Are you a new mamma ready to start shedding excess baby weight and get back in shape? Have you fully recovered and gotten clearance from your doctor that exercise is A-OK?
Even if you CAN’T exercise, do you still want to crush your post-baby weight-loss goals without sacrificing your milk supply or sanity?
We’ve all heard it before: weight loss is “just math“…
“Eat fewer calories to lose weight. It’s that simple.”
But if you’re a new mom getting used to the changes in your body and trying to take care of a baby… you know that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Weight Loss is not impossible, but it isn’t ‘simple’ after you’ve just had a baby, either. From emotional eating to the impossible beauty-standards the media has drilled into our souls, getting fit is FULL of complexity.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be easier. It doesn’t mean that losing baby-weight has to be full of stress, confusion, and emotions.
Returning to the ‘math’ analogy… what’s one of the first things that we learn about doing math?
Show your work.
We are much more likely to succeed at something when we implement systems and habits that build on one another.
That being said, losing unhealthy weight does not require deprivation- but awareness. How do we stay aware and accountable to our body’s needs?
The same way we do complex math equations.
We write it all down. Step-by-step.
From establishing your goals to tracking changes in your body, keeping track of your health and fitness journey through a journal or app can be a huge help.
This post will cover why keeping a food journal can be a great tool in your fat loss journey, and help with the emotional toll body-image issues and post-pregnancy hormones take on your mental health.
I’ll also share my free health and fitness tracking template! That way, you can get started right away without having to drive yourself crazy figuring out what is essential to track and what isn’t as important.
Why Keeping A Health + Fitness Journal Helps You Lose Weight
Number 1: Tracking Food Intake
To lose weight, we must burn through more calories than we consume. When you’re a new mom- especially a breastfeeding mom, not only are you ravenous, but you’re also insanely exhausted. We can sometimes lose track of just how much we’re consuming(as well as it’s nutritional value).
Having a place where you can jot down what you’re eating each day is a great way to identify areas where you can replace certain foods with healthier options.
Number 2: Tracking Progress
Being on a weight loss journey is an emotionally tense process. It’s easy to get discouraged, and if the only way you’re tracking your progress is with a scale, you could trigger a bad headspace and feel frustrated.
Journaling gives you a place to track progress in multiple ways. You can log measurements, weight- or make a note of how well your clothes fit.
Having a place to jot it all down will let you look back on how far you’ve come, and make staying on track easier.
Number 3: Tracking Your Feelings
There are… SO many things are going on after you have a baby, lol. Your body and emotions can feel foreign.
You’re overwhelmed and stressed, especially with a worldwide pandemic going on. So you must take time for yourself to decompress.
A journal is a safe and private place where you can talk about how you’re feeling. As moms, we feel compelled to take on the stress and bear it with big smiles.
We feel so intrinsically called to the duty of motherhood that we often neglect our mental health.
Keeping a health and fitness journal is not just for tracking your physical wellness; you can use it to better identify stressors and work through them.
Sometimes writing something down can make us feel better. And using a journal when you feel stressed can help you avoid emotional eating.
(Not that you should deny yourself cookies once in awhile… cookies are great. You know what, have a cookie WHILE you’re journaling)
How To Start A Food Journal
Now that you see the benefits of using a health journal, you might be reluctant because you’re not sure how to start.
Well, I’ve saved you a Pinterest search(sorry), and you can download a template I made special for you.
There has been nothing more rewarding (excluding motherhood, obviously) than the life-change I’ve made to start my own business as a Full-Time copywriter.
While scary, it has allowed me to be fully present with my son every day. I can be there for all of his firsts, and I never forget how privileged I am to be able to do that.
On a personal (Kenz-level), I’ve been able to find the value in what I have to offer professionally. Finding my path has had such an incredible impact on my self-esteem and mental health. I’m so grateful for everything that has allowed me to do that.
And yeah, I’m even learning how to include myself in that gratitude. I’m learning how to appreciate my courage and work ethic that helps me pursue my goals each day.
It is true, though, trying to juggle a career and motherhood can be a bit overwhelming.
I totally feel the anxiety and worry that I’m not “doing enough”. I’m not working enough. I’m not mothering enough.
But, a huge part of my journey is learning to cope with my anxiety-driven tendencies. To live in the moment. To appreciate what I have right now without worrying about ‘the bad thing’ that could be coming up to destroy it.
That isn’t easy.
But it’s possible.
I wanted to share the daily steps I take to grow my emotional strength and practice self-care. And, no, I’m not talking about the “treat yo’ self and bath bombs” kind of self-care.
-Not that I don’t whole-heartedly support and partake in that, as well.
But in this post, I’m talking about the ‘hard, emotional work’ version of self-care. The uncomfortable and adventurous self-care that we need to grow.
The “You’re responsible for your own happiness” self-care.
So, make sure to save that bath bomb for the end, my guy.
Meditation | How I Am Learning To Focus On The Moment
Meditation is actually very difficult. If you’ve never done it, it might seem like you just sit there with your eyes closed and do nothing.
And you know what, that’s precisely what you are supposed to do.
But you’d be surprised how incredibly difficult it is to focus on your meditation.
Before I know it- despite my best effort- my mind starts wandering.
“I have to do X.”
“what if I mess this up?”
“WHY DO I SUCK SO MUCH AT MEDITATING?”
Even so, I try my best to implement meditation at least once a day. I usually get up around 6AM, which gives me 1-2 hours before Jakey wakes up. (He is now sleeping through the night, so YAYAY!)
Practicing meditation has really helped me function better. I may not be very good at it, but learning to meditate helps me be a productive business owner, mother, and person.
Time Limits | How I Set Work/Life Boundaries As A Mompreneur
This really came with time, and Jake’s ability to grow in independence, but sleep-training was a huge help.
(Eventually I’ll be posting a blog on how I sleep-trained, and I’ll try to remember to back-link it in this post)
Before I started setting limits, I would obviously work whenever I had a free moment. That included working until 1AM.
Now, there will be occasions where a late-nighter will be necessary, but I started to realize I was burning myself out. And that actually made me LESS productive.
Now, I set myself up for a 6-hour workday, starting at 6:30 am and ending at 2:00pm. I sprinkle breaks Jake breaks throughout, and try to be done no later than 3:00PM when my husband gets home.
Setting these time limits REALLY help me focus, and it shows me just how much I CAN get done in that time-frame. I also decided to work 4 days a week, and take 3 days to spend with Jake unapologetically.
This was really hard in the beginning. I was struggling with a lot of guilty thoughts:
“Wow, guess you really don’t want to be successful at your business if you can’t handle late nights”
“Wow, what a privileged little bitch to be able to just ‘decide’ she only wants to work 4 days a week”
And ya know what, I realized how fucking stupid those thoughts were. I realized that I was so worried about OTHER PEOPLE judging me that it was driving me crazy. For fuck’s sake… what better reason do we start our own businesses if not for the flexibility- if not because I wanted to make more money and work less?
And when I started embracing this mentality, I remembered my reasons for making the career leap. I wanted to make more money and be with Jake. Fuck… I just wanted to be a happier person than I had been for a long time. Longer than I genuinely care to admit in hindsight.
I have busted my ass harder than I ever had- EVER- to make this work. I’ve spent more time sans comfort-zone in the past 6 months than I have in my ENTIRE LIFE.
If there are people in my life who don’t recognize that, it isn’t my problem. I have no control over their thoughts. I only can control the narrative I tell about myself.
And so, I’m learning not to give a single fuck about silly stuff like that.
So, please don’t let that voice in your head punish you for needing a break.
Or- God-fucking-forbid, enjoying more of your life…
Especially if you’re in a creative field. That mental break is crucial for you to be able to do your job well.
Burning the midnight oil 7-days a week WILL happen sometimes… but just remember to make it a ‘sometimes’.
Mentality | How Shifting My Professional Mentality Made Me A Better Business Owner
The biggest challenge you’ll face in starting a business is your mindset.
Most of us, before starting our businesses, came from another company. We had a boss. We were an employee who was accountable to someone else.
You MUST get out of the “employee” mindset to succeed. You have to stop thinking, “oh man, I have to find people that want to work with me/buy my products”.
You must start thinking: “I must find people I WANT to work with/buy my products”
Your mission is to grow your business. That’s it. That’s why you’re doing what you’re doing. You CANNOT maintain a servitude/fearful attitude.
It will kill ya.
If you find a client that gives you red flags, then walk away. There are always more.
If you find a client who tries to haggle your prices, show them the door. There are plenty of people willing to pay what you’re worth.
If a client doesn’t value your time, or treats you like their employee, YOU fire THEM.
You’re nobody’s bitch anymore, my love. You’re a skilled professional here to bring your expertise. Act like it. Show YOURSELF respect.
Don’t let anyone convince you that you need to eat shit to be successful. It took me a long time to learn that.
And don’t work for free. There are ways to provide services without a $$ amount exchanged that benefit you, but you CAN always find “experience” that will pay $$.
I was a doormat for most of my life. I bowed down in the face of conflict whenever I smelled it on the wind. I’d do WHATEVER I had to do to please someone else. Because ‘pleasing someone‘ = self-validation. I had tied my self-worth tightly to other people’s perception of my value.
It was wholly selfish and wholly toxic. And it never worked how I wanted it to.
I know… a ground-breaking realization, isn’t it? *eye-roll*
I spent many years working with people who, no matter what I did, were never satisfied. It almost destroyed me. Perhaps it did destroy me, because I really felt myself on the edge of: “this is just how life is. I am not good enough to achieve my goals.”
Now that I run KBK(Kopy By Kenz), I don’t put up with that. I’ve learned that I don’t have to work with anyone I don’t want to… because there are plenty of people who will value and appreciate what I do.
Those people exist for you too.
If you take nothing else from my post, mama, take that.
Don’t just drink coffee out of your “#GirlBoss” cup. Fucking embody it. People won’t respect you if you don’t respect yourself.
You need to work on believing in your own worth if you want clients/customers to believe in you too.
Routines | Why Sleep-Training Had A Massive Impact On My Productivity
It goes without saying that we need to sleep.
And when ya got a behbeh, sleep is hard to come by in the beginning.
It will genuinely impress you when you realize how well you function with as little rest as you’ll get during those early months.
If you’re a mom running their own business, then you’re juggling far more than people might realize- more than you realize. You’re now a stay-at-home-mom and a full-time-career-woman.
To make it easier on yourself. Sleep-train your kid.
There are many options out there, and you’ll find one that works for your family. Sleep training doesn’t only benefit YOU, it also helps the babe. Giving them the tools to sleep on their own helps them grow and be happier babies.
And when you sleep-train, you open the door to routine.
You know.. routine. A (mostly) predictable timeline to keep you from feeling like the world is on fast-forward, and you can’t find the remote to pause it.
Sleep-training my son has made other aspects of my business easier to manage. I can only get up at 6AM and do what I do because I’ve had a good night’s sleep. I only have the confidence that I can get shit done because I’ve trained Jake to sleep in until a specified time.
Sleep-training improves their naps, as well. Which means I have a few hours throughout my morning/afternoon to work on projects.
And because he’s getting enough sleep, he’s in a much better mood while he IS awake.
This all compounds onto itself and will make both of your lives more manageable.
Rewards | How Ice Cream Makes Me A Better Woman
Yup. It’s true. Every night before bed, I make myself an “ice cream shake” in my Ninja blender.
After Jake is asleep.
After my work for the day is done…
After I pumped for the last time that day…
I sit my ass down on the couch and eat ice cream—every night.
Well, I’m like a dog, I guess. I’m food-driven, lol. I love food. I love routine. I love sitting with myself and enjoying a delicious treat as a reward for all of my hard work.
My nightly ice cream helps me decompress from the day. It’s almost like a trigger. I know ice cream time = relaxation time.
It’s my ritual.
It’s my personal “treat yo’ self” moment. It helps me wind down and relax. All that sugar and chocolate gets my endorphins goin’, and it just helps me end my day on a high note.
Yes, there are healthier alternatives. But this is my selfish thing. This is what I do purely for satisfaction. And I’m not sorry lol.
So no matter what you find joy in, maybe set aside some time at the end of each day to enjoy it. Whether that be a snack, or a bath, or yoga, or video games.
Whatever lets you be wholly irresponsible and unfettered. It’s for the sake of BALANCE, my guy.
That’s All Folks
Thanks for reading the blog, gang. I hope it gave you some tips to try out. Everyone is different, but I think all of the stuff I’ve mentioned is worth a try. Some of it is uncomfortable. Emotional work that you might be reluctant to do, but it’s worth it.
It’s so worth it.
Let me know what you guys do to help you “slay” your day. I’m always looking out for ways to be the best mompreneur I can be!
If you haven’t heard it yet today: I’m so fucking proud of you. You are doing SUCH a good fucking job juggling all of this.
Kenz’s Ice Cream Shake Recipe
4 Pieces Of An XL Hershey Chocolate Bar
1-1 ½ Cups of Your Favorite Ice Cream Flavor(I STRONGLY recommend Hagan Daaz)
About 4 TBSP CRUSHED Ice
JU-U-UST enough milk to help the ingredients blend (usually about ¼- ½ cup)
So, there’s, like… another person in this equation aside from you and your baby. And, like… that person is kind of important.
This guy is called “dad”.
Yeah, don’t get me wrong, compared to what mommy goes through during pregnancy and labor, it’s easy and understandable that dads are told to shut up and go get her the ice cream with pickles like she asked (and they damn well better).
But, in all honesty… daddies are going through some emotional stresses and pressures of their own, and they try, and are expected to be, pillars of absolute strength regardless of their own fears.
Watching my husband’s adventure as a support system through my pregnancy and labor, and then as a new and incredible daddy, I wanted to write a little something in honor of all of the great daddies out there. Because even though they may not be going through what we go through physically and hormonally as moms… they still deserve some compassion and support.
I am so grateful for the strength, love, and support that my husband showed me. I mean, he sat there holding my vomit bags, encouraging me, and feeding me water and ice chips and still made me feel like a superstar.
That may not seem like a lot, but when you’ve been in labor for hours… that was as good as gold.
The strength, love, and support he showed in the face of my C-Section (even though that was the thing he was most afraid of happening), all while always wearing his goofy, way-too-cocky smile, helped keep me calm.
During these, now, almost five months as parents, my guy has been an amazing daddy and an amazing husband. In honor of him, I wanted to write this post in order to give some insight into how I have been working to show him the same support that he has shown me!
As new moms, we’re super tired, and super stressed, and super emotional, and all of the above. It’s easy to forget sometimes that our dopey dudes are feeling the same way, and might be in as much need of our validation as we are of theirs.
Tips For New Moms On How To Support Their Partner
Daddy isn’t always going to understand the physical and emotional whirlwind your hormones are putting you through. Especially in those early week, when you’re both dog-tired and all of the learning curves you’re trying to navigate are in full swing. It might be easy to get a bit frustrated with your guy if you catch him snoring when you’re waking up every single time the new baby moves- believe me, I’ve been there, and it’s okay to feel frustrated– just try not to kill them if you can.
Perhaps the most important gift you can give to a new dad is patience. Don’t feel guilty for getting frustrated, lol… I mean, no one can push our buttons like our significant others, but just bear in mind that they have no idea what they’re doing either. They’re as scared as we are, and they ARE trying.
As with any relationship, clear communication is key to its health and prosperity. Don’t be afraid to be very clear about what you need your spouse to do. They couldn’t read your mind before- and now it’s even more impossible (we know that WE hardly know what the hell is going on thanks to sleep-deprivation, ourselves).
Tell your new dad/support person EXACTLY what they can do to help make things easier on you. Sit down after you put the baby to bed and work up a plan.
For example, my husband and I decided that, since I would be working from home, and he would continue to work outside of the home(for the time being) that I would handle the “overnight” shift (as well as the time he was at work), and once he got home we would swap. I would go to my office and work, and he would put Jakey to bed and respond to his needs until it was time for OUR bedtime.
And on his day’s off, we switch roles so that I can get some MUCH- MUCH- MUCH needed sleep.
Like I said, your new dad/support person suddenly has all of this pressure to be a good daddy/parent just like you are. They might feel powerless if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, and they can feel as overwhelmed trying to figure out how to be a rock for their new mommy and baby.
Honestly, they’ll NEVER be as tired as you are. With everything that your body went through during and after pregnancy and due to the amount of energy and stress that goes into producing breast milk… it is definitely hard to compare…
But it’s STILL important to ask them once in a while how they’re feeling and reinforce how proud you are of them. They very well might be struggling with something (stuff from their past, issues with their own parental stuff- believe me, shit comes up when that perfect little human is put in your arms), but they’re too afraid to burden you with their emotions.
Be sure to tell them that they’re doing a good job. You’ll be amazed at how much that will mean to them.
As a new mommy, it’s easy to just say “let me do it” or “I’ve got it” when it comes to caring for our babies. Our protective instincts are in overdrive, and it’s absolutely INCREDIBLE how someone can literally shit and throw up on you all day long, and you still love every minute of it.
Even so, give dad/support person the chance to build their confidence and bond with the baby. Pump some breast milk so that they can have that special time of feeding.
As mentioned above, designate responsibilities between the two of you. New dad/parent needs to have that confidence as much as you do, and whether you want to admit it or not… you need a break, girl. You’re still just a human. You’ll need rest, you’ll need food- you’ll need a shower.
Give your partner the opportunity to say “I can do it”.
Honesty goes hand in hand with communication but in a slightly different way. There ARE going to be times when your support person is just… getting under your skin- or you might be feeling like you need more help than you want to admit.
You need to be frank about it. If your partner is doing something that is making you frustrated (unintentionally or not) tell them quickly so that it doesn’t build into resentment. You two are a team, and sometimes we do things that we don’t realize annoy the other person.
Give your partner the respect of expressing your issues in a clear and mature way. It’s easiest to do this BEFORE you start to get angry. Sit them down, explain what you’re feeling, and they will hear you.
Remember, you’re BOTH sleep-deprived and stressed. It doesn’t mean that you need to shut up and deal… it just means that you both need to take a deep breath and exhibit the maturity to address any frustrations before they bubble over into resentment.
All in all, the journey that is parenthood will be the most awesome thing you will ever experience.
… and watching your partner blossom as a parent will make you fall in love with them in ways you didn’t think were possible.
Your love created the life you both now take responsibility for, and your love will be the foundation for your baby’s health and happiness.
You both are doing amazing. YOU are being an amazing mommy even if you DO snap at your partner once in a while… cuz you’re gonna.
But, hopefully, you’ll keep this post in the back of your mind, and it can help you when things might get a bit frustrating… cuz they’re gonna.
After all, due to good old Corona, you two might be spending WA-A-AY more time together in the house than usual, so it’s good to try and keep things in perspective. If nothing else, this “social distancing” and “self-quarantining” is a great way to spend some quality time together and grow.
Please, please- please stay safe.
Don’t be a dick and hoard all the toilet paper and other necessities.
We’re getting into the nitty-gritty of everything I hate about motherhood. It’s about to get real. It’s about to get RAW, ladies and dudes. Be prepared for terror as you have never known before, and make sure you’re sitting while you read this…
Okay, folks, no more playing around. To all of you expectant moms, be warned! Here is…
What I Hate About Motherhood.
Having To Wear A Bra To Bed
Yeah, this is literally the worst. I have hated wearing bras since I was a wee Kenz, I even went bra-less the year before I got pregnant, and it was the most comfortable I had ever been!
And now I’ve gotta LIVE in one otherwise I gush MILK all over myself, and my bed, and my child.
And I don’t want to hear it, because I’ve tried the “sleeping bras”, and I still feel like a caged animal. I’ve also tried sleeping in those tanks with built-in bras, but they are challenging to use when I have to pump first thing in the morning…
In fact, wearing a bra to bed was the entire inspiration for this post in the first place!
So, mommies-to-be, enjoy your bra-less life… for now.
So, this is probably a “me” thing… but, for some reason, I am utterly disgusted if my own breast milk happens to drip onto my skin.
It doesn’t bother me bottled, it doesn’t bother me if it gets on the baby’s face- breast milk, itself, doesn’t bother me unless it physically touches me AT ALL.
I hate how it is just… not too cold or too warm, and that it just… I don’t know, came from my own body.
I have no idea, but it sure as hell irks the shit out of me.
Not Being Able To Remember… ANYTHING
Yeah, haha… hahaha, you think it’s a joke when all of the more senior moms talk about their brains just not working like they used to- but it’s not a joke, newbie!
Since getting pregnant, I can be told the same date of an event repeatedly, and STILL forget it to the point I have nearly missed MULTIPLE events.
It’s like my instincts are so wholly focused on my perfect baby boy, that everything in my short-term memory is just discarded.
I hope, one day, to reclaim at least a small fraction of my brain!
Only Having 2 Hands
Yeah, two hands are NOT enough when you have a baby- especially if you’re a work-from-home mother like moi.
I mean, for heck’s sake… I grew two arms, two legs, and a whole tiny body too!Why the heck can’t I seem to sprout a new arm? I’m taking as many prenatal vitamins as I can, damn it!
I fucking hated laundry BEFORE I had a baby. It was- BY FAR- the chore I would most often shirk whenever possible. Well, actually, let me clarify.
Performing the chore of washing and drying clothes is no big deal for me. I’m a millennial, so I don’t separate lights from darks, I’m fortunate enough to have a washer and dryer- so the actual CLEANING of clothes is not the problem.
It’s the FOLDING.
Especially now that I can play with a cute little baby (who is the most perfect thing to ever walk the face of the earth), trying to find the energy or desire to fold fucking laundry is just non-existent.
I literally have to give myself a pep-talk, and even after that, it took me about three-weeks-worth of laundry- and no more underwear- before I finally caved…
Go ahead, judge me… it’s my blog- I’ll shit on laundry duty if I want to.
It’s just… scary.
I was scared before… but now that I have this little tiny person who has to grow up in this world, everything I see and hear fills me with anxiety on both an “Oh my god is he going to be safe?” and an “I can’t believe this is how we’re treating one another- what will he think of this” level.
I just have my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to make him a strong enough- kind enough– man to make his way through it; and teach him how to bring his beauty and softness to a world that is in dire need of it right now.
Time(It Goes Too Fast)
Enough… just relax. You made me wait nine whole months to meet this little person, and now you’re flying by at light’s speed. Every time I blink, he’s hit a new milestone.
Each time I lay him down to sleep, I stand at his bedside just so that I can absorb who he is in the moment because I know the next morning he will have changed.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful to watch him grow and gain his own independence and autonomy. I love every new accomplishment in his little life journey that he makes, and I am honored to be a part of it…
But maybe you could go just a little easier on me?
I promise I am not taking these precious moments for granted. I heed whole-heartedly the wise and warning words of my elder mothers telling me “cherish it now… it goes so fast”.
So, if you don’t mind, slow down a bit… I know that one day I will be lying in bed, missing the moments when he called to me for nothing more than a lost pacifier, or a hungry belly- and too soon because he had a nightmare and simply needs a cuddle.
And then will come the day when he will wake from a nightmare, but be too proud to ask for the comfort of his mommy.
So, please- please tick a bit slower, take a break if you want…
I would really appreciate it.
And that Does It, Folks
If you somehow couldn’t tell by now, this post was a bit satirical in nature. I had other topics to write about, but none of them that I felt like writing about yet.
So I decided to have some fun, even if it got a bit heavy by the end there. Sorry, I guess motherhood brings out an even MORE sensitive side in me that I didn’t know I had.
If you take nothing else from this post, future mommies, take that this will be the most beautiful thing you will experience in your life. This incredible gift of motherhood should never be taken for granted, and you will feel such unbridled love that you can’t believe a human body can hold it all in.
I’m so excited for you.
And to my fellow noob moms, I’m honored to share this journey with you.
And, finally, to those Elder Mothers who raised us and have helped we noobs brace for all of the physical and emotional changes we now experience… thank you for your compassion.
It’s a huge honor to be a part of this mommy club…
But don’t invite me to any “Mom” Facebook groups… I’m not joining them.
Everyone also tells you that motherhood will be the most incredible thing you will ever do, and you will feel love and joy that you cannot describe. A love that you just… didn’t know was physically possible to experience.
Everyone is unequivocally right.
Man… you THINK that you love that little, wiggly potato-thing beyond belief while they’re still INSIDE your belly?
Nothing can prepare you for the literal assault of love that fills your entire being the moment you hear their amazing first scream as they enter this world.
In honor of this LONG ASS post, I wanted to give you guys a special gift from me to you. Think of it as an early Mother’s Day gift… or bribery– whichever one boats your float!
I created a very special Printable for you!
The Incredible Mommy Affirmations You Should Read Everyday!
This little printable is my gift for you, and I want you to read them EVERY DARN DAY! I don’t care if you need to stick to the fridge, your bathroom mirror- hell, stick it on your partner!
Just make sure you read and recite these affirmations as often as you need. Because you ARE INCREDIBLE!
Now, back to the boob talk…
Everyone is also right in that it doesn’t matter how many hours you spend in labor trying to bring them into this world (32-hours and a c-section, hello), that pain means nothing in comparison to the joy you feel.
You’d do it over again- 100 more times without a second thought– for that little person.
(Please Note: That doesn’t mean the labor that you went through wasn’t something incredibly difficult and probably not nearly as romantic as you envisioned- but we will be discussing that in a different post.)
The interesting and terrifying thing about motherhood (aside from all of the other interesting and terrifying things), are the struggles that people don’t seem to want to tell you about.
Whether that be because they may not have experienced it, or because they don’t want to scare an already hormonal and anxious pregnant lady, some of the stuff I have experienced in this first 6 weeks of motherhood definitely caught me off guard.
While well-intended, personally, I WISHED that some of the mommies I had talked to, or read about, had disclosed some of the tough stuff to me – my hormonal self be damned!
I’ll be writing posts about my personal experiences as a mother, in that regard, not to scare you, but to help prepare you for some of the unbeautiful stuff so that you don’t feel alone or embarrassed(kind of like I did for those first 5 first days of motherhood, specifically).
I’ve been a full-fledged mamma for a little over 6 weeks at the time of writing this post, so while I don’t have a lot of experience- all of the tough stuff about being a first-time mom is not only fresh in my mind- but concurrent!
I wanted to talk about these feelings before they become foggy, so that way I can truly empathize with other soon-to-be new moms like me.
In this first post, I want to talk about what has been THE toughest aspect of motherhood thus far. The thing that I truly had not anticipated being as challenging as it has been.
While I definitely heard that breastfeeding can be challenging and that some moms end up not being able to do it at all… I had no idea, not just in regards to the physical toll, but the emotional toll struggling to breastfeed truly is.
I want to talk about this not just to help prepare you for the trouble… but also to reinforce that it will be okay. I want to share some of the helpful tools friends recommended, as well as stuff I found on my own, that made my breast milk issues much easier.
Now, the views expressed in this post are my opinion, and may not align with the views of all moms, but I still want to share them for the moms that might benefit from hearing my personal experiences.
So, without further adieu…
…let’s chat about boobs.
What A Plot (t)w(i)s(ts): Latching Problems While Breastfeeding
TMI: I have always had massive boobs. I started developing when I was eight years old, and I genuinely believed that breastfeeding would most likely not be a problem for me. I would always say: “I’ve had to carry these things around for 20 years! They better work!”
This was only reinforced when my newborn son latched practically IMMEDIATELY after birth, and I felt a ton of relief as the nurse called him “a pro!”.
I thought that meant that everything was right on track, while I may not sleep for the next year, at least my boobs would do their job and my kid would eat. Feeding my baby would NOT be one of the struggles I’d have to deal with.
So, a bit of background that shaped my personal experience and situation: I did not actually go into labor before arriving at the hospital.
I went for a check-up 2 days after my due date, and my husband and I were quite surprised when the doctor told us that I would be induced THAT AFTERNOON. He decided to induce me because he found “excess fluid” in my womb, which might have meant the baby was not eating enough (I laugh now at the idea that this kid might have had a small appetite). While very nervous, we were excited. I was as big as a house at this point and quite ready to give birth.
So, after a lovely 32-hours of labor that ended in a C-section because I couldn’t dilate past 8 centimeters, my body was in… a LOT of shock- and my hormones were all kinds of confused.
As you may already know (or will know) when you’re baby is first born, you don’t actually produce milk right away. You produce colostrum, which is an insanely nutrient dense pre-milk that your baby eats until your boobs start flowing with milk.
Now, normally a new mom’s milk comes in within a couple of days or so. However, because I had been induced AND had a C-section, I was warned that milk production might take a little longer than others – 7 to 10 fucking days, in fact. This caused me to stress, but all of the wonderful hospital staff assured me that my baby would be fine, and he would get what he needed until my milk came in.
The second night after he was born was VERY tough. My poor little guy just couldn’t rest for more than 20 mins, and so neither did I. (FYI, my wonderful husband was there, but since I was breastfeeding, not much he could do but be supportive, and he very much was).
I had nurses coming in all night, trying to help me soothe him to sleep, thinking maybe he had a gas bubble (which he very well might have had), but he just couldn’t go down. The only rest I got was around 5AM when they needed to take him for a bath, and do a few tests, so the nurse kept him until about 7AM.
When we got home it was even harder, because my son, in spite of his perfect latch at the hospital, began to struggle. He would get so enraged in those first couples of days that I couldn’t calm him down enough to eat. And once I did, he’d nurse for as long as necessary, and still become furious and angry within the hour, so the process repeated.
This was… insanely emotionally taxing on top of trying to recover from a C-section, and the hormones freaking out in my body as they tried to return to normal. I was a (mostly) silent wreck. Trying to be strong so my husband didn’t worry, but I knew that he could see that I was so exhausted from labor, delivery, and anxiety.
I cried tears of joy and relief that first night when I was able to put him down without him screaming immediately.
He woke up often that night, but that’s normal for babies, so I just assumed he was doing his thing and this was part of being a mother (which it was to an extent).
The next day was another battle, and he was so upset that getting him to latch was impossible. And even when he did, he’d get angry pretty quickly because of how difficult it was for him to get “milk” out.
In desperation and curiosity, I had my husband bring me one of the tiny ready-made formulas that the hospital sent us home with. The moment I put it in his mouth, the poor little thing CHUGGED the bottle like it was his job (technically it was), and immediately passed out for hours.
My poor boy, who hadn’t slept more than an hour or two in the past two days, finally collapsed and I realized all of his fussiness was pure hunger.
I broke down in tears, my husband trying to reassure me that it wasn’t my fault and I was doing a great job…
But the idea that not only had my body not been strong enough to give birth to my baby on its own- but now I couldn’t even feed him. It broke me. He was great at latching, my body just wasn’t meeting him halfway…
Now, in hindsight and with hormones back in check, I realized that the above-described feelings of self-loathing are wholly invalid, and you should not feel that way if you go through a similar situation.
I now understand just how hard I worked to bring my son here; and while I may not have “pushed” him out, I gave every last drop of myself to him, and we both made it out healthy. While my body may have struggled to adjust and build my milk supply that first week, I busted my breasts to here and back to make sure that I make him enough food each day.
I described those feelings because I want to be very transparent in my personal situation. I don’t want to sugar-coat these emotions for those of you who might read this and worry that the negativity and frailty that you might be dealing with is something wrong with you, and no one else understands- or worse, would be critical or judgmental of you.
You’re not alone, and you have nothing to worry about. I have come to realize how truly you can love fellow mommies, even if you may not parent the same way. That bond and those experiences are something you all share, to one degree or another, and you will always be there for your fellow mom.
So, after calming down a bit, grateful that I had at least found a way of making sure my little guy was satisfied and able to rest, I sent my husband to the store to fetch formula and distilled water to help me supplement while I waited for my milk to come in.
Breast Pump Problems
So, I heard that pumping (along with your baby nursing) was the best way to inspire your boobs to start oozin’, and so I started putting my breast pump into overdrive. Spending over an hour, at some points, desperate to squeeze out every last drop of precious food for my son.
This was all a pain in the ass initially, not just because I was struggling to learn how to use a breast pump, but also because what precious little supply I was producing was leaking down my boob and being wasted!
My God, I was gonna lose it.
Turns out, I have smaller than the av-ur-rage nipples(TMI, sorry). This self-discovery was really surprising to me, as I had assumed I would have been on the other end of the spectrum.
So off to Amazon I went (Amazon was my best friend in those first weeks), and found a smaller cup size compatible with the brand of breast pump I used (I’ll talk more about that later).
Even though I was still struggling to master the collaboration of my boobs and the breast pump, switching to the correct size cup helped immediately. Now, the only time I leak is usually due to user error.
During the first several days, I was still pumping colostrum, still struggling to get Jake to latch, and still feeling pretty guilty for supplementing with formula.
But after a week that felt like an eternity, I finally started to produce what looked like milk; and slowly but surely, I made more and more and was finally able to make enough food to keep up with my baby’s needs!
Products That Helped Increase My Breastmilk Supply
Now that you know a bit about my personal breastfeeding journey and that it will get easier! I’ll tell you about my favorite products that saved my sanity, and helped improve my milk supply greatly- as well as quickly.
Just to make sure I mention it: none of the products below that I’m going to showcase are sponsored.
I paid for everything out of my own pocket (along with all the stuff I bought that DIDN’T work– yay!) and I just wanted to share my favorites with you guys on the chance they can make your life a little easier!
I had been lucky enough to have to wonderful friends who had becoming mommies a few months prior to me; and so, in spite of my embarrassment and shame for admitting I was already a fuck up as a mother(again, that was the ugly and hormonal side of my brain talking- I know that this isn’t true), I messaged them asking if they had any tips.
After reassuring me that I was, in fact, not a POS, and that they had similar issues with their own children, they recommended these Nipple Guards.
While I decided that the best method for my baby and I was to pump and bottle feed him, those nipple guards were a godsend for the times I would spend trying to help my son latch and eat.
Basically, they make it much easier for baby to latch, and it’s much less painful on your nips.
Breastfeeding, and pumping is quite painful those first few days, so I strongly recommend buying a nipple cream to help soothe those puppies between feedings. The brand I used was Lansinoh because it happened to be the sample I received from the hospital, and it helps a lot.
However, from what I’ve seen, I’m pretty sure Lansinoh is the standard brand.
I’ve not only found Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream on Amazon, but also in most of the retail stores I frequent (in the baby section by any pumping supplies).
Don’t skimp on the cream, these are the little ‘self-care’ steps that will make your recovery easier. You’re going to experience exhaustion physically and emotionally like you’ve never known, don’t add to it by neglecting your boob care.
As I mentioned above, my main issue while learning to use my electric breast pump was that all of my hard-earned milk was leaking out all over my shirt (super awesome). After doing some research and asking another (more experienced) momma, I discovered that BOTH of the standard cup sizes provided by my insurance were too large.
Unfortunately, this meant that I had to spend more money on a smaller size.
On a side note: I don’t know if it was just my insurance that did that, but I think it’s RIDICULOUS that insurance companies wouldn’t supply you at least ONE sample of each size- just in case you aren’t one of the “standards”!
… rant over…
Anyway, I ordered the Medela PersonalFit Flex Breast Shields in a size 21mm flange, being that it was compatible with my pump (a Madela: pump in style advanced), and its more flexible design seemed like it would work better than the more traditionally rigid flanges.
They solved my leaking problem right away.
Now the only thing I was left to struggle with was actually producing enough breastmilk for my son to eat…
So I’ll tell ya about the supplements I have taken to aid in this.
Dietary Breastmilk Supplements
Your diet is a MAJOR factor in creating and keeping up your breast milk supply. You need to be incredibly hydrated because breastfeeding is very taxing on your body (hence why it burns all of those calories).
You need to be eating enough, especially complex carbs (but, my dear friend, you’re going to have your hands full, so just eat what you can get for now and sate your appetite).
You also need to drink tons of water. This was harder for me than expected, but that was mainly due to being distracted by, you know… caring for a precious little infant who relies on you for everything.
It’s only kind of a big deal, I guess…
Anyway, once you do your best to meet those above dietary requirements, there are HUNDREDS of supplements in the form of: teas, cookies, vitamins– you name it, to help stimulate milk production.
Now, of course, you should also consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplement- blah blah blah.
No, but seriously, Fenugreek (the main ingredient in one of the breast milk supplements I’m about to discuss) is still a foreign chemical in your body, and so you should consult you doctor and you pediatrician, before starting any of these supply enhancing supplements.
Here are the supplements that I have used and like best…
I think I discovered the “Mother Knows Best: Goat’s Rue” on social media somewhere, and after reading reviews (and having just finished my previous bottle of Fenugreek supplements), I decided to order it.
From what I have read here on WebMD, there isn’t enough known about Goat’s Rue for them to have any set side-effects. FYI, here’s the link where you can read more about this supplement on your own!
I’ve been taking it for about 3 days now, and WOW. Even just after a few days, I’ve noticed that I’m able to pump 2-3 extra ounces of breast milk during my first-morning pump. This is very helpful, as my little guy is going through his 6-week growth spurt, and is practically insatiable.
I’m also noticing about a 20-30% increase in each of my following pumps throughout the day. Going from an average of 3-4 oz per following sessions to about 4.5-6 oz.
I’m obviously not going to guarantee these results for everyone. Firstly, I’m not a doctor or a professional lactation consultant(obviously), but also because my body is uniquely me, so the stuff I am recommending may not have the same effect for everyone.
The Upspring brand has been a huge help in my post-partum life. Not only do I drink their UpSpring Milkflow: Chocolate Milk Flavored Breastfeeding Supplement, but they were also the brand of C-Section recovery control underwear that I bought after I got home from the hospital (which I CANNOT recommend enough if you’ve had a C-section- they helped me SO MUCH).
Honestly, if you don’t mind my opinion, I would strongly suggest ordering these around your due date JUST IN CASE.
You never really know what your birth will be like, I’m living proof. There was absolutely no sign that I would need to have a C-Section literally until an hour before I got one.
Having recovery underwear will be a huge help in shrinking your uterus back to its normal size, regardless of whether you end up having a C-Section or not.
Now, back to the chocolate milk!
This chocolate milk supplement from UpSpring is fantastic. It is also a huge contributor to my milk supply improvement, and it DOES actually taste quite good. I would say I can’t really tell the difference between drinking this and a regular cup of instance hot chocolate.
It says you can drink it hot or cold, but I prefer it hot. It is also not super high in calories(60 per serving) so it isn’t going to make it harder for you to get back to your pre-preggo body.
I would say that the only thing that can be a little frustrating about taking either of these supplements (in my personal experience), is that I do notice a drop in supply if I happen to run out and can’t take them for a few days. So, I just need to make sure I am always stocked up.
The one thing I would like to note are a few of the possible side-effects that can accompany taking Fenugreek for you and your baby. In fact, I might be experiencing one of these effects which might force me to stop taking the stuff, in spite of how helpful it has been in increasing my supply.
Some of the side effects include: body-odor, gastrointestinal issues like gas, diarrhea, etc, and some people might have an allergic reaction. Here is a link to the full list of symptoms that you can take a look at…
The reason I am holding off on taking it for a few days is that I found out that Fenugreek can also cause gas problems for your baby- and my little guy’s biggest gripe is gas bubbles. It seems like no matter how much we burp him, he usually has at least one super crummy gas bubble pain every other day.
So, I’m taking a small break to see if not taking Fenugreek will improve that!
My Personal Feeding Choice
Now, as I mentioned above, I have chosen to exclusively pump and bottle feed my baby. This was because, even in spite of the helpful nipple guards, my boy just preferred a bottle.
He had gotten so used to it early on that he just was a happier baby on the bottle. And I felt that it was more important that he was happy than me worrying about my insecurities about ‘being successful at breastfeeding’. I do not regret it.
I just also find that bottle-feeding fits my lifestyle better. It has made it possible for my husband to help with nighttime feedings (making my recovery much easier since I was availed that precious extra time to rest at night) and he can also enjoy that bonding experience with our boy.
I can also keep track of exactly what he is eating, and it helps me know his eating patterns and how they’re fluctuating as he gets older. This gives me peace of mind because, when I would breastfeed him, this kid would “eat” for 20-45 minutes, and still not seem satisfied.
It was as if he had been eating so long, fading in and out of sleep, that he’d forget he had eaten. As with all newborns, he was a notoriously sleepy boy, so he’d fall asleep on my breast constantly, and no amount of prodding, tickling, wiping with wet cloths, burping (etc) made a difference.
Even now I still need to supplement with formula sometimes, but it’s very rare, and its usually when he has hit a little growth spurt and suddenly decides to eat double his usual amount!
Now, I have discovered since becoming a mother, that there is a lot of controversy in regards to “how you should be feeding your kid“. From: “Breast is Beast” to “Fed Is Best”, there seems to be a culture that may think my decision is the wrong one.
Frankly, they’re not my child. So I really don’t care if someone would accuse me of “not trying hard enough”. My goal is to care for my precious child, and I feel SO FORTUNATE that I’m even able to produce breast milk AT ALL!
I know that there are mommies that may not be able to pump or breastfeed, so I truly think that every mommy is doing their very best, and that as long as your baby is eating, gaining weight, and your pediatrician is giving you a clean bill of health… who the fuck cares whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding?
Don’t get me wrong, there is a part of me that is sad and disappointed that it didn’t work out the way that I imagined… but the positives have far outweighed the negatives for my family. I’m too busy focusing on how blessed I am to have such a perfect and healthy little baby to devote any time to self-depreciating thoughts.
It’s totally okay if there are mommies who don’t agree with me! I respect that, but I’m not here for the mommies who have it all figured out…
I’m here for the fellow mommies that might just need someone to say out loud that it’s okay to feel really frustrated and stressed… and that your family is going to be just fine.
Do You, Beautiful Mama. It’s Not Gonna Be Okay… It’s Going To Be GREAT.
The most important thing to remember, no matter what kind of breastfeeding trouble you might go through (if at all), as long as your baby is fed, fat and healthy, then that’s all that should matter.
Feed your baby, whether that needs to be with formula, or not. If you decide feeding formula exclusively is better for your situation, than talk to your doctor about the best options for your baby and do it.
Your baby will be fine, and your emotional and physical health needs to be one of your priorities if you want to be a happy and healthy mamma. Your baby needs you to be healthy and happy, too. They’re so tuned in with you, and whatever can help alleviate your stress, will help alleviate your baby’s stress, too.
Being a mom means the last thing you think about are your needs, and your limits- hell, the fact that you’re still just a human being trying to figure this all out (hence why I named my blog L2Mom).
But you need to make a concerted effort to do what is best for both of you.
All of the hard stuff gets easier and easier…
You’ll acclimate to this new life, and your child is going to be the most amazing thing you will ever lay your eyes on. Even the toughest moments won’t compare to the joy in your heart when you look at your kid.
And it’s okay to be afraid, and it’s okay to be overwhelmed. You are a human, giving birth doesn’t change that, and you and your partner will need time to adjust to your new life just as your baby does.
Your love for each other will grow and push you through it. The bond you will build watching one another become parents is beautiful, and priceless.
Watching yourself accomplish each of those tiny successes day-by-day will make it easier to deal with the tougher stuff.
While none of our situations will ever be exactly the same, I really hope that this post has provided not just a sense of awareness, but comfort and reassurance that you are not alone if you struggle with breastfeeding. Don’t worry, because you and your wonderful baby will be okay.
Now, if you’ll excuse me… I can see that my own precious miracle is about to squeal his little lungs out via my baby monitor, so I’m ready to go enjoy some baby cuddles.