RSS Feed

Tag Archives: support group

Book Review: The Milk Memos

This book was recommended to me by fellow new second-time mom and blogger, The E is for Erin. Thanks Erin! After reading Nursing Mother, Working Mother, I was looking for more books on the topic of breastfeeding moms working outside the home.

http://www.milkmemos.com/The Milk Memos is about a group of moms who work at IBM and pump their breastmilk. This real group of women kept spiral notebooks in their “pumping palace,” as they called their lactation room. They wrote back and forth to each other and encouraged each other to keep pumping and somehow stay sane in the endless search for work/home balance.

I identified so much with the women in this book. I returned to work six weeks after my son was born and pumped breastmilk several times a day. I recall the struggle to leave my baby at such an early age. Luckily I left him in the capable hands of Mr. Handsome (which I will do again after this maternity leave ends) but that hardly takes away the separation anxiety that a new mama feels upon returning to work. The women in this book felt the same things I felt then and will feel again when I return to work in September.

What’s great about this book is that the women are like characters in a story that is woven through a practical breastfeeding book. These women suffer through everything that typically plagues working mothers of infants: separation anxiety, struggles with milk production, faulty pumps, “mama brain,” unsympathetic bosses and co-workers and finding balance between a job you love and a baby you adore more than anything in the world. I very much enjoyed reading about their real lives and how they overcame real struggles, struggles that I’m sure I will have once I return to work.

Like I stated, this book is also a practical breastfeeding manual, covering the typical sub-topics but also giving them a working-mom slant. There’s great advice on buying a pump, storing milk, reheating milk, educating care-givers about handling breastmilk, finding an appropriate childcare solution, dealing with sleep deprivation, and on and on and on.

Also, the idea of keeping a notebook to write to other pumping moms in the company is complete genius. When you work in a big company (my office contains several hundred people), it’s hard to find co-workers in a similar situation. Having the notebook in the room not only helps to find like people but also encourages support and sharing within those people. I’m inspired to bring a notebook to my company’s lactation room so that I can try to find something similar to what “the milk mamas” had.

This book is well worth the read for any breastfeeding mama working outside the home!

Next review: Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC

Advertisements

Big Latch On

As part of World Breastfeeding Week, the Big Latch On is an event to not only promote breastfeeding awareness and support but also aims to break the world record for the most babies being breastfed at the same time!

There are events happening all over the world today and tomorrow at 10:30 AM (regardless of time zone). If you’re a breastfeeding mama, check for a location near you. You can also host your own location with as little as two breastfeeders! Check out the Big Latch On’s website (http://www.biglatchon.org/) for more details.

I’ll be participating at a local event tomorrow. I’m excited to post about it so stay tuned!

Celebrate Breastfeeding!

Today marks the beginning of National Breastfeeding Month AND World Breastfeeding Week! I plan on posting breastfeeding information all month – for now here are the links to both websites and a little bit about their objectives. Check them out!

National Breastfeeding Month: http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/Communities/BreastfeedingPromotion/NationalBreastfeedingMonth/tabid/209/Default.aspx

The United States Breastfeeding Committee and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin promote breastfeeding during the month of August by encouraging “the entire nation to take 20 concrete action steps to support the removal of barriers to breastfeeding.” They are urging participation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usbreastfeeding) and Twitter (@usbreasfeeding, #NBM12) to spread awareness of breastfeeding and the “20 Actions in 20 days” campaign.

World Breastfeeding Week: http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action started the “Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative” 20 years ago. The goal of the initiative is to promote breastfeeding in hospitals. For this year’s WBW, the objective is the reflect on the successes and outstanding goals of the initiative. They also hope to bring awareness to breastfeeding and “support all women to be able to optimally feed and care for their infants and young children.” Tweet them using #breastfeeding.

Group Appointments and Interventions

Mr. Handsome and I have taken the group appointments route for maternity care. We see a midwife along with five to seven other couples in one visit. It sounds a little strange, and we had some reservations at first, but now that we’ve had three appointments I’ve started to really enjoy and even look forward to them.

There are pros and cons to this style of care, of course. The biggest con is that the appointments take two hours (or more) where regular non-group appointments can be as short as 20 minutes. We can’t bring Kiddo1 with us so we have to ask someone to watch him for about three hours (with travel time).

However, a lot gets discussed during those two hours. Every session has had a focus. During the second session we focused a lot on nutrition. I learned a little too much about how many calories and carbs are in my favorite foods. We were all advised to keep our carbs to 30 grams per meal (three meals a day) and 15 per snack (two snacks a day) – that’s only 120 grams of carbs per day which may sound like a lot but when you realize your favorite bagel has 65 grams of carbs… it’s sobering. Even to a person who is stone-cold sober, like the pregnant.

Another con would be that there isn’t a lot of privacy when it comes to discussions (the part during which the belly is measured, heart rate monitored, etc is done in privacy). But, honestly, the fact is that we (the couples) don’t know each other and don’t know each others’ friends so what are we going to say about each other? We might as well commiserate on the what’s what. Plus, once we get going, things start to come out and we begin identifying with each other really well. It just takes a bit to get comfortable and get things rolling.

So other than great discussion and comradery, the main pro is that you don’t have to go through the same crap that you do during an OB appointment. I hear ladies in my mom’s group complain about how their OBs spend more time reading their chart than listening to them, that there isn’t time to bring up their questions or really get to the root of their concerns, that they analyze their urine sample more than their simple “symptoms” like leg cramps, indigestion, etc, which I’ve learned in my group appointments can be indicative of or adjusted by diet, exercise or vitamins. Simple fixes to annoying problems, which an OB usually doesn’t bring up.

I don’t mean to bad-mouth OBs at all. There are a lot of good ones out there. I’m simply reacting to feedback from fellow pregnants. The OB I had with my first pregnancy was great and a good listener, but this experience with the midwives is SO much more fulfilling.

I wanted to write about these group appointments today because during last night’s session we talked a little about our fears about childbirth (which I’ll write about more specifically in a later post). Our questions, however, led to a much larger discussion/overview of hospital policies.

I admit, after reading Natural Hospital Birth I started to focus my fears a lot on how the hospital could screw up my birth experience… After last night’s appointment I feel a lot better. The policies of the midwives very much align with my expectations and desires for this birth. This is why I chose this hospital and group of midwives, after all, so I shouldn’t be surprised!

The “24-hour countdown” of labor-to-delivery isn’t nearly as rigid with the midwives. They’ll pretty much let you take your time, but they say do yourself a favor and labor as much as you can at home (which won’t count on the clock). They only want to see you if your water breaks early AND there’s a risk factor (such as colored fluid or you tested positive for Group B Strep, the latter will cause a need for antibiotics via IV). Also, eating and drinking during labor is encouraged by the midwives but the OB-side of the hospital strictly prohibits it (the midwives will cut you off if you have Pitocin or an Epidural, though). Speaking of Pitocin, the midwives discourage it, which I am delighted to hear! Fetal monitoring is done via a doppler-like device and it is not constant, so it’s as non-invasive as possible. It still has to be done, but intermittently. As soon as you arrive at the hospital you are monitored for 30 minutes continuously so they can get a good idea of how the baby is doing. Then doppler monitoring will occur for about a minute every 30 minutes or so. For a hospital, that’s really not so bad.

We also talked about all the post-birth procedures that are generally required at most hospitals but are elective at the university. First off, as soon as baby is born she is placed on your chest and you are encouraged to breast feed within the first hour. All baby check-ups can take place right there on your chest. They even prefer to administer the vitamin K shot while you’re breast feeding (it distracts the baby from the shot). You can forgo the baby’s vitamin K if you want, or choose a gradual method instead of the shot (I think we’ll just get it over with with the shot though). You can decline the eye ointment if there’s no risk of infection. If your pediatrician is not affiliated with the hospital you can choose from a pediatric or family practice consult – the midwives recommend the family practice because they are “a lot more flexible” than the peds and will require a lot less monitoring if the birth was healthy and there’s no risk of infection. All this sounds great to me!

I got some great news on my stats, too:

  • I only gained three pounds since the last visit, which is consistent with my home-based weight check-ins. The midwife is happy with my weight gain, diet and exercise.
  • My fundal height (uterus size) is 32 cm which is also right on target. Baby’s heartbeat is an excellent 140 bpm.
  • My blood pressure is 118/70, most excellent. Apparently I am quite calm.
  • My glucose test (which I really tried to reject but apparently this midwife’s study focus is gestational diabetes so there was no getting out of it) showed my blood sugar level at 53 which the student midwife said is the lowest she’s ever seen. Not dangerously low, but low enough that – get this, GET THIS – the midwife says I have (basically) free reign on eating carbs and sugar. I CAN EAT CARBS AND SUGAR! I will still keep this manageable but I won’t be as restrictive as I have been. For example, that night I ate a sensible chicken dinner. And a cheese roll. … And some ice cream.
  • Baby is positioned the same as our last appointment – head down, butt on the right and feet to the left. She is awesome. Stay in that position baby! The midwife says it’s the best position for an easy, quick birth. Fingers crossed!

We have only two more appointments left until the due date! One in late June and one in early July. Unless a complication arises that’s all we’ll have to do! No weekly appointments, no constant check-ins. I’m loving the midwives at my hospital!

Moms Group Challenges

Awhile back I posted about how I had started a Moms Group – well the group has been going on for about five months now and we ballooned up to 60 members! It’s great to see our numbers climb, but with it come so many challenges that I figured could happen but hoped wouldn’t. Here are some of the challenges I’ve faced and how I’m working to overcome them (this post is helping me to vent, for one!).

  1. Finding Things To Do
    • I’ve been wanting to write a post about events for a Moms Group, but I haven’t been very good at figuring out what to do so I can’t write that post yet! It is really difficult to think of things to do sometimes! What kind of things are good to do with a whole bunch of pregnant women? Well, eating is one. Sitting and talking is another. So I scheduled a bunch of bi-weekly events to sit and eat. This went well for a few weeks, but then people must have gotten bored.
    • This brings me to diversity – no one wants to do the same things week after week. I figured since we’re just getting to know each other we should keep our events low-key, but that’s just boring. But what the hell else do we do? There are only so many free classes and baby expos and I can only go to the “big box baby store” so many times before I start to go crazy.
    • It’s also difficult to find a place with all the basics that people want: adequate parking is usually number one (a difficult task here in the urban Pacific NW where cars are not king), access to alternate transit is another and a convenient place in town is important too. No one wants to be in the car forever, especially when you have to pee every 30 minutes or so.
  2. Getting People to Show Up
    • What’s been really frustrating is that there are 60 people in this group and I’ve met maybe, maybe, 20 of them. And I go to every event! (Except for one, read on…) Yet every single person, when they signed up, said they joined the group to meet people. So where are they?
    • Most of the people that I have met have only come to one event. It is most difficult to build a friendship with a person who you’ve only met one time.
  3. Gathering Feedback
    • What makes matters worse about the no-shows is that people won’t tell me why they don’t show. Are the events not at a convenient place? Do you hate the food there? The parking? Maybe there are too many events in a month and you just don’t know what to pick. Maybe the day or the time of the event doesn’t work with your schedule.  Is there somewhere else or some other day/time that you have in mind?
    • But why not tell the organizer about your conflicts or dislikes? If you truly joined the group to meet people then why aren’t you either coming to the events that have been arranged for you or telling the organizer that you have a problem with the events? I can’t read minds!
  4. Keeping My Cool/Getting Over Myself
    • Deep breath. I refuse to give up.
    • Are my expectations too high? I mean, we’re all pregnant, we all have different energy levels and sometimes you just don’t feel like going anywhere. I get that. Last weekend I ditched a group event for the first time ever because a) I was frustrated with the group, b) only one person had RSVP’d and c) It was a beautiful Saturday and my garden was calling my name (“Please, please help me grow things for you!” it said).
    • Deep breath. I refuse to give up.

So… there are my grievances. Kinda makes you never want to start one of these things, huh? But WAIT! There’s got to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Things are bound to turn around, right? Well, to be honest, they haven’t yet. But they WILL. Here’s what I’m doing to make it happen:

  1. Changing the Group’s Online Host
    • In my last Moms Group post I talked about the importance of finding an online “home” for your group; a place where you can keep the calendar of events, a list of members and generally communicate between yourselves. I started the group on Meetup.com, but that costs money to use as a host. And, since the participation has been most frustrating I didn’t feel like wasting spending the money on it any more.
    • I moved our group to Facebook this month. The transition is happening over about six weeks, giving people plenty of time to get use to the idea and convert. The deadline to make the switch is in just a couple weeks and so far we have 18 members on Facebook. This is not at all a complete switch, but I still see it as a positive. I hope that the people who never truly intended to do anything with the group just don’t come over to our new space.
  2. Diversifying Our Events
    • Now that the weather is getting nice, I’m trying to do more things for our events. I scheduled a bunch of things through the next couple months, including a few walks in the park, a visit to the local free gardens, Farmers Market browsing and a cute cafe with outside seating. I hope to get some people to go to the “What To Expect” movie when it comes out in a few weeks. Plus I found a boutique baby store that has free classes for cloth diapering (I did that one with the group already), baby wearing, breastfeeding and even infant CPR. These sound like fun things, yes?
  3. Begging for Feedback
    • I developed a survey on surveymonkey.com and asked the group to participate. While I only got ten responses, it did help shape scheduling and expectations. Here are some of the finer points from the survey:
      • They prefer events that are in fairly central parts of town (which has been the case for all our events so far…)
      • Most would like to participate twice a month, with mostly the same amount of participation after their baby arrives.
      • Weekend days from 12-6 works for almost everyone, with a few liking weekday evenings as well (I’ve never scheduled anything outside these times).
      • People prefer events types in this order of popularity: walking around (90%), sit and eat (80%), free classes (70%), movies or ice cream/coffee (60%), shopping (55%) and for-fee classes (45%).
      • No one wants to suggest actual places to go (even though this was a mandatory question. One response was actually “Um…”.)
    • I hesitate to host things at my house because, well, I don’t know these people! My plan is to host things at home after our babies arrive but if I haven’t gotten to know people well enough to trust them in my home with my new baby by then then I’m not sure what the hell we’ll do when we have newborns.
  4. Getting the Word Out
    • Now that the group is on facebook, this is a tad more difficult. We have a closed group so people have to friend me to join so I can add them. But, it’s a small price to pay for a much easier and free home for the group. I’m trying to get ladies in my group prenatal checkups to join, especially since we have due dates that are really close together (which is pretty much the only requirement for being in the group!).
  5. Keeping My Cool/Getting Over Myself
    • I have to keep my expectations low. I have to realize that I probably won’t find my Next Best Friend in this group. And that isn’t really the point anyway. I just hope to have a little entertainment and an excuse to leave the house once Baby2 comes along and I’m at home all day.

So that’s my big, long, well-organized (!) vent about my Moms Group. Bottom line, it sucks and people are not accountable but I’m sticking with it. I’m hoping that pregnancy is holding people back and things will get better after our babies arrive and are at a manageable age for taking them out. I’m trying (hard) to keep my expectations low. But my fingers are still crossed for success!!

Cloth Diaper Class

Today I went to a class all about cloth diapering with my moms group. Actually, Mr. Handsome and Kiddo1 came along, too! (Mr. Handsome asked to come so Kiddo1 was drug along by default.)

It was a great class about the overview of cloth diaper types, cleaning/care and overall “poop management” (what do I do with the poo?-type questions/answers).

It was encouraging for me in a number of ways. One, I was happy to actually not learn too much new information which means the books I’ve been reading (mainly Changing Diapers) and Googling I’ve been doing has paid off! I already had a good handle on the different types of diapers and washing methods. The class did help to fill in the gaps about what types are good for specific situations. For example, the All-In-One is great for when grandparents or babysitters are doing the diapering because it most resembles a disposable diaper. Also, prefolds with covers are great for hanging out at home and a pocket with a disposable liner is good for being out-and-about because you can flush the poop away instead of taking it home with you.

Two, I learned some great washing tips. For example, our instructor told us that the dryer lends a hand in sterilizing diapers so the don’t start to smell. I had no idea! I was very gung-ho about line drying in the sun (at least in the summer when we have sun in the PacNW) in order to naturally bleach stains. Now I’ll probably balance the machine-drying and line-drying sessions so we get the best of both worlds.

Three, Mr. Handsome got to hear about all things cloth from someone other than me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he’s absorbed the knowledge that I’m passing along, but it certainly helps to have another person explain it all. I have no doubt that he’ll be a great cloth-diaperer – probably better than me when it comes down to it, as he’ll be doing a majority of the diapering after my maternity leave is over. Plus I think he’s totally into the diaper-sprayer concept and will probably be rigging one up in our bathroom soon (I think this will come in very handy during those early postpartum days too!).

To celebrate our confirmed and new-found knowledge (and use a coupon we were given at the class – I can’t resist a coupon!) I indulged in some new hemp/cotton cloth wipes and some of the aforementioned flushable liners for when we’re on the town with Baby2.

I also got another coupon from Kelly’s Closet for a free one-size diaper (this is quickly becoming my new obsession) so I bought a couple more covers today so I can use the prefolds we always register for (we got these with Kiddo1, too, even though we weren’t cloth diapering then because they’re great for spit-up rags, burp clothes, etc). Since my first purchase, the collection has grown by these four pocket cuties:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

You can probably tell that I’m trying to scoop up the prints as they go on sale! The yellow diaper was a freebie! I can’t wait to see what today’s freebie brings me. At this rate we should be well supplied by July!

Starting a Moms Group

Ever since we starting TTC, I’ve wanted to join a moms group. Well, I wanted to join one back when Kiddo1 was Baby1, but that didn’t really pan out. You see, I’m kind of an introvert, so social situations make be feel a bit awkward. But I do understand the power of a special group of ladies that can support each other through the crazy time of pregnancy and beyond. So I’m willing to put myself out there in an attempt to reap the rewards of social interaction and contribute to others’ well-being.

I couldn’t find a group that really fit what I was looking for: ladies who are pregnant with similar due dates, within a least a couple months of each other. That way we can share pregnancy stories, dish on the gear that seems worth it or not, experienced moms can guide us a bit, inexperienced ones can remind us of the joys of discovery, we can celebrate and learn from each birth in succession and then share the amazing growth and development of our little ones.

So, I started my own little group. That’s like extra putting myself out there, right?!

Here are the steps I took to start my group:

  1. Decide what you want out of the group. Do you want people with similar lifestyles or situations? Such as SAHMs, working moms, single parents, environmentally conscious, attachment parenting, etc. For me, I just wanted ladies with similar due dates so we could share developmental milestones – both with our pregnancies and our babies.
  2. Find an online host. Meetup.com hosts my group, which is really helpful because it’s an online “home base” where we can keep our member’s info, meeting schedule, send messages, etc. Meetup does charge a fee but there are several ways you can approach this.
    • You can pass the cost off to your members by charging a small fee to join the group. I didn’t go this route because I was afraid it would deter people from joining the group.
    • You can get businesses to sponsor your meetups. There’s a link on your group’s main page – just click on the sponsors you want, fill out their form and they’ll let you know… I haven’t done this personally but I’m kind of interested in seeing what it’s all about.
    • Eat the cost. This is what I’m currently doing. Not because I have tons of money to spend but because I figured gaining a few more friends and positive experiences might be worth the cost. We’ll see how that pans out.
  3. Plan some events. My group has a regular schedule of bi-weekly sit-downs at a local eatery. They’re at a set day and time so everyone remembers. On the “off” weeks we’ll be doing other random stuff like classes, baby expos/baby swap meets (luckily there are a lot of these in my area in the Spring), a “field trip” to the baby big box store to dish about necessary/unnecessary baby gear and, this May, a screening of the new “What to Expect” movie.
  4. Get some members. I started advertising on some of the pregnancy forums like thebump.com, babycenter.com, etc. I started the group in late November and as of late December I had already accumulated 25 members just by using this method. My back-up plan was to post flyers at places like the local library, community center, etc, but I don’t think I’ll have to take that step.
  5. Get people to show up. Holy moly this is the most difficult step. So far my group has had only one meeting (with the holidays and all I haven’t scheduled anything else until this next weekend). Seven people RSVP’d and, get this, three showed up. Including me. Ouch. In my defense, the event was set up a couple weeks in advance and, other than the automatic meetup-generated reminder, I didn’t send any follow-up notifications. So maybe people forgot. In the future I will send my own personal reminder to everyone a day or two before the event. Also, I think having them at a eatery/hang-out will help because everyone knows pregnant ladies need food. Often. Lots of it.

My group is obviously in its infancy, but it will grow. I’m sure of it. I will force it to grow! And as it does I will post more updates about successful and unsuccessful techniques. I am determined to have a support group and provide support to others during this pregnancy because it is something I really wish I would have done last time. So I will make it so!