Family · Life

Trusting the Mama Gut

babyBeing a mom can be hard, especially for the first time. My son is 16 months old and I still feel like it’s one big experiment of fake it ’til you make it. Between everyone “offering” their opinions, to every article that says one way is better than the other, it’s hard not to get caught up in thinking what we should be doing differently as a mom. However, there’s one thing that trumps all of that, and it’s the Mama Gut. Even if you are a first time mom, you still have that underlying feeling, that intuition, that gut reaction that something needs to change. This is my story of trusting the mama gut and my “happy spitter.”

I remember things going pretty well in the hospital after I had John, but he did lose more weight than the doctors wanted. This landed us at the pediatrician’s office the morning after we got home from the hospital. There were many questions about how often he ate, how long, did he have a good latch? I feel like “good latch” is a relative term on day 5 of motherhood. The concern for his drop in weight, and thus lack of milk, brought on all sort of postpartum hormones that may or may not have been expressed in the pediatrician’s parking lot.

Over the next couple of days, though it felt like longer, we intentionally woke a sleeping baby so he could eat. I used my minimal knowledge about breastfeeding and latching to really pay attention and try to make each feeding as best as possible. I never had a lot of experience with babies. I babysat a little growing up and had some younger cousins, but I wouldn’t say that I was ever consistently around babies.

I just kept having the feeling of things not being right or normal. Each feeding turned into a struggle with John coming on and off, arching his back, and crying. Was he getting too much milk? Too little? Acid reflux? After he ate something, there would be the spit up. Even with my minimal experience, I know babies spit up. However, this kid was doing it at a minimum of fifteen times a day. He went through about five outfits a day, and not because of other bodily functions. We started using receiving blankets as burp clothes just so we’d have more coverage. When people wanted to hold the new baby, it came with a warning and a blanket. I expressed my concern to the pediatrician, but because he was gaining weight, they told me he was a happy spitter. My first thought was, “he doesn’t seem very happy.”

I’m not a person who hates doctors, and generally trust those with more experience than me. But when it came down to it, I was the one who was around John 24/7 and there was nothing happy about his spitting. Cue the mama gut. After internet searches and trying a few things, I had something else remaining. Remove dairy.

But what can I eat? Why me? No more CHEESE? I’m already gluten-free and had just come off the typical pregnancy food restrictions, so there was a little dread at first. I started by cutting out all of the obvious things, and then switched over others like coffee creamer as I ran out. I kept a log about John’s day, which thankfully showed a reduction in the number of times he spit up. There could have been a variety of factors, including both of us just getting better at nursing, but he was becoming a much happier baby.

I made it through Thanksgiving, so by the time my husband’s Christmas party rolled around I thought I would use it as a test. Really, I just wanted a night to enjoy myself and not have to say 17 times that I couldn’t eat something. The truth came a few days later after transporting a very dirty diaper to the doctor. I felt very sorry for that nurse. The doctor confirmed that John was indeed allergic to dairy and suggested I also remove soy at the same time. Please see the above panic of “what do I eat?” So while we were able to confirm what I had already expected, I also put my baby in additional pain.

Fast forward a year later, and everything worked out. I was gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free for about 11 months. I nursed for longer than I ever thought, but I also lost my massive amount of pregnancy weight rather quickly. Win-win. Introducing it back was again a bit of an experiment.Towards his first birthday we would try it, wait a few weeks after he reacted, and try again. Many kids outgrow it, and thankfully John did. He doesn’t really like drinking milk from a cup though, so he has to get his calcium in other ways.

Life and motherhood are hard enough. It’s a challenge as a first time mom to listen to yourself over those who are more experienced. But learn to trust yourself and do what feels right for your family. I doubt that you’ll regret it.

 

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