Why is maternal support so difficult?

img_7842Last week I spent 2 hours on the phone with a number of professionals- my OB-GYN office, the pediatrician, a lactation consultant, and a health insurance agent. You would think after that length of time I would have an answer to my question and confidence in my ability to feed my child and care for my body. Let me give you a little back story.

A week or two ago, I started having burning pain in my breasts after breastfeeding my 8 month old. I convinced myself it was teething and thought, hey it will pass. I figured my doctor would give the usual answer (its nothing) and I would be out of my copay. After another week, the pain was not getting better and my breasts were throbbing even randomly when I wasn’t feeding. As any modern mom would do, I consulted with my Facebook mom group. I actually highly regard other moms’ opinions because they have been there, done that. They don’t have a scripted answer like the doctor office and I don’t owe a copay or get billed for an absurd amount later on. So in our discussion, other moms suggested it could be thrush, a yeast infection that will spread back and forth between mother and breastfed baby. When I called my OB-GYN office back, I mentioned my symptoms and that it was possibly thrush and they agreed and prescribed me cream. Even though there were no noticeable signs of thrush with my baby. After using the cream a few days, it wasn’t making any difference. It was more of an annoyance and I had to wipe it off each time before feeding my baby. So I was back to square one thinking maybe it will just go away on its own, whatever it may be. Being a stay at home mom, I don’t want to throw away a bunch of money on all these office visits that will MAYBE give me an answer. I just felt at a loss.

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So here I am. A highly educated woman (Master’s degree in health education of all things) with my first child. Not knowing who to turn to next. Breastfeeding has been an enjoyable, bonding experience with my baby, but I was wondering if this could be one of the reasons moms give up too soon on breastfeeding. I ended up seeing my OB-GYN and he said it was just a functional problem. And it has improved, so must have been a phase with my teething baby. But as a mom, we will pay the price to get proper care for ourselves and our child.

There have been other times during the past months as a new mom where I felt too embarrassed to seek help or just didn’t know where to begin. If I were to pinpoint some of the problems I see and/or have faced here they are:

>>Insurance/healthcare system. With so many different providers with a problem such as this one, who should I first consult? Hence, why I called 4 different offices this morning. And each provider in person visit comes with a cost. Maybe all for nothing. And all with a different answer.

>>Postpartum depression/emotional issues. I haven’t touched on one of the biggest issues new moms face, postpartum depression. This can be an entire post in itself. I can speak from experience that as a mom, I don’t want to show weakness although I know it is okay. I can tell myself that I am a better mom. Although if it was a friend of mine or another mom, I would tell them to let their feelings out and seek help. Why won’t I do that same thing?? Even after 8 months, I still have days of sadness. I suck it up and move on (some days). Not everyone can do that. I also have the luxury (yes, it’s a luxury because it is not free) of joining a group of amazing moms to exercise with each week. Not everyone has that. I couldn’t tell you how sad I have been when I didn’t venture out of the house (like during sicknesses). So without my class, I would feel very isolated.  The hormonal changes we go through create so many new feelings and the men in our lives should also be equipped with the tools to support and love their spouses. From my experience, information on postpartum depression and the baby blues was only provided at a voluntary breastfeeding class and again upon discharge. I remember in the hospital looking down at those tiny eyes staring back at me and just sobbing. Not because I was sad. Sometimes for no reason, other times because the overwhelming love I felt was scary. So scary that if anything bad ever happened to my sweet baby I would lose it. So I guess that meant it was okay to cry. To cry some more. And have my husband wonder if he did anything wrong. Nope, you are pretty much a perfect dad in my eyes. Me on the other hand, an emotional wreck.

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>>Lack of ongoing support. I received a bunch of pamphlets and printouts from the hospital before I was discharged. Resources such as lactation consultant contact info, how to breastfeed, brochures about postpartum depression, etc. Despite all this information, the whole parenting thing is so new, I didn’t feel like I had the support I needed. The hospital discharges you and says, “Good luck figuring this whole thing out.” And keep in mind you are discharged after the second night when you get ZERO sleep. Your new baby figures out there are these things that deliver milk, all the milk that sweet little baby can eat! Nobody told me about the multitude of problems you may encounter while breastfeeding and after giving birth. Things such as clogged ducts, mastitis, thrush, hemorrhoids, moles and your body will have new things happen months after. The moment you realize your mom was right 🙂

My goal is to compile a list of resources for moms (new and seasoned). If you have some great resources, please share! Soon, I will put together another post with the best resources. As I hear very often, it takes a village! And I truly believe it and hope to give you hope and inspiration on your motherhood journey.

Check out this article about the village I was referring to! Another thing to add to the list of things to do/find when you are pregnant or a new mom! Seriously guys, if you take one thing away from this post.

Thanks for reading and please share your resources in the comments!

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