dear marianne continued part 2 (babies, breastfeeding, birth control, and the like)...

there were a few questions that went unanswered from the original "doctor" marianne post (here's the link to the questions that were answered.).  my mom deferred to my sister kate for the child-rearing ones: breastfeeding, vaccinations, and the like (then kate and mike went and put their house on the market, got a crazy busy summer schedule, and, you know, life... so, it's finally here!).  mainly because her youngest child (me!) was born in 1984 when the vaccination schedule was far different than it is now (but, even then, my mom didn't get us vaccinated until much later in life--grade-school aged--so if you're wondering what she did specifically, there you have it.).  since my sister kate is in the thick of it having just had quinn in september, she's got the more current rundown on the whole deal.  she's also a labor and delivery nurse and a birth class instructor, so she has a bit of a medical take on the whole thing too.  voila!

here were the questions she answered: 

and it's hard to take advice from someone without putting a face to a name, so here's my sister... prego, and then, the little man who sprang from her womb (i wrote this post over a month ago--now you've all, most likely, become well-acquainted with sister kate and nephew quinn).

What are some tips and tricks for successful breastfeeding?

Firstly, breastfeeding is not easy.  So do not beat yourself up if you and the baby don't get it together right from the start.  You need to figure out what feels right and baby needs to figure out how to suck, swallow, and breathe.  You and the baby will figure it out in no time so be patient. 

There really is nothing to do to get your breasts ready for nursing.  Just don't wear underwire bras because your milk ducts will start producing milk even before you give birth.  These milk ducts reach as far as your armpit...exactly wear the underwire falls, creating pressure and potentially causing plugged ducts.  Just throw those bras out now!  

Use all the resources available in the hospital: physicians, midwives, lactation consultants, and nurses.  Ask questions and ask that they watch you latch the baby on, show you different ways to hold the baby, anything they can offer.  Tell your healthcare team that you wish to have the baby placed on you immediately after delivery and begin breastfeeding immediately.  Newborns are alert and awake immediately after delivery so establishing a good latch and suck right from the beginning is a good idea.  Additionally, breastfeeding helps the placenta detach from the uterine lining and aids in uterine involution (shrinking of the uterus) and the blood vessels that once fed the placenta constrict to decrease postpartum bleeding.  If the baby is latched and sucking properly, you will know it by the cramping you will feel for the first few days postpartum.  If baby needs to go right to the nursery for whatever reason, ask for a pump and for help learning how to use it.  Give the nursery whatever milk you get and breastfeed as soon as you and baby are able. Colostrum (the first milk to come in after delivery) is liquid gold, so start pumping or nursing as soon as you can! Nursing is all about supply and demand.  Nurse often, your milk will come in.  Offer the breast whenever the baby looks like he wants it, but don't kill yourself to make it every two or three hours on the clock.  

Engorgement is brutal but passes in a few days.  Rotate the way you hold the baby to nurse.  The baby's chin is the most effective at emptying your milk ducts, so if you include a few different positions (cradle, cross-cradle, football hold, side-lying) his chin will have a chance to massage more of your milk ducts, thus preventing plugged ducts which can lead to more problems if left uncorrected.  I have actually started to develop a sore spot on the top of my breast near my armpit twice now and have placed my son in such a way that his chin was working that spot while nursing and relieved the pain that had started.  If you have a sore spot creep up, place a warm compress on the area and massage it down toward your nipple and then nurse.  Alternately, get in a warm shower, face the water, and massage down toward your nipple.  Milk will shoot out all over the place but it helps to ease the pain as well.

When you first get home from the hospital, stay in bed with the baby for a few days...just sleep and nurse and be skin-to-skin. Let other people do things for you. Wear your baby in a wrap (my favorite is the Moby wrap) so that he has access to nurse often.  This helps with your milk supply and with establishing good breastfeeding.  Plus, it allows you freedom to continue doing the things you love to do (go for coffee or a walk) or the things you must do (laundry, toilet).  Sleep with your baby or have the baby sleep in your room.  The medical world says you should not sleep with your baby, lactation consultants say you should.  If you aren't comfortable, get a moses basket, a co-sleeper, or a bassinet and keep the baby in the room for the first few months.  You, your baby, and your baby daddy will sleep better for it.

Eat like you did when you were pregnant.  Eat a variety of healthy foods.  If something seems to cause baby to have gas, stop eating it.  The baby is used to a variety of flavors because the same tastes are found in both your amniotic fluid and your breast milk, so don’t worry about staying away from garlic or whatever nonsense you may have heard.

Drink lots of fluids!!! A glass of wine or a beer once in awhile is fine too. 

Lastly, when you are having a difficult time with nursing get in the tub with the baby.  Something about the relaxing feel of the water does something to both mom and baby and babies seem to just latch right on.

I am sure I could keep going for pages and pages but this is already hella-long.

And what weird things should I be expecting from my postpartum body?  Everyone's all hush-hush about it, but I'd like to know how to deal ahead of time.

You will bleed for a few weeks. That is normal but should be turning from red to brown to pink to yellow. Clots are not normal after the first few days. You will be smelly too.  Yummy. Hemorrhoids are no fun and you may have gotten them during pregnancy or just while pushing. Use witch hazel pads jammed up in there. They relieve discomfort and promote healing. You will feel sad and overwhelmed and then guilty for feeling that way. Don’t be so hard on yourself - it is a ridiculously huge adjustment. Your hair will fall out at about 3 months. Awesome. At 6 weeks when you are cleared to have sex with baby daddy, you may not want to. Just tell a little white lie that your doctor told you to hold off a few more weeks. Use KY Jelly when you do go for it. Lots of it.

(And--hi guys, Bridget here.  Interrupting--Kate, I think you forgot to mention... stool softeners!)  

A few more resources:
Great article on Mercola.com: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/04/03/birth-recovery.aspx

Additional resources I use:
La Leche League www.lalecheleague.com
Mercola www.mercola.com
Dr. Sears www.askdrsears.com

I love a little TMI. I had a natural childbirth with midwives in September. I tore a little and only part of the tear healed. I can't have anything enter that area because I have a fresh cut! I have done sitz bath, estrogen cream and calendula. Any ideas? To say my husband and I would both appreciate it is an understatement.

Apply compresses of cotton pads soaked in witch hazel to the affected area. Expose the wound to air as much as possible. Begin doing Kegels to help restore muscle tone, stimulate circulation, and speed healing. Drink plenty of fluids and make sure to get enough ruffage in your diet to prevent constipation. Check out stool softeners if straining during your bowel movements is exacerbating the problem. Check with your healthcare provider to see if they have any thoughts about throwing another stitch in there to help heal the tear. Be sure to use LOTS of KY Jelly when you and your husband finally decide you're ready to get it on again.

What childhood vaccinations are a MUST and which ones should be passed up? There are just SOOO many nowadays that it seems overwhelming for a tiny growing body to handle.

Tough question and one I am currently struggling with as a new mom as well. Research, research, research! You need to decide how comfortable you are with the risk and seriousness of your child contracting the disease versus the risk of experiencing side effects from the vaccine. I am still unsure about the path I will take, but I believe it will go something like this: delayed vaccinations and then only vaccinations that are for seriously life-threatening diseases. There are entirely too many vaccinations now, more than there were when I was growing up, and there continue to be more in the pipeline! I plan to space out vaccinations as much as possible and give more single-component shots. I plan to get titers drawn before my son receives any boosters. First and foremost I intend to breastfeed well over one year, make all of Quinn’s food from good organic real food, give him probiotics and cod liver oil, and keep him outside in fresh air whenever possible. This is where I believe we achieve health and wellness...not from vaccinations.

Additional Resources I use:

What are your thoughts on menstrual cups?

Don’t really know much about them. They appear to be safe with a very small side effect profile. If you are after a “green” and holistic feminine hygiene product, check this out which talks about safer tampon
alternatives. And this site also gives a good list of healthy products, including the DivaCup.

I would also love to know her opinion on the best method of birth control. I am having a hard time finding the best choice for my husband and me. I am currently on the pill and I just don't feel 'right'.

Anything you put into your body, be it a pill or a foreign body, has side effects. Best is to use Natural Family Planning (Bridget, interrupting again.  I think that they call people who use Natural Family Planning... Parents.  So, watch yo'self), which takes some work and some education. After that, I recommend condoms. I agree that I did not feel “right” on the pill. I was also concerned when hearing stories of young, healthy women experiencing blood clots and strokes. For me, the risk was not worth the benefit but each person is different and you need to discover how comfortable you are with each method’s side effect profile.



  1. So glad you mentioned Natural Family Planning (NFP). It's 99% accurate if used correctly and not the same as the calendar/rhythm method which is not as effective. We have used it successfully to plan and prevent pregnancy! Natural and free!

  2. So interesting! I'm not even pregnant and I'm reading this like "okay, note that, and that... and that..." Love the TMI section. Good to know!

  3. If colostrum is liquid gold this post is written gold! So many interesting things but the underwire one was the most surprising to me! Thanks for the heaps of info! Well done. And Bridget, I love your interruptions...they call people who use NFP parents...too true!

  4. Taking Charge of Your Fertility (available on Amazon) is an awesome resource if you want to go the natural route in terms of birth control. It lays everything out scientifically (but in layman's terms). Plus, in reality, there are only, like, 3 days per cycle that you can pregnant. Check it.

  5. Excellent!! Thank you so much!

  6. Awesome info Kate/Bridget.

    As for NFP, the best advice is to be diligent and have self control. We successfully NFP'ed until we decided to conceive. It was a wonderful tool for both staying child free and getting knocked up.

    Before you step into READ a lot, make sure you know your body, and can communicate openly about the details with your spouse.

  7. PS - that NFP time was nearly 4 years of a lot of sex - it definitely works! Not just a few months of coincidence.

  8. You know what's stupid? Florida vaccination rules/laws. It's all or nothing down here... and I'm all for "all or nothing", but not when it comes to vaccines.

    ps. seriously, how helpful is witch hazel? It burns so good.

  9. I'd like to know how NFP works when breastfeeding. Cause, you might be ovulating, but maybe not. I didn't get periods until my babies were over a year!

  10. Um, you're family should take this show on the road. For reals. Like the Carmody Ladies Tour. With all your knowledge, beauty, resources and wit you all would be a huge hit.

    Also I was recently advised to use a product called liquid silk instead of KY. Something about ho KY doesn't lock in moisture. Anyway, for what it's worth I figured I'd share what I heard in case you wanted to try. I know I am ordering it today. Ha!

    Thank you for taking time to share with us. Great stuff.

  11. The smelly part...I was like "Mmmmhmmm, I know that."

  12. i don't have any kids and i'm not even pregnant, but i love reading about this kind of stuff! very informative :)

  13. THANK YOU!

    Seriously, thanks for this post.

    I recently (5 weeks and 1 day ago) had my first baby (a girl!) and I tore a little bit. To make a long story short, nearly two weeks ago I noticed a couple stitches must have been pulled (ahem, was not taking stool softeners..*sob*) and it looks a bit open. I freaked, went to the ER and was told it didnt appear to be anything to worry about unless infection gets in. I was recommended to put peroxide on the area, as well as polysporin. But, will this heal on its own? I am such a rookie at this.

    But, again, thank you for this post! It came at just the right time for so many reasons.

    Thanks again!

  14. @ellalakelovers-- our babes are about the same age, congratulations!

  15. Carmody Ladies Tour?!! um, yes please!

  16. Coupla things:
    1) have been using NFL successfully for a few years. Watch yoself is right, but if you're careful it works and is so so so preferable to pills and messing with your hormones! Also, just a personal thing, I wasn't comfortable with the abortifaceant aspect of many hormonal contraceptives.
    2) menstrual cups? TMI here I'm sure but mine is prob my favorite possession, haha. Sooooo much more convenient than tampons, because you dont have to change as frequently. On light flow days, you won't even know you're having your period. Seriously I HEART my mooncup. :)

    I love these health posts, Bridget!

  17. Thanks iPhone autocorrect for thinking my husband and I play football in bed... NFP, not NFL :)

  18. I love how open and honest this is. refreshing!

  19. This goes a little bit more with Part 1 but I have just recently changed a book that has changed my life. It's called Original Foods by James and Colleen Simmons. If you or your mom haven't read it it's great. Thanks for all your tips! Love reading these posts.

  20. just read this, and side note in case ppl don't know this...witch hazel is an astringent...so use it, its awesome and helps SO much, but it will also, after a few days, make your skin feel like it may rip due to dryness. plan on using a light, safe cream or ointment like a&d ointment or even vagisil works.

  21. One of my favorite things about NFP is how much I learned about my body. I suppose growing up, nobody ever talked to me about normal mucous or the profound effect hormones have on a person. Once I understood my cycle, and what my body was doing, I was AMAZED.

    Our bodies really are astounding. I'm convinced: if a man had an organ like a uterus, that could grow 20x its size, we'd never hear the end of it.


talk to me.

(also! if you have a question, check back as i usually answer it here!)