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Episode 19: PTSD & New Motherhood

, , May 21, 2020

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Welcome back to the breastfeeding talk podcast. I am your host, Jacqueline Kincer, and I’m so excited for this episode because this is one that I actually didn’t plan on doing, but it’s come up in conversation with not just my clients, but also friends and colleagues recently. And I feel like it’s just something that’s really worth talking about.

This is kind of going to go along with the mindset piece. of the things that I talk about in this podcast. And it’s really, it’s really an important topic. It’s one I don’t think that we talk about enough. It’s one that I feel like, you know, I wish I had had this information before I had children.

Because it would have made my journey so much easier. And what I’m talking about is… And I don’t like to use this word lightly, but I’m talking about trauma and, and PTSD and how we experience that as mothers. And it’s much more common than we think. Now I just want to put a disclaimer out there. I’m not a licensed therapist or counselor.

I don’t treat trauma. But I am talking about this from, you know, my own clinical perspective as a lactation consultant and sharing with you my own perspective as a mom and a friend of many moms out there. So I want to have an open, honest conversation here that’s not going to be clinically based. And I would say that if you.

Recognize through this episode that you may have some symptoms of PTSD. It is really, really important that you do get the proper help with that. And there are many wonderful, wonderful trauma therapists out there. In fact, a really, really great one out there is my good friend, Dr. Lydiana Garcia. I had her on the podcast earlier on an episode and I was recently on her podcast.

So I’ll link those up in the show notes for you so you can check those out because those are two very, very important episodes. And not only is she an amazing trauma therapist but she teaches resilience and resilience is an incredible tool that we really all need, but especially when it comes to things like this.

But you know, I was talking to one of my friends the other day. And she was saying that even now when her daughter, who’s no longer an infant but, you know, she’s a, she’s a toddler, preschool age, and even when she cries longer than five minutes, she just starts to see red. Like, she has no patience for it, and she’s so triggered by it.

And triggers can often be a sign of some past trauma that’s unresolved, that’s showing up in our lives currently. And, you know, I’m just going to give you sort of a layman’s overview of this. Essentially, what happens is whenever we experience an event that is traumatic or multiple events that end up creating a traumatic experience, that our brain takes that information and now we’re on high alert at all times because we’re concerned that this is going to happen to us again in the future.

We sort of learn to expect it, or if there’s anything that reminds us of those events. That we are then kind of set back to that time, so to speak, our brains put us back in those initial moments of the trauma and we’re like re traumatized again. And so the example of like a baby crying, for instance, you know, if any of you out there have ever experienced this, if you’ve had a very colicky baby who not just cried, but maybe even woke you up from sleep constantly.

Now. And I don’t want to say this and feel like people are advocating for like cry it out sleep training. I’m not, I’m not doing that at all. But it is a sign of a problem that needs to be addressed. But let’s say you had a baby who, you know, woke up every hour, every couple hours was crying, nothing you could do could settle them.

And you were so, so sleep deprived. You know, sleep deprivation is a real thing. I mean, it can actually lead to psychotic breaks. We know this from a ton of research out there. Our brains do need sleep. Now, is there some element of sleep deprivation that is normal when having a baby? Yes, but there’s also an element that’s completely not normal, and a lot of moms just suffer through it.

And so that crying, That triggers that response that we’re learning. Okay, now I’m going to be sleep deprived again. Your brain keeps going back to that cycle over and over and over again. So even when your five year old is crying, you still may find yourself massively triggered by it. And unless you have the tools in place to cope with that, to build some resilience.

To no longer re experience that trauma and have anxiety created whenever these triggering events happen, then you’re going to keep being triggered and you’re going to find parenting to be a really frustrating, unfulfilling experience in a lot of ways. Not completely, but in some ways, right? So Whether it’s sleep deprivation, whether it’s breastfeeding difficulty.

I mean, you know, another example might be that you had a really painful latch with your baby. So even just the thought of latching your baby, you would cringe, hold your breath, you know, strain, tense up, curl your toes. And you’re anticipating that pain, which also can cause more pain, right? So that causes a heightened pain response.

Our brains are actually that powerful, but then the pain happens again, and you create this ingrained trauma pathway in your brain. So these things might not be You know, big traumas in the sense of the word like like getting shot or, you know, being in a war or a severe car accident or the things that we normally perceive as trauma, you know, but I don’t, I don’t want to minimize it either.

Right? Birth trauma is a very, very real thing. There are many women out there who, you know, interventions are not, but more often than not, the interventions that are done sometimes without their knowledge, without their permission things that go wrong in the birth, you know, rushing into the OR for an emergency C section.

These things are very traumatizing and they’re happening to us when we’re in an incredibly vulnerable state. When you are in the midst of giving birth to a child, you are so vulnerable and your brain, you’re not operating in the frontal cortex, that part of your brain that’s very conscious and thinking and analytical and all of that.

You’re in your reptilian brain, right? So when those things happen to you, you’re really not able to, to process in the moment the way that you might be if you were in another You know, circumstance but also, you know, some of these things cause great harm, right? Even parents of babies who have been in NICUs, we’ve studied this, that they may actually have PTSD, not just from the separation from their child, but, you know, seeing their child hooked up to tubes and cords and wires and not being able to touch them and, and having to, you know, pump around the clock, you know, all the time.

And, And all these things and feeling like their child may die at any moment. That’s very, very traumatizing, but it doesn’t mean that those traumas are any more real than the traumas of sleep deprivation or breastfeeding pain, or let’s say you, you know, even had a baby who, you know, we’re, you’re always worried about weight gain.

Maybe they even went so far as to get diagnosed as failure to thrive. What a horrible term. First of all, I would like it if we replaced that with something else. But. You know, then you may have this continued trauma. Is my child getting enough to eat? Are they getting enough to eat? Are they getting enough to eat?

Even though we have tons of evidence and data point that your child is now getting enough to eat. Still your brain is on a high alert. And what I want to tell you is that if you’re experiencing, you know, there’s numerous other scenarios I could give you, but what I want to tell you is that if you’re experiencing any of these things or you recognize that you have experienced any of these things, it’s not your fault.

It’s absolutely 100% not your fault, because the way trauma works is just the way our brain works. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s not that you’re not a strong enough person. It’s not that you have a personal flaw or something subconsciously is, is like going on underneath the surface. Your brain is literally wired to create trauma and PTSD.

Like, it, it is how we are able to cope with this in the moment. So what I want to tell you is there’s nothing wrong with you. In fact, I would actually say it is somewhat normal, you know What happens when we are traumatized is a completely normal Experience in terms of how our brains are wired and I know you know Certainly, you know people who deal with this directly trauma therapists and such can can speak to this point more directly And the thing is is that most of us?

Don’t recognize these things as traumas, or even if you feel more comfortable using the word, you know, micro traumas, or I’ve seen it referred to as like, you know, big T trauma. So trauma with a capital T and then trauma with a lowercase T. So little T trauma, right? And so however you want to define this and, or rank it for yourself, it’s still trauma, no matter how we look at it.

Right. Even, even. You know, to some extent losing your identity, right? So maybe you were working full time and you took time off to, you know, stay at home with your child and now you’re separated from your normal social network. You may feel like you lack purpose in life because you’re no longer contributing to a career outside the home.

Like there can be other ways, you know, symptoms of trauma and PTSD can be, you know, lack of social support. Right. That can actually cause you to have PTSD. So there’s a lot of elements here. And then along with that, you might be experiencing depression or anxiety or even psychosis that that’s, that’s a really, you know, more advanced kind of stage of this, but postpartum depression and anxiety are very, very common these days.

And, you know, sometimes it is just depression. Sometimes it is just anxiety or a combination of the two, but other times I find underneath the surface. There’s some PTSD involved. And so you can do medications, but medications are not going to rewire your brain. You do need to do some sort of counseling or therapy and I would highly encourage you to do that.

But I want to sit here and nanny you and tell you what to do. What I want to do is to have a conversation about this. I hope is that this conversation is going to be really enlightening and I actually wish that this was like a big forum and a group of people and we were all just having a big conversation about this because I think that would be just much more helpful and encouraging.

So you know, I’ll even, you know, speak a bit about my own personal experiences. You know, my son, I really didn’t have. And he was my first child. I really didn’t have many expectations going into parenting. I think I understood that there would be a lack of sleep. I don’t, I didn’t really read any baby books.

I did a lot of studying up on birth and, you know, taking care of myself during the pregnancy. I took one breastfeeding class and I have a whole episode where I talk about my breastfeeding journey with him. So I’m not going to go back into detail on that. But he was a baby that caused me a lot of breastfeeding pain for six weeks.

I really cringed with latching him. And looking back now, the end of my breastfeeding journey, which I, which I talk about in a previous episode. I ended up getting a severe nursing aversion with him when I was pregnant with my daughter, which is common and may have just been due to the pregnancy. But in some respects, I actually think that it was due to the initial pain that I had with him because my body was gearing up to birth another child.

And the thought of going through that kind of excruciating breastfeeding pain again on a subconscious level, I had a great fear of that. Now, I didn’t acknowledge that. On a conscious level, but looking back now, I know that I had a fear of that happening all over again, and it was almost like matters were made worse because now I was a lactation consultant, so I felt like I should have known better, or you know, I should know better, but what if it happens again?

And I’m not able to just fix it, you know, and so that was a big fear of mine. And so I think that fear cropped up around the same time that I experienced nourishing aversion with my son when I was pregnant with my daughter. But that is something that I didn’t realize. Now, looking back to me, that’s a bit of a micro trauma.

The other micro trauma or even big trauma, if you want to call it, that was sleep deprivation. I mean, there were moments. And I’m not joking. I mean, some of you can probably relate to this. I actually thought that I was going to die because I was so sleep deprived. Like, I would just be sitting there thinking, I literally don’t know how I’m going to take my next breath.

And I remember sitting in his nursery room on his floor he was laying on a little play mat and looking up and just passing out You know, laying on the floor next to him because that’s all I could physically do. My body was shutting down. It was like, you have to go to sleep. It was basically like having narcolepsy.

And then I would wake up because, you know, on the other side of my brain, my brain’s going, but you gotta watch your child. You have to take care of him. What if he rolls away from you? Even though he’s totally fine, safe on a carpeted floor in an enclosed room, and there’s nothing that can fall on him, my brain is still, you know, you have to keep an eye on your child.

So I’d maybe doze off for two minutes and wake up. Doze off for two minutes and wake up. And it was just… Constantly creating, you know, a stream of traumatic events that got reinforced over and over and over again. Now, my daughter, she didn’t have those sleep problems. But I had some PTSD from that, and so in the early days of her, you know, being born, gaining weight great, putting on a pound in her first week, and I’ll tell her journey in a whole separate episode, I still, I would wake, I couldn’t sleep.

Like, I would wake up and check on her, like, is she breathing? Is she okay? Why isn’t she waking me up? She should be waking me up all the time. I should be totally sleep deprived. And it took me a while to accept. That she was totally fine and that she could sleep longer stretches and also she didn’t end up causing me breastfeeding pain, so thank goodness.

But it was that PTSD that was living out in my brain, right? But the other thing I want to say here is I don’t want to just sit here and call it all 100% PTSD. On the same vein, we have to talk about our hormones and how we’re hardwired to be as mothers. So there’s a hormonal dance that obviously happens.

When you conceive, when you’re pregnant, when you go into labor and give birth, and then there’s a hormonal dance that continues post-birth if you’re breastfeeding. And this hormonal dance is really, really important. Not just for lactation, but for bonding with your baby and all sorts of other things. So part of it is that our brain, are wired like, like our brains don’t know, at least the reptilian part of our brain doesn’t know, that we’re no longer hunters and gatherers, that we don’t live in caves, that we’re no longer at threat of being eaten or by a wild animal or attacked by a rival tribe, rival tribe or, you know, any of those sorts of things.

So our reptilian brain literally thinks that we are like how we originally were as humans. And so it’s on alert. And if we give birth to a baby. We are in high alert. I’ll even talk about this in birth, for instance. So, you know, I don’t want to, this isn’t to judge anyone’s birth choices or anything like that, but the first intervention in childbirth is leaving your home.

The reason for that, and then there’s a cascade of interventions that usually happen after that. The reason for that is because going into a hospital, into a medical, into a clinical setting, if you don’t need to, for some medical reason, is going to cause issues with your birth because it’s going to put you into fear.

Whether or not you know that on a conscious level, it’s putting you into fear. Why? Because you’re leaving your safe, known space of your home and you’re going into the unknown. I don’t care if you did a hospital tour ahead of time. You’ve never labored in that hospital room before. You’ve probably never even met those nurses before.

So you’re Going around new people in a new environment and then you’re under bright lights and all these things, a very sterile, cold room, right? That’s not exactly the type of environment that’s very conducive to a peaceful birth. That doesn’t mean that everyone should have a home birth. That’s not what I’m saying, but we know the reason why home birth is so safe is because you’re going to be in a safe space that has known your own environment with people that you know, that you trust, that you love, you feel safe and protected.

The reason why women are able to have home birth successfully and safely is because they are not experiencing fear. When you experience fear and you think there is something on a, you know, reptilian brain subconscious level that could potentially harm you or your baby, your body is going to postpone birthing that baby.

Fear is going to create hormones that inhibit contractions or make them more painful because you don’t want, your body doesn’t want those contractions to be productive enough to produce the child out of your body. So it’s just something to think about, right? So fear creates a physiological response in our body.

If your body is afraid. And by your body, I mean sort of your reptilian brain, but your body is afraid. It’s not going to want to give birth to a child in a fearful environment. So now what we’re doing is, oh, your contractions slowed. Let’s give you some Pitocin to speed them up. Now we have to introduce synthetic hormones because your body isn’t doing the job, not because there’s something wrong with your body, but because there’s everything right with your body.

Because your body is smart and your body goes, this is not the safe environment that I’m used to. I don’t know that it’s okay to have a child here. What if, what if something goes wrong? It’s unknown. So it makes sense when you think about it. The same thing is going to happen with taking care of a newborn.

Your brain wants to protect that baby at all costs. So does your body. That child was just inside you for nine or 10 months. We don’t want that child dying, right? We want that child surviving. Now, even though your conscious brain, your frontal cortex and all these other parts of the brain, know that your child is safe in their bassinet, in the hospital or whatever, there’s another part of your brain operating on an entire different level that is stuck in like an evolutionary past.

And if your baby is crying, it’s going to send a hormonal cascade through your whole body. And I know you’ve experienced this as a mother, formula feeding, breastfeeding, you’re experiencing this, especially in the newborn stage. How many of you, you know, raise your hands in your kitchen or your car or wherever you’re listening to this or your bathroom, wherever you are right now, how many of you have experienced putting your newborn or your very young baby in the car seat in the car, they start crying and you.

are freaking out. You are not totally calm in that moment. You may pull over a car to check on them. You may pull them over to feed them, check their diaper. Like, you’re gonna check on that baby! Or if you don’t check on them, you’re gonna have a very anxious feeling going on. That has nothing to do with any thought process going on in your brain and it has everything to do with your hormones.

Because your body is saying, I have to do everything to ensure this child’s survival. Even at, even at, you know, the risk of my own survival, right? We’re hardwired as human beings, as all species for the most part are, to, you know, ensure the survival of the next generation. So our hormones are like, Oh my gosh, we have to go, you know, they will drive you.

It’s like, it’s like you’re, you’re not even in control of your own body anymore. They will literally force you to move your body towards your child and pick them up. So it takes a lot to override that. You know, and I don’t know that we should override that in some ways, right? We should meet the needs of our child.

Why is our child crying? Well, they need something. It’s the only way they can communicate with us. But at the same time, we have a generation, not just now, of babies now, but even ourselves and our parents before us who are not exactly healthy. Right. We, we have a generation of people and it’s, it’s not just the last few generations.

I think it really goes back further than that of compromised health. Now, maybe not in the sense that, you know, we get a contagious disease and drop off the face of the earth that isn’t happening so much anymore, right? We have, we have some medical interventions in place that, that don’t allow that to happen, but it’s more along the lines of chronic disease and even subclinical things.

Right. So, you know, the rate of infertility and just, you know, chronic disease, things like diabetes, high blood pressure, you know, cardiovascular issues of all kinds, asthma, all these things, you know, even if we want to look at things like autism and, and ADHD and all these other things, those things are up on the rise, but even food intolerances.

You know, chemical sensitivities. These sorts of things are very pervasive and very common in our society. You know, even just being overweight is a very, very common thing, not just obesity, but overweight, which isn’t healthy, right? Neither is being underweight. So there’s a lot of unhealthy things happening and we’re birthing babies.

Who, and this isn’t to, you know, create any sort of blame, but you may have your own subclinical stuff going on. Your partner may have their own subclinical stuff going on. And then you create a child who then has their own subclinical stuff going on. And it could be food intolerances. It could be a tongue tie.

It could be, you know, a lot of other things. And I would argue many of those things are actually clinical things going on. But the medical community is going to recognize those as subclinical. So we’re birthing children that, that have issues. And those babies that have issues are going to cause, you know, us to have to parent in a different way.

They may cry more often. They may not sleep as well. You know, there may be some things going on there that then is creating more demand on our bodies, on our mental faculties, on our physiology. to respond to those babies and to care for them. Couple that with the fact that we don’t live in community anymore.

Many of us don’t live with elders in our home who are here to guide us and support us in our parenting and child rearing. Right? A lot of us live as a nuclear family. We may not even live in the same state as our, as our family may not even have other family around us. We may be only children. We don’t have siblings.

We not, we may not have friends who have had children yet or are very supportive. So we’re isolated and we’re relying on technology. We’re relying on, you know, paying experts, which, you know, there’s nothing wrong with those things. We have to do those things in lieu of no longer living in villages. Right.

So couple that though, with all the other stuff we have going on, on a physiological level in terms of our health, and we’re setting up a recipe for disaster. And that’s not to paint this ugly picture of motherhood or parenting. Right. And it’s not to say that we’re all doomed. It’s not to say that everybody struggles, but there’s enough people struggling out there that I think that what we need to do is put some, put some warnings up for those of you who are about to have children, you know, and just say, Hey.

It may be really hard and it’s maybe really hard because you may experience trauma along the way or you may experience a hormonal cascade that causes you to have an, you know, a natural and expected heightened response. But sometimes we don’t have the tools to calm that heightened response. So unless you have the tools to create resiliency.

And awareness of what’s going on to process it and not be, you know, suffering from these recurrent emotions and traumas over and over again, then you’re going to be stuck in a very unhappy place for a long time. You may eventually come out of it on your own. It may take, you know, a professional intervention by someone like a licensed counselor or therapist or you may never come out of it.

And so I think it’s fair to warn parents about these things. I think it’s fair to say that, you know, it’s not just about, The way you put the baby to sleep, or the way you feed the baby, or what clothes you buy the baby, or what lotions you put on the baby’s skin, or how often you take them to the pediatrician, like, those are all things that, yes, we need to worry about when we have babies, but we also need to prepare ourselves mentally And emotionally for having children and for breastfeeding them.

Now breastfeeding doesn’t put some sort of undue burden on us though. I mean, formula feeding moms, you know, a lot of them have a lot of guilt that they can’t breastfeed and then they don’t have the same hormonal dance that’s going on with a mother who is lactating. So they’re missing out on some things and that can actually cause Some other mental health issues breastfeeding long term is actually way more protective of maternal mental health than formula feeding So there’s and that’s just studies, right?

I mean, there’s always exceptions to the rule But I’m talking about the evidence that we have that’s very clear, you know throughout many different societies So what I would like to talk about is how do we build up ourselves so that we don’t endure PTSD or long term suffering or, you know, question our own sanity and fall into the trap of PTSD, depression, and anxiety?

Well, I’d like to, you know, talk to you about a few things. One is we can take care of ourselves on a physiologic level. So if we are depleted, and there is an actual term for this, post natal depletion, if we are depleted, whether that’s something like micronutrients, hormones, you know, other things in our bodies, then we will start to see effects on us mentally and emotionally.

So it’s kind of a, you know, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, it could be either. It could be both. Who knows? But if we’re not taking care of ourselves on a physical level, then we will suffer on a mental and emotional level. So one of the things that we can do is make sure we’re taking a high quality prenatal vitamin.

Most people are not, they are taking some store bought vitamin that does not have the most bioavailable or usable forms of everything contained in that vitamin. And so a lot of times you’re just urinating that out. Right. Your body’s not using that. And also, if you have any issues with, you know, methylation or your detox pathways or things like that, not only are you not able to use those vitamins that you’re ingesting, but you may actually be placing a larger load on your body.

Or now it’s having to detoxify these synthetic forms of these vitamins. So it’s busy doing that and less busy absorbing those nutrients that it needs from the food. So we don’t want to stress our detox pathways, right? We want to make sure we’re taking a high quality prenatal vitamin. That’s a good start.

Okay, the other thing we want to do is make sure we are eating a really healthy diet. You know, I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s key. It’s paramount. And if you don’t believe me, go back and listen to the episode I did with Samantha Scruggs on nutrition and anxiety and how that infects your hormones and your neurotransmitters.

So your gut health is dependent on what you put into your gut, and we’ve got to start with diet and nutrition first. Okay, sleep is also important. Sleep is when our body heals. Now again, some sleep deprivation is expected when you have a newborn. They are going to want to feed every two or three hours.

That’s just the way it goes. But if it goes on past a certain point, you know, that doesn’t mean at, you know, six hours of sleep is really what we need to function normally neurologically. That is not going to happen in the first few months of life with a baby. Okay. But again, sleep is being disrupted because there’s other issues going on with ourselves and with our babies and also with technology.

So if you’re one of those people who has a hard time falling back asleep after your baby has gone back to sleep, make sure that you are not upsetting your circadian rhythm and stopping your own melatonin production at night by exposing yourself to blue light. This is huge. A lot of us are hopping on screens, even if you’ve got the dark mode or, you know, the, the night shift mode or whatever on your phone or your computer, you know, or even your TV, which is really rare, but you may have it on your TV, even if you’ve got those modes on there, you’re still letting some blue light through.

Let’s try not to do that. Blue light blocking glasses would be the best bet. Even couple that with night shift mode on your phone or your device because that blue light Exposure think of this, you know, the sky is blue, right? So when that light comes in, you know, or you go outside for the day and you see a blue sky Your retina is taking that information It changes your hormone production, it wakes you up for the day.

So it’s very important to acknowledge that this is not something to take lightly. This isn’t some woowoo nonsense conspiracy theory. This is actual, you know, scientific fact. And the other thing is that if you’re on your phone in the middle of the night and that phone is maybe even behind your baby’s head, But that blue light still travels, that still emits, and if their eyes are open and receiving any of that, they’re going to have a hard time sleeping.

And if you disrupt your own melatonin production, maybe let’s say you can fall back asleep, because you’re an adult and you know it’s night time and you’re tired and you’re exhausted and you’re sleep deprived, but if you disrupt your own melatonin production, your baby, until they’re three months old, they don’t make their own melatonin.

They have to get it from breast milk. Okay, so if you disrupt your own melatonin production, it’s not there, it’s not in your milk, now your baby nurses, they’re going to wake up in 45 minutes again. Because their sleep cycles are about every 45 to 50 minutes. And if they don’t have that melatonin to help them go back to sleep and tryptophan from breast milk which is a precursor to serotonin and that helps regulate sleep, and there’s all these other things in breast milk that do that for them, if they don’t have those things, they’re going to have a hard time sleeping through the night.

So, you know, even, even a small light on a baby monitor that’s blue or green, like, that is going to interrupt their melatonin production. It’s going to interrupt yours. So make sure there’s absolutely no blue light of any kind. And I cannot stress that enough. So if you didn’t know that already, I hope that was like a really, really helpful tip for you.

And sleep hygiene, look into it. You know, don’t let your baby get overtired. There’s a lot of sleep classes out there and things like that. Some are good, some are not. But you know, letting your baby get overtired and now they’re fussy, it’s harder to get them to sleep. Just like a fussy baby, it’s harder to latch at the breast.

So there’s things like that, you know, that you want to make sure we’re taking good care of our physiology, getting physical activity and movement is not just important for you. It’s also incredibly important for your baby. So doing tummy time with them, wearing them in a baby carrier, not keeping them in containers.

Throughout the day, they should only be in a container for a car ride, or if you have to set them down to go, you know, use the restroom or do something where you cannot monitor them in another circumstance. But beyond that, they should not be hanging out in containers. They shouldn’t be hanging out in baby swings.

Okay. I know no one likes to hear that. Okay. But the reason why. You feel like your baby needs a baby swing. They can’t live without it is because something else is going on. It’s not a deficiency of a baby swing. Something else is going on, right? And so there, a lot of times I find it’s a catch 22.

Something else is either going on or they aren’t getting enough natural movement against gravity throughout the day that they’re no longer neurologically calm. They’re, they’re calm, calm, calm, calm, calm being kept calm by shushing and rocking all the stuff all during the day. Well, when do they ever have a moment to be active and alert and to move their bodies and be in a more heightened state?

They need to express and get that energy out and to move their muscles and things so that they can actually settle down again into a more calm state and fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. So sometimes that’s another factor. And I’m not telling anyone how to parent here. I’m giving you. evidence based information that’s ultimately going to help you and your child.

But if they have food intolerances, if they have a tongue tie, if they have something else going on, you know, if they’re not getting up enough to eat, you know, these things are going to cause disruptions. So we need to make sure that none of those things are going on. And a lot of times they get swept under the rug, right?

Oh, we’ll just give them some reflux meds. Well, that doesn’t really clear up the food intolerance issue or the air swallowing issue that was causing the reflux. So, they can take all the reflux meds they want, but if they still have air in their tummy, they’re going to be uncomfortable and upset. Colic drops, gas drops, that’s not going to help.

They’re still going to be upset. That doesn’t remove air from the tummy. We’ve got to make them stop swallowing air first. We’ve got to stop having them ingest food proteins that are upsetting, you know, their microbiome, that are causing stomach problems. This is one of the things that we have to address.

This is why I’m always so much about the root cause. Because if we don’t fix the root cause, now we’re spending, you know, what is it over a thousand dollars on like a snoo this product that it’s a baby. Bassinet and it’s like a straight jacket for your baby that, you know, rocks them to sleep for you. And so we’d rather go spend, you know, the 1200 or or $2,000 or whatever it is on a SNU than we would to take our baby to, let’s say, you know, a chiropractor to address their neurological state or to, you know, a lactation consultant to address.

So we have to look at like, what are we prioritizing? If sleep is a priority, let’s figure out why they’re not sleeping. You know, if, if there, if there’s something that’s going on, let’s figure out why. It’s not because they’re deficient in some brand new spanking new technology. Okay. So we, we were able to have babies and, and get to, you know, 7 billion people on the planet without that kind of stuff.

So we have to look at why. Okay. Right? And some, sometimes parents, back to the trauma issue, sometimes parents are so traumatized by having, you know, a baby who is, you know, quote unquote, very high needs, that they don’t even want to have more kids after that. Now, I can tell you for a fact, that as a species, We are not hardwired to stop at one child.

If that was the case, we would see passive depopulation. Right? So, the fact that we’re seeing more and more problems with babies, some of it is societal and cultural expectations, but a lot of it is actually physiological stuff. And the fact that we’re seeing more families trend down to a one, one child household, some of that has to do with, again, society and cultural stuff and career and things of that, and just personal choice and, and education levels and things like that.

But at the same time… How many of us maybe as children envisioned having two, three, four, five kids, we have one baby and it kind of ruins it all for us. And we’re like, that’s it. I cannot handle another one. And because maybe you can’t maybe on a physiologic level, you’re going, I cannot endure that level of stress and anxiety again, or that level of sleep deprivation again, it’s just not worth it to me.

And I would say that you’re right. It is not worth it to you, but why is it happening in the first place? So this, this takes me back to what I ultimately kind of wanted to create as a take home message here. And I hope that this isn’t too all over the place and that you’re following along for the last 35 minutes.

But that’s that I think we need to set up parents. With the expectation that, you know, things may not be going swimmingly with your baby. You may experience trauma, you may experience anxiety, you may experience extreme stress. And some of that is expected, but also it shouldn’t be expected long term.

So, what we need to do is create resilience. First of all, having an awareness of just knowing that these things can happen can actually do a lot to calm you, bring you resilience, and peace of mind. If you just know, well, having a newborn might be hell for my sleep. Okay, well, I accept that and I’m okay with that instead of well, my friend’s baby sleeps eight hours a night Why won’t my baby and what am I I have to get my baby to sleep out our eight hours a night or or you?

Have some preconception that you write in a book somewhere That’s how it should happen. And then your baby doesn’t do that. And now you’re what a number of different emotions. You’re disappointed Maybe you feel some sort of guilt or shame or you don’t feel good enough as a parent or you feel like something’s wrong with your child.

Well, nothing at all may be wrong with your child. Or, or whatever, right? You may experience even anger or resentment towards your child. I’ve had many mothers confess that to me. That’s a real thing. And I think we need to talk about it. You know, I don’t want to sit here and bash motherhood or bash having babies or bash breastfeeding.

Like it doesn’t have to create all these negative things. And that’s ultimately the point that I’m trying to you know, get you to is that if we create resilience, not just You know, in terms of Expectations up front that we know it could be really really hard. We can do that first by having an awareness of Expectations or just no expectations or resetting our expectations and then also just mindfulness Right?

Mindfulness. And I know this is something that you’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah, mindfulness. I get it. I get it. Okay. Well, there’s a couple ways that you can do this. Right? You know, cause we all face trauma. I mean, I don’t care what, you know, your life has been like every single one of us on some level has faced trauma of some sort and adversity and, and extreme stresses.

Like we’ve all faced that at some point, so we have to be able to adapt to these life changing situations so that we can emerge even stronger than we were from before this all began. So, you know, resilience is basically our ability to endure, but not just endure because enduring could be suffering, right?

Resilience is moving beyond the suffering. It doesn’t mean that you won’t experience difficulty or distress. It doesn’t mean that you won’t experience trauma and anxiety, but it means that you can move beyond that and grow from it and have the strength to handle these stresses and traumas and anxieties much better in the future.

So what our brain wants us to do is not to stay stuck in the trauma. What our brain wants us to do is to take that trauma as a lesson and then build up resilience Towards that so that we’re able to handle it better in the future because it will come again You know some something in your life will happen and it will come again so the other thing to do here is Create a mindfulness practice and sometimes this is just as simple as in the moment when you’re feeling Feeling upset and heightened in those emotions.

If you can start creating a habit, a mental habit of interrupting that, just stopping that thought pattern and just looking around your environment and observing and literally just, let’s say you’re in bed with your baby, who’s screaming and crying and your focus. is on the baby screaming and crying.

Well, what you focus on grows where your attention goes is what will grow. So if your attention is on the baby is not calming down, they are freaking out, they’re crying, they won’t latch what’s wrong with them. And now you get this just negative, negative thought spiral before you’re even aware of it. If you just pause that and just shift your attention, look around the room, look up at your ceiling.

There’s a ceiling fan on the ceiling. My ceiling is painted white. There are curtains on my windows. There’s a lamp in the corner. There’s a dresser. It’s made out of wood. It has metal knobs on it. Like, just start looking around the room. What your brain is going to want to do, it’s going to want to trick you to going back to the previous thought pattern.

It’s going to pop up. It’s going to say, but the baby’s crying. Yes, but there’s carpeting on my floor and my baby is sleeping. And I’m sitting in my bed and I’m holding my baby and I’m alive and I’m taking a breath in and I’m taking a breath out. So sometimes you can use breath work, sometimes you can use meditation, but this is just one simple practice where you can just start looking around at your physical environment.

What is real for you right now? What is real and physical and observable for you right now? And if you just keep doing that, you can’t have more than one thought at a time. One focused thought at a time. So if you just focus on something else, before you know it, very often, I’ve had moms do this, they all of a sudden come back and they go, Oh, my baby stopped crying.

And they’re asleep. Before they know it. Holding the baby in the arms, baby’s crying. Before they know it, baby’s not crying anymore. And they go, Oh. That was easy. Sometimes you just got to wait it out. But also prioritizing relationships. When you can connect with other people who are empathetic, who are understanding, maybe they’ve been there through this with you.

Maybe they haven’t, but they’re just a great person that can relate to you. This will support your own skill building and resilience. So it’s important for us to talk about these things. Right? This is why talk therapy is very important. So if you don’t have anyone in your life that you have a relationship with that you can talk to about your feelings, your thoughts, your experiences to process this with, then that’s where, you know, inviting someone into your space you know, a therapist, a counselor of some sort is going to be really, really helpful.

So we’ve talked about taking care of your body, mindfulness. relationships. The other thing that’s really important, though, is to avoid any sort of negative outlets. Anything that’s going to be self destructive, self sabotage. These might be things like alcohol or drugs or other substances. Definitely, definitely avoid those sorts of things because in the moment, you might feel better, but long term or after the fact, you’re going to feel even worse often.

And it’s just like putting a bandaid on the situation. But the bandaid itself doesn’t heal, right? The healing happens from within. So those things don’t create any sort of healing. So engaging any sort of self destructive behavior, that is going to do more harm than good. It’s not going to create resilience.

It creates reliance. So now instead of creating resilience, you’re now relying on that glass of wine at night. You’re now relying on that secret cigarette on your back patio. Right. We’re now relying on the puff of marijuana and your vape pen. So you know, I’m just giving examples, right? Not saying you specifically, but just giving examples, right?

So now instead of creating resilience, you’ve created reliance. They’re not the same thing. They might feel like the same thing in the moment, but they’re not. One of these helps you grow and cope. The other keeps you numbed and keeps you requiring the substance to numb it. So ultimately, reliance turns into addiction.

So that’s an important, important thing to remember. And I feel like we talk about creating resilience a lot, but we don’t talk about ways that, that sabotage resilience. Well, that’s one way that sabotages resilience. It doesn’t have to be drugs. It could be food, right? It could be food. You could be eating candy or carbs or chocolate or whatever to numb yourself.

There’s other ways you’re numbing yourself. You may numb yourself by going on your phone. You know, that may become a tool of reliance and then it ultimately turns into an addiction. So you’ve got to be careful about what you’re relying on to help you with your emotions. And you need to make sure, you know, are my creating resilience or am I creating reliance?

Okay. And don’t confuse, like talking to a friend as reliance, you know it’s not quite the same thing. The other thing is to be really proactive. So when you do have moments where let’s say your baby’s taking a nap and you’ve got a moment to I know it’s really tempting to like hurry up and clean the house or do the dishes or do laundry or catch up on whatever you needed to do to get some work done, whatever.

I know it’s really, really, really tempting to do that. And you may go, I have to do those things in those moments. I understand, but can we just take even three minutes? Somewhere in your day, I know you’ve got three minutes to yourself, lock the door to the bathroom, you’ve got three minutes to yourself where you can be proactive and you can just start going through a process of self discovery or self coaching and just ask yourself this question, what can I do about this problem in my life?

So, whatever it is. You know, just, just do a little thought experiment and just kind of ask yourself this question. Just see where it leads, but you have to do it when you’re in a calm centered state. You cannot do it in the middle of an anxious moment when you’re panicking and feeling frustrated and resentful and all those things.

So let’s say it’s the sleep deprivation issue. Let’s say it’s the breastfeeding pain issue. Okay. So if it’s sleep deprivation, what can I do about this problem in my life? Well, I can maybe try to go to bed earlier instead of staying up later. I can, you know look into You know, some, some baby sleep books I can, you know, figure out, you know, ask, ask my pediatrician why my baby isn’t sleeping as well as they should be.

I can, I can do some research, I can explore, I can ask my lactation consultant, if it’s the breastfeeding pain issue, I hope that your number one response is, well, something is clearly wrong with the latch, let me get help with the latch. Please, please, please make that your response because you should not be suffering, right?

So, You know, and, and look at the things that you can control and the things you can’t, right? There may be some things you can’t control. If it’s your baby being in the NICU, well, you can’t control that. So what are the things you can control? Well, you can control how you respond to that. You can control that you’re able to pump enough milk to feed your baby or to get your supply to come in.

Right? You can control that you are able to get some sleep right now to prepare for the inevitable sleeplessness that will happen when the baby does come home. Right? So you can control the things that you feed yourself. You can control, you know, a lot of things. You can control the fact that you have a nice, you know, ritual of washing your face and applying cream on your face at night.

Like, there’s things in your life that you can control and then there’s things that you can’t. And then just create little goals for yourself, little small accomplishments. So like, you know, don’t always expect someone else to applaud you or recognize you for what you’re doing. So let’s say you stayed really, you know, calm and you didn’t get upset for the day or whatever.

And, and that’s. There’s anything wrong with getting upset, but let’s say that was your goal. Like I don’t want to freak out and, and start, you know, getting really resentful towards my baby. And you had a really good day and you enjoyed that day. Treat yourself, go buy yourself flowers, go buy yourself your favorite chocolate.

You know, what’s one thing that you can do to acknowledge your accomplishment and moving towards the direction you want to go. I created more resilience for myself today. Light a candle, read a book, like take a bath, like something. Do something nice for yourself. Reward yourself when you do have those good days, because that’s going to wire your brain to keep doing more and more of that behavior.

It’s going to unwire your brain to have a trauma response and an anxiety response, and it’s going to rewire it to have a calm, resilient response. So, those are just, you know, some suggestions. I think the most powerful thing that you could do is just to move into a state of acceptance. Most of the time, we create resistance about things.

I don’t like that my baby’s not sleeping. I don’t like that I’m sleep deprived. I don’t like that I don’t have my job anymore, or my friends. I don’t have them to talk to, and when we’re doing a, you know, a pandemic lockdown, we’re so much more isolated and all these things. So, if we start to create those things, That sort of resistance, we don’t like what’s happening, so we’re resistant to it, then we’re actually degrading our ability to be resilient.

When we move into a state of acceptance, we’re well on our way to creating resilience. When we accept what is, and that we can’t change certain things, We accept that there will be big changes in our life, then we’re much more able to go with the flow. So that’s my ultimate take home message is what can you do today to create resilience?

We already had a huge, huge episode on this and I don’t want to like duplicate anything that Dr. Garcia had said previously about this but I think it’s such an important topic, but I wanted to talk about, you know, that we just don’t really prepare moms. We, we don’t, and I have these clients who are struggling where even if they have me telling them, yes, everything is fine.

Your baby is getting enough to eat. They don’t need to nurse for a long period of time. They’re happy. They’re healthy. They’re growing. And I so clearly can see it. There’s many, many times where they can not see it for themselves. And they often question themselves at that point. They go, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I don’t know why, I don’t know why I’m making this more complicated than it has to be.

Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s because it’s what your brain is doing. Your brain is hardwired for this, but it doesn’t have to say it. Stay that way forever. So you can start moving into a place of acceptance, accepting your baby for the individual child that they are and that they will express themselves differently than the babies in books that you read about, than the babies that your friends have, than the babies that your pediatrician sees.

Every baby is different and so are you. So if we just move into that place of acceptance. We can go, ah, and just kind of sigh and relax and go, everything is okay. And I know that is easier said than done, which is why I wanted to give you some more, you know, just tools for resilience. And again, go back and listen to Dr.

Garcia’s episode if you liked what you heard in this one. But I think we need to acknowledge this. We need to prepare moms. And, and even if it’s, even if you’re only listening to this now and you’re in the thick of it and you’re saying, you know, even eight months down the road of, of breastfeeding or maybe you had a baby two days ago or whatever it is, or maybe you’re pregnant and you’re going, yeah, you know, I can see some of these things in myself.

Just acknowledge that it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you and it’s actually a normal, natural response, but it’s also not normal and natural to see. Stay in that response. So we’ve got to move through it and it’s just like we don’t want your baby to constantly be waking up at night forever Right, it is normal and natural in the very beginning But at some point they are supposed to be sleeping longer stretches if it’s not happening We need to create that resilience for your child.

And how do we do that? The same things we need to address everything going on on a physiological level and maybe there’s some behavioral stuff, too So, ultimately, I hope you found this episode helpful, and the last, last, last, very last take home passage that I hope you’ll just stay tuned here and not quite hit next on this episode and listen to is that I know that it’s so much harder right now to create resilience.

When there are many places around the world that are still in lockdown because of the pandemic. There are many, you know, places that even when they are opening up again, you may not feel quite safe yet venturing outside your home or inviting other people into your home to offer you more support. And I understand that.

I know that it has been difficult for you during this time. It’s been incredibly difficult for me as well. And I’m not even breastfeeding babies anymore. And it’s been very, very difficult for me. I’m recording this podcast right now. This is, this is hard work to get my children to not interrupt me for this amount of time.

So I get it. I totally, totally get it. And there are many of you who have reached out and continue to reach out to have one on one appointments with me via video to get at least some support. That level of support. Now it’s not the same as me being able to hold your hand in person, but it is darn near pretty close.

And I want you to have that support if you need that support. And I’m not the only provider out there that does telehealth. You want to do counseling or therapy, we’ve got that. Pediatricians are doing it. We’ve got all kinds of things. Now of course we can’t treat tongue ties via telehealth. No one’s going to guide you to use scissors in your own home.

I hope not. But there are many, many things that we can help you with via video. But I also wanted to say that I acknowledge that there’s a group of you out there who don’t need one on one appointments or, or don’t want to wait for that or want something more. You need that community. And one of the things I talked about was those relationships.

And when you need that community and that connection with other humans who, Are not just going through the same things as you, but understand exactly where you’re at, and they are not going to judge you. That’s where we need to lean in. And especially right now when we’re more isolated in our homes, we’re more isolated from our social networks, you know, support groups and that things of that nature are probably not going to make a comeback anytime soon, at least not in person.

Now there are online support groups, and those can be great spaces, and if you find that that’s enough for you, wonderful. However, I have found from not just being a member of many of those for many years but for also even being a founder and administrator of those, that there’s often a lot of judgment that takes place.

These are often not safe spaces for us to fully express ourselves. They may be places to ask questions about health, but on the deeper emotional level, some of the things we talked about in this episode, they tend not to be those kinds of spaces. And sometimes we hear things that we don’t want to hear, where someone will say, well, you know what, it’s just a short time in life, but it will get better.

You know, that doesn’t really help us in the moment. Sometimes we just need to be acknowledged and heard and we need to just talk through it so that we can feel better. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve created the Nurture Collective and I talked about this on the last episode a bit and if you’re following me on social media at all, you’ve seen me talk about this, but it’s not just an online support group.

It is a collective that is meant to nurture you so that you can nurture And it’s going to nurture you on a mental level, meaning giving you the knowledge you need to tackle breastfeeding issues right now. If there’s something you’re struggling with right now, you get to log into this amazing community and get access to that information on demand.

How do I deal with thrush? How do I deal with a plug duct? How do I deal with my baby who won’t sleep? How do I deal with starting solid foods? How do I deal with a nipple shield? How do I deal with… Whatever you are dealing with, and there’s going to be a resource in place for you right there. But you may have a deeper question, which is, I’m really struggling with whether or not I want to continue breastfeeding.

I love the bond it creates with my child, but I don’t love how often she wakes up at night. It’s very hard for me with my husband working full time, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m just giving you an example scenario to really talk about that, to even bring up feelings of resentment, to feeling like you’re not in that a good enough parent.

I know I’m not going to be there to be a rah rah cheerleader for you. There will be. And there will be some element of that from the other collective members. But there will also be an element that says, Hey, you know what? I know what you’re going through. And this is really hard. And what are some things you can do to take care of yourself today?

And bringing you back to those reminders. You know, and also just acknowledging, you know, and, and walking through and asking the right questions, right? Cause sometimes we want to be heard, but we also haven’t thought of everything ourselves. So it’s going to be a combination of that kind of support where you get live breastfeeding support on demand, breastfeeding support, but also support to create that resilience.

Through your entire breastfeeding and mothering journey, and that’s what the Nurture Collective is all about. So if you wanna find out more about this, it’s a really special, safe, evidence-based nurturing community, you can go to the nurture And if you’re ready to just hop on in the Nurture, that’ll be all linked up in the show notes for you.

But the final thing I wanna leave you with here is that, There are many, many different ways to get support and build up resilience during this time. A lot of this you can do on your own. Listen to this episode, listen to Dr. Garcia’s episode, listen to Samantha Scruggs’s episode on breastfeeding talk.

We’ve got some amazing, amazing information resources out there for you. Even Dr. Garcia’s podcast. I’m happy to promote and share that. The mother, like a boss podcast. I just had Kendra Hennessy on. She’s incredible. So, you know, check out her episode, check out her podcast. There’s a lot of ways. That we can go through some of the hardest times in our life and come out them unscathed and a better human on the other side of things.

So if you’re struggling, find that support, reach out, you know, send me a message on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you. Found this episode helpful at all. Share this with a friend. You know, even if you think th things are going just swimmingly, we don’t always know what’s going on in other people’s heads and hearts.

So share this with people so that they get this information, they feel supported, they have access to this. And if you hung on for all 56 minutes of me talking, I’m so, so grateful for you. And if you’re a regular listener to the podcast, it means so much when I see your reviews on iTunes showing up, not just to know that the content I’m offering you here on the podcast is something that you really want and need, but also because it helps this podcast get found by other moms like you.

So when they go to iTunes or whatever. platform they listen to podcasts on and they type in breastfeeding, the more reviews that I have, the more downloads, the more subscribers to the podcast, the more easily and readily this podcast is going to show up for those seeking this information. So thank you so much for those of you who are subscribers and those of you, especially who have left reviews.

And if you haven’t yet, please go to iTunes and leave a review so we can help out other moms just. like you. So until next time, I will see you on the upcoming episode of Breastfeeding Talk. Thanks for listening.

Instead of doing a guest interview on this important topic, I’m speaking directly to you in today’s episode. If you’re like most new moms, you’ve likely realized how under-prepared you were to take on new motherhood. Add breastfeeding challenges to the mix, and we might feel like we’re doing this all wrong. I’m here to tell you that motherhood is sometimes traumatic. If it’s been traumatizing for you, you aren’t alone, nothing is wrong with you, and there is a way through it. Listen in as I share stories from my own journey and guide you to working through your own motherhood PTSD.