What was one of your greatest challenges in motherhood? What was one of your greatest joys?
My greatest challenge in motherhood is the constant feeling that I'm not doing enough or feeling guilty because I can't give all 4 of my kids the same amount of one-on-one time. But, my greatest joy is hearing my babies laugh! It's the best sound in the world and lets me know I'm doing something right!
Tell us about your postpartum journey. What caught you by surprise? What was your greatest struggle and how did you work towards overcoming it?
My postpartum journeys have all been so different. I've had PPD 3 times now and was really surprised at how hard it was the first time. I've had chronic depression since I was young, but PPD hit me like a brick wall! It was so different in many ways, plus the scary thoughts are definitely the worst for me. My greatest struggle during postpartum would be after having my 3rd baby. That's when it hit me. I only have 2 hands!! Trying to keep up with my 2 boys and take care of a newborn daughter, plus try to heal and breastfeed was really rough. Thankfully my hubby was able to get paternal leave to help me navigate through those first few weeks and try to get into some kind of rhythm.
Tell us about your breastfeeding journey. Something you learned, something you struggled through, something you loved?
My breastfeeding journey has evolved over time. I've always wanted to breastfeed my babies for as long as possible but I had no idea how hard it would be. Breastfeeding is like a job that you have to stick to in order to be successful. My first time didn't last very long because I didn't educate myself enough on what to expect, or even how to breastfeed. My second attempt was better, but I had a very hungry baby that made my nipples bleed, so that was over in about 2 months. My third time around I really got the hang of it, set up a schedule for feedings and pumping, and was able to go almost 6 months. Plus, I had a freezer stash to supplement with which was so rewarding for me. Now with my 4th, I feel like a pro. It feels so natural, like second nature. We are going on 11 months now and I'm so grateful for it! I love the bond and one-on-one time I get with him. It's bliss for me now!
Have you heard of the benefits of breast massage and did you give it a try in your breastfeeding journey?
I definitely used breast massage during my pumping sessions to make sure I was getting all the milk out so I could try and produce more. Also, when I had mastitis and clogged ducts twice, breast massage really saved me. It was painful but worth it.
What one piece of advice would you give to new moms?
The one piece of advice I have for new moms would be to please don't hesitate or be afraid to ask for help! Whether it's a friend, family member, or calling a doctor or hospital to ask questions. Not only do the babies need so much from us, we need help from others too. We are already trying to navigate this new life with no sleep. Sometimes having someone over to cook you a meal, clean your kitchen, or hold the baby so you can take a nap is just what you need to get through the day!
You can follow along with Jessica and her family on Instagram- @soultribemama or subscribe to her YouTube Channel- Soul Tribe Mama where she shares tips about pregnancy and motherhood.