November 16, 2017 at 5:01 pm #62471
This weekend, I’m going to do a @saramccann and catch up on everyone else’s writing. I keep seeing the comments, so know that it is pure gold.November 17, 2017 at 8:35 am #62534
Yes, I want to do that too @saramccann and @mars! Am at the moment just quickly diving in and out, stealing a glance between working, is all quite fascinating and dangerous.November 17, 2017 at 2:54 pm #62555
@mars – I read that you were going to be talking with someone who lost her baby. I can’t even imagine what that must be like – to lose the baby or to hear her story. I know that you will write it with grace and compassion. Once I get my website up and running and have an audience, I am going to ask you to guest post on my site. I love your attitude and your vibe. It matches the sentiment for my site so well. Anyway, I now look forward to hearing whatever is next on the agenda. You’re so creative, unpredictable, and daring! I love it.November 17, 2017 at 3:23 pm #62564
Thank you @laurakoller I did some writing on the conversation yesterday. It’s neither polished, nor for publication. What I’m going to do is transcribe the conversation and then I’m going to write a post about it.
I would love to guest blog for you. Thank you. What a lovely privilege.
Today I’m about to write about supporting a mother breastfeeding twins. I’ve done my Italian practice. I’m 23% fluent and keep winning badges. I’m rather happy.November 17, 2017 at 4:01 pm #62569
I have completed tonight’s writing. 1,118 words. I will need to do some editing I think, before I post it on my blog. But I’m relatively happy with it. Thought I’d share it here:
Breastfeeding twins is really rather wonderful, and when I see a happy breastfeeding relationship between a mother and her babies, well that just brings me joy.
Today I spent time with a new mum. Her twin boys are three weeks old. She called me at the beginning of the week because her nipples were hurting and she didn’t want to cause herself any damage. She had been exclusively breastfeeding her twins since birth. It’s hard to find the women that manage to only give their babies breastmilk. This isn’t because they don’t want to, it is, rather, the received wisdom of the healthcare professionals that she won’t be able to breastfeed twins. This is a common thought. So many twin babies are ‘topped up’ and ‘supplemented’ from birth simply for being twins.
I remember being discharged from hospital and finally being able to take my twins home. I say finally, I had been in hospital for a week prior to their birth, due to my high risk of pre-eclampsia, and then a week after their birth. No one asked me how my breastfeeding relationship had been with my first three children. There was an assumption, or perhaps just a lack of knowledge, that meant my new babies were tube fed formula milk. I didn’t know any different. I just thought that that was how it went. When they were several days old, and my wee daughter had pulled out her tube for the umpteenth time, a midwife told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to go home whilst she was still feeding from a tube. So, I put my baby to the breast and fed her. I can’t decide if it’s funny, frustrating or just plain sad that I didn’t know that I was ‘allowed’ to breastfeed my own babies. On arriving home, the first midwife to visit me did not bring joy to my home. Instead she asked me why I was home, my blood pressure was still incredibly high, and then she told me that because it was twins, I would not be able to breastfeed because I wouldn’t have enough milk. This was a woman who clearly knew nothing about breastfeeding. Surely it makes sense that a multiple mama, a twin mum, would make more milk than a singleton mum. The more a baby feeds, the more milk she makes. Within the breast milk is a hormone, the Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation. When a baby feeds from the breast, the Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation, or FIL as we’ll call it, goes down. As the FIL goes down, the message goes to the brain to make more milk. Now, with a singleton mum, the baby tends to feed from one breast at a time. Therefore the FIL lowers in one breast and the message goes to the brain to say make more milk for that breast. So, doesn’t it make sense that a mother breastfeeding twins will have the FIL levels drop in BOTH of her breasts, causing the message to the brain to say ‘make more milk’. So there will be more milk in TWO breasts.
Do I think that breastfeeding twins should be easy? Yes. Do I think that some women have issues and need more support? Yes. But let me tell you about today’s client.
I arrived at her home and she was in bed with her babies. They had finished feeding before I arrived, but one was fussing a little and mum put him to her breast. She asked me if she was doing it right. I asked her how it felt and she told me that it felt good. Then she explained how she checked. She would press on her breast and roll the baby slightly out. I suggested that instead of rolling the baby off the breast and down onto the nipple, she try rolling the baby in and smudging him in well. Because she wasn’t holding the back of his head, he was able to hinge his head back if he was too far in to the breast. She continued to feed him well. The only other adjustment that I suggested was that she allow the baby to come up from underneath the breast to allow his mouth to fully open. She smiled at me immediately and said that just that tiny thing made the feeding seem so much better. Her baby fed until he was ready to stop. The second twin then decided that he was fed up of missing the action and also needed a feed. Mum asked if we could go downstairs so that she could show me how she set herself up. So, we took the babies downstairs and mum took the pregnancy pillow that she was using with her. She showed me a twin pillow that she had tried to use but failed as she didn’t like the way if sat on/around her body. When she decided that it was too uncomfortable, she played around with her pregnancy pillow and sat back, with her feet up and fed the second baby. I just sat with her, telling her how fabulous she was, explaining about FIL and basically just being. I asked how she was feeling and she said that prior to my visit she was continually hunching and tensing her shoulders whilst feeding. She tried hard to sit upright, but I explained that it wasn’t necessary to sit upright, but that leaning back was easier. And it proved to be so for her. When I left, both her and her partner were grinning. She said ‘You’re leaving happy people behind you. Thank you.’
Sometimes we spend so much time doing the checklists, eg position the baby here, turn your arm there, sit up straight etc that we forget to simply be and let the babies feed. I told my client that the reason I didn’t position her babies or put my hands on her or the babies was because I wouldn’t be there at 3am in the morning to fix the positioning. By leaving her to sort herself and her babies, she was able to see that it was what she herself was capable of. By talking to her with words of love and encouragement, she stepped further into her motherhood. She was doing a brilliant job when I arrived. There was nothing to fix, just because I was there. I was there simply to be. There will be times when my clients need more from me than words of encouragement and they will get that which they need. But it’s so fabulous to see something that was working and to walk away knowing that by doing nothing, I helped a mum do everything.November 17, 2017 at 9:05 pm #62596
Ah – “There was nothing to fix just because I was there … by doing nothing I helped a mum do everything” – oh the brilliant irony and truth in your observations!
FYI I breastfed all my boys including the twins. I supplemented the twins some in the beginning – mostly because I needed the rest – and then it was time to insist on doing it all by myself because I know that’s what my babies and my body needed me to do. I also remember one night driving home with the family and both babies were crying to be fed and that’s the night I insisted I could feed them together even though the thought scared my husband – that I might drop one! It was a beautiful moment. As were the days one 6-month twin would see me sit down with a pillow, crawl to me excitedly, and motion to his brother to join me. Ah the smiles and the joyous sucking!
Thank you for bringing back the memory.November 18, 2017 at 4:23 am #62620
Thank you @laurakoller I think that I’m going to just upload that to my blog and use it as promotional information for my eCourse. I need to read through my notes and see whether it’s going to be a public blog, or a read this and sign up blog. Trying to decide if there’s enough of a disclaimer around my views that breastfeeding should be simple.
Also need to let my mind move towards this evening’s writing.November 18, 2017 at 8:55 am #62662
Right. Today’s writing is done.
The writing is for use on my Loving the Multiple Mamas course. It will need some refinement and the addition of studies and stats. This is it in its first form.
The Golden Hour, post birth is an important one. It is one that multiple mums should get as well as the singleton mum. This is that initial bonding time. Where the babies get to be skin to skin with the mother that carried them in her womb.
Different cultures across the world practise the art of skin to skin. Nils Bergen has done studies on kangaroo care and has influenced the way babies are treated in hospitals across the world. The Golden Hour, whilst being something that more and more health care providers and parents are aware of, is not easily practised by some.
With the higher considerations in a multiple birth, the chances of a mother getting immediate, uninterrupted skin to skin with her babies, is slim. There are so many checks that others ‘need’ to do. The first hands that often touch these babies do not belong to mother or partner. A doctor or a midwife might ‘catch’ the babies, or to coin the medical term ‘deliver’ these babies. As a quick aside, parcels, pizzas, mail are all delivered. Babies tend to be born. To say that any one else delivers them, takes away from the glorious work the labouring and birthing mum does. Anyhoo.. I digress. The first hands, more often than not, that touch those babies belong to health care professionals. This is an instant interruption to the bonding process. Do not mistake me. I’m not saying that bonding does not, and cannot take place. I said that it is an instant interruption. Babies are often taken off to be checked by paediatricians and midwives. So many people get to coo and marvel over the newborns before the mother does. Sometimes the parents will get to hold their babies for a few moments before the weighing and the measuring and testing take place. They are often told ‘Let me just get these things done so that you can have your skin to skin time’, or ‘Let me do these checks then you can have all the uninterrupted time that you want’. Of course, not long after all of this, mum is encouraged to jump into the shower and told to pop the babies into their cots. I’m always amazed that multiple babies are popped into separate cots, when they’ve spent the best part of 9 months squashed up against one another inside their mother.
We know the benefits of uninterrupted skin to skin immediately post birth. The mum gets to see and know her babies. She inhales them deeply and the oxytocin within her rises. She is able to gaze at their faces, something new mums rarely see as babies are handed straight up and her view remains one looking down from the top of the head, rather than looking down onto their faces. She pulls her babies to her skin and her very clever body begins regulation. It regulates both her breathing and the breathing of the babies. It regulates the temperature. If the babies are cold, her internal core heats up several degrees. It does exactly the same, in reverse. If the babies are too hot, her core cools down. This is amazing to see. The calm that fills them all. The oxytocin that rises in the room, bringing joy to all. Babies take a while to move towards the breast and this is the perfect time for it. Slow, steady and uninterrupted. I say that word a lot, don’t I? Uninterrupted. That’s because I believe it is incredibly important. Babies that have time to be on their mothers, and just be at the breast, tend to find it easier to feed. Now, again, another disclaimer. There will be some that have issues at the breast, and those issues should be identified, and the mother and babies should be given full, EARLY, support. Non pressured time at the breast is an excellent way to help with all of that.
Mum and babies should be uninterrupted for a minimum of the first hour after birth. Here they will inhale their mother. They will play at and reach for the breast. They will sniff and lick and ‘crawl’ towards the breast. As they bob and slide, they will end up right beside the nipple. They will toss and turn their heads until the breast is in their mouths, with that nipple pointed up towards the back of the throat. They may feed deeply, they may not. The important thing is that are by their mother, on her skin. Simply being.
After they have spent that first hour on their mother’s skin, they should ideally spend a minimum of 30 minutes on the partner’s skin. Surely 90 minutes is not much for these parents to ask for before the babies are weighed, measured and dressed?
Now to make some food for the family, before heading out to meet a friend for a post theatre drink. I’m not seeing the play today, but I’ll see it another time. The joy of having a local theatre is that I can have those drinks with friends, without being far from home. Tomorrow I catch up on all the writing you wonderful folk have been doing.November 18, 2017 at 9:09 am #62669
Your writing so beautifully honors what is natural and good in the world.
Re: your assertion that breastfeeding should be simple – I agree. It should be. The truth is that it has any always simple, that moms are tired, that babies can struggle. And to claim that it is is a slap in the face to the good women who do try to make it work, with our without strong support, and are not able to do it for one reason or another. More laterNovember 19, 2017 at 9:36 am #62748
@mars Mars–I’m just now reading through all your marvelous posts (haven’t figured out how to access some of the ones on the 750-words-a-day site, but have read the ones posted on your blog and the Nov. challenge). Lots of richness there (and some things that bring back memories of my own time being a new mom–of a single, but he ate enough for two [wry groan]). I also connect strongly with your determination to find ways to honor/share/release the stories of women who are generally not heard. I’ve spent this week immersed in the annual National Assoc. for Interpretation conference, and altho not focused on childbirth issues, the broader/deeper issues of “subdominant culture” (which is usually assumed to be any culture that is not white, English-speaking, and patriarchal, tho that is not actually always the case), individual stories, and how the confluence of all kinds of people’s stories affect the things we know and share and etc. at heritage sites, museusm, etc. is a major and ongoing subject of discussion–one that’s been around for as long as I’ve been in interp, but also one that tends to get sidelined (“oh yeah, we talked about “those issues” so everything must be fine now, since we all got the memo”–[sigh]). I don’t think such issues will ever be entirely resolved, but I do believe that we must find ways to share our stories, and to *listen* to each other’s stories. It isn’t exclusionary to do that (tho sometimes, for some folks, it is scary).
Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying your writing, your insights and wisdom, and your stories — glad you’re keeping up with the November challenge 🙂November 19, 2017 at 3:42 pm #62784
Ladies you are so lovely. Thank you @laurakoller and you as well @judyb for taking the time to search out my writing.
Here is today’s writing. I’m not supposed to work on a Sunday, but I got special dispensation from the Wife (my best birth buddy and close friend).
Today is Sunday and the Wife and I (my best birth buddy and one of my closest friends) took the decision a month or so ago, NOT to work on Sundays. So when I told her that I still had to keep up the November challenge and write every day, she said that I couldn’t write about work. Gah! Then what will I write about?
I poured myself a glass of red. No. Not Malbec. A lovely Tempranillo that was given to me by one of my Abuelitas (my course is Abuela Doulas, when it’s been completed, the doulas are known to me as Abuelitas). It was time to let the words flow and grab that germ of an idea that hit me a short while ago.
Earlier today I went to my local theatre to see a couple of pieces that have been written. It’s called a Script Accelerator – the pieces are written, brainstormed and developed there. The writers have to submit their scripts and some are chosen to be worked on. There were two pieces tonight. One was about a hate crime, the other about depression. As a Trustee of my local theatre, I feel it important that I get to see these things and support them. It’s always an interesting evening. After the performances, which are staged readings, there is a feedback question and answer session. These are valuable for the playwrights as they get to hear what an audience thinks about their work and can adjust different parts and or be pleased about what they’ve written.
I like being at my theatre. It’s a lovely space to work in. I can watch people, hear people and yet not be distracted in the way that I am at home. Dishes to wash, laundry to do, box sets to watch. Did I say that last one out loud? I think that working in a theatre allows my creative juices to flow. But I mustn’t go further along that train of thought, else the Wife will find out and I’ll be guilty of working on a Sunday. We’re planning (and by we I mean SHE) to extend it to not working on Saturdays as well, and then she said Fridays!!)
Whilst I’m thinking about the theatre, I thought I’d let you know how I became so interested in the theatre. It was my sixth form English teacher, Miss Cartwright. Oh this woman didn’t suffer fools gladly and she didn’t let us get away with anything. She could eviserate you in moment. No one wanted to be on the end of that. I remember a quote from a play, possibly ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett. It said ‘hope defers makes the heart sick’. She turned to me, she knew that I went to church, and asked me where it was in the Bible. I didn’t have a clue. Oh my but that was not the right answer. She asked how I could possibly call myself a Christian and not know my Scripture. For those that don’t know, it’s Proverbs 13:12. I rarely forget that now. Jan Cartwright would be proud.
None of that tells you how my love of the theatre grew. It was because Ms Cartwright, Jan as we were finally allowed to call her, would take us to the theatre and then back to her flat where we would have cheese, wine and crackers and discuss the plays. Oh my goodness but we felt so grown up. We were intelligent adults, discussing plays and drinking wine with an intelligent adult. I have always loved reading. Even now I have more than one book on the go. Of course I have about half a dozen birth books on the go, but I always have a couple of books of fiction on the go as well. My reading pile never shrinks, no matter how much I read. There is not enough life to read all the books that I desire to read. As a young woman that loved reading, going the the theatre was a natural progression. Being made to feel like an intelligent adult, by a woman I greatly respected, was life changing. I remember seeing Shakespeare’s ‘A Comedy of Errors’. The protagonists were completely blue. That’s right, COMPLETELY blue. Head to toe. It was fabulous. And then we saw a production of ‘Waiting for Godot’. My best friend practically snored through it. I loved it. Reading Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ was brilliant. Hearing that the ending was changed when it was first performed in Germany was outrageous. They refused to accept that a wife would leave her husband. The feminist in me began to rise. The thoughts and feelings that I had had for years were validated through that text. It remains one of my favourite plays.
I go to the theatre as much as I can. And I love it. For me it is the perfect self-care and I always factor that in to my plans. For my Golden birthday I asked for theatre vouchers. Some friends bought me theatre tickets to plays that I wanted to see, so that they could come with me. It continues to bring me joy and make my oxytocin levels rise.
Fast forward to now. I am on the Board of two theatres and have been approached to apply to be the Chair of a third. Not bad for a girl that thought drinking wine and eating crackers in a flat in Barnes was the height of grown up sophistication.November 20, 2017 at 4:11 am #62803
I love your passion for theatre and how unabashed you are about it. I grew up the same way, with books, paintings and films… as my sanctuary and place for oxytocin… : )
Love how you honour the stories of your doulas and mothers and gave me a peak into your personal life too. Just imagining how what you write to the world how it is thickened and deepened and richer for how you share the many layers of yourself…
Keep writing…November 20, 2017 at 11:34 am #62871
Thank you @davidj You say the nicest things.
Just pondering on this evening’s writing and have the group coaching call to fit in as well.November 20, 2017 at 4:15 pm #62894
Today’s writing. I’m thinking of using it for this week’s blog post. Trying to decide if I want to refine it.
What does self-care mean to you? Or for you?
For me it is to sit in a theatre, transported by the players into another world. A contemporary world. A past world. A future world. Shakespeare is my favourite. I think that I have a particular genre. Murder and mayhem. I love Macbeth and Hamlet. I did decide this year, that I won’t see another Hamlet. I saw Andrew Scott (Moriaty of Sherlock fame) play Hamlet and for me, it was the absolute pinnacle.I heard the lines as though they were fresh and new. I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen Hamlet before that time. Sublime!
Another thing that I like to do is to sit and read, whilst drinking a lovely red wine. I feel my oxytocin levels rise and my spirit calm. I have favourite wines. Malbec hasn’t let me down to date. My absolute favourite, Chocolate Block, is more spenny and actually needs to be drunk with a nice meaty meal. Or a roast. Yum. There’s no rushing a good red. There’s no rushing a good book. That said, sometimes a book is SO good that I have to force myself to slow down and re-read. It’s such a delicious joy.
Music. Do you love music? I do. Turned up loud so that I can sing and dance. More oxytocin is released. No matter what my mood, there is music to fit it and lift it. I used to go salsa dancing regularly. So good for my soul. I’m trying to find time to go back to it. Cuban salsa especially. So grounded and earthy. None of that fancy pancy spinning and posing. Just good old fashioned dancing. Makes my heart sing. I remember one of my first lessons. The teacher said ‘See how she flies’. Well what a clever teacher. Truly embedded my love of salsa deep into my heart.
What do you do for self-care and when?
Doulas work hard at births, even when it seems that they do nothing. Holding the space is tiring work. Holding a sobbing partner, a labouring mother, encouraging a midwife at the end of their shift, all takes emotional energy. Staying awake over 24 hours because the client can’t bear not to look into her doula’s eyes. Making sure that everyone is eating and drinking. Making sure to look after yourself is important. There are moments when the doula can take some time to administer self care. It may be a five minute toilet break where the doula simply breathes in and out for a few moments. It might be leaving the room to fetch water, make tea or have a quick walk outside. Sometimes that is all that is needed to centre yourself. A quick moment.
It’s funny. We doulas don’t often think of ourselves in the middle of a birth, and self care only comes to mind in the days following the arrival of the baby. Sometimes we think that it’s selfish to think about ourselves in that moment. But if we don’t think of ourselves and care for ourselves in those unexpected moments, we’ll walk away more exhausted than we realised.
By now you’re thinking, ‘Mars, you’re insane. There’s no time and it’s not right to think of myself in that time.’ We may need to agree to disagree. I keep going back to the aeroplane analogy. We have to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first in order to help and support others. Taking a quick moment to pause is good. It allows you to go back in and be fully present.
Okay, so now the birth is over. The baby/ies have been born. Everyone has been settled and you’re on your way home. What will you do when you get there? Sleep? Eat? Find a way to wind down? Talk? Dance?
At different moments your body will tell you to pause. Listen. Listen well. This may be the time to sleep. Of course a walk can do so much. It can still the mind after the awesomeness you just witnessed. Only you know what works for you, but do you know how to listen to it? We spend a lot of time talking to our clients about hearing and knowing their bodies, so that as they labour, they can feel their babies moving down. Take time to learn yourself. Hanging out at the theatre watching blood, guts and gore may not be your idea of self care, but it ticks all the boxes for me.
So, find your moments. Take your time. Know yourself. Treat yourself right.November 20, 2017 at 8:58 pm #62911
@mars – I love that you continued writing and honest red your Sunday commitment to your friend. I also love the metaphor – I think it was you who said it but maybe it’s nylropke people here – about the important work of “holding space”. I think I can write a full entry on that one. Maybe later this week.
Time for the self care of SLEEP tonight. God Bless you.
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