The Essentials

While pregnant I read every book I could get my hands on that was related to birth. I am an avid reader so reading books was the norm. The internet and social media spaces catering to birth and breast / chestfeeding were was also my go-to sources. I was armed with information and the text made breast / chestfeeding look easy. Certainly I thought I had it covered between the detailed descriptions, footnotes, the diagrams and links to further reading. I was the expectant mother that clicked on the links within the links to see what else I could discover.

I was grateful to have given birth in a hospital that had a phenomenal (and I mean PHENOMENAL) breastfeeding program that included a team of Lactation Counselors, a weekly drop in breastfeeding clinic and a monthly support group. I was surrounded with care throughout my journey and I am eternally grateful. We had issues; issues that could not be solved via book or Google. Nothing compared to the hands-on support that I received following the birth of my daughter.

Getting help is a must during the early stages of breast / chestfeeding. A Lactation Counselor is an expert trained to assist with lactation concerns. When in doubt, find one! Let’s put this into perspective. You would not call your trusted auto mechanic to fix household electrical issues. It seems logical to contact an electrician — one who specializes in electrical concerns.

It is ESSENTIAL that you educate yourself about breast / chestfeeding. This means researching and obtaining information from reputable sources. Trust and believe that I heard my share of old wives tales and false information based on uninformed opinions. Those spreading this nonsense are usually first to offer advice. Research and connections to knowledgeable individuals will help you to decipher between fact and fiction. Arming myself with factual information certainly helped me to tune out unwanted, unhelpful and absurd information. Consider enrolling in a class during pregnancy in preparation for the arrival of your little one(s). Let’s normalize planning and preparing to breast / chestfeed in the same manner utilized to flawlessly execute baby showers, gender reveals and other celebratory events.

It is ESSENTIAL to surround yourself with a tribe of supporters that “get it.” This is imperative as these individuals will be the ones to cheer you on and support your personal breast / chestfeeding goals. Let’s also normalize surrounding a new parent with postpartum support by way of preparing homecooked meals, washing dishes, running errands and caring for the older children while the new parent focuses on their newest addition.

It is ESSENTIAL to recognize that you do not need to suffer in silence. Mental health is imperative to your overall wellness. Seek out a Therapist. Seek out a Psychiatrist (a Medical Doctor that specializes in mental health and can prescribe medications) if needed. And yes, there are psychotropic medications that can be taken during pregnancy and while breast / chestfeeding.

It is ESSENTIAL to plan ahead. Planning ahead by lining up key individuals will set you up for success along the journey. Therapists and Lactation Counselors are ESSENTIAL WORKERS. Remember that you do not have to wait until you are in crisis to enlist assistance. Reach out to your tribe early on to outline the type of support that you are seeking. Invest in yourself by starting the planning process early. You will not regret it!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Subscription Box Countdown

UPDATE September 1, 2020 — The Peace, Love & Breastmilk Monthly Subscription Box is available. Please click on the links below! 💙

I am eagerly preparing to launch the Peace, Love & Breastmilk Monthly Subscription Box on September 1, 2020!! 🎉✨🎁 The time has flown by and it’s hard to believe that it is weeks away! The idea written on scrap paper in March 2020 will soon become reality. I am excited!

I will celebrate year four (yes, 4) of my breastfeeding journey in January! 🏆 The start of my journey came with challenges that required me to do lots of reflection about my needs and my infant’s needs. In between brief naps (recalling the newborn stage) was tons of reading, lots of research, several visits with Lactation Counselors, midnight chats within online support groups and trying products to figure out what worked for us. In 2017 I had no idea that the challenges and findings would result in the development of a monthly subscription box three years later.

Here is a sneak peak at what is in store for subscribers. Launching September 1, 2020! Arriving to your doorstep Fall 2020!

The Peace, Love & Breastmilk Monthly Subscription Box will bring breast / chestfeeding necessities to your doorstep! Staying home is common practice these days and convenience is imperative. Each box will contain five to six items to support lactation, mental wellness and self-care. Subscribers will be provided with a monthly reminder that overall wellness is important. Look for empowerment, education and support in every box plus an element of surprise!

Breast / chestfeeding can come with challenges. I get it! Mental wellness and self-care can become a low priority. I truly understand! Thank you for allowing me to help you navigate this important time of your life. Thank you for welcoming the Peace, Love & Breastmilk Monthly Subscription Box into your home! Thank you for trusting me to meet your needs. Here’s to saying yes to self-care and mental wellness throughout the breast / chestfeeding journey!

For more information do not hesitate to click on the links found above. You may also visit all of the social media platforms.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Exhausted…

I have a few posts that are in draft status. Today I am straying away from them for a moment to address the here and now. No cool pictures. Nothing fancy. Not today. Here goes…

In my March 24 post I discussed elements of self-care to assist with navigating the pandemic and doing away with media that one may deem to be disturbing. To save you a bit of time here is what was written.

“Media – Media is a tool that serves a multitude of purposes – both positive and negative. It is acceptable to take a break from news and social media outlets as the constant stream of information can be emotionally disturbing. Set time limits for watching news outlets and be sure to get information from reputable sources. Take it upon yourself to modify social media settings to hide triggering words, posts and videos. You can also choose to refrain from engaging in threads that bring about distress and angst.”

Maziwa Tribe

It is a common occurrence to view looped footage displaying the killing of humans, specifically Black people, throughout various forms of media. We received the memo that navigating public spaces while Black is a matter of life or death long before social media was invented. Simply leaving home can be worrisome for many Black people because we have seen unfavorable outcomes play out too many times. A walk in the park can take a turn for the worse. Recall the Central Park Five and most recently Christian Cooper and his interaction with Amy Cooper (no relation). How about others – there are many – that did not make it home safely? Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd come to mind. One can be in their home; or in bed, and have a similar fate. Botham Jean, Brionna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson have this in common. Many of us carry these experiences with us simply because we exist and have no other choice. Additional complexity is added with having to explain these events in a language that our children can understand. Having a conversation with our Black boys because they “fit the description” is must-have conversation that no parent looks forward to. Georgina Dukes explains it in depth here.

“Being Black is America should not be a death sentence.”

Jacob Frey – Mayor of Minneapolis, MN

A death sentence is by no means an over exaggeration – it is reality. So much needs to be unpacked. Where do I start? Do I begin with dissecting the United States and its history of oppression? How about the hypersexualization of Black bodies, racial profiling and cultural conditioning resulting in the belief that Black people are inferior? What about racial bias which makes Black people appear to be threatening? Add in the criminal justice system and the over-policing of Black people and Black communities. Let’s not forget about stereotypes that Black people are larger in stature which leads to the belief that we are more threatening than others with a similar stature. Do I begin by unpacking institutionalized racism and privilege? I honestly do not have the mental capacity to go there today because I am tired. This is exhausting.

“Racial trauma, or race-based trauma, consists of the mental health symptoms a person experiences as a result of racism or discrimination, which has often been compared to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

Culture and Mental Health Disparities Lab (CMHD)

The psychological turmoil doesn’t just disappear with every new hashtag that is created. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines PTSD as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” NIMH lists that living through dangerous events, seeing a dead body, and feelings of helplessness or extreme fear as factors that increases the risk of developing PTSD. It makes sense that one may develop PTSD after watching death via various media outlets on a regular basis. I strongly urge connecting with a mental health professional if you believe that your mental health has been impacted by recent (or past) events.

Self-care is an area that is within ones control. It can equate to shutting the television off and taking a break from social media platforms. You do not owe it to yourself to watch videos that are psychologically damaging. It may also be helpful to refrain from sharing such videos. I have given myself permission to partake in the above forms of self-care for my overall sanity and well-being. I value my health, therefore, it no longer serves me well to engage in dialogue where I must explain why humans that look like me deserve to live. I refuse to do it and I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

My three year old is sitting next to me as I put the finishing touches on this post. She is content with her milkies and has no idea about the harsh reality of the world in which we live. In her world, infant wipes – we buy them in bulk – are the solution for cleaning up minor spills and everything else that is wrong. If only it were that easy, little one. If only… I need to have a conversation with her but I am saving it for a later date.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

May is Maternal Mental Health Month

New and expectant mothers (parents) experience a variety of changes – hormonal changes, physical changes, changes in lifestyle, changes in sleep patterns and changes to the daily routine. Pregnancy and birth can be an exciting time and it may also bring about unexpected mental health concerns. Let’s face it – bringing forth new life is stressful. The love for the newborn does not erase the sleep deprivation, isolation, added responsibilities and the inability to partake in self-care. Talk about an emotional roller coaster that seems never-ending! Unlike a roller coaster at the amusement park, this ride can last well after the first year following birth.

“Maternal mental health disorders typically occur in what is called the perinatal period. This includes the prenatal period, or time that a woman is pregnant, and the postpartum period, which is the first year after the baby has been born.”

Mental Health America

In this space we place mental health on the same platform as physical health. If one has concerns related to the heart the next step may include a visit to the Primary Care Physician to ask questions. One may even be referred to a Cardiologist, a Physician that specializes in matters related to the heart. There is no stigma associated with scheduling an appointment, attending multiple appointments, asking questions and following instructions as directed by the Physician. Mental health should work in a similar manner. What we know is that many suffer in silence due to the negative stigma associated with mental health. Not knowing where to turn for support while pregnant and fear of negative consequences if mental health challenges are disclosed during the postpartum period are factors that keep some silent.

“1 in 7 moms suffer from postpartum depression.”

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

It is totally normal to be tearful for no reason, irritable, impatient or sad during pregnancy and in the weeks following birth. This is commonly known as the “baby blues.” It usually tapers off as one starts to adjust to the changes that have taken place. If you believe that you may be suffering from more than the “baby blues” it is imperative that you reach out to a Licensed Mental Health Professional with a specialization in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) to assist with processing feelings. Concerns about mental health during pregnancy and following birth are serious matters that cannot be ignored. Visit Postpartum Support International (PSI) to search for a knowledgeable provider in your area.

By no means is this a comprehensive list. Utilize it to help yourself or someone that you know. Know the signs. Have a conversation.

I am three years into my motherhood journey and I worked with a fabulous Doula and an amazing team of Midwives to birth my daughter. At the start of each prenatal appointment I was given Beck’s Depression Inventory to complete. Moments later my responses were discussed in detail. I was also given the depression inventory to complete at each postpartum follow-up appointment. During my one month postpartum follow-up I vividly recall crying as I completed the depression inventory. Of course I was very familiar with the screening tool and well versed in mental health matters. I was also an exhausted new mother who struggled to put words to my feelings. In that moment it was all that mattered.

Maternity leave forced me to put my professional life on hold for three months. Work was irrelevant and the focus was adjusting to my new normal. I had no clue what motherhood would entail until I experienced it for myself. It was a breath of fresh air to have mental health normalized within the medical setting. My daughter’s Pediatrician, my Doula and Midwives made it routine to speak about mental health at each appointment. My sincere hope is that this standard of care is taking place in medical practices across the nation. Simply asking the question puts mental health on the same platform as every other concern that is addressed during prenatal / postpartum office visits. It is a freeing experience to be heard and I’m almost certain that those with similar experiences would agree.

I dedicate this post to a mother that I had the privilege of knowing long before maternal mental health and I would cross paths personally and professionally. She was a phenomenal individual and inspires all of the postpartum support that I provide in my practice. Back then I didn’t know; but I get it now. I understand. I wish she was here to read this. I look at her picture and with tears in my eyes I speak her name.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Trauma and Seeking Help in the Fight Against COVID-19

We took inventory of our most recent blog entries and noticed that they have one thing in common — COVID-19. This is no accident and certainly isn’t by chance. This virus has invaded our daily lives and there is no turning away no matter how hard we may try. We deliberately took the approach to focus on self-care, mental health and wellness these past few weeks. This particular post has sat in “draft” status for over 10 days as it is a painful one to tackle.

Our hearts go out to the entire world as we are all figuring out how to navigate this new normal that does not appear to be subsiding in the near future. To those that have lost loved ones; to those on the front lines; to those battling symptoms in isolation; to those who are asymptomatic with no insight about the battle ahead of them; to the essential workers; to family members awaiting to hear news about their loved one’s prognosis; to birthing parents who were forced to give birth alone without support — We speak your name.

In the midst of the unknown there are is one thing that is certain – trauma. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines trauma as “an emotional response to a terrible event.” COVID-19 definitely qualifies as a terrible event. Shock and denial are natural responses given the magnitude of what is taking place. Exposure to trauma debilitates ones adaptive abilities following the event that the nervous system has deemed to be threatening. One may discover that they are experiencing nightmares following the traumatic event. Some may struggle to process their thoughts. Sleeping, eating and movement may be impacted in some people. Others may discover that their interpersonal relationships are negatively impacted. Everyone experiences trauma differently and responses can vary across individuals.

We would be remiss if we did not address COVID-19 and its impact on the birthing process. Regular stress associated with pregnancy and birth is normal and this virus adds an additional layer of stress. Birthing alone without the support of a partner or doula likely was not in the birth plan nor was being separated from one’s newborn or having to delay breast / chestfeeding. Giving birth in a hospital where others are being treated for COVID-19 can be an unpleasant experience for some. Navigating birth under such conditions can have a profound impact on the birthing parent and family in the days, weeks, months and sometimes years following birth.

It is imperative that one refrains from attempting to self-diagnose or suffer in silence. Help is available. We encourage you to seek mental health care with a licensed mental health professional sooner than later to assist you with navigating through the experience. We recommend that those needing postpartum support search for mental health professionals with a specialization in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) through Postpartum Support International. Most mental health professionals have moved their services to virtual formats given the current state of the nation which has made mental health care easily accessible. Psychology Today is an option where one can search to view profiles of mental health providers based upon personal preference (location, specialty, insurance type etc.). S.N. Turner and Associates has created a free, self-guided course titled, “Is Counseling Really For Me?” to answer common questions related to counseling including the differences between the various types of mental health providers. Be sure to refer to our March 20, 2020 blog entry for information related to COVID-19 and breast / chestfeeding.

Continue to take care of yourselves. Surely, we will get through this together… together, we can!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care  is caring for your emotional needs by identifying what you are feeling and moving forward in a way that honors yourself and those emotions. Self-care is one aspect of life that you can control in the midst of so much that is out of your personal control.

You have the power to choose how you indulge in self-care and when you indulge in self-care. Remember, you control your self-care narrative!

Here is a quick checklist to give you a few healthy suggestions! Enjoy!

Self-Care is an absolute MUST!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

You Deserve A Mental Health Break

A focus on mental health is an absolute must. The last few weeks have certainly given us a friendly reminder that life can take unanticipated twists and turns. The magnitude of this global pandemic has certainly taken the nation by surprise and the bulk of it still remains out of our personal control. Many states across the nation have stressed that citizens remain indoors to avoid spreading the virus. The State of Illinois is currently under a “shelter in place” order. For many of us this equates to working from home, engaging in distance learning, communicating via electronic devices and only venturing outdoors to obtain necessities. A new normal is underway and will likely impact how we function and conduct business as a nation post COVID-19.

This is a stressful time for many. Stress can show up in many forms including, worry about our personal health and the health of family and friends; examining our own mortality; and difficulty sleeping and eating. It is quite acceptable that other emotions have suddenly emerged – anxiety, fear and sadness to name a few. Intense feelings are normal given current circumstances, however, it can make existing mental health struggles worse. Please contact a mental health professional if you have concerns.

This is a dynamic where we can highlight all that is wrong. At Maziwa Tribe, we believe in providing solutions. We have a few recommendations that can help ease the stress of navigating during uncertain times. Please indulge as you see fit.

Media – Media is a tool that serves a multitude of purposes – both positive and negative. It is acceptable to take a break from news and social media outlets as the constant stream of information can be emotionally disturbing. Set time limits for watching news outlets and be sure to get information from reputable sources. Take it upon yourself to modify social media settings to hide triggering words, posts and videos. You can also choose to refrain from engaging in threads that bring about distress and angst.

Human Contact – There is a side of many of us that craves human contact. This is not possible in many states due to social distancing, however, it does not mean that one has to do without human contact. Tap into technology to reach out to others and utilize your creative skills to video chat with friends to celebrate milestones, communicate and check in. Several entertainers and DJs have live streamed their concerts via social media. Watching an Instagram live stream from your favorite artist can be a way to connect with friends while engaging in a shared experience or hobby with other fans.

Scheduling – Many are working from home and are forced to adjust to a new routine by default. This new routine may include binge watching a sitcom nightly, napping during the workday or homeschooling children while attending conference calls for the 9 to 5. Late nights may be a factor as one does not have to report to the office. Do your best to set up a daily schedule of some sort. It does not have to be rigid. A basic outline of how you’ll spend your time will suffice and at minimum help you to focus on priorities in between completing chores and homeschooling.

Gratitude – Adopting an attitude of gratitude can be a challenge. Do your best to find reasons to be grateful for all that is going well in your life. Giving energy to the office technology that is not working optimally from the home office is unproductive and damaging to your emotional wellbeing. Try shifting your focus to expressing gratitude for having a job and the ability to make a living from home in the midst of a pandemic.

Animals – Perhaps you have always wanted a pet. This time may be a great opportunity for you to foster an animal from a shelter. Shelters across the nation are always in search of volunteers to temporarily foster animals. Doing so is a win-win for you, the animal and the shelter.

“Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.”

National Institutes of Health

We encourage you to speak with a mental health professional if you have questions about mental health or are in need a space to process your new normal. Stressful situations can exacerbate mental health issues and you do not have to suffer in silence.

S.N. Turner and Associates has created a free, self-guided course titled, “Is Counseling Really For Me?” to answer common questions related to counseling to help you to understand if you would be a good candidate. Additional resources are listed below for reference.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information and Resources

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – National website

Psychology Today – Search for mental health providers (therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists) throughout the nation

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Emotional Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Headspace – Guided meditation and mindfulness app for every skill level

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.