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Ep. 170- Breastfeeding as a Neurodiverse Parent

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*We apologize for any typos, misspellings or incorrect grammar. Our transcript is auto-generated by software that’s trying its best, just like all of us.*

Hey everybody, welcome back to the Milk Minute! Welcome, welcome. We’re excited to be here. Although we are virtual today, Maureen is in New Hampshire, which is very exciting. I am. You haven’t been to New Hampshire. I’m on a lake in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire which is like, my father lives here, but it’s a tourist town, so like, in the off season, there’s like 5, 000 people here.

And in the on season, it’s like 35, 000. Whoa. Yeah. So it’s tourist season right now. It’s crazy. But it’s fun. He’s, my dad has a house right on the lake, which is amazing. So we’ve just like walk through the backyard and go swimming. Yeah. So it’s fun. The kids are having a lot of fun. Well, that sounds beauteous.

We are getting ready to go to Emerald Isle, which is very exciting. Yeah. And this is the first year that we haven’t felt like we have to pack for. Anything, you know, like just regular packing because Heidi’s old enough now and I’m trying to savor it because next year we’re going to have a baby again and then, and then you just like have so, why did small babies come with so much gear?

Can I tell you, so getting to where I am. is possibly like the most, so I live in a rural mountain town. This is also a rural mountain town, right? Getting from one, they also, they honestly look really similar to getting from one rural mountain town in West Virginia to another in New Hampshire was hell.

And I was like, that’s going to be a really hard trip. I should pack lightly, right? Cause I’m going solo. My husband had to stay home and work. Oh my god, packing lightly meant I just barely brought anything for myself because I was like, yeah, Lyra probably has to change clothes five times a day because who the heck knows what’s going to happen.

Even if I do laundry, like, I don’t want to do laundry every day on vacation. Yeah, so I, I borrowed a suitcase from my neighbor because I was like, I don’t own one big enough with wheels. Filled it absolutely to the brim. I even mailed some stuff here. I was like, Oh, she outgrew half her clothes. I’m just going to mail some new clothes directly from target to my dad’s house.

And yeah, that’s always funny too. When you’re, when you’re going on vacation to a different climate and then you pull out all the clothes for that climate and realize they outgrew them, you know, we just did the same thing where we’re like. Oh my God, did everyone grow out of their water shoes? Of course they did.

We’re, so we’re like making these crazy Amazon purchases where it’s like, yes, we do need 30 water shoes that he’s only going to wear three times. Yeah, no, exactly. Exactly. Like Griffin, I like, I don’t, so he like, I, this was an organizational thing for me. He literally just grew out of like almost every size eight item of clothing he had like this week.

And I was like, Oh, I have a bag of hand me downsize tents in the closet. Wrong. The thing on top was a size 10. Everything else was a size 8 in it. Oh my god. It was so good. I was like, Walmart, it is. Was it, was it from me? No, but from somebody else in Morgantown. But yeah, it’s just, it’s so ridiculous. Why is, going on vacation, truly, while I cherish the memories, is really just paying for my children to not sleep in another place.

Yeah, pretty much. And I still enjoy it. Well, let me just sneak in the question of the day into this since it’s like right on topic. Today’s question comes from literally every patient I’ve had in the past two weeks who’s going on vacation, who’s asked me, Do I need to bring my breast pump if my baby is coming with me?

Yes. Yes is the answer because when you’re on vacation, you are sleeping differently, you’re eating differently, your kid is going to nurse differently, and we tend to see more mastitis, more plug ducts. Crap like that. And you just don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere trying to find a target to find like a weird hand pump or something and they won’t have your size flange.

It’s just like, just bring it. I know it sucks. Just bring it. Yeah. Especially if you do already pump like once a day or something, please don’t leave without it. And if you don’t use it, great. It was a bag that you can carry on for free because it is medical equipment and whatever. It’s no big deal. Right.

And bring your ibuprofen. You’re probably bringing it anyway for your hangover, but you would bring that for your mastitis. Or for your sore back after chasing your children on the beach all day. Exactly. Like, isn’t this fun? And you’re like, I burned 4, 000 calories before noon. No, no. Yesterday, I like looked at my little app.

I don’t even, I don’t track my steps usually, but I was like, oh, this has been in my pocket all day. I bet it tracked my steps. It was 11 a. m. and I had already walked 8, 000 steps. Oh my gosh, how? Because, so this town is like walking everything because there’s no parking. So my dad lives a half mile on like a rail trail from all the shops.

And yesterday was the fairy festival where they hid fairy rocks all over the rail trail. So I was just chasing my children in circles for like three hours straight as they found fairy rocks. Yeah, that’s how. That sounds so fun! I know! Thanks, thanks New Hampshire! The children were very excited, let’s just say that.

Okay, good. Well, I love fairies. Well, before we continue, let’s thank some patrons. And then today we’re going to talk to you about your personal account of what it’s like to breastfeed as a neurodiverse parent. And yes, and we are going to do another episode that’s a little bit more research based, statistics based.

Yeah, I might, I might do an interview for that one. I haven’t decided yet, but there’s some pretty incredible folks who talk about it a lot. So I was thinking about reaching out. Yeah, I think that’s really cool, but I’m really glad that you’re open and willing to talk about your personal experience with this, because I think a lot of people love you and respect you, and they, they, in my experience, people are like, oh, you know, we want to breastfeed as good as you and Maureen, first of all.

First of all, thank you, but also it’s not perfect. It’s not always pretty. Like we were human beings and I really appreciate you sharing this very human side of you today to help normalize it. Yeah, no problem. I’m excited to talk about it. I think it’ll be good. Well I would like to thank a couple patrons first.

All right, I want to thank Molly McDougal, Kelsey Miller, Ashley Gordon, Sarah Eidelson, and Laurel Dooley. Thank you guys so much for joining our Patreon. It just, it makes us so happy to like see these little notifications pop up on our phone and be like, bloop bloop, new patron! I know. And also I just got to give props to Ashley Gordon because she has had such a good time, a rough time in the beginning, but such a good time with breastfeeding and just like really getting into all of the little details of breastfeeding.

Like she’s a nurse. So of course she got, she got really into this and she actually just switched jobs and it’s now working on labor and delivery because she’s had such a good experience with her birth and everything. And so we, we got one We snuck one in, Maureen. That’s awesome. Let’s take a minute to thank one of our sponsors.

And when we come back, we are going to get right into it with Maureen about being a neurodiverse breastfeeding parent.

Have you guys ever been listening to our show and thought to yourself, man, I really want to work one on one with Maureen. I do every day that I sit here. podcasting across from you. Well, lucky for you and everybody at home. I offer both in person and virtual support through my business. And in my business, Highland Birth Support, I’m dedicated to mentoring you guys through your childbearing year.

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Thank you and I just feel really happy to serve everybody and I’m so happy I can expand my services virtually as well. Yeah, telehealth for lactation has been really important through the pandemic and I think we just about got it perfected at this point. So if you guys want to work with me, head over to HighlandBirthSupport.

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Alright, welcome back everybody. Maureen, are you ready to get into this? I think so, yeah. I just, I guess I’ll start. By talking a little bit about like, what is neurodiversity because it’s kind of feels like a hot term right now, but it’s, it’s actually a much broader term than I even realized. When I was like, let me do some Googling before this episode, let me Google more about me.

Yeah. And like I, as some of you guys know, I had gone for some evaluations last year and I don’t want to get into detail about like my own diagnosis, but I fell very clearly into the neurodiverse category. However, it includes a lot more diagnosis. Cs than I thought. Like a lot of us know autism, A D H D are in there, but there’s Dyspraxia, dyslexia, down syndrome, bipolar disorder, O C D, tret Syndrome, sensory Processing Disorder.

I mean, and it like I looked at a couple websites and they all had kind of different. Lists. So it’s a big umbrella term that we kind of use for a number of different issues and with differing severity there as well. So it doesn’t mean necessarily anything about like how somebody functions or what kind of assistance they need.

It’s broader than that. So the term neurodiverse was coined kind of to recognize that everyone’s brain develops uniquely. And so, you know, to kind of be broader than just like a disability or a social difference or a sensory difference, and I guess like also kind of a kinder term for a lot of the diagnoses that fall under it as well.

I think people kind of get mad at the catch all term though, you know, everybody’s neurodiverse. And then the people that are actually like on the more severe side of the spectrum are like, yeah, can we not like terms to use? Correctly, I think, sometimes, you know? Yeah, right. And also, if I have a patient who’s like, I’m neurodiverse, I’m not going to argue with them.

I’m going to be like, okay, tell me more about that. Like, really, it’s, it’s a good soft opener. So, like, if you have something that you’re trying to talk about with your provider about, like, hey, these are some things I’m nervous about that might come up that bother me in everyday life that might be a little bit more enhanced during medical care, yeah, for sure, be like, I’m neurodiverse.

I don’t really know what it means, but here’s my symptoms. Yeah, and, and I think, like, the way I usually approach it is if someone tells me that or even like their More specific diagnosis, I say, okay, can you tell me more about what that means for you and how I can help you with that? Because even if someone says, hey, I’m autistic, I’m like, okay, that could mean one of a hundred things for you, right?

It could mean something, you know, something about the way I need to speak to you or the way I need to touch you or whatever. So. It’s kind of regardless of the specific diagnosis, we’re then going to sit down with those patients and be like, all right, so in your body and your brain, tell me what this means for you.

Yeah, and honestly, I think even without that diagnosis, that’s a good thing to check in on throughout people’s breastfeeding journeys. You know, like, we tend to say a lot, like, oh, I’m over touched, I’m over touched, I’m over touched with breastfeeding. And really, if I hear a patient saying that over and over and over again, I’m like, Tell me more about what that feels like for you to be over touched.

And like, is there another time during the day or previous to breastfeeding that you felt the same feeling? And usually we, we can uncover a similarity there and they’re like, Oh, maybe it’s not breastfeeding. Maybe it’s me and breastfeeding is bringing this out. And I’m like, yeah, maybe, parenting does that a lot.

Okay, so actually sensory overwhelm is a really nice place to start with this conversation, because I think that, well, I know that is something I struggle with, but that was honestly one of the first things that when I looked back and thought about it, I was like, Oh, that’s like, not a normal experience that everybody has through their whole life.

And, you know, the thing is, the reason a lot of Women parents who are our age are receiving these late diagnosis is because a lot of the diagnosis for things like autism and A D H D were basically written to diagnose little boys like period . And as we’re becoming parents , these symptoms get really exacerbated as we are sleeping less.

And as we are touched all the time, and as our boundaries that most of us have like spent our whole lives very carefully laying out are just like trampled by cute little, tiny feet every day. Yeah, yeah, pretty much. And then I agree. I think a lot of times we don’t realize how prevalent it is because the expectation that we give of ourselves as mothers over and over and over until we have nothing left is the expectation.

Yes. And. When someone is verbally saying, like, I feel overwhelmed. It’s like, yes, queen, don’t we all. And it’s like, wait, don’t write her off. That’s not what I meant. Not like that. Yeah. And, and the sensory overload is a tough one because you don’t, you don’t have to be neurodiverse to experience that for sure, but it’s something that a lot of people who fall into this category experience every single day.

Even without children, right? However, without children, we have the choice, typically, to simply walk away. Stop experiencing those things, right? Like, when I was a child, and my socks were wrinkled, and I would have an absolute meltdown, that was one thing. I’m an adult. If my socks are wrinkled, I stop, and I take my shoe off, and I fix it, right?

Like, I have power now over my own body. However, after another human exited my body, That changed and suddenly I was like, wait, I have like, and I know this sounds silly. It’s like, obviously, yes, you have to hold a baby, but the reality of what holding a baby, essentially 24 hours a day for, you know, ever was for me was like, so unexpected.

I. Just didn’t realize that, like, I, yes, obviously, I love holding my babies, but the amount of touching makes me feel like I’d like to rip my skin off some days. That’s, like, not, not really an exaggeration. What else does it feel like, though? If you could maybe describe it in detail, I think a lot of people listening are gonna be like, Yep, that’s me.

Yep, that’s me. Yeah, and this feels different to everybody, but for me, because basically the entirety of my life, I’ve been taught to hide when this is uncomfortable for me. Norm is when I’m feeling this kind of overwhelm. It’s just like push it down and ignore it and compartmentalize it, which I do automatically now.

However, that also means that it really sneaks up on me sometimes because I’m actively not paying attention to it. Do you know what I mean? So what happens is over a couple minutes, a couple hours, it’s like this progressive. State of like hyper vigilance and tension like creeps up my body and kind of all of a sudden I realize like I feel like I can’t breathe feels like my chest is like caving in on itself.

I feel hot. I feel. clammy, sweaty at the same time. And I really feel like my skin is like moving, crawling, itching. It’s like, and it’s like all of a sudden I’m like, oh shit, this has been happening for a long time and I’ve been ignoring it and now it is unbearable and I have to change my situation. And I’m working with my therapist on not automatically trying to push all this down so I can like, moderate my reactions in real time.

So that doesn’t happen. And I don’t just have to like, run away. But, you know, I’m much more prone to doing that if I like haven’t slept and I’m not thinking about what’s going on. Cause I’m just like trying to survive. And, you know, it’s, it’s the combination of being touched all the time, having, especially like if a baby is fussy and they’re just making noise constantly.

And. Also not meeting my own physical needs, right? As we do as parents, we’re like not peeing enough, not eating enough, not drinking enough. And that all really crashes into me in like a big wave suddenly. And it’s terrible and I panic. Does it feel like a panic attack or does that feel different? No, that is different.

A panic attack, I really don’t have those routinely. I’ve only had like one or two. They definitely feel more like I’m like you’re having a heart attack and you can’t breathe at all. Mm hmm. At least for me. It’s, it’s. Oh, me too. It’s much more, I don’t know, the feeling is much. I, I, I’m, it’s hard to describe, it’s, it’s like bone deep.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, so what are some things that you do to like mitigate this? I mean, cause I know that a lot of people will use the loop earplugs to kind of tamp the noise down a little bit, especially if they have a crying baby or medication or like, what are some tools that you use? Yeah, medication for sure.

I definitely use that. Absolutely, I’ve used earplugs. And now, it’s not something I use so much anymore but I do have sound canceling headphones and earplugs, and especially when my children were little babies, if they were going through some kind of thing, you know, that just makes them cry all the time for a couple days and, and the mistake I made with the first one is feeling guilt over it.

Not being able to handle that sound, right? When I got over that and used earplugs, I was like, oh my god I am a better parent to this baby because I’m not listening to them cry. Which just makes so much sense in hindsight, but at the time I was like if I’m, you know, Forced, you know, if I’m not listening to my baby’s cries, what kind of mother am I?

Yeah. A crazy one. Because that An experienced one. Yeah. The experienced moms that have like six kids are like, yep, they cry. Yeah. And it didn’t mean that I like wasn’t going to meet their needs. No, I can meet my kids needs better when the sounds they’re making aren’t. aren’t causing me to, like, have total brain freezes, you know?

And I also implemented, especially with my, when I was pregnant with my second, and I was just really, like, uncomfortable in my body every second of every day. I started just giving myself timeouts in the evening where it was like, I think it was every night at like seven 30, I would just go in my room, close the door.

Nobody came in until eight 30 and I could do whatever I needed to. And usually I would just like curl up in a ball under my blankets and listen to an audio book. That’s great. That sounds lovely. And it doesn’t have to be that long. And I still do them when I need to sometimes, but like really also explaining it like this to my husband was much more helpful because he, he like has struggled to understand this.

You know, and he actually very sweetly started listening to like podcasts that are centered on like being married to a neurodiverse person or like parenting as a neurodiverse person. So he could understand better and he and he’s kind of finally clicked for him like, Oh, okay. I get it. Like. If I give you that time, you are, you are a more pleasant person to be around.

You are more engaged with the family if I let you disengage when you need to. Mm hmm. Yeah, the answer is not always to push through. Mm hmm. And I think that’s hard because before you have kids, that’s the answer for a lot of stuff. Yeah. Because you don’t realize that you’re naturally taking breaks and that’s not like a an intentional thing that you’re doing.

you can just do it. Like, you could just be like, wow, what if I went and sat down right now by myself for a few minutes? Yes, you could. Yeah. But, but what I’m saying is it doesn’t feel intentional. It’s like just something that happens. So when you’re confronted with something. That is a challenge. Usually the answer is push through because you can, because you have those reserves.

Your cup is half full because you can’t take that time to sit down. So I think that really building that in and, and just grieving the fact that yes, it has to be intentional and it doesn’t make you selfish. Planning it as maintenance before it’s needed is what’s really been key for me, right? Where I’m realizing, oh, if I do that for like a half an hour.

Minimum each day, then I don’t have those moments where I just feel like I’m absolutely nonfunctional, you know? And I’m sure managing that’s gonna be different for everybody, but like, that’s been really key for me. And you know, one of the challenges in doing that that I struggle with is time blindness.

I don’t know if you experienced this, but it’s like having no awareness of how much or how little time is passing. A lot of my patients have this, a lot of my patients. And we’re more prone to it when we’re tired too, right? And it’s like very common. In the neurodiverse community and it makes, it makes just having a kid harder because personally I’m like, Oh my God, it’s 1 p.

m. I have not fed my children lunch. That’s why they’re being absolute monsters, like, Oh, what was I thinking? You know, it was just nine o’clock a minute ago or like not being able to accurately predict how much time a task is going to take. is a very common one that I feel like you struggle with your husband a lot.

Oh my gosh, yes. Everything with my husband who has ADHD is two seconds. It’ll take me two seconds. Nothing is two seconds, sir. Like honey, literally nothing is two seconds. I watched him the other day fix a tote in the garage, like one of those plastic bins. For 40 minutes he fixed the lid. And I was like, hey there, what are you doing?

He’s like, I just fixed this tote, took me two seconds. I was like, it took you 40 minutes and now the day’s over. I have to live my life by alarms basically. Like I, especially some days I wake up and I’m like, Oh, this is going to be a good day. Like I feel really alert. Like, you know, I know what’s coming. I know the day is really predictable.

I can do it. Some days I wake up and I’m like, I am in a foggy soup of my brain. And nothing is happening, so I’m going to set an alarm for breakfast for the children, and then for lunch for the children. And like, when I was breastfeeding, it was like, okay, you know, is the baby hungry again? I can’t remember the last time I fed her, because was it a minute ago, or was it two hours ago?

Like, that can be really challenging. And I’ve definitely seen that with other patients, too, where they’re just like, she’s always hungry, but if we actually say, like, write down how often the baby eats, we’re like, oh, it’s actually about every two hours. It just feels like every minute because your brain is not accurately tracking the passing of time.

For sure. And I also, it’s kind of ironic, like, I’m, I’m overwhelmed and time blind, so I’m gonna, Alarm myself frequently. Like, could you pick an alarm sound that’s like affirmations where it’s just like, you’re doing great. You’re doing great. I use like the soft little like wind chime sounds and stuff or just leave it on vibrate, you know, or I have Alexa do alarms with like a nice sound or something.

And I try not to do the same sound all the time. Cause then I ignore it. I’m really, really good at ignoring it. And if I let myself snooze it, it doesn’t matter, I’m not doing whatever it was that I snoozed. Yeah, it’s frustrating and, you know, a lot of people with ADHD struggle with this where we’re like, we need structure.

To function, but we actually really suck at giving ourselves structure. Yeah, and then you’re like, when was the last time I showered? No idea. I, most days could not tell you. I’m sure it was like a day or two ago, but like could have been a week ago. I don’t know. Yeah, and I don’t know. I think maybe People are hearing this and they’re like, wait a minute, am I neurodiverse?

Maybe. Or maybe, you know, there’s also like there is the diagnosis, but I guess there’s also times where you can exhibit a phenotype without having that exact diagnosis, you know, where Either you exhibit the behavior because, like, do you need to say something Heather? I feel like that’s me. I just, you know, almost like so I don’t have clinical depression, but I have definite times where I’m like, Because there’s so much going on or situational depression that I go low for a little bit, not as long as someone was clinical depression, but I definitely experience it.

Like everything on the list where you’re like, if you asked me to take the questionnaire right now, you’d be like, you have clinical depression. And I feel the same way about sensory overload, time blindness, like all of that. So I almost kind of feel like for me, it does come in waves depending on the situation.

And that’s. Interesting, because it kind of comes out of nowhere, and I don’t have these things set up for myself, so I think a lot of this would be good for any parent to think about. Yeah, you know, my therapist, I’m trying to remember what she said. She, she made me this like little Venn diagram when she was giving me.

my diagnosis, like, you know, reading me this big report. And then I think around the whole thing, she circled it and wrote trauma. And she was like, so if you had no trauma in your life, you would probably be able to handle all these little things. Okay. But trauma just turns it up to 11. And, and I think, you know, that’s again, like People experience isolated symptoms of this, you know, handful of symptoms of these larger disorders at different times because of stress, because of trauma, you know, because of lack of sleep.

Like, those things really mess you up. And so learning the same coping mechanisms could be really helpful for you.

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Thanks Aeroflow. Thank you so much. Go ahead and check out the link to Aeroflow in our show notes and order your pump through them.

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The next thing on my list that I wanted to talk about, which is very, like, breastfeeding applicable, is communication styles. So, a lot of healthcare practitioners have very high executive functioning skills, and The way that they give instructions and communications to a new parent, you know, for a lot of people is going to work.

But for most of the people that fall in that neurodiverse category, like, for me personally, I take instructions very literally. I’m like, to the, to the letter, you said this, so that is what I’m going to do. And I have seen other patients of mine struggle with this too, where say, in the hospital, they’re like, okay, breastfeed baby every two to three hours.

They’re like, okay, I will wait three hours to feed my baby. And only feed them every three hours because that’s what you said. That’s what she said. She said what she said. Even though my baby looks hungry, you, the medical authority, said to wait three hours and then it’s like, oh, there was nuance there that you missed because that’s not your communication style.

However, it just messed up everything you were doing with your baby. And I try to really think about that when I’m communicating like, okay, if somebody told me that, what would I do? If somebody’s giving me these instructions, would I then only change my baby’s diaper five times a day? Like what, you know what, and, and there’s a layer of common sense, of course, that goes over things, but that kind of.

You know, thinking outside of the literal instructions goes away when you’ve had one hour of sleep. Do you know what I mean? Like, we lose a lot of our ability to interpret things more casually and, like, outside of the literal words said or whatever’s written right on the paper or whatever. And the vague recommendations can just feel so stressful when you need very specific Instructions.

And then you go to the Google. It’s bad. And then it’s bad. And then I have someone who calls me in a panic and they’re like, you know, this is going on and this is going on and this is going on and I’m like, that all sounds really normal. And they’re like, what? And I’m like, yeah, because it’s, it’s hard breastfeeding in general because it forces you to be in your body.

And if your body is a hostile place for you. most of the time, then you’re going to cling on to those very literal meanings as well. Yeah. So in addition to just the way you interpret it, it’s more comfortable to follow rules because being present, feeling your body’s, your body react to your baby’s body, it’s like, ah.

It’s hard. And you know, with Griffin, I did a lot of disassociating while breastfeeding. because it was unpleasant for me and because it was painful for me. But that also meant that I was ignoring pain and would let things get really bad because I was like, Oh, this is an unpleasant experience. All right, brain head out of here.

And, you know, like really just would be super out of touch with my body during those experiences which led to a delay in care, right. And getting care to help me. And that is something I do a lot personally with myself. I’m like, okay, this body’s uncomfortable. Let’s just pretend it doesn’t exist. Okay, great.

And then I, you know, have say like, like I’m thinking about this today because this is the pain I have today. So I, because of Hashimoto’s, I’m really prone to plantar fasciitis. And I didn’t know that for a long time, but I was like, Oh, my feet hurt. My feet hurt. My feet hurt. Whatever. I’ll just ignore it.

I’ll rest more. I’ll wear different shoes. Took me like a year to bring that up with my doctor. Like a solid year. And then she was like, Oh yeah, well that’s more common for this reason. I was like, this like four minute conversation could have happened last year. And then I would have known how to take care of myself better.

Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of that, unfortunately, is women also. Yeah. Absolutely. So it’s like, kind of our conditioning and our condition sets us up to not get the help we need. Yeah, and it’s really hard managing that kind of thing because of the unpredictability of the outcome, right? And that’s the case with everything with children, especially for me, personally, I…

I have a very hard time when I cannot predict the outcome of a situation. Makes me just feel like I’m gonna die. I get so anxious and spend all of my time thinking about the possible outcomes and, like, scripting my time from now until then. Like, I… They often come off as very casual in like conversation and interactions, but only because like I knew they were coming and just scripted every word I would say for four days before then, which like actually is soothing to me.

And it probably contributes to your time blindness because your brain is working so hard even at rest. Yeah. But when I’m faced with like a whole new interaction I did not expect to have, I’m like, I don’t know. Yeah. Know what? Say. And it comes out like that. And the entirety of having babies and raising children feels like that sometimes you know, it is just like, okay, I can read every single book, but nothing can tell me exactly the day my child is going to crawl or walk or what’s going to happen when they do that.

And that can just level up, you know, your, Hmm. Preexisting anxiety, which then makes every other symptom worse. Right. Can I, yeah. And can I also say as far as like the managing change and unpredictability thing, I have noticed a lot of my patients who probably have not received a neurodiverse diagnosis yet, but could they come to me and they want to exclusively pump.

So it’s more controlled. So it’s more controlled, they can measure the outcome, it’s predictable, and they think it’s going to give them a break. And, so, we have, that’s actually a much longer conversation than they usually anticipate. Cause I’m like, yeah, let’s talk about what Your day is going to look like and then they’re like, Oh God, yeah, not a break and like when I have those conversations with people, it’s not my goal to tell them not to do that.

Exclusive pumping is totally a viable option. It’s a great option for some people, but yes, I do not want to enter it under any delusions that it is easier than breastfeeding without a pump, right? And you’re still being stimulated and then it’s just more like. One sided, you know, so instead of the baby asking for it and you providing it, you are setting your alarms.

You’re going to the pump. You are pumping yourself and you’re controlling the suction and you’re turning it off when you need to turn it off. But I will say it seems to me and this is not research based. This is just in my practice. Most people that are feeling overwhelmed that want to switch to exclusive pumping for all of the reasons we just talked about, they end up quitting anyway, which is fine.

It’s almost like the next logical step in their mind to see if they can handle that. And then when that doesn’t work, they’re like, I can’t do this at all. And that’s when I want to be like, yeah, well. At baseline, you were, let’s go back and look at your Edinburgh, you at baseline, you were already anxious.

Like you were, you scored an 11 on your postpartum depression scale. So like now it’s just exacerbated, but like, is there something underlying that might be? Kind of contributing. And then they kind of look at me and they’re like, can’t handle that right now. And I’m like, that’s fair. That’s fair. And I’m not your doctor, but you should talk to one.

Yeah. And planning those initial interactions is really hard because most of us are just programmed to expect our doctors to blow us off. You know, and that does happen a lot. It’s hopefully happening less, right? With like, more education and efforts to like, be more supportive and inclusive of folks with like, mental health issues.

But it really does feel like every time you plan to go to the doctor and you’re like, Okay, I’m going to talk about this. Like, you have to like, psych yourself up for the moment when they’re like, you’re fine. Well, and also here, you know, this is sad, but like bring your partner with you because statistically speaking, you’re more likely to get an answer and a diagnosis if your partner is there contributing to the evidence that something is affecting you negatively.

Like when I. So when I had been thinking about bringing this up with my doctor, you know, I think it was like eight months later that I actually did. And I called her on the phone and just like info dumped at her for maybe like 20 minutes straight without letting her get a word in. And then at the end, she’s, she’s wonderful and supportive and I don’t know why I’m ever worried about it, but I am.

She was like, okay, so, Where do you want me to send your referral to? And I was like, oh, okay, it’s that easy. And she was like, well, I don’t see any harm in sending a referral for you. Yeah. She’s like, although I can’t get 20 minutes of my life back. And by the way, we say doctor just as a default, I think sometimes because that’s where our medical health trauma has come from in a lot of ways, but you can see a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

There’s a lot of wonderful PAs out there that are in mental health. Yeah, and I ended up, you know, having a referral sent to the behavioral health department in the same clinic and seeing a psychologist who then, like, she has a psychiatrist who helps her with like official diagnoses and stuff.

So there’s, there’s a lot of options for sure. But, it was, it was just easier than I thought it would be and, you know, then I always have that moment of like, why did I procrastinate this for that long? Well, it’s kind of hard to admit that you can’t do it all yourself and that you need some help. It is.

And I have to say that the experience of my assessment was so… I, I was really, really worried because I was like, everybody feels this way. It’s, these are normal things and I’m just blowing it out of proportion and she’s just gonna look at, look at me and be like, you’re just a tired parent, like fully expected that going in, but it was really affirming.

When, you know, I did all like this, like three or four weeks of going back to her for testing and we sat down at the end and she was like, okay, like I’m going to read over my report with you. And if there’s any parts that, you know, don’t sound accurate, just let me know. And we, she read this thing over with me for like 20 minutes.

I didn’t really say much. And at the end she was like, well, how do you feel about that? And I just started bawling and she was like. Oh, okay. Is this a good thing? You’re crying because you feel seen? And I was like, Yeah. Oh, man. And it’s, it’s really hard because I think for, as women, like, the lactation consultants do catch this a lot because that is the most exacerbated a part of it.

But also that’s not really, What we’re there for at the time. So like we’re trying to solve a different problem, a feeding problem or a pain problem, but I do always try to keep my eyes open for that. And I try to get the conversation started, but I would say most of the time they’re just not ready. So what would you say to a patient listening right now?

And maybe this listening to this episode was like the first step I would say one is that you, you don’t need a diagnosis, right? That might not be necessary for you. And they can be really hard to get. So I think the first step is to, if you know anybody who you think like might have a similar issue to the one you have, talk to them.

Ask them about it. Maybe, you know, read some articles. There are a lot of now great peer reviewed articles on like what adult women with autism look like, adult women with ADHD look like. That information is very accessible right now. And it might feel like… A little bit more official than just like watching some random videos on it, you know, which is how most of us kind of have that first inkling is you’re like, interesting that tick tock said this.

And I literally never thought that before, but now it’s stuck in my head. But there’s some really good, like academic research on it now that you can access for free. And if you want to approach your practitioner to get a mental health referral for that assessment, do some research first about where you want to go.

Not every clinic is going to be equal, not every practitioner has experience evaluating adults for this kind of stuff, which is more challenging. A lot of practitioners just don’t believe in evaluating adults for things like ADHD. So, Do that legwork first to find out where you would feel most supported going.

And most providers are willing to write referrals, but like, especially if they don’t really have to do the work, mm-hmm. , you know, you’re like, Hey, I’d like a referral. I heard about this clinic. Like, I, I, I think I would really like to go there. Okay. Other question, what about somebody who already has received their diagnosis prior to having a baby and maybe they were controlled on medication like Adderall or Concerta or something like that?

And their doctor is talking about breastfeeding and they’re not even sure if that’s an option for them, if it’s going to not only exacerbate their symptoms, but will they have to stop their medication? Yeah, you might. Sometimes, but sometimes not, you know, sometimes it’s just like moving from an extended release to a quick release or just taking it on days that you also have to work.

So a lot of people will take a break while they’re on maternity leave and just kind of muscle through while baby’s little and the feeding is frequent, but whenever you go back to work, you know, a lot of people go back part time, they’ll take their Adderall just on those days, which is it a mess? Yeah.

And, and honestly, my advice is not to muscle through. And it’s like, yes, you may have to stop certain medications. Of course, reminder, call infant risk, look on LactMed. Just make sure you understand the up to date information before you stop or start any medication there. But so like right now I take medication that helps me manage like anxiety and depression which make everything else worse.

And so like. If I need to change, like if I’m like, I want to wean off of that and start doing this without medication, my plan is to talk to my psychologist and think of new coping mechanisms and then practice them while I’m still on my medication. Which is a lot of planning, so honestly, I have my psychologist help me with scheduling a lot, which is hilarious to me sometimes, but I’m like, yes, we talked for the last month about me implementing this new thing into my daily life, and I have yet to do it.

One time, can you send me an email every day until I see you next telling me to do it at this time? And she’ll be like, yeah, no problem. Nice. That’s pretty, that’s good support there. But I mean, I will tell you guys, I have a lot of patients that are on Adderall that breath feed. A lot of them do just fine.

I’ve also had patients who are on the more severe end of the spectrum who were like, hell no, absolutely not. Cannot, cannot. And they, and fine, fine. Then we switched to formula and all is well or donor milk and all is well and they’re medicated and a happy, healthy parent is always the best. That’s the best.

And that, like, if you are looking at a medication where the information. is uncertain. That is always what I think of. Like, okay, yes, there are clear benefits to you taking this medication. You will be a healthier parent. A healthier parent takes care of their infant better, frankly. Mm hmm. Point blank. Now, like, what are the risks of the medication?

What are the risks of you not taking it and becoming a parent who is more disorganized, who does forget to do basic care things for themselves and their infant? Like, those are risks for you and your baby and your family. You know, what is the risk of your depression coming back? What is the risk of, you know, you not being able to manage your schedule with your ADHD being really severe?

And, And those are like, they’re not the kind of risks you see on like a black box warning, you know, they’re not like, oh, risk of death and allergic reaction. These are very individual risks and they are absolutely worth assessing with a trusted healthcare providers to be like, hey, if I’m not on this medication, I literally like will forget to feed my kids till they start screaming.

Like, that’s real. Or, or, I’ll lose my, I’ll lose my job. Yeah, or like, I’ll lose my job. I won’t have money to buy diapers and food. Or yeah, I am going to like, not be as vigilant about like, night wake ups with my kid or whatever it is. You know, and, and then, you, you know, that is all much more important to me to assess than whether or not your kid has breast milk or formula.

Because they’re going to be fine on both of those. They’re not going to be fine if you’re just like absolutely in the depths of all of your worst symptoms. That’s going to be much worse for them. And I’m glad you all get to hear us say that because I think a lot of people are Assume that we’re like breastfeeding zealots and we’re like, no, we’re zealots for like mental health above all else, because that’s what rules the parenting.

But I did just want to, before we close out, tell you a couple things that I do in my clinic for everyone, just assuming that everyone’s overstimulated in case you are a health care provider and you want to implement some of these as well. So I have lamps and I turn off the overhead lighting most of the time before anyone comes in.

Thank you. And then before I turn on the overhead lighting, like if I need it to do an assessment, I ask permission, like, do you mind if I turn this on so I can see your nipple? And they’re like, Oh, go ahead. But just that feels like the warning is there and it’s good. And if the baby is asleep in the car seat, I will Leave the baby in the car seat and do the interview with the mom first before I ever wake the baby up.

It’s just so much easier for a parent to be heard and to actually get their thoughts out in a coherent way before their baby starts screaming. Yeah, side note. Overhead lights are the devil, and I, in my room, have a bunch of lamps and an overhead light, and my husband doesn’t feel this way, always turns the overhead light on.

And I will be in my room literally, like, pacing, feeling like a crazy person, and then I realize the overhead lights on, I turn it off, and I’m like,

Wow, I feel 800% better. Yes, exactly. And I just try to keep it as a more homey environment in general. Like soft, squishy things to sit on, you know, whatever. And also we offer water and a snack. I’m like, have you eaten today? Like, do you need some trail mix? Just basic needs, just trying to decrease stimulation.

Do you do any of those things or do you have anything I didn’t list that you want? I typically see people in their homes, so like. Whatever their comfort environment is that but if I’m seeing people if they come to me I always offer water and a snack. I already have everything else as comfortable as possible because I have to be there all day and I typically yeah start every single appointment checking in on just like hey, how are you today?

What, what need is unmet right now? Do you need to pee? Do you need a drink? Do you? When was the last time you peed? Was it six hours ago? Like. Right. Please do those things and I will take care of any children you need me to take care of while you meet your basic bodily needs in the next few minutes. Oh, and we have a holdover space, so if you need to bottle feed your baby before you leave but your appointment’s over, you don’t feel like you have to do it in your car or you’re not rushed, so you can go to another room quietly to decompress before you go home.

Because a lot of people drive like 40 minutes to see me, and I don’t want a baby leaving my office without a clean butt and a full belly. Same. I always look at the clock, if we have like 10 minutes left, I say, hey, like, you know, You know, do you need to change your baby’s diaper before you leave? Do you need to feed them?

I try to go down the list and remind parents, because most parents are so overwhelmed at appointments, they don’t think about any of that until they walk out the door. Also, if you like, I, I’m, I’m, I just like walk to the door with them too, cuz I’m like, if they turn around, they’re like, oh no, I need to do this.

I’m like, great. Hand me your baby. Go pee. Yeah, I will gladly snuggle that babe. Absolutely. Alright, anything else before we take a minute to thank a sponsor? I think that’s it. Alright, I’m proud of you. Good job. Thank you.

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All right, welcome back everybody to the award in the alcove segment, my favorite. Segment of the show today, we want to give an award to Jada B from our Facebook group. Jada gives a shout out to the Facebook group that we have for support and says, I just want to say I was the person on here two and a half weeks ago, literally willing to try absolutely anything and everything to get my supply up.

I was so close to giving up when my supply tanked. I have this group to thank for not giving up. I was getting an average of half an ounce to an ounce combined every time I pumped. And now I’m averaging about four combined every. Yay! That’s so good. Yeah. So she says, you got this mamas, do not give up. And she did all of the intervention, you know, she did the interventions.

It’s work. Yeah. I mean, friends, with breastfeeding, there is only the hard way. You know, if you want to increase your supply, there is no magic pill you can take. There is only do everything and see how it goes. Yeah. And, you know, I’m so proud of you, Jada. It’s really amazing that you did all of that. And I’d like to give you the persistent pumper award.

You did a whole lot of work and it absolutely paid off and congratulations on that. Yes, congratulations. And do you want to close us out with one of the worst reviews we’ve ever had? I, I, yeah, I do actually. I was saving this one. This, we got this like the first day of Pride Month and I was like, I’m gonna wait till July to read this one because it, it doesn’t deserve to be on the, on the airwaves during Pride Month.

So this is a one star review from Marie F. for us. And it is titled, Only Women Give Birth. Sorry, this is going to be a transphobic AF. What’s a birthing person? Only women give birth. Only women have breasts. I am not a person with breasts. How can I take anything you say seriously if you don’t even know these basic biological facts?

Thank you, Marie, for your education. In fact, every mammal has breast tissue. She’s not a mammal. You are a mammal, that is a basic biological fact, and we will just continue to use whatever terms that we want to on our own podcast, so you do not need to listen. Thank you very much. Here’s a hot tip. Just turn it off.

Yeah. Just, just turn it off. You don’t have to listen. That’s the beauty of podcasts. You could just go do something else or go listen to something else. Absolutely, you can. And that is my sign off today. If you don’t like it. Turn it off. Turn it off. We’re going to turn it off right now and we will talk to you guys next week and I hope you have a great one.

Okay. And hey, don’t forget to join our Patreon. If you want to be one of the cool kids, get ad free early episodes and exclusive access to Beyond the Boob at Patreon. com slash Milk Minute Podcast. Yes. It’s getting real now that I’m getting more and more pregnant. We’re pregnant. Oh gosh. Yep. Tune in and we will talk to you next week.

Bye. Bye. Thank you.


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