Posts in Erin Erenberg
The Birth Preferences Grid
 
Wicker Bassinet
 
 

By Erin Erenberg

You’ve probably heard of the birth plan. Setting intentions and visualizing what we want is a great way to set ourselves up for the results we want, in just about every experience we value. But the idea of a birth plan is a charged topic.

For one thing, healthcare providers who enter into a woman’s birth experience all come with their own ideas, goals, and background. Doctors are taught to value risk. They are calculating the risks for mother and child and are trained to eliminate risk as a whole. But a woman facing her own labor and delivery is having a more singular experience. Many times, she’s prepared mentally and physically for the birth that she wants and has an attachment to how the experience will unfold. We cannot pretend that a woman doesn’t have the right to become emotionally involved with her vision. But sometimes complications arise that keep a woman from the experience she’d hoped for, and that’s where the need for flexibility and a softer grip on that vision becomes important.

We wrote a “birth plan” for baby number one, a “birth vision” for baby number two, and then were introduced to the idea of a “birth preferences grid” by Erica Chidi Cohen and her book Nurture, just before baby number three. We found this tool to be a straightforward way to communicate an intention while providing the flexibility needed in case a woman’s vision is recast by the unexpected. Here’s our example. Maybe it will help you or a friend clarify and communicate your vision.

Be informed, be empowered, mama,

Erin


Birth Preferences Grid

Name: Erin Erenberg
Partner: Victor
OB-GYN: Dr. Sara Klevens
Goal: unmedicated vaginal delivery if mom and baby are healthy; have had two unmedicated births at St. John’s (2012, 2014)


Starting Labor

Non-medical induction methods

  • Acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, squats etc.

  • We would like to avoid medical induction unless there is a risk to mother or baby

Pushing & Delivery

Spontaneous, with varied positions

Perineal Care

  • Guided pushing and positioning, counter-pressure, massage with mineral oil

  • No episiotomy unless medically necessary


During Labor

Monitoring

  • Intermittent; want to be free to move about during labor

  • No IV or IV fluids unless medically necessary

Food & Drink

  • Access to liquids/ice according to thirst

Newborn Care & Nursing

  • Delay cord clamping and cutting

  • Quick transfer to mother for skin to skin contact and breastfeeding for as long a possible

  • Allow/assist mother to breastfeed within two hours of delivery

  • No pacifier/bottle/formula unless requested

  • If mother is asleep for feeding, please wake her


Pain Relief

  • Breathing, movement, relaxation techniques

  • No epidural desired

  • Narcotics - do not offer; Tylenol only if requested after birth; allergic to Advil; bad past experience with narcotics (Vicodin) after first birth

Placenta

  • Please save for encapsulation

 
Baby Not Sleeping Through the Night? Read This.
Baby leaning against the bed
 

By Totum Founder, Erin Erenberg

Mama always said, “life’s not worth living without a good night’s sleep.”

And, boy, did I hear that over and over in my head this past year, while taking a laissez-baby approach to sleep learning.  Although I’d trained our two bigger kids to sleep through the night at 3 and 5 months, I reasoned that it was too hard to sleep train Beau because we’d moved. I worried that any cry-it-out method would wake his older siblings. And let’s be real: I hated the idea of him crying. So I hoped that I could enjoy all the snuggles and sweetness of nursing him to sleep while his sleep routine naturally fell into place when we settled into our new home.

Ha, yeah right. I was suffering terribly, and I noticed that happy little Beau was cranky and agitated. It appears that unlike some other rites of motherhood that have fallen into place for me when I allow instinct to guide, sleep doesn’t work that way for us. For all three of our kids, I have needed to get serious about sleep training in order to reclaim my sanity and help our kids get the sleep they need for their growth, development and wellness.

For all three of our kids, I have needed to get serious about sleep training in order to reclaim my sanity and help our kids get the sleep they need for their growth, development and wellness.

With George (6) and Arabella (4), I used the Sleepeasy Solution (modified cry-it-out to teach self-soothing), and it worked beautifully. But since I’d broken all the big rules of that method for 12 months (feeding baby to sleep, putting him down asleep, rushing in to help him when he cried, starting sleep training too late) I decided to try a new approach. When I saw that Dream Baby Sleep was offering free 15-minute consults, I figured I had nothing to lose.

What I learned was truly life changing. I’m so excited to share it with you in case it rescues you as it did me. So here’s what I learned, in a nutshell:

  1. Move to an earlier bedtime for the baby. My routine had been to bathe all three of the kids at the same time, after dinner, around 6:30. They got PJ’d, lotioned, and hair/teeth-brushed in a line-up, and then George and Arabella were allowed 20-30 minutes of a movie while I put Beau down around 7PM. Erin at Dreambaby suggested I put Beau down no later than 6:30. Now I put him down between 5:45-6:30 PM. The early end of that spectrum is best if he skips his last nap or doesn’t have great daytime sleep. Not only has this been effective for Beau, but it’s also allowed me to have better quality time with the older kids in their last half-hour before bedtime.

  2. Separate the feed from the bedtime routine. Because I’m a rule-following kind of gal, I literally started doing Beau’s nighttime feed outside his bedroom and only move to his bedroom when it’s game-time.

  3. Keep the nighttime routine very short (15 minutes). After dinner, bath, PJs and final feed, next comes the real magic -- the tight and consistent bedtime routine. What works for us is this: Beau waves night-night to his siblings; we enter his room; we turn on the sound machine, turn down the blackout blinds (yes, you need these! Or a black garbage bag! Or these!); sit in the rocking chair; zip on the sleep sack; read one book; turn off the light; and then say good night.

  4. Put him down calm but awake. If Beau’s not calm after the book, I’ll rock him for as long as it takes me to sing two bars of a song and say a prayer with him. I only stand up to put him into his crib once I feel his little heartbeat slowing slightly. Calm is the key, but don’t let the baby fall asleep in your arms.

  5. The goodnight “mantra.” This seems simple but makes a big difference for mommy and baby. As I put Beau down in his crib, I say to him, “Night-night, Beau. It’s time for sleeping.  Mommy loves you.” Then I lie him down, calm but awake, and exit the room. The End!

Remarkably, just by following these tips, Beau started sleeping through the night in 2 nights! The first night, he cried for about 20 minutes, and I went in and checked on him 10 minutes into that cry. I didn’t touch him, just kept my calm and told him that I was right outside and he was learning to sleep on his own. The Dream Baby crew offers a number of different approaches to working through tears when babies are learning to sleep. Crying-it-out with check-ins works best for me because of Beau’s temperament and my cry tolerance. I love, though, that they offer a range of options for moms and babies so that you don’t feel lost if you don’t have the heart to hear your baby wail and baby’s not surrendering easily to rest.  

There were a few nights in the past few weeks when Beau woke up, teething. One night, I caved and brought him into bed to nurse. I felt worried about that, but I went back to our game plan the following night. And it all snapped back into place beautifully.

I’m a big believer in following your maternal instincts. But if sleep isn’t falling into place for you without some work, give these tips a try and definitely check out Dream Baby Sleep. They offer consults, sleep plans, and private Facebook Live events. I’ve found their approach completely non-judgmental, caring and EFFECTIVE!  

Hope this helps you have day after day of love and light, thanks to a good night’s sleep for you and your babies.

Dreamily,

Erin

 
Can I Schedule Time for Being Sad?
Photo by  @juliahirsch_  via  @mothermag
 

By Totum Founder, Erin Erenberg

We’ve all heard the cliches about moms putting everyone else first, forgetting themselves, being caught up in the many “thankless” tasks, logistics, and concerns of daily mothering. This usually presents itself as sacrifices in hygiene -- bad food, no sleep, no bra, no using the restroom without a tiny companion.

For me, putting myself last more often looks like appearing to “have it all together” for the sake of our kids’ sense of comfort and wellbeing. The real me lets it all out, with plenty of tears and talk, when things aren’t working. But lately I either (a) have a constant tiny audience or (b) am jamming through work-related tasks while paying someone to help me with the baby. There is no time block for letting it out, alone.

For me, putting myself last more often looks like appearing to “have it all together” for the sake of our kids’ sense of comfort and wellbeing.

Most of us know someone who’s crippled by anxiety because his/her mom didn’t create a sense of wellbeing and safety in the home. I think I’m really worried about this for my kids because my parents did create a sense of safety and security, and the beauty of that gift has yielded returns well into my adulthood. I want to provide a similar sense for our kids. I want to put my positive role models to work.

So, because I don’t want George (6) and Arabella (4) to be anxious adults, I do things like turning on upbeat music and presenting a mellow outlook if we run dangerously late for drop off.  I try to avoid arguing in front of them or double-back and talk through it when I lose my temper in their presence. But the downside is that I’m so focused on attuning to their ups and downs that I shove my feelings down where I think my kids can’t see them.  The fallacy is not lost on me, but I’m trying my best.  

But the downside is that I’m so focused on attuning to their ups and downs that I shove my feelings down where I think my kids can’t see them.

And lately I’m not actually “ok.” You see, two of my very closest friends in the whole world -- Robin and Wendy -- have gone through mastectomies in the last 8 months.  Just before turning 40. And until yesterday, I hadn’t even cried.

When living in Los Angeles, I heard so many people use the phrase “holding space,” and I didn’t know what that really meant until now. It seemed vaguely woo-woo and eye-roll. But for me, over the past months, it’s meant that I have this big, gaping morass of fear, hope, pain, loss, confusion, bewilderment, shock, disillusionment and love that I hold for two friends who are part of my soul.

I still see my friends Robin and Wendy in their late teens. Their beauty, vitality, brilliance, wit, grace and strength is irreplaceable and ageless. They’ve got smiles that make your heart dance, each a wicked sense of humor, and so loyal that I’ve never once questioned where I stand. They each have two boys. We all went to the same college but now live in 3 different countries. Despite distance and time, these girls are in my mind and heart every hour.  

And this year, they each faced down breast cancer and feared for their lives.

Two days ago, on a Saturday, I sat with my coffee, in my robe, and just completely broke down. The tears wouldn’t stop. At first, our kids were stunned, and then ran over to me and held me, telling me it would be okay. As most moms do, I immediately felt a flood of worry and shame about losing my cool in front of my kids. But instead of pretending, I let it go.

Two days ago, on a Saturday, I sat with my coffee, in my robe, and just completely broke down. The tears wouldn’t stop.

Then I tried to convey my feelings with words they might understand. I told them that I was really sad for my friend. That my friend Robin was having a scary surgery in the hospital that day, and that I felt helpless in saving my friend from big feelings and scary thoughts. I told them that I was okay but that sometimes when we love our friends so much, it makes us cry when we know they are in pain.

There have been a lot of things happening in our lives in the past year -- new baby, new business, new home (to name a few). Meanwhile, there are major emotional realities at play for me that have nothing to do with my daily (pre)occupations. And one big one is grappling with two of my closest friends facing down cancer before turning 40.

Funny enough, my friend Robin is a brilliant doctor and is convinced that her diagnosis has something to do with some major losses in her life, both of which she feels she didn’t fully process.  And Wendy faced horrible unexpected loss a few times in the last decade as well.

So in the spirit of facing pain head on, I’m sharing this with all of you. I don’t really have the answer to the question of how to feel and process painful adult realities when you’ve got a constant tiny audience. But I know that I need more friendship and understanding to work through it in a healthy way. So thank you for letting me share this with you. Thank you for “holding space” for me.

I’d love to hear from you about how you process your pain while prioritizing your babies.  And I’d love to hear tips on how to best support friends going through breast cancer.

In this together,

Erin

 
At Christmas My Mom Was a Cross Between Martha Stewart and Bob Vila. I Can't Be That Mom But I Can Do This.
 
Little boy lighting Christmas candles
 
 

By Erin Erenberg, Totum Founder

Originally published on Fox News.

I was raised by the ultimate “Pinterest mom.” She made icing-bedecked one of a kind homemade gingerbread men when it was my turn to bring cookies to school and still makes our three kids individually themed Christmas trees each year. She’s Martha Stewart meets Bob Vila, and the care she puts into what she makes has always made us feel special.

But I’m not that mom. While I enjoy putting creativity into meals or the occasional craft, if I put too many projects on my plate at the holidays, I become the person I loathed growing up: someone who dreads Christmas. These days, between multiple holiday shows, sports obligations, school-sponsored Thanksgiving feasts, holiday cards, gift-buying and documenting every minute on social media, it’s easy for moms to feel overwhelmed and lesser-than, all of which has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas.

“It’s easy for moms to feel overwhelmed and lesser-than, all of which has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas.”

So instead of losing the joy to the pressures of modern momming, I’ve decided to strip down to the essentials with a focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Here are three things we’re being sure to check off our list this Christmas season. The rest is just icing on the gingerbread man.

1. Gather to read the Bible’s account of the first Christmas.

My dad always did this with us on Christmas Eve, often gathered by the fire and after an evening church service. It’s a lovely way to cut through the noise, spend time together, and remember why we’re celebrating in the first place.

Here are our family favorite verses, as selected by my dad:

Luke 2:1-21 (The Shepherds’ Story)

Luke 1: 26-31 (Mary Hears the News)

Matthew 1: 18-25 (Joseph Hears the News)

Matthew 2: 12 (Wise Men Story)

It’s great to highlight the wise men and their offerings so that kids realize there is a history behind the gift-giving at Christmas. Some other cultures, such as those in Latin America, do a better job at tying traditions back to the story of the first Christmas. See, for example, Las Posadas, a nine-day long nativity celebration meant to represent the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy.

2. Sponsor another family’s Christmas

We did this when I was little, and I remember it so clearly. My parents got wish lists from our local Salvation Army and chose a family with kids roughly the ages of my sister and I. I can still see the racks of clothes and the wishlist in my hands. I was so concerned that there were kids who didn’t have enough food and clothing, let alone gifts on Christmas morning. A deep sense of gratitude, concern and awareness of privilege and disparity moved me, and I was energized by the idea that I could do something to help. That sense has remained with me into adulthood.

Every region has local charities who can help with the logistics of giving to families in need. It’s well worth it to connect with one in your area and “adopt” a family or a child for Christmas.   The process of taking time away from ourselves and standing in another family’s shoes steers us away from the temptation toward greed and consumption this season and fosters meaningful conversations with our little ones. More to the point: it’s just the right thing to do to give to someone who is in need, especially during a time that’s all about giving and receiving.

3. Sibling gift exchange

Our 6-year-old little boy and 4-year-old girl argue too much. Christmas seems like the perfect time to remind them that our family is in our lives so that we can support, acknowledge and learn from each other.

“Christmas seems like the perfect time to remind them that our family is in our lives so that we can support, acknowledge and learn from each other.”

This year we’re encouraging them to think about what their sister/brother would enjoy and dip into their piggy banks to buy a gift for their sibling.  Sure, there are wonderful lessons about math and commerce, but most important to me is that they learn that the purpose of a gift is to show someone you have thought about them, notice what they like, and give up something of yours to communicate your love. It’s also a welcome shift from the rivalry and bickering that’s so frustrating but natural in kids close together in age.

Overall, I find that when I’m able to cut through the potential to keep busy this season and focus on a few valuable opportunities to grow together, we all experience more joy.

We’d love to hear about your honored family traditions. Merry Christmas!

 
Move over Black Friday. Give it up for Cyber Mom-Day!
 
My mom and sister hitting Cyber Monday hard last year, days after I gave birth to our third baby, Beau.

My mom and sister hitting Cyber Monday hard last year, days after I gave birth to our third baby, Beau.

 
 

By Erin Erenberg, Totum Founder

Originally published on Fox News.

We had a family tradition around Black Friday when I was young. With our cousins in town for Thanksgiving, my mom would load us into the car to head to the “big city” of Columbus, Ohio.

We shifted into the Christmas spirit while checking loved ones off our gift lists. Some of my favorite childhood memories were made on this day, amid twinkling street lights, looping holiday anthems, and commiserating, bag-laden dads camped out in the pit of City Center Mall.  Between stores, we’d make a detour to the suburb of Dublin to sip glogg while my mom drank in inspiration for that year’s tree.  It was crisp, cozy, wintery, idyllic Christmas bliss. But those were slower times, decades before shop.org handed us “Cyber Monday” in 2005.

Now that I’m the mom and we have three little ones, I’d rather avoid the manufactured urgency of Black Friday and take time to enjoy making holiday traditions that don’t center around buying.  But don’t get me wrong: I still love to get and give gifts.  So it was last year, when I gave birth to our third baby two days before Thanksgiving, that I learned the true beauty of Cyber Monday for mothers.

This year, instead of falling for the tempting promotional emails and Instagram ads that seem to know my every thought, I’ve been taking a minute to keep a list of all the retailers or manufacturers who are tempting me. Beside their name, I list the items I’d like to purchase, and for whom. My plan is to go online on Black Friday to see if there are deals on the things I’ve listed. If so, I’ll make the purchase then. If not, I’ll wait for Cyber Monday.

To all my busy moms out there, here are my top ten favorite things about Cyber Monday.

1. I can shop in sweats and no makeup, while using the loo if so inclined.

2. It can be a team sport. My mom, sister and I shopped together using our own laptops at my dining room table last year, and it was really fun.  We called out good deals to one another, gasped when we saw something we wanted, and made purchases for one another without having to hide the evidence.

3. There are no (visible) crowds.

4. Ditto no pushy sales people.

5. My stroller isn’t in anyone’s way.

6. I don’t have to repeat “look with your eyes” to my children roughly 5,249 times per store.

7. We can access every store around the world without spending a dime on gas or worrying about our carbon footprint.

8. I MAKE BAD SHOPPING DECISIONS IN REAL LIFE SINCE BECOMING A MOM! Truly, I either break the bank or leave with nothing. I don’t think straight about purchases when I’m more worried about whether my child is going to touch something made of glass.

9. It seems like the deals are better. I’ve found that many stores will allow stacked discounts and promotions, often with free shipping.

10.  The gifts can be shipped directly to the recipient and to where you’re celebrating the holidays. This not only saves money but (more importantly for me) also the opportunity costs associated with the time and risk of shipping gifts yourself.  If the retailer misses the Christmas deadline, you’ll wind up with a refund and maybe some future discount codes. That’s a lot better than what happened when I tried to ship all my gifts from California to Ohio, only to find out that they were misrouted to Milwaukee and lost until Easter. #neveragain

Here’s to helping you maximize your time and budget this holiday (but hands-off the Anine Bing bag in my shopping cart on November 26.)

See you online,

Erin

 
I Had a 15-Minute Call about Tantrums with a Parenting Expert. Here’s What I Learned.
 
Child covering her eyes
 
 

By Erin Erenberg

Our 3 year old daughter has been having at least one tantrum per day. Our whole family, including our extended family, has been suffering as a result. After late nights googling things like “how many tantrums is too many” and “how to know when toddler tantrums indicate a mental disorder,” I decided to finally follow a friend’s advice and dig into the writing of parenting coach Vicki Hoefle.

Vicki’s approach is rooted in Adler’s Individual Psychology, and is summed up by “less is more,” meaning we as parents need to focus on controlling our own behavior rather than micromanaging our children’s.

Through her website, I set up a 15 minute phone consultation with Vicki. I learned about a year’s worth of gold in that time.

I liked Vicki immediately. She had a warm chuckle that made me want to ask her for a hug. After we briefly connected and shared a little laugh, Vicki asked me to start off by giving her a peek into why I’d called. I told her that we’d just moved our three kids -- a 6 year old boy, 3 year old girl, and 10 month old baby boy -- across the country, away from their friends, schools, and the nanny who’d been in our lives for 6 years. I told her that my reason for calling was my daughter’s daily tantrums and that our older son seemed to be adjusting well.

Her first question startled me:

“So what’s your son worried about?” Mentally, I retreaded what I’d shared: “Maybe I did say something about our son being easy to read, open with communication…did I actually just say that our son is the easy one, and Arabella is difficult? Ugh, I did.”

I answered by telling her that our son is angry with his sister for his tantrums, complaining that they keep him up at night.

“Watch that,” she answered. “Tell him to pop in earplugs at night. Tell him that he needs to think of ways that he can help his little sister. Sounds like your son is playing right into the family dynamic that he’s the good kid, and she’s the problem.”

Eek. This woman is good. This woman is correct.

I told her that we’d been focused on acknowledging George for making his transition bravely and for being so pleasant and cooperative. Her response: “That’s fine, but kids who are discouraged need acknowledgment. Your daughter needs acknowledgement.”

IMG_7501.JPG

As for Arabella, she told me that she’s dealing with a lot of emotions, and that we should acknowledge her for only having 1 tantrum per day after all that she’s lost and all that’s being introduced to her. “I wouldn’t be surprised to hear if she’s having 6,” said Vicki.


I was immediately flooded with both relief and empathy for Arabella. My instinct has been telling me that the consequences I’ve been enforcing for her tantrums were a mismatch. Don’t get me wrong; I eschew a lot of the modern permissive, talky-talky parenting, and I think rules and limits are important for kids to feel safe. However Vicki affirmed that, in this case, our daughter needs support, not stricture.


I was immediately flooded with both relief and empathy for Arabella. My instinct has been telling me that the consequences I’ve been enforcing for her tantrums were a mismatch.

Here’s how her advice boiled down for me.

When Arabella starts to rev up, and I know the cues, I make eye contact with her, tell her that I can see she needs some support, and ask her to participate in something with me. This morning, I’d put this into practice without realizing it, and it was our first tantrum-free morning since we’ve moved. I heard Arabella groaning to her dad, so I went to her and reminded her that we’d bought pumpkin to make pumpkin pancakes. I asked her if she wanted to help me make them. One key here is that she and I teamed up on something that I was going to do anyway -- make breakfast. Vicki emphasized that supporting an overwhelmed child isn’t about field-trip style quality time; it can be about really connecting with your child for 2 minutes every hour. It’s also about helping them see their role and importance in the family and its normal routines. 


One of Vicki’s more popular pieces on parenting compares childhood behavior to a weed and parental behavior to fertilizer.

She cautions that we often pay way too much attention to the things that drive us nuts (tantrums and whining especially) and can get past that behavior by starving it. However, with a child that’s endured a lot of change or is going through some kind of transition, our role isn’t to ignore but to support the root of the emotion.

How about when a child is in the throes of a tantrum?

Her advice was for me to connect heart to heart, literally. I’ve read a lot about holding or hugging a child who’s having a tantrum, and it doesn’t work for me. But Vicki’s advice was to make the connection by sitting together, putting my hand on her heart, acknowledging what she’s going through, trying to help her regulate her breathing. If she’s still out of her mind or is having a tantrum just to get what she wants, I can simply tell her that her tantrum will not change the outcome: I’m not going to change my mind. Then I just continue doing whatever else it is that I need to do. Firm but kind, do not lose your temper, do not model the behavior you don't want to see.

With a child that’s endured a lot of change or is going through some kind of transition, our role isn’t to ignore but to support the root of the emotion.

And what about baby Beau (10 months old)?

I’ve been concerned that there’s so much yelling at home, primarily from his 3 year old sister. Vicki reminded me that only I know that Beau could have had it any other way. A third sibling can never be a first child. She also reminded me that I can tell Beau “your sister’s having a hard time with school; she’s having a lot of feelings.” An important shift away from my usual “Arabella, please stop. You are upsetting the baby.”

In the end, Vicki told me that she usually recommends a coaching plan on this initial call but felt like I was in good shape and had good instincts. That felt like the hug that I’ve been needing through this transition, and she may have just staved off my tantrum tonight.

 
Answers to your Questions about Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex
Mother breastfeeding baby
 

By Erin Erenberg, Totum Founder


Hey breastfeeding mamas -- have you ever felt a rush of intense negative emotions just prior to your milk letdown? This feeling might have felt like a slight fog or perhaps it was a heavy, depressed feeling in your chest or pit of the stomach. You may have worried how you could possibly feel this during such a special and intimate moment with your child. If this has been your experience with breastfeeding, you already know the bad news (this sucks A LOT), so I’ll skip ahead to the good news. This is a real thing, with a name, and you are not alone.

Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, also referred to as D-MER, is characterized by a wave of negative emotion just prior to milk letdown. Breastfeeding mothers may experience this rush of negative emotions around 30-90 seconds prior to milk release. These feelings usually dissipate, between several seconds to a couple minutes after letdown, but return prior to another milk letdown. Moms who have experienced D-MER have described it as sadness, dread, anxiety, hollow feelings, irritability, hopelessness or angst. The feelings differ and range in intensity. One mother with mild D-MER may experience slight worry or even a feeling of homesickness. Another with more severe symptoms may feel intense sadness, anger, dread, or fear leading to thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation. These feelings are usually brief, and it is rare that women act on their catastrophic thoughts.

Moms who have experienced D-MER have described it as sadness, dread, anxiety, hollow feelings, irritability, hopelessness or angst.

Experts believe that D-MER is related to the relationship between the three main hormones involved in milk production: oxytocin; prolactin; and dopamine. Oxytocin is released when nipples are stimulated, breasts are full, baby latches, or even at baby's scheduled feeding time. This helps trigger the production of prolactin, which peaks at the beginning of a feed. However, in order for prolactin to peak, dopamine must drop. Some women may be more sensitive to this sudden drop, or their dopamine may drop more than what is necessary to stimulate milk flow. According to D-MER.org, some mothers may experience this due to an environmental effect, a nutritional deficiency, a breakdown in normal hormonal activity with aging, increased sensitivity to a normal drop in dopamine, dopamine receptor mutation, a predisposition to abnormal dopamine activity, or some other unknown cause.

Many women find it helpful to know that these feelings are due to a natural dance of the hormones that make breastfeeding work.

Most mothers notice the onset of D-MER within the first couple weeks of breastfeeding, and for many it will subside by the time the baby is around three months old. For others D-MER remains until weaning. In contrast to a mother who is experiencing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder, a mother with D-MER generally feels okay except just before her milk starts to flow. It is possible that a mother who experiences D-MER may also struggle with postpartum depression or anxiety, but they are separate issues. It is important to distinguish one from the other in order to receive proper and effective treatment. Some mothers with D-MER may need to consider professional support in order to more effectively manage their D-MER.

Many women find it helpful to know that these feelings are due to a natural dance of the hormones that make breastfeeding work. They can then practice positive visualization techniques to tolerate and work through the negative feelings. Mothers without this information might consider discontinuing breastfeeding because they are confused by and afraid of what they are experiencing. Of course, deciding whether or not to breastfeed is a personal decision, but it is best when that decision comes from a position of knowledge as opposed to a state of fear. Often, just knowing what D-MER is can provide the comfort and support that is needed and the reassurance that these feelings will pass shortly.

Hang in there, beauties, and for more information, please visit D-MER.org.  

 
The Number One Nicest Thing to Do for a New Mom, and How to Do It
 
brooke-lark-93583-unsplash.jpg
 
 

By Totum Founder, Erin Erenberg


I had a friend text me the day I gave birth saying, “I am going to make you dinner and drop it off on your doorstep Wednesday around 4PM.”

There is so much to love about that simple sentence. First, she was insistent about it (“I am going to…”). She didn’t say “How can I help?”  “What can I do?” Or even “would it be ok if….” All of those phrases come from love, but they’re tossing a to-do onto the plate of a new mom. Instead, this was a statement and left no room for negotiation.

Second, she gave me a date several days out from when I’d arrive home from the hospital. By being so clear, she removed the need for me to think. It was happening Wednesday, before dinnertime. I didn’t have to open my calendar and schedule something and take myself out of the newborn haze for a nanosecond.

The third point I’ll make came down to execution. And this is the most important part. SHE DROPPED IT OFF AND ONLY TEXT’D ME THAT IT WAS THERE AFTER SHE DROVE AWAY.  Listen, friends, family and loved ones: a brand new mom does not need visitors. She needs food. She needs rest. She needs to lie around in a robe with her baby on her body without thinking that anyone is taking stock of how she looks.  She does not need to feel the pressure to entertain you. Unless you are there to help her, save the visits for a few weeks out, at least. Heng Ou states this much more gently in her book The First Forty Days. For a more elaborate and kind explanation of why this is, check it out.

Listen, friends, family and loved ones: a brand new mom does not need visitors.

This friend happened to drop of a reusable basket complete with dinner for our entire family that could be easily reheated, and she included healthy granola for snacking. It was pretty incredible. Of course, the homemade element gave our whole family a sense of love and nurturing that’s second to none.

But you know what else was awesome: getting food Door-Dashed or Postmat-ed to us. We had one friend send a box of sushi for the grown-ups and Italian for our 5 and 3 year olds.  Another sent a Mediterranean spread that we could reheat all week. Yet another went out of her way to bring over a modular taco salad that could be customized for all the picky eaters in the family.

But for those of you who, like me, fall short of Pinterest-Mom status, are forgetful and harried, yet truly want to serve a friend who’s just had a baby, know that executing a perfect food drop is just the trick.

There are many, many kind things to do for a new mother, and our friends and family did all sorts of wonderful things that I’ll always remember (my goddess of a sister in law made me a hand-curated basket full of luxurious postpartum treats, for one). But for those of you who, like me, fall short of Pinterest-Mom status, are forgetful and harried, yet truly want to serve a friend who’s just had a baby, know that executing a perfect food drop is just the trick.