Perinatal Wellbeing - The Podcast about Prenatal, Pregnancy & Postpartum Health

Jodi’s Birth Stories part 2

February 16, 2022 Christine Cunningham Season 1 Episode 6
Perinatal Wellbeing - The Podcast about Prenatal, Pregnancy & Postpartum Health
Jodi’s Birth Stories part 2
Show Notes Transcript

Content Warning: Intrusive thoughts, anxiety and challenges with nursing.

Hello and welcome to Perinatal Wellbeing episode #6 today is part 2 of my conversation with Dr. Jodi Pawluski. Jodi is a researcher, neuroscientist, therapist, podcaster, and parent! Jodi is from Canada and currently lives in France with her partner and 2 kids. Jodi researches the Parental brain and you can learn all about it on her website and on her podcast, Mommy Brain Revisited. Jodi is also a perinatal mental health therapist. In this episode, Jodi shares her story of her delivery with her 2nd child and her experience with nursing him, in a different country than her first. We also talk about the neuroscience of anxiety and the biology of nursing. And because we had so much to talk about you get to hear Jodi’s story in 2 parts! Please see last week’s show for part 1.  

You can find Jodi at and her podcast Mommy Brain Revisited is on most major platforms.

Date: February 16, 2022

The Perinatal Wellbeing Podcast


Episode Title: Jodi’s Birth Stories part 2

Content Warning: Intrusive thoughts, anxiety and challenges with nursing.

Welcome to the Perinatal wellbeing podcast. I'm Christine, your host and certified perinatal mental health professional. This podcast is all about authentic conversations. We want to open up the discussions around perinatal health and wellbeing from mood and anxiety disorders, to breastfeeding, to grief and loss in the prenatal period and everything in this.

While, this is not therapy or medical advice. It is the place where we are going to continue to open up the discussion around all things, perinatal, mental, physical, emotional, and sexual health to help reduce stigma and break down these barriers to support. I acknowledge that many indigenous nations have longstanding relationships, both historic and modern with the territories upon which perinatal wellbeing Ontario is located today.

This area is home to many indigenous peoples from across turtle island. I am proud to acknowledge that there are 46 treaties and other agreements that cover the territory now called Ontario. I acknowledge that I am a settler on these lands and it is on these ancestral and treaty lands that I live, learn and work.

Hello, and welcome to peri natal wellbeing. Episode number six, today is part two of my conversation with Dr. Jody Pawluski. Jody is a researcher neuroscientist therapist, podcaster, and parent. Jodie is from Canada and currently lives in France with her partner and two kids. Jodie researches the parental brain, and you can learn all about it on her website and on her podcast.

Mommy brain revisited. Jodie is also a perinatal mental health therapist. In this episode, Jodie shares her story of her delivery with her second child and her experiences with nursing him in a different country than the first delivery. We also talk about the neuroscience of anxiety and the biology of nursing, and because we had so much to talk about, you get to hear Jodie story in two parts.

Please see the last week show for. You can find Jody at www dot Jodi pawluski dot com, J O D I P a w L U S K and her podcast, mommy brain revisited is on most major platforms. In this episode. We do talk about intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and challenges with nursing. So you're in a small town. So you tell us, you know, what was that experience like for you?

Uh, I think the change of the culture was kind of nice for me because I could speak English again and it was kinda neighborhoody. And so I was walking with Zoe. I still was, uh, I had a student in another lens. So at that actually, when we landed in Ohio, like a couple of days later, I'm like, I'm getting an iPhone.

And it was like the first time I got an iPhone. I mean, this is 2000. And 11. Yeah. Okay. 2012, it was 2012. So then I could like walk with Zoe, check my emails, do some stuff. So we had this whole nice routine. Everything was quite nice. Uh, so that was really good. We're quite content and happy then it was around October.

So she's about eight months where like, I think we're ready to just try for another one. Like, why not great, like, duh. Uh, so then, and I'm still with breastfeeding, whatever, but she was a good, she was a good baby. We were headed. We were happy. Let's say so then we try for another one. With the anticipation that it will take months, of course.

Cause you never know, this can take some time. Uh, then I ended up being pregnant right away. Uh, but not knowing it or the pregnancy test I had my days mixed up. And so I took a test. I felt so bad and I took a test and it was said I'm not pregnant. And I was like, oh, then I was literally like on the floor, like I have to go to the doctor and probably dying because I was so exhausted and depleted, like, I was just like, this is so rough.

Then I took another test and I found out I was pregnant. Oh, wow. You with your first, uh, just like minor nausea and like food aversions. Like it didn't want to eat meat. Hot were gross. Like some stuff like that. Yeah. And then I was pregnant with my second and he, um, Yeah. Once we got that sorted out, then I was on, I think, some vitamin supplements, like for a Dick's or something.

And then I was doing a bit better. Yeah. Yeah. So, but now I'm in Ohio. So I need to search again for my health care people. We're in a very small town. So what do we do? There's one big clinic in town. There's like gynecologist clinic. And then there's two midwives that actually can birth in the hospital in town.

Then there's a whole bunch of midwives that do home births. And so then it became like, why do I want, and I ended up going, because I wanted like before I wanted midwives who could also work in the hospital and who's tied with a gynecologist that was very important to me. And so I ended up then going with the midwives that they birthed in like eco birth with them in hospital only, not at home.

So I went with that team and it was two midwives and a gynecology. Hmm. So you'd get one of them. So I did some shopping around cause I did visit the other clinic, which it wasn't the place for me. So again, I did my shopping around, but this time in English. Yeah. Yeah. Which I'm sure with felt better, like just knowing you could communicate just that much better and clearer and yeah.

Yeah. So that was a big difference. Um, and so that was nice, but then we were shocked with the cost of healthcare in America. And so that was something we weren't aware of. So Belgium, yeah. Belgium is socialist. And so for example, like it to, to get a blood test during pregnancy done, it was like, I think we paid eight euros, which is probably 10, $11.

And then when we were in the states, we got the bill, we had 90% medical coverage through work. Uh, my husband was a professor at a university there. Uh, so we had this and I was still doing research at the time, but we pay we're paying like $300 for one. And so then, yeah, so then we were thought this is crazy.

Plus we do use this similar type of testing in the lab. Um, so we like hoot. Somebody is making some big money here. I dunno. Yeah. Uh, so then I ended up talking to the midwife about different tests to do or not to do like the glucose tolerance tests, because I don't want to have to pay for it. I didn't like it isn't necessarily.

What does she think? Because previously I wasn't, uh, I didn't have gestational diabetes, so I, I did a bit more discussion on what we're going to do or not do in terms of testing based on my previous birth. Um, and that sounds like it would have been so helpful like that you were able to do that and not just thinking, oh, I have to do this because they say I have to do it.

Yeah. Right. And then also how the cost is such of course it's such a big influence. So I can imagine people in the states that, of course, I'm just guessing I don't live in the states, but that don't get probably barely any prenatal care because it's so expensive. Yeah. I, I mean, in certain states, prenatal care is free.

I do know this, but then you end up with people who have multiple challenges, health challenges, because they haven't been before. Right. Very often. Um, yeah. I mean it, yeah, it was a, quite a different world for us in that regard. And so we just. And I mean, we also come from a place of privilege. Uh, and so we, you know, and we felt that we could have these discussions and I was prepared to have the discussions.

I could understand them. I knew the research behind it. I knew it was okay to say, I'm going to take some time and think about that. And if they didn't like that, then I was also going to find somebody else. Maybe it's my personality, but no, but I also really important. That's great. Yeah. It's, it is important.

And I just wish that more people knew that they could do that. Yeah. You need to that to some degree you can shop around a little bit, um, or you can also have a conversation with the person to be like, can you please clarify? Here's my list of questions I wrote down to come in with and I would like your time to go through them.

Like you need to feel heard by your healthcare provider. Um, Yeah, so we had a good, I had a good team there. One thing that did happen while I was there is that they, we were in kind of a anti-vax zone. Um, and so there was whooping cough going around and an adult. Yeah. And an adult whooping cough is very much like a cold, but if an infant gets it regardless of breastfeeding or not, or anything, they can die.

Yes. But this came up in my third trimester. My midwife informed me that I should probably get vaccinated. I was vaccinated. Of course, when I was younger against this, like we usually are for doing the vacs typical vaccinations, but that can wear off. And so she recommended I get another one. And at that point I said, I wanted to think about it because I wanted to just go back to the literature a bit, because, you know, when you.

Influence or affect your immune system during pregnancy? I wanted to make sure that this was a good decision. So we took a day or two on that front. Um, and I ended up getting vaccinated for sure. Cause that was the safer option at this point, but it did take time to think about it and discuss it. And I think that that's fair.

Of course, it's not just feeling pressure to say yes, in that moment to whatever medical procedure they're suggesting. Right. Even if you do go with it and get it done great. But if you're able to take that time to think about it and say, okay, does this align with our values? Like, does this feel okay to us?

Um, you know, I think that is so important and can feel empowering. Yes. Yeah, definitely. So then, and I should also mention, I did stop what, the beginning of my second trimester, I stopped breastfeeding my first. Yeah. And I also was traveling a bit from work at that time. It was really hard for me to do that, but she wasn't interrupting.

Like she was easy. In fact for her, like she can come on and eat and she's like, yeah, whatever I'm done with you. And I'm like, oh, what are you calling me? Uh, Mr. Really like, had been phasing it out naturally herself. So, um, yeah. Plus for me, I felt like it was taking a bit more of a toll on me, uh, fits pregnant and yeah.

And working and traveling and nursing and. Yeah, it was anyway. So that was it. Fortunately, that went rather smoothly. So she never asked for it again, she couldn't care less. It was really, it was a bit disappointing after all the pain and agony and getting it going and then she's all like, we're done.

Thanks. Bye bye. Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah. That's hard on you. Yeah, but it was fine. I think it's through all of this. I should say. I'm fortunate to have people around me, even through like, at the time I was just on Facebook with friends and family, but we did a lot of like, chatting about things or just laughing about things, especially in our house.

We still laugh about a lot of things. Like yeah. Be very healing. Yeah, for sure. And did you get, you know, did you feel like any of these things, you know, especially the trouble with breastfeeding, your daughter being in the intensive care unit. Do you feel like you kind of carried some wounds with you from that?

Like, did you go to, did you have any therapy around kind of dealing with all that stuff that you went through? Yeah, that's a good question. I didn't in fact have therapy around that. I, I think, I feel like a lot of it was a blur and we were changing like countries and things like this. Uh, we talked about it a lot.

I also think I used it as a. An awareness for the second time around what could happen. Um, we also, uh, looking back, like we highlighted some funny things, like I would be like, oh, look, get this, this sausages, like, you know, the meal thing I told you I'll do like something. So like bizarre. And so you had to like, uh, highlighted these happy moments or, or we made light of things.

So I think, and I also grew up with a very positive, positive parents and my mom is very positive. And so then I think that that helped to turn things into, uh, reframe things, reframe the experience. And so that was also important. Got it. Yeah. Which can be so helpful in even just processing the story and able to pull out those funny moments or those positive moments, or, you know, even like feeling so connected, you know, with your partner and, um, you know, laughing at this hostage.

Yeah. The coffee, like who is she offering me coffee. Yeah. I'm going to be up all night. Baby's going to be up all night, looking back. It was also helpful to have those people around me. And also she had people I could talk to about my struggles, uh, who were, you know, and also who prioritize my sleep. So it was very much like go to bed.

Like my mom was like, give her a bottle and go to bed. And I was like, whoa. But I of like, I should pump, she's like go to bed now. And so, and it was kind of helpful just to have that there too. Um, yeah. And that's not to be. Feeling so pressured to do things a certain way, but just to actually survive. And that's it.

Yeah. Just being able to kind of take care of everyone's wellbeing. Yes, of course. We want to take care of baby because you know, they're new and they're a hundred percent dependent and it's important to be able to take care of ourselves or have people around us that can help take care of us too, so that we can also be the best parent we can be and be the best version of ourselves as well.

Yeah. So I think carrying that forward, that experience to the second one, I was really, again, shopped around for my people, as I said, but then also knew how things could go and that we did it. And so we'll just see how it goes the second time and then it went differently. Okay. Okay. And did it, was it, um, Differently good or differently?

Not so good. Good end. It was just different. I would say just differently. Good. In different ways. Uh, again, baby, didn't want to come out. So again, I had the like scheduled induction, which this time I had to, I went on the date. I didn't have any water breaking. Um, I was, when I didn't have contractions really beforehand, once I went into the doctor or I had my appointment and wet and I tried all my food things as well, just so you know, assess hot wings, the hottest wings in town.

Like we tried, I tried it all. Um, I walked like four miles. I tried at all. Uh, so we get into the hospital. My mom had flown to take care of my daughter, which was like the first time we left her with someone besides us alone, which was a big thing. And then we ended up. When the hospital, I was like, please stop.

Start me on the lowest drip again, like here we go, Pitocin my friend. Uh, and I was already four centimeters dilated before I started. So that was a win that's great. Yeah. And then we started at the drip and then the contractions came full on in the front, super intense, like really intense. Uh, and then my midwife told me that I tested positive for opioids.

Oh boy. Yeah. Right. That the social workers were going to come and that, uh, and I was just like, hold on a second, wait till my contractions over so I can process. Yeah. Yeah. And then they're going to have to, they're going to probably look at checkout, baby, check you out. She said the sample for more testing, that's more specific to.

Like illegal substances because you knew you weren't taking opioids. Yeah. So just to clarify, wasn't taking any kind of legal or illegal opioids as drugs of any kind. Uh, but I, we found out, we figured it out later. I did have a poppy seed roll from a bakery in town. And so that did it. Um, but it was terrifying to think now in a country where we're both not citizens, that the social worker will come in and in America.

So that was really scary. Like you can, then you can deal with it cause you have the contractions coming quite intense, right? Yeah. Priority. Yeah. So then I, he was out in three hours. I actually, but in the end I was like, I don't think I can do it in my midwife's like, well, no one else is going to, I was like, well, that those are words of encouragement thing.

Um, I had one trick. The nurse told me during that time, because if you. Uh, without epidural, often you vocalize quite loudly. I don't know what this happened. So you're like the loudest person on the ward. Um, and I had a nurse, he was like, just blow it out instead of like own it out. So that was really helpful.

This whole like, flowing was very, very helpful. So, uh, yeah. So, yeah, so I got, he came out, so that was great. We didn't know what we were having either time, which was also fun. That's fun. Uh, yeah. And then how was he health wise? When he came out, he was smaller than my daughter. Everything was fine with him, but he had to also get antibiotics or something because I tested with strep B the first time there was this whole procedure, what they do, blah, blah, blah.

But everything was fine. He was with us in the room. Um, Yeah, it w it w it, that part was okay, except that then, then we had the drug issue to contend with, so that the gynecologist, when I told her about the poppy seeds, she's like, oh, that would do it. And so she put it in my chart, but she didn't put it in his, my son's chart.

So then the pediatrician came in, he was like, I'm not going to judge you, but it says here that you you're positive for drugs. And so we're just going to have to do some observation for two days. You have to stay one day longer and all these things. So. In the end, everything was fine, but it saved. That was like, that's scary.

It's scary. Absolutely. Absolutely. When you think, um, and then imagine too of how that affects people from reporting any substance use at all, you know, to get help, um, you know, or even reporting things of when they're struggling with their mental health after that, because we're so scared. We don't know.

Are you going to take my baby away because I have these weird intrusive thoughts or I know trickles down. Right. It's huge. And if people aren't aware, like the poppy seed bagel thing, I Googled it and it exists. But yes, in fact, it didn't seem to convince the pediatrician. And I was like, no, but really it was a poppy seed roll, like really?

And he's all like, and I'm like, no, come on. Did they test baby? I don't remember what they did. In fact, they think they observed him for withdrawal symptoms. Right. And I took another test from. Oh like a urine sample. I'm pretty sure a blood test must've been ruined simple and cause yeah, I actually don't remember how did that ended except for, we did go home after two days and everything.

We got the all clear. Okay. Yeah. And how, if I can ask how much did that all cost? Oh yeah, that said, that was like, and we had coverage, like a lot of coverage and I have 90%, we didn't have an anesthesiologist with the midwife present, but also the gynecologist, just because the midwife had to work under supervision, she was still training and the other midwife was on vacation.

So we got like whatever. So we weren't charged for that. From what I know, we paid $2,000 for two nights in hospital and that was just for baby. And Zoe was a week. My daughter was a week in hospital in Belgium and we paid like 200 and something euros. Wow. I mean you pay differences in taxes. Let's face it, but this is expensive healthcare.

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that's without a NICU stay, for example, you know, if you had, or if you had a surgical birth, you know yeah. Or any other intervention on top of that? Absolutely. I also, I was just thinking before I continue, is that there's one thing I should say is. Yeah. In my end of grad school, I did have interest of thoughts quite extensively.

And so I had to manage those with the help of going to a psychologist and doing other things. And I knew that that could come back with parenthood. And so I asked, so by the time I was pregnant and I felt I had a very good management over things and what I could do to maintain that. But I mean, I'm not saying we didn't have all sorts of crazy thoughts coming through with each of the babies which happened.

And my husband too. And just like, this is important to realize that it's very normal to think all sorts of things when your baby comes. I think that, yeah, and I. Sorry. I was going to say, I always relate it to like what I say and what I talked about in the podcast episode about intrusive thoughts is that the anxiety is alerting us to danger in our environment.

Right. And, and saying like, okay, this could be dangerous for baby. Right. And so I kind of like look at it and I, I try to explain it to people on that, you know, nervous system basis that we're like wired to protect our babies and to be vigilant about the environment, because at this stage, you know, when they're newborns.

Yeah, we're doing everything right. And so that it is quite normal to say like, or to think to have these intrusive thoughts, like, oh, I could drop the baby down the stairs because the anxiety is telling us, be careful, be careful like high alert. You know, I'm just wondering from like that neuroscience perspective, is that how you would see it?

Yeah. I mean, I think the anxiety is healthy and normal thing to have. Right. And those interests of thoughts, those like sorting out the environment. And like you said, like you want to make sure babies survive. So you're going to think of all the scenarios that could be dangerous, for example. Um, so this is like normal, but when it starts to become obsessive or become consuming, this is not healthy.

And so that's, I mean, I like to think of it more so now as like the prefrontal cortex and it's just an area of your brain that makes decisions is not quite working. Well against the amygdala, which is telling you like, oh my gosh, like all this stuff's going on. I mean, in a simplified version, because of course there's other areas of the brain involved, but yeah, so there is, you know, anxiety, these emotions like emotions are emotions.

You're allowed to have a range of them. I can definitely, um, tell you as a parent that I would happily rent my children out periodically or give them away for free. Um, uh, yeah. Uh, yeah, anything, anything, uh, but you know, we joke about this, but I think it do this. And then I start to realize, at least with the thoughts and anxiety, sometimes I like to think about what is it telling you?

Like, what do you need to do? And so it's telling you, maybe you need more sleep. Maybe you need. Um, less screen time, like what are some things that help you feel calm and, and try to tap into those a bit more and also know that they're normal. So, yeah, they're, they're normal to have, but they're not normal to consume you.

So that's when it's not healthy. Um, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Definitely seek support and talk to people about it. Because I had a friend before I had kids she's I remember her telling me she had just one at the time and she was like, oh, you'll probably think of a thousand ways your kid will like die every day.

And I was like, what? Yeah. Like that sounds, but they're actually stuck with me because then it was she's like, and it's normal. It's just normal. And then you're like, oh, okay. So, but I think that's a good way to, to think about it as these things are normal and just let them go. Uh, as much as you can. And if you can't, I mean, talk about it, talk to someone, talk to professional and there's, it's treatable.

This is, there's so many different ways to help, uh, to modify how you're feeling. So that's really important. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. How did feeding go and like coming to that? So I remember so feeding was, I was quite, uh, anxious, I would say about it, about it going well, of course, from the last time.

So I had brought in my pump because I had purchased a pump for my first because I needed to pump to increase supply. So I've brought the pump to the hospital with me. I remember this now, uh, just to like in case we needed. Get things going and get my flat nipples out. Not that I need everybody to know that, but apparently you have different shapes and they tell you and they look at them.

Um, uh, yeah, so, but then, yeah, so I had that, I was prepared for that. He, we did this skin to skin. He wasn't notching. I was starting to get a bit ramped up about it. My midwife's like, look, 24 hours, 24 hours, then we will be concerned. And I was like, oh, nobody told me that if I would've known beforehand, I obviously nobody knew beforehand.

Cause the nurses were like putting food down her mouth. And I remember also like, you know, at some point understanding they just need a little tiny bit of the first little bit, like they don't need to guzzle 20 mils or anything just that draw. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So this, I didn't know. That's the thing. Right.

And even the fact that with your first, the midwife is literally crying because your daughter wasn't latching. So of course, that's going to tell you the message that, oh my gosh, something's wrong. This is not going well. Right. And then to have someone tell you, no, like slow down it's okay. I felt like I was, had my people on prepared for my birth, but I actually didn't prepare for the after part because I was like, oh, biologically, this should kind of work out.

And then if it doesn't, I'll be fine. And then all of a sudden I'm like, oh, I really wanted that to work out. Or I feel weird about it not working. And I actually, we don't really know. We didn't know about latching head posture. Colostrum. I mean, it was, I think my brother who has had had two kids at the time, he was like the, just need the colostrum just a little bit in your fine.

I mean, having your older brother tell you that your leg wet. Right. So that kind of sticks with you too, because I was lucky to have these positive forces around me being like comment. It's fine. So baby, number two, I was like, well, I'm bringing my pump because last time they didn't know what was going on.

I'm trying to help them figure out how to change the shape. So latching helps. Um, but then yeah, I had this midwife, it's like 24 hours and I was like, oh, okay. Do we have wifi in the room. I'm going to go on pub med and look at the research, um, that did help calm me down. And I don't think I Googled anything.

In fact good for me. Um, her and she was also, again, another force. She was just like this person who was, I feel like made to midwife. She had like placenta earrings and stuff, but you know, like this person who was very much like, boom, this is how it goes. Yeah, you got this. We're fine. Um, yeah. And I ate a lot of sushi.

I will also tell you that. So he did start latching. The breastfeeding seemed to go. Okay. And, but in fact, so we get home. I don't know how, like, you know how it's all a bit of blur. I remember actually checking my email in the hospital cause I was like, yeah, whatever. I had a baby, I'm fine. So what do I need to do?

Work-wise like, how are my students doing what's going on with that paper? So I'm like on email day two, no problem. Um, I just felt like good to go. It was fine. So I was back at it kind of is it research is like this it's a little bit fluid. It's hard to stop and you continue and it's kind of part of your life, right?

Like it's really, and you can also do it solo in your pajamas at home. You can write papers, respond to emails. Like it's a bit different than a structured work. Absolutely. It's back doing that bit. Having a baby. My mom was around my daughter. I will tell you when she met my son the first morning, like when we gave birth at that, I guess that late morning she S he cried and she started to cry and cry and she was 20 months.

She's like, and baby's crying. So she's crying. So there were a lot of conversations about, um, how that's, how he's talking and expressing how he's feeling. And it's okay. If he's crying, we're gonna like help him. So he feels better, but she really like really cried. Like she. Just crying. Yeah. Yeah. Um, but then it was lots of fun having the two of them together, uh, after initially.

Um, but going back to the breastfeeding, so then I'm all like, okay, are they going to produce enough? I have my pump ready. We've got formula ready. We're ready. And like, we got this, we did it before we will survive. Let's see what happens. And then he really like latched a lot and he would scream a lot when he was trying to latch and drink.

And it was like, it was tiring. So sometimes I would pump, give the bottle and my husband would feed. I remember sometimes I would like feed sit down to eat and he would want to eat again. And my husband was like, no, you're eating. Right. Like, I will take him and walk for like 20 minutes, like do whatever, but you have to eat.

And he can't rule our lives right now. Kind of idea. Right. Right. Which one's important. So yeah. Yeah. So we went through this and I don't know, at some point early in the first two weeks, I would say I remembered that I had met a woman at a conference, uh, for pediatrics, a European pediatrics association conference before I had kids and we were chatting, she was also doing research.

She was a nurse, a mom of five. And we were talking, I don't know what we were talking about, how we got on the topic of breastfeeding. And she had said she fed all of hers on one side because I have a preference. Yeah. And so that stuck with me because I know there's nipple preference in animals. Like in kittens, for example, they often will come out latch onto one, and that will be there as for a lot of the time.

This is the idea. Anyway, so I went, so I was like this, it somehow came to mind this one conversation with one person, uh, a few years later when I'm struggling with him and he's feeding better on one side, but not on the other. And then I was like, I'm feeding them on one side. That's it. And so, yeah. And so then it was like, okay, so the other side I'll just pump and store it.

Or what we did is supported into a bottle and fed him, like talk to him up if needed, uh, and gradually reduce the puppy on that side. But I produced, I was also producing so much milk for him, which was totally reversed. And that's why he was sputtering and choking. Like he couldn't latch and drink it all and swallow it.

And so. Yeah, which was like not what I had anticipated. So, so I fed him on one side until almost two years. Wow. Yet. Wow. And, and physically for you, like comfort level fine. It was actually no problem at all. Uh, I also produced enough to do exclusively. The one side we didn't after the first little bit, we didn't, um, use anything from the freezer or from the second side, I let the second side like, stop.

Like it actually stopped producing. I don't know if it always would do this, but it did in my case. So. Amazing how the human body was really wild. Um, so then I had, of course near a feed, one side was much bigger than the other, uh, especially as he was getting bigger because he's drinking more. So that was, uh, entertaining.

Uh, let's say again, taking, taking what you can make a, you know, laughing about it. And I wasn't like, now I'm like, oh, this would have been such a good post for like Instagram or something, but I wasn't on any of that beforehand. Uh, I don't have any pictures, even you want to see that, but for my own, like, remember how big it was, like one is like watermelon and one is like a peach.

Um, that's how it felt. So I fed him on one side. Uh, yeah, it works like a darn. He didn't always feed every few hours, three hours. Like my daughter was a bit more of that kind of a scheduler. He was get hungry and do the cluster feeding and what have you. Um, but we sorted it. We sometimes did the bottle, like milk and the bottle and I pump, but actually not as things went okay.

A bit more smoothly with him after we sorted out the one side situation. Yeah. But he was an early Waker. So my husband did two hours of walking around the kitchen islands, like every day for months so I could sleep a bit more. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's lovely. What do you think contributed to kind of that settling into the breastfeeding that worked for you and your son?

You know, the second time around, you know, again, I think it came back to. Just having this idea that my body could probably do this and sorted out. And this one person had an experience that was successful with five kids. Biologically. It makes sense. If you go with the theory that it produces what the baby needs, so then why, I mean, okay, let's give it a try.

Also, I'm a little bit of a trial and error type person. So I was really into risk it because I had a backup I had, we could go back to trying to do each side or pumping the other, or we could problem solve. I also had the option. Like there was no discussion with my partner about any of it. I don't remember ever.

Maybe I blocked it out. If we did discuss it, blocked out his opinion, like we're done is what I'm doing. Um, I th I don't think there was any, I didn't have any backlash from anyone. Uh, I was all. Okay, go for it. Not that I had a huge circle of people I was talking to about it, but I don't think, I mean, I was, I was bottle fed baby, and I turned out fine.

Like, do you think that was you even, you know, with your daughter, your first delivery? Yes. You know, we can learn stuff from other people and hear stories and kind of be prepared in that sense, but when we're in it, you know, it's very different when we're actually experiencing it. But what I'm hearing is you were also trusting yourself, trusting yourself to advocate for yourself, you know, to the healthcare providers or finding care healthcare providers that you could feel comfortable with and then trusting yourself, like, okay, if this doesn't work.

I'm I can problem solve. I can go onto the next thing. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I think it was a bit of trusting myself more than a confidence thing. It was more of a trust. Like I can figure this out, biologically something should be clicking. Maybe they are not going to click perfectly for me, but I'm going to go with trying to sort this out.

Um, yeah. And I think that that helped a lot and also just really doing it as a partnership with my partner and having the extra support to, you know, get those extra two hours in the morning to sleep. Right? Like you can't make decisions if you're super tired to have someone like, literally. I would feed, he would get up and change the baby and we'd go back to bed.

So like having, having some of those basics kind of supported, so I could more easily try new new things or experiment a little bit, or have maybe, maybe it was easier to make some decisions to problem solve because I had a little bit more sleep. Someone was making sure I was eating and taking the baby.

So I could do that. Who also cooked as well. Um, you know, stuff like this. Right. So we could, yeah, so that, that helps. I think that really helps to have someone to share the load. Single parenting is like, I mean is a really, really, really challenging thing to do. And so if you can have a support person there who can pick up on some of this stuff, so you can get some basic.

Mostly food. It can make a big difference. And I think it's so important to, like you said, thinking about okay. Planning the birth and finding my people, and then also making sure we put that in place for after birth as well. Right. Having that postpartum plan, that post-birth plan. Right. Of, okay. How am I going to get meals?

Or, you know, how am I going to get sleep and water and all of those things and some kind of break. Yeah. Um, you know, and just even someone to talk to or who can I go to for breastfeeding or lactation advice? Consulting, like maybe looking up some of those things to just at least know what's in your area or what you can access.

So if you do need to reach out, you at least have like a number or a name kind of easily accessible, you know, because you don't want to wait too long, especially with nursing, if something's not going right. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So I, I already, because I was aware that like mental health could be an issue. I knew, I, I knew I could always call, let's say my psychologist, I saw ages ago and she would always try to help me, like I had, you know, but I think when it came to lactation, I was at least the first time totally oblivious.

I didn't think about it. And then the second time was a different experience, but we had done. We had done so much the first time and learnt a lot that the second time we went into it with, with more skill and more awareness. So that was really helpful. Um, yeah, but I, I mean, for us, my grandma always told us that marriage is a partnership.

Like it's a partnership and my grandparents, there was no, like, she does that. He does that. And those are strict rules, uh, and you know, traditional couple kind of thing. Uh, yeah, so that went, that's when a far away for me personally, and that's what we do in parenting is a partnership we're different. And we do it in different ways.

I mean, I said once at a conference, I was like, I really think, you know, the partner, the non birthing parent can do everything that birthing parent can do except for lactate, but they can give book. Absolutely. So I don't think we can change a diaper. There's like, you know, I mean, coming up with a plan that works for your whole household and what have you is important because some people do divide things quite, um, differently based on what they want to do and how they want to do it.

But I think some fundamentals are important. Like getting food, getting sleep, getting time away from baby. Yeah. I did that really early on. I would just like go for a walk and leave them together and come home. It's like, I thought we were supposed to be attracted to the babies, cry biologically, we should want our baby to survive.

And when it cries, we should want to care for it. This is not happening. Yeah. I don't feel attracted to this cry. Yes. So, um, yeah, from our like kind of biological perspective, we learned a few things too, and that was modified, so yeah, it was pretty funny. And so what do you think, you know, is kind of missing from your space in terms of neuroscience research?

Um, I know that you've, you yourself have done a lot of research of course, and there's research out there. And I think there's a lot of research lacking, especially in terms of maternal mental health and female health in general. But what do you want to see in the space, you know, coming in terms of research?

Yeah, I mean, I think in terms of research, well, and I was start first and maybe in terms of education, I feel like it's important to know a lot of different things. And I think that this is where this podcast is filling some gaps and hearing more stories about people's experiences. Uh, and also like we, unfortunately we're not educating females about their bodies, how it works.

What to do, what's normal. Like we don't have kind of this, like the baby doesn't have to lactate for 24 hours. I mean, maybe that's taught in a course now. Um, but there's a lot of little tidbits of information that could be helpful in this, this transition, just to know what your body can and can't do. And maybe it's just not compiled and it's not focused.

So, but I think that there's a huge part of education that's lacking around this. Uh, well, the, the biology of pregnancy birth and postpartum, so that's number one. But when we talk about the brain for me, I feel like there's so many gaps in the literature. I mean, we know quite a bit from our animal research, which can be more invasive in looking at the brain and different, you know, mechanisms and what have you.

And there's a lot of conserve. Brain, um, mechanisms that we also see in all mammals, for example. So we have kind of an understanding, but we actually don't have a very good understanding of the brain when during pregnancy, for example, not even an animal models, right. Um, we don't really study that so much because often the brain has been studied in relation to maternal caregiving behaviors and more now with partners or fathers, but traditionally in it's been maternal care because a lot of mammalian species, primary care is by the, the mother or the female.

Um, and the, or the birthing parents essentially. So, so we know a lot of about this in the brain, how the brain changes with this, but it's usually been around this behavior and not necessarily birth, like what happens in birth. I mean to your brain, to your physiology? I don't know. I mean, there's some research on this, of course, but the brain part, I don't know.

Uh, and then pregnancy, like what's going on in pregnancy, how to brain changes in pregnancy, how are they linked to hormone levels? How are they linked to fetal brain development? How are they linked to mental health? I mean, there's a lot of questions there. So in fact, I think we just don't even know then all the normative changes in the brain that happened in a healthy pregnancy birth and postpartum and even longer, um, post, you know, post-postpartum, uh, I think there's a lots of questions to be answered still just about the basic biology and basic neurophysiology, uh, and the changes in the brain during those times, and then how they link to.

Mental health, for example. So it's growing the fields growing, but I think that that for me, on a professional level, that's something that's really lacking. And I think it's because maybe we focus a lot on the offspring development and not so much on the parents. And also, I mean, we're just supposed to be happy when we're pregnant anyway, aren't we and have a baby.

I mean, just to be sarcastic, but that's our role as females in the world is to produce. And it's just a thing we go through. I don't know. I don't know what the perspective is, but I do know. I mean, I always love some of my friends and colleagues in this research space because some of them don't have kids.

Some of them are men, some of them who knows whatever, all different, uh, people, they don't have to be a parent to love pregnancy. And really some of them are so enthusiastic about how cool it is. The. Pregnancy from a biological perspective. Like, it's actually pretty amazing what the bodies it's incredible.

Like your heart changes in size and like your brain's changing, but like there's the placenta, like it's actually quite phenomenal what goes on in a female body. And I think that enthusiasm, fortunately, I get surrounded by it periodically, but that if it could be carried forward, uh, into educational spaces around perinatal health, that would be lovely just to be like, this is cool people.

This is what happens. That's amazing. Absolutely. And I think you're right. Like, it is interesting that there's so much more focus on the physiological side and like the physical side, I think. Right. Versus like, like you said, what are those changes in the brain that are happening during pregnancy? Right.

Hormone level. And even like, if we think of again, how are we preparing mentally? Like for the fact that while we're carrying this baby, we are caring for it. Like, I would think that there's because of course we experienced people experience anxiety during pregnancy. Right. Of course. And all those thoughts can come and even without heightened anxiety, but just those kind of anxious or intrusive thoughts, like, you know, is my baby going to die in delivery or like, is something gonna happen like inside?

And I don't have control and I can't see the baby. And so I think it would be interesting and important to have more research on how is the brain changing and affected and, you know, during pregnancy a question about the biology of things. Because again, I am so excited and like so interested in the neuroscience and the biology piece, but I know just from my experience of.

Challenges with breastfeeding and feeling like, okay, I am female. So I know that biologically I'm wired. And I meant to feed my child with breast milk, for example, but it's not working. So that was hard for me to rectify because I'm like, so then why can't I do it? Like, or why don't I have enough for my son when I know my body everyone's telling me my body support is going to produce enough for this baby.

Yeah. So this is where I've thought a lot about this idea recently, because if you look back, in fact, not every female puberty did lactate, that's why they were wet nurses. That's why there are babies that died. That's right. So, okay. In the textbook, these parts are there and they're supposed to do these things, but I think that it, I mean, it doesn't always happen that way for everybody.

Biologically and maybe for various reasons, for genetics, for whatever reasons, but back in the day, you know, not every birthing person breastfed their baby, for sure not. It was actually out of fashion, uh, in certain places in certain times. And also if you couldn't, you would find somebody else to do it because there was often other people around.

Or worst case scenario, baby doesn't survive. Right, right, right. And so that's, you know, and then I try to remember that I'm like, okay, no, that's there. Those things exist for a reason because there are other people in the world that have not been able to breastfeed. So, you know, trying to remind myself to keep that at the forefront.

But I think that is important to remember, because again, sometimes, like I understand on that biological level, it being in a female body, technically I should be able to produce milk, but like. When I'm pumping and there's like, literally two drops in the bottle after half an hour, something's not working, you know, it's like, yeah, what medication I take and how much I hope and how much I pumped.

There's no more. Yeah. And I, yeah. And I think that's important to remember that there is like a whole range of our, our, our bodies are different. There's a whole range of abilities. Right. So, okay. From, I mean, my husband likes to talk about evolutionary perspective. I'm not a big evolutionary person, but whatever, but he's like, from that perspective, of course we're mammals.

So we should be feeding our, you know, we should survive vaginal birth feed the baby. Like this makes sense, right. If we're to keep our species surviving and our genes going to the next generation, what have you. But I also think, I mean, we've modified. We've also adopted, let's say not modified, but we adapt also to situations.

So of course, if someone can breastfeed your baby and you can't, then that makes sense that baby still wants to buy. I mean, the birthing part, people died in childbirth back in the day because they didn't know how to do C-sections, but then C-sections have been around for quite some time. I don't know the history of them.

So, yeah. So I think that there there's always been a range or a diversity in what the female body can do. And if you look at the average, that's what we're going on. Often when we talk about, especially in the space of becoming a mother, but I also think on top of that, we actually talk, don't talk necessarily about the whole average.

We talk about a very, uh, beautified, idealistic idea around motherhood, glorified idea around mother. Which is lovely, but I think we also have to acknowledge that, you know, parenthood is, is diverse. People do it different ways with different resources, all different ways can be acceptable and you can still be a good parent in many different ways, shapes and forms.

Right. So, yeah, but it's hard, especially in the space of motherhood and mothering that that's always, it's often just one thing. One, look, one glorified ideal. That's impossible to attain it. I mean, for most people for probably everybody. Yeah. And I guess like, you're right. Like just even reframing it as like, we all have different abilities because I would say that.

Every other aspect of my life or my, you know, my brain having ADHD, you can have different abilities than other people and different strengths, but for some reason it was difficult to apply that to the notion of breastfeeding and feeding my kid because biologically that's what I'm supposed to do because he's this helpless little being, but then I was like, but there's formula.

So he survived, you know, thank goodness. Right. Uh, yeah. So I think it's important just to like, know that we can talk about that in this space, that there can be different abilities and any biological function. I'm just working in this out of my head, but any biological function can not function very well.

You know, like thankfully. Yeah, like people's hearts can not work properly or our lungs, or we can get different diseases or so why not the same with that function? That physical function of breath. Yeah. Yeah. But I think because we, we perceive it as the only natural way to feed your child. Um, then it's hard because your body could fail you then essentially.

So it's a hard one, the breastfeeding guilt. It's a big one. Cause I think those history around it there's yeah, there's a lot of pressure socio-cultural stuff. And I think we have to remind each other that. Yeah, it's super great to be able to do that. Also society is failing a lot of moms because they push the breastfeeding and then there's no resources.

I mean, I was in the biggest maternity hospital, one of the biggest and Belgium and my lactation consultant person was. Didn't help at all. But last Jean, we were doing all this stuff and it took my midwife, like who just could put the two of us together, but you don't always have people who can do that.

Um, and I mean, I'm sure she, it didn't work for all her people either, right? I mean, it's not always a hundred percent guarantee, but we don't have often the support and the resources to actually really support this idea. So I think that that society fails people as well. Uh, in that, for sure, in that regard, even the amount of clients that I've heard, who, you know, they happen to have a baby on the weekend, you know, dare they, you know, not have their baby during the week.

And you know, no, no lactation consultant on a Sunday because. You know, babies don't need to eat on a Sunday, right? Yeah. So it's like, again, like you said, right. Just the lack of resources, the lack of support, you know? And so I think, again, we can empower ourselves and try to help ourselves as best as we can by doing a bit of research beforehand and saying, okay, who do I need around me?

You know, what do I need on that? Post-birth plan to support me, baby partner, you know, feeding, sleep, all those things. Um, who am I going to go to? If that's not going great and you know, or what resource can I choose and say, okay, this is a resource I trust. I'm not going to read everything on Google because that in itself could be damaging and, you know, just kind of reach out to those specific people that I've already.

Kind of put on my plan yeah. For support. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I, I definitely think that's a great idea and I wish I had, at least my lactation front had sorted that out a bit better. Um, and I'm very, very thankful to this woman. I met at the conference. I can see her, but I don't know her name who told me one thing that I carried forward and then fed my son on one side.

And that was a lifesaver, I think in lots of ways, it just decrease so much stress and struggle for both of us. So, so yeah. And I think that's why telling stories, you know, sharing our stories because that's why it's so important because we don't know, like someone could get. You know, latch on for lack of a better word, um, you know, to like one piece of our story that could be just so super helpful for them.

Yeah. Right. So, absolutely so important. And then, you know, that piece of like trying to trust ourselves, trusting baby, like baby's learning to have great. Like they just, you know, they're getting to know us on the outside and we're getting to know them and we're learning how to feed and they're learning how to feed and latch and all those things.

And so trusting both of us to, to like, okay, we're going to get there and, you know, we can get help if we need it, but we can get there. Yeah. Yeah. And a lot of mistakes on the way, just so you know. Oh my gosh. A lot, so many, right? Yes. Yeah. But then it's also, hopefully like, it was very helpful to have that third person in the room, like my partner.

Yeah. Just to like. Feed off of essentially too, like we can lock about things or he could spot things or he could be like, I will give a bottle. Like, this is fine. Like you can, you know, he can be that rational voice sometimes. So anything, any final thoughts or anything that you want to share about your experience or, you know, anything that came from attorney that I was not anticipating?

I dunno that the experience itself was quite different than what I would have thought, but I was open to experiencing whatever happened, which was helpful and trusting myself and my people that if it would go. Okay, well, thank you so much, Jody, for sharing your story. I really appreciate it. I think so many people are going to take so much from just hearing your story and those different experiences and different countries and you know, different challenges with nursing.

And I really appreciate you sharing. Thanks for having me. It was so lovely to talk to Jody, hear her story about her experiences with finding care providers in different countries than her home country, delivering there and having some difficult experiences with nursing and having a baby in the NICU.

It was also great to talk about advocating for our prenatal care, as well as some of the biology of nursing, a neuroscience of anxiety in the perinatal period. Please leave a comment and let me know if you shared any similar experiences to Jodie, or if you learn something new from this.

thank you so much for listening to this episode. Please share this podcast with any of your friends or family members who may benefit from it. If you feel you are experiencing any of the symptoms or issues that we discussed today, please reach out to anyone of your supports. You can also go to peri natal, for more information, blog posts and podcast episodes.

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