13 Sep

The Beauty of Motherhood + Breastfeeding

One of our favorite features in our current issue is that about the beauty of Motherhood with our very own JaNee Arhets who talks about adding a second baby to the mix, breastfeeding, postpartum challenges + more. Lindsey Shipley with Lactation Link also shares her advice + knowledge with us. Lindsey is a mom of 2, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator and Board Certified Lactation Consultant.  She owns Lactation Link, which offers breastfeeding video classes and secure video chat consultations. Lactation Link’s mission statement is ‘Creating Confident Moms’, providing reliable, convenient, research-based education to help moms + babies reach their goals – whatever they may be.

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What a gorgeous, awe-inspiring moment: a mother and her child. A little being completely dependent on another for everything, including the nourishment to grow and thrive. The newborn stage is one in that the baby without the mother just doesn’t make sense. If separation is necessary, it’s more like pressing pause. All is right in the world again when the two are reunited. Mom and baby is a symbiotic relationship that inspires a sense of fulfillment for both parties. For the baby, he looks to the mother for every need, literally still believing he is an extension of her, not a separate person. For the mother, there is a sense of pride in being able to protect, provider, and care for her own.

As a labor and delivery RN, lactation specialist, prenatal educator, sister, and friend, I’ve been blessed to be apart of so many stages of bringing a baby into this world. It is truly a special time to be apart of. All things surrounding the perinatal period (conception, pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum) seem to have a lasting impact on women as a whole. The experiences you have during this period leave a biological imprint you won’t soon forget. Although we can’t necessarily control all aspects of this period (possible complications, unforeseen circumstances), it’s important that we are confident in the choices we can make. It’s also imperative that we feel support and caring throughout the process.

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As I teach my prenatal breastfeeding classes and counsel with mothers in the hospital and their homes, I find there is always a few common things women are looking for. Education. Options. Support. Reassurance. Confidence building. I feel that pre- and postnatal education should be more about smart and practical options, rather than lists of “dos” and “don’ts”. There’s not a one-size-fits-all way to being a great Mom. We all have different strengths, backgrounds, resources, and opinions. We may not all share the same political party, church group, or vision of what a family means. But we can all agree on one thing: We could all use a friend, a smile, a hug, a few words of encouragement, and a “You’re doing a great job”. We all need more people rooting for our success.

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The most important friends a Mom can call on are those that support her in her choices as a mother, even if they are different from their own. Those are the friends you can call during a “break-down” (you know what I’m talking about), the ones that brainstorm with you whether your baby needs to go to the doctor or not, the ones that give you big hugs when you seem to need it the most. They seem to “get it”, it’s like they’ve been there before. The truth is, every mother will experience struggle of some kind. Many moms suffer in silence, worried that their battle is some form of inadequacy. The “perfect Mom” you see in any social media post may not be experiencing your specific struggles, but she has her own. To illustrate, I asked the mother of two captured in this feature (JaNee) to share some insights into her journey of motherhood so far. She looks so beautiful and serene; surely she hasn’t had any obstacles transitioning to motherhood? Keep reading.

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How did you picture the early days of motherhood before you had your first baby?

I’m not quite sure exactly what I expected but I think I was expecting most things to come pretty naturally.  I had wanted a baby for some time, so I was just so very excited to actually be getting one, it was almost surreal.

 How was reality different than the vision you had before your little one arrived?

I was in a very happy, tired, dazed state.  I truly felt like I was in my own happy world, just me, my husband, and our new little one. I had prepared myself for breastfeeding and Scarlett was an amazing nurser – I did deal with some pain early on and was grateful for the resources and support I had. I was so determined to breastfeed and just held in there.

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What were a few things that helped you get through those tougher days as a mom?  Who is your support system?

Well, luckily I have a great support system.  My husband is wonderful.  I also have amazing family – willing to bring meals, hold the baby while I slept, shop for me, or whatever else I needed.  I also have wonderful friends that are amazing mommies. Being able to go to them for advice or see if something my baby was doing or I was feeling was normal was probably the most comforting of all!  Just knowing that you’re not in this alone and that all mommies have hard, crazy days brought me a lot of comfort.

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How has adding a second baby been different from being a first time mom?  Were some things easier? What was more challenging?

River is truly an easy baby but it definitely has been a different experience than it was with my first.  This time around I suffered from a mild case of post-partum depression. It was so foreign to me because with Scarlett (my first) I was in such a happy and relaxed state and with River (baby number two) it was the complete opposite.  Even though River is a wonderful baby in every way I felt very overwhelmed with two and incompetent as a mother — even though I had done it all before!  I felt like a terrible mother to Scarlett because I couldn’t give her the same level of attention and although I’m usually a pretty patient mother I was not at all patient with her when she would act out. My reaction to her acting out was so not like me and that made me feel horrible.  I also just felt like I couldn’t do anything right. At my six-week check-up my doctor diagnosed me with a mild case of post-partum depression and created a treatment plan. Since it was only a mild case I opted to take care of it through daily walks outside, a healthy diet and supplements that my doctor recommended. Following that course seemed to work for me but I recommend that any mommies suffering from the same thing to turn to a support system, get help from your healthcare provider, and do what’s right for you.  I am now approaching four months post-partum and can say I am feeling so much better; I am starting to feel like myself a bit.

Sharing our own experiences creates a feeling of sisterhood and common ground. I feel more connected to these beautiful images after reading about JaNee’s own experiences as a mom. Each mom has unique circumstances we can all draw strength from. Especially when we find the courage to share not just the highlights of our days, but the lowlights as well. Those are the moments we realize that life isn’t perfect for any Mom, it’s a journey in which getting through the tough days makes you savor the peaceful ones that much more.

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