Mothers Matter: Filling an unspoken void
Chelsea Rackham, D.C.
You did it! The tiny human you’ve been carrying inside you for 9 months is finally in your arms. You look down at this wrinkly creature and you feel emotion like you’ve never felt before, but it’s also not like anyone told you it would be. There’s love-oh yes, an immense amount of love-but there are other powerful emotions lurking. There is fear, worry, self-doubt, and uncertainty. None of your friends or family warned you about this, so you assume it’s not normal. You say nothing. The first few days following the birth are a whirlwind. If you chose to breastfeed, you’re in for a particularly tough road. Everyone says breastfeeding is natural, so why is it so damn hard? You’re frustrated, your baby is frustrated, and it hurts like hell. You’ve seen a lactation consultant and the baby’s latch looks fine, but your baby still isn’t gaining weight per the “growth curve.” Your stress levels sky rocket as your milk supply gets lower and lower. Everyone seems to be either pressuring you to continue because it’s “what’s best for the baby”, or pressuring you to stop because “it’s not worth it.” You feel like your body is failing you. You feel broken. The fact that no one can give you answers makes you feel like a complete failure. Not a single person has checked on you-on your health-since your baby was born. You love seeing your friends and family excited and showering your new addition with love, but you feel as if you’ve become invisible. Seven weeks after your baby was born, you pass out while changing his diaper in the middle of the night. Your midwife tells you that since you are outside the 6-week postpartum window, you will have to go see your regular OB. You put it off, because mom-life. After fighting like hell for nearly 2 months, you begin supplementing with formula or switching to formula completely. Your baby is happy and gaining weight and life goes on, but the guilt remains. So many women can breastfeed and you wanted it so badly. Why couldn’t that be you?
This story-in part or in whole-is common. The vast majority of new mothers are silently suffering in the shadows. We put on a brave face because it’s what’s expected and truthfully, we don’t have the time to focus on our own problems and no one asks or forces us to. The problem is, this is taking a toll on the mental and physical health of our mothers and it’s going completely unnoticed. It’s also affecting the health of our children.
I created Mothers Matter because I saw a need-a need for somewhere for new mothers to turn to for answers. A need for someone to listen to the mother’s story and put her health first. A need for increased statistics for exclusive and extended breastfeeding. Lactation consultants are wonderful angels who help women with the logistics of breastfeeding-correcting latches, identifying tongue ties, increasing supply via feeding and pumping, etc.-but we still have women who are unable to produce and sustain a milk supply large enough to grow a baby. In order to produce breast milk, the mother must have proper function of her brain, thyroid, adrenal glands, gut, and many more systems in her body. If one or more of these links are compromised, she may either not be able to produce enough breast milk, or the milk she does produce may not meet the caloric demands of the infant. Mothers Matter is the only program of its kind that addresses these causes. We combine comprehensive wellness blood testing on the mother with breast milk analysis to see how her body is working and where her nutrients are going. This testing allows us to evaluate not only the quantity of her breast milk, but also quality of her milk on a micro-level. We then use individualized diet and lifestyle changes which increase the health and vitality of the mother, resulting in higher quality breast milk for her baby. Our goal is to give mothers the peace of mind in knowing that her body is working at an optimal level, and the milk she provides for her baby is of the highest nutrient caliber.
The birth of the baby happens in hours, but the birth of the mother happens slowly and gradually. In the year following birth, she sheds the skin of her previous self and learns how to find her new self, buried beneath the title of “mommy.” We need to be there for these women; especially those of us who have walked the road before. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to raise a mother. Mothers Matter aims to give women the tools and knowledge to become healthy mothers, who can go on to raise healthy babies.