Breastfeeding and past trauma: a personal story, what to notice, ways to move through it.

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Episode Transcript

January 22, 2021

Can my past trauma have an impact my birth and breastfeeding experiences?!

This is Maureen Farrell and Heather ONeal. And this is the Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships and mental health. Plus we laugh a little or a lot along the way. So join us for another episode.

Welcome to another episode of the Milk Minute podcast. Today’s episode is about sexual assaults and trauma and how that could affect your lactation. We really don’t get into too much detail, but we do want to let you know that it might not be appropriate for a little ears, and it might be triggering for you if this is something you deal with.

So, you know, think about if you want to listen to this now or later or never. That’s okay too. But, we really do go into detail about what you can do to manage that if this does affect your breastfeeding. Right. We always want to give you somewhere to put all of these emotions. So we’re not going to stir you up and leave you.

And if you’re feeling it today, we’d love to have you listen or send it to a friend in need. And of course, we’re going to start with a question and we’re going to thank a patron after we get into our discussion, and then we’re going to give an award. No, we’re going to give two awards. So today’s very exciting.

I think honestly, after this, you need two awards, so yeah, I want an award. Yeah. Well, we can give ourselves awards whenever you want to. I’m going to give you one. All right. Well, let’s get into it. All right.

Okay. This is from an anonymous listener who asks, does anybody use CBD for anxiety while breastfeeding? And is there any research regarding the use?

The answer is that there really is not a lot of great research on this because it’s too dangerous to do experimental studies, especially with medications and breastfeeding. Right. I mean, we might, in 10 years have research from retrospective data. And that’s usually how we determine safety and pregnancy and breastfeeding, which sucks.

Right. We’re like, okay, I guess if you’re going to take it, we’ll see what the outcome is, but you know, the reality is that because of that, we can’t officially recommend it. No health care professional can officially recommend it, but, you know, I will say that CBD is generally considered pretty safe and even marijuana use while breastfeeding, while there are some risks to it. It’s a not super high risk.

Right. There’s actually other medications that are probably a lot more risky, but we don’t know. So the, the unofficial recommendation is no. Well, the official recommendation is no. However, I will say that if you’re experiencing a large amount of anxiety while breastfeeding, we might want to look into that. And that’s why we are doing the episode we’re doing today. So I hope this episode helps you out. And thank you so much for your question. And again, if you all want to send in your questions, you can email them to [email protected]

Hey guys, it’s Maureen here. And I wanted to let you know about my Etsy shop. I am an artist and a designer, and I have a shop where I make educational breastfeeding posters, shirts for birth workers like for your favorite nurse or midwife, shirts for people who are lactating, mugs, stickers, all kinds of stuff. Some of my birth paintings are on there. It’s an eclectic collection and it’s really beautiful.

So if you want to find that you’re going to go to¬†etsy.com/shop/thewanderingwom6, except instead of a B it’s a six. So that’s the wandering womb with a six instead of a, B.

Welcome to the pastoral series of the Milk Minute podcast. Yeah, we’re recording at my house today, which means like, you know, the next couple of episodes might have like dogs or cats or chickens or sheep or who knows?

So just to know, enjoy the sounds of peaceful, woodsy living. I fed the sheep this morning with Maureen and her son Griffin, and that was lovely. Their lips are so soft against my fingers and that’s just not never something that I experienced in the suburbs. Yeah. They’re kind of fun. They just like little velvet nibbly lips.

Velvet nibbly lips. That’s my stripper name. I actually took a road that was called Back Road to your house and I thought that was really uncreative. Well, let me tell you what our old house, we got to name the street it was on because like you can do that when you move somewhere where nobody lives, you named it, Velvet Nibbly Lips.

We wanted to name it Way Back Road cause we thought that would be really funny cause you take Back Road to get there, but you have to like negotiate with the 911 people. And they were like, that’s too confusing for our first responders. Well on my two hour drive here this morning, I didn’t realize how much I needed did that drive first of all, it’s been a crazy year for me.

I’m going to share a little bit because yesterday I launched a business that I’ve been growing and building from scratch for a year, which sounded like a great idea on day one. And it was still exciting on, you know, day 30. But by six months in, I was questioning my sanity, wondering if this was worth it.

And it’s because of our listeners and because of the people in the Facebook group that I persisted and kept going, because I could tell from the comments and just from the people cheering me on, like, we need this, we want this. So I did it. It was a very long gestation, but yesterday I gave birth to¬†Breastfeeding for Busy Moms.

Yay! Was it a natural birth, Heather? It was so unnatural. So surgically assisted, it was birthed operatively. Yeah. No, it was, it was exciting. It felt very much like a birth for so many reasons. Like, the pregnancy feels hard and it also feels like you’re not doing anything. Like you’re not getting anywhere, you know, like you grew a liver that day, but it also feels like you did absolutely nothing. And now, like you have a little baby to nurture. Exactly. It’s also very needy. Exactly. So twenty four hours after birth, where like it’s all worn off and like the champagne has come out of my system. It’s like, Oh, now I have to nurture it and take care of it. So, bear with me, everybody as I nurture this new baby that I grew called Breastfeeding for Busy Moms.

How do people find it? It’s at¬†www.breastfeedingforbusymoms.com¬†and it pretty much is a one-stop shop for a digital resource for breastfeeding. So there’s blogs, our podcast is linked on there. You can take breastfeeding classes and you can also schedule private consults. So there’s pretty much whatever you need in any format that you want it, you can get it there.

So check it out, but also, I mean, during this drive to come to you today, I was in the comedown mode, you know, where you’re like always thinking about the future and when you are so not present for a whole year, and then suddenly you’re brought abruptly back to the present. You’re like, Oh my God, like I looked up and realized I have no windshield washer fluid. I need an oil change 2000 miles ago. My inspection sticker died in July and that was just, and I didn’t have my license on me. And I was like, okay, Heather, this is just, this just really points to the fact that you have been completely not taking care of literally anything in your present day life.

So props to my husband for putting up with me, but, you know, as this relates to breastfeeding, I was listening to country music, because what’s better than bringing you back to the present, like songs about just like watching the sunrise on a lake and, you know, just sitting around drinking a beer, it’s like three and a half minute song about just being present.

And I was thinking about how certain country songs, like, especially the ones where it’s like love and fresh love, new love. And I’m like, so many people love those songs and you would think it’s a real target market, you know, like, Oh, newly in love people, but it’s not like everybody loves those songs.

And it’s because those times in your life are so emotionally charged. So like a new love, we never forget and breastfeeding, we never forget. And how emotionally charged that is. And I was really, I mean, two hour drive, like, let me just, can I preach here for a second? Yeah, you were immersed in it. I was thinking about how much I did not enjoy breastfeeding the first time.

Like emotionally speaking, it was very, very hard for me. And I think as a person, I’m a workaholic. Hi, I’m Heather. I’m a workaholic. I live in the future most of the time to avoid living in the past. And it prevents me from being in the present. So with that being said, breastfeeding is one of those things that forces you to be present. Almost all the time.

Yeah. And it’s really, really uncomfortable for some people. And it is emotionally charged because it can dig up old wounds about being touched. It can dig up old wounds about the fact that you just like can’t deal with it. And you don’t want to sit there for 40 minutes. I can’t think of a time that I would force myself to sit down for 30 or 40 minutes at a time and just do nothing. Right.

And breastfeeding forces you to do that. And your brain is a scary place when you’re not prepared for it. So I think a lot of people start breastfeeding and their anxiety just goes up and up and up and they relate it to not liking breastfeeding. But I’m here to tell you, that it’s probably not that. It could be, but I would say, wouldn’t you? That most of the time it’s because you have an exposed nerve that breastfeeding, just scrapes against all the time and for long periods of time.

And it feels like you can’t get out of it, but I’m sitting here on the other side of it, having done a lot of work in therapy, having had a second baby. So you’re almost there and you’re going to have a different experience this time. It’s impossible to have the same experience twice. So you will for sure have a different experience.

And I just wanted to share a little bit about how I worked through that the second time. So like the first time it was just anxiety for 10 months straight. Wait, is this our topic today? I think so. Yes. Yeah. Can we just talk about… the topic is today, emotionally charged breastfeeding. I love it. This is great. This is a surprise to me.

Yeah. I surprised Maureen with this. I love surprise topics. Yeah. Surprise topic. I just have some stuff I want to share. So here we go. I’m just going to be really honest about my journey, because I’m hoping that it will help somebody. And the reason I’m sitting here as a midwife and a lactation consultant today is because I was a sexual assault survivor when I was 19.

And it kind of set me off on this path to helping, like, that’s how I cope. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now hindsight is 2020 and my therapy at first, because I refused to go to therapy because I was fine. It was fine, fine, fine. Capital letters – FINE. You sound really fine. Yeah. Well, I was, I am just going to be this person that just helps all the women with all the things and make it better for everybody because this person took my virginity also. So it was like, a whole situation and gave me genital warts. Oh, extra… extra fun. Yeah. First time having sex roofied, genital warts, aggressive, like all the terrible stuff. So I coped by over handling it. Yeah. So I mean, part of me regrets that, because I think that I could have processed that trauma a lot sooner and still been on this path, but I didn’t, which also allows me to sit here today and tell this story.

So I am just going to interrupt real quick. Oh please. And we’re going to say this a couple of times, there is a national sexual assault hotline that you can call if you’re listening and you’re like, Oh, actually this happened to me. And now I’m having a trauma response and maybe I’m realizing shit, I need therapy too, Heather, but this is a good place to start, especially if you’re in like an immediate crisis.

So it’s 1-800-656-4673. And that will be in the show notes as well. Yeah. And it’s not the only one, there are a bunch of different hotlines for crisis and stuff like that, but that’s the first one that shows up when we Google. So I figured I would just shout it out quick. Right. And I also just want to say that there are different ways of handling your trauma.

And I promise this does relate back to breastfeeding, but I feel like we have to go here because this is like the majority of people have experienced a sexual assault in some way, especially in America. Like it’s, our culture sucks for it. We don’t talk about it enough. And when we do talk about it, it’s often just like about feelings and not like, okay, here’s tangible things that you should do about it.

But let me just tell you, when this happens to you, there’s a couple different ways that you process this. There is either you pretend like it didn’t happen. Which was my plan until the genital warts showed up. I was like, Oh no, I’m going to still be a virgin. Threw a wrench in that plan. I was like, I’m fine. Everything’s fine. And if I go to have sex someday with someone that I truly love, who believes in Jesus, I’m going to tell them I’m a virgin and lie. Oh, you had the whole Jesus thing in there too? Oh, yes. It was a, it was a thing. That’s tough. And I mean, I, it was very, very hard growing up with the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul books. And, you know, the purity rings.

You know, my parents gave me the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul too. Yeah. There’s a lot of programming about purity during the time that we were growing up in like the late nineties, early two thousands. So that on top of it. Yeah. So my plan was to just ignore it. And then the genital warts showed up and I was like, okay, I cannot ignore this now.

Now I, for sure can’t with a good conscience, have sex with somebody consensually without them knowing about this. So now how do you explain that? So anyway, then the second thing is just withdrawing. Which I also did. So that was step two for me. I withdrew and I completely did not participate in my own life.

Like I watched country music videos weirdly enough. Like I think I go there whenever I’m like feeling really emotional and it’s not even my favorite type of music. I like it. But all night long, I would be up because I was having a trauma response. I couldn’t sleep. And then all day I would just muddle my way through class in college.

And I really. I’m like a straight A kind of person and it was not… yes. I watched FRIENDS in a dark room all day. Like friends wanted to come hang out with me and they would literally have to lay in bed with me and watch it. That sounds fine. Right. Like totally fine. Totally normal. So that went on for like a year and a half.

Like it was the dark ages of my life. For sure. Then step three is I went full submersion. I had a lot of sex with a lot of people. Yeah. That was part of, unfortunately, my trauma response too. Yeah. And I think a lot of people feel so much shame about that because they don’t understand what’s happening. Right.

It’s a control thing. It’s very much a I’m going to prove how strong I really am and how much this doesn’t affect me and how these men, for me, were affecting me and how that’s not going to happen anymore. And I’ll decide. And so of course that takes some joy out of the experience.

Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think it’s just like, you know, it’s an easy way to feel like you have power again. In a situation where that power was taken away from you. You’re like, okay, so fine. We’re acknowledging this bad shit happened, but you know what? That doesn’t have to ruin my life. I can f*ck whoever I want. Exactly.

Look how much f*cking fun I’m having. Right. But sometimes it is fun. Yeah, absolutely. It’s still, honestly, there were times that it worked for me. Yeah. But it’s not a long-term fix. No. And it doesn’t actually like help heal in any way, but it definitely, at least for me, helped like defer some perhaps more destructive responses to that.

Yeah. I mean, no relationships, no. Like I certainly wasn’t having strong relationships when my friends were like building their first real big relationship. I was not so much doing that. I was like, I’m going to be a midwife and I’m going to help people. And like behind the scenes, I’m bartending, drinking too much and having sex with people because I did not really respect my body or understand what kind of experience I was supposed to have with sex.

Yeah. You know, I’ve really wondered if the percentage of people who’ve experienced a sexual assault in the world of what I see as like helpers is much higher because you know, we know this statistic and, you know, we can sit in a room and I don’t know, is it one in four? Oh, it’s way more than that, but yeah, it’s one in four, technically.

And yet, like, you know, you and I sit here together, we’re both sexual assault survivors. We go to a meeting of midwives. It’s at least half, if not more. And, you know, I wonder like, is that because people who’ve experienced that kind of trauma are drawn to those careers more. I think so because it’s not for me and the people that I know that have gone through this, it’s not so much the pain from the actual assault.

It’s the fallout that happens after with the people that you expected to support you, that didn’t, and that kind of busts your faith in humanity and your community, which is what truly rocks you. And so if we can be that community for people, we do it. Yeah, and we talk about it and we go on podcasts and we drink CBD tea to get prepared, to talk about it.

But this has honestly been on my heart wanting to tell you about this for a while, but it just, it has to be the right time. It has to be the right vibe. And I was feeling it today. So surprise, Maureen, this is what we are talking about. That’s fine. I’m all about surprises. I’m all about supporting sexual assault survivors. So this is just like right up my alley, you know? We’re good.

Yeah. So. Well to kind of wrap this into breastfeeding, I did get married. So at 25, I got married. I was not healed yet from my sexual assault and I got surprise pregnant. Surprise! But it’s not my favorite kind of surprise. Let’s just be clear. I thought it was going to be okay. And I was going to do the right thing and we got married and that’s a whole other podcast for another time.

But obviously that didn’t work out. That’s not the answer. And a baby does not fix that kind of stress. Definitely not. And something we see a lot. And I saw in myself after having given birth, is that the process of birthing really brings that trauma to the forefront, especially sexual trauma, but honestly, all kinds of trauma trauma from previous serious injuries, previous abuse, that was not sexual.

I mean, how many births have we been at Heather where you’re like, what the f*ck is going on with this client? And then it suddenly clicks. You’re like, Oh, this is trauma that we never talked about and you know, that’s okay. They didn’t have to disclose that to me, but now we have to deal with it right now.

Yeah. It becomes very acute and you know, you think you’re doing fine and you think that you’re, you’re breathing, you’re living, you’re working, you’re functioning, you’re doing all these things. And then, surprise you’re in labor and all your muscle memory that’s been just holding you together at baseline for so long busts wide open, and now you’re dealing with it and you also don’t know what’s going on.

So we are not great, especially in our culture about tying our brain in with our body. Our body is oftentimes just like a vessel to carry our head around. And so when something crazy like this happens with your body, your brain is like, no, no, no, this is labor. This is birth’s problem. This is having a baby. Having a baby is traumatic. I don’t recommend this for anyone.

And that is it’s exactly what I thought about it too, postpartum. I was like, Oh, well that was trauma. And I can’t believe nobody told me having a baby is that f*cking traumatic. PS: it’s not for everybody.

Yeah. But then, you know, the other side of your brain is like, but I’ve seen those YouTube videos. I’ve seen the people that are like with their husband in the hot tub. And they like bear down with a smile and their baby comes out and then like, they’re just there. Those people might’ve processed their trauma better. Those people processed their trauma. So, then you are breastfeeding from go, so now you’re emotionally busted wide open physically, sometimes wide open. And you’re now feeding.

Yeah. And I just want to point out too, like, this is an interesting phenomenon for a lot of women is that we do carry trauma in our pelvis. And I know that doesn’t sound like a scientific thing and it’s not something I can be like, Hey, here’s all these great studies about that. Cause that’s not a measurable thing, but so often in the like holistic sphere of care that I’ve worked in, we see that people who have previous trauma have issues with their menstrual cycle, with birthing, with sex. It’s just like that that area of your body carries that stress and I don’t totally know why that phenomenon happens, but then when you have a baby and all of your ligaments and bones and muscles in that area of your body just completely change and open up… woohoo. There comes all of that stuff you were carrying there. And then, yeah, like Heather said, now you’re suddenly breastfeeding and you’re ripped wide open. And also, you know, a lot of people do have trauma related to their chest and the way that’s been, you know, treated and used before in their life. So now they have to use that every day.

And you’re looking at this new little person who’s innocent and you know they’re innocent and you know that you cannot displace your trauma on that person. Yeah. And so where do you put it? You put it on yourself or your partner? Your partner. Yeah. Yourself first. Yeah, first and foremost, because you have the oldest relationship with yourself and you are perfectly comfortable abusing yourself first.

Oh yeah. We’re all really good at that. And then when you’re all filled up with your own abuse, you spill it over onto your partner if you have one. And that is difficult because then you have this little baby who is present all the time. And I mean, emotionally present all the time and they’re there in the moment they can’t defer their emotions. They can’t defer their needs. Everything that is happening to them happens, right now. There’s no past, there’s no future.

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Yeah. They’re like goldfish. They don’t remember what happened yesterday and they have no idea what to expect in the future. So it really puts a lot of pressure on you to be good every moment that they’re in the moment. And that’s, unrealistic. And it’s so hard when a lot of us develop a coping mechanism of dissociation. Yes. That’s the whole point that I’m trying to get to. So let’s repeat that point. Can you just say it one more time?

Yeah. So when you have to nurture and care for a human being who has no choice, but to live in the moment. And you are a survivor of trauma who has developed a coping mechanism of dissociation. That is a really difficult thing to do. Yes. So what do we do about it? I want to give you a couple of tools because we can’t just stir you up and leave you there. Yeah. I could use those for the next time. Yeah. So I’m talking to myself, I’m talking to Maureen and I’m talking to you.

So when you start to feel this feeling creeping up and it can feel different for everybody. So I’m not going to define it when you feel it… I want you to ask yourself, what does this feel like? Does this feel like something I’ve experienced before? And really think about that because that’s where you start. And it might feel like something completely unrelated to being a parent. It might feel like something completely unrelated to breastfeeding in general. It might feel like a time you were at work and your boss pushed you into a closet. It’s not the physical act. It’s the feeling behind it. So when you identify what your body is relating that specific feeling to then the next question you ask yourself is how are they the same?

So how is this experience that I’m having right now, similar to that experience that I was having, when I had that identical feeling? And you start to think about all the ways they’re the same, and it might surprise you as to how similar they are. It might be like, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. It might feel like, I didn’t like my body.

It might feel like, give me another good example. I feel trapped. I feel trapped. Yeah. Yes. So the it’s big feelings with different situations. So, then the third question you ask yourself is how are these situations different? How are they different? Really start to bring your mind in and hone in on how these situations are not the same.

This was not the same, because this is a baby and not my boss. And this is consensual. This is a choice that I have made, even though sometimes I feel trapped in it. Right. This is different because I’m 33 years old and I’m not 15 years old. Right. You know, so really. All of those things make a list. It could be a long list. It could be a short list.

And then the fourth thing you do is you say, this feels the same, but it’s not the same. Feels the same, but it’s not the same. And that is going to help you to disassociate in a healthy way from that feeling, not your baby. Not the situation. And so, go through that as many times as you need to.

And whenever you start to feel that same feeling, come up, all you have to say, you don’t have to go through it all again. You just say, feels the same, not the same. And then after that you call a actual therapist and you say, I’m experiencing this feeling that I have identified is similar to this situation that I experienced in the past.

And I would like to continue my breastfeeding journey and process this. So I can continue enjoying my experience and not just suffering through it, because that is what suffering is. Suffering is when, and I’m getting preachy now, but bear with me, suffering is when you are uncomfortable emotionally or physically, and you keep doing the same thing over and over and you’re trapped in it.

And it’s like being put in a dryer of suffering just over and over. So someone needs to stop the dryer. And go get some professional help. And this is going to be a good way for you to tell this person what you need, because a lot of people start therapy and they’re like, I’m here because I’m a mess. And the therapist is like, all right, it’s going to be 10 years.

Right. But you know, you’re in an acute situation. You’re only breastfeeding for a short time in your life. So this is going to help you to process that now. This one piece, and then you can work on the rest of the shit later. Does that make sense?

Yeah. And I do want to throw out too, like, you can see your regular therapist, if you have one. You can see a psychologist, a counselor, but you can also look for someone who’s trained in postpartum support specifically. So, if you want to see someone who’s specifically trained in postpartum support, you can go to Postpartum Support International. Their website is postpartum.net.

They have a helpline. They have a text line, a lot of counselors, therapists, psychologists who specialize in this are registered with their website. So, you know, especially because if you’re experiencing this response with breastfeeding, you probably had some kind of trauma response to your birth. You might be experiencing or about to experience a postpartum mood disorder.

Postpartum might exacerbate a pre-existing issue that you already have. So that’s a good resource. We’ll write that in the show notes, too. Yeah. And even if you’re not sure if you had a quote unquote trauma or not, that’s classic. Yeah. That is classic. That was me for a couple of years.

Yeah, girl, because not everybody has, what’s called a big T trauma. Like you saw your dad die, or like you were tied down and, you know, terrible things happened to you. In fact, most traumatic experiences, especially sexual trauma are not black and white, I was physically assaulted and raped.

Right. Nobody held a gun to my head. Therefore like actually the guy that I was sort of talking to at the time that this happened, it was not him. Like I went on spring break, classic college, spring break. Got drunk, told somebody about it. Well, no, I get home from spring break. And I tell this guy, like, I have to tell you something… I was raped. And he said, well, did he hold a gun to your head? And I said, no, he did not. And he goes, then you weren’t raped.

And he is part of the problem. He’s part of the problem. But you know, I’ve processed that now. So he had no clue what was going on. I know. Whatever we’ll let him off the hook and I’m going to thank him for that example. But the point is not everybody has a big T trauma. A lot of people, most people like Maureen said have a bunch of little T traumas, because guess what happens when you go full submersion and you start having a lot of sex to cope with it? You’re racking up little T traumas all over the place because you’re having sex with people that don’t care about you.

And that opens the door for weird opportunities for more little T traumas, which is exactly what happened to me. And it sounds like it happened to you. And studies actually show that little T traumas over time, actually have a more detrimental effect to your mental health than big T traumas. They’re harder to fix because they’re harder to identify and they’re harder to process because they’re more complicated.

Right. And you know, I just want to note too, this is not something only women experience. This is something men experience, trans people experience, non-binary people experience. Everybody can have this experience. And personally, the two biggest like sexual assault traumas that I can point to you. One was from a man and one was from a woman.

They are not, you know, it was not like this dude f*cked me up. You know, everybody has an equal opportunity here. So, you know, I don’t assume that this man who is my friend has not been raped. I assume that everybody could have, and maybe has experienced small sexual traumas, large sexual traumas, who knows.

Yep, exactly. So if you’re sitting there breastfeeding, and you feel in your chest, like you can’t breathe. Like if you’re listening to this right now and you’re like, I’m really uncomfortable and I don’t know why. You might have trauma that you don’t remember. That’s very common with our reptilian brains, where our brains go, nope, that’s too big to handle.

And it just pops it over to the non-verbal side of your brain and you just don’t want to deal with it. So it’s possible that you’ve blacked it out. Right. But your body never forgets it. Because again, when we’re thinking about the way that our brains work, if we forget the bad things that happened to us, that is a terrible survival mechanism.

So, your brain is never going to actually forget the bad thing that happened. It’s still going to use that experience to change your neural pathways, change your behaviors, change your coping mechanisms. You just might not be able to very clearly have a little thought in your brain. That goes from one neuron to another that says, Oh, that’s why this is happening.

Exactly. So, you know, the point is anybody can call that number. Yes. Anybody, even if you’re like, I’m not sure if I had a trauma or not, the answer is probably, you did. Right. And that’s fine. That’s not putting you in a box. That’s just saying, you know, like you’re a human and you have some shit you need to deal with because being alive is really hard.

So, I also just want to say that what it means to process the trauma. So we say that a lot, I think like process your trauma. And I don’t know that everybody knows what we mean. Yeah. So there’s different ways in different methods to process your trauma. But there’s a brilliant book called Burnout that just came out recently and Bern√© Brown interviewed the authors they’re twin girls, that author co-authored the book.

And on Bern√© Brown’s podcast, they were discussing the analogy of you are in a tunnel. So at the beginning of the tunnel, you experienced this crazy emotion. This is where the big T or little T trauma happens. And so you are forced to go through the tunnel and there is another side to every emotion, nobody ever stays in the same emotion forever.

Correct? I would assume so. Yeah. We don’t know everything. We don’t know everything. Humans are not consistent, though, we do know that. Even when, like say you get really mad, eventually you become unmad. You know, something happens, we move through it. But what happens with burnout and what happens with unprocessed trauma is you get stuck in the tunnel.

It’s too big. It’s too much for you to make it through the other side. So this is where you call a therapist and you have somebody guide you through the tunnel to make it through that emotion and then look back at the tunnel and say, what the f*ck was that? And do it together. So that’s a really good thing to do with somebody.

Sometimes we just need a guide and I thought that was brilliant. So shout out to them, the authors of Burnout. And we’ll put a link to that in the show notes. So, the way I processed my trauma and I’m still working on it because I decided to wait 15 years to process it, which is fine. That’s my journey.

But, I am going through EMDR, which is a type of therapy that’s very difficult. It’s rough. But it’s very good for a person like me who is result oriented. So, I’m not big on talk therapy. I don’t really enjoy talking about myself. Believe it or not, which is ironic because that’s what we’re doing today. But, I really like having somewhere to go and knowing that there’s an end to something, I will work my ass off to make sure I can get to that point. And I don’t want to feel this way anymore. So that’s what I’m doing.

So, through EMDR, basically what happens is you work with a therapist to identify where that trauma happened and it might not be what you think it is. So you might think it’s actually your sexual assault. It might be something from when you were like five that happened. That felt the same as that.

And so you identify the earliest age, chronological time that this happened. And then you process that through EMDR where they, I’m not a therapist so this is hard for me to say, you kind of basically, you trigger your brain to go down a rabbit hole with the therapist as a guide and she’ll stop and say, so what do you feel now?

And then we’ll go through another session and then she’ll say, what do you feel now? And there you’re literally extracting, she kind of talks about it, like sifting gold. So you have a tray full of dirt and you shake it out and shake it out and shake it out. And then you see what’s left. And then you talk about it and you shake some more. That’s an interesting way to describe it. I like that.

And you see what’s left and you shake some more and you basically shake it until there’s one nugget left, one gold nugget, and then you look at it together and you say, that’s what that is. That’s what it actually is. And that’s what we’re going to put away now. And you put it away.

And the idea is you pull that earliest trauma out like a domino. They all fall. So that is the point. And then you rewire your brain from that. So, I hope that made sense to you all, but that’s my process. That’s what I’m doing to process my trauma. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. And I can tell that it’s working because things that were triggering me before no longer trigger me, which is fan-f*cking-tastic. I can’t tell you how great it is. And my husband thanks her as well.

Right. I’m sure. Yeah. Another kind of therapy that you could consider, especially if you’re like Heather, you are results oriented. And you’re like, I don’t want to be in therapy for 10 years, is called cognitive processing therapy or CPT. And it is really like a formula.

There’s 10 sessions. You do exactly what everybody else does in each session. You get like worksheets, but of course it’s personalized. Right? And there was a great episode on This American Life, called 10 Sessions, where somebody talks about her experience doing CPT and what happened at every appointment. And that’s a really good method too.

You could just do cognitive behavioral therapy. You could see a psychiatrist, a psychologist. I mean, you have a lot of options and you don’t have to see a therapist at all. You know, you can reach out to friends, you can read a bunch of books, you can go on your own healing journey.

But the point is that there are people who are trained to help you. If you want that. Or if you’re stuck and you have exhausted all of your previous coping mechanisms and they’re not working anymore. And also just to remind you, like breastfeeding is an acute time. It’s not a chronic thing that you’re going to be doing forever.

So it might benefit you to go ahead and get somebody now while you’re breastfeeding. And then maybe you can do some of the other stuff that’s more long-term after, but just get through it. Get through it. Yeah. Do what you can to get through it. And, and you know what that doesn’t mean abolishing all of your coping mechanisms and healing, right now.

It can just mean identifying which coping mechanisms are actually healthy choices and which ones aren’t and trying to teach yourself to go to those healthy coping mechanisms. You know, like if one of your coping mechanisms is to, you know, take some time alone and drink a cup of tea, like that’s great.

You know, that’s a good coping mechanism versus like, isolating yourself from your partner. That’s not really a good one, you know, so stop looking at me. It’s okay. I just look at you when I can’t look at myself. We’re very similar, that’s why we’re friends. But you know, like there are so many different ways to handle this and we just want to tell you that we’re here for you. We support you. We understand this situation and you’re not alone.

Yeah. And you know, the thing is reach out to us if you need anything. Of course, you can always email us at [email protected], but I just wanted to also say you are the best teacher for yourself because you are breastfeeding all the time.

And so when you reach out to us, you expect us to come to the appointment on time. Yes? You expect us to be kind to you. You expect us to be supportive of you, and I think you should take those qualities and expect that from yourself. That is hard. It’s really hard. But think about it, when you are trying to muddle your way through a breastfeeding issue at three o’clock in the morning.

Step out of this student role for a minute and go into teacher mode because you are the only person you have at that moment. Treat yourself with kindness, compassion, and show up for yourself. Don’t just be like, all right, I’ll just give a bottle of formula and I’ll deal with it later. Like you can, if that’s what you want to do, but if you’re really committed to breastfeeding, show up for yourself, be there on time, do the work, find the answer, schedule the appointment with a private consult. You know, and you’ll get there.

Yeah. And I just want to reiterate some of the resources we mentioned again, you can always call the National Sexual Assault hotline at +1 800-656-4673 or the Postpartum Support International hotline, and that number is +1 800-944-4773. And they have a text line as well, for English and Spanish speakers and the text line for English is (800) 944-4773, the same number. The Textline for Spanish is 971-420-0294. So, you know, I usually just save those kinds of numbers in my contacts and if I need them, they’re there.

Yeah. And so just to give you some hope from the first time I breastfed, where I had anxiety the entire time, and I did not have the best coping mechanisms… to the second time I breastfed where I did some of that work. I had a much more supportive partner who was patient with me going through that process.

I healed it. I’m telling you it’s possible. Please do not feel like you’re stuck there forever. I enjoyed breastfeeding my daughter thoroughly. It wasn’t like always great every single day, but for the most part, it was very healing. We had a great experience. And it didn’t trigger me every day of my life.

Like I was able to build a business. I make new friends, you know, Maureen and I became friends when I was very pregnant with Heidi. So it is possible, and I just want you to know that. So if you’re in the thick of it right now, just put one step in front of the other and do the next right thing. Even if the next right thing is just brushing your teeth.

This week, I wanted to think one of our new patrons, Samantha, who’s also a moderator in our Facebook group. She’s a bad-ass. So Samantha from Saskatchewan, one of our Canadian listeners! Oh, Canada, how we love ya. Hey, if any of you guys out there, listen from Canada, send us a message. Give us a shout out. Let us know how you like the podcast.

Yeah, please. And we are trying to pick affiliates that will ship anywhere, especially Canada, but we have not done that completely. So apologies if you are in Canada and you can’t get, Liquid IV? Yeah, I think it was the Liquid IV that doesn’t ship to Canada or it’s expensive. Sorry, guys.

So we’ll work on that. We’ll work on getting some more Canadian friendly affiliates for you. And since we’re talking about patrons, we just wanted to let you know something new that we’re doing for our patrons… well first, we’re finally like on top of posting videos every week for you guys and sorry about the first month or two of that.

And what we’re also doing is the third Tuesday of every month from eight to nine Eastern Standard Time, we are doing live Q and A’s with our higher tier patrons. So for people that are spending $20 a month to get all of our behind the scenes access and merch and videos, we’re also doing the live Q and A, where you can come and get all of your breastfeeding questions answered and just like, hang out with a cool bunch of people. We do it on zoom so we can all see each other. I mean, you don’t have to turn your video on, but like we’re all in our jammies, nursing babies, drinking tea, just hanging out.

And like, if you have a burning question where you’re like, well, I kind of Googled, I can’t really figure it out. Yeah, we’re here for you. Yeah. It’s so fun. It is really fun. We’ve decided to make pajamas a requirement that way people won’t feel like you have to be dressed up for it. It’s very informal.

Think of it as just like a lactation meeting. Pajamas, yes. Bras are a no. Don’t even wear those. Burn them. Burn them! And you know, so if you’re a person that’s like really wanted to have a private lactation consult, but you don’t want to like take the plunge and pay the money for it. This is a great way to get your question answered on the cheap and have a community because our friends last time in it, made friends with each other, it was so fun! It was so cute! I was really happy!

I think we only had three or four people, but like, I’ll do it for one person, guys. Seriously. I’ll just do it with you. We’ll just have a date on Zoom. We do that quite often. All right, guys. Well, thank you so much for sticking with us and I hope you become a patron so we can hang out even more! And you can find that at patreon.com/milkminutepodcast. Woowoo!

This ad is sponsored by Breastfeeding for Busy Moms. Heather here, did you know that I own a business called Breastfeeding for Busy Moms? I wanted to let you know that you can feed your baby in a way that works for you. My online breastfeeding classes can help you prepare, troubleshoot and give you the confidence you need to have a smooth breastfeeding journey. I’m always sure to include actionable ways your partner can help you in order to avoid those devastating unmet expectations arguments. If you’re the kind of person that loves having personalized support, you can take advantage of my open office hours every other week for Breastfeeding for Busy Moms students.

I never leave my people hanging. If you need more than a group support chat, my students also get 25% off private consults. So pop on over to Breastfeeding for Busy Moms and prepare the best way you can. I’ll see you in class. The link is in the show notes.

So, for our Awards in the Alcove today, we’re going to give an award to June. She says in three days, I only had to supplement with six ounces of formula. The rest was breast milk with a cute little happy emoji. That is such a big win, guys. I know a lot of you are struggling with supplementing and trying to reduce that and getting just back to breast milk and it can be so hard to get out of that cycle of supplementation. So congratulations, June.

Yeah. What award are we going to give her? Breaking the Top-Off Cycle Award? Oh my God, f*ck yeah! That’s a good one! It’s a long one, but we’re going to give you the, Breaking the Top-Off Cycle Award.

Yeah, it’s complicated. And you did it. We also want to give an award to Rachel who told us that she was making it a priority to bond with her son instead of playing games on her phone while nursing. And that is a huge win for people who really tend to dissociate a bit during breastfeeding. So let’s see, we should give Rachel the Presence Award. Yeah, I was going to say that! Rachel, we’re giving you the Presence Award. Congratulations. We are so proud of you and keep it up. That’s amazing.

All right, guys. Well, please hang in there and I hope this was helpful to you. And if you know anybody that you think might benefit from this, please pass it along to them and let them know that they have support and they’re not alone. And that we’re here for all of it.

Thanks for listening to the Milk Minute. If you haven’t already please like, subscribe and review our podcast wherever you listen. If you’d like to support our podcast, you can find us on Patreon at patreon.com/milkminutepodcast. To send us feedback, personal stories, or just to chat, you can send us an email at [email protected]

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