Silent Placental Abruption: Our Premature Birth Story

Silent Placental Abruption: Our Premature Birth Story

I experienced a silent placental abruption when I was 33 weeks pregnant with my daughter.

In case you are wondering what that is, I’ll explain: a placental abruption occurs when the placenta (the lifeline delivering blood, oxygen and nutrients to our baby) peels away from the uterus. It deprives the fetus of oxygen and causes the mother to hemorrhage internally.  

Sarah pregnant with Zoe

One week before I had our daughter via emergency c-section at 33 weeks.

The most common symptoms of placental abruption are bleeding and abdominal pain.  Because I had neither symptom it was considered a silent placental abruption.  It was especially unusual in my situation because I had no risk factors.  

I got the flu about 5 days before my silent placental abruption was discovered.

As a nurse I knew that just having a cold or flu generally doesn’t hurt an unborn baby and may even give her a few extra antibodies. I decided the best thing to do was rest and drink lots of fluids.

But to my surprise, two days later I wasn’t feeling better and had worsening fatigue, dizziness, a horrible sore throat, and a headache.

I called the OB floor at our hospital and was directed to an advice nurse.

After a 30 minute phone interview and a detailed discussion about my symptoms I was instructed to stay home. I just had the flu, she said. I should rest and drink lots of fluids. So I took the advice and tried to rest as much as I could.

Fast forward two more days and my dizziness and symptoms were only getting worse. I was even having difficulty walking from one side of the house to the other. So again, I called the OB unit at my hospital because I thought for sure they would want me to come in.

I spoke with both the on-call OBGYN on the unit and another advice nurse. After another detailed discussion about my symptoms I was again instructed to stay home. “Please do not come to the hospital,” the doctor stated clearly.  “There is nothing we can do for you.”

I tried to explain the best I could that I was extremely weak and short of breath when walking more then 20 feet. I didn’t have a fever, but I had never felt more sick in my life. They told me I just had the flu and needed to “ride it out.”

So I laid in my bed and cried for 30 minutes because every inch of my body was hurting so much that I could barely stand it anymore. I had a hard time catching my breath.

(Later we found out that the reason I felt so horrible was that my hemoglobin was extraordinarily low due to the silent placental abruption already having started. My hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying component of a blood cell) at that time was 6 grams per deciliter. The normal level is 12.0 to 15.5 grams.)

I laid down for an hour and started doing “kick counts.”

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you time how long it takes you to feel 10 kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls. Ideally, you want to feel at least 10 movements within 2 hours. Usually a mom can feel 10 movements in less time than that.

But I only felt 4 or 5 movements in that hour period. But my body was so sick and achy that I wasn’t sure exactly what I was feeling, so I drank two large glasses of orange juice and ate a small bag of gummy Lifesavers. I was determined to sugar-shock my baby into giving me more fetal movements.

I began counting kicks for a second hour.  But after about 40 minutes I still only counted about 3-4 pretty weak kicks. At that point I decided I wanted to see a doctor, even if they thought I was overreacting.

I called my husband and asked him to come home and drive me to the hospital.

When we arrived at the labor and delivery unit I was immediately given a mask and asked why I came to the hospital after I was specifically told not to. I was once again reminded that I was bringing my flu into the hospital and putting patients at risk for infection.  They were clearly frustrated with me by the tone of their voices.  I kept thinking “am I not a patient too?”

I explained my symptoms once again and told them that I thought the baby should be kicking more. They put me in a room and we waited for the on-call OBGYN.

When she arrived she did an ultrasound.  I could tell by the look on her face that something was very wrong.  She stated very clearly that she was extremely concerned about our baby’s safety.  This is what she told us:

  • I had almost no amniotic fluid.
  • The little amount of amniotic fluid that was there was the wrong color and she couldn’t explain why.
  • Our baby’s fetal heart rate was “not reassuring” which is another way of saying that our baby was alive but in distress.
  • It was likely I would have an emergency C-section imminently.

She didn’t know at that time I was actually having a silent placental abruption. Apparently it is very hard to diagnose on ultrasound.

(We later found out that the amniotic fluid was showing as the wrong color because it was actually blood, not amniotic fluid.  I had already been bleeding into my uterus and our daughter had been swallowing blood. After the C-section they pumped 15 cc’s of blood out of our daughter’s stomach and she pooped blood for the next few days.)

A team of preemie doctors came in to prepare us.

The preemie doctors explained in detail what would most likely happen to our daughter since she was coming out 7 weeks early. They said it was likely that our daughter would not be able to breathe on her own and that she would need to be intubated (using a machine that breathes for her). In the case that I didn’t hear her cry after delivery, they wanted to make sure I was prepared for that possibility.

We were also told to prepare for 30 days in the NICU, which was the average length of stay for a “33 weeker.”  They initially wanted to try delaying a c-section for 48 hours so they could give me steroids to help develop our baby’s lungs develop faster.  But we weren’t able to wait that long.

Within a few hours things got much worse.

Soon, I started hemorrhaging and was having what felt like one long contraction that wouldn’t stop.

Our OB determined that I was not actually in labor as my cervix was completely closed. She thought it was best to take the baby out right then because something was very wrong, but she didn’t know exactly what yet. I was wheeled across the hall for the emergency C-section.

Our daughter, Zoe Grace, was born.

Zoe came out at 4 pounds, 3 ounces. After being suctioned, she let out a tiny little cry that I will never forget. It was the best and most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my life.

The doctor was able to confirm during the c-section that I had a placental abruption. My placenta was 30% detached from my uterus.

The next day our neonatologist told us that Zoe had no signs of brain damage and we had a “very healthy baby considering the circumstances.”  He then let me know bluntly, and in no censored way that “babies born under my circumstances usually don’t survive and the mothers often don’t do that well either.”  He basically told me he couldn’t believe that she had no brain damage.

We were so grateful for the excellent care she received in the NICU.

Our silent placental abruption story

We were so grateful for the excellent care Zoe got in the NICU.

Admittedly, I was shocked when I saw her for the first time. She was in an incubator hooked up to so many IV’s and tubes.  And she was so very tiny.

For the first 48 hours I was not allowed to hold her. That was so hard for me!  But, I could put my hands in the incubator and place one hand on the top of her head and one on her feet.  I remember telling her how proud we were of her.  She was a tough little gal right from the start.  “Tiny but mighty” was what the doctor said. What a wonderful feeling it was to finally be able to finally hold her on her third day of life.

Zoe had an oral-gastric feeding tube for nutrition since she was unable to eat for the first 7 days on her own. I would pump breast milk and give it to the nurses so they could feed her through her OG tube.

She was also receiving TPN (IV nutrition) and lipids (fats) through 2 IV lines. That was probably the most difficult part to watch.  Preemie veins are so tiny that it would often take an hour of poking to get the IV in. And they didn’t last very long so she was constantly being stuck with needles.

She was on oxygen and a cpap machine for the first week to help her continue breathing on her own. She was also kept under a bilirubin light for 5 days to treat her jaundice.  

Mom and Zoe in the NICU

2nd week in the NICU. Zoe earned the nickname “tiny but mighty.”

Zoe got a little stronger every day.

Our “tiny but mighty” preemie started doing more on her own, like eating through a preemie nipple and no longer needing the IV nutrition.

We were shocked on our 9th day in the NICU when we were informed that Zoe would be discharged the next day. I knew she was doing well, but we were told that due to her stage of prematurity that she would stay for at least a month. She was so tiny I couldn’t believe they were letting us take her home.

My experience taught me a few things…

  • Mothers need to trust their instincts. We know much more then we give ourselves credit for.
  • Kick counts are very important after 28 weeks gestation.  If you feel less than the normal amount of kicks then you should see your OBGYN immediately.
  • Having a healthy baby is a gift.  Not everyone gets to have that.   

I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn’t gone into the hospital that evening, especially after being told not to by the staff. My life would have been turned up-side-down.  I am so glad that I trusted my instincts that night!

I am so blessed that I get to be a mom.

Not everyone gets to have healthy baby, or a baby at all for that matter. Whenever I find myself getting frustrated with the difficulties that come with parenthood, I think about how close we were to not getting to have Zoe at all. That puts it all into perspective for me.

Our baby Zoe is turned 3 years old on Halloween.  She loves Elmo so she decided to choose Elmo as her Halloween costume.  In honor of her birthday our family dressed up as the whole Sesame Street gang.  My husband was Cookie Monster, I was Big Bird, and our 9-month-old son, Oliver, was Ernie. It was a wonderful celebration that I especially treasured because I know just how lucky I am to have two “tiny but mighty” kiddos.

Thank you for reading our story.

Sarah, @ Mother Nurse Love

Zoe Grace, 4 weeks old
Zoe Grace, 3 years old.  
Silent placental abruption: Our premature birth story
Baby Proofing Checklist: How An ER Nurse Keeps Her Kids Safer

Baby Proofing Checklist: How An ER Nurse Keeps Her Kids Safer

(This post may contain affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.  I am not a baby proofing expert.  My goal is to encourage parents to think about how they can create the safest environment for their children at home .  Many accidents involving children are preventable.  You can find more information here.)

To all new parents:  just in case you didn’t know, you gotta baby proof your house!  

It all happens so fast.  First, baby starts to roll and crawl.  Then they start “cruising.” And finally, your sweet little bundle of joy takes his or her first Frankenstein steps. And just like that, you have a walker!

Now, I may be just a tad overzealous when it comes to baby proofing our house.  After all, I am an ER nurse and I have seen what can happen when a house isn’t baby proofed.  (To top that off, our our 8 month old baby just started cruising with his Vtech walker. Gasp!)

I wrote this baby proofing checklist in honor of emergency nurses week and my desire to encourage other parents to take an active stance in baby proofing their homes.  If you are anything like us, you may be a tad bit sleep deprived and overwhelmed.  I hope this list helps to make it easier to create a more baby friendly home

Why is having a baby proofing checklist so important?

You would be surprised at how quickly babies can hurt themselves.  The prevention of accidental injuries is the #1 reason why babies need safe physical boundaries in place. 

Think of it like this:  Playtime + baby proofed home = safe space for growth and learning opportunities!

As parents it is our responsibility to make sure our kids are in a safe environment.  Children need a secure place to get messy, play, explore, learn and have fun.  

Here are a few things to consider when baby proofing your home:

#1.  Set up safety gates

One second your baby is playing in one spot, the next they are on the other side of the house trying to open up the cutlery drawer in the kitchen.  Once babies learn how to crawl or walk they can be surprisingly fast!  Safety gates help keep kiddos within a safe area.  Remember that you want to make sure safety gates are screwed into the wall if they are at the top of a staircase.  

Note:  Although safety gates are a great way to keep your baby more safe, it doesn’t mean that they can’t get hurt on them.  A study from 2014 found that as many as 2,000 U.S. kids visit the emergency room for treatments resulting from injuries caused by climbing or falling through gates.  

#2.  Install corner guards and edge bumpers

Although they appear to be just tiny pieces of plastic, corner guards and edge bumpers have been instrumental in preventing a few very BIG injuries.  Why?  Because many corners on tables and shelves are at same height as toddler’s heads when they are standing (or worse, running).  Hello, head injury!

If your toddler runs into the corner of a piece of furniture with a corner guard or edge bumper, they are much less likely to sustain a serious head injury.  We have corner guards on our kitchen table, coffee table, bookshelf edges, fireplace and even our bedroom side tables.  

#3.  Use door nob covers

Doesn’t it seem as if toddlers like to explore in every space you DON’T want them to be?  Toddlers are curious creatures and forbidden places seem exciting to them.  They love testing their boundaries.  Door knob covers are great for keeping little ones out of the areas you don’t want them wandering into.  Especially places like broom closets, bathrooms or out the front door!

Door nob covers just spin in circles if a toddler tries to open it.  But adults can easily open it by squeezing it tightly and turning the knob.

#4.  Install window guards

Screens are not enough to keep a child from falling out of a window.   And if children are able to open a window then there is the possibility of an accident. Children can be resourceful by climbing on furniture or toys to reach windows, so even if you think there is no way they could reach them, window guards are still a good idea. 

Side note:  I don’t love that these window guards do not let me put the windows up all the way.  But I would rather have them in place than risk having a horrible accident.  

#5.  Install safety locks on all cabinets & drawers

Toddlers love exploration and will open up every single drawer and cabinet in your home.  And if there is one that isn’t locked, I assure you, they will find it!  Use safety latches to keep household chemicals, cleaning supplies, and other hazardous things out of the reach of tiny hands.

There are several types of safety locks that you can buy depending on how much you want to spend and how much work you want to put in.  We use the 3M safety locks and they work great. You can install them instantly without any drilling and can uninstall them easily when you no longer need them.

#6.  Use stove knob locks

The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places in the house for a toddler.  There is fire and extreme heat for cooking after all!  It wouldn’t be difficult for a tiny hand to reach up and turn on a stove the moment you are not looking.  Stove knob covers work very much like door knob covers and make it impossible for a toddler to turn on.  

Note: It is a good idea to get into a new habit of using only the rear stove burners to reduce the chances that your little ones can get burned. If you do need to use the front burners always make sure the handles of any pots or pans are facing inwards so that little ones can’t pull them off the stove and sustain a burn injury.

#7.  Install toilet locks

The toilet bowl is a fascinating place for toddlers and they may feel inclined to look inside the bowl to see what is in there.  They may even try and pull themselves up onto the toilet.  However, a toddler’s head is very big in proportion to their body.  The weight of their heads would make it hard to pull themselves out if they accidentally fell in.  So make it impossible for them to pull the lid up with a toilet lock cover.

#8.  Anchor furniture to the wall

It is a good idea to secure all tip-able furniture to the wall.  As toddlers become more mobile they may climb on furniture, such as a book shelf, causing it to tip over.  Secondly, in the event of an earthquake, you don’t want any heavy furniture falling over on the little humans below (we live in California, so we have to think about that here!).  For aesthetics, you can anchor furniture from the back side so you can’t even see it unless you are really looking. 

Did you find this baby proofing checklist helpful?   Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts!

How A Crib Tent Helped Our Family Sleep Again

How A Crib Tent Helped Our Family Sleep Again

(This review is based on my own personal experience with this crib tent. It is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  There are affiliate links in this post. You can see my disclosure page here.)  

Who knew that a crib tent would give our family the gift of sleep (and sanity)?  I purchased our crib tent 16 months ago, it has since become my #1 most helpful toddler purchase, ever.

Just to give a little background:  our daughter was never a good sleeper (sweet as pie, but hated going to sleep).  As a result, delirium due to a lack of sleep became a “normal” part of our family’s daily routine.

So, when our daughter was 10 months old, I hired a sleep trainer.  Her methods were a success and we all finally started sleeping again!

But then, after nearly 6 consecutive months of nearly solid slumber, the unimaginable happened.   Our toddler, Zoe, learned how to climb out of her crib!

Our toddler’s “crib jumping” was a problem.

Once again, we were all losing sleep.  My toddlers daredevil escapes seriously concerned me because:

  1. It was unsafe.  Our tiny toddler could seriously injure herself by falling several feet or getting stuck between the slats.
  2. I did not want her wandering alone through the house at night.  Again, a big safety issue.
  3. My husband and I were not going get a good night sleep until we found a solution we were comfortable with.  We were all sleep deprived, but also experiencing daily stress from this new problem.

Sleep is important.

Sleep is so crucial for both physical and mental health.   

According to The National Sleep Foundation lack of sleep is linked to hypertension, heart disease, depression, diabetes and several other chronic diseases.

The National Sleep Foundation also states that sleep is especially important for children because it is when blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and important hormones are released for growth and development.

We looked at several alternatives.

After getting over the shock of my daughter’s uncanny ability to actually scale the crib we tried several things to deter her.

  1. We took out the bottom of the crib so the mattress was all the way on the floor to make her escape more difficult.  That stopped her from climbing out for exactly one night, then she was back at it again.
  2. We took everything out of her crib so she couldn’t use it as a prop to climb out.  This method didn’t stop her either.

We watched our toddler climb out of her crib on a monitor so we could see exactly how she was doing it.  She made it look so easy!  She held on to the top bar and put her feet in between the crib slates, hoisting herself to the top, then she teetered on the top bar and balanced until she could get both feet over the sides and jump to the floor.  Usually, with a big SPLAT.

A toddler bed was not yet an option.

I scored the internet for more suggestions and solutions.  A toddler bed was out of the question because our toddler would not stay in her bed (or room for that matter) for more then 1 minute.

Inevitably, we would end up having a little visitor in bed with us every night for the foreseeable future (or worse, roaming the house!).

crib tent was our last resort.

My first priority for our daughter was safety.  I didn’t want her getting hurt while climbing out of her crib, but I also didn’t want her wandering around the house in the middle of the night either.  And frankly, we ALL needed to get some sleep!

Safety was (is) my #1  concern.

I read a ton of reviews on this crib tent and I it sounded like people were having a lot of success without having any safety issues.  From my own personal experience, these are the reasons this crib tent has been a gift from the sleep Gods.  

  1. Our toddler could no longer get stuck between the rails (which previously happened several times!). 
  2. Our toddler was unable to grip the sides of the railing which prevented her from scaling the crib walls.
  3. The material is made from BPA-free mesh netting and is hypoallergenic. 
  4. The crib tent fit snugly  over the crib and it was impossible for our toddler to get stuck in the crib netting.  The bottom of the crib tent sits under the mattress.
  5. It was super easy and fast to set up.  No extra tools were required.
  6. We ALL finally got the sleep we needed and finally felt refreshed again during the day.

Our toddler likes her crib tent.  

I think it makes her feel safer.  We have a bedtime routine and our toddler wont even let us leave her room without zipping up her crib tent canopy.   

It has been 1 year since we started using the crib tent and it still works like a charm.  Soon we will be transitioning our daughter to a toddler bed, but until then we are leaving it up.

And I’m saving the crib tent for Zoe’s younger sibling, just in case we have another “crib jumper” on our hands.

Is your child able to climb out of their crib?  How did you deal with it?  Please leave any questions or comments below!

An Honest Crib Tent Review
From A Mom, RN

Must-Have Items To Pump At Work

Must-Have Items To Pump At Work

(This post contains affiliate links that I have personally used and found essential to my success pumping at work.  You can find my disclosure policy here.)

So you have made it through the first few months of breastfeeding a newborn.  Congratulations!  You are doing a great job mama!

But now a new change is looming on the horizon:  your maternity leave is slowly creeping to and end.  And you are wondering how you are going to continue providing your dear baby with their primary source of nutrition, breast milk.

And, like me, there is probably a big question going through your head right about now:

What supplies do I need for pumping at work?

I had so many concerns about being a “pumping mom” and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how I was going to make it happen without a ton of stress.  But I knew I needed to be prepared.  I am a registered nurse and I work very busy twelve hour shifts.  Like most pumping moms who work, I don’t have time not NOT to be prepared.

I am happy to share that I have been successfully pumping as an ER nurse in a very busy level 1 trauma center for the last 4 months.  And I still can’t believe how well it is going!  Sure, there have been a few minor hiccups along the way (like forgetting my breast pump at home, whoops!).   But overall the experience has been way better then I would have thought.

I now know that I will be able to continue pumping breast milk for my baby for as long as I desire.  I want other working moms to know that they can do this too.  (Read more about what I have learned about pumping at work as a nurse).

Must-have items for pumping at work

Must-have items for pumping at work

The essential must-have items to pump at work:

1. Portable Breast Pump

This device is the highest on the must-have items to pump at work list, for obvious reasons.  Without it, you have no way to access your milk!   I am using the Medela Freestyle portable pump because it is the one that my insurance covered and it works great.  You want to make sure that you have a double pump so you can pump both breasts at once to save time.

Check with your insurance to see if they cover a portable breast pump before you buy one.  I live in California and my insurance gave me a breast pump free of charge!

(Just a note, the different brands do not work interchangeably with each other.  So you want to make sure you find one brand you like and stick with it!  Otherwise you will end up with a bunch of parts that don’t work with one anther.  You don’t need your back to work pumping supply list to be any longer then it already is!)

2.  Bottles

You will need breast milk collection storage bottles to store your milk until you get home from work.  I use the Medela bottles because I already use the Medela pump but there are several other brands you can used as well.  Just make sure the ones you are using are made without BPA (its a safer plastic that helps retain breast milk’s beneficial properties).

I also like the Medela screw on lids better then some other brands because they are leak proof.  (I tried a different brand and had an issue with leakage all over my packed lunch!).  You can wash them in the sink and they are also dishwasher safe.

3.  Clip and Pump Hands-Free Nursing Bra

I really like this nursing bra accessory because it makes it possible to double pump without having to hold the pumps with with both hands.  Once you start pumping you will find that having to hold the pumps in place is really annoying and makes it difficult to do anything else.

This cleaver contraption can hook on to almost any nursing bra and make it a hands free pumping bra as well!  That way you can still do other things like check email or scroll though your phone.  Because lets be honest, pumping can be pretty boring after a while!

4.  Breast Milk Storage Bag

After you pump you need to make sure you have a place to store your breast milk until you get home.  I always pack a lunch for work so I just use my insulated lunch bag to store my milk.  You can use any insulated storage bag.

5.  Reusable Nursing Pads

Engorgement is no joke.  There have been a few times at work when I wasn’t able to pump on schedule and I ended up leaking through my scrubs (you could barely see it but still!).  As a result of that embarrassing experience I started wearing nursing pads when I was at work.

I use reusable nursing pads made of bamboo because I have read that many disposable pads contain absorbent chemicals which come in direct contact with your skin.  They also run the risk of trapping moisture, especially if your are leaking. This can increase the risk of mastitis, a very painful bacterial infection that will make you sick and can be dangerous if untreated.  Disposable pads can also be expensive over time if you are frequently using them.  I have 12 reusable nursing pads and I run them through the washer and dryer with all my other clothes.

6.  Breast Milk Storage Bags

The beautiful thing about pumping is that you can store your breast milk in the freezer!  So even if you have a surplus of milk you can put it away for later use.   These little breast milk storage baggies are great because you can write the date on the top section so you know how long they have been in the freezer.

Place them in the refrigerator for 12 hours before you need them to thaw them out.  Or place them in a bowl of hot water for quicker use.  These are on the high list of absolute must-have items to pump at work that you will need: I have used over 200 of them already!

7.  Milk Storage Organizer

My freezer got a little over loaded with breast milk within the first few months that I was back at work and this milk storage organizer helped me to keep things more organized.  It also helped me keep the milk organized by date so I make sure to use the oldest milk first.

8.  Newborn Bottle Feeding Set

Your baby is going to need a way to drink your breast milk when you are not there, right?  I tried so many different brands of bottles for our baby (their are so many!) but I finally settled on Dr Browns newborn bottle feeding set.  Different brands are NOT able to be used interchangeably with one another so its a good idea to find a brand you like and stick with it.  Otherwise you end up spending a bunch of money on bottles and parts you don’t even need.

In the beginning your baby will only need the 4 ounce bottles because they wont be drinking as much milk.  But as they grow you need to switch to the 8 oz size.  My son is 6 months and can take an entire 8 oz bottle in one feeding very easily.

The Dr Browns bottles have a blue vent system that is supposed to remove excess air bubbles from the milk.  This supposedly helps reduce feeding problems like colic, spit-up, burping and gas.  Our daughter struggled with pretty severe colic and constant spit-up and switching to the Dr Browns bottles helped the situation tremendously.  She still had some issues but they were noticeably much better!

9.  Baby Bottle Drying Rack

This is not a necessity but I included it because the Splirish baby bottle drying rack because it has been so helpful for me (and it looks cute on the counter too!).  It comes in medium and large sizes.  One of the unfortunate side effects of pumping breast milk is that you are going to be washing A LOT of bottles and breast pump parts.  It is just par for the course with pumping at work!

Every night when I get home from work I put all of my breast milk into storage bags and put them in the freezer.  I am left with several dirty bottles from work along with dirty pump parts and all the empty bottles that my baby drank during the day.  That is a lot of bottle washing!  To save time I soak the parts in soapy water  and then wash them all at once and leave them on my drying rack to dry out until the morning.  This system has saved me a lot of time over the months.

Take it one day at a time, Mama.

You may get overwhelmed, but you too can do this!

There are a lot of products on the market and it can be overwhelming for a mom who is preparing to go back to work from maternity leave.  So, make it easier on yourself and have a plan in place before you go back to work (read more about how I pump at work as a registered nurse who works 12 hour shifts).

After successfully pumping at work with two babies I have whittled down my list to include the things that have helped me the most.  I hope this helps to guide you in the right direction to find what works for you too!

It is your legal right to continue to provide breast milk for your children and pump while you are at work.  Do not let anyone tell you differently or make you feel guilty about it.  Only you know what is right for you and your babies.

Good luck, mama!  Let me know how it goes as a pumping mom in the workplace and please reach out to me if you have any questions.  I would be happy to help you!

Get Yourself A Baby Sleep Trainer Now You Crazy Lady!

Get Yourself A Baby Sleep Trainer Now You Crazy Lady!

I hired a professional baby sleep trainer to help me get my 5 month old to sleep through the night.  (And, lets be real: to keep me from completely morphing into a full-fledged, crazy-eyed, ultra sleep-deprived, zombie mom on the verge of passing out at any moment!)

We were doing pretty good in the sleep department up until about two weeks ago. That is when my adorable five-month-old decided that getting up only one time a night to breast-feed just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

Apparently he thought “this nice lady gives me whatever I want and I really like to breast-feed so I’m going to get up 20 times a night instead!

And my already extremely sleep deprived, exhausted body has been in a downward spiral since.  Like, the awake-all-night with a baby that only stops crying when I put him on the boob until 6:30 AM kind of downward spiral.

The sleep deprivation has since induced a few daytime hallucinations and even occasionally inhibited my ability to form complete sentences.  It was kind of scary actually.

I knew I needed help, and I needed it fast.

I hired a professional baby sleep trainer.  Again.

We hired a women named Natalie Wells, the baby sleep trainer, because she was able to successfully help us with our daughters sleep issues back in 2015.  It was hands-down the BEST INVESTMENT we made in her first year of life (and there are a lot of GREAT baby investments out there: the dok-a-tot,  the ergo-baby, the diaper genie…  But seriously people, the gift of sleep should NEVER be underrated.)

I need sleep more then anything right now.   I’m willing to follow a plan to make my full night of sleep dream a reality.  I am optimistic that there will be a night of sleep somewhere out there in my future!

Thus, I spent my afternoon yesterday creating the optimal sleeping environment for our son.

I created a “room within a room” in our master bedroom.

How a baby sleep trainer and a "room within a room" are giving me my sanity back!

My “room within a room.”  When the curtains are closed around the crib it is completely blacked out inside!

Baby training is hard when your little one sleeps in the same room as you and your husband.  But we don’t have a choice.  We live in a two-bedroom townhouse and our vivacious 2 and a half year old is already occupying the second bedroom.  Eventually (like a year from now) I would love to have them peacefully sharing the room together.  But at the current moment there is too much noise and crying between the two of them and they would constantly wake one another up.

Before baby sleep training, we were to do the following:

  • Black out babies sleeping area
  • Use a white noise machine
  • Have a video monitor to see the baby at all times
  • No swaddling the baby

I  bought 6 hooks and 2 blackout curtains (the kind that go from ceiling to floor).  I put the babies crib in the far corner and screwed hooks that were slightly outside the periphery of the crib on either side.  Now when closed, there is almost no light in his crib.  I also mounted a video camera and a noise machine a few feet above his crib.

Our “room within a room” was born.  It was an engineering marvel!  I was proud.  (My husband was a little surprised to come home and find me screwing holes into our ceiling, but thought it was a good idea too).

Our baby sleep trainer created an individual plan of action.

Our sleep trainer crafted an entire plan-of-action for us. It included everything from night time check in’s, to nap schedules, to feeding times and bath times. She even discussed how baby sleep cycles work which helps to understand why her methods are effective.

My husband and Nanny are both in on the plan.  Little Oliver WILL be following his scheduled as closely as possible. For the first time in a long time, I have HOPE that sleep is somewhere in the not-so-distant future.

In two hours I will be putting our son down in his crib, kissing him good night, and allowing him the opportunity to learn to fall and stay asleep on his own (with our interventions already planned in advance when needed).  Sweet dreams!

How To Pump At Work As A Nurse

How To Pump At Work As A Nurse

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Are you wondering how to pump at work as a nurse who works long 12 hour shifts?

When I went back to work after my son was born I was so nervous about when, where, and how to pump at work as a nurse who works long 12 hour shifts.  I just couldn’t figure out how I was going to successfully make it happen when our RN workloads are already so intensive!

But, I am happy to report that I have been successfully pumping as an ER nurse in a very busy level 1 trauma center for the last 2 months.  And to my surprise, its actually working!  And I now know that I will be able to keep breastfeeding and pumping for my child for as long as I desire.

I am so relieved that I am still able to breast feed and pump for my son as a busy nurse who works long 12 hour shifts.  I want other nurses to know that they too can do this!  That is why I am so  excited to share what I have learned during my pumping journey at my hospital.

Nurse Moms, you can do this.  Please read on to learn about how to pump at work as a nurse.  If I can do it with my circumstances, you can too.  I promise!

How To Pump At Work As A Nurse When You Work 12 Hour Shifts

How To Pump At Work As A Nurse When You Work 12 Hour Shifts

How To Pump At Work As A Nurse Who Works 12 Hour Shifts:

#1.  Communicate with your charge nurse/administration that you will be pumping while at work.

Hospital administrators are not psychic and have no idea what your pumping needs are if you do not tell them about it.  They may have no children or have ever breast-fed so this may be new for them.  Discuss the frequency that you will need to pump and discuss a location that works for you.  Ideally, it should be somewhere private on the unit like an unused office or empty patient room.

#2.  Talk to the charge nurses before each shift so they know in advance.

Figuring out how to pump at work as a nurse takes some pre planning on your part.  It is not a good idea to wait until things get busy to ask for a place to pump.   Charge nurses have a lot to balance too, so work with them and come up with a plan before all hell breaks loose on the unit!

#3.  Have a pumping schedule in mind.

In a perfect world, pumping every three hours would be ideal.  But that may not be possible for a busy hospital nurse with a crazy workload.  Figure out a flexible “working” plan such as:

  • 6:45 (before shift starts)
  • 10am
  • 1pm, or 2pm (lunch break)
  • 4pm
  • 7:30pm (after shift ends)

It is almost impossible to follow any schedule exactly, but planning ahead at least gives you a guideline.

#4.  If you can afford it (and your workplace allows) try starting with two 12 hour shifts a week instead of 3.

I was really nervous about being able to successfully pump for three shifts a week, so I decided to start with two.  I am so glad I did.  It has made pumping at work seem less stressful and more attainable.  As a bonus,  I get to spend a little extra time with my son as well.  Once my son starts eating more solid food and is breastfeeding less I will go back to working three.

#5.  Work every other day.

Continually pumping away from you baby day after day might affect your breast milk supply.  Talk to your administration about working every other day so you can breastfeed at home on the days in-between.

#6.  Find out if your hospital has a designated pumping station.

I work at UCLA Medical Center and we have a pumping room for breastfeeding nurses that is located on the 5th floor.  It is not ideal for me to go there during my shift because I work in the ER on the first floor, but sometimes I can make it there during my lunch break or before/after a shift.  They have comfortable chairs with curtains so I can pump comfortably with privacy.  They also have Medula breast pumps available for use.

#7.  Find co-workers who you know will cover your patients for you when you need to pump.

One of the many reasons nursing don’t pump during their shifts is that they are concerned about their patient’s safety while they are gone.  Hopefully you have a trusted charge nurse or other co-worker you know can keep a eye on your patients so you can pump.  Remember, it is you legal right to pump while at work, so not matter what your workplace needs to find someone to cover you.  So far I have been very lucky to have many other nurses that I trust cover for me when I ask them.

#8.  Work per diem.

This option isn’t for everyone but it definitely works for me!  I am able to have complete control of my schedule so I don’t end up working back-to-back shifts or night shifts while I am breast feeding.  It has also offered me a better work life balance as a working mom.

#9.  Be flexible, but stand up for your right to pump!

Due to the unpredictability of being a busy RN, you will need to be somewhat flexible when it comes to pumping during a 12 hour shift.  But if you are not being reasonably accommodated, you need to say so.  It is your legal right to pump at work.  Ultimately, you are the person responsible for making sure that your pumping needs are met while you are at work.

Good luck Mama, you can do it!