My Baby Is Fine!

With my first daughter, I only breastfed for four months. That’s still better than nothing, but I didn’t meet my minimum goal of six months of exclusive breastfeeding. At four months, my daughter weighed as much as she did at her 2-month well child visit. Everyone panicked.  Her pediatrician recommended that I supplement with a bottle of my pumped breastmilk, and if that didn’t work to use formula. I wasn’t knowledgeable about lactation consultants 7 years ago, so I resulted to formula out of fear of my baby starving. Til this day, I don’t know what exactly caused my baby’s weight loss. I’ve chalked it up to my Mirena IUD. I got it placed in October 2011, which is when Taniya turned two months. I’ve since learned that Mirena, and other birth control methods that release the progesterone hormone into your system can make your milk supply decrease. The IUD mixed with stress could have played a part in my milk production. Either way, it traumatized me.

That entire time, my baby wasn’t getting enough milk and I felt HORRIBLE. When I look back at pictures and see how thin she was, I shame myself and wonder how could I not see that my child was losing weight? Again, my insecurity dealing with weight had been highlighted. I began to obsess over whether Taniya was gaining the proper amount of weight. I eventually had to tell myself, my baby is fine!

Just as I prepared myself for a better pregnancy, labor and delivery experience with my youngest daughter, I also made sure that my breastfeeding experience would be different this time around also. I took several classes, read several articles, followed Instagram pages on breastfeeding, and have joined breastfeeding support groups on Facebook. I also received lactation help from the hospital lactation consultant and the beautiful @Khadijaknowsbreast (IG handle) when she was with Mamatoto Village.

Even with all that help, I still stressed over weight gain for Jayla. The nurses said she lost more than 10% of her birth weight while in the hospital so the focus began to shift toward her gaining weight. Then to top it off, she developed Jaundice when we left the hospital, so I had to nurse and nurse in order to flush the bilirubin out of her system. The more she drank, it would be released through her bowel movements. Each appointment, we were watching closely to monitor her weight gain, as well as her bilirubin levels. Our process ended successfully, but my PTSD with baby weight gain didn’t go anywhere.

I panicked every other month consistently, wondering if our daughter was gaining or losing weight. My husband was often upset by my panic, but I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t until one afternoon at the park with Taniya and Jayla, and a mother of a newborn asked me how old Jayla was that things began to shift. She was 8 months old at the time, and the girl said “Oh she must have been a preemie.” I said “No, she was full term and is very healthy.” In that moment, I was highly irritated, but realized how confident I became in my baby and our breastfeeding journey.

That confidence soon became shaken when the women in the support groups I am a part of started to talk about their negative experiences with breastfeeding. More so their experiences with pediatricians, non-supportive family members and strangers when they are breastfeeding in public. I found myself preparing to curse someone out for asking about my baby’s weight, telling me about how I need to feed her or cover my breast. Mentally, this journey has been a rollercoaster, but physically and emotionally… it’s been a blessing.

This is for everyone! Mother’s who breastfeed and have chunky babies. Mother’s who formula feed and have chunky babies. Mother’s whose babies sleep through the night. People who don’t understand breastfeeding. People who think I (we as a community) should cover up. Women who are planning to or are new to breastfeeding.

MY BABY IS FINE! No; I will not cover my baby while she eats.  No; I will not go in the bathroom. Turn your head, mind your business or get popped in the face! No, I’m not being extra— I’M FEEDING MY CHILD! No, I don’t have to give her bottle. Yes; she is growing fine! Yes; she is meeting her milestones. No, I will not give her cereal. Yes; we still wake up through the night! No; I will not give her formula. No, I will not give her cow’s milk.  No; I don’t breastfeed because I’m poor, but I do enjoy the fact that it’s free. No, she wasn’t born prematurely. If you’re uncomfortable, turn your head! If you have questions, ask politely. Yes; BLACK WOMEN DO BREASTFEED!!!!

Breastfeeding women do not mind educating you about breastfeeding. Just ask! Please do not attack us because we are like lionesses and bears with their cubs. We will demolish you!! We are trying to care for our babies and feed them the best way we know how. Naturally. If you formula feed your baby, that is just fine! Please don’t make breastfeeding out to be negative. We are all on our own mothering journey, and doing the best we can. There is no need to attack each other’s choices. As long as our choices are what’s best for our babies.

If you know a breastfeeding mother, ask her how her nipples are doing. They’re probably dry, scabbing, have scratches and more. Ask her if she’s been able to get any rest. Her baby could be cluster feeding, teething, sick, or going through a growth spurt. She didn’t get an ounce of sleep, but still went to work, cleaned the house, cooked and cared for her other children and husband. Ask her is there’s anything that she needs support with. She’s most likely had to wash the same load 3 times in a row because she keeps forgetting them in the washer or forgets to turn the dryer on.

Just be there for a breastfeeding mother. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing a woman can do, but it’s not the easiest thing. Support goes a long way. Love goes a long way. Support has gotten me to 11 months and counting on my current breastfeeding journey.

Happy Black Breastfeeding Week 🙂

10 Reasons to Hire a Doula

I always imagined that whenever I got pregnant, it would be planned, and that it would be like every pregnancy/labor & delivery scene you’ve seen in a TV show or movie. It would go something like, “Oh my God, I think my water just broke!” Then I immediately break out into a hysterical scream and go into my routine Lamaze breathing. Moments later, I hear my beautiful baby cry. I’ve been pregnant twice, and each time they were unplanned and the complete opposite of those movie scenes. I was 21 and uneducated about pregnancy and birth my first go, and I made a promise to myself that the next time around I would be prepared to take charge and have the experience that I desired. Whether your pregnancy has been planned or spur of the moment, whether you’re teenager or middle-aged woman, having a doula present during pregnancy experience is essential. If you’re having a planned or emergency Cesarean (C-section), a hospital or homebirth, having a doula present is vital. Society has hidden the importance of a doula and education regarding them; therefore women now see doulas as an option rather than a necessity. While there are numerous reasons why a pregnant mama should hire a doula, here are 10.

 

All About the Mama- A doula’s sole purpose is to meet the needs of the mother. She is there to nurture and provide support throughout the labor and delivery process, regardless of any procedures or environment changes. Your doula’s main agenda is to be by your side, comforting you emotionally and physically. If you have a partner present, they will incorporate them in soothing techniques such as massages, using a rebozo, delivery positions and more. Your doula is for you and only you. Not the hospital, doctor, nurse, or your mother-in-law; unless they are your support person.

On-Call Support- Your doula isn’t just there to support you during labor and delivery; they are there throughout your pregnancy as well. If you allow, doulas are present when and if you’re planning to become pregnant, at your prenatal appointments, or providing you with evidence based research in order to ensure that you are knowledgeable about your body and your baby. Just like technology, the medical field and their practices are constantly changing. You could have given birth two years ago and find yourself confused at every appointment in your current pregnancy.  In my case, my children are six years apart. I remember one of the midwives on my team telling me that they now suggest pregnant women get the Tdap vaccine while the baby is still in utero. They say that the antibodies immediately begin to work on their immune system to protect them for the first two months of life. Welp, six years ago, that was unheard of, and I was not comfortable saying ‘yes’ to a vaccination that I hadn’t learned about previously. I quickly notified my doula, and she immediately sent me over evidence based research on the vaccine. I didn’t have to plan or wait for the right time to call her to get the information I needed.

Resources- As a society, it has become normal to just go with the flow, popularity and with fads. We are among a popcorn society; one that believes in everything moving at the speed of light. It is unhealthy for a pregnant woman to rush her pregnancy, labor and delivery, and healing after birth. You have to take a step back and really think about what your mind, body and soul are experiencing during these times. Having resources readily available is important, and your doula will point you in the right direction. When you are in the market of buying a home, car or working on a new job, one does not go into that process blindsided. In most cases, you have done your research and have learned as much as you could because of how big of an investment it is. Giving birth and bringing life into this world is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. A doula reminds you of this and offers so many helpful resources that are personalized for you. Each person is different and may not need the same resources, so it helps having someone to be by your side helping you sort through the overwhelming information that is out there for pregnant women.

Holistic Health- Doulas truly believe in the overall health of the mother and child(ren). That is the mental, physical and spiritual health, rather than just the physical aspect alone. Many women often think of pregnancy as only prenatal visits, sonograms, blood work, weight watching, and more. While those come along with pregnancy, it is so much more than that. Having a healthy pregnancy and baby means taking care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. Your doula can assist you in your nutrition, healthy material to read, suggestions for activities that help you to remain active and some to incorporate your family, stretches that will help ease the aches, natural ways to aid in getting the sleep you need, etc. In addition to those mentioned, women who have suffered from miscarriage, stillbirth and/or infant loss benefit from the holistic approach of a doula.

Medical Health-I will never forget my visit with a high-risk doctor during my first pregnancy. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times the possible death of either me or my daughter was mentioned during that visit. A direct quote from him was “Giving birth is a moment of either life or death.” One of the main objectives of a doula is to decrease the maternal death rate. Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth, and many natural birth workers believe it is due to the medical interventions, and/or lack of proper care that take place during labor and delivery. For every medical intervention that a doctor will recommend, your doula has a natural option to combat it with. A few examples of this are natural induction versus medical induction, changing the position of a breached baby, and avoiding an episiotomy and/or tearing of the perineum. In some cases, a medical intervention cannot be avoided in order to help save the mom and baby, but even in those moments your doula being present can help change a negative situation into a positive one.

Advocacy- If you’re delivering in a hospital you will most likely experience the shift changes of nurses and doctors. When you’re in labor, talking is the furthest thing from your mind. Your main focus is to get through each contraction (or whatever positive word replacement you choose). Depending on what hospital you deliver at and who the delivery team is, you unfortunately may experience some form of discomfort. Having a doula present will bring about a sense of calmness and relief among you and your partner. If needed, they will bridge the gap of communication between you and the doctor; ask any questions you may have, help reinforce your birth plan and more. Women are often given little information about procedures during labor and delivery and a doula will advocate for you to have the birth that you desire.

Comfort. Confidence. Judgment Free (C.C.J.F)-When pregnant, you experience a lot of things that make you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. They can range from extreme gas, constipation, a weak bladder and more. No matter how embarrassing it may be, they’ve witnessed it all before. You may also have differing views from other mothers. Maybe you’d rather give your child all the vaccinations that the doctors recommend or you won’t vaccinate them at all. Your doula provides a judgment-free zone. Whatever choices you are making for your family, as long as they do not cause blatant harm, your doula will support and make you feel confident about it.

Breastfeeding (Intro)-When giving birth to your little one, you have the option of breastfeeding or bottle feeding (formula). If you choose to breastfeed, I can’t stress enough how support is needed from the very start in order to be successful at it. From getting the baby to latch, finding a comfortable position to nurse in, recognizing baby hunger cues and more, doulas will assist. While there are lactation specialists who can go in-depth, if you’ve delivered in a hospital, there’s no telling when the expert will make their way to you. Having a doula to aid you in the meantime relieves you of the stress of hearing your newborn baby scream because they’re hungry and you can’t get them to latch on to your breast.  In some cases, your doula may be a certified lactation expert, in which you have hit the jackpot.

Postpartum Health-As I’ve stated before, doulas are there for the long haul. They don’t just disappear after the umbilical cord is cut (if you choose to do so). They will make house visits, scheduled and as needed. While pregnant, people are checking up on you to make sure you’ve eaten, to see if you’ve gotten any rest and to see if you’re feeling okay in general. Often times, those calls stop after the first week of your postpartum journey. I recently saw a mom at my daughter’s school picking up her older child only four days after giving birth to her newborn who was with her. I’m not sure if she preferred to be superwoman and do it herself, or if she had no choice. In that scenario, a doula would have made sure to accommodate the newborn while she ran out to handle her duties. While women are strong, we still need to be cared for during the fourth trimester. Whether it is your first or fourth time, support is needed. It is so easy to forget to shower, brush your teeth or eat when caring for a newborn. You’re trying so hard to soothe your baby’s cries, and you haven’t noticed that you’ve been holding your pee for the past hour. You find yourself so tired from the lack of sleep, washing clothes, cooking and cleaning is the last thing you want to do. There’s a doula for that. Postpartum depression is also very real, and having a doula may help with the onset of the blues.

Family Support- If you are bringing a newborn into an already established family with one or more children already present, the transition can be a little intense. Children can feel neglected, jealous, confused, and more. Having a doula present can help facilitate family bonding and show you ways to keep all members involved in caring for the new baby and you.

All in all, doulas are not doormats or people you take advantage of, but are individuals that there for you in every way possible. Having one is a necessity, not an option or accessory!

Comfort Zone: Contentment vs. Complacency

I recently shared on Instagram that I’ve been going through an ongoing season where the lesson has been to “go through the process in order to grow through the process.” As of lately I’ve been receiving several signs telling me it’s time to step out of my comfort zone in addition to growing through the process.

I read something that said “Your comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows from it.” I immediately said “yasssss” and took a screenshot. But when I thought about it more, I had a different outlook on that statement. I believe that our comfort zone can be both positive or negative. It can either be a place of contentment or complacency. For example, if one has a career as a singer and doesn’t want to pursue an acting career as well, I consider that being content. If you have found your niche and know what works for you, being in your comfort zone is a positive thing. Where I find the negative is when you remain in your comfort zone out of fear or you lack ambition to move forward. You desire a change, but you’re complacent because you’re stuck in a place of fear, or refuse to leave your place of normalcy. You make excuses as to why you can’t move forward, and keep putting things off to a later date. My biggest fear was rejection. I wouldn’t apply for certain jobs, share ideas, heck I didn’t blog for years out of fear.

I’m taking time to think about how I got to that place, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

– I allowed my place of contentment to evolve into complacency.

– I let motherhood be an excuse for me to not go after what I wanted.

– I compared myself and my journey to other people.

– I let my own insecurities and lack of confidence darken my thoughts on how I would be received by others.

And the list goes on…

What I’ve found important on this journey is fueling my soul with books, podcasts, music, women, etc. that will continue to motivate and push me in the right direction. So often we believe that those things have little value, but they can nourish your soul when used correctly. I’ve connected with many womenpreneurs/mompreneurs through Instagram alone. I can only imagine what my network will look like once I step out of my comfort zone and shake hands with other successful women and men. I’ve signed up for webinars, conferences and attended personal events in order to get myself moving and to keep myself moving. Surrounding myself with people and tools that will support me on my journey to living in my purpose is vital. Over the years,  my circle has become small, but I have learned that I have to expand that circle in order to meet like-minded individuals that will nurture my road to true growth. I want to be around people I will learn from, people who inspire me to level up. Making those changes have already yielded positive results.

As I stated earlier, I used motherhood as an excuse to not go after my dreams. Instead of using it as my fuel and motivation, I used it as a scapegoat. I didn’t want to face the fact that I really didn’t know what direction to go in anymore. After quitting my job, being a wife and mother were the only things I knew how to do. Many of my close friends are not mothers, so I found myself solely talking motherhood with my mother, mother-in-law and other older women. It’s beautiful to hear from wise women who are experienced, but I needed to be with other moms my age. Other wives my age. I became proactive and joined a few ministries at church in addition to all that I’m doing for my career. My family will always be my first priority so I want to make sure I have support from women who are juggling being a wife, mother, and  keeper’s of their homes successfully.

I don’t expect my journey to be smooth the entire time. After all, it is a process and I have to grow through it right? I wouldn’t say this is a how-to blog per se, but I hope this helps at least one person. We can’t allow our comfort zone to cripple us when it comes to going after our desires. Whether it be a weight loss goal, moving to a new area, career goals, family goals and more, you have to make the choice to truly go after it. What I will never do is rush. I am a firm believer of never moving forward unless you have God’s peace. I had all confidence in what God wanted to use me for, but still didn’t move because I was frozen by fear. I had to push through it.

I’ve found myself battling with balancing getting sleep and doing the work needed to grow my brand(s). I’m still breastfeeding my six-month-old on demand, and sleeping through the night doesn’t seem like it will be happening any time soon. Finding that balance has been key for me; when I actually get it right. There are some days when I haven’t slept at all, but I got some work done. Others, I’ve finally taken naps and caught up on sleep, but I didn’t get as much work completed. What I’m proud of is that I no longer bash myself when I don’t get it right. I acknowledge my growth and effort, but take note on the actions that need improvement.

 

My first blog post was about being lazy versus procrastinating. Internally I feel like I’ve been lazy, but I’m famous for mom-shaming myself. I’m confident I’ve been procrastinating. Putting off reading, working out, starting a business, going out having fun, etc. I feel like I’ve been delaying my life for the past year. I’m challenging myself to make some changes. I am my daughters first example of a woman, and I don’t want them to witness their mother afraid to live life.  My oldest daughter is already watching my every move.

Time to step out of my comfort zone so that I may blossom!  Cheers to dropping the lame excuses and getting sh*t done!

#QUEEN