Motherhood

Carina Marie's Birth Story

Mother: Jennifer sbrocchi

Baby: Carina Marie 

Date: May 7, 2018

Location: NYU Winthrop

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In most of my prenatal yoga classes, you can usually hear me say every pregnancy and every labor is different. You would think I would heed my own advice... Since my pregnancies felt very similar, I assumed the labor would probably look and feel the same. My labors with Ava and Carina weren't vastly different in the sense that I had the unmedicated, spontaneous delivery that I hoped for. However, the way we got there varied greatly!

At 36 weeks I started to see my midwife for weekly checkups. Each visit, she would remark how low Carina's head was in my pelvis and say, "I'm not sure how you're walking." (She was right, it wasn't easy to walk or teach or do yoga for that matter!) Then she would end the appointment saying, "You probably won't make it to your appointment next week, I'll see you soon." After going almost two weeks past my due date with Ava, I was so ready to have Carina early! I am not one of those glowy pregnant mothers, telling everyone that I love every kick and flutter. By 36 weeks, the novelty of sharing my body with another human, even if it's my baby, wore off. Every cramp had me on the edge of my seat, thinking maybe this will be it. Yet, there I was at my 37, 38 and 39 week appointments feeling frustrated and doubting that I would birth Carina by our "due date".

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The Friday before my due date, I had a few contractions that felt different than the mild cramps I felt for the last 3 or 4 weeks. It was 4:30 in the morning, when Matt's alarm goes off, and I went into the bathroom and was excited to see that I had lost my mucous plug or so charmingly named "the bloody show". This was how Ava's birth began and to err on the side of caution I asked Matt to stay home from work. An hour passed and then the whole day and there were no more contractions. Saturday was much of the same, absolutely no contractions. Disappointed, I decided to see my acupuncturist on Sunday morning, the day of my due date. I was hoping maybe a session could get things started, or at least ease my anxiety.

I tried to keep myself busy after acupuncture, just accepting the fact that Carina was not arriving on her "due date" and that I must make cozy homes for my babies! Around 10pm that night I started to feel more of the mild cramps that I was experiencing for the last month. The cramps started to increase in frequency, but not in intensity. I figured maybe I should start seeing if a pattern emerged and opened up the contraction timer app. I was having one every 20 minutes. Then it went to every 10 minutes then back up to every 17 minutes. By 1am I was second guessing if I was even having contractions... could it it be gas? I finally fell asleep and woke up around 3:45am with a contraction that felt nothing like those earlier ones. It was different, it felt deep, very deep. And then I felt a pop and liquid. I tried to arouse Matt from his deep sleep and told him I thought my water broke. Without even turning over, he said, "Are you sure you didn't pee yourself." Cue my eyes rolling. I ran to the bathroom and indeed my water broke and it was slightly tinted brown which worried me. If your fluids are brown, baby passed meconium and it can be a risk, you usually have to go to the hospital right away. We called our midwife and she told us to wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart.

I started having the more intense contractions but still found myself second guessing whether each feeling I had was actually a contraction or not. My mom got to our house at 4:30am and the contractions picked up in intensity. I breathed my way through and Matt decided it was time to leave. I was so torn on leaving, my contractions still weren't as painful as I had remembered with Ava and they weren't exactly 5 minutes apart but having some brown in the fluids made me concerned. So off we went on the dreaded car ride to the hospital. Thankfully, early in the morning we zipped right to the hospital and I had maybe one intense contraction in the car. 

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It wouldn't be one of my birth stories if I gave birth in the hospital before becoming an official patient. We got to the hospital and at admitting they couldn't find my pre-registration paperwork. The staff member wasn't allowing us to enter until our paperwork was complete. Matt was amazing simultaneously dealing with filling out forms while massaging my lower back through a contraction, just how we practiced. My midwife found us and told us to forget the paperwork and just get in the room. I was expecting to hear that I was only 5 or 6cm dilated, based on how the contractions felt. To my surprise, I was 9cm and she said almost ready to push. I couldn't believe it. At that point I had maybe 5 intense contractions where I couldn't speak and needed to focus solely on my breath and movement to get through. My midwife was amazing and helped me onto all fours on the hospital bed. She made me as comfortable as I could be in the hospital. She had me just breathe Carina down in this position until I felt ready to push. I worked though a couple of contractions in this position until it was time. During my checkups, I had discussed pushing in different positions. As a yoga teacher, one specializing in prenatal yoga, I had become hyper aware of my pelvic floor and told my midwife that I felt the left side was tighter than the right and I was worried about damage being done during the pushing phase. We agreed that pushing while lying on my right side might be the best, but we would always re-evaluate when the time came. There I was lying on my right side, everything was going according to plan.

Here's the part that was very different to my labor with Ava. The pushing phase was hard and intense. I think with Ava I got to the hospital after 6 hours of labor and she was on the way out, there was not much "pushing" I needed to do, my body did most of the work for me. She was crowning before I even got to the delivery room. This time around there was a lot more conscious effort on my part to get Carina out. Matt was holding my top leg and I was overthinking the whole process. I was trying to find my abdominals instead of straining and pushing with my upper body, as I tell my students in every class, and suddenly my core was nowhere to be found. We were doing intermittent fetal monitoring and my midwife told us that Carina's heart rate was dropping and there was definitely meconium in the fluid and we needed to change something fast. I started to panic and she calmed me down and coaxed me into rolling over onto my left side. Honestly, traveling from my right to laying on my left side was probably the most painful part of the entire experience - my body didn't want to cooperate. But, that change in position was exactly what Carina needed and her heart rate became normal. I became more focused and found pulling on my top leg activated my abs to assist with the pushing. I finally started to get my breath and body coordinated and was making progress getting Carina down. When the nurses exclaimed they could see her head full of hair I was able to muster up every ounce of energy I had left. For the last few pushes, I rolled onto my back and pulled on the back of both legs. Carina's head was out, then her shoulders. At 6:02 am, my midwife had me put my hands on my belly and with one last push Carina was out and in my hands and I got to pull her onto my chest, a moment that I will never forget. 

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My midwife was instrumental in getting us to have a few minutes of skin to skin before they whisked Carina away to be evaluated because of the meconium present. Soon enough, Carina was deemed to be healthy and intervention was not necessary. She was back in my arms on my chest and we could finally begin enjoying that golden hour. 

All in all, my labor was just over 2 hours. I felt an immense appreciation for my breath, Matt's calm demeanor and for the wonderful care my midwife provided, advocating for us every step through the process. That's exactly what I wish for parents, to feel surrounded by a positive and supportive birthing team. 

Our Weaning Story

Our Weaning Story

In my latest Real Mom Story, I'm sharing my experience weaning Ava from breastfeeding. Although not easy to talk about, I wanted to be honest about what I went through. I would love to hear from all of you and how you dealt with any emotions that came with weaning! If you would like to share your story, please send me a message. 

8 Gifts for New Moms

8 Gifts For New Moms

You read about how you can help your friends with new babies, but you still want to bring a little something when you go visit. Many people shower the new mom with gifts right after she delivered, but the gifts are mostly for the newborn. Why not give your friend something to help her during the "fourth trimester"? After all, she was the one who did all the work!

Klean Kanteen Water Bottle - I love these water bottles. After coming home from the hospital I made sure I had two of these bottles filled at all times. I also liked to keep track of how many I drank so I knew the ounces I took in that day. Having a nice water bottle motivated me to stay hydrated.

Solly Baby Wrap - I found this wrap to be the easiest and most comfortable of all my wraps. The wraps are lightweight and soft, and are made from certified Lenzing modal. I used this wrap every day during the fourth trimester. Also, the video tutorials on their website make it so easy to learn how to use it. They even have a certified babywearing educator that you can email with questions. 

Zoe Organics Belly Butter - My skin was dry and itchy after giving birth so I used an organic belly butter to improve my skin's elasticity.  

100% Pure Bright Eyes Mask - I could have used these during the first 10 months with Ava. I'd say I averaged about 4 hours of sleep at night and my eyes were a clear indicator of that. This eye mask brightens, de-puffs, and hydrates. Perfect gift of self-care for any new mama. 

Cute Hair Ties - My hair was up in a ponytail for the majority of the first few weeks at home. It's just easier to not have hair in the way when caring for your infant. I somehow always lose my hair ties so it's nice to have extras around.

Tea and Teapot - There's something about a cup of tea that is calming and soothing. Get your friend teas that are specific to the postpartum period and breastfeeding

Gift Card to Local Yoga Studio - When I was cleared at 6 weeks to start exercising, my whole mood changed. I was happier and felt more like myself getting to a few yoga classes a week. See if there's a local studio that offers postnatal yoga or mommy and me yoga so your friend can bring the baby. Yoga studios really promote a sense of community and this is the perfect place for your friend to meet other new moms. 

Send a Meal - My friend recently had a baby and she lives out of state. Since we can't be there to help, my friends and I sent her family some chicken noodle soup and oatmeal raisin cookies from Spoonful of Comfort. She reported back that everything was delicious!



10 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms

10 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms

Learning how to breastfeed was probably one of the most challenging parts in my transition to motherhood. Here's ten things I learned from my experience:

1. Educate yourself

Don't wait to speak to a lactation consultant or attend a class at the hospital the day after delivering your baby. You'll be too overwhelmed to properly absorb information. It's important to familiarize yourself with the basics of breastfeeding while you're pregnant. Understanding your newborn's feeding cues and reflexes, how to help the baby get a good latch, and how to make yourself comfortable will be crucial in those early weeks with your baby. Find a local breastfeeding basics class or a private class that you can attend during pregnancy. If you can't get to a class, pick up a book or visit my post where I discussed my favorite online resources

2. Create a support network

When you're pregnant, create a list of people and groups you can rely on when you're breastfeeding. Find out when and where your local La Leche League meets. Hire a postpartum doula to help support you with breastfeeding when you get home from the hospital. Keep a lactation consultant's number on hand in case you're in pain. Do you know a relative or friend who successfully breastfed? Ask if you can contact them if you have any questions. It's best to prepare yourself when you're pregnant, that way if a problem arises, your research has been done and you can get a solution quickly.

3. Don't worry about the clock

When I got home from the hospital, I downloaded an app on my phone to track the feedings. It included the time I started our session, which breast I started with, and how much time Ava spent on each breast. I was tracking every moment, which was overwhelming. I nursed on demand, but I became consumed with watching the clock and I was worried I was doing something wrong. Instead of trying to get on a schedule, aim to breastfeed your baby at least 8-12 times a day. Follow your baby's cues and remember that there's no such thing as nursing your baby too much.

Keep a simple, written log to track your feedings for the first week or two. The book Breastfeeding Made Simple suggests tracking two things: the number of feedings that are at least ten minutes total of wide jaw movements per breastfeeding and the number of stools at least the size of a US quarter. Count your totals at the end of each 24 hour period. Your number of feedings should be 8 or more (aim for 10!). The number of stools should correspond to each day of life (i.e 2 stools on day 2, 3 stools on day 3). By day 4, the number of stools should be 3-4 or more. Here is a good guide on what your baby's stools should look like and another on how many wet and dirty diapers your baby should have

4. Don't wait til your baby is crying to breastfeed 

Keep your baby close to you during the day and night so you can respond to early feeding cues. Crying is a late indication that your baby is hungry. A crying baby will have more difficulty latching on and feeding well, so it's ideal to start when they're calm. If you've missed your baby's cues, try to settle him or her before breastfeeding by rocking, skin to skin, or talking to your baby. Here's some cues to look for: licking lips, stirring, sucking sounds, moving head side to side (rooting), bringing hand to mouth. 

5. Fill your cup

Have you heard of the saying, "You can't pour from an empty cup."? Nursing sessions can be long so make sure you take care of yourself. Think about everywhere in your home that you plan on breastfeeding - your bed, the couch, the baby's nursery. Keep each "station" well stocked. Include easy to eat one-handed snacks like trail mix, granola or a snack bar (I like Lara Bars or RXBARS), a full water bottle, clean burp cloths, pillows, nursing pads and anything else that will make you comfortable. If you have support at home, don't feel guilty about taking a nap or a shower after you've fed your baby. Little moments of self-care will help you give more to your baby.   

6. Give your partner tasks

If you're breastfeeding, it's easy for your partner to feel left out. Include you partner by asking him or her to ensure your nursing station is stocked and you have accessible snacks before they leave for work. Every night, Matt would make me overnight oats so I would have a healthy and satisfying breakfast in the morning. It was convenient to pull food out to eat first thing in the morning. Also, let your partner have skin to skin time with the baby after your nursing session. This will help them feel like they're a part of the process. 

7. Learn how to use your breast pump 

Ideally, you shouldn't have to use your pump for the first few weeks. However, certain circumstances may arise and you should familiarize yourself with your pump and the parts while you have a clear head. Read the directions and practice putting all the pieces together. Turn it it on so you know what to expect. 

8. Trust your body and your instincts

A lot of moms are concerned that their bodies won't produce enough milk. I know this was a fear of mine. Always remember that breastfeeding is supply and demand. The more milk that is removed from the breast, the more milk the breast will make to replace it. A good milk supply is established through frequent breastfeeding. If it feels like you just put your baby down and they're looking to eat again, know that at times your baby may cluster feed or have growth spurts. Follow your baby's cues and trust that they need to nurse. This will pass and and your feedings will begin to space out a bit. 

If you truly feel like your baby isn't getting enough milk, call a lactation consultant to help you identify and resolve the problem. Also, one of the best indicators your baby is getting enough milk is weight gain. Ask your pediatrician if you can bring your baby in to be weighed. A trip to the doctor will give you peace of mind and confidence in your body.

9. Register for the essentials and treat yourself to something nice

Register for nipple cream, nursing pads, gel pads, a breastfeeding pillow and anything else you think you may want or need. Having these supplies in the house before the baby comes is always a good idea. Get a couple of nice robes to wear in the beginning. Robes are great for skin to skin time. Also, I preferred to wear a nursing cami during the first two weeks. I invested in a nice nursing bra when my milk fully came in and engorgement passed. 

10. Subscribe to Netflix

As I said above, you'll be spending a lot of time nursing your baby the first few weeks. Get yourself comfortable and enjoy some guilt free TV binging. I promise you when your baby is mobile in a few months you won't be watching much television!