Tuesday, November 15, 2016

breastfeeding and gastroparesis...

I haven't talked much about my pregnancy and how my gastroparesis was affected. In this post, I want to focus on one aspect of motherhood, breastfeeding or nursing (whichever you may call it). Whenever we found out that we were expecting, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to nurse my baby. There wasn't much information out there pertaining to nursing a baby while having gastroparesis. I thought that I would share my experience and thoughts. However please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you. You have to decide what works best for you and your family.

Whenever I gave birth to our daughter, my medicine was still limited from the pregnancy. I had stopped taking my migraine preventative, muscle relaxers for when I had a migraine as well as some of my nausea medications. My doctors explained that as long as I nursed my baby, I could not take those medications because my daughter may be susceptible to receive some of the medication through her milk or simply because there wasn't enough medical research.

We had a lactation consultant come to our hospital room for several visits to make sure that our daugther was getting enough milk at each feeding. She was having trouble with her latch so for the first couple of days, she had to be feed with a spoon. The lactation consult recommended that I use a shield to help her figure out her latch. They also reminded me that I needed to remain relaxed. The baby could sense if I was stressing out or tensing up while nursing.

After we came home from the hospital, our daughter would nurse every hour and a half to two hours. We both became more knowledgeable and experienced with nursing so our feedings went smoother. The key for me was to relax. If I remained calm, she had no trouble feeding.

During those first few months, I had enough supply to pump off the remaining milk and supplement her during feeding times with a bottle if we were away from home. As she grew, she started nursing for longer periods so I noticed that I wasn't having as much extra milk. Something that the lactation consultant and pediatrician remind me of was to drink a glass of water every time I nursed. I knew then that this would be where I would have trouble. With my gastroparesis, I have trouble holding and digesting my liquids. It sounds odd, I know. Since I simply couldn't sit down and drink a glass of water, I started sipping and drinking all throughout the day. Some days, I would have less milk than normal which posed a problem at night. There were a few nights where I actually ran out of milk and had a very upset baby. We tried supplementing her with formula on those nights but she did not like it. I tried drinking a tea that was suppose to help with increasing the amount of milk but I never noticed a difference. It just tasted bad. Over time, I finally figured out a plan that worked for me as well as our baby. The day before I would clean out, I would drink Gatorade to help give my body some extra hydration. On the days when I would clean out, I had to constantly be sipping on something. I also had to monitor my output to make sure that I wasn't loosing too much fluid from my medications.

Whenever you nurse a baby, it takes calories. Some nursing mothers lose weight while others maintain their weight. I was unable to eat multiple meals and snacks throughout the day because it would stop my medications from working. Dinner was usually my only meal for the day. At night I learned that if I would snack on something throughout the evening, I could sneak in some extra calories to make up for the nursing. I would go to bed feeling bloated and full but I would sleep through the majority of those feelings.

During my pregnancy, I was extremely blessed to have benefited from those prolactin hormones. It really helped curb my nausea and make it manageable and easier to deal with. Since I was able to nurse my baby, I would still have those hormones which would help with my nausea. My daughter is almost fifteen months old and she still nurses up to three times a day. I have noticed that my nausea isn't as controlled as it once was when I was pregnant and first nursing but it isn't full blown.

Over the months, I have grown to love our feeding times together. It helped establish a bond between the two of us. As with any medical decision, it should be discussed with your doctor. Nursing is a personal choice.

Thursday, October 20, 2016



Did you know that between seventy to eighty percent of your immune system is located in your GI tract? 

Years ago, before I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, I worked as a certified and licensed pharmacy technician. I learned and witnessed first hand the effects of certain germs. A cold can spread very easily and a stomach bug can spread through a family like wildfire. 

A few years after my diagnosis, I had enrolled in an EMT class. I was telling my GI doctor about my future plans and how I was more comfortable and proficient in a medical atmosphere verses an office setting. My GI doctor informed me that as a GP patient, my immune system was weakened because seventy to eighty percent of my immune system was in my GI tract. My GI tract didn't function and work like a normal person therefore my immune system was weak and compromised. If I planned on working in the medical field, I would continually be sick. 

Since then, I have learned to be more cautious around germs and being in public. The first Christmas that Jacob and I were married, I came down with a cold that actually landed me in the emergency room. I had originally went to a local urgent care but due to how my body was reacting to the cold, I was sent to the emergency room. I could barely move from being so weak. It was miserable and somewhat embarrassing.

Whenever our daughter was born, we were cautioned by her doctor that she may have a compromised immune system based on my medical history. Time would tell. Last fall and winter were LONG to say the least but it was totally worth keeping her at home and healthy. Over the past year, she has been sick a couple of times and do you know who caught everything that she had, this mama! With cold and flu season approaching, I am more cautious when we are out and about. 

I realize that I am over protective and a bit extreme at times. I know that she will get sick at some point, it's part of being human but I would like to keep us as healthy as possible. The idea of being of being so sick that I would have to leave my daughter so seek medical attention really bothers me. I want to be there for her.

So as a GP patient and a mama, use good hygiene, wash your hands and stay home if you're sick.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

flaws, scars and insecurities...

I recently watched a video on YouTube about flaws which in turn got me to thinking about my physical "flaws" as well as my insecurities. We live in a society today where appearance and looks reign supreme. Take a look at a magazine, the models are airbrushed and photo-shopped to a point where it is hard to tell if anything that you are seeing is actually "natural".

Being a woman in today's society, there are times when I do feel insecure about my physical appearance. If we are honest with ourselves, we all feel insecure about something regarding our appearance at some point in time. As I have grown and aged over the years, my thoughts regarding my appearance, securities and insecurities have changed. As a teenager, I was embarrassed by my ears. I didn't like wearing my hair up in a ponytail because my ears would be visible. There were times when I didn't like my freckles or my slender feet.

My parents always instilled in my brother and I that God made us. How we look is how He wanted us to look. In Genesis 1:27, it talks about how God created man in His own image.

Since being diagnosed with gastroparesis, it brought out a whole new set of insecurities for me to deal with and work through. It took me a long time to become comfortable with my physical appearance when I would bloat. When I worked, I remember there were times when I would be bloated and people would ask if I was pregnant. I had dark circles under my eyes from the clean outs. My stomach had scars from the numerous surgical incisions.

My insecurities don't bother me like they use to. Everyday is a work in progress. There are good days and there are not so good days. Since having my ileostomy surgery, every time I eat or drink a substantial amount of liquid, I bloat not just from my gastroparesis but due to the placement of my stoma. Most days, I go around in athletic wear which makes up the majority of my wardrobe. Jeans irritate my ostomy site. I rarely wear makeup so my dark circles are often visible. My abdominal scars don't bother me anymore. They are there as a reminder of where I have been and what I have been through. They help tell my story. As for my ileostomy, it is what saved my life. Yes, some days it gets in my way but it is part of who I am now.

I want to be the type of parent that my parents were to my brother and I. I want to teach my daughter that she was created by the Creator in His image. I want her to be secure in herself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

GP Life After Pregnancy...

I have had numerous people ask me over the past months ask me how I am doing. Generally, like most GP patients do, I answer with a blanket answer. It isn't a lie but it isn't detailed. I usually answer with the words "good" or "fine". I decided that I would finally "answer" the question as to how I am doing.

For the most part, my gastroparesis is the same. It is something that I will always have to deal with. It is chronic but I am perfectly okay with that. During my pregnancy, my GP was more manageable due to the hormones associated with pregnancy. Since giving birth to Chaselyn, I have noticed my GP symptoms are becoming more intense than what they were during my pregnancy. The nausea is greater, my GI tract is slower, my medication doesn't work as well and so on and so forth. Some days I am able to eat what I consider to be my "normal". Other days, I am struggle with eating. It doesn't bother me that things are returning to how they once were before I became pregnant. I knew that this would happen. I am just thankful for the bit of relief that I got to experience during my pregnancy.

As for my clean outs, I have to be extremely careful. I really have to watch my hydration. Whenever I clean out, I lose a lot of fluid. I am constantly drinking something, whether it be water, Gatorade or some type of protein drink. My energy varies from day to day depending on how I am feeling and if I am on a post clean out day. I try my best to manage my energy and time. I don't want to take away from Chaselyn due to me over doing it. I have had it happen several times where I have just had to lay on the couch while Jacob takes care of Chaselyn and I absolutely hate it. I want to be involved. My weight has returned into my "GP range". When I found out that I was pregnant, I was around 87 pounds. When I gave birth to Chaselyn, I weighed 128 pounds. Today, I am just a few pounds heavier than when I was before the pregnancy.

Image Credit: http://www.keepcalmstudio.com/_gallery/1500/12wCRW5.png

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

things that help with nausea...


The dictionary describes the word "nausea" as a distress in ones stomach which inhibits their urge for food as well as a urge to vomit. Generally speaking, nausea isn't something that people deal with on a daily basis or at least I didn't before my gastroparesis. Growing up, I was actually afraid of being nauseous and yes, I realize that it makes me sound like a big baby but I did not cope well with it. I remember on several occasions when I had a stomach virus, I would rock back and forth refusing to get sick. It however never worked for me. I always got sick. 

Nausea is a common, sometimes daily feeling that gastroparesis patients deal with. Over the years and countless times of dealing with nausea, I have learned how my body deals best with the nausea that I experience, what works and what doesn't work. Every person is different, what works for me may not work for you. Years ago, I remember my husband, boyfriend at the time, trying to convince me that drinking regular Coca-Cola would help better when I was nauseous than Sprite. I thought it was a crazy idea. Why would I want to drink something that I wasn't fond of when I felt so bad. Wasn't the nausea bad enough? However after being stubborn, I finally gave it a try and you know what, it helped! I thought I would share a few of my "tricks" or "rituals" that I do whenever I am nauseous.

1. Salty potato chips
    I realize that plain not baked, salty potato chips are greasy but I have actually had a lot of success       with them. During the first trimester of my pregnancy, I lived on salt and vinegar potato chips. I ate     them for breakfast some days.

2. Dill pickles

    As crazy as it sounds, I have found that eating dill pickles often help me with nausea. They aren't       the easiest thing to digest but the vinegar seems to help my stomach.

3. Big Red Gum

    When I was working, I was often nauseated. I wasn't able to take a Phenergan and work.                     Phenagren always makes me so sleepy. I discovered that if I'd chew several pieces of Big Red             gum, it would help curb my nausea.

4. Preggie Pop Drops

     One day while I was in Motherhood Maternity store looking for some maternity clothes, I                    stumbled upon these. For the most part, they taste pretty good. I always preferred the hard candy        drops instead of the chews.

5. Coca-Cola

    I am not sure what it is about this drink but it has always seemed to help with my nausea.

I realize that the things that I use to help with my nausea are not all GP diet or FODMAP approved but when I am nauseous, I really don't care about the sugar content or the how easy it will be to digest. I am always careful to chew up my food really well. As with any disease or sickness, you learn what works best for you.