Ep. 10: Postpartum Care, Gender Disappointment & more w/ Alex Schanbacher

Updated: May 26, 2020

Today's episode features badass mom Alex Schanbacher. Alex is a mom to three amazing boys: 4 year old Wyatt, 3 year old Eli, 1 year old Connor and wife to Mike. Alex is also studying to be a doula - which I know she will be absolutely incredible at!

In this episode, we dive into midwives & doulas, the lack of postpartum care for mothers, gender disappointment, how we can better support our friends and family regarding baby's gender, Jenna Marbles & nosy old ladies at the grocery store.

This episode is full of laughter but also highlights some real topics that mothers face regularly.

As always, if you wish to connect with this badass mom or see cute photos of her kiddos, head on over to her Instagram! She truly is a lovely woman.

Instagram: Alex

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Alex married her husband Mike 7 years ago, and basically started having babies right away.

Three Surprises

All three of Alex’s children were a surprise in their own way. With Wyatt, she had stopped taking birth control and wasn’t being as careful as she was previously. Alex knew she wanted kids, but wasn’t necessarily trying to get pregnant at the time.

When Wyatt was only 10 months old and Alex was still breast feeding him, she found out she was pregnant with Eli. It was the biggest surprise of them all! Alex was on the mini pill at the time, which is the safest option of birth control for nursing mothers. She never expected to find out she was pregnant again on her first day back to work after maternity leave with Wyatt.

With Connor, the couple had been trying for a little bit to get pregnant again, but were told based on bloodwork testing that it most likely wouldn’t happen again. Fast forward 4 months and Alex was pregnant!

Alex is currently breastfeeding with Connor and is being extra careful this time around. She is incredibly happy with her 3 boys, but doesn’t want any more children.

The Support & Care of A Doula

Most women typically use an Obstetrician during their pregnancy, but the support and contact is very minimal during the entire birthing experience.

A doula essentially functions as a partner for the birthing couple or birthing mom. The doula is there to support the mom before birth, during the birthing experience, as well as additional support for a few weeks after birth. A doula will walk you through labour and support you with whatever you may need – coaching, physical support, postpartum support, breastfeeding, learning what will work best for you as a new mom and more.

A doula is an extra person that you trust and are comfortable with to have along with you during the experience. The first year as a new mom is an exceptionally steep learning curve. Not only are you figuring out your own hormones, learning new skills with your baby, but you are also tackling new things in your relationship with your partner. You have to pay for the services of a doula but the packages are reasonable and the investment is worth it for the level of experience and care you receive.

Alex did not have a doula for her babies. Her first labour and delivery experience was awful and she didn’t see anyone until she was 10cm dilated. She was left alone in a room with her husband, never having had a baby before and not receiving much guidance or support.

Midwives are very sought after and it was difficult for Alex to get on the waiting list. But for both Eli and Connor she was able to hire a midwife. The experience for Alex was extremely different than with Wyatt.

The level of care that comes with a midwife or a doula is very different than an obstetrician. Alex felt heard and taken care of. Midwives work in teams of two, ensuring that you will have someone you know in the delivery room with you supporting you through the birthing experience. With a doctor, you are never guaranteed you will have someone you know in the delivery room with you.

Alex’s first born, Wyatt, was induced. He wasn’t a very healthy newborn and she didn’t have an overly healthy pregnancy. The whole experience was traumatic and impersonal for her. With Eli, she had a precipitous labor where the body transitions through labor periods at odd patterns and at a very high rate of speed. Eli was born across the hall from triage in an open room because they couldn’t make it to the delivery room. Alex had Connor at home because she didn’t want to run the risk of another precipitous labor.

Alex used to feel like she had to keep her birth experiences to herself. So many women tell you that the entire experience is horrible, that it will last for hours and that you will never want to do it again because it’s so scary. Mothers tend to put other mothers in this anxiety-ridden negative mindset leading up to their first birthing experience. Rather than setting a mother up to be anxious instead of excited, we should be communicating to them that it is ok and that their body is meant to do this. We need to help mothers formulate a positive mindset.

Alex highly suggests hiring a midwife or a doula for first-time pregnant moms. And if you can’t afford it, at least find someone in your life that you feel comfortable having in the delivery room that isn’t just your partner. You want to have someone there that can support you, as well as your partner.

Postpartum Care

After giving birth, postpartum care drops off so fast in a hospital. After having Wyat Alex was only asked three questions: if she was bleeding, if she was in physical pain and if she wanted birth control. There are no questions asked around mental health or how the mother is coping. Everyone is checking in on the baby, which is incredibly important, but so is checking in on the mothers.

With Alex’s OB for her first child she didn’t get any care for 6 weeks. She left the hospital, let her OB know that she had given birth to Wyatt, and they scheduled a 6-week appointment. She was told if she had any issues to go to her family doctor or the ER. Medical care stops right after birth.

Alex discusses how it is very hard to reach out and say you are struggling with something when you aren’t being asked any questions about how you are doing. But with a midwife or doula, it is a lot easier to open up because they are invested in your care.

Postpartum depression isn’t something that is easily brought up, discussed or noticed in many cases. With a newborn, relationship changes, less sleep, and hormonal changes, it is hard to be aware of postpartum depression symptoms. In fact, it is still such a taboo subject. So many of us don’t know it’s a thing or don’t know what it means or even what it consists of. For example, fits of rage, OCD-type tendencies, and overwhelming anxiety can all be symptoms of postpartum depression.

Gender Disappointment

Alex is a mother of 3 wonderful boys and she is incredibly happy with her children. She chose to know the sex of her babies before they were born. With Eli and most especially with Connor, Alex noticed many overwhelming opinions about the sex of her babies. She was surprised at the types of questions or comments she would often receive.

“Oh! Another boy!”

“You’ll have to try for a girl after this one.”

“Were you disappointed to have another boy?”

“You’re not going to have another baby because you don’t want another Wyatt.”

When Alex found out her second child was going to be a boy, she felt a little bit of disappointment. But she felt as though she couldn’t show those feelings. And yet she noticed that other people could be openly disappointed in the sex of her baby.

Having a preference for the sex of your baby is such a taboo topic, even though there is nothing wrong with it. If you don’t get the gender you may have initially hoped for that doesn’t mean you won’t love your baby any less. Having a preference doesn’t make you unappreciative. There is a lot of pressure on women to produce a certain gendered baby. And women are supposed to feel guilty when they don’t get that gender. Alex even found that many people made comments about her next baby, even before she had given birth to the one she was carrying.

A Mindful Approach

Alex feels there needs to be a better, more thoughtful approach to these types of situations and questions from others. People need to be mindful of putting their own feelings and preferences out there about someone else’s baby. And there also needs to be more understanding toward mothers who may be disappointed in learning the sex of their baby, and not discount those feelings that mothers may have.

With Alex’s third son Connor, she felt as though she had to lie and tell everyone that she really wanted a boy just to prevent people from pushing too much. No one likes to feel like their emotions are being prodded into.

Oftentimes, people ask incredibly inappropriate and personal questions that simply aren’t necessary when it comes to pregnant mothers or mothers in general. And most of the time, it’s just simply none of anyone’s business.

If you are going to ask a question, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about it. If you are in a position to be prepared to support the person in whatever their answer is, then by all means ask your question. But if you feel you can’t be, then simply don’t ask. In fact, there are a lot of questions that simply shouldn’t be asked.

People need to be more aware and much more careful with their questions and comments. So many people talk about things and ask questions without really thinking about what they are saying first or how it will affect the mother.

Alex knows that people aren’t asking out of malicious intent and are not purposely trying to be rude, but a lot more thought needs to go into the questions people choose to ask mothers because too many of them are in inappropriate.

A Final Message From Alex

To all the mothers out there, you are incredibly strong and capable of whatever comes down the line. You can handle anything that happens. And reaching out and needing support doesn’t take away from your own capability. You can do it!

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