When a woman finds out her only option to get pregnant is through donor egg IVF, the realization can be daunting. Not only is it a heavy emotional burden to bear, but trying to figure out the next best step is often overwhelming. When you […]
Author: Breanne Clinger
He had perfect round cheeks with beautiful long blonde eyelashes and his daddy’s mouth. I pressed his warm, small body close to my heart. I was holding him. My Bryce. He was more perfect than I could have imagined. I had dreamed this moment so […]
How to Be a Friend to Someone Experiencing Infertility
Most people find it difficult to speak about their afflictions. We are hard wired to avoid pain like the plague, whether it is emotional or physical, ours or someone else’s. Most people would rather go about offering, “How are you?” as a form of general greeting, rather than a genuine question. Treading in safe, shallow conversation does not offer the same level of connection as striding in deeper discussion filled with authenticity and corresponding empathy. We live in a fast pace world and it is all too easy to forget relationships are what matter most. Having real conversations and being there for one another makes life meaningful.
Infertility falls in that taboo subject, a pain that is difficult topic. There is not going to be one blanket statement that is the golden ticket in making everyone feel loved and validated. But, there are some skills that can be learned to best support the person in the way that THEY need versus the way WE think that they need.
I am one to think systematically and have carried a tool I learned in nursing school termed “APIE” to different areas of my life. We will use this approach here.
Test out the water to see how comfortable your friend is with talking about infertility. On Mommytobeprep’s Instagram story I questioned my followers, “Do you think it is appropriate to ask someone if they want kids in the future?” 76 people responded, 63% said it was OK while 37% said it was NOT okay. This is not a huge sample size but it is fair to conclude that people do not all think on the same page regarding fertility and boundaries. Something key we can gain from this is to try not to take offense when people ask questions. It is best to assume people are truly trying their best. On the other hand, it is important for people to also be sensitive with their words.
Where to Begin?
If you suspect your friend is struggling with infertility saying something like this puts the ball in their court. “I just wanted to check in with you because our friendship means a lot to me. How are you doing? What has been on your mind?”
You cannot force someone to open up, but you can create a safe, open environment. Evaluate yourself. Do you often gossip about others? If so, people will not feel safe to share their feelings with you. Ask yourself how often you open up with this person and do you actively listen when they speak? When they do open up, do you express empathy? The ability to be open in a relationship is fueled by trustworthiness, active listening, empathy, and vulnerability.
What Empathy is by Brene Brown:
Ask Your Friend What They Need
A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen, and a hand willing to help others.” – anonymous.
What you think your friend needs versus what they need may be dramatically different. Your friend may not know what they need or want in the moment but give them a day or so to think about it and then follow back up. Ask them what their love language is. Gary Chapman’s philosophy on love language is not just for lovers but also friends, family, and co-workers.
Set a part time to show your friend love in their language. Below are examples of how to show your friend love according to their specific language.
Words of service:
Attack your friend’s door with sticky notes and let them know how strong and wonderful of a person they are. Call them or shoot them a text on random days letting them know of your love, as well on big days, including tests, procedures and transfer days. If they are taking injections buy a box of alcohol swabs and write a note on each one! Some examples may be: “You are so strong!” “You are one step closer!” “You can do this!” “I’m thinking of you!”
Acts of service:
Infertility appointments are time consuming. Offering to bring dinner by, pick up groceries, walk the dog, or any other chore that may be neglected from the extra time spent away from home is very helpful.
Send a card, flowers or a care package! My sweet sister sent me this package during the process of our In-Vetro Fertilization. It included Brazil nuts (supposedly to help with implantation), dates (helps with constipation), socks (keep the feet warm in the stirrups), alcohol swabs (for all those shots), HCG tests, propel packets (it is very important to stay hydrated with electrolytes), chocolate and a very thoughtful card. To be honest, what was in the package wasn’t what made it so meaningful- although all of it was super helpful! It was the act of her taking time out of her hectic life to put it together and ship it to me!
Some more ideas to include in an IVF care package
- Ice pack to numb the location of the shot.
- Over the counter stool softeners because the procedure and pain medication cause constipation and add to the abdominal pain.
- Water bottle because it is very important to stay hydrated.
- Heating pad because the cramping is intense.
Make a lunch date somewhere private enough that the person feels safe to open up, go for coffee, a picnic, or a nice walk. Show up at their house just to hang out and be with them. Invite her out for a movie night or an exercise class.
Put your arm around them as you walk. Give them a hug. Offer them a back or foot massage as you chitchat.
Show up for that person and carry out your plan. Just one small gesture can go a long way. For many, the most difficult thing about infertility is feeling alone.
Continue to keep tabs on your friend, circling back to the assessing what he or she may need.
Service is often referred to as the secret to happiness and benefits the giver more than the receiver. Do something for someone else today and be proud of it! Please share your thoughts in the comments below! What have you done for a friend struggling with fertility or what is something that a friend has done for you?
Through my experience working in L&D, postpartum, and nursery, I have read several breast pump user manuals and have learned how to operate them. But honestly, the pump that I have been most familiar with is the Medela due to having the Symphony pump available […]
What is a Handheld Fetal Doppler?
A handheld Doppler is a device that uses ultrasound to read your baby’s heartbeat. Your nurse or provider may use a handheld Doppler at your OB appointment after 12 weeks gestation to assess your baby’s heart rate and rhythm. Handheld Doppler monitors may also be bought for at home use, such as the “Baby Doppler.”
You may also have heard of a Doppler ultrasound to be used non-obstetrically. Doppler monitors can also be used to assess blood flow through blood vessels throughout your body in a clinic or hospital setting.
How a Doppler Works
The probe or “transducer” is placed directly on the skin with ultrasound gel. The Doppler is then turned on and conducts ultrasound or high frequency sound waves into the area that it is placed over.1 The word “ultrasonic is a combination of Latin roots of “ultra” meaning beyond and “sonic” meaning sound. Ultrasonics or ultrasound is exactly what it says, sound waves that are outside the audible range for humans. The sound waves then bounce off of a moving object (in this case the baby’s heart) and then are transmitted into a sound emitted by a speaker in real time.2
Why Use a Fetal Doppler?
When Correctly Used, a fetal Doppler Provides Imperative Information
After accurately locating the best position for the Doppler probe, the monitor should emit the audible fetal heartbeat. Depending on your specific handheld Doppler, the fetal heart rate will need to be determined by either counting the rate with a timer/second hand watch or by simply reading the rate off of the screen. For example, counting the beats for 6 seconds and multiplying by 10, or even counting the beats for a full minute to determine the rate. Even with a handheld Doppler that populates the fetal heart rate on the screen, I still recommend comparing the beats to a second hand watch to confirm the correct rate.
A normal fetal heart rate fluctuates between 110 to 160 beats per minute. A fetal heart rate that does not vary, or is too slow or too fast may signal a potential problem with the fetus.4
Psychological Benefits of The Use of a Fetal Doppler at Home
The audible evidence that you are growing a real human with a beating heart inside you can be exhilarating and provide encouragement to get through difficult days of morning sickness and fatigue. In addition, hearing your own baby’s heart beating may make the pregnancy more real to you or your family members, providing an additional way to bond with the unborn baby.
Can a Doppler Cause Harm to Mom or Baby?
Ultrasound has an “Excellent Safety Record”
The FDA claims ultrasound has had an excellent safety record and has been used for over 20 years. Ultrasound does not carry the same risks as other imaging systems that use ionizing radiation such as x-rays.
A Home Doppler should not Supersede Medical Attention
Dr. Chakladar a British Doctor shares a story in the New York Times of a mother who was full term but had experienced decreased fetal movement. She used her handheld fetal Doppler at home to find reassurance when she believed she heard her baby’s heartbeat. When she visited her Doctor’s office the next Monday there was no fetal heartbeat. Dr Chakladar states, “On their own, these monitors are harmless; it is their improper use by parents to reassure themselves which can be dangerous. These monitors can be great fun, and I would personally buy one. However, they are dangerous if they are used by untrained people as an alternative to seeking medical advice.”
More Research Data is Needed
According to a research article published in June 2017, titled “Mechanical and Biological Effects of Ultrasound: A Review of Present Knowledge” lower levels of exposed ultrasound, “such as diagnostic ultrasound” has no established evidence to cause specific harmful effect. However, due to few research data, it is difficult to draw a “firm conclusion.”
The FDA also states, “Ultrasound energy has the potential to produce biological effects on the body. Ultrasound waves can heat the tissues slightly. In some cases, it can also produce small pockets of gas in body fluids or tissues (cavitation). The long-term consequences of these effects are still unknown.”3 Because of this, the FDA strongly recommends that “keepsake” images obtained during non-medical exams should be avoided. They also recommend that baby Doppler monitors should only be “used by, or under the supervision of a health care professional.”5
How to Use Your Doppler
Baby Doppler gives an 8 step process on just how to use your doppler here.
Personal Review of “Baby Doppler” Sonoline B
The Sonoline B monitor came in a perfect small package including everything needed-the actual monitor, connecting probe, batteries, and ultrasound gel. I chose this handheld fetal Doppler monitor because it most resembles the Doppler monitor we use on patients at the hospital. My favorite part is the simplicity. The monitor has three buttons-the power button, a button to control the three modes, and a button to control the backlight. The speaker is clear with adjustable volume as well as a headphone jack. The probe that came with the monitor is 3Mhz, which worked well as I was able to find the little heart rate with ease!
Now the infamous phrase… “But, I am eating for two…” True, a pregnant woman is responsible for eating enough for both the baby and herself to survive, but sometimes that can go a little bit overboard. In other cases, some expectant mothers become afraid of […]
As some one planning on specializing in reproductive medicine, I actually don’t like the term “infertile,” or the phrase that we often hear that some one is “struggling with infertility.” It’s very rare for a woman to be either 100% fertile, or 100% infertile, which […]
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With each stage of your newborn’s life you may need to adjust your nursing techniques. Newborns tend to be lazy or sleepy, while infants tend to be distracted by noises and movements. Both create a unique challenge for breastfeeding. How Do I get My Newborn […]
Nipples are like feet. Besides the fact that they like to be covered in the day and free in the bed, they come in many shapes and forms; large, small, flat, pointy, and even inverted. They both serve fundamental purposes– walking and feeding. Feet can get sore, cracked, and blistered from an improper fitting shoe and excessive walking. Nipples can get sore, cracked, and blistered from an improper latch and excessive suckling. Just like a good pair of shoes need to be broken in with some time and some practice, you and your baby will also benefit from some time and practice.
It is normal for women to have a small amount of soreness and discomfort when first starting to breastfeed. This pain should be eased within the first week. Any nipple soreness that continues after the first week is abnormal. If you are having nipple pain, continue to breastfeed. But do not soldier through the pain ignoring it, TREAT IT! The best thing to do is to fix the underlying problem.
The Underlying Problems of Cracked & Sore Nipples
The most common cause of nipple pain is due to a shallow latch. If you put your index finger in your mouth (do this exercise after eating Doritos and it will be much more enjoyable) just far back enough so your lips cover your first knuckle and then suck on that finger. You will feel how your tongue rubs the top of your finger. Now go ahead and stick your finger a little further in your mouth (between the first knuckle and second joint- hopefully you were real messy with those Doritos). As you suck on your finger deeper in your mouth, you should no longer feel your tongue rub on the tip of your finger. When your baby has a deeper latch, your nipple will not be pinched or rubbed. Thus the depth of the latch can make the difference between sore nipples and comfortable breastfeeding. (La Leche League International, 2003, p.76)
To learn how to get the perfect latch, head over to my post The Post 5 Ps of Successful Breastfeeding under “Position Your Baby”. And remember, just as you may go to a specialized running store to get fitted for the proper shoe, lactation consultants are there for you to help you get that proper latch.
Pulling Baby Off
If you need to pull your baby off your nipple before he or she becomes unlatched for any reason, such as your baby biting you, first break the suction! You can do this by placing your finger in the corner of the baby’s mouth and then gently pulling down on the baby’s chin pulling your baby off the breast. Never pull your baby off your breast without first breaking your baby’s seal.
If you have thoroughly assessed your baby’s latch and cannot find any issues, see your Doctor. Breast infections such as mastitis and thrush can cause awful nipple pain.
How To Deal With Sore, Cracked Nipples
- Bath with plain water and pat dry unless directed by your Doctor.
- After breastfeeding, leave a little breast milk on your nipple and let air dry. The fresh expressed breastmilk will help to reduce the chances of infection due to the antibacterial properties of the breast milk. If you have thrush (a yeast infection) do not do this and keep your breasts as dry as possible.
- Get a nipple cream. Lanolin is a great basic cream to start with and is hypoallergenic. You usually will be able to get a free sample of lanolin at your Dr.’s office or at your hospital (I carry a sample in my pocket to put on my chapped lips!) Some of my patients have also used coconut oil and say that has worked well for them. Triple Nipple cream or APNO (All Purpose Nipple Ointment), is three creams mixed in one with different purposes, an anti-fungal, a steroid to decrease inflammation, and an antibiotic. You will need a prescription for this and it is best to get at a compound pharmacy.
- Feed your baby often to prevent your baby from using a vigorous suck. Breastfeed from the breast that is the least sore first if possible.
- Use Hydrogel pads and glycerin gel pads such as Lansinoh Soothies for calming nipple pain. My patients LOVE these, especially after being in the fridge!
- DO NOT use moist tea bags, hair dryers, or sun lamps on your nipples. These are all tips that may come from your great aunt Ruth that have been proven to make your little lady friends worse.
*If your nipples are bleeding, any blood that your baby swallows from the damaged nipple will not be harmful.
Remember, sore nipples DO heal! You and your baby will be able to go on both benefiting from all the advantages that breastfeeding has to offer! Seek help and stay with it!
How do I heal sore nipples? Obtained from http://www.lalecheleague.org/faq/heal.html
Mohrbacher, N., & Stock, J. (2003). The breastfeeding answer book. Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International.
Engorgement It is normal for your breasts to become more full during the second to sixth day after delivery due to your mature milk coming in. The increase in volume of milk, as well as the additional blood and fluid traveling to your breasts will give you a full sensation. Some women hardly […]
The down side of having a spitty and gassy baby is that the laundry load increases exponentially and you may indefinitely smell of sour milk. On the plus side, you always have a baby to blame postpartum toots on (I mean flatulence). In all reality, having a spitty and gassy baby is pretty normal.
Why do babies spit up so much?
There is something called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), this LES sits right at the end of your Esophagus leading into the stomach. Think of the LES as a round doorway into your stomach. Usually this doorway muscle is closed unless the person is eating. In babies, the LES muscle is not yet fully mature. Instead of the doorway being tightly closed and keeping food from coming back up, it is weak and milk can easily come back up from the stomach. The LES is normally developed by 12-14 months. This is why it is considered unusual if your baby’s reflux continues past 18 months. (www.nhs.uk)
5 Tricks to Help Your BabyAvoid Spitting Up:
- Feed your baby smaller amounts more frequently.
- Try burping your baby not just after the breastfeeding session, but also a couple times throughout the feeding.
- Keep your baby upright for 20-30 minutes after their feeding and avoid rocking or tummy time for a half hour after feeds.
- Raise the head of your baby’s crib when they are sleeping. DO NOT put any pillows inside the crib. Instead, you may put the pillow under the mattress at the head end of the bed. Your baby should always be laid down on their back to sleep.
- Use a pacifier to give your baby non-nutritive sucking after feeds if he or she will take it (there is debate about this as non-nutritive sucking can also cause extra air to enter the stomach and cause gas). Womenshealth.gov also states that it is “best to wait until the baby is one month old to introduce a pacifier. This allows the baby to learn how to latch well on the breast and get enough to eat.” Do what works best for your baby.
You can read more in detail about some of these tricks at healthychildren.org
When Does a Spitty Baby Become a Bigger Problem?
The following are all reasons to visit with your Pediatrician.
- Your baby is spitting up after every feeding, even sometimes hours after feeding.
- Your baby looks like he or she is in pain after spitting up.
- Your baby isn’t having enough wet or dirty diapers a day.
- Your baby isn’t gaining adequate weight or is loosing weight.
- Your baby has frequent projectile vomiting.
- Your baby is being irritable and has persistent crying.
- Your baby is refusing to eat or pulling away at the breast.
Your Pediatrician will be able to further evaluate if your baby is experiencing something termed Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), also known as GORD depending where you live in the world. GERD/GORD is a more serious, long-term type of reflux. If your baby is diagnosed with GERD, it is important to continue breastfeeding as it is more easily digested than formula. (Womenshealth.gov) Your pediatrician may also evaluate to see if your baby has an allergy to cows milk, or has a blockage in their digestive track.
If you want more information on reflux, read here. This is an entertaining, education article written by Katie Madden, a well known lactation consultant.
Just like reflux is usually just a laundry annoyance, gas is also a minor issue unless excessive and accompanied by other symptoms.
5 Steps to Decrease & Ease Your Baby’s Gas Pains
1. Adjust Feedings
- Feed your baby before he or she becomes frantic (swallowing air from crying can increase gas).
- Try breastfeeding in an upright position.
- Burp your baby throughout the breastfeeding session and not just at the end.
2. Goodbye Dairy Products
Consider cutting out all dairy products from your diet for a week. And then assess to see if any of your baby’s symptoms have decreased. If so, keep on doing what’s working!
3. Eliminate Foods that Make You Gassy
The most common gas creating foods are “beans, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus.” (sw.org)
4. Baby Massage and Movement
Giving your baby some supervised tummy time and gently stroking or massaging your baby’s back may help release air bubbles. Also, light belly massages and regularly moving your baby’s legs in a bicycle motion can help get things moving. Babycenter.com recommends that diaper changes are a perfect time to do this.
It is best to treat the gas by fixing the underlying cause, but medications can help with the symptoms. Speak to your Pediatrician about trying over the counter medications such as simethicone, probiotics, or gripe water. (Babycenter.com)
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Breastfeeding moms may face a couple road bumps on their breastfeeding voyage. Breastfeeding can be difficult, awkward, messy, tiring, and not as simplistic and flawless as some pictures portray. Yet, the way a woman’s body is made to sustain another life is GLORIOUS! Not to mention all the benefits breastfeeding holds for the mom and baby! Suzie Blake‘s project “What Does Breastfeeding Look Like?” inspired me to gather photos and captions of what “Real Life Breastfeeding” is like for many of my Mommytobeprep Instagram followers. And a huge “THANK YOU” to those brave women who participated! I am SO appreciative for these authentic pictures.
I loved the outcome of the collage; a little chaotic, messy, yet beautiful, just like breastfeeding! These are real women with their “Real Life Breastfeeding Obstacles”. I dug to the root of these obstacles and clustered them into a mnemonic that I thought very appropriate!
For the next while, each subject will be posted in order so stay tuned to Mommytobeprep.com! I have pulled information together from reliable resources for you to have at your fingertips when experiencing these rocky times! And of course, always discuss any problems with your Pediatrician and Obstetrician, as they know what is best for you and your babe!
A breastfeeding obstacle may be probable. But remember, breastfeeding is both possible and profitable! With some education and work, the obstacle can be solvable. Listen to your pediatrician and be logical (I hope my rhyming is somewhat comical) 😉
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