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Keli Kirwin Mental Health Physical Health

Letter to my best friend: Postpartum series

By Keli Kirwin

Dear friend,

      Please believe that you deserve rest and care. Know that you are best able to care for others whenever your body and mind are rested 

       Allow your support team to help. Communicate your needs and expectations with your husband before the baby comes. Sit down together with pen and paper to decide who will be responsible for which tasks, consider every responsibility that will need to be covered. Agree on the length of this arrangement, remembering flexibility and the freedom to communicate and make adjustments that fit your family as the need arises. 

         Stay in touch with your care providers and communicate with them openly about your concerns. I mean it. 

         It is okay to let your husband parent while you rest or step away to take a breath. It is okay to call friends or family to ask for help (it doesn’t mean admitting incompetence). 

          You need to eat and you need to drink water. Keep water and snacks nearby. This is a good way your husband can support your recovery. 

           Please send me all the pictures you want. I promise to love them all and I promise not to get offended whenever you are too busy. I promise to love you and your family, to support you in whichever way best serves you; and to do so without judgment.

Much love, to my best friend.

P.S. Use sticky notes to remember things like- drink water!

Categories
Cassandra McCoy Jessica Wilkerson Keli Kirwin Melanie VanBeber Mental Health Physical Health

Interviews and Discussion of Women’s Health and Sex Postpartum

by Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT, RYT with Guests Dr Corey Babb; OBGYM, Rachel Warner MAT, ATC, LAT; Jessica Wilkerson CPT, PN1; Keli Kirwin Postpartum Doula.


Sex postpartum is an area of concern for many women. With the process of labor, challenges postpartum such as injury or lack of sleep, and the added layer of the emotional/mental unknown, sex can be intimidating. Sex, among other women’s health concerns, is exactly what this interview with Dr Corey Babb OBGYN is about. Join in that conversation here:

After this interveiw, a few of the Be HEaRd Contributors discuss a variety of labor/postpartum experiences. Join us as we discuss our personal experiences, professional knowledge and just have a down to earth chat about the real things that help postpartum. Join us here:

If you would like to join in the conversation, we would love to have to join us over on Facebook in our private women’s groups:

Women’s Health: https://www.facebook.com/groups/514687002787259/

Postpartum Women’s Health: https://www.facebook.com/groups/514687002787259/

Our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Positivelybalancedmmh/

Our Instagram: @Positivelybalancedllc

We can’t wait to get to know you and health you bridge the gap to our own health!

Categories
Amanda McKinney Intellectual Health Occupational Health

Tools to Go From “Busy” to Productive

By Amanda McKinney


“I’m so busy” 

Do you find yourself saying that phrase often? Or how about “I’m so tired”? 

I get it sister, we all feel that and that feeling is real. There’s no shortage of things on your to-do list and it’s constantly growing. Whether it’s the never ending battle with laundry or working your side-hustle so you can live your passion and be your own boss. You’re doing amazing things in this world but that comes at the expense of your sleep and sanity too often. 

So I want to share a few time management tips that I’ve seen work not only in my life but in my student’s lives too. I’ve coached many yoga teachers who are working hard to build their business while also being a wife, sister, mother, partner, friend and so many other things. 

As a wife, daughter, friend, step-mom and business owner myself I’ve learned the hard way on how to balance many things. And now I get asked on a weekly basis “Amanda, how in the world do you get it all done?”. Well friend, I’ve got you covered with these tips! Buckle up sister! 

Know Your MIT 

I’m not the first person to use this phrase but I’m not sure who to give credit to or else I would. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t know my MIT = Most Important Task. This is the thing that has to get done or *things* will hit the fan. You know that thing. Maybe it’s sending an email, paying a bill or picking up your kiddo from school. It’s the thing that needs to get done, TODAY. I like to look at this in a few ways: daily and weekly. So if you’re working your side hustle and you want to make constant progress in your business, you might have a weekly MIT but you might work on smaller chunks each day. Make this work for you but know your MIT at least weekly. 

Be Okay With The Minimum 

This goes hand in hand with your MIT because sometimes you will get the minimum done. Yes, you want to do all the things and rock your day but we can’t do that every day. You will burn out if you go this hard. So we need to know what that minimum is that we need to get done but we also have to be okay (for real) when we can only do the minimum. And if you’re like me, you have to be really, really with yourself on this one. Because in my head the “minimum” usually includes the kitchen being clean, I’m at inbox zero and I’m in bed by 8pm. Let me tell you how many days this happens — not many. That’s not the minimum, that’s my ideal situation. So we need to be realistic with what the minimum is and really be okay with it when it happens. Heck, I would love to say celebrate it just like you would an ideal day! 

Systems, Systems, Systems! 

The best businesses I know have rock-solid systems in place to help with order and efficiency. Let’s learn from these businesses and put some systems in place for your time management. 

First up…do you know how you’re truly spending your time? If you and I were talking and I asked you “how much time do you spend doing laundry?” or “how much time do you spend on your side hustle?” or “how much time do you spend on Facebook?”, would you know the answers? Be real now, would you really know? The answer for me was no for a while but I decided to change that and it made a BIG impact. I started tracking my time and it sure helped me waste less time. You can use an electronic time tracker (I use Toggl) or you can write this down on a piece of paper, it doesn’t need to be fancy. Track your time and it will tell you how to use it better, I promise. 

The other system I would encourage you to use is planning your day. Whether it’s a paper or digital planner, you do you! But you need a system that works for you. One that I’ve seen work really well for most people is the 15 Minute Planner from Steph Crowder. I’ve learned a ton from her and actually hired her as my business coach last year. Check her out and use this quick 15 minute method to plan your week. 

If you’re looking for a way to help you stay on track during your day, I would highly recommend an electronic task management system. I personally use Asana every work day (but I put my personal stuff on there too). There are other systems such as Trello, Monday and you can set up tasks in Google. Find what works for you and run with it, don’t worry about what other people are using. Use what works for you! 

Make sure to check in with these systems as you move forward. Put a reminder on your calendar for 3 months from now to check in and see how these systems have helped you. You can only make progress and changes if you have a plan for evaluating them because it will encourage you to actually implement them. 

Automate Everything You Can 

Let’s talk about how cool it is that we live in a world where we can have groceries delivered to our house! For real, this is a game changer. I’ve tracked our families spending since we signed up for Shipt and we’ve actually saved money – even with tipping the incredible people who do the grocery shopping for us. I cannot rave about this enough but it’s not the only thing you can automate in your life. I would love to encourage you to look for ways you can automate things in your life and the amazing news is that they don’t all cost you a fortune! Some are more pricey than others but do what you can sister! 

Automation Ideas:

  • Grocery shopping through Shipt 
  • Dinner ideas from Hello Fresh or Freshly or any of the other companies out there! There are seriously so many incredible options. 
  • Vacuuming using Roomba. Yes, I know it’s a pricey vacuum but how much time will it save you if it runs once a week or every other day? Think about it. 
  • Deposit checks using your banking app. You don’t need to drive to the bank my friend, save the time and download the app. 
  • Bundle your errands in one trip. I know this isn’t automating but it will save you so much time. And bonus points if you can think ahead for your trip to town and only make right turns, no joke this saves time. 
  • Set your coffee maker timer. There’s no reason for you to have to do this manually if you have a timer on your coffee maker. Use what you paid extra for! 
  • Order pet food to be automatically delivered. Check with your vet, they have services for you! If your vet doesn’t have one, use Chewy. Set it and forget it. 

Give Yourself Grace 

You’re doing amazing things in this world. If you’re reading this article then you’re a driven woman who’s changing the world for the better, I 100% believe this. So give yourself some grace in this process dear friend. Remember that you’re doing the best you can with all that you have. 

Stay connected with other women who are doing amazing things so you can be supported and you can support other women. Keep going sister, you got this! 

Your cheerleader, 

Amanda McKinney 

About Amanda McKinney Amanda McKinney is a Marketing Coach with a passion for empowering yoga teachers to earn more money doing what they love. She does this through her podcast: Marketing Yoga With Confidence and Online Offerings. All of which focuses on building confidence and community with an extra dose of encouragement every step of the way. You can learn more from her on her podcast: Marketing Yoga with Confidence or on her website: https://www.marketingyogawithconfidence.com/ But her favorite place to be is Instagram so follow her @amandamckinneyyoga

Categories
Mental Health Physical Health Sara Herell

Unicorns, Mermaids, Good Babies, and Lucky Moms

by Sara Herrell

“Does he eat well?” 

“Is he sleeping through the night?”

“He’s a BIG baby.”

“Maybe you’re just drying up.” 

“Sleep when the baby sleeps.”

“Maybe he would sleep better if you would put cereal in his bottle.”

“Just let him cry it out.”

“Just give him the titty!” (hilarious courtesy of my precious dairy farmer grandmother, who nursed SEVEN children)

“When I had babies… *insert advice here*.”

I remember it so very well and tend to have almost had a fight or flight, gut reaction when the memories peek back through the doorway of my mind. The first 6 months or so of my oldest child’s life went a lot like this, on repeat.

None of this advice came from a place of malice, selfishness or anything other than the generations before me seeing young-mother me struggle and wanting to offer help. Possibly while regaining *just a moment* of the magic from when their now-adult babies were oh so very small, too. I cannot fault them for that. It’s nice to be needed. Amazing to feel helpful and sometimes awkward to find conversation starters when you want to be supportive and the new mom is beyond exhausted, holding it together with some intermittent sleep, a dash of mascara and soggy nipple pads, desperately ready to talk to other adults but still wanting time to hide away with her new babe (rightfully and biologically so).

After playing a rousing round of “pass the baby” then it would come, unassumingly, sweet and well-intentioned but like a MACK TRUCK out of nowhere, squishing the frog that would be your last shred of sanity clear across your self-esteem highway. It may have broken your brain a little, even.

 “Is he a GOOD BABY?”

Wait, what?! Hold on. BACK. UP. 

Is there such a thing as a “BAD Baby?” 

Do I have a BAD baby?

You think back and start comparing your baby to other babies, friends and sisters babies, the ever happy babies who do just fine in the nursery at church or daycare. The babies that aren’t SCREAMING adult-sized screams just for simply being AWAKE. The babies that don’t demand to eat every five minutes or that let you put them down to pee by yourself. 

Your baby isn’t like those babies. But, Is your baby really that BAD?

Come in really, really close and commit this to the deepest parts of your memory. Make it a mantra. Say it to other people, often. Sharpie it to your forehead. Rebuke your doctor when they ask this useless question. 

Repeat after me, “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A  BAD BABY”. 

Not a single one. Honestly, there is no such thing as a GOOD BABY, either. 

You can tell them that, too.

These innocent and well-meaning questions from experienced mothers and caregivers had me absolutely convinced that my firstborn was a BAD baby and of course, it was my own fault. 

My firstborn, Boy Wonder, had colic from DAY ONE. I loved him as any mother would, but I would be bold faced lying if I said I didn’t feel disconnected from my own child because I, his mother, could not adequately comfort him. Looking back, it wasn’t necessarily my *fault* but I can *see* now where a lot of our problems started and how being more informed even before birth would have eased some of the undue stress. 

Our first 4 months were simply surviving and trying to get him to STOP CRYING (please dear goodness, make it stop!) and be comfortable. He wasn’t a “typical happy baby” because his tummy hurt near-constantly. Misinformation on the adequacy of my milk supply,  how supply and demand hormones work, what constituted a “good” breast pump, dismissive physicians who weren’t tongue tie friendly, limited access to lactation consulting and the elimination of choice in labor and postpartum by hospital staff all contributed to switching between breastmilk and formula, ultimately causing excessive gas for him (which first-time mom me, didn’t understand could be an issue). From colic, we went straight to teething. We just couldn’t win. 

herrellhousephoto.com
copyright, Sara Herrell
submitted and licensed exclusively for coordinating article use by Positively Balanced, LLC.

© Sara Herrell, Herrell House Photo

I started to lose hope and became resigned to having a BAD baby when other moms had been blessed with GOOD ones. (Hold on, we’ll get to that, I know what you’re thinking).

By the grace of survival instincts, the miracle of science that brought us formula simply to keep him fed and alive, and the love language that is coffee, we survived babyhood with Boy Wonder (who is now 3 and introducing me to the 9th ring of hell that is 

potty training) and were surprised with our second boy, The Tiniest Giant, age two months at time of article. 

The Tiniest Giant has since solidified my theory that babies do NOT possess the capability of choice to be “bad” or “good”. He is already SO. MUCH. DIFFERENT. than his older brother.

 First-time-mom me would be jealous of how “GOOD” this baby could be considered. I didn’t know babies could smile, play or even show joy so early because Boy Wonder had such a hard time even existing in his first few months. All I had known until now was screaming, and pain, and constant bouncing, music and shushing, looking for some kind of light at the end of a mythical tunnel. That is not to say that my second is anything more than a normal baby, with normal baby needs and normal baby exhausted parents. 

 All of which made me realize that those same well-meaning ladies would undoubtedly have called my first, a fussy baby and my second, a good baby – ( as if my boys could make a choice on their infant behaviors?) but they would be WRONG.

The truth of the matter, the point, you ask? Babies do not know how to “behave”, they simply know how to express their immediate needs for survival. That’s it. Babies cannot manipulate with malice. Simple. They can learn and adapt to what brings care and comfort *faster* (fake cries anyone?) but true ill intentioned manipulation is not possible by infants. 

Why the heck were my two boys so different?

First and foremost, they’re different, individual people.

Second, ME. I was different. 

 My understanding and experience. My education. My advocates. My giving myself grace.

I had learned how to seek and discern information (and information will be ever evolving, know better, do better, forever and ever, amen). I became empowered to advocate for myself and my children (also known as being exceptionally stubborn). I understood what is normal for my babies and what isn’t or might not be. I’d  done most of the hard stuff before and can recall what *generally* works and what doesn’t while accepting each child has different needs. I was able to give myself a little grace in the gaps. I wasn’t accepting what was “common” when I knew it wasn’t “normal” ( a little phrase I borrowed from our founder, Cassandra)

Could my first still have had colic for other reasons even if I had known more? Absolutely. Hindsight is 20/20, but I could have been more mentally and emotionally equipped to deal with it and request the help I needed but was embarrassed to need. I could have possibly enjoyed motherhood more while he was small, and had a fighting chance with a loaded “mental toolbox”. I would have known that Informed consent, education, advocacy backed by responsive resources and overall support are crucial, and that everything else can come after. 

But what about my second? My GOOD baby?

Plot twist, the perpetuation of the “GOOD” baby also presents the false idol of the “LUCKY” mom and that isn’t fair, either.

As in, “You’re so lucky! She’s such a GOOD baby!”

What’s a lucky mom? Glad you asked, she is, of course, a mother with the “GOOD” baby. She has a baby as we profiled above. Sweet, happy, doesn’t cry, sleeps, is generally convenient. This mom doesn’t need help, is perfectly happy, gets enough sleep, cooks healthy meals by herself, doesn’t feel overwhelmed, is level headed, assumes her normal life immediately and needs zero help. Her baby is independent and shows no signs of the “Fourth Trimester”. She contributes to pinterest. She is the absolute envy of all the moms with “BAD” babies.

Here’s the reality though, just as the baby above doesn’t exist, neither does she. 

By deeming babies GOOD (with an understanding that can mean some are BAD), we dangerously simplify what is considered typical or normal for babies and place unnecessary blame on tiny humans just trying to survive.

herrellhousephoto.com
copyright, Sara Herrell
submitted and licensed exclusively for coordinating article use by Positively Balanced, LLC.

© Sara Herrell, Herrell House Photo

By allowing the “GOOD BABY” myth to continue, we assume that mothers don’t need adequate postpartum support, it makes support almost seem too much or an extra nicety. As if a newly postpartum mom is being dramatic or selfish needing help, patience, or understanding while finding her new normal. “Because she chose to bring a baby into the world, she’s lucky it’s a good baby, I had a BAD baby and didn’t get any support, why does she need our help, right?” Look, if that’s your train of thought, please don’t ask “when do I get to see the baby?”, you’re definitely not someone who needs to be around a new mom or baby. STAY. HOME. PLEASE.

 Postpartum Depression is not an accessory pack to BAD babies. GOOD babies don’t exclusively sleep through the night (and they shouldn’t necessarily as a safety reflex) nor do they eat perfectly.  LUCKY Mothers’ bodies do not “bounce back” from the physical feat of making a human for the better part of an entire year and expelling said human any faster when they have GOOD babies. Newly postpartum moms can especially struggle no matter what their baby’s temperament is, (it’s new, they’re recovering, baby comes first for them, duh.) and they’re afraid to admit it and have their child labeled “BAD” or even be labeled themselves, as a dreaded complainer. Because why do they have the right to “complain”? They have a GOOD baby, they’re a LUCKY mom.

This type of thinking can, in turn, overwhelm already emotionally maxed out parents who simply need extra support or resources to adapt into somehow thinking they themselves are inadequate caregivers. (Let’s stop that cycle, okay? Having a baby is already hard enough.) We tend to forget that ALL babies tap parental resources (physical and emotional) into a survival mode to some extent. Babies create demands that CHANGE their parents. Ever hear anyone say change is hard? They’re absolutely right. 

Instead of perpetuating the “GOOD BABY” myth, let’s support mothers, parents and caregivers with better vocabulary and chit-chat choices. No one needs the speech police, but this could certainly be more helpful than uncomfortable small talk. 

A few alternatives to try out:

“How are you feeling?” (Seriously important and underrated)

“Are you getting enough time to eat/sleep/take care of yourself?”

(especially if you’re willing to offer a goodies drop off or maybe to sit with baby while she showers or takes a quick rest – Keli Kirwin has a good piece on this subject’s specifics: find her article on Postpartum Care HERE

“How are you adjusting?”

 ( and then LISTEN. Nope. Hush. LISTEN. )

“Are your doctors listening to you/visits going well? Anything lacking?” (New parents tend to crumble under “authority” such as medical professionals, not realizing it’s okay to question if something doesn’t feel right)

“Do you have any worries or concerns? It’s SO normal to have those.” (because every mom wants to “have it all together” and may not realize how valuable just talking it out and with another experienced caregiver can be.)

“What a beautiful baby! Good job, momma!” (slam dunk, no more needs said)

Simply put, please be kind. There’s so much you’re not privy to that your words can have great influence and weight over in such a fragile time as being a new parent. 

(biological, adoptive, however that happens for them)

The point I’m attempting to express is THIS:  There is no such thing as a GOOD baby or a LUCKY mom (*yes, we’re all lucky to have our children, that’s not the point of this verbiage, I promise.*). They’re *beautiful* fairy tale concepts we would all love to live out. The sooner we let go of our white knuckle grip on them, we can start to help our mothers, fathers and caregivers be their best and raise healthy children without sacrificing their own mental, physical, or emotional health quite so readily. The world just might be a better place for it.

Do small things with great love, 

Sara

*****

Images subject to copyright, Sara Herrell, Herrell House Photo 

submitted and licensed exclusively for coordinating article use by Positively Balanced, LLC.