To speak with experience requires one having taken the journey. To speak with knowledge requires teachers. No one is a more experienced teacher of the joys and challenges of motherhood than mothers themselves!
There are endless experiences of motherhood: from tranquil peaceful moments, to peak triumphs, and tension-filled ordeals. As both a family doctor and perinatal psychotherapist, I have had the privilege of partnering with hundreds of women as they enter motherhood. Each has her own unique experience.
For over two decades I have treated women with postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA). These are experiences that I wish for no one to endure, yet 1 out of 7 moms develop PPD and 1 in 10 develop PPA. Unfortunately, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are common.
Women describe PPD as feeling overwhelmed, sad or numb, irritable, empty, exhausted, or feeling like a failure as a mother. PPD robs moms of their ability to take pleasure in sweet moments with their baby. It can even block your ability to bond with your baby.
Often PPD dramatically amplifies relationship distress in a couple. Maternal depression increases the risk of a partner developing PPD. (One in ten dads and adoptive moms get PPD too!) Many moms don’t even realize that the cause of what they’re feeling is depression. Instead, they withdraw from support and blame themselves or their partners, rather than the depression they are enduring.
Over the past 20 years our knowledge of treatments, including natural options, counseling, and medications, has improved dramatically. Perhaps even more importantly, multiple studies have proven that specific strategies can prevent perinatal depression. Contrary to popular belief, hormonal changes are not the sole cause of PPD. Instead there are many contributing factors responsible: prolonged sleep deprivation, stress, life changes, isolation, loss of one’s prior life, etc.
The good news is that because there are so many causes coming together to create it, we can make numerous interventions to treat PPD and prevent it. Let’s start with the basics. Getting adequate sleep is essential for wellness. That’s easier said than done! That’s why I teach over 20 different methods for improving your sleep quality and quantity. Some techniques are as simple as giving your baby a ‘dream feed’ each night. Just this one simple routine of waking a baby to feed last thing before you or your partner goes to bed at night, has been shown to increase parental sleep and reduce PPD.
There are numerous other techniques that can help, including getting twenty minutes of morning sunshine daily or developing a daily practice of gratitude. Even certain foods can reduce PPD: such as 1) Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil or chia seeds, 2) Vitamin D from milk, supplements or sunshine, or 3) Selenium – just one Brazil nut a day is all you need to get the recommended amount to boost your mood.
There are also many strategies that can reduce postpartum anxiety (PPA). Spending at least 30 minutes a day doing something you enjoy away from your baby (while a trusted person watches them), allows your maternal vigilance to rest. This is so important when you are otherwise responsible for your baby 24/7. When you give your protective ‘baby radar’ a break, you create space to be your ‘old self’. If separating from your baby feels difficult, start with ten minute breaks daily and gradually increase.
You can also reduce your stress by practicing self care. Specific self-care strategies, such as taking periodic 1-minute pauses to breathe, can reduce your stress level and improve your energy level.
In addition, there are techniques to increase teamwork in a couple. When your partner actively assists you to get more sleep and take things off your plate you feel more supported and understood.
Knowing what predictable pitfalls commonly trigger depression and how to side-step them, can make a huge difference in your entire family’s wellness and contentment. These preventative measures can be found in medical and psychology research journals, but every woman should have the tools to thrive through motherhood. In my masterclass I teach these strategies in bite-sized chunks for busy moms. Each of these techniques helps just a little bit, but when you put them all together in one simple program, you create a powerful force for wellbeing in motherhood. This is how you get off to a great start! That’s the purpose of the Motherhood Survival Manual Masterclass.
The Birth Hour team has been huge fans of Kindred Bravely for several years and have loved watching the brand grow and their clothing lines get better and better. Today, we are highlighting a few of our favorite items that we consider MUST HAVES to get you through pregnancy all the way to postpartum and breastfeeding!
If you are a listener of The Birth Hour then you’ve certainly heard our host, Bryn, talk about her love of the Simply Sublime line from Kindred Bravely. We love the original Simply Sublime bra, racerback bra, sports bra, and pumping bra BUT the tank top takes the cake for us when it comes to a clothing item you will live in during pregnancy and while nursing. It is so stretchy yet slightly compressive helping you feel comfortably hugged but never restricted when your body is changing by the day. The nursing clips are easy to use and the genius of the Simply Sublime built-in bra makes it flattering (no uni-boob here!) and functional for wearing around town but also comfortable to sleep in. Last but not least, the Simply Sublime® Maternity & Nursing Tank comes in Busty sizing making it the only tank we’ve tried that has an option that is truly designed for larger cup sizes. The Simply Sublime Nursing Bra comes in sizes for 30b-46i!
You may not immediately think of maternity and postpartum underwear being a necessity when it comes to your changing body (surely regular underwear will do the job right?). Well, while you may be able to make it work with your regular underwear, you will be SO MUCH more comfortable in Kindred Bravely’s Grow with Me Maternity & Postpartum Briefs. They are buttery soft and very stretchy so they will work throughout your pregnancy and postpartum phases. Although, we do recommend switching to the High-Waisted Postpartum Recovery Panties for a little more support after baby arrives.
If you’ve been pregnant before, you may have had that one maternity item that you just didn’t want to let go of even months after baby had arrived. Well, we are here to tell you that the Louisa Maternity & Postpartum Support Leggings will become that item for you! The most magically comfortable and soft leggings that offer the perfect amount of compression and have pockets (a must in our opinion!). We truly do not understand how Kindred Bravely has managed to create a legging that stretches over a 40-week belly, yet still holds its shape to provide support for a postpartum belly in the most flattering way right after baby makes their appearance. These leggings come in several colors and you will want them all once you try them! We recommend starting with the classic black and they will become a staple in your wardrobe. They also have capri, crop, and non-pocketed options—check them all out here.
Once you feel this bamboo fabric from Kindred Bravely you will want the entire collection. This is why we couldn’t choose just one item! Everyone will have the styles they prefer more whether it’s a nightgown, shorts set, tank top, joggers, or t-shirt. This fabric is buttery soft but also breathable (we all know that being hot and sweaty is a struggle while pregnant or postpartum!). Everything from this line is stretchy and almost all of the options can be worn not only as sleepwear but to run errands as well!
If you plan to do any pumping at all then this pumping and nursing bra will be your new BFF. It feels exactly like the Simply Sublime Nursing Bra when you wear it, it just has the added benefit of functioning as a pumping bra when you need it. AND IT COMES IN BUSTY SIZING!! Birth Hour host, Bryn, could never find a pumping bra that fit her larger chest with her first two babies and discovering Kindred Bravely’s Sublime® Hands-Free Pumping &Nursing Bra was a game changer for baby #3. This might not be as fun to shop for as comfy loungewear or cute leggings but it’s a functional item that you will be glad you have when the time comes!
You can see more of Bryn’s favorite items from Kindred Bravely on her Instagram highlights here. And be sure to use the coupon code BIRTHHOUR for 20% off your purchase at kindredbravely.com.
Yay, you’re pregnant! Now what? It is so exciting to get that positive pregnancy test, but it can feel a bit overwhelming to navigate all of the different to-dos and stages of pregnancy—that’s why we are so thankful for tools like the Ovia® Pregnancy app that make life a little easier.
The Ovia Pregnancy app (completely free!) is your all-in-one pregnancy tracker offering you peace of mind as you reach pregnancy milestones, navigate symptoms, and plan for baby’s arrival. With Ovia Pregnancy, you’ll find answers to all of your prenatal questions — read weekly updates, find symptom relief, learn what’s safe to eat, share bump pictures, and even use a baby name feature! Your pocket companion for each trimester (and beyond)!
Many apps have the option to see the size of your baby each week but Ovia takes it a step further and makes it so fun to track! When I was pregnant with my 3rd baby, I absolutely loved seeing how big my baby was week-by-week with Ovia’s fun and unique size comparisons (like fruits & veggies, weird but cute animals, Parisian baked goods, and fun and games). My older kids would ask me every week to show them how big the baby was and would giggle over their little sibling that was the size of a gameboy or a croissant!
Every day on your Ovia timeline, you’ll also see a true-to-size version of your baby’s tiny hand and foot right there on the screen which really helps you and your family visualize the little human growing inside of you! You can also find the perfect baby name with the ‘My Baby Names’ feature. You can sort options by gender and first letter and make a list of all your favorites!
Aside from fun tracking features and baby name help, Ovia offers helpful tips like what’s safe to eat, what medications you can take during pregnancy, and how to find symptom relief by using their easy to use lookup tool.
I actually first discovered Ovia by using the Ovia Fertility app and love that Ovia has an app for every stage of the way — from cycle tracking to pregnancy to parenthood. The Ovia apps offer health tracking, features, and tools to help you navigate fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and baby health.
Many expecting parents are worried about the logistics of feeding their baby. Will there be enough milk? Is it going to hurt? How will I know if baby is getting enough milk? The questions and concerns are never-ending, especially for first timers. It’s not very often that those planning to nurse are thinking about what to do if they have TOO MUCH milk! But, believe it or not, this is a very real issue for many lactating moms and I was one of them.
When my baby arrived I experienced the initial slow flow days of colostrum and then when my milk came in, boy did it come! Many moms deal with engorgement which is painful but relatively short-lived. My oversupply of milk didn’t slow down after a week or even a month. I was soaking entire towels on one side while my baby nursed on the other. Aside from being a laundry nightmare, soaking hand towels wasn’t very practical for going out in public.
Surprisingly, in all of my research while pregnant, I never came across information on what to do if you have too much milk or were a heaver leaker. I wish someone had told me about this when I was preparing to nurse a newborn so I wouldn’t have been so lost in those first weeks. Instead of baking and freezing “milk maker” cookies (to boost supply) while pregnant, I would have been researching must-haves for dealing with oversupply.
The product that was such a game changer for me was the Milkies Milk Saver by Fairhaven Health. The Milk Saver allows you to save breast milk that is pouring out of the non-nursing side while your baby eats. Using a breast pump is not a good idea when you have oversupply (even though it might feel good when you’re engorged) because it just stimulates your breasts to make more milk so these are also a great way to start a freezer stash for future occasions when you want baby to take a bottle. Without ever pumping, I managed to store around 6 ounces of milk each day just using the Milk Saver. The best part about this product was that it allowed me to feed my baby without soaking through numerous breast pads and my clothes in the process.
I loved the Milkies Milk Saver so much that I brought it every where with me and then with my most recent baby I discovered their Milk-Saver On-the-go travel milk saver which was much easier to manage in situations like being in a restaurant or nursing in the car etc.
I’ve since been introduced to all of the Milkies line from Fairhaven health and also highly recommend their Milk Saver trays for storing 1 ounce frozen sticks of milk that make preparing the perfect amount of milk in a bottle so much easier. They also make milk storage bags, an organizer for your freezer and other products that support lactation like balm, pads, teas and supplements! Milkies is generously offering 15% off all Milkies products with the code BirthHour15 at www.fairhavenhealth.com.
Fairhaven Health is a sponsor of The Birth Hour. As always, all opinions and recommendations are our own.
Comprehensive & Evidence-Based Childbirth Course from The Birth Hour
I’m so excited to announce The Birth Hour’s signature online childbirth course. Know Your Options is THE most comprehensive online childbirth course in existence! In this course, we will take you from the final weeks of pregnancy through postpartum and newborn care covering all of the evidence-based information for all types of birth, no matter what you are planning!
If you are worried about navigating today’s birth system have maybe had a bad birth experience where your power was taken away from you in the past, we want to help!
But, despite doing your research, you’re still feeling overwhelmed and unprepared and that’s OK. We have totally been there too. There is still time to prepare and we are confident that we can help you achieve an empowering birth. This is our expertise and passion!
IMAGINE WHAT YOUR BIRTH WOULD LOOK LIKE IF…
You didn’t have to choose between an unmedicated birth and a hospital birth.
You’re informed in every single decision you and your partner make.
You feel empowered to speak up when it comes to how you labor and birth your baby.
Because THAT is exactly what this course will do: It gives you options so you can choose where and how to give birth based on all of the most up-to-date evidence based information available coupled with learning to trust your instincts and make decisions based on what is right for YOU.
What exactly do we cover? 12 Incredible Evidence-Based Modules + Bi-Weekly Zoom Calls
Module 1: Pre-Labor
Intro to decision-making & advocacy in birth.
What is evidence-based care, intro into increasing your odds of getting family centered care.
Last Weeks of Pregnancy.
Cervical exams: what they are, what they do/don’t tell us, when they are useful and when they are not.
How to tell the difference between labor and false alarms.
Module 2: Planned Cesarean
Gentle or Family Centered Cesarean. What is it?
Questions to ask your doctor to make sure you’re on the same page (includes free download).
Video of Gentle Cesarean.
Module 3: Early Labor
Overview of labor, divided into stages and phases. Normal variations of length of each stage.
Early Labor Coping Strategies.
Spontaneous labor: When to call your provider
Module 4: Induction
Why might your labor be induced?
How is labor induced?
What are some risks of induction, and how can you improve your odds of your induction ending in a vaginal birth?
Risks of induction/cascade of intervention.
Module 5: Active Labor
How can you cope with active labor?
When should you leave for your birth location (or ask the midwife to come)?
What should you pack, whom should you invite to be there, and how will you make your wishes known in labor?
Typical interventions upon arrival at birth location.
Module 6: Transition
How will you cope with the most intense phase of labor?
What pain medication options do you have?
Why might you need a cesarean during labor, and how can you reduce your risk of needing one?
Module 7: Pushing
How can you reduce your risk of tearing?
What breathing techniques and positioning are helpful in pushing?
What happens if your baby needs help getting out?
How can you best advocate for your preferences during labor?
Module 8: Baby’s First Day
What interventions might be offered to your baby in the first hours of life?
Immediate newborn procedures.
Hep B & Circumcision.
What is going on with the birthing person before and after the birth of the placenta?
How can you get off to the best start with nursing?
Module 9: Postpartum Recovery
What are the signs that a parent may be experiencing mood & anxiety disorders?
What are the essentials to have on hand for recovery after birth?
How can you plan ahead and make those first few weeks after birth easier on yourself?
Giving yourself time to heal and knowing when to call for help.
Module 10: Establishing Nursing
How to establish a robust milk supply.
Positioning and latching theory.
What tips and tricks can you try to make nursing as comfortable as possible?
What signs can you look for to know when things are going well or when you need to call for help?
Module 11: Bottle Feeding
What if nursing doesn’t work, or you don’t want to do it at all?
Choosing a formula and Safe formula preparation.
What is the best way to bottle feed?
How do you choose which bottles to use?
How and how much to feed.
What is paced bottle feeding?
Module 12: Newborn Care Basics
Why might your baby cry, and how can you calm them?
How do you decide where your baby will sleep?
How do you get your baby to sleep?!?
Newborn hygiene: diapering, bathing, dressing, nail trimming, snot sucking, etc.
PLUS Bigger-than-a-Bonus: Beyond the Latch: pumping, bottle feeding, going back to paid work + keeping your baby fed
Then, we’ve got you covered when you’re going back to work with an additional six module Beyond the Latch Course that you will get completely free as part of enrollment in the Know Your Options Childbirth Course!
This is an additional 6 Module Course designed to take the guesswork, worry, and stress out of maintaining your nursing relationship with your baby when you return to paid work.
We will help you:
Identify specific strategies for pumping, storing, thawing, and feeding human milk.
Troubleshoot ways to boost milk production.
Guide you in making plans with your employer, your baby’s caregiver, and your family.
Get organized with sample schedules and checklists.
Lifetime Access + MORE Bonuses!
Oh, and you get lifetime access to everything! I’ve actually already had a few mamas who are still in the trying to conceive phase sign up because they wanted to be sure to get in on the course while they can!
You’ll also get a thirty page Course Planner and Note-Taking Guide that you can print out to keep you and your partner on track throughout the course. All of the key takeaways from each lesson are included with space to jot down any questions you have along the way and make note of any essential info you want to remember down the road!
More than a dozen bonus downloads to help save you time along the way and get organized before going into labor—with everything from a hospital bag checklist to printouts for your fridge of who/when to call when in labor! After baby arrives, you’ll have even more invaluable bonuses as you prepare to soak up the 4th trimester with your new baby.
Kelly shares her birth stories in episodes 639 and 640. Kelly’s birth journey began with her first pregnancy, which despite the long bout of nausea, was smooth and low-risk. She had a hospital induction at 40+3, and delivered her daughter after 36 exhausting hours of labor with the aid of an epidural.
A few years later and after a miscarriage at 8 weeks, she got pregnant with her second daughter. Though this pregnancy, like her first, was relatively smooth and low-risk, it was anxiety-inducing after her recent loss. However, after a lot of prayer, she felt at peace and eventual excitement for the new baby.
After the birth experience with her first daughter, which was long and not particularly empowering, Kelly knew she wanted something different this time around. After researching and listening to various birth stories, she decided she wanted a birth center birth. Her second daughter came as a result of spontaneous labor with her water breaking at 40+3. After laboring for 13 hours, though only 3 hours were active labor, Kelly got the water birth she’d dreamed of, and the empowering birth experience she’d wanted this second birth to be.
Kelly came back on the podcast to share her postpartum journey in episode 671 and had some great tips for listeners on how to incorporate your partner and the big sibling in bonding with a new baby.
Kelly Batchelder Bio
Kelly is 37 and lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband Steven of 11 years and their two daughters, Estella (age 4) and Pearl (1 month). She teaches English at Kennesaw State University for her professional gig, and teaches group fitness at a local gym for her personal gig. While both of those jobs bring her joy, the most fulfilling parts of her life are being a wife and mother. You can connect with Kelly via Instagram @kellybatchelder
Today’s episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Their commitment to providing parents with the foundation to thrive has launched the company into creating a broad range of award-winning products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably, and safely – where function and quality are not compromised. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet. Check out Ergobaby’s Embrace in Soft Air Mesh that we discussed on the podcast!