Most parents of newborns are on the lookout for thrush, the white spots in a baby’s mouth that indicate a type of yeast infection requiring anti-fungal medicine to resolve. Thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth caused by an overgrowth of “candida albicans.” According to mayoclinic.org “Oral thrush causes creamy white lesions on the tongue and inner cheeks.”
Thrush is common in babies, and when a breastfed baby becomes infected with it the mother will experience symptoms on her breasts as well. Including: unusually red, sensitive, cracked or itchy nipples. Shiny or flaky skin on the areola. Unusual pain during nursing, and stabbing pains deep within the breasts. Thrush can affect bottle fed babies as well, and in this case you’ll only have the ability to look for signs in your baby’s mouth because you won’t be equally infected.
When you spot creamy white spots on the tongue, you may be apt to call your doctor immediately. Before you do though, you should know that there is something called “Milk Tongue” and while it resembles the thrush infection, it is harmless in babies.
What is “Milk Tongue?”
Milk tongue is simply a layer of milk that’s attached to the tongue itself. This is caused because young babies don’t produce enough saliva to clean the mouth before the teething drool-fest begins. There is usual a clean stripe at the tip of the tongue. This layer can be wiped away with a clean damp cloth (hint: Thrush can’t be wiped off). It is a sign that your baby has a shallow latch on the breast or the bottle. This could be caused by a tongue tie. It is harmless, but I can understand the concern. So I’ve listed in the graphic below the differences between thrush and milk tongue. I hope you find this helpful!!
As always, if you are unsure of whether your baby has thrush contact your medical provider. As a doula, none of the information I provide should be considered medical advice. You know best whether your infant needs to be seen and you should always follow your intuition.
There are many ways to take care of your baby, but one the most practical and nurturing things you can do is to wear him. Babywearing is when an adult caregiver wears a special carrier or wrap to hold their baby on their chest, hip or back. This is a great way to get things done and also bond with your baby at the same time. Babies biologically need to be held A LOT; they need to be close to you to help their internal functions regulate, and to feel comforted in this big, bright world. Of course, “mother’s work is never done” (fathers’ work either, of course!) so you may find that you need to get some things done that require the use of your hands and arms while you’re also tending to the baby’s needs. Babywearing is a great way to keep baby close to you and do all the things you need or want to do.
Many people believe that baby wearing is for “crunchy” moms… this is CRAZY! You don’t need to be a “crunchy” mom…. or even a mom for that matter. Any adult can and should wear the baby and there are a variety of styles of carriers that match anyone’s personality and parenting style. Wearing your baby would be a great way to get some work done from home, go to that super cute but not stroller friendly boutique downtown, and especially if you have older children needing tended to.
Babywearing when done properly will not damage the caregiver’s back, as some people believe it might. In fact, the baby wrap/carrier will bring baby closer to your body, allowing for better posture and center of gravity. It’s actually better on your back than cradling that baby in your arms or carrying a carseat around. There is also the idea that wearing your baby can hurt his hips. There is no medical evidence that says this is true, and no reason to think it is. As long as your baby is being supported properly, babywearing is perfectly safe for baby and parent.
There are many kinds of carriers ranging in style, fabric and prices- and it really is dependent upon you and your baby which one is the best. As a postpartum doula, I have a variety of carriers and wraps that I can let you try out so perhaps you can find the one that best suits you before you make the investment. It is also important to know which carriers are best for which developmental stages. Are you planning to nurse your newborn? Then perhaps a sling or wrap is best for you. If you’re looking for a carrier that you can take on long hiking adventures- you’ll want one that balances the weight evenly on both shoulders like a buckle carrier or a wrap. Each carrier is unique and has it’s own set of advantages, and while some of them may be a bit tricky to figure out you will find that anyone can use any style with a bit of practice. I’ve included a link to a helpful PDF that you can download for your personal use.
I am so excited to announce that I received a bengkung belly wrap today and I’m now offering this as a service to my clients!!
Bengkung Belly Binding originates from Malaysia and is thought to be helpful in speeding up the healing process after birth. This wrap comfortable binds the belly of a new mother for up to 12 hours a day during the first 6 weeks. Mothers may use this technique 3 days after a vaginal delivery and 2 weeks after a cesarean delivery.
Before you put the wrap on you should spend about 10 minutes lying down with your feet up to help your organs move into their proper position for the binding process. This wrap will go under your clothing to allow for bathroom use during the binding session.
Many women have said that this technique helps with their posture, gives them good support for breastfeeding and helps the baby pooch shrink sooner than without it. I’m happy to offer this to my clientele!!
*I am not a medical professional, and this article is not meant as medical advice. There are no guarantees and you should always check with your medical provider with any questions or concerns post birth.
Becoming a mother is arguably one of the most life altering transitions in a woman’s life. Traditionally, civilizations from around the world recognized this as a spiritual, emotional, and physical change from a maiden to a mother. For centuries mothers in law, mothers, sisters, aunts, wise women, midwives and doulas have encircled a new mother, descending on her to ensure she is nourished, rested, and celebrated. The focus wasn’t solely on buying the biggest and best baby shower gift, or “liking” and “commenting” on the picture perfect images shared on social media. REAL WORK was done for the new mother, who literally stood as a threshold between the spiritual and physical world to bring a new soul earth side.
In traditional cultures the mother was expected (albeit sometimes FORCED, which I know offends our American personality) to “lie in” for a period of 21-60 days, lifting not a finger to do anything but care for her infant, and herself. Special meals were made, special teas and baths poured. Herbs and oil massages helped the newly-made mother heal, mind and body. “Postpartum Depression” was a very real threat and these cultures believed, rightfully so, that by giving a woman the utmost care, the physical and mental ailments of womanhood would be avoided.
So what happened?! With all conveniences of the modern world why, oh why is the average 1 in 7 women suffering with a postpartum mood disorder!? With the constant connection of social media, email, and cell phones… why is isolation an epidemic in motherhood? Our society strives to be the MOST; the most productive, the most thin, the most tan, the most rich, the most INDEPENDENT. But what we are sorely lacking is community. We applaud the women who are back at work within a week of delivery, with their infants in a sling. We are bombarded by headlines and click bait that so-and-so “Lost the baby weight in 30 days” or “How to Bounce Back after baby.”
But…. what if…. there is no “bounce back!?”
What if we viewed this as a full transformation? That girl you knew before the baby… that girl is gone. There is now a MOTHER in her place and that mother needs time to heal, she needs time to process and she definitely needs time to figure out who the hell she is now. This lack of nurturing a woman in this time is the reason that PPMDs are so prevalent in our culture today. Women are not celebrated if they don’t jump right back on the payroll at 2 weeks postpartum. Women who ask for help are considered weak… even if it’s not stated blatantly, it’s implied.
You have to be everything to everyone and be the SUPER MOM always. And that chick just doesn’t exist.
Burn out is real, and it is rampant with the way society treats women. Women are the backbone of civilization and yet…. we are so often lost in the noise. Everyone wants to see the baby, no one wants to ask how a mother is feeling, if she’s crying herself to sleep at night, if she’s eating well, if her nipples are cracked and bleeding. Mothers are human beings, and mothers need to be mothered just as much as the infant that just emerged from their womb. Anything that the newborn needs to thrive, the mother needs also. She needs loving touch, she needs food, she needs rest and she needs love.
There are five ancient insights into the postpartum period according to the book “The First Forty Days” written by Heng Ou. These needs are retreat, warmth, support, rest and ritual.
Retreat is the need to stay still. Low activity levels are necessary for healing and keeping the immune system protected in it’s weakened state. Ayurvedic tradition says a mother moving around outside after birth is like leaving all the doors and windows of your house open and allowing the drying and physically/mentally disturbing winds of “vata” whip around inside. Keep from overworking the body and the brain during the postpartum period. Even just responding to emails, or taking a Zoom call is draining on the new mother.
Warmth is needed because of the sharp drop in blood flow after birth. Pregnant women almost double the volume of blood in their bodies during gestation, and this stops abruptly at the moment of birth. So it’s important to keep her warm to keep the blood flowing to avoid circulatory problems later in life.
Support is the key to keeping warm and being still. A mother shouldn’t be left to her housework, and childcare alone even if her partner returns to work. In fact, it is said you shouldn’t rely solely on the parenting partner for support because s/he is also going through a life changing transition and needs time to process all of his/her feelings as well. Not to mention, although the jokes are abundant… dad is actually losing sleep also with a new baby in the house. So mom needs HELP. Lots of help, and nothing is too humble for the helpers to do. Toilet needs scrubbed? Okay! Seriously, just do it… you’ll probably get to snuggle and sniff a newborn as a reward. Also, offer words of wisdom! If you know how to swaddle, or if you are a proficient breastfeeder, or if you have a book that saved you throughout the early weeks of motherhood then share it! “Postpartum support is often found on the internet as moms search for advice and companionship online at odd hours of the night.” (The First Forty Days) The internet is flooded with misinformation and conflicting opinions and those late night journeys across the world wide web can generally add more stress than anything.
Rest, what a joke, amiright!? Seriously, though, mom needs to rest as much as she can. Regardless of the type of birth a mother had she worked hard. I’ve read somewhere that giving birth is the equivalent of running not one but TWO marathons! Seriously, it really takes it out of you. Add to that the sleep deprivation from before the birth when heartburn and a squished bladder kept her up all night, and the sleep deprivation POST birth for obvious reasons… mom needs to rest in order to heal. Lack of sleep is one of the primary causes for mood disorders.
The last ancient wisdom insight is ritual… which is a bit of a struggle in our melting pot culture. If you weren’t raised with traditional rituals, then you likely don’t know how to have one. It needn’t be anything serious, or flamboyant. I strongly recommend looking up ancient rituals surrounding the rite of passage into motherhood and creating some of your own. Recognizing the metamorphosis from maiden to mother is really important for the mentality of the mother. Seeing her, as she is now, will help her to own her new self, and live her best life (as they say.)
So I want to call on the women in this culture, and the men too. Look at the girl you know who’s getting ready to have a baby and ask her what you can do to make her life easier once that baby arrives. Then do it. Take her a meal- a nourishing, warming meal. Load her dishwasher, hold her baby so she can sleep, and take the trash with you on your way out. Do not, under any circumstances show up and expect her to make you a cup of tea. Let her cry to you, help her find her way into her new role. If you are a mother, look for ways you can help new mothers that you know you wish you would have had during your own postpartum period. If you don’t have time to pitch in, buy a gift certificate for postpartum doula hours (I know a good one) so that your friend, sister, or wife can get the rest she desperately needs.
Be the village that it takes to raise the child, and the mother too.
If you’re anything like I was less than a year ago, you’re wondering what a postpartum doula even is. You’ve likely heard the term “doula” in reference to the women (and sometimes men) who will come alongside you during the birth of your baby and support your decisions in the delivery room. This doula focuses on the pregnancy, and birth of your baby. She or he will be super knowledgeable and educate you on basically anything you wonder about. She will help you write your birth plan and stand beside you during the birth to ensure that your birth plan is honored (example: “do you consent to that episiotomy the doctor is prepping for?)
So a postpartum doula is similar, she (can we just say the ‘or he’ is implied from here on out?) will educate you on all the things you need to know, or wonder about AFTER your baby is born. She is knowledgeable in things like baby wearing, lactation and cloth diapering. She will come to your home, help you perfect the swaddling that you are struggling with. She will make sure you are eating enough, staying hydrated and even let you take a nap while she’s there. A postpartum doula is that awesome neighbor you wish you had. She does all the things, organizes meals, tidies up, folds laundry, walks the dog…. she will even pick up your dry cleaning and a loaf of bread on her way over!
She supports you emotionally, as well. She will help you process the feelings you may be sitting on from your delivery. Even in a perfectly normal delivery, something may be surprising or confusing to you and a doula can help you talk through it. A doula has connections, too. She can refer you to therapists, doctors, support groups, and more as the need pops up. She works with the whole family unit, including your parenting partner(s) and siblings.
A postpartum doula has so many talents, and although the expertise varies from person to person, you should definitely consider including this in your baby budget. You will not regret hiring a postpartum support doula to walk alongside you in your most vulnerable, and life altering transition into new parenthood.