When I found out I was pregnant, I was both shocked and elated. I couldn’t believe it had finally happened after years of infertility. I immediately made an appointment with my doctor to get an ultrasound and confirm the pregnancy. While my pregnancy wasn’t planned, it was definitely a learning experience and I learned so many things I wish I knew earlier and many things I wish my doctor had told me. There will be a post to come about my story. Our son was diagnosed with Down syndrome prenatally and needless to say, it was a complete shock that quickly turned into complete joy. Hopefully this post will save any first time moms the questions and sometimes mental anguish that I went through with my pregnancy.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even the really crazy sounding ones!
Sometimes I feel like doctors think I’ve completely lost my marbles based on the medical questions I ask them, but I feel like I have to know the answers to all the “worst case scenarios” out there that could possibly happen. When I got pregnant, not only did I not know what questions to ask, but I was afraid to ask some questions I should have asked. If you are like me, you will probably google a lot of things. While it can be a downward spiral of anxiety into what Dr. Google thinks you should do, it can also bring to mind some great questions to ask your actual doctor. Although I suggest turning to legit and reputable sources and stay off the advice of Facebook or other social media for more serious medical questions. If something pops up like,”Could I push the baby out when I poop too hard?”, then ask your doctor! Trust me, these are questions I am only slightly embarrassed to say I have asked. It may sound like common sense but when that pelvic pressure hits you later in pregnancy, or even when you are in labor, and you are sitting on the toilet, these thoughts might pop into your already anxious mind. Trust me, your doctor has heard it all and won’t even bat a lash at it. God Bless the nurse I asked that question to after I went into labor. She held a straight face like a champ!
Hand Expression is Imperative for Breast Milk Production
I naively assumed that making breast milk was just a given that women’s bodies do. That somehow it just automatically happens and when it does, it’s easy. I thought that we all just produced a ton of milk and filled our freezers and fed our babies no problem. I thought that people only fed formula out of convenience and I am ashamed to say I did not do my research. After I had my baby, I was not properly informed that I needed to tell my body to make breast milk. The first few days, my breasts made colostrum, which is the “liquid gold” that is made for baby’s first meals. The body only makes about a teaspoon at a time, but this tiny amount is packed full of goodness for baby! I am so happy I was able to make this, but I learned the hard way that my body wasn’t told it needed to product milk. What I recently found out that I should have been hand expressing for at least a minute every hour. Doing this essentially places the order for milk. Think of it as Amazon Prime for our boobs! We place the order by expressing and our order arrives in a few days, typically between day 2 and 5. Now I am not saying this is the only reason I struggle with making enough milk, there are probably several factors such as steroid use, magnesium and age (read my birth story here to find out more), but because I didn’t place the order, I essentially negatively affected my initial milk production. If you are unsure how to do this, seek the advice of a licensed lactation consultant and do this before you go into labor. This way you are prepared just in case someone tells you differently after birth. Trust me, you want your brain to be equipped before you give birth because it will be a blur of overwhelming emotions and information afterwards, most of which I don’t even remember.
Mom Guilt Is Real and It’s Okay If You Need Help With It
When I say mom-guilt, I don’t just mean feeling a little guilty every now and then over small mistakes or clumsy moments. I mean raw, brutal, depths of despair type guilt. The stuff that keeps you up at night. The thoughts you have where you wonder if you are good enough or if your kids will hate you someday. The types of moments when you worry that your actions will cause your child irreparable harm. Usually when this happens, the thing we did that we felt guilty about isn’t something life altering or harmful, but to a new mom, it’s big…huge! It can feel like the weight of the world is upon us and we can’t get out from the pile of emotional debris weighing us down.
The most important thing to understand here is that what you are feeling is real. It’s valid and it’s okay if you feel not okay. It’s also okay to get help. It’s okay to see a professional or speak to a therapist. It’s okay to ask a friend or family member for help. These are all super common things and very, very understandable.
One thing that helped me tremendously was talking to other moms. I joined many Facebook groups that helped me talk out my feelings, validate my feelings and make sense of my feelings. I also found out that I’m not alone in how I felt and that by itself is a powerful thing. Feeling like I have support, even from strangers, is a huge relief.
There is pretty much a support group on Facebook for every single parenting issue you can imagine and I can nearly guarantee you’ll find one that you mesh with.
Trust Your Mom Gut Because It’s Real
When I was pregnant, I was almost afraid to ask questions. I was overwhelmed with information and didn’t know what to expect. Most of the time, I didn’t know what to ask. When I had certain physical symptoms, sometimes I would ignore them because I was afraid of being too paranoid or too worried. I would ignore that deep, guttural feeling that told me something was off out of fear for being seen as a crazy patient. This is something I learned from the hard way.
I suffered much more than I needed to because I ignored my gut. I didn’t speak up. I didn’t ask enough questions and I didn’t demand an explanation. If a doctor answered a question, but I felt it still wasn’t’ right, I would ignore that feeling. I assumed since they are the doctor, they know what they are talking about. Maybe they do, but they aren’t me. They aren’t living in my body or mind and they can’t see my pain or discomfort. That is why it’s super important to use your voice.
I wondered if I had used mine, would I have gone into labor seven weeks early with my son? (story on that later) I’ll never know and I try not to beat myself up over it, but now, I ask questions and if I don’t get the answer that feels right, then I keep asking until I get the care I feel I deserve.
Use The Internet Sparingly
We’ve all done it. We have a symptom, we google it, we are told we are either totally okay or going to die any minute.
The internet is a great tool for educating ourselves, but it’s also a great tool for increasing the anxiety we may already have over being a new parent. There is a lot of reputable and legitimate info out there about just every subject. But the issue is reading the right information. When I was worried about something, I would immediately Google it and of course, the web gave me the worst results first. The stuff that made me extremely confused and even more afraid.
This subject kinda goes back to the one before this one. Trust your gut! Ask questions! If you want to know more about something, ask your doctor what a good resource is. Go straight to that resource without searching the topic loosely. Do not rely on Facebook for your medical advice. Do not assume that just because someone blogs on a topic, they are an expert on that topic. Including myself. I will proudly admit that I am learning along the way and am not a professional at being a parent. I’m not sure anyone is.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about the subjects you researched, no matter how crazy they sound. I guarantee, your doctor has heard it all. Not once did I get a laugh about anything I asked. Why? Because they have definitely heard crazier stuff than what I threw at them.
The most important thing to take from all this is to just do the best you can. Breathe. Take a step back. Pause.
Being a mom isn’t something that just comes naturally. Not for anyone. We all have that baby and look at them and think “Whoa, this is a big deal. Can I do this?”. No matter what anyone tells you, no matter how perfect it looks on social media or what stories you read in parenting books…all parents struggle, make mistakes, experience guilt and feel overwhelmed. This is a learning process, like anything else in life and no one should expect you to do it perfectly. Especially not yourself. The only thing you should expect from yourself is to do it your best and with love.
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Disclaimer: Sweet Honeybee Health and it’s owners are not medical professionals. Content on this website is intended for informational purposes only. I research and write on numerous health topics and companies. Do not use the information you find on this site as medical advice. You are encouraged to seek the advice of a medical professional prior to trying any health remedy, no matter how safe or risk-free it may claim to be.