not being the way you pictured. When I gave birth again to my daughter, my first week was spent in the NICU and that is not how I envisioned it, I was disappointed. I was disappointed that there were medical complexities. I was scared, I was nervous. And I was also just feeling this loss of how I envisioned things.

Related: Being a heart mom

Disappointed in Birth Plan Not Happening

You may also experience disappointment about the way your birth went. Perhaps you had a birth experience that was way different than you anticipated. Maybe you planned for a certain way of birth, maybe you had your birth plan, maybe you had everything prepared.
And then it went differently. I hear this often from clients who planned a vaginal delivery had a belly birth (csection). I also hear this from women who planned unmedicated birth and end up with an epidural or other medical interventions. If you feel like your birth plan failed, you can be disappointed by the birth and your birth story.

Related: Hospital Unmedicated Birth Story

How to Address Disappointment in Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum

So I want to talk about a few ways that we can address disappointment: whether it’s gender disappointment, birth disappointment, medical disappointment, or just circumstantial disappointment. I want to give you three tips on how to handle disappointment, whatever kind you might be facing.

  1. Get it out

One is to find a safe space to get it out of your head, maybe you’ve been carrying this thought and feeling guilty about it or not having a place to put it. This might be trusting in your partner or a good friend or a therapist. And if that doesn’t feel comfortable to you, that’s okay, you can write it out in a private place or find some way to get it from here (your head), out there so that it’s not just swirling around in your brain anymore. So that first step is to find a place to get it out.

2. Make peace with your disappointment and gratitude

Your second step is to tell yourself that it’s okay to have disappointment and gratitude and thankfulness. At the same time, you can be both disappointed and grateful for how things are. Give yourself the space to have both of those experiences at the same time.

3. What is possible because of the disappointment?

And third, I want you to ask yourself, what is possible because of the disappointment. So anytime we are disappointed it’s because something came or is that we didn’t expect so give yourself the space to consider this- write it out or talk about what is able to be because of the disappointment that you faced.

Disappointment is probably more common than you thing. Gender disappointment, circumstantial disappointment, birth, disappointment, all of these things happen because we picture in our head the way things are going to go. We are dreamers and have a vision and maybe sometimes that’s wrapped up in a little anxiety. We have an idea of how we think things will go, how we want them to go and how they should go. And so it’s natural and okay for you to have some disappointment when things don’t match up with the way you want them to. Give it some space. Give it a name. Identify the things that you can feel at the same time and then realize what is and what has come out of that unexpected disappointed experience.

Related: More than a mom

If you need a place to process the changes of new motherhood, a place to say the hard things and connect authentically with others, check out Postpartum Together Small groups. I help women just like you find peace and empowerment in the season after having a baby. I want you to be a confident, connected momma too.

Postpartum

The 6-Week Postpartum Check-Up: How to Maximize Your Postpartum Care

How to prepare for your postpartum exam. Do you need to go to your 6 week check up? How to know when you need more checkups after giving birth.

C is for Check-Up: The 6 week Postpartum Check Up at

Transcript from video:
Oh, hey, it’s time for another blog on the taboo ABCs of postpartum. C is for checkup, and we’re going to be talking about that usually only one postpartum checkup you get which is usually a 6 week check up (sometimes between 4-8 weeks). Now, for the record, I don’t think one checkup is sufficient at all. But we are going to talk about how to maximize that checkup. Also we discuss what to talk to your provider about and how to be your own best advocate.

If you’re new here, my name is Chelsea Skaggs. I am a postpartum coach and the founder of Postpartum Together. And we are freaking committed to making sure that the postpartum narrative changes so that women are more educated, normalized, supported and empowered in the postpartum season.

Now, reminder, postpartum is not just a few weeks. Postpartum is the year ish after baby. And postpartum is not just related to depression, postpartum is a season we all go through regardless of a diagnosis or not. So postpartum is the season after baby full of transitions that we all go through as birthing humans.

Related: Where do we learn about postpartum?

We Believe Women Deserve More Check Ups After Baby

A whole other tangent is that one postpartum checkup is not enough. The ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommend comprehensive follow-ups after having a baby. One appointment is not comprehensive follow up. However, we still have this issue of insurance and providers and the communication and honoring the postpartum season. We know that postpartum is a time that is often just kind of disregarded and pushed under the rug, and we’re not given full on comprehensive support. So we’re going to talk today about how to make that one 6 week check up appointment the best it possibly can be. We also discuss if and when you need to how to advocate for more appointments and more care for yourself.

Now, usually, this appointment happens between four and eight weeks. If you had a belly birth, you might have an earlier appointment. Depending on circumstances, it’s probably going to be somewhere between four and eight weeks. At this point, you’re still healing in a lot of ways. You are still living in a lot of a fog. This is kind of a survival mode.

I know from my own experience, and from some of my clients that when we go to that appointment, it’s hard to even know where to start what to ask. Chances are your provider is going to ask some questions, checking on you, but they may not address all the things that you actually need them to address in that appointment. It’s important that you come in proactively knowing what you need answers to and what you need checked on so that you can feel confident to leave that appointment and continue healing and continue growing as a new mom.

What to ask at your Postpartum 6-Week Check Up

So the first thing is that physical healing, right, they’re likely going to check your whether it’s a belly incision, whether it’s in the vaginal tearing and repair that is happening in that area. No matter how you gave birth, there is recovery, they’re probably going to check how your bleeding is- is it down to very minimal or has it stopped at this point? They’re going to check if everything is healing- scars are healing, how is that doing? If you’re still experiencing pain, this is a good time to bring that up like hey, I’m still feeling this way. Is there something that I should be concerned about? Do you know something I can do about it?

Related: Postpartum Plan Checklist

While we’re talking about physical healing, I want you to bring up your pelvic floor. This doesn’t always come up in appointments from a lot of my clients, we actually have to go out and self advocate for this. You carry the baby, right in this vicinity, resting on your pelvis. And regardless of if you gave vaginal or belly birth, you had a baby resting on your pelvis, affecting your organs, affecting the tissue in the muscle and everything that makes up your pelvic floor.

Asking about the Pelvic Floor at your 6-week checkup

In some countries, pelvic floor therapy is standard care for everyone after baby. Here in the US, we often have to either have a big problem we bring up or we have to advocate.
Hey, I know my body went through a lot of stress, I think that pelvic floor therapy would be beneficial for me.
Chances are, it would be beneficial for you. But we know that especially if you’re feeling:
-Bearing down weight called prolapse.
-Experiencing pain & incontinence.
-Once you’re ready to start having sex again, if that is painful and uncomfortable.
These are good times to talk about pelvic floor therapy.

Be that bridge, again, be your own best self advocate.

Related: What is the pelvic floor?

Ask about Mental Health at your Postpartum Check Up

Now, also at this appointment, you’re likely going to get a mental health screening, this is for postpartum depression. I’m going to tell you right now, it has some language in it that can be suggestive, and in my opinion, a little tricky. Some questions are like, I feel sad for no good reason. And you’re like, well, I don’t know everything in my life just changed. Is that a good reason? Or is that not a good reason? I don’t know who’s the judge of whether this is a good reason.

If you’re feeling off, don’t feel ashamed of how you need to answer those questions. And don’t feel like there’s not room to press into it more and ask your provider to talk more with you about your mental health.  Depression is not just feeling sad, it can be rage or other experiences.

It doesn’t have to be: “I can’t get out of bed.” It sometimes is, and that’s worth addressing, too. But know that in motherhood, you’re going to feel off, you’re going to feel different. But if you’re just really feeling like your day to day is compromised, bring that up. Don’t let that screening be where it stops. I passed screenings in situations where I likely needed more support. That phrasing like “for no good reason” really threw me off. Like my whole life just changed, and my vagina is falling apart, and I haven’t slept like that feels like a good reason. So talk more about that.

Mental Health and Birth Trauma

If you experienced birth trauma, it is important to consider how that could have impact you. It could impact your bond and your relationship with your baby, your relationship with your body, your confidence as a mom. So these are all important things to bring up in the 6 week check up. If you feel like you would benefit from therapy that’s okay, too. There’s no shame in that. Ask your provider if they have a maternal health therapists that they would recommend. Maybe it’s someone in the network.

Related: Postpartum Anxiety Story

Sex & Exercise After the 6-Week Check Up

I want you to make sure that you are talking about more than just your reengagement.  We think of this six weeks as like, check mark, you can have sex and exercise now. But you guys, it’s not that simple. You don’t have to start your same intense workouts right after baby and you don’t have to get back to sex in the same way right after baby. So don’t look at this as just like this green light means go full force, I’m healed. You are not healed at six weeks.

It takes intention and it takes getting back into things. So ask your provider, “What would be an appropriate way to get back into exercise? What would be an appropriate way to move back towards intimacy. Again, we want this to be a positive experience for you. Do not be afraid to ask more questions and go a little bit deeper. Your provider is probably going to also talk to you about family planning. Go into it knowing-what do you want? Know that you have a say and you can ask those questions about what are what are the risks, what are the benefits and find the best solution for you.

Purpose of the Postpartum 6-Week Check Up

I want you to feel like this checkup is about you and that you are worthy of the time and the space that it takes and that it is not rushed, that it is not blown off. If you need more appointments, make another appointment. Tell them that you need their support.

A lot of people think that postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, like all of these things happen in the first few weeks. And that’s not always the case, it can have an onset at three or six or nine months.

And then your pelvic floor- if you are three months out, and you start to have sex again and it’s really painful, you need to talk to them about getting that pelvic floor therapy. If, you’re having incontinence, which means that you’re not holding your fluids in- peeing, pooping, farting without control, you can schedule that appointment and continue to talk about those things.

Be Your Own Best Advocate: Prepare for Postpartum and Maximize the 6 Week Check up

Don’t feel like your postpartum care has to be limited. We have to be our own best advocates. And that comes from understanding what to bring to the table advocating for our own best needs, and really using that time.

So I hope that this helps you to be more prepared for your postpartum checkup. Whether it’s coming up in a day a week, or you’re you know, just right now expecting or thinking about conceiving, know that this is a space where you deserve time, you deserve attention, and you deserve to have the resources and support.

Again, I am Chelsea Skaggs and the founder of Postpartum Together if you are pregnant girl, get my postpartum planning ecourse that is going to walk you through all the things you need to have prepared for an empowered and supported postpartum and life after baby. If you are you know already postpartum, Maybe you want to grab the postpartum sex Back in the Sack eCourse where we talk about the mental, the emotional, and the physical implications of intimacy again after baby. Maybe you need some extra support, some guidance, some tips, resources and empowerment, check out our postpartum together small groups.

Postpartum, Pumping

DMER in New Moms: Anxiety When Breastfeeding by Pumping or Nursing

Anxiety When Breastfeeding: A Hormonal Response, Not Mood Disorder

D-MER is a physiological response to the release of breast milk. It can feel like sadness or anxiety when breastfeeding. It is a hormonal reflex and is not an indicator of a mood disorder. The feelings should not last more than a few seconds or minutes. I remember wondering if my body or mind was telling me I didn’t like breastfeeding or wasn’t connected with my baby. Research shows D-MER to have no link to mother-baby bond and to be uncontrollable by the mother.

RELATED: Myths About Motherhood

Many women learn about D-MER by searching things like “I feel sad when breastfeeding” or “I don’t know if my body likes breastfeeding.” According to d-mer.org, “Dysphoria is defined as an unpleasant or uncomfortable mood, such as sadness, depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness. Etymologically, it is the opposite of euphoria.” In reference to D-MER we can see that the unpleasant or uncomfortable mood impacts the milk ejection reflex.

RELATED: Boob Issues After Baby

woman breast pumping and feeling anxious from DMER

D-MER is Not a Mother Failing

It is important for moms to know that D-MER is not a failure or a direct reflection of their ability to breastfeed. The anxiety when breastfeeding is not an active choosing to not attach to your baby or hold any negative feelings. This understanding can help moms to make an educated and supported choice on whether to continue feeding through the experience.

Some believe that things like nutrition, rest, exercise, reducing stress and cutting back on caffeine can impact the hormones and improve D-MER symptoms. (I know, I know, all of those things can be hella hard to do when you have an infant!) Remember, your maternal mental health is always an important factor.

10 Things Moms on Instagram Said about D-Mer

When we brought up D-MER on Instagram, moms had a lot to say about it! Maybe some of their responses will resonate with you too:

  • It was such a relief to realize I wasn’t alone. To love breastfeeding but experience that feeling of dread was so very confusing.
  • You just solved something I thought I was making up. I say to myself “I’m just sleep deprived” or “I had too much caffeine today” but it comes and goes with my let down 2-3 times a day.
  • I did not know this was a thing but have totally experienced this and wondered “What’s wrong with me?”
  • My mother recounts this with my youngest sibling. She switched to formula and internalized not trusting herself with the baby for months.
  • I had it through all three of my kids. Breastfed a total of 7 years. Deep breathing and mindfulness techniques helped.
  • Totally had this. It was like a mini anxiety attack just as I was getting set up to pump and it would go away shortly after letdown.
  • I felt this way sometimes and I felt so yucky! I couldn’t explain it because it almost came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly.
  • With my first baby I would ball my eyes out the first 5-10 min of nursing her. I could be happy as could be, start nursing and tears would start flowing. I thought I was crazy.
  • It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does it’s awful. That foreboding, sense of dread and anxiety. Someone said it’s a homesick feeling and that’s such a good explanation. Just dread.
  • I told my mom about how I was feeling and she thought I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.

What to Do If You Have Anxiety While Breastfeeding

If you’re experiencing D-MER the first thing to know is that you’re not alone and you’re not doing something wrong. Our bodies have many changes and responses to pregnancy, birth and postpartum and it looks different for everyone. As your hormones are regulating, you may experience D-MER. If you do, remember it won’t last long and you can get through it.
1. Take deep breaths. (Almost like labor!)
2. Create a mantra Ex: This is only a moment and I accept this moment.
3. Stay connected
4. If it persists or becomes too much, talk with your doctor about

motherhood, Postpartum

Alternatives to Tampons and Pads: Making the Switch to Better Period Products

The Truth about Periods, Pads, and Tampons

Do you remember that time the boys and girls were separated for a special series of middle school health class? There was awkward talk about sex, boobs and vaginas. I even remember talking about how friendships could change and hormonal girl fights. I remember hearing about how you would be wearing a tampon and/or pad to soak up the blood and how everyone has that one time blood gets through and creates an embarrassing moment. What I don’t remember anyone talking about is how standard brands of tampons and pads can be full of toxins, how uncomfortable they can be, how the fill up landfills and how there are actually other options. I did not learn about tampon alternatives.

To be fair, “other” options weren’t as prevalent at that time, but you’re in luck because now there are so many more options for how you treat your vagina well and honor the feminine time. Whether you despise or don’t mind your menstrual cycle, having a way to deal with it that feels good is important.

Related: Am I Ready for Sex After Giving Birth?


are pads and tampons full of toxic chemicals and are they safe to use

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links which means that at no extra cost to you, Postpartum Together may receive a small commission from any purchases made on this page. Good news- we only recommend things we love to use ourselves and products/services that don’t suck. 

Why You Need to Ditch Most Pads and Tampons

Your vaginal walls are very permeable. This means that anything near them can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. While chemicals sprayed on cotton may not have a big impact on the tshirt you’re wearing, putting that cotton into you through your vagina runs greater risk. Having that cotton (and other elements we’ll discuss) resting on the vulva and opening of your vagina means that the toxins that are present in that pad or tampon have more access to your bloodstream and body.

Toxins Found to be Present in Pads and Tampons

Currently (August 2020) only the state of New York requires ingredients to be disclosed on packaging of period products. (Read about the recent bill signed by Governor Cuomo). Because tampons and pads are seen as “medical products” there is no regulation and no federal bill stating that ingredients must be disclosed. This is a problem when it comes to products that go inside or near your vagina. According to Women’s Voices for the Earth 2018 testing, “Previous testing of tampons and menstrual pads have found pesticide residue, parabens and phthalates linked to hormone disruption, antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, and various carcinogens including styrene and chloroform.” This alone is an alarm to find a tampon alternative.

Let’s say you have your period from the ages of 13-53. That’s 40 years of periods and 12 periods a year. Let’s take out 3 years of no periods if you have 2 children. 40×12=480 -36 =444. Four hundred and forty four periods. Four hundred and forty four days of wearing something inside of you for 5(ish) days. That’s 2,220 days of products inside of you (or lining your vulva). With that frequency, it makes sense that you would want to protect and be mindful of what you’re using.

With chemicals, pesticides, dyes and sometimes fragrances compromising tampons and pads, that’s a lot of exposure. If you haven’t thought about this before, don’t beat yourself up or feel ashamed. We aren’t taught this in health class. Most of the time this isn’t mentioned to us by our PCP or OBGYN. There is a lack of education and support surrounding women’s reproductive health and in an ideal world we wouldn’t even have to think about whether the products made for our bodies are safe. You’re here now- hooray! It’s never too late to make positive changes.

Waste of Pads & Tampons

Not only are feminine hygiene products unregulated and containing potentially harmful chemicals, they create a lot of waste. I know, there are a lot of things that create a lot of waste, but this is one step each of us can take to cut down on our waste. Not only do the actual products create waste, but plastic tampon applicators and pad wrapping also creates waste (read more from National Geographic here).

Save Money with Tampon Alternatives

I like to keep things honest so I’m going to tell you truthfully- there are options that are going to be cheaper than your regular tampon and pad purchases (like using a reusable menstrual cup) and there are options that will be more expensive (like having 4-5 pairs of period underwear) so if price is the major factor for you, switching to a cup is going to be what saves you the most money.

Related: First Period After Baby

What to Use for Your Period Instead


do menstrual cups work


do thinx period underwear actually hold all your blood

Period Underwear as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Non-intrusive, nothing to change in and out all day, eco-friendly, reusable, prevents accidental leaks
Cons: Harder to have on hand for emergencies, More expensive

Menstrual Cup as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Cheapest option, eco-friendly, reusable, toxin-free silicone
Cons: Messy, Some believe it can cause TSS (though very unlikely, read more here)

Washable Pads as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Reusable, nothing in and out all day
Cons: Hard to stay in place, easy to leak

Related: Finding a Pelvic Floor Therapist and Why You Need One

Why I Choose Thinx for Period Care

Recently I upped my period game and made the switch to Thinx Period Panties. While I’ve been free of disposable period products for years now, this was a step from using mostly cups to now primarily using the underwear. First, I bought one pair to try them out. I noticed that the absorbance exceeded my expectations, they were comfortable to wear, I didn’t experience the “stink” throughout the day and didn’t feel gross and wet. My husband even commented on how cute they were. This is more than I can say for any other type of period product. ALSO while I haven’t personally had this experience, I’ve been told they are GREAT for postpartum bleeding once you graduate from the momma diapers!

As a previous cup user, I really enjoyed not needing to empty my cup, get blood on my hands, find a sink, etc., especially in public places. Along with how convenient and effective they are, I also feel great about supporting a company committed to eradicating the taboo of postpartum and providing effective solutions around the world. Have questions about using Thinx for your periods? You can find all my Q&As on my personal Instagram. Head to the profile highlights and find “Thinx!” and check back to the blog as we share more information about Thinx, periods, postpartum and more!

If you want to try Thinx for $10 off your order, you can find my favorite style and all the details here!


why should you switch to period underwear
Postpartum

Maternal Ambivalence: Mixed Feelings About Being a New Mom

Am I a Bad Mom for Feeling Maternal Ambivalence?

Do you feel like motherhood is not pure bliss 100% of the time? Is your joy is mixed with resentment and grief? ⁣Do you have 𝘮𝘪𝘹𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 about motherhood? ⁣ Are experiencing maternal ambivalence? What does that mean and what does it say about you as a mother?

If this is you, chances are you feel a sense of shame or guilt about these feelings. It ss easy to feel like you are the only one going through an uncomfortable experience, especially the kind not many people talk openly about. Believe it or not, maternal ambivalence and what you are experiencing is probably more common than you know. This post will discuss what maternal ambivalence is, why you may have mixed feelings about motherhood, whether or not this makes you a bad mom, and how to work through conflicting emotions regarding motherhood.

a is for ambivalence postpartum together postpartum coach

What does Ambivalence Mean?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, ambivalence means:

having two opposing feelings at the same time, or being uncertain about how you feel.

  • I felt very ambivalent about leaving home.

  • He has fairly ambivalent feelings toward his father

  • She has an ambivalent attitude to exercise

Ambivalence describes this opposition of feelings we can have simultaneously. When we discuss maternal ambivalence, this is the opposing or conflicting feelings regarding motherhood, ones role as a mother, you children, or a mix.

What if I don’t Always Love Motherhood?

It can be hard to say out loud, to say to another person, but likely there are times you don’t love motherhood and things you don’t love about it. Motherhood requires us to continually balance our children’s needs with our own needs for growth.

In a day full of gleeful social media feeds and “good mom” expectations, you might not feel safe in your conflicting feelings. ⁣

Motherhood comes with a long list of things to do, shortened time for the self, and a roller coaster of emotions. ⁣

𝗠𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗮𝗺𝗯𝗶𝘃𝗮𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗺𝗶𝘅 𝗼𝗳 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘆𝗲𝘁 𝗮 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲𝘀.

⁣Maybe someone says birth is “love at first sight” and you are filled with other emotions when your baby is first handed over to you.
Maybe your child’s need is keeping you from a job, a friendship, your partner, quiet time… things that make you feel resentment or anger even though you surely love your child.

Maybe someone says “isn’t motherhood just the best?!” and it leaves you wondering if you’re broken because you don’t always feel that way. ⁣

𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻’𝘁 𝗯𝗿𝗼𝗸𝗲𝗻.

The system of unrealistic expectations of the “good mom” is broken and ambivalence can be a very normal part of motherhood. ⁣

There are many things you don’t expect about postpartum, as discussed in the 10 Things No One Tells You About Postpartum, and those things can both take us by surprise and also create negative feelings towards motherhood.

Related: Postpartum Planner

I have Mixed Feelings Because I Miss My Old Life

Motherhood changes everything, and it changes it quickly. Mixed emotions are a part of any big change, yet it seems like with motherhood there isn’t room for these conversations and topics.

I first heard of maternal ambivalence when I was pregnant with my second child and it felt like a relief to learn about. It still felt “icky” and “unpleasant” to consider and I felt guilty even considering it. Heck, even today as I write I feel like there is darkness and guilt tied to thinking about the role ambivalence can play into our motherhood. And yet, the language that gives a name and permission to the resentment, boredom, anxiety in the midst of joy, love and gratitude. The term maternal ambivalence allowed me to realize this wasn’t something flawed in me. It was, and it is, a very natural reaction.

what does it mean if I have mixed feelings about motherhood with a new baby

I love My Baby But I’ve Lost My Identity

When we care deeply about things, we have emotional reactions. For many of us, there are things about ourselves and our reality pre-baby that we love. Maybe you love your career. You love your outings with your best friends. Or maybe you love spontaneous travel with your partner. It could be your love for reading a book in your PJs all weekend.

Then, motherhood hits and things we know, the things we love, are turned upside down. Being sad about the loss of those things doesn’t take away your ability and the reality that you love your child. It means you have mixed emotions worth recognizing.

While you are working through the change of your identity in many ways, you’re now taking on the identity of a mom. The opportunities for judgement and self-doubt run wild in our current society.

How does a good mom feel after birth?
How does she feel about her baby? Herself? Her changed life?
What are the things she does, says and feels that makes her a good mom?

Related: New Baby, Lost Identity

Society And Motherhood: Contributor to Ambivalence?

 Chances are, if you’re a mom, you want to be a good mom.

And truth is there are many messages, marketing structures and stories try to tell you what it means to be “good.” These messages pull you in different directions. The tell you that you need to DO more and BE more and BUY more. They tell you that there are 187 steps to being a good mom and this can set you up for failure. So now, not only have you lost a part of your identity, but society is constantly telling you that you aren’t good enough at this new part of your identity. It is no surprise if you feel anxiety, boredom, guilt and resentment even while feeling connected and loving towards your baby.

In the American society, maternity leave policies suck for the most part. Women are expected to breastfeed, lose the baby weight, get back to sex, pick up their jobs as usual and more in just weeks.
What.
The.
Fresh.
Hell?

Related: Am I Ready for Sex After Baby?

Motherhood and the Workplace

A mom who chooses to breastfeed but has a short maternity leave then often returns to an office with a less-than-accommodating pumping room and judgement for taking pumping breaks. Yet a woman who decides to cease breastfeeding “didn’t try hard enough” to “give her baby the best.” (Quotes indicate society terms, not my beliefs.)

A mom who wants to lie-in and spend time resting and recovering from childbirth is often frowned upon by a society that says you need to get newborn pictures, take your baby to meet the family, join a moms’ group and more before their 2 month birthday.

A mom who decides to heal her body from the inside out- starting with emphasis on pelvic floor and core recovery and “smaller” movements is often preyed on by weight-loss companies urging her to get her “body back.”

And all of these situations create a narrative that you aren’t doing well enough as a mom. How can we blame you, then, when you have ambivalence? When you long for the things you knew how to control, how to do well, and had spent years mastering? When you wanted a break from the pressure, the crying, the needs?

Related: Myths About Motherhood

You Can be A Good Mom and Feel Maternal Ambivalence

You can be a good mom and feel ambivalence. Having conflicting emotions about motherhood does not make you a bad mother. It makes you a human who doesn’t want to lose sight of her own existence and who wants to be able to grow her child and herself. You feel the joy and gratitude of motherhood while also recognizing the difficulty that can come with it. It is okay to recognize the loss of so many comforts and routines you once knew.

Personally, I believe this ambivalence can be recognized, appreciated and serve as a tool in the future. As am ambivalent mother, you have the experience and power to teach your children one day that it’s okay to have conflicting feelings. You can teach them to listen internally and not drown out their own voice. This is an opportunity to teach your children to make choices even when emotions are contradicting. You can teach them that good and bad, negative and positive, can co-exist. You can teach them to care both for themselves and for others even when it’s messy.

Momma- I believe that your ambivalence doesn’t have to take away from your motherhood journey. It can be a powerful part of it.

marriage, Postpartum

Setting Healthy Boundaries After Having Your Baby

How to Set Boundaries After Baby for You and Your Family

Often I hear from clients and moms on social media that after their baby was born, they felt out of control. People wanted to visit. There were so many opinions. There was so little sleep and time to connect as a new family.

Whether you’re the kind who wants space after baby or wants visitors waiting at the door, it’s important to be on the same page with your partner and support people and to have boundaries in place that help you have what you need (because believe it or not, momma, YOU and YOUR NEEDS are really important). struggling to set boundaries with family after having my baby

Boundaries are How We Communicate Our Values to the World

Have you ever felt mean or even “bitchy” for needing and setting boundaries? Especially as women, we are often raised to be people pleasers. And yet, this is exhausting and doesn’t take our needs and desires into consideration. It is important to be a kind and giving person, but in order to truly do that, you need to establish boundaries.

Finding our values

When we set boundaries, we are challenged to identify and communicate our values. We must look at what we have the time, energy, space, resources for and what we do not. Boundaries communicate what we believe as a family and how our values reflect that. Setting boundaries leaves less room for confusion and resentment. Boundaries Can be Hard to Set For many, setting boundaries is very difficult. It can create a pit in the stomach and a fear of offending someone else.

Confidence in boundaries

While asking for and accepting help is vital for new families, so is having boundaries around what is helpful and what is not. While boundaries may feel uncomfortable at first, they can help you avoid even more discomfort doing the road. Without boundaries, you may have difficult and tense conversations and interactions in the heat of the moment. Without boundaries, you will likely experience your own resentment and feelings that interfere with your needs and emotions.

Related: How to find a therapist

Set Boundaries After Baby Inside and Outside of the Home

Inside the Home

When it comes to setting boundaries as a new family, you want to consider what you need inside your home and outside of your home. Boundaries inside the home include boundaries with your partner, with your time and with who comes in and out of the home.

These boundaries directly impact your “safe space.” For new moms this might mean setting boundaries that ensure that you have time to sleep and not host visitors. This might mean that anyone who wants to see the baby can also help with something around the house. This might mean being on the same page with your partner about the time you each need to yourself. It also includes setting boundaries around how you make decisions for things like sleeping and eating for your baby.

Outside of the Home

When it comes to setting boundaries outside of the home, this may be where you are willing to take baby. This could be deciding when you’re ready to attend a big family function or what kind of social events you want to be apart of. This means learning to say “no” to things that aren’t fully in line with your values so that you can say “yes” to the things most important to you.

In the current midst of COVID-19, setting boundaries both inside and outside of the home include being on the same page with your partner about the kind of restrictions you want in place as far as visitors, leaving the home, childcare, work, etc. Boundaries may mean that you are finding creative ways for family to get to know your baby. Boundaries may mean that you are doing things like grocery delivery to avoid the stores. There is no “right way” to approach this, except for being on the same page after conversation and research. (We will look at how to do this below.)

Related: Postpartum During COVID

Deciding on And Holding to Boundaries

1. Prioritize: Decide what is most important for you- for your time, your energy, your presence. Think about what you can let go of and what you feel firmly about.

2. Communicate: Use verbal and non-verbal tools for communicating with your partner and/or support team.

3. Examine Mind and Body: Know the implications of boundaries- what feels mentally taxing? What takes an emotional toll? Approach your boundaries out of these root needs/effects. Adjust as needed.

4. Define Circles: You likely have different levels of intimacy with different circles in your life. Define these circles and who is in each of them. Who is part of decision making? Who gets more intimate parts of your family?

5. Define Activities: What activities are you comfortable with? Specifically with COVID, what approach does your family take and why? How can you communicate these to others outside of your home?

6. Listen, Learn, Respond: Set an intention for listening without emotional charge. Learn from those you trust. Respond with firm kindness.

How to Prioritize Your Family Boundaries

making boundaries for your family with values
  • List top 5 values of your family and put them somewhere you both/all can see

  • Check with these values when you need to make a decision

  • In a new situation, schedule a “meeting” and commit to both doing prior research so you can make educated decisions together

  • Unite in your front of communicating boundaries as a team

RELATED: Marriage, Teamwork and New Parenthood

How to Communicate Boundaries After Baby with Your Partner

communicating with your partner about boundaries
  • Shared google document

  • Shared calendar

  • Physical whiteboard/journal

  • Weekly meeting (different from date night)

  • Deciding what you each can and cannot negotiate on

If boundaries feel like a big and difficult topic, you are not alone. We aren’t always taught to set healthy boundaries for ourselves and it’s not often we are given tools and tips for communicating our needs. It’s my hope that some of these points and tips resonate with you, normalize your experience, and give you the tools you need for boundaries that feel empowering for you.

Help with Setting Boundaries After Baby

If you want to set health boundaries and you are currently expecting, check out our next Postpartum Planning Small Group. If you are a new mom and want help setting boundaries after baby, check out one of our New to the Mom Crew or After the 4th Trimester small groups. There is a small group to support you in all your needs!

We talk about boundaries as a conversation to have with your partner during pregnancy in the Creating Your Postpartum Plan eCourse. This comprehensive eCourse helps you to prepare for postpartum by working through the changes you may face and how you want to lay the foundation for your family. You get a 10 page download to complete your own personalized plan while working through the instructional videos. In this course we talk a lot about boundaries because it can be hard to anticipate what your needs will be and what the reaction from others will be, but by proactively working with your partner and support team, you can ensure that you find and use your voice and set healthy boundaries.