Lonely Moms’ Club

Lonely Moms’ Club

Before I gave birth, I envisioned myself having tea and pastries with a group of moms bitching about all the sleepless nights we’ve had while our babies nap.

None of that happened. The sleepless nights—sure, those happened. None of the tea and pastries with the moms though. But that’s my fault, right? I didn’t enroll in a prenatal yoga class, I didn’t join a centering group (mostly because I was too far along when I looked into them), and I didn’t really click with any of the women I was in a class with. So where does that leave me? Alone with my baby after my husband’s paternity leave ended and having to think of ways to entertain myself while my baby naps. 

It can get lonely, and I hope you’re ready for it, Mama. 

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You might think it’s perfect—I’ll catch up on my reading, walk a lot, see that shop I’ve been meaning to visit. Yes, sure, that’s all nice and dandy. But who do you talk to? Who commiserates with you about your anxiety about this person you brought to the world who’s fully dependent on you? Who says “Oh my gosh, yes!” when you talk about how you can’t even go to the bathroom because you’re too scared your kid will stop breathing? I know it sounds extreme, but you will have those moments. And you probably need someone to share them with who knows what you’re going through. If you’re the first in your circle to have a baby, it’s not going to be the same dynamic once you start yammering away about your child’s poop. Yes, your partner will listen to you for sure, but unless they’ve pushed a human out of their body, it is just not the same. 

When you search for “loneliness in pregnancy” online, you’ll find a dearth of scientific articles and plenty of mom blogs that discuss the subject. Why is that? Loneliness is not popularly studied on its own. It is often interspersed with depression or grief. Couple that with the special subset of pregnant women, and you’ll have even less material to choose from.

Harry Stack Sullivan, an American Neo-Freudian psychiatrist, described loneliness as the most painful human experience. He commented on the “driving force” of loneliness—a force great enough, he pointed out, to cause people who were normally painfully shy to aggressively seek social activity. 

So what can we do to alleviate this pervasive feeling? 

Go out at least once a day.
I’ve found that this improved my mood immensely. Start with getting dressed. If you can shower, thank the heavens and jump up and down. If not, just put on clean clothes. Staying in your jammies will not coax you into conquering the day. 

If you wanna take the extra step of doing something repetitive, that’s even better. Whether it’s postpartum yoga or Pilates (makes sure diastasis recti is not a concern), a daily park visit, or dropping by your corner store for a fruit fix, a scheduled activity forces you to get out of the house and do something.  

Go somewhere that will make you happy.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a coffee shop, a bookstore, the supermarket, or the park. The fact that visiting a place makes you happy is already a win. I went to a bistro that had tables outside where I could read a book or solve a crossword puzzle while my baby napped. It was ah-mazing.

Try to meet with people.
I know I said it’s a different dynamic with friends who don’t have kids but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to see you or hear about what you’re going through. They do. They probably don’t wanna hear about your kid’s poop for a straight hour but they want to hear how you’re doing. And if it’s done over delicious brunch or mimosas (virgin or not), muuuuch better. Try to schedule it during nap times so that you focus on your conversation instead of having to divide your attention between your child and your friend.

Talk to people.
Lucky for me, I got to video call my mom and sisters. I know it’s not the same thing. Having someone there physically to hear your trials and tribulations about taking care of a living being who cannot communicate is certainly better, but it got me through some tough moments.

When you go to the places that make you happy, strike up a conversation with someone there. The person behind the counter at a bookstore, the barista at your favorite cafe, and if you’re lucky—that other mom who’s also toting a baby. So many other people want to talk, too. You’ll be surprised how many people would love to strike up a conversation. You just need to start.

Talk to your partner. Even if they don’t understand it fully, they know enough to support you through this tough time. If there is something deeper and stronger that is taking over, they will be the one to get you some help if you’re not doing it already. Even if it’s just talking about the frustration or the boredom during the day, force them to listen if you have to. 

Find some moms. Or not.
There are mom groups everywhere. You don’t have to pay for a class or for membership. Check out resources out there. There are Meetup groups, Facebook groups, and other local maternal resources.

I also started organically talking to some moms in my extended circle. And sometimes the experience of having children magically breaks down some barriers you’ve had before. Someone you thought you never would be friends with all of a sudden has so many things in common with you. 

Because it is very common—these child-rearing ups and downs—everyone has them. EVERYONE. Don’t be scared. Reach out. Chances are those moms know about being lonely. They’ve gone through it, too. You are not alone. 

Or you can also choose not to seek out other moms. I had some occasional visits with mom friends but no regular meetings that I would go to. That worked for me, coupled with regular friends, and that could work for you as well.

You’ll get your own rhythm and system. It takes time for this to happen but it’s good to know all the things that you can do.

Get some help.
I mean this in the broadest sense. If you’re getting overwhelmed with taking care of your little one such that you aren’t able to take care of yourself, get some help. Or even when you just need time to do other things that aren’t home-related or child-related. Whether it’s a night time doula, a house cleaner, a Postmate to deliver you food or get you some supplies—it’s worth it if it saves your sanity.

When your loneliness is getting the better of you, call your doctor—whether it’s your obstetrician or your family doctor, they can refer you to someone you can speak to about dealing with it. Postpartum depression occurs in 1 out of 9 women, according to a CDC study.

We should not feel embarrassed or ashamed about getting help. We’ve gone through an upheaval, not to mention the hormones that are out of whack. It is perfectly fine to seek help.

Let’s make this the new normal.

Tinkle, tinkle when I sneeze, how I wonder why that is

Tinkle, tinkle when I sneeze, how I wonder why that is

I have found out that there are a lot of issues that women deal with postpartum that are rarely talked about. This is sad because it leaves so many uneducated and feeling alone in dealing with problems.

Postpartum incontinence is one of those issues. 

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WHAT IS POSTPARTUM URINARY LEAKAGE
If you’ve never heard of it, postpartum incontinence involves feeling like you need to urinate often and not being able to make it to the bathroom. It also involves not being able to empty your bladder fully which results in leakage later. This problem affects thousands of women. It happens when the pelvic floor muscles and the ligaments that work with them are weakened.

WHO’S AT RISK  
I first experienced postpartum incontinence after the birth of my fourth child. There were several factors that could have contributed to the problem including consecutive pregnancies, genetics, the larger size of this baby, and the fact that they were all vaginal births. It was obvious that my pelvic floor was weakened.

HOW LONG DO THE SYMPTOMS LAST
Many women, like myself, experience this problem for weeks afterward. Others only experience it for days. Still, for many others that I have talked to, it is a lifelong issue that comes and goes.

DEALING WITH THE SYMPTOMS
First, you can deal with the side effects and symptoms. Wear sanitary pads and tighten your stomach muscles or cross your legs when you feel the urge to urinate or need to cough or sneeze. Empty your bladder often even when it’s inconvenient. Carry extra clothing with you just in case and don’t be afraid to speak out to other moms about it. It will help educate them and help you to feel normal.

TREATMENT FOR URINARY INCONTINENCE
Dealing with the root issue of the problem is a must. Since the pelvic floor is weakened, you will need to rebuild and strengthen it. This is where treatment should start. You can begin this by doing regular kegel exercises. Be certain that you are doing them properly. Watch videos or speak with a professional to make sure. When done correctly, kegels can reduce symptoms by up to 70%.

PHYSICAL THERAPY
You can speak with your doctor about seeing a pelvic physical therapist. They can help properly isolate the weakened muscles and begin exercising them the right way. They can also teach you exercises that will help your specific case and tell you whether or not you are doing them right. As a last resort, surgery is an option for some severe cases if other non-invasive treatments don’t work.

LONGTERM PROGNOSIS
Be patient as postpartum incontinence can take time to heal completely. Symptoms usually gradually improve with training even if they never completely go away. Although I still deal with it on occasion, I no longer consider it a problem; just one of those things to laugh at and move on. 

Dealing with postpartum night sweats

Dealing with postpartum night sweats

There are a lot of crazy things that happen to your body postpartum and most of them, for some reason, no one wants to talk about. They happen to everyone and someone out there should educate women about their own bodies. Postpartum night sweats are a common occurrence for thousands of women. You wake up and suddenly find yourself soaked in sweat for no apparent reason. Why do people not warn you that this could happen to you?

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WHY DOES THIS OCCUR?

Normal night sweating can happen when you are wrapped up too much or your room gets too hot. Postpartum night sweats occur for a different reason and it is a perfectly normal symptom of post-pregnancy. Due to hormone fluctuation (yes, hormones are to blame for yet another postpartum issue) and excess body fluid from lactation, your wonderful body just finds a way to rid itself of what it simply doesn’t need.

You may notice yourself urinating more frequently; though who could tell after spending half of the last nine months in the bathroom anyway. This is also your body’s way of getting rid of all of that extra fluid previously needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Your body will also be producing tons of extra fluid if you are breastfeeding.

If you experience night sweats with other symptoms present, such as fever or chills, call your doctor because these can be signs of a serious infection.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Due to your body’s crazy hormonal ups and downs, these night sweats can occur nightly or sporadically. They will usually last for several weeks after you give birth. They should stop as your body returns to normal.

While there is no treatment, there are some things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms:

  • Keep your room cool.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. With all of that sweating, you can become dehydrated easily.
  • Sleep on a towel and keep a pile of them near to change if you need to.
  • There are great waterproof mattress covers that you just lay under you, too.
  • If your skin gets irritated from all of that moisture, you can consider using powder to ease the chafing and irritation.

WHEN TO BE CONCERNED

One study showed that women who experienced postpartum night sweats and hot flashes were more likely to become depressed. Breastfeeding raises the risk, even more, due to the tremendous hormone fluctuations. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to someone and tell your doctor. There is help and you don’t need to face it alone.

Don’t worry about the night sweats but if you experience other symptoms such as fever over 100.4 º, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, large clots or bright red bleeding for more than three days after delivery, infected looking stitches, severe cramps, or red, swollen breasts, call your doctor. These can be signs of serious complications.

Also if you feel depressed, or just anxious, talk to someone you trust and keep your six-week checkup and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Dealing with night sweats may not be pleasant, but you can take heart in knowing that your body is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Isn’t that a wonder!