The Loneliness of Being a New Mum

By: Lauren Fuhrer

“You’ll feel lonely:”

That's the one thing I wish someone had told me before I became a new mum. 

Instead, everyone told me “It goes by so fast,” or "You should get your baby on a sleep schedule," or they wanted to know "Are you going to breastfeed or use formula?" Nobody mentioned the lonely hours of having nobody to talk to other than my newborn. Although I felt unbelievably connected to my new son, I also began to feel more and more disconnected from everybody else (family, friends, neighbours, etc.…) and I felt lonely.  Really lonely. 

Whether you are already a new mum or are about to become one, understand that feeling lonely is not unusual.  

Having a little one changes your lifestyle. How much it changes your lifestyle is up to you. Meeting a friend for coffee after work or swinging by your 7:30 pm yoga class isn't as straightforward as it once was.  Now you have to factor in the baby's needs of course. It's easy to decide that the extra effort required to go for coffee or yoga just isn't worth it anymore.  Before you know it, those things have made their way to the bottom of the totem pole.

And even when you do make it out of the house with your little one, you can’t help but worry…

‘Am I going to be able to get through the meal without my baby crying?’

‘That damn stroller.  Once I get it out of the car will I get it back in?’

‘I hope my baby doesn’t have to eat while we are there. I feel so uncomfortable feeding in public!’ 

It can all seem overwhelming and not worth the hassle.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

You can make your own rules. My son is older now, but I wish that when he was a baby I had realized that becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean throwing on "mum jeans" and going to the park or a “kid friendly museum”. I could take my son with me to do the things that I wanted to do. I didn't have to isolate myself. I didn't have to stop going to the places I love simply because I became a parent. 

I'll now see a new mum out with her baby and make a point of encouraging her.  When she looks at me with that apologetic look or actually says "Sorry," I make sure to respond with, "No apology necessary.  I think it's great you are out and about with your baby." Motherhood can be lonely but with a little encouragement and sense of community it doesn't have to be. 

I hear some of my friends say it’s too hard to take the kids out- especially new mums with their first kid.  It’s so challenging.  You have to bring all the baby stuff and most of the time, no one wants to eat or go where I can take him or her.  How awful to feel that way?!?  How lonely?!? 

It sounds crazy, but after traveling to other countries I realized how intolerant the USA can be of children.  It went from the 1950’s, “Kids should be seen and not heard” to “Let’s just not see them either.”

 What if you could do adult things with your kids?  I know... Crazy, right?  Like going to a nice restaurant.  Or seeing a play. Or just doing something that you would want to do even if you didn’t have a kid? I’m not talking about an all-night binger, but if you want to have a drink in the afternoon while you are out and about, shouldn’t that be okay?

I love online lists about Top 10 Things to Do with Kids because they mention the parks, museums and good schools within each city. These are all places kids “should” be.

Here's my question: why isn’t everywhere in America kid-friendly?  Why is our culture more dog-friendly than kid-friendly?  I love dogs don't get me wrong, but it feels like my dog is more welcome than my kid in a lot of establishments.

mimijumi mums, tell us where you take your kids.  Do you feel judged when you do? How do you overcome the judgement?  Empower new mums to take the plunge to be part of the world outside their home instead of letting "loneliness" win. 

Five Adjectives

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By: Lauren Fuhrer

Should motherhood define you as a person?  YES.  But it’s not all of you.  Is it most likely the largest defining thing that’s happened in your life?  ABSOLUTELY!  So, if someone asked you the question, “Tell me about yourself,” how would you answer?

 If the setting is a PTA meeting or a “new mums club” does it sound something like this, “I’m originally from (enter location). I’m a mom of (enter number here) and I’m (enter relationship status).”

If you’re asked the question during an interview for a job, does it usually sound something like this, “I have (enter number of experience) at this (title).  My previous employment was with (name of company).”  And as soon as that employer asks if you have any kids (P.S.  they aren’t allowed to ask this) you cringe.  Then, you feel guilty for trying to “hide” the thing that you love more than anything and you feel uncomfortable with the whole situation you’ve found yourself in.

These answers may be contributing pieces of our life puzzle, but are they truly the description of who we are?

So, who are you?  Are you a mum?  Yes… but that doesn’t really tell me anything about you, other than you probably are lacking sleep.

How do you describe yourself once you become a mum?  Funny to think about, right?  You probably didn’t realize the specific moment you started telling people your “STATS,” as I call them, and stopped telling them your unique adjectives.

Almost like a broken record, I hear myself say, “I’m…  32 and I have a 10-month-old. I’m married, I work, and am originally from Ohio.” Don’t you feel you know everything about me now?!?  NOPE!  Not even close.

I realized the other day how little people truly know about me.  From now on, when people ask me about myself, I’m going to start using adjectives again, except... I realised, I have used them so little in the past, that I don’t even know what adjectives describe me anymore...

To give it a try, I’m… 

Outgoing.... I can usually make new friends easily and love trying new things...  but, then, when was the last time I had a night out?

Athletic… I love volleyball and was a college athlete. But that was 10 years ago and now I don’t have time to work out, so could I really call myself athletic anymore?

Musically inclined… I played the piano and even taught it... but who has time for that anymore between work and the baby?

It’s easy to question every adjective you’ve ever used to describe yourself before becoming a mum because you’re out of practice. It’s easy to lose your self-esteem, your self-image, and just consider yourself whatever status you’ve become. Trust me, I’ve been there: “I’m…  32 and I have a 10-month-old. I’m married, I work, and am originally from Ohio.”  It’s like we’ve filled out too many doctor forms or something?!?!

But, my message for you and I is that we’re so much more!  I challenge you to start working on your adjectives. 

How did you describe yourself and how do you now describe yourself?  It’s not a bad thing if it has changed, but don’t lose sight of the fact you are more than your “stats”.  I bet you’re courageous, creative, an amazing cook or you love art and music.  Maybe you’re a singer, a wine enthusiast, a dancer, you’re funny, smart, love hiking or bike riding. 

Me… I love dogs.  I love my job and teaching younger people how to do things. I am empathetic (something I would never have thought I could describe myself as before becoming a mom).  I’m sarcastic and funny.  I sing way too loud when I’m in the car.  I work my arse off at everything I do.  I can’t sit still and love a challenge.  I miss my husband who’s deployed and I love my son.  I want to paddle board more and worry less whether I’m doing the right thing. 

I want mums to know that they are amazing women and that although you are an amazing mum and wear the title well, you still deserve to be considered your own person.  You deserve so many adjectives and less focus on the stats, because those stats are only part of the complete package of YOU.

What are your 5 adjectives?

Dealing with Postpartum Depression

By: Caroline Hilla

It’s that lurking feeling that things just aren’t right.

Like most women, you’ve probably already thrown away that Postpartum Depression brochure the hospital gave you before bringing your new baby home. Maybe the grey, gloomy-looking mum picture featured on the front page seemed a little overdone? But now you feel like her and you are finally admitting to yourself that something is wrong. It’s time to stop assuming that the postpartum period is always euphoric, because for 1 in 7 women it’s not.

You’ve lost the “old you”

Mums with PPD feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this ‘new baby thing’ is rather hard." More like, “Sorry world. I don’t meet the emotional height requirements for this rollercoaster.” You feel a strange disconnect from your baby, your partner, and pretty much the entire outside world. You’re not having that whimsical mummy bliss that you see on Facebook or see on TV. Patience is no longer part of your personality and everything seems to set off this out-of-control rage. And the worst fear of all, looming over your head, is that this is your new reality and you’ve lost the “old you” forever”.

 So, let’s face the facts about PPD: It’s common.

Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do. PPD is not a “one-size-fits-all” type of thing. Some women feel its effects during the first 3 weeks after birth, while others experience symptoms several months after their baby’s birth. There are several different causes of PPD and most of them are out of your control. To start off, your body just experienced a massive hormone surge followed by an immediate hormone plunge. For many women, this rapid change can trigger depression lasting days, weeks, or even months. In fact, for half of women diagnosed with PPD, this is their first episode of depression. Stress can also play a key role in igniting the PPD fire. Maybe you weren’t planning on this pregnancy? Or your partner and family don’t want to help care for your newborn? Whatever your issue may be - money, family, alcohol, drugs…you name it! Problems create stress, and stress can cause depression. Period. Believe it or not, there actually IS a light at the end of the tunnel and you’re not crazy. But, it’s time to act.

Baby Steps

In case no one has told you, you’re doing an amazing job. You are loved and you are worthy. You are not alone. Getting the right help can make all the difference for you, your baby, and your family. There is no point in suffering alone. Don’t try to wait this out. If you are having the symptoms of PPD, here’s what you can do:

·         Call your doctor. It’s okay to be honest with your doctor at your postpartum appointment and tell him/her that you are struggling. 90% of people with PPD can be treated successfully with medication.

·         Find a local support group in your area. Websites such as: The Association for Post Natal Illness and Pandas Foundation help mums going through what you're going through find people nearby who understand what you’re experiencing.

·         Talk to someone who understands. Talking to a friend or relative can be helpful when you need to vent, but when it comes to PPD, one of the best treatments can simply be another mum who can relate to your feelings and encourage you along the way.

Now it’s your turn

Postpartum Depression is a real condition that can affect your everyday life. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible. If PPD is detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Also, experts have found that children can be affected by a parent's untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep problems, impaired cognitive development, anxiety, and frequent tantrums.

If you suspect you may have postpartum depression, it’s time to stop letting the baby blues bring you or your loved ones down. You are not wrong for feeling the way you do and no one blames you for it. It’s time to be kind to yourself and reach out for support because yes, you are enough, and yes, you really do matter. <3

 

The Surprise Milestone - Bottle Refusal

By Dr. Frank Drummond

Up until now, your 2-month old was feeding perfectly on both breast and bottle. But all of a sudden he/she has completely lost interest in the bottle and will even scream if it’s brought too close. You’re starting to panic and wonder if your baby will ever be able to drink from a bottle again! Sound familiar? If so, there is a likely chance that your newborn is going through a very normal and expected behavioural reflex change called the “two-month mark”.

Understanding the developmental reasons behind this seemingly spontaneous behaviour will reassure mums like you that you aren’t alone and bottle-feeding can still be successful.

The two-month mark occurs in babies aged 2-4 months and is characterised by a sudden refusal of bottles, making for a frustrated baby. Now that your baby has grown a little and mastered the art of suckling; they can latch, suck, and feed more efficiently. Because of this, they can spend less time at the breast while still receiving the same amount of nourishment. In addition to this your baby is also becoming more perceptive. He/she can now see across the room and recognize familiar faces. They are beginning to analyze what is going into their mouths and can immediately recognise if it isn’t a direct part of mum. In other words, if it isn’t mum, they don’t want it. This can cause them to become frustrated and upset when a bottle is presented to them.

Many mums are not aware that their baby’s ability to feed after birth is an involuntary survival feature they are born with. This instinctive sucking reflex is activated whether they are hungry or not when the roof of their mouth is stimulated by touch. Because of this innate behaviour, babies are able to sustain life immediately after birth without having to learn the motor skills behind suckling. The two-month mark is simply a successful cognitive development causing sucking to transition from being an involuntary reflex into a voluntary controlled response. At 2 months of age the roof of your baby’s mouth will no longer stimulate immediate sucking because they have developed the muscle memory necessary to control it on their own.

A “successful suck” is more complex than you might imagine. The baby’s lips flange and close around the nipple creating an airtight seal around the areola. They then move their tongue in and out, controlling the flow, pressing the nipple into the top of their mouth creating pressure. The suction of the downward movement of their jaw pulls the breast milk into their mouth. After taking another breath, the cycle continues. This cycle is called the Suck-Swallow-Breath (SSB) Synchrony. These pauses in feeding allow for your baby to make eye contact with you and form a bonding moment.

This is an exciting step for your baby because they are able to control their feeding for the first time ever. This can be a major complication for the 80% of mums returning to work or looking to take a break from breastfeeding for a night out. Not to worry! Useful tips and tricks such as warming the baby bottle nipple, letting someone else give the bottle, or using different positions other than the breastfeeding hold can provide a successful bottle feeding experience. Breast bottles, such as the mimijumi bottle, are also a successful way to introduce bottle-feeding again because of its unique breast-like design. Understanding what is happening as your baby grows helps you manage these sometimes surprising transitions and limit frustration all around. 

 

Is your baby hungry?

We may be biased, but we think mimijumi bottles have the cutest names out there. The Not So Hungry bottle is 120 ml / 4 oz., and its big brother is the Very Hungry bottle at 240 ml / 8 oz.

Which one do you need for your baby? How much milk should your little one be drinking each feed? These are questions best discussed with your paediatrician as every baby is different, but we've put together a quick reference for general feeding amounts based on age. Hopefully this will help you decide which bottle would best suit your baby, and give you peace of mind knowing they are eating what they should be, when they should be!

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More important than the table above is to watch your baby and pay attention to their growth. Generally speaking, your baby should be eating 2 oz. for each pound they weigh over each 24 hour period. For example, if your baby is 7 lbs., he should be eating around 14 oz. every 24 hour period broken up into many feedings. Above all, pay attention to your baby's weight gain. Your paediatrician will have growth charts that can help track your baby's progress and alert you and your doctor if there is an issue. It's important to keep up with regular well-baby visits to be able to catch any issues early on.

If you're breastfeeding your baby, it may be difficult to determine just how much your baby is eating. Feeding formula or expressed milk from bottles makes measurement much easier, but there's no need to fret about measurements! Remember that babies do have instincts. In general, they will show hunger cues and will eat when they are hungry and refuse when they aren't. Feed your breastfed baby when he/she shows signs of being hungry, and carefully monitor weight gain to be sure you aren't missing hunger cues.