Were You Prepared for the Changes a New Mom’s Brain Undergoes?

mom brainWe recently came across the story, “Motherhood brings the most dramatic brain changes of a woman’s life — So why does prenatal care ignore the topic altogether?” in The Boston Globe Magazine. We made a note to link to it in this week’s News Roundup but we also thought it was worth its own post. The writer, Chelsea Conaboy, shares her own experience with around-the-clock anxiety as a new mom and asks, “Shouldn’t we be better preparing mothers about well-documented brain changes they could expect, before baby is born?” The brain changes that moms undergo have surprised researchers with their magnitude, and studies haven’t found comparable developments in fathers’ brains. (Here’s another little-known occurrence: Did you know that DNA from your baby’s cells can transfer to your own body? The fetal material can get into your bloodstream and enter your organs, bringing both positive and negative effects. That sounds a bit creepy, doesn’t it?)

Several experts Conaboy interviewed don’t think it’s wise to make pregnant women aware of the significant ways their brains will change as they become mothers, surprisingly — or perhaps not so surprisingly, considering that the health of mothers isn’t always prioritized when compared to their babies’ well-being and that moms-to-be aren’t always educated about the changes their bodies can go through, from childbirth injuries to diastasis recti. (In fact, infant mortality in the U.S. is at its lowest ever, while maternal mortality is “by many measures, the worst in the developed world” [source].)

So let’s have a discussion today: Were you prepared for the emotional and cognitive changes you underwent during pregnancy and the postpartum period? Did you experience anxiety and/or depression after having a baby and find yourself, say, compelled to keep checking at night that your baby was breathing? Did you encounter “pregnancy brain” or “mom brain”? (Eight years after having my son, I feel like “mom brain” is here to stay. Sigh.) Did you feel like your brain quickly adapted to the challenges of bonding with and taking care of a baby? What did you wish you had known about these things before becoming a mom? Do you wish these huge neurological changes were more commonly known and accepted as fact — or do you think that would make things harder for working mothers and working women who want to get pregnant?

Note: The Boston Globe appears to only let non-subscribers access an article more than once without blocking access (and using Incognito Mode doesn’t work).  

[Read more…]

Not Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

not returning after maternity leaveHave you ever considered not returning to work after maternity leave, either so you can stay home with your little(s) for a while, or get a new job with better hours or logistics (like an easier commute)? We’ve talked about how to resign gracefully in general, offered SAHM career tips, as well as pondered how to negotiate maternity leave ahead of time — but not specifically about quitting right after maternity leave. How can you quit without burning bridges or cheating your own family out of maternity leave benefits? Reader M asks: wondering about not returning after maternity leave - image of a pregnant mother

I have a question about potentially not returning to work post-maternity leave. I have been thinking about transitioning to another law firm that is much, much closer to home and that has significantly less travel (I have an hour commute each way and will have two children under the age of 15 months once this one is born). The other firm is open to my coming on board when I’m done with maternity leave. My question is when would you tell your current workplace that you are moving on? We had an associate come back from a very extended leave and quit her first week back and it left a bad taste in the partner’s mouths. I don’t want to burn bridges, but I also don’t want to hurt my benefits while on leave (I’m in California and will be receiving a mixture of disability pay and Family Bonding pay — my firm does not offer any paid maternity leave). When would you advise giving notice?

Oooof. Tough question, and I can’t wait to hear what readers say. Because every company’s policy is different, as are the state laws surrounding disability and maternity leave, it’s kind of difficult to say in general — but these would be my considerations:

[Read more…]

What’s YOUR Pumping Routine?

So here’s a weird question but one I think a lot of us will identify with: what’s your pumping routine? Every mom who gets stuck pumping at work ends up with a pumping routine for breast milk — tea you drink, family photos you review, a show you binge watch… For example, as guest poster Emily noted in her Spectra pump review, she had a very specific pumping routine for breast milk while she was at work:pumping routine for breast milk - image if a woman on her phone

Drink a cup of Mothers’ Milk tea, apply warm TheraPearls to encourage letdown, look at pictures of my daughter, listen to the playlist I played in the hospital with her, massage while pumping, hand-express after pumping.

So let’s hear it, ladies — what IS (or was) your pumping routine for breast milk? Did you have something detailed like Emily, or did it basically consist of “pump while scrolling through Facebook”? (If you’re more than 5 years away from it now, do you still remember it?)

If you’re still working out your pumping routine for breast milk, or you’ve been getting bored by just staring at your phone, here are some suggestions:

[Read more…]

A Working Mom’s Spectra S1 Breast Pump Review

spectra reviewIt can be tough to choose a breast pump when you’ve never used one before, so it really helps to get input directly from other moms — and that’s why we’re bringing you this Spectra review, courtesy of CorporetteMoms reader Emily. We’re so glad she volunteered to share her experience with other readers!

Features of the Spectra S1 Breast Pump include:

  • Hospital performance
  • Adjustable suction and cycling in letdown and expression mode
  • Includes rechargeable battery, timer, and nightlight
  • Only weighs 4 lbs.

The Spectra S1 pump is available at Amazon ($189.99). This post contains affiliate links and CorporetteMoms may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!

When we shared Reader R’s review of the Medela Sonata recently, Emily decided to contribute her own pump review and emailed us to say:

I wanted to offer to write a review of the Spectra S1 breast pump I just ordered, because so many readers seemed to enjoy the recent review of the Medela Symphony. (I know I did.) I just ordered the pump, paid out of my own pocket, because I wasn’t happy with my current pump. … I turn to crowd sourcing (including CorporetteMoms) when I need a new product, and wanted to pay it back.

Thank you so much, Emily, for sharing your Spectra S1 breast pump review!

Emily’s Spectra Review

Short and sweet: This pump promises a Hilton on the moon and delivers. Portable, very quiet, comfortable, and reasonably priced. I doubled the amount of milk I pumped in one week of use. If you want to know more, here’s the full story:

[Read more…]

Combination Feeding Tips: How to Feed Your Baby Both Breastmilk and Formula

combination feeding tips and tricks - how to feed your baby both breastmilk and formulaCombination feeding: A lot of moms do it, but for some reason there isn’t much advice out there for the mothers who feed their babies both breastmilk and formula (aka combo feeding, supplementation, and partial weaning). We’ve talked a lot about nursing and pumping, including nursing clothes for working moms and tips for pumping at the office, and when we recently asked what other kinds of feeding topics readers would like to see, the reader/commenter known as CPA Lady offered to write a post on combination feeding. We’re so glad we can share her experiences and advice! In this guest post, she explains her initial plans for breastfeeding and formula feeding, her decision to try combo feeding, details about her daughter’s feedings from birth to six months, and more. Thank you, CPA Lady! — Kate

Picture credit: CPA Lady. AWWWWW.

Background Info: When I First Considered Formula Feeding

I began maternity leave with my first (and only) child with the idea that I would give nursing a try, but I planned to wean entirely to formula by the time I returned to work at 12 weeks. I did not even consider combo feeding as a possibility, since all the literature I read had warnings that if you began supplementing, your supply would dry up. So I actually went into using formula expecting to exclusively formula feed. I found the website Fearless Formula Feeder helpful in figuring out how to navigate the world of formula.

Once I decided to try to combo feed, I flew by the seat of my pants, guided by absolutely nothing, because there was no real guidance that I could find. There were two sort-of-relevant pages in the 700-page What to Expect: The First Year (affiliate link) that I read over and over, desperate for any nugget of useful information. Most of what I found on the internet had the tone of “you should just try harder to breastfeed.” How helpful. So I ended up making it up as I went along.

[Read more…]

How to Prepare at Work—For Maternity Leave

How to Prepare at Work for Maternity Leave | maternity leave preparationWhat’s your best advice for how to prepare at work for maternity leave? What did you do — and how soon did you start your maternity leave preparation? (37 weeks? 39 weeks?) When did you hand off projects? For those of you who had your baby at 42 weeks, how did that affect the hand-off? For those of you who had your baby earlier than expected, how did that affect things?

Something you may or may not realize is that as you get closer to your due date, not only will you be more physically exhausted from carrying around your big belly, but your doctor may also want to see you very frequently, putting even more pressure on your schedule. (This is especially true if you’re older — for my second pregnancy, because I was over 34 when H was born, they wanted to see me once a week from week 32 onward.)

For my $.02, I would suggest starting a few things pretty early, maybe around 30-32 weeks:

[Read more…]