When Your Labor Experience Leaves You Angry (and Other Birth Trauma Stories)

when your labor experience leaves you angry (and other birth trauma)A friend somehow stumbled on Jack’s birth story a week or so ago and remarked how births are surprisingly traumatic for a lot of mothers, and how we should discuss it here — particularly how to deal when your labor experience leaves you angry. I agree — as I noted in that (extraordinarily long) post, Jack and I both came out fine in the end, but not without a few harrowing first days for me, in large part due to the feeling that the hospital kind of forgot about me. We couldn’t get a doctor to stay in the room for his birth, and then they stuck us in an isolated room and didn’t visit us for hours afterwards. I nearly passed out the first time I tried to go to the bathroom by myself because I didn’t know I was supposed to ring for the nurse; no one even mentioned that I should try to feed the baby every 90 minutes to establish a supply. Heck, I didn’t even speak to my up-to-that-point beloved OB/GYN — or anyone from her office — after the initial phone call of “Yup, sounds like labor, come to the hospital!”

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Maternity Leave — and Staying Connected to the Office


2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to stay connected to the office on maternity leave— links have also been updated below.

There was an interesting story over at Above the Law a few weeks ago, where a securities class-action lawyer in New Jersey was seeking unemployment benefits because she had quit her job after being berated by the managing partner. Why the reprimand? With her supervisor’s approval, she had interrupted a coworker’s maternity leave to seek help with a nationwide class action. (The NJ Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal after the lower court had denied her claim to the benefits.)

So, yay to the boss for protecting that mom’s maternity leave. But it’s an interesting topic with a lot of dimensions. How connected SHOULD you be on your maternity leave, and how should you keep in touch with your office? How available should your employer EXPECT you to be? If there’s a mismatch in expectations, what does it mean for your career prospects? This may be a case where understanding and managing expectations is the key. If your boss expects more than you’re willing to give, what are the best ways to scale back those expectations? If you want to work during your leave and be more involved/available than your employer predicts, should YOU reset your expectations?

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Pumping When You’re Traveling for Work

pumping traveling for workI am far from an expert on traveling for work — particularly while pumping. In fact, I’ve done it exactly twice: once with Jack (for a whirlwind trip to Seattle for a speaking engagement) and once with Harry (for a whirlwind trip to Chicago for an alumni conference). And: what a PITA. Both times, the pump took up almost my entire carry-on bag, and both times I was absolutely wracked with fear, as I boarded the plane, that I had forgotten some essential pump part at home. The first time I flew I was determined to save the breast milk I pumped — liquid gold! — and I traveled with a freezer bag, ice packs, and had all of the relevant TSA and airline printouts with me in my carry-ons. The second time I decided to dump it because, eh, the kid is fine with formula. (Both times I had started the weaning process, so we had already replaced a nursing session with a bottle of formula. I’ll admit that for the second time, I dropped from three feeds a day down to two in anticipation of the travel.)

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Nursing Tuesday: Original Maternity/Nursing Bra

This my favorite DD+ nursing bra to sleep in — I like it so much I may keep buying them after I wean.  It’s not terribly supportive, but it’s all cotton, doesn’t cut or dig anywhere, is functional, and — my favorite part — is high enough that, unlike a lot of other nursing sleep bras, nothing is falling out or totally inappropriate for hanging around the house on a Saturday morning in PJs.  I’m a big fan of the black ones in particular, but I also own it in white.  The sizing can be a bit odd (I wear an L++), but I like the fact that it comes in sizes beyond S/M/L.  Amazon has it for $28-$36.  Bravado! Original Maternity/Nursing Bra


(Pictured: nothing, as per previous requests. Also, here’s our last discussion on favorite underwire nursing bras, as well as the best clothes to wear while pumping.)

The Postpartum Identity Crisis: Feeling Like Yourself After Having a Baby

postpartum identity crisisDid you feel like you went through a postpartum identity crisis as a new mom? How long did it take you to “feel like yourself” after giving birth and becoming a mom? Do you think you ever did, or rather just found a new groove as a mom? Which activities helped you feel like your old self again, and which ones made the difference most obvious?

This is a big topic, but I think it’s a really important one. It’s also one of the things that was most — surprising, I guess? — about the whole experience of becoming a mom. Looking back I think, of COURSE everything is going to change once you have kids — and of course no one can explain it to you or prepare you for it beforehand.

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Pumping Tuesday: Undercover Mama

Undercover MamaI was dubious at first about this nursing tank — it’s, like, strapless?  I didn’t get it — until I purchased it — and now, like many of you noted in our last discussion on the best pumping clothes, it’s one of my favorites.  The tank top hooks to the top of your nursing bra so it comes down with the bra, while keeping your belly and back covered; I also like that I don’t have to deal with another set of straps on top of my bra straps, or a shelf bra within the tank.  It can be worn with any nursing bra, and really is very comfortable.  It comes in a ton of varieties —  zillions of colors (who knew?) in sizes XS-XXXL, versions with lace at the bottom (that’s a no for me, but you do you), and if you want a bit of support, a shapewear version.  (I actually have the shapewear version — it takes a bit of shimmying into the first few times, but it probably is my favorite among my nursing tanks.)  It’s priced $17.99-$35 at Amazon. Nursing Tank By Undercover Mama