Ep. 30: Struggling to Breastfeed (37 Weeks Pregnant and 2 Weeks Postpartum)

January 28, 2019

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Shanna reports on her struggle to produce enough breastmilk to help her newborn gain weight, and Laura discusses decorating her baby’s nursery and sustaining an unexpected injury. In this week’s special segment, “What I Googled This Week,” the moms-to-be divulge the pregnancy-related topics they asked the Internet about recently, diving into the topics of using traditional Chinese medicine to try to turn a breech baby, experiencing discomfort while recovering from a c-section and more! Finally, they reveal their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Laura is 37 weeks pregnant, and Shanna is two weeks postpartum and her baby is two weeks old.

Topics discussed in this episode:

-Week 37 of pregnancy

-2 weeks postpartum

-2-week-old baby

-Newborn baby not gaining weight

-Breastfeeding struggles

-Using galactagogues to increase breastmilk

-Having a unicornuate uterus

-Wondering why your baby is stuck in the breech position

-Decorating your baby’s nursery

-Moxibustion

-C-section recovery and c-section scars

-Great British Baking Show

-Happiest Baby on the Block streaming video about soothing your baby in the fourth trimester

This episode’s full show notes can be found here.

Want to get in touch with Shanna and Laura? Send us an email and follow us on social! Instagram, Facebook or TikTok at @bfppodcast

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Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

Show Notes:

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Episode Transcript

Laura Birek: Hi. Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. This week we’ve got our weekly check-ins, we’ve got our special segment, What I Googled This Week, and we close with our BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get to it.

[Music]

Laura Birek: Hi. Welcome. Hello, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: Hey, Laura.

Laura Birek: We are on episode 30. Woo! This is just cranking me out. We’ve still done one every week, which I’m pretty proud of considering things are changing.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, me too.

Laura Birek: So tell us how things are changing. What’s going on with your week this week?

Shanna Micko: Well, my baby’s two weeks old now.

Laura Birek: Aww.

Shanna Micko: I’m exhausted just breastfeeding around the clock and last week I was talking about how my baby hasn’t gained any weight. She lost like 8% of her birth weight and didn’t gain anything and she still hasn’t. She’s so tiny.

Laura Birek: Really?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, we keep going back to the pediatrician and it’s like nothing. The latest thing he’s like, “You’re going to have to pump after every feed and then give her in a bottle, a supplement of what you pumped out.” So now my routine is breastfeed for like 30 to 45 minutes then pump and then put that in a bottle and then feed her. My whole life is just feeding this child. I’m so tired.

Laura Birek: You’re just being milked constantly all day.

Shanna Micko:
I feel like a milk factory, which is fine, because I love my baby and I want her to gain weight and I’ll do whatever it takes. But my God, it’s so exhausting and my boobs hurt like hell. I’m just like, “I can’t wait until you’re nine months old and an efficient feeder,” or if I even make it to nine months breastfeeding, who knows?

Laura Birek: Oh man, that sounds miserable.

Shanna Micko: But so what comes along with that is I’m trying to increase my milk supply, because the pediatrician thinks that part of the problem might be that I’m not making enough milk for her.

Laura Birek: Sure.

Shanna Micko: Because it’s like a vicious cycle. She’s a sleepy unmotivated eater, so if she’s nursing and not really motivated to eat everything, my body won’t produce more and produce enough so then she doesn’t get enough. I discovered an amazing word this week that has to do with breastfeeding. Tell me if you’ve ever heard of this term.

Laura Birek: Okay.

Shanna Micko: Galactagogues.

Laura Birek: No, I cannot say I’ve heard of that word.

Shanna Micko: I love it so much.

Laura Birek: Can you spell that?

Shanna Micko: G-A-L-A-C-T-A-G-O-G-U-E-S. It sounds like Space Seed goggles or something, but what it is, they are the things that help you increase your milk supply. That can be anything from like herbs. Things like fennel or fenugreek. Different herbs are supposedly supposed to help increase your milk supply and eating oatmeal is supposed to increase your milk supply, drinking tons of water. So I’ve become so versed in galactagogues, because I’m trying to do everything I can to increase my milk supply.

Laura Birek: Now, is this what your doctor is telling you, or the pediatrician’s telling you to do, or is it like a lactation consultant or the internet?

Shanna Micko: The internet. The pediatrician is basically like the best way to increase your supply is to drain your breast off milk so they could make more, so that’s why he has me pumping after every feed.

Laura Birek: Got it.

Shanna Micko: So if she’s not efficiently draining me, I need the pump to do it so that my body gets the message to do more and I can’t really keep up that routine forever. You know what I mean? So I’m trying to do other things to also increase my supply. I’m drinking like a lactation tea. I’ve been eating oatmeal every day. I’ve been having like half a beer every night, because beer is supposed to help.

Laura Birek: That sounds like a good fun one to do.

Shanna Micko: That’s a good one. I like that one. Some people do lactation cookies, which I don’t want to bring in all the extra calories of eating cookies. I’d rather get those calories in the form of beer.

Laura Birek: I agree.

Shanna Micko: So pray for me, Laura, that my milk increases and my baby starts gaining weight. Come on, galactagogues!

Laura Birek: Also, I’m here to gently remind you that if it doesn’t work, there’s no shame in formula.

Shanna Micko: Yes, true. Thank you.

Laura Birek: Remember we’re all about happy, healthy baby whatever it takes and I commend you on the pumping and working so hard. But also, all we care about is that she gains that weight however that happens.

Shanna Micko: Exactly. But my hope right now is that things will even out, she’ll get older and become a more efficient eater, which will increase my supply as well and then we’ll just be fine. Fingers crossed.

Laura Birek: Okay.

Shanna Micko: That’s me this week. What about you? You’re getting close now.

Laura Birek: Oh my gosh, I’m getting so close. I’m 37 weeks and this baby is still breach, so I’m closer than I thought because we’re still keeping my appointment for my C-section at 38 weeks, six days because my 39 week mark is on a Saturday and I don’t think they want to schedule a C-section on a Saturday. I’m like two weeks away and it’s a little terrifying. Unless something happens, I’m still trying to turn the baby going to the chiropractor and whatnot. But he’s pretty stubborn. Always in the exact same position.

Shanna Micko: Wow. I’m dying to know what’s keeping him stuck up there.

Laura Birek: Me too. I want them to look in my uterus. I have a friend who told me both her babies were breach and so we were talking about it and she said on the second one, she asked them, “Can you poke around in my uterus and figure out why both of my babies were in the exact same spot throughout the pregnancies?” It turns out she had I think she called it a unicornuate uterus.

Shanna Micko: Like a unicorn?

Laura Birek: Yeah, usually you have two equally balanced sides of your uterus, but she had a uterus that was lopsided. There was literally one side that was protruding and the other side was lower.

Shanna Micko: Oh my God, she had a magical uterus.

Laura Birek: She did. Both of her sons are very cute and smart and just adorable. So it seems like her unicornuate uterus produced some good kids. 

I’m kind of curious to ask, “Can you guys look and see if that’s the situation?”

Shanna Micko: I feel like your doctor would probably check that out for you. He’s probably curious too.

Laura Birek: He’s convinced there’s some kind of physical reason whether it’s the shape of my uterus or a short cord. He’s never mentioned this, but I remember how I have an anterior placenta. We talked about it ages ago and it’s a fairly low anterior placenta, which means, for people who hadn’t heard those episodes, that my placenta sits in the front side of my uterus instead of on the backside. So part of me thinks maybe that’s getting in the way, but he hasn’t turned yet. But there is some good news. The good news is that the nursery’s finally done.

Shanna Micko: Yay! I want to see pictures.

Laura Birek: I think I’ll be able to share pictures, because there’s nothing personally revealing. So I could post a picture of my nursery decorations on Instagram for everyone. It used to be my office and we didn’t really do that much decorating because the office already had this big teal accent wall that we had our three guitars hung up on and then there was a futon beneath it and I had this revelation that I could just leave the futon and the guitars where it is and put the crib in the corner and the dresser in the corner, the changing table. Then I got these really adorable decals from Etsy that are like rock and roll hands and music notes and lightning bolts and stars and stuff and so we put those up and I’m pretty impressed with how it turned out.

Shanna Micko: Cute. I love that.

Laura Birek: I’m impressed with myself, because I’m not big on decorating.

Shanna Micko: Good job.

Laura Birek: I know you spent forever coming up with your color scheme and tweaking it and I was just like, I want to do the least amount of work. How can I do that?

Shanna Micko: That’s a good method too. It saved you some madness.

Laura Birek: It’s like, oh there’s already three guitars hanging up. Let’s just make it a music theme done.

Shanna Micko: Perfect.

Laura Birek: We did that and then my final sort of humiliation of this week was I took a nap on the couch with my husband and my two cats and when I went to stand up to go to the bathroom after this lovely nap, I could not straighten out my leg. My knee was like completely tweaked and I couldn’t put weight on it. I went to go stand up and my leg buckled underneath me and for the whole night, I couldn’t walk and it was really bad. Corey was like, “Do we go to the ER?” I’m like, “No one’s going to do knee surgery on a 37 week pregnant woman, anyway.” Thankfully, my stepdad had left his cane. I was walking around with the cane and then I went and took a long hot shower at some point. My husband’s in bed falling asleep and I’m coming out of our bathroom, I’m totally stark naked, nine months pregnant, gigantic belly with a cane hobbling and I was like, “Honey, is this how you envisioned marriage?” But then there was a miracle. I woke up and it was fine.

Shanna Micko: What the heck happened?

Laura Birek: I don’t know. I asked my dad who’s a doctor and he’s like, “At the end of pregnancy, your joints are so hyper mobile. It could be anything. You probably hyperextended it or did something to the meniscus or who knows what?” But it corrected itself and I’m really glad because I was like, God, damn it! I’m going to hobble into the fucking OR with my breach baby and my cane.

Shanna Micko: That’s a sight. I’m so glad that reversed itself.

Laura Birek: Me too. I’m no longer sick, thankfully. I’m still stuffy, because I don’t think I’ll ever not be stuffy as a pregnant person. Did that go away for you?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, I was going to say, I know you’ve had aches and pains and a lot of stuffiness and I had some aches and pains and tons of stuffiness and it’s like almost the day I gave birth, all of that went away.

Laura Birek: Oh God, I can’t wait.

Shanna Micko: I can breathe again. I was using Breathe Right nasal strips every single day. If you recall, it was one of my BFPs. I haven’t even needed that. I was getting numb legs, sore hips from sleeping. It’s weird how it just kind of evaporates after you give birth or maybe it’s all there and I’m just not even noticing it, because I’m so exhausted.

Laura Birek: Maybe. But you do sound clearer actually now that you mention it.

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: All right. I think that’s a summary of my week. Shall we move on?

Shanna Micko: Let’s do it.

[Music]

Shanna Micko: Our next segment is one of our favorites. It’s, What I Googled This Week, where we divulge the sometimes embarrassing, always interesting things we ask the internet about this week. Laura, what did you ask Mr. Internet?

Laura Birek: This is the single word I Googled, which you tell me if you’ve heard this one, Shanna: moxibustion.

Shanna Micko: No, what is moxibustion?

Laura Birek: Moxibustion, it’s M-O-X-I-B-U-S-T-I-O-N.

Shanna Micko: So you Googled that. You knew this word.

Laura Birek: I was told this word by a number of people. I’ll tell you what it is and then you can guess what it’s for.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: “Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called “moxa” are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences and then also moxa is usually made from the dried leafy material of the Chinese mugwort, but it can be made of other substances as well.” So you want to guess what this was intended for?

Shanna Micko: My first thought is that this is some new technique to try to spin that baby.

Laura Birek: You got it, Shanna. You nailed it.

Shanna Micko: Did you try this?

Laura Birek: Yes, I feel like it’s very against my personality to do this. But I’ll tell you why I tried, because two things: one is my chiropractor suggested it and if it had just been my chiropractor, I might have been like, sure, I’ll take these incense sticks home. They’re like big cigar-sized incense sticks.

Shanna Micko: So you got the supplies from the chiropractor?

Laura Birek: Yes.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: But I might not have done it except for my friend who I won’t name, because you don’t want her to be embarrassed. But I have a friend who is a maternal fetal medicine specialist and she said, “I’m telling you this, not as an MFM, but as your friend. But have you tried moxibustion yet?” She said that she has a couple patients that it had worked for. So I was like, “Crap, if she says it and my chiropractor says it, what’s the harm?” You’ll be happy to know I had Corey take pictures of my first attempt at this.

Shanna Micko: Excellent.

Laura Birek: I guess it can work for different ailments, but for spinning breach babies, you’re supposed to put the hot ends of the moxa sticks by your pinky toes, basically.

Shanna Micko: But it doesn’t touch your skin, right?

Laura Birek: No, but it gets really, really close. Apparently, what you want to do is get it as hot as you can stand without burning. What you do is you light the sticks and then you blow on them and make sure they’re smoldering, they’re like red hot and the smoke is coming up, but they’re not on fire. Then my chiro gave me this way: you put your feet on two books so that your pinky toe can kind of curl around it and you can align it and then you put the sticks onto other books, so they balance more easily.

Shanna Micko: Are you standing up?

Laura Birek: I’m sitting. There was some question about whether you were supposed to lie down. I couldn’t figure it out. So I just did it sitting, because I couldn’t figure out another way to do it and they are pungent. Thankfully, first, I did it on my front porch and even then, it wafted into the house and my hair and clothes and everything just completely stunk. So the next time I did it, I did it in my backyard a little further away from the house. I don’t have pictures of this, but I dawned not only like a hoodie, but I also got a shower cap so that I wouldn’t have to wash my hair afterwards.

Shanna Micko: Smart. I should do that next time I sit around a campfire.

Laura Birek: Actually, it worked really well. It definitely looked ridiculous. It smelled a lot like pot. I live in California where it’s legal, I’m a grown ass adult, I know what pot smells like.

Shanna Micko: It’s not a 10-year-old.

Laura Birek: It smells like bad pot. I don’t really like smoking pot, so I don’t really have a nose for it. But it reminded me of college pot, not this new fancy you know exactly what percentage of sativa and indica it is. Then they’ve got it from their pharmacy. You know what I mean? It’s like a special strain.

Shanna Micko: Well, that’s too bad, because I was imagining it smelled like Sage or something. When you Sage your house, I kind of love that smell.

Laura Birek: No.

Shanna Micko: But no, it smells stinky.

Laura Birek: I was like, all my neighbors are for sure wondering what the hell’s going on with me every night because you’re supposed to do it right before bed.

Shanna Micko: It sounds like some crazy ritual your neighbor’s doing. Oh, Laura. So it did it work or do we know yet?

Laura Birek: We’re going to find out. I can tell you it didn’t, because I can feel where my baby’s head is. It’s so obvious, but I’m going to try it until my next appointment. 

Just to say I’ve done everything. No one can accuse me of not trying to be the best, most amazing mother who tries to have her vaginal birth no matter what.

Shanna Micko: That’s right.

Laura Birek: I did the damn incense sticks, people. What do you want from me? That’s what I Googled this week.

Shanna Micko: Amazing.

Laura Birek: Shanna, what did you put in your search bar?

Shanna Micko: This week I Googled, “Numb fat pouch over C-section scar.” Oh, C-section recovery!

Laura Birek: The fat pouch is really the best part. The numb C-section scar, I get, but the numb fat pouch really just cherry on top. What did you find out?

Shanna Micko: It’s normal. You’ll probably maybe if you end up going with the C-section discover this, that above your scar, which is they pull a tot, you still kind of have that leftover swelling and fat and stuff left over from pregnancy that’s above it and that’s kind of disconcerting in itself. I kind of forgot about that from my first pregnancy. So now I’m like, what is this? I’m not comfortable with it, but what makes it even weirder is that it’s numb to the touch. 

I’m not even talking about the incision itself. Just the skin and stuff up above.

Laura Birek: Interesting. Directly above the incision?

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: How far up?

Shanna Micko: Below my belly button and above the scar.

Laura Birek: Oh, wow. That’s a couple inches. Actually, I’m measuring on my giant belly right now. Maybe it’s a little small.

Shanna Micko: It’s an inch or two, but it’s such a weird sensation. I hate numb feeling. It just weirds me out and I guess that’s because when they do the cutting and stuff, it severs nerves and according to the internet, it’s the nerves that were severed during surgery and they need time to grow back together and stuff. Some people are like, “It never came back for me.” So that’s a horror story. I’m like, oh my God, I’m never going to feel my abdomen again and then some are like, “It came back after several months,” which is kind medium ground and some are like, “It comes back after a couple months.” I think it’s a slow process of regaining feeling and everything like that.

Laura Birek: Did this happen last time, because this is your second C-section?

Shanna Micko: It is. It probably did, but I really don’t remember. There’s so little I remember about my C-section recovery, because I don’t know if I mentioned it on the show. I know you remember, Laura, but my incision got infected last time and the wound was basically open for three to four months. I had to go to the wound doctor several times out a week to clean it and pack it. That’s basically all I remember is the nightmare hell that was that recovery.

Laura Birek: That was very distracting from the numbness you might be having.

Shanna Micko: So this is like so minor in comparison to that, but it’s just really weirding me out and the fact that it’s this C-section overhang as they call it is disturbing. It’s all just weird. I can’t wait to just be recovered from this whole surgery.

Laura Birek: Other than that, is the incision healing and everything at this time?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, I think so. I haven’t had any sharp shooting pain with it like I did last time. There are some aches and pains here and there when I sit up or move really fast. It’s more internal though. I think whatever they sewed up inside of me might just still be achy and swollen. But the incision itself, I think, knock on wood, is doing much better. So I’m so happy about that.

Laura Birek: Oh, good.

Shanna Micko: So there you go. That’s what I Googled this week.

Laura Birek: All righty. Let’s move on.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

[Music]

Laura Birek: We close every episode with our big fat positives or big fat negatives of the week. Shanna, do you have a BFP or a BFN for us?

Shanna Micko: I have been having so many BFPs lately. I feel tempted to choose a BFN, but to be honest, I want to choose another BFP this week, because there’s just so much exhaustion and so many things that are draining.

Laura Birek: I’m cool with it.

Shanna Micko: I want to focus on the positive.

Laura Birek: I think that’s good.

Shanna Micko: So I have a BFP this week and that is The Great British Baking Show.

Laura Birek: Oh my God, I love it so much.

Shanna Micko: I love it. I already had watched like three or four seasons on Netflix a year or two ago and there was nothing new for the longest time and I was so sad. Well, now they’ve got all new episodes and they have like a holiday special and I have been binging the shit out of this show while breastfeeding and pumping and it is just giving me life. I love it so much.

Laura Birek: I am specifically saving this new season for breastfeeding postpartum time. I was tempted to watch it and I was like, no, you are going to need something to watch when this baby comes out and I was like, I’m so excited to watch it. Do you want to tell people what it is if they don’t know?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, it’s a BBC show from England and it’s like a competition show where they bring 12 of the best amateur bakers from around the country to come on and do baking challenges every week and they’re judged by baking geniuses and someone gets eliminated every week and it’s just fun. I’m definitely not a baker. I make Jill & Jia’s box brownies occasionally, but I just love it. I love the personalities and seeing what they make makes me so hungry.

Laura Birek: What makes it special I think is that it’s a competition show, but it’s not competitive. Everyone’s there being very supportive of each other. It’s like loving: everyone’s very happy when other people win and it’s also so British. They make meat pies and stuffs.

Shanna Micko: They make puts.

Laura Birek: What did you say?

Shanna Micko: They put in tarts and all kinds of things.

Laura Birek: All kinds of weird British stuff, which I just love.

Shanna Micko: They help each other too. Like if one contestant is done, they’ll rush over and help someone else finish and it’s so endearing and positive and it’s just perfect for feeding around the clock, late night feeds and stuff like that. So I’m so glad that you saved that season. Let me know what you think about it, because I really, really loved the most recent season. I don’t want to hype it. It was good. I liked it.

Laura Birek: Okay. I don’t know how I wouldn’t like it.

Shanna Micko: Anyway, that’s my BFP. What do you have?

Laura Birek: I also have a BFP. I feel like maybe we are slew of BFPs, trying to be positive. We did have a slew of BFNs I feel like, especially in the third trimesters or the first trimesters. I have a BFP and what it is, is it’s the Happiest Baby on the Block video that you can stream.

Shanna Micko: Dr. Karp.

Laura Birek: Dr. Harvey Karp. He wrote this book that’s a massive bestseller I think about 15 years ago called The Happiest Baby on the Block and it’s about how to soothe your baby in the fourth trimester, the first three months after birth, and everyone recommended this book. But then someone was like, “Wait, just watch the video. It’s just as informative and it takes only like an hour and a half as opposed to reading the whole book, which you’re probably not going to get through. You can actually see him doing his soothing techniques, so you get the physical aspect of it.” I got it off of Amazon I think for $699. We’ll put the link in our show notes for everyone. Corey and I watched it the other night. So we watch it and we were like, “It looks very convincing. How come everyone doesn’t do this? How come everyone doesn’t know about this?” But we thought we were being a little smug not having a baby yet to try it on. Well, our friend Keri came over the next day and her daughter, Ella, who’s seven weeks old was having a meltdown and crying and was inconsolable, didn’t want to take her bottle, all that stuff. I felt like such a jerk being, “Can I your childless friend who hasn’t actually known what it’s like to take care of a baby yet try?” Keri was like, “Sure. Of course, take this crying baby for me,” and I did the techniques, which if you watch the video, you’ll see.

Shanna Micko: Is that the five S’s?

Laura Birek: It’s a certain number of S’s. It’s like shushing and swaddling and shimmying with the baby and sucking. Anyway, it’s a whole thing. I don’t want to steal his thunder, but you should watch the video. So I put Ella on her side and I started doing like the shimming. We didn’t have a swaddle, but I tried to keep her arms down and that baby got quiet within like one or two minutes.

Shanna Micko: Wow.

Laura Birek: Keri was blown away, because she said it usually takes about 30 minutes for her to calm down when that happens. So all of three of us were like, “What? This works,” so I highly recommend and we are going to try to implement that with our baby in a couple weeks. I’ll check back and tell you if it works for ours.

Shanna Micko: Definitely. Please do. I remember doing that with our first. We watched the video and employed those techniques as well and I remember it working pretty well not all the time, depending on her mood and stuff. But I think I even have a video of that time of my husband walking around shimming her. She’s on her side and just being like, “Sh!” Just running from room to room and whatever the technique was. It’s kind of hilarious to watch.

Laura Birek: It is. It’s very loud shushing. So it seems too loud, but it works, I guess.

Shanna Micko: I think the idea is you’re supposed to shush louder than they’re crying.

Laura Birek: You’re supposed to match their crying.

Shanna Micko: It can be very loud. It’s kind of an embarrassing thing to do in public. For people who don’t know what you’re doing, they’re like, “God, stop trying to shush your baby.” It’s best done in private.

Laura Birek: I will report back.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: I think that’s our show.

Shanna Micko: Yay!

Laura Birek: You got to get back to pumping.

Shanna Micko: Yes, I do.

Laura Birek: I got to get back to those incense sticks.

Shanna Micko: All right. Let’s wrap it up. What have you guys Googled this week? What are your BFPs and BFNs? If you want to share with us, we would love to know or if you have any comments or questions for us, please reach out. Laura, how can they contact us?

Laura Birek: We are on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at BFP Podcast and we also have a Facebook community group you can join. We also have a website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com, where you can get in touch with us and see all of the show notes where we’ll put links to everything we talked about in this episode.

Shanna Micko: Big Fat Positive is produced by Shanna Micko, Laura Birek, and Steve Yager.

Laura Birek: Thanks for listening.

Shanna Micko: Bye.

[Music]