Sunday, April 16, 2017

I Celebrate Resurrection Sunday

There is irrefutable proof of the resurrection.
By Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

A grieving mother watched her Son die in the most horrific way some 2000 years ago. She couldn't begin to reconcile what she knew to be true about her Son with what had just happened. Now she was gathered with His closest friends as they all wondered what would happen to them. It is early on the Sunday morning after He was killed. Two nights have passed, and this is the dawning of the third day.

Suddenly she hears a commotion. Peter, one of her Son's closest friends, is saying her Son is alive. That's impossible. She saw Him die. But then her friend Mary from Magdala confirms it, and everything begins to make sense. The angel's prophecy before He was born, His teachings about the resurrection....it all falls into place. She had always known that He was the Son of God. She of all people knew the truth about His holy conception. Now she begins to understand more fully the incredible depth of God the Father's love for mankind. He had sent His Son, allowed her to carry Him, to nurse Him, to teach Him, to love Him in a way that no one else ever would. Then He had allowed that beloved Son to make the ultimate sacrifice and do what no one else ever could, conquer Death once and for all.

That is the reason I refer to today as Resurrection Sunday. The word Easter has nothing to do with my Savior. Today is about the fact that He conquered death, that in so doing, He made a way for me to also live eternally, and that He will come again (regardless of whether I believe it or not.) Today is about His Resurrection! The historical fact of Jesus' life, death and resurrection fills me with hope. It is the reason I am the person I am. So today I celebrate Resurrection Sunday, and I invite you to celebrate with me❤

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Will It Ever Get Better? Depression and Anxiety in Mothers


by Alicia Schuster-Couch, guest blogger

Over five years ago when my first baby was born, I expected to be a happy mother with a happy baby. And, why shouldn’t it all be happy and great? Seemingly, parents’ posts on social media portray pure happiness and joy surrounding their children. Movies and stories are filled with tales of mothers being completely fulfilled and satisfied with motherhood. And  well-intentioned friends and family endlessly reminded me to enjoy every sweet moment of babyhood. Unfortunately, I was struggling as a new mother. More accurately, I felt like I was drowning. My baby was perfect but I was not. The guilt of not being perfect, of not enjoying every moment, of not being satisfied only served to exacerbate my depression. I never felt like hurting my child, but I frequently wondered if she’d be better off without me and sometimes thought about how much better everyone’s life would be if I ended mine.

How could this happen to me? I have a masters’ degree in counseling and years of experience in mental health. How could I be suffering so badly? When I went to my six week follow up OB appointment I had planned to bring up my feelings. Unfortunately, I was met by my overbooked and rushed OB who quickly wanted to make sure that my stitches were healing, wanted to talk about birth control, and needed to rush out the door. I also wanted to tell my husband, my friends, my family, my old coworkers that were still in the mental health field, but I couldn’t. I didn’t have the courage to tell anyone. I felt embarrassed. So, I retreated into isolation with my baby and wondered if I would ever get better.

Of course I got better, but it was a painful journey. Now with three babies and one pregnancy loss under my belt, I feel strong and have a sense of contentment. I did get depressed again after my second child, but not as severely as with my first. Then, when I was devastated by the loss of my third pregnancy, I reached out for help (finally!) and was quickly able to get back on track after some counseling. Thankfully, after my third baby I didn’t have any clinical depressive symptoms. I still don’t know what I’m doing half of the time as a parent and feel like I’m winging the roller coaster ride of motherhood. But, thankfully, I’m out of my depression. Now after my journey through depression and anxiety as a parent of young children, I feel compelled to use my formal education and professional experience to try and reach out to other mothers who may being sharing my past struggles.
 I frequently wondered if she’d be better off without me and sometimes thought about how much better everyone’s life would be if I ended mine.
I was surprised to find out that post-partum depression is the number one complication of pregnancy. There are higher incidences of post-partum depression than preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. How many times did your health care provider check your blood pressure? Check for swelling in your feet? Screen your urine? And, remember that tasty beverage you had to choke down to screen for gestational diabetes? Now, how many times did you get a mental health screening? How many conversations did your healthcare provider have with you about mental health or about treating mental health complications? Although all of the above mentioned screenings are important to your health and your baby’s health, I find it odd that we are screening mothers for preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, but not for depression, or anxiety, or other mental health diagnoses. Moreover, if you are one of the few that were screened by your healthcare provider for depression or anxiety, did they provide adequate referrals and follow up? After three births and one miscarriage, I never once had a conversation about my mental health with an OB, nor did they ever offer any referrals to mental health treatment. I am not bashing OB’s. They have a challenging job and have an enormous amount of responsibility when it comes to the physical health of not only mother, but baby as well. However, I think there is a dangerous void in screening for mental health. I’m not sure why there is a huge gap in offering mental health services specifically to pregnant women and to mothers. Nevertheless, this very vulnerable population deserves better.

I could write pages and pages of all the variables that contribute to mental health disorders in pregnant women and mothers. There are organic factors and family history; there are interpersonal and social factors, and many, many more. Regardless of the cause, it’s painful. It creates difficulty in accomplishing day to day tasks. It creates difficulty in parenting children. It can facilitate isolation, guilt, intrusive thoughts, and a litany of other symptoms that make life a struggle. Just like words can’t adequately describe love or joy or grief, I don’t think that words can actually capture the pain of living with a mental health disorder while concurrently trying to care for a baby or child(ren).

So, what are some important things for pregnant women and mothers to know about mental health? Let me quickly break it down into symptoms, treatment, and prevention. For the purpose of this article, I’ll stick with depression and anxiety, although I realize that some mothers experience other mental health symptoms.

Symptoms of PPD

What does depression look like? It’s not as simple as being sad. Sometimes people who are clinically depressed show symptoms of appetite changes, sleep changes, fatigue, low self-esteem, difficulty making decisions, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of irritability, thoughts of harming themselves, and decrease in pleasurable activities. Now, some of these are a natural part of having a brand new tiny human move into your house, but these symptoms cause problems when they are pervasive and do not seem to get better. Anxiety can look like perfectionism, excessive worry, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, and obsession. Neither of these symptoms lists is provided with the intent for you to diagnose yourself with depression or anxiety. They are simply some of the common symptoms associated with depression or anxiety. If you feel like you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, I hope that you seek a professional diagnosis so that you can receive proper treatment.

Treatment of PPD

Treatment for depression and anxiety begins with a diagnosis. To receive a diagnosis, you’ll need to visit with your health care provider or with a mental health provider. Mainstream treatments include therapy and medication. I believe that treatment should also include education because after all, knowledge is power. Other important factors during treatment include nutrition, exercise, social support, and self care. These treatment factors are ones that should also be considered for prevention. Although it’s impossible to prevent a mental health disorder if you are predisposed to it, there are things that you can do to insulate yourself from the blow of having a mental health disorder. I am not a nutritionist or a personal trainer, but I do know that a healthy diet and regular physical activity make a world of difference. In our era of processed and dyed foods there are a lot of things in our food that negatively impact our bodies and have an effect on our biochemistry. Therefore, it’s important to eat a healthy and varied diet. Exercise is also important. I’m not recommending that you get an expensive gym membership or start training for a triathlon, but it is important to be active. This can mean going for a walk or jog in your neighborhood. This could also mean gardening, or riding a bike, or playing with your kids outdoors. We know the importance of Vitamin D (sunshine) on our physical wellbeing and the importance of hormones that are released through exercise. We all know how important nutrition and physical activity are, but it can be difficult to be motivated to partake in those healthy behaviors if you’re overwhelmed with depression or anxiety.
From RockYourormomes.com

Another important treatment factor is self care. What is self care? It is whatever it means to you to maintain your wellbeing. For some women it can be reading or writing. It could be yoga or meditation. It could be a glass of wine and your favorite television show. Self care is completely subjective and individualized. The important point is that self care is crucial. Your kids and significant other and life are demanding of you; nevertheless, you also need time to decompress so that you are able handle day to day stressors.

Easy enough, right? Nutrition, exercise, self care, social support, and therapy will set you up for a healthy and happy life. I realize that this is easily stated advice. I know how hard it is to just get one of those things on the list done. I also know that when you’re wading through the mud of depression and anxiety, all of those things seem totally impossible. It seems like you have no options, no time, no motivation, and no money to make any of those things happen. All of those feelings of doubt are normal and even expected. However, if you find yourself struggling, I hope and I pray that you can find the courage to reach out for help. Whether you reach out to your significant other, your sibling, friend, or professional, please reach out. Once you reach out you can begin to release the burden that you’ve been carrying around. You can begin to make a plan to address your symptoms and make your life enjoyable. I once wondered if things would ever get better for me. They got better, much better and I’m confident that things can get better for you, too.

I just want to acknowledge that this article does not capture the depth of mental health issues in pregnant women and mothers. The article needs to be ten times as long to adequately address all of the issues. For instance, I didn’t even address issues relating to the role that trauma plays. I didn’t address thoughts of harming others or thoughts of harming your baby or many of the other symptoms that mothers experience. This was meant to be an introductory overview of the issues. If you feel like you want to learn more about mental health in pregnant women and in mothers, please contact me. I’m a local counselor who is passionate about helping mothers and their families. I think mothers deserve better and more comprehensive treatment.

My name is Alicia Schuster-Couch and I am the owner of New Leaf Counseling Services of the TN Valley, LLC. I can be reached by phone at (256) 755-4599 and by email at alicia.newleaf@gmail.com . I am passionate about working with women to help them achieve their goals. I am currently an Associate Licensed Counselor (ALC) under the supervision of Liz Howell, LPC-S. I hold a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Texas State University and two Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work and Women’s Studies from New Mexico State University.

Please feel free to contact me or another professional if you feel like you need help. I wish you peace and grace.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mother's Day Is Just Around the Corner!

by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Every year at the beginning of May, you probably start trying to figure out what to get for Mom this year for Mother's Day. Maybe you're a new mom yourself, and you're wondering if anybody will think about YOU this Mother's Day. (If so, be sure to leave this post open in your browser😊.)  This year we have some terrific, creative ideas that any mother or grandmother will treasure forever! Yesterday I featured three unique gift opportunities in my A Nurturing Moment Live Video.

Sweet Impressions Ceramics


The first amazing, unique option is a keepsake hand print or footprint from Sweet Impressions Ceramics. Heather will be here on Saturday, April 8, from 10:30 - 2:00 to help you create a permanent reminder of your child's hand print or footprint. You can even combine both on one piece. You choose exactly what size you want, how you want it personalized, and what color glaze you want on the finished piece. Prices range from about $15-50 depending on size. Your finished ceramic artwork will be here in time for Mother's Day so you can surprise somebody special with it. These make great Father's Day gifts, too!

Classic Silhouttes


Another vintage option is a hand-cut silhouette. Keith Donaldson is a world-renowned Disney silhouette artist. He will be here in our store on Friday, April 28, from 10:30-5:30. In just 3 minutes, he will cut a perfect silhouette of your child using surgical steel scissors. He is even able to get a terrific finished product if your child happens to be wiggly.  I honestly don't know how he does it, but his work is spectacular! The cost is $40 for two silhouettes. Frames are $15 each. When you call to schedule, we do request a $5 deposit which will apply to the price of your silhouettes.

 If you want to schedule either a silhouette or a Sweet Impressions appointment, call 256-489-2590. These appointments to fill up quickly, so call today!

Sweet Face Bracelet


The last unique gift option is a Sweet Face Bracelet. These unusual bracelets incorporate 8 or 9 of your child's photos in a wearable scrapbook that any mother or grandmother would treasure. She doesn't know it (and she doesn't read my blog), but I'm planning on getting one of these for my MIL with her grandchildren's photos. At just $35, this is a great gift to fit almost any budget. To order, just come in and fill out an order form. The artist will get in touch with you to get your photos, and she will get your bracelet made within a week!

Whether you choose a ceramic keepsake, a vintage silhouette, or a one-of-a-kind photo bracelet, make sure to let the women in your life whom you treasure as mothers know how much they mean to you, not just on Mother's Day, but all year long!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Daddy's Important Role in Breastfeeding

Kristi's husband cuddled so Mom could shower.
by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC
A couple of weeks ago we did an ANM LIVE video about how important Dad is to the breastfeeding relationship. We asked you to share some of the ways that your husband makes nursing easier for you, and like always, you had terrific responses. Today I want to share some of those responses as a way to help all of our dads think about the many ways that they can be involved in breastfeeding.

Practical Help

Meeting obvious (or not-so-obvious) needs is a terrific way that Dad can help make breastfeeding easier for Mama and baby. April noted that her husband cleans the pump parts and gets the pumping bag ready to go in the morning. "He is always super careful never to waste milk." She adds that, "He always asks about how my pumping at work is going and tells me, 'You're a good cow, Bess.'"

Kayla said, "My husband has been amazing. He makes sure I have water every time I feed my son. He brings me snacks, cleans my pump parts if I need him to, and holds the baby until I am ready. He has been so supportive constantly making sure I take my vitamins and calling me to make sure I have eaten enough." Numerous mothers mentioned how helpful it is for Dad to make sure they have water and a snack while nursing.
Emily's husband keeps their 3 year old entertained.

Taking care of older siblings is a wonderful way for Dad to really make a difference. Carrie says, "He helps me get big sister ready for bed so I can nurse little sister to sleep!" Emily said of her husband: "He helps do so much. The biggest help is keeping the 3 year old out of my hair."  

 Making sure Mom gets sleep and helping with diaper duty are other really practical ways that Dad can help.  Lacey noted that her husband "also changed every diaper for the first week and all the night time diapers when he started back working." Sometimes Mom just needs to get a shower. Kristi's husband was very helpful at those moments: "When I needed to shower, he would do skin to skin!" Jessica said, "My husband takes over and sends me to bed with earplugs after some feedings to get a good nap without any interruptions until the next feeding. He also makes sure I have diapers and wipes stocked, and he keeps the laundry going."

Katie's husband is a SAHD.
Tiffany's husband demonstrated another very practical way that Dad can step in "In the beginning he did literally everything. I only fed the baby and napped for the first 2 weeks. He cleaned, cooked and took care of me through my daughter and I having thrush and a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. He also never pushed formula on me when she wasn't gaining properly." When Dad picks up the burden of cooking, cleaning and laundry those first weeks, it really makes a difference.  

Katie's husband is a stay-at-home-dad who has been very proactive in supporting her breastfeeding and pumping: "He's become a pro at pace feeding, bottle prep and milk storage. He doesn't complain when I ask for water, snack or anything else in the middle of feedings. He has so much patience with us. And most importantly, he helps me defend our decision to breastfeed our son to anyone who speaks out of place about it."

Help at the Breast
Haley's husband helped syringe feed.

Sometimes Dad ends up actually helping Mom latch the baby on. Lacey explained, "My husband helped me latch my son all of the time when he was a newborn because I had trouble doing it. He would put pillows under my arms and make sure I was comfortable every time I breastfed." Brittany's husband was helpful in a similar way. She says, "Dad actually latched her in the hospital during our skin to skin for the first time!! I was still in shock that I was a mom!!"

When Mom and baby struggle with latching, sometimes suck training or finger feeding is necessary. Haley's husband helped with that; she explains: "Dad took time to clean his hands to my satisfaction and syringe feed our sweet girl rather than bottle feeding because I was nervous about nipple confusion and still needed to pump a little due to an extremely painful inverted nipple."  

Brittany's husband latched her baby on
for her right after birth.

Emotional Support

Another critical area where Dad can make all the difference in the world is emotional support. Many mothers expressed tremendous appreciation for their partners' words of affirmation. Annie said, "My husband helped me most by encouraging me to do whatever I think is right, by never letting me down, by reminding me what my goal was when we got thrush again or my milk was gone, by telling me how beautiful I am while feeding our daughter and by telling me what a wonderful mother I am." Sarah felt like her husband has always been her biggest ally. She explains, "When I was pregnant there wasn't even a question of if I'd breastfeed. He spent so much time reading. I remember seeing his search history full of things like 'how to help my wife breastfeed.' We still had moments when he didn't feel like he could do enough to provide comfort for our nursling. I wish he would have really known supporting me was enough."   

Kellie's husband always has their backs!
Supporting Mom when she nursed in public or around extended family is another area where Dad can make a huge difference. April noted that she appreciated her husband "being supportive about nursing in places like church or restaurants which I know he might have struggled with because he can be very modest."  Nora said of her husband, "He will almost always put his arm around me, especially when I seem timid about nursing in public. It makes me feel supported and protected."

Sarah's husband supported her unconditionally.
Sarah sums up the epitome of a supportive husband as she describes the man she married: "He is my rock and my safe place, He supported me every step of the way when I chose to drive 3 hours to have our second baby after a traumatic birth experience with our first. He advocated for our son to get the help he needed with his tongue tie when we were in the hospital and I was just to tired and sore to deal. He was there helping me and supporting me when we discovered our son had food intolerances and I had to cut so many things out of my diet. He never questioned my decision to keep nursing even when others did."

Any father who wants to can be his wife's greatest advocate and cheerleader. You've just read numerous ways that you can make a real difference for your wife. I look forward to seeing more and more fathers leading the way in encouraging their wives as they provide baby's perfect food!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Local Mom Warns About Threat at Big Spring Park

by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC
I came across something on Facebook the other night that really disturbed me. A local mom had posted a warning based on something that happened to her Saturday when she took her new puppy and 3 children to Big Spring Park. Earlier that day I had come across this post at ATTN: which highlights the fact that 2 million children worldwide are being trafficked as sex slaves. Laura Parker of Exodus Road estimates the total number of people in slavery worldwide as over 45 million. According to the Global Slavery Index, 57,700 people are living in slavery in the United States.

In 2013, the FBI warned that sex trafficking was on the rise in North Alabama partly because we are right in the middle of a trafficking triangle that connects Birmingham, Nashville and Atlanta. Just last year a ring was busted in Nashville!  That's WAY too close to home! The really terrifying thing here, though, is that over half of those cited wanted sex with a minor. Sadly, this sting didn't catch the monsters responsible for holding these children in slavery. But another 2016 sting did catch a North Alabama lawyer who was part of a trafficking ring with underage victims.

Madison County Chief Deputy David Jernigan addressed the
media after arrests in a 2015 trafficking case.
That's why I couldn't help but be shaken when I read this post. Even more disconcerting were the hundreds of responses from other mothers who had experienced similarly creepy situations all over the Tennessee Valley. The threat is very real!

The Disturbing Facebook Post

Just a heads up... If anyone is going to Big Spring Park in Huntsville please keep your eyes on your kids at all times! I had a VERY strange and unsettling experience there this Saturday (3/4/17) and it left me never wanting to take my 3 kids out without my husband ever again. Luckily I carry everywhere I go, but I still pray that I never have to use my weapon. I seriously thought I was going to have to this past weekend. Sex trafficking is for real y'all. It's much more common than we think. People work in groups of 2 or more. Often times one person will try to distract you from your children while the other person snatches them up. It's not just at big spring park either. It's everywhere. The world is not what it was 30 years ago.


Here's what happened:
I was with my 3 kids and my new puppy. I had seen a woman in her mid 30's watching us from afar with her big boxer on a leash. She finally came up to us, and was very interested in my dog. I immediately felt uneasy because she got extremely too close way too fast as if her dog was some powerful beast that she was unable to control. Too bad I had just watched her for the 10 minutes she was watching us, and saw how very well behaved her pup was even when a duck was right in his path. Anyways, while she was making small talk, I noticed a very large (not fat, just very built) man pacing back and forth watching my kids. I hadn't seen him at all, even tho I'm extremely aware of my surroundings especially with all 3 kiddo's in tow by myself. I got an extremely uncomfortable feeling and very scared, all while this woman was still trying to talk with me. I made eye contact with him, so he knew I knew he was there, and the woman who was just chatty Kathy with me for about 5 minutes just walked away. Didn't even say goodbye. Just walked away. I told my 2 older ones to grab my arms and walk fast with me. The man watched me walk away. When I made it to my car, I got my kids in and I was looking out of my window to try and spot these folks. The lady was wearing a bright red jacket so it wasn't like I could miss her or anything. I couldn't see her anywhere. She was gone. But then... THEN y'all!!! I see this man j walking and crossing the street and heading straight for my car. I hopped in, put my keys in the ignition and started pulling out of the parking lot. This man watched me drive away, and the eye contact he held was very eery and creepy. I thank God for protecting my children, and I'm so beyond grateful that nothing happened. Be aware of your surroundings ALWAYS!

What Can You Do?

If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, trust your gut! It is far better to overreact where there is no danger than to fail to react where there is! These tips will help you and your children stay safe. If you are in a situation where somebody is making you uncomfortable, leave. As you are leaving, pull out your cell phone and start recording the situation. Get faces and voices, and be sure that any suspects can tell they are being recorded. Call the police immediately and describe the suspects. Or better yet, when you get into your car, drive to the police station. Do not drive home or to a relative's house because you might be followed.

Teach your children to run and raise a ruckus like a child did just today when somebody makes them feel uneasy. Fortunately neighbors stepped in to help the child who was on the way home from school.  Dads, make sure you are actively involved in your daughters' lives. These creeps prey on little girls who are looking for a father-figure. If you really want to make a difference, you can join the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.  They welcome volunteers! 

Y'all, the horrifying truth is that this is happening right here in our backyard. But we have a STRONG parenting village, and together we can send the message that the Tennessee Valley won't tolerate predators!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

We Can Help You Get Your Breastpump Through Insurance!



The Spectra S2 is a top quality double electric pump.
 by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

A Nurturing Moment is excited to announce our new partnership with Aeroflow Medical Supply which will allow us to help you get the breastpump of your choice through insurance. One frustration that many mothers have expressed to me is that their insurance would only provide one brand of pump. For many of you, we will be able to change that!

We are able to work with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, United HealthCare, TriCare, and Aetna. Those who have the Federal BCBS plans will still need to go through Caremark to get a pump. Currently, most plans do have some degree of coverage for your breast pump. Some plans require that you meet a deductible first. Others only cover a percentage .  Some policies require you to wait until the last month of pregnancy to get a pump. Other policies allow you to get it earlier in your pregnancy. Each plan is different. That's why the specialists at Aeroflow are experts at helping you figure out exactly what your insurance will cover and when you can receive your pump.
Many mothers trust the Medela Pump In Style.

To find out exactly what you qualify for, bring your insurance card and prescription to us or scan and email them to anm@knology.net. We will have you fill out a form with your basic information, and we will enter your information via our portal. As soon as we receive an answer, we will contact you. You may choose to pick up your pump here if we have it available or it can be shipped directly to your house.

If your insurance will cover a hospital grade pump,
we can help you out.

Need to Rent a Hospital Grade Pump?

We also work closely with Heart Sail, another terrific company, to help families who need a hospital grade pump that is covered by insurance. In certain situations, insurers will actually cover the rental of a hospital grade pump. Nick at Heart Sail can work with you to figure out what your coverage is through Blue Cross Blue Shield or TriCare.

Don't let the ins and outs of getting your pump through insurance overwhelm you. We are here to help and look forward to serving you!




Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Call for Legislation to Protect Breastfeeding Mothers


 by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Regardless of where you fall politically or how you feel about the Affordable HealthCare Act of 2010 (Obamacare), the fact is that breastfeeding mothers have been granted some amazing benefits as a direct result of this legislation. Mothers in 2017 can expect certain rights and benefits that their counterparts just 10 years ago did not enjoy.
  • Insurance coverage of a breast pump (the type of pump may vary based upon the particular insurance plan a mother has).
  • Lactation support covered by insurance (this again depends upon the availability of in-network providers).
  • Mandated break time to pump at work and a place to pump that is not a bathroom.
With plans in place to repeal Obamacare, mothers stand to lose these valuable benefits. This is a problem not only for the individual mothers affected, but ultimately for society as a whole. Research has demonstrated that when we enable mothers to breastfeed for a longer period of time, healthcare costs for the child are actually reduced. This savings is especially significant for low-income populations.  Furthermore, when mothers receive support for pumping in the workplace, it actually provides significant savings to their employers. In fact, this document has been prepared specifically to help employers realize those savings by providing a mother-friendly atmosphere in the workplace.
This is a valuable resource for employers.

The Future 

As we look toward the future, It seems that there is some semblance of a plan to move forward. However, there are certainly no guarantees that coverage for the things that are important to breastfeeding mothers will continue. If these coverages are dropped, it will affect millions of mothers who must return to work after giving birth. Their babies may not have the same ease of access to breastmilk enjoyed by babies in the last few years. These mothers may not have access to affordable professional lactation support.

One solution that would ensure the continuation of these benefits is specific legislation that does mandate continued coverage of breast pumps and professional lactation support. It should also mandate workplace access to a safe, clean, private place to pump as well as non-penalized break time, expanding that coverage to include salaried employees as well as hourly employees. Under current law many salaried managers do not enjoy the same protection that hourly workers in the same company are guaranteed. Teachers and other professionals may also struggle because they are not protected by the laws that ensure other workers can pump. 

from the Kansas Business Case
During the last two Congressional sessions, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) sponsored the Supporting Working Moms Act. The goal of this piece of legislation was to ensure a fair and uniform national policy by extending the current law to cover salaried employees. I would propose that this Act be expanded to include all of the breastfeeding provisions that stand to be lost if Obamacare is repealed. Furthermore, I would hope to see it's passage linked in some way to any healthcare reform that is passed. If the goal is to ultimately save money, this is a clear way to ensure that fewer healthcare dollars are spent on sick babies.

Simple Wishes makes working and pumping easy.
In the current political climate, it would be good for this bill to be seen as a bi-partisan effort. Therefore, I would hope to see Republican co-sponsors step forth. This is not a Democrat or Republican matter. Rather, it affects the right of all babies to receive the nutrition designed specifically for them.  I urge you to contact your senators and representatives to ask them to co-sponsor the Supporting Working Moms Act and expand it to protect the provisions that could be lost if the Affordable Healthcare Act is Repealed.

My Letter

Dear Senator Shelby,

I work with mothers and babies every day as a lactation consultant in North Alabama. Although I was not a proponent of Obamacare, the last few years we have seen an increase in breastfeeding rates. In Alabama breastfeeding initiation rates climbed from 64% in 2010 to 67% in 2014. That 3% increase represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare savings. More importantly, however, the number of mothers breastfeeding the full year recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics climbed from 11.8% to 15.9%. I believe that increase can be directly attributed to the provisions of the Affordable HealthCare Act which provide breast pumps to mothers and offer guidelines to employers regarding employees who pump. 

I am thankful that this Congress is looking for ways to improve the healthcare dilemma in our nation. There is currently a piece of legislation called the Supporting Working Moms Act that has been introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the past two Congressional Sessions. Its purpose was to extend the protections of the AHCA to salaried employees. However, I would like to suggest that it be expanded to contain all the protections currently provided to breastfeeding mothers in the AHCA which include the following:
  • Insurance coverage of a breast pump (the type of pump may vary based upon the particular insurance plan a mother has).
  • Lactation support covered by insurance (this again depends upon the availability of in-network providers).
  • Mandated break time to pump at work and a place to pump that is not a bathroom.
I would like to respectfully request that you recommend these changes and co-sponsor this bill that will help thousands of your constituents. Thank you for taking the time to consider this. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have about breastfeeding support in Alabama.

Sincerely yours,

Make It Your Own

I want to challenge each of you to adapt this letter (even if you just use the second paragraph and what follows) and send it to your senators and congressmen. One voice alone doesn't sound very loud, but when we all lift our voices together, they won't be able to ignore our ROAR! 





Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day, Mama!


 by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

You are your baby's first love! This year we decided to celebrate that fact in a very special video. In January we asked you to submit photos of you and your baby, and your response was overwhelming! Our advertising team had a really tough job selecting which photos to use in the video they created. We decided to feature a few pictures here that were not used in the video, but that capture the essence of that amazing moment when a mother falls head over heels in love with the precious baby she has been carrying for the last 9 months.

We are so excited to present this video to you as our Valentine's Day Gift. We hope you love it as much as we do!




What was that moment like for you? Did you cry? Did you laugh out loud? Were you too exhausted to even enjoy it? Each birth is different, and so much of what happens to a mother during childbirth affects her experience!

Tell us about that #firstlove moment! We love helping you nurture your cherished memories❤❤

Monday, January 23, 2017

Check out the Terrific Breastfeeding Support Available in the TN Valley

From IBLCE.org

By Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

We are so blessed in the Tennessee Valley to have a really wonderful array of people committed to supporting you in your breastfeeding journey. Support options range from peer counselors to support group leaders with specialized training to International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. Each one of these plays an important role in making the Tennessee Valley a terrific place to have a baby. Each also has a specific skill set when it comes to making sure you and baby are nursing well.

Peer Counselors

These amazing ladies often work with a local health department. They are mothers who have successfully breastfed their own children, and they tend to use their own and other anecdotal experience as a framework from which to counsel. They are usually avid students of breastfeeding, but have not yet obtained any certifications or received any formal training. However, they may be going through the steps necessary to become an IBCLC; be sure to ask! They may provide support groups and classes for mothers in which they share common breastfeeding knowledge. I actually began my breastfeeding career teaching classes for a local WIC office as a peer counselor 26 years ago.

A breastfeeding peer counselor is a great resource in dealing with common breastfeeding problems like poor latch, engorgement, sore nipples etc. A good peer counselor will know when she needs to refer to an IBCLC and will usually have good relationships with local IBCLC's. 

La Leche League Leaders
 

In order to become a La Leche League Leader, an applicant must have successfully nursed her own child for at least nine months. She must demonstrate certain personality characteristics and must thoroughly prepare herself by studying a variety of resources. These mothers offer terrific support both in a group setting as well as in one-on-one situations. Meetings are a great place for expectant mothers to gain a good understanding of breastfeeding. When I was a young mother 28 years ago, La Leche League was key in helping me achieve a good breastfeeding relationship.

Much like the peer counselor, however, a La Leche League leaders recognizes her limitations. She will have developed good rapport with local IBCLC's so that she can refer as necessary. It is worth noting, however, that many La Leche League leaders do end up becoming IBCLC's.

IBCLC

An International Board Certified Lactation is a health care professional who has extensively studied lactation. He or she (yes, there are male IBCLC's) is familiar with a wide variety of situations that can occur, and has demonstrated that knowledge in a comprehensive exam. In order to even sit for the exam, a candidate must have a solid understanding of biology, anatomy and physiology, human growth and development, psychology, sociology, nutrition, medical ethics, clinical research, medical terminology and documentation and basic life support. In addition to a basic foundation in health sciences, a candidate must have 90 hours of education specific to breastfeeding. Finally, depending on his or her background and the pathway chosen for certification, 300-1000 hours of direct patient contact with breastfeeding mothers and babies is required before the exam can be taken.

This is why an IBCLC offers the Gold Standard of breastfeeding support. The experience and knowledge base required to become an IBCLC make her the ideal person to teach your breastfeeding class and support you through your breastfeeding journey. We are very fortunate to have many amazing IBCLC's in North Alabama. Huntsville Hospital has 13 IBCLC's on staff; Madison Hospital has 4 on staff; Crestwood Medical Center has 3 on staff; and Athens Limestone Hospital  has 2 on staff. Additionally, there are IBCLC's in private practice as well as in physicians' offices. Huntsville Pediatric Associates employs an IBCLC. And, of course, when you get breastfeeding support at A Nurturing Moment, you are receiving IBCLC support.

Many IBCLC's offer support groups and breastfeeding classes. Each of the local hospitals offers a breastfeeding class for expectant mothers. We also offer a class the second Thursday of every month here at A Nurturing Moment. All of the local hospital IBCLC's run support groups as well. All of the groups listed below are open to any mother, regardless of where she had her baby.
Many IBCLC's wear this symbol.
  • Huntsville Hospital's group meets every Tuesday and the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month at 10:00 in the Women's Pavilion, Room 120B. 
  • The Madison Hospital Support group meets Mondays at 10:30 and Thursdays at 6:30 in the Madison Hospital Wellness Center. They also offer a special "Extended Breastfeeding" Support Group for mothers breastfeeding beyond 12 months which meets the 2nd Friday of each month at 10:30.
  • Athens Limestone Hospital offers ALH Moms and Babies every Friday at 10:00 in the Medical Office Building Conference Room at 101 Fitness Way.
  • Crestwood Medical Center offers a support group that meets every Wednesday at 5:00 and every Thursday at 10:30.
  • Huntsville Mommy Milk Meet-up meets the 1st Monday and 3rd Saturday of every month at A Nurturing Moment at 10:00

Taking Classes and Getting Support

When you choose a breastfeeding class, you want to know that your instructor is a professional committed to helping you throughout the course of your journey. An IBCLC has the depth of medical background to help you work through any potential physiological problems. She will know when to refer you to a primary healthcare practitioner and will probably have established relationships with several physicians. 

If you're simply experiencing engorgement or a plugged duct, then a peer counselor or La Leche League leader is great. However, if you have a more serious issue, you really need to be in contact with an IBCLC. She will be able to do a pre-feed weight check, then weigh your baby after feeding to see exactly how much milk he took. She is trained to recognize and counsel you through a wide range of problems. Most IBCLC's carry malpractice insurance because they recognize that as healthcare professionals, they have that responsibility. So be sure that you get the Gold Standard Care when it comes to you and your baby!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

We Are 250K Views Strong

Our blog about birth in Monaco has received over 20,000 views
by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC
Since starting this blog in 2011, we have covered some amazing topics. As we approach 250,000 views, we thought it would be fun to look back at some of your (and our) favorite posts.

We love customer reviews and look forward to more of those in coming months. This review of several different diapers was one of our first big hits back in 2011.

Bethany's post about being a teen mom is amazing!
Blogs about birth are very popular. Our most recent post by Erin Mize about her natural birth in a local hospital was an immediate success. When Bethany Hyder shared the story of her pregnancy while she was still a teenager, you loved it.  ANM intern Marley Phillips did a series of posts on childbirth abroad. Her post about childbirth in Monaco is the most popular blog we have ever posted!

Current events have inspired some of our most widely read posts. Response to my experience with scammers was overwhelming. The disappointing political tactics that led to the tabling of the Home Birth Safety Act three years ago led to one of our most popular posts. Five years ago, Target was the target of another one of our most popular posts; fortunately, they have come a long way in training their employees to support breastfeeding mothers.

Extended breastfeeding is a topic you loved.
Of course breastfeeding posts rank high among your favorites. This blog about extended nursing struck a responsive chord with many of you. This post about Tongue-tie provided valuable information that many of you appreciated. The response to Blue Cross Blue Shield providing breast pumps was also very enthusiastic. Of course a perennial favorite post is the recipe for our delicious lactation cookies.

I have to admit, however, that my personal favorite post is about the birth of my grandson Nicholas four years ago and the outstanding care he received in the Huntsville Hospital NICU. We want to know your favorite post. We are giving away a $50 gift card to A Nurturing Moment. Enter by liking our Facebook page and posting a link to your favorite blog and why. The Facebook post with the most likes by Friday will win!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Empowered to Birth Naturally in an Alabama Hospital


Newborn Bo snuggles with Mama
by Erin Mize, guest blogger

At midnight, with fast, irregular contractions, I called my doula, Hannah.  My body felt wildly out of control.  She was calm and reassuring, telling me to take a shower, relax, and if they persisted, to call her back.  If not, she encouraged me to try to rest.

My heart was racing with excitement as I got undressed to get into the shower.  I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror; cheeks flushed and out-of-breath from the struggle to remove my socks.  I stopped, turning my bountiful belly straight-on to the mirror and smiled.  I marveled at my body’s miraculous work, swelling to accommodate and sustain this new life.  I felt strong and capable.

After a few minutes in the shower, sure enough, my contractions slowed.  Before I even knew it, my mind had quieted and I decided to dry off and try to rest.  Fortunately, I was able to sleep until about 3:30 AM when I awoke to 10 minute-apart contractions that weren't really any stronger than before, yet I intuitively knew these were purposeful.  The whole of my uterus would tighten, not just the top like during Braxton-Hicks, and my sacrum down through my thighs ached. 

I was tossing and turning in our king sized bed so I quietly moved into the living room, leaving Andy asleep.  I didn't wake him just yet.  He would need to be rested to take care of our 3 and 4 year old children, and to be perfectly honest, I wanted to labor free from his concern.  I needed to let go and succumb to this process, so I took advantage of the quiet. 

In my sleepy, yet excited state, I went to the shower.  I knew the hot water would help.  I immediately relaxed.  I breathed in the steam slowly as I propped myself against the shower wall letting the full force of the spray concentrate on my sacrum.  I thought about my baby, Bo, working right along with me.  As I rocked my hips slowly back and forth, I visualized him descending through my body while I intentionally relaxed my mouth, shoulders, arms, back, and pelvis.  “Here we go, little one,” I whispered.  I wanted to make his descent as easy as I could.

When I returned to the living room, the TV was on, and one of those cheesy infomercials selling '60's music CDs played.  I wasn't watching it.  I just needed it on to give my mind some distraction.  I curled up on the couch and was even able to sleep a little between contractions.

All of the lights were out in the house except the glow from the TV, and it was otherwise silent.  I continued in this early stage of labor peacefully as my family slept.  I was in total control, calm and comfortable.  I wasn't afraid.  I didn't feel alone.  I felt safe and able to relax into my labor in my home, relishing this time with my baby, just the two of us, doing our work together.

As my labor progressed, I was no longer comfortable lying on my side through contractions. As one would start, I would get up and stand with my head on my arms, resting over the arm of the couch and swaying my hips back-and-forth through the contractions, consciously relaxing my mouth and muscles and visualizing my baby easing down. 

After my second trip to the bathroom, I recognized that my body was “voiding” and I had a feeling it was time to get everybody up and on the road for the 40 mile trip to the hospital from our home in Hartselle.  I did not look forward to the impending road trip or the bright, unfamiliar hospital delivery room, full of strangers, that awaited me.  Would my doctor be on-call or would a stranger deliver my baby?  Would I get a nurse that was educated about and supportive of natural birth?  Would my birth plan be respected?  It would have been so nice to have made one phone call and had a midwife show up at my door with the same supplies that a level one hospital stocks, but unfortunately, assisted home birth remains illegal in Alabama. 

Andy and Hannah helped Erin maintain her focus.
I'd like to take a brief detour here for a moment to point out that actually, home birth is legal in Alabama.  More specifically, unassisted home birth is legal in Alabama.  Oddly enough, I could have had my baby at home, but I most certainly could not have had a trained attendant, like a Certified Professional Midwife, on hand to ensure that my baby and I remained healthy and safe.  Just for being present she could be charged with a class C misdemeanor.  Additionally, because Alabama does not license or regulate CPM's, she could not have easily transferred my care to a hospital or carried the life-saving equipment that she needs and can use legally to attend home births in 31 other states.  Therefore, after laboring at home without incident, I woke my family up to go to the hospital so my birth could be attended by an OBGYN, a specialist. 

Before I woke the boys, I made their chocolate milk, just as I did every morning; except this time, I paused to work through strong contractions while I rested on the kitchen countertop.  I made my way into the boys' room and with muted excitement said, “This is it guys!  You're going to meet your baby brother today!”

I woke Andy and told him it was "for real" and we needed to get to the hospital.  I called and let Hannah know how it was going.  After I paused our conversation to work through a contraction, she confirmed what I suspected, that my labor was advancing nicely.  She expertly advised that we meet at my parents’ home prior to going to the hospital so we didn't arrive right at shift change.  I agreed, and Andy and I loaded the boys up and got on the road.

It was about 5:30 in the morning, pitch black, and starry.  I remember the boys sleepily singing "twinkle-twinkle little star” as my contractions came and went.  This time, however, I didn't have the luxury of moving around to work through them.  I pulled at the seat belt to move it away from my taut abdomen and writhed and twisted in a vain attempt to alleviate the pain in my back.  Each passing mile marker seemed a reminder of my distress as Andy raced to our destination.  I was beginning to panic.  It took everything in me to suppress my instinct to move my body freely through these contractions. 

We finally rounded the corner in my parents’ neighborhood, and I was filled with relief at the sight of Hannah’s car parked in front of their home.  Andy got the boys out while I went up the stairs as quickly as I could to labor in the shower until we would go over to the hospital. 

I turned the water to almost as hot as it would go.  The relief was immediate.  Slowly breathing in the steamy air, I began getting my labor back under control. I visualized the water softening my tissues and gently encouraging my baby out as I slowly swayed through the awesome pressure.  How I would have loved to have had a water birth! Unfortunately, hospital policy in my area prohibits the practice.  But, I knew that I would be allowed to labor in the tub or shower until my water broke.

Thank God for Hannah!  She took the lead on thinking out the timing of our arrival.  All I had to do was labor. 

We pulled up to the valet stand, and I remember feeling strange about the security guard approaching me with a wheelchair.  I got out of the car looking behind me for the patient that needed this apparatus, even willing to help him or her into it.  Then, of course, it dawned on me that it was meant for me.  Even though it felt rather unnecessary, and I certainly didn't identify as a “patient,” I obliged the helpful parking attendant.
First Feed

While I couldn't help but feel like a diva waving a birth plan with a lavender-scented, birth stool-carrying Doula in tow, the hospital staff and nurses never treated me as such!  We were greeted warmly and taken straight into a labor/delivery/postpartum room.  I had pre-registered and therefore was able to get through the intake paperwork quickly with Andy's help.  To my amazement, my labor and delivery nurse was actually trained as a Certified Nurse Midwife!  And let me tell you, the care she gave me exemplified a midwife's model of care.  She was respectful and supportive of my choice to birth unmedicated.  She read my birth plan diligently and then asked before she did anything including waiting to start my hep-locked IV until after a contraction. 

My doula was calmly unpacking her bag-of-tricks and making the room more comfortable by lowering the lights, playing soothing music, and starting the lavender.  Hannah’s presence calmed the frenetic pace of the hospital, and her attention to detail made the unwelcoming hospital room homey.  In a way, she represented my conscious self that, in the throes of labor, I had distanced myself from.  Her presence of mind was invaluable.

I continued laboring unencumbered from an IV or continuous fetal monitoring.  I drank when I was thirsty, remained in the clothes I came in, and moved about freely.  In fact, I didn’t get into the hospital bed until after I had given birth!  Andy sat at the foot of the bed and I rested my arms and head across his lap between contractions.  I was most comfortable on the exercise ball and during contractions I would roll my hips in big circles while Hannah applied counter pressure to my sacrum and Andy gently encouraged and loved on me. 

My nurse asked if I'd like my cervix checked for dilation and being that my water hadn't broken yet, I allowed her to examine me.  Believe it or not, I was actually a little concerned that the exam would reveal that I was only a few centimeters dilated. Much to my surprise, I was fully dilated!  However, I did not feel the strong urge to push as I did during the birth of my second child and I speculate that it was related to the fact that my membranes (and amniotic fluid) were still intact.

My nurse indicated that she would call the doctor, and that she may break my water upon her arrival.  My doula sensed my hesitation and encouraged me to discuss with the doctor the risks and benefits of doing so.  Interestingly, my doctor never brought it up.

At some point I remember saying "I could push", emphasis on the could.  Hannah asked if I'd given any thought to what position I'd like to push in.  Believe it or not, it wasn't until I hired her for the birth of my 3rd baby that I learned there are many pushing positions a woman can assume to birth her baby, the least efficient of which is lying flat on her back with her feet in stirrups and knees in the air. 
Big Brother gets to hold baby Bo

I had learned through my research that an upright birthing position would allow gravity to aid in bringing my baby down and out as well as allowing my uterus to contract more strongly and efficiently.  Staying off of my back would keep my aorta from being compressed and, in turn, help my baby to stay oxygenated.  Also, it would allow my sacrum to expand backwards, increasing my pelvic outlet.  Hannah gently encouraged me to go with what felt “right,” and I confidently replied that I'd like to use the birth stool.  She went straight to work getting it prepared.

It was no time at all before I took my place on the vinyl cushioned wooden stool.  I was sitting with my knees a comfortable distance apart and bent to slightly less than a 90 degree angle.  My OBGYN patiently sat cross legged in the floor in front of me, my doula behind me, and Andy at my side with my nurse observing attentively.

And then we waited.  I was eager to meet my baby, my third son, and in stark contrast to my other unmedicated birth, I just didn't have a strong urge to push!  I knew to wait for my body to “do its thing” but I was growing impatient!  Hannah reassured me that I was “laboring down” beautifully so I closed my eyes and waited patiently. 

My water finally broke as my OBGYN was doing perineal massage with mineral oil and applying a warm compress.  At this point my contractions began to intensify. 

I believe it was about eight contractions later that I began feeling pressure on my perineum and Andy commented that he could see the top of Bo’s head through the amniotic sac, and yet I still didn't have a strong urge to push or a ton of pain as you might think.  Now don't get me wrong, it was no walk in the park, but once I resigned myself to the necessity of the contractions, that they were working for and with me to bring my baby to me, I embraced them as part of the physiological design.  

My favorite part of my labor happened next:  Hannah whispered to me, “reach down and feel your baby.”  I tentatively reached down and felt my baby’s velvety soft head beginning to emerge. 

As I pushed along with a contraction, I heard my doctor quietly and calmly say, "his head is out.” I was shocked and caught off guard.  With renewed purpose I let out a primal groan with my next, final contraction and all 8 lbs, 12 oz of my baby boy was out and on my chest!  I remember hearing someone exclaim, “He's big!” which surprised me because I didn't feel like I had worked that hard to get him out. 

Bewildered, I questioned, "that's it?"

Hannah helped me out of my dress so I could get Bo skin to skin.  I had my baby in my arms.  He was so calm.  He stared right into my eyes, never breaking his gaze, as mine filled with tears.  I'll never forget this moment.  In a strange way, I recognized him.  I'd never laid eyes on him, of course, but I felt like, “oh, there you are.”

My body had not only created and grown this little life, but brought him forth into our world, or earth side, as Hannah affectionately said as she welcomed him. 

I felt as though I had come full circle.  Rather than handing the process over as I had during the highly medicalized and, for me, detached birth of my oldest son, I had embraced the process.  Instead of placing my childbirth in the hands of the hospital staff, this time I had a plan and then trusted my instincts and my body to do what it was Divinely designed to.  I learned that I could not put the burden of a safe childbirth squarely on the shoulders of my chosen birth attendant.  I must be accountable for educating myself and then carefully choosing who would attend my birth.

If my three radically different childbirth experiences taught me nothing else, they showed me that there is no "right” way to birth, but there is a right way to treat a laboring woman: with respect.  There are many factors at play, and sometimes the choices are very limited. The most important part is that we are informed and respected in our choices

I evolved with my experiences to guide me, and my expectation of birth changed. I learned what it could be with the right preparation and careful consideration of who was present at my births. 

I found the Alabama Birth Coalition about six months postpartum as I continued to process the impact my first two children’s births had on me and our family.  That's when I learned that for more than 13 years, ABC has fought to give families in Alabama the right to choose Certified Professional Midwives for their maternity care and safe home birth. 

Everybody is so happy that Bo is here!
I had three hospital births:  a medicalized, an unintentional unmedicated, and finally a planned natural birth.  Many variables aligned in my favor to achieve the above described birth.  Yes, with careful preparation and crossed fingers, you can have a beautiful, natural hospital birth. However, consider one thing: hospitals by their very nature are not designed to embrace healthy physiology.    On the other hand, they expertly save the lives of high risk mothers and babies every day, but the anticipation of abnormality is palpable for a healthy laboring woman and unfortunately can often lead to unnecessary interventions. 

I believe that the future of maternity care in our state can and should include out of hospital birth options for healthy women   Home birth isn’t for every family, but we owe it to the futur
e of birthing women in a our state to at least allow them this choice.  I firmly believe I could have easily had my baby in the comfort of my home had I been able to do so safely with a CPM. 

I am proud to now be a part of the Alabama Birth Coalition and their effort to introduce legislation that will finally let Certified Professional Midwives legally attend home births in Alabama and thereby give us real choices regarding our maternity care. 

Educate yourself, know your choices, and hire a Doula!


For more information, please visit the Alabama Birth Coalition’s website at http://www.alabamabirthcoalition.org or Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/alabamabirthcoalition/.