Introducing a new blog series: Obstetrics and momecology
This is the first entry in a new series of blogs by our very own OB/GYN, Dr. Elizabeth Tigges. In this series, we will explore the adventures (and misadventures) that mothers share from the perspective of a mom and OB/GYN.
This series was originally posted to her personal blog, "Obstetrics and Momecology". This is a blog by a mom, for mom's and those who love them.
The Underground World of Motherhood.
I feel deeply connected to the rawness and realness of Motherhood and Womanhood. The extremes of all emotions, and the steadiness of the day-to-day. I am in complete awe of the tenacity and strength and spirit of Women.
The day I became a mother was the day I better understood the significant contributions we add to the Universe. The Impact we have. The 100,00 balls we constantly suspend in the air to keep everything and everyone moving forward. We are brilliant, radiant, beautiful humans.
These are 2 of my recent observations:
#1. We don’t take care of our own souls enough. Or ever.
Women young and old have been putting everyone else first for months, years, decades, a lifetime. And we need to take some. Take some of everything. Time for ourselves. Time for the restoration of our own tired, overworked, undervalued souls. We need to take pleasure in Indulgences, simple or big. We need to not feel guilty for taking a much-needed run or an hour of CrossFit/Zumba/yoga. A long long shower (more than 6 minutes 2 days a week). A weekend with friend(s). A glass of wine. Or a bottle. Drank slowly (or quickly) with a good book.
No one will do these things for us. It’s up to me to take care of me. It’s up to you to do the same.
We need more self-love. And to get there, it’s crucial that we take care of ourselves... or we’ll be sitting on the edge of the cliff. Just one temper tantrum or petty argument with our partner away from jumping (or falling) off.
I recently had my own moment of breakdown. I’d yelled at Eleanor [my daughter]. I said mean things. I even pushed her away from hanging on me for the 1000th time. It was mean. I was mean. I cried for the whole day.
I went to counseling (which I schedule 3 months out and go to monthly, which makes me more likely to go). I realized how vital it is to allow and accept that my best version of me is when I take the time to take care of me. I utilize my mom, my husband, and our nanny now. Even if it’s just for a 10-minute run or an hour at counseling. I have scheduled weekends with my closest girlfriend.
It’s hard to work full time. That alone is an anvil of guilt. Then, to return home from work or a weekend away and spend more time away? Yes. The answer is yes. I keep it short and simple usually. Because that’s what feels good to me. But I do it. And I remind myself that I do it because I want me to be the awesome me that I think I’m capable of. And so that my kids see that it’s mandatory that they do the same.
No one else is responsible for my happiness, except me, and kids ought to learn that early in life so they’re not depending on someone else to make them happy.
Our longevity and health depend on us taking care of us.
#2. We don’t support each other enough.
I am saddened by the lack of support and nonjudgment we receive from each other.
Women show up. We enter the arena. We get into the ring. And instead of always receiving a wild crowd of cheering, uplifting, supportive, and encouraging friends we cut each other down. We joust with our allies.
The world of Motherhood is "underground" because we don’t openly talk about how crappy it is sometimes.
I saw my cousin's wife over the summer. They have 2 kids now and I asked how things were going. She said “good now. I didn’t like this kid for months”. And I found that honesty to be refreshing. I don’t like one or both of my kids sometimes too. They drive me bonkers. I love naps when they are peacefully asleep and I can get a minute. Of course, I love my kids more than anything in the Universe. But I have my days or moments. Sometimes I’m just surviving. And sometimes I’m even doing a crappy job at surviving.
We need reassurance that “yes, that’s happened to you too.” Sometimes I need a new day to start because I need a new beginning. Even if that starts at midnight because one of my kids won’t stay in her own bed and the other stopped sleeping through the night.
Tell me like it really is for you.
Tell each other the same. How we relate to each other is how we find common ground and validate our own self-worth. We all have insecurities. Let’s let each other see them. And thus truly see each other. Be vulnerable. We’ll be better off for it. I promise.
We all have been in a dark season. Some of us have been in many dark seasons. We all have experienced pain, sometimes excruciating pain. We all are uncertain, struggling, finding ourselves, recreating ourselves, giving up, giving in, celebrating, worrying, going crazy, misunderstood, dominating our home or our work, experiencing deep grief or despair, crushing it, spinning in circles, making change in a stagnant place, yearning, content, seeking adventure, seeking stability, making good and bad mistakes, learning, and loving life…all of the above at some point or another.
I read a book once about “awakening” and one of the things the author challenged the reader to do was answer this question: is the person trying their best? And most of the time I think we all can say “Yes, they’re/we’re doing the best that they/we are capable of.” Because that’s what women do most often. Our very best. It’s the best we have to offer at this time. So if you, me, WE are doing our best, why do we judge?
We intensely need each other. Brene Brown says the single most important aspect of our lives is our connection and belonging to others. If that’s the case, which I buy into, then we must absolutely must find more and better ways to be there for each other.
We must have grace for each other’s unknowns. We must wrap each other up in blankets of compassion and empathy.
Women are valuable beyond measure. We need to make certain that we help each other really feel that irreplaceable value.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Tigges, D.O. is a small town Iowan at heart, having grown up in Southeast Iowa before graduating from Simpson College. She subsequently began her medical career at Des Moines University, followed by her residency training at Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio. Life took her to the University of Tennessee in Memphis where she was an Assistant Professor of OB/GYN, but the call to return home prompted her to return to Iowa in 2013. She has now made what she hopes will be her last move, enthusiastically joining Surgical Associates in April 2016, where she will provide compassionate and comprehensive care in Women’s Health to women of all ages.
Dr. Tigges’ unique clinical interests include pelvic and minimally invasive surgery, robotics, preventative healthcare throughout a woman’s lifespan, evaluation and treatment of pelvic pain, and female sexual health. She recognizes, however, that while those topics may be the reason for a patient’s visit, they are only a small part of the individual. Dr. Tigges believes in recognizing the whole person and connecting with them on a personal level. This is largely because she loves getting to know patients personally, but also because she wants women to feel comfortable discussing Women’s Health issues openly and wholeheartedly.
Dr. Tigges is pumped to be living in Grinnell with her husband Cody and daughter Eleanor. Cody agrees that she has a special gift for making personal connections and says that she could form a lasting relationship with a rock. When she’s not sharing jokes and funny stories at work, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, hiking, running, and reading.
Dr. Tigges' Disclaimer:
"This [blog] is meant to entertain and inform. I share my personal experience and opinions through this web-based forum, which may or not apply to you, but which most certainly should not be interpreted as medical advice. I only provide medical advice via in-person appointments at my office or hospital."
Depending on your health pre-surgery, you may or may not have had trouble sleeping due to your weight. Not only do things like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome affect your sleep because of your weight, your sleep schedule might have even contributed to your weight gain in the first place! This article will give you some insight into what you can expect post-surgery, and how to manipulate your sleep schedule to ensure you don’t start the same habits all over again!
Much like nearly any other surgery, you may experience a disrupted sleep schedule. We encourage you to refrain from taking sleeping pills. Instead, push through the first few weeks, as there is restful sleep ahead. There are far too many risks and side-effects of taking sleeping pills. Much like its reaction to alcohol, your body’s tolerance for mood-altering drugs is not what it used to be. Especially when your diet consists solely of liquids. Additionally, it will be incredibly hard to wean yourself off of the pills once you have the potential to naturally develop a healthy sleeping pattern.
Unfortunately, your sleep schedule has more than likely been unhealthy for quite some time. Below are some pointers we can offer to help you immediately after your surgery:
- If you feel like you need to nap, then nap, and do so deliberately. Don’t distract yourself with background noise like the television. Find a quiet space and get some restful sleep. Try to keep your naps to the minimum possible time for the maximum rest. The goal is to give your body what it needs without disrupting your sleep schedule for that night.
- Be patient with yourself. You will more than likely be sleep deprived and stressed about a multitude of different things, so don’t make this one of them. Sleep when you can and when you need to. Listen to your body. You may need to completely reset your sleeping schedule by staying awake all night and going to bed at an appropriate time the next day.
- If you can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed. You can get up and walk around (we actually encourage you to do so!). We do recommend that you avoid television. This may seem redundant but there are studies that show a direct correlation to people who watch television to fall asleep and end up experiencing the opposite effect. Instead, do something that bores you. Whether that is reading an encyclopedia or counting random objects, your goal is to literally bore yourself to sleep.
Avoid Sleep Deprivation at all Costs!
Not getting enough sleep can directly affect how hungry you feel and can impact how your body processes the fuel you feed it. Your ability to feel full will diminish, creating the perfect storm for a feedback loop of weight gain. You will be low on energy and reach for the “easier” foods which are, more often than not, the less healthy option. Pre-surgery, this would have resulted in a few additional pounds due to the sheer fact that you had already entered this vicious cycle. We want to avoid these cycles completely post-procedure.
We want you to feel healthy so you can get you back to a vibrant, enjoyable lifestyle as soon as possible. In order to do that, you need to rest appropriately. If you experience severe insomnia or pain to the point where you can’t sleep, please contact your doctor immediately.
Post-Bariatric Meal Plan Importance
To ensure that you get the most out of your bariatric procedure, it is imperative that you follow the post-surgery meal plan to a “t”. We encourage you to contact us should you have any questions as to whether or not you should eat a specific food item at any point during your healing process. We want you to feel comfortable making the right decisions about your food consumption and this article will briefly explain why.
The meal plans provided to you by your doctors have been specifically planned for you to secure your healthy recovery. If you choose to eat an unapproved food item, you risk your health. This may sound a tad dramatic, but it is one hundred percent true. Your stomach has gone through some serious trauma and needs to encounter food of the appropriate amounts, textures, and compositions.
To Get Your Nutrients
This goes hand-in-hand with healing. Now more than ever, you must be sure to get your nutrients. Your body is doing its best to heal itself and you should do all you can to assist it in doing so. Keep in mind, the meal plan is specifically meant to get your body what it needs, in the forms that are currently needed. Over time, you will be able to get the same nutrients in a variety of ways, but for now, you should stick to the methods and supplements suggested to you by your doctor.
To Avoid Discomfort
If you eat something outside of your meal plan, especially in the time period immediately after surgery, you will more than likely experience some form of discomfort and/or sickness. This is due to the fact that your stomach is no longer the same, and therefore the food you consume must change as well. We do not want you to feel nauseous because 1.) feeling queasy is never fun and 2.) vomiting could put your body under unnecessary stress, further slowing your healing process.
To Promote Weight Loss
This point goes back to the very beginning and the reason you pursued bariatric surgery in the first place. If you’ve made it this far (through a procedure), we’re sure you’ve heard that this surgery is not a quick fix for permanent weight loss. You can gain the weight back. Especially if you do not follow the post-procedure meal plan.
We want this procedure to be just as successful as you do. If you remember why you are doing this, and keep the above motivators front-of-mind as you heal, you will be well on your way not only to a speedy post-surgery recovery but to a healthy, more enjoyable life.
If you begin to type “depression after...” in the Google search bar, you may notice that one of the most searched phrases attached to that query is “depression after surgery”. There are many factors that lead to a post-surgery mood alteration, especially in a routine-altering case such as a bariatrically-based procedure.
If you notice that you are experiencing a shift in your overall frame of mind, you are not alone. What may be alarming to you is that the shift may not be a positive one, necessarily. There may be heightened anxiety and, as mentioned before, depressive episodes. We repeat, you are not alone, and we have reason to believe you are not in the wrong to feel these things. If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others, we implore you to either call or start an online chat with the national suicide prevention lifeline:
National Suicide Prevention:
phone number: 1.800.273.8255
direct chat link: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
You have or will have had, gone through a drastic lifestyle change in an appreciably short span of time. Not to mention, there may be other stressful factors added to the mix. You may be worried about medical bills, recovery, and even feel anxious about how it is you are feeling!
If you feel a bit overwhelmed at any given point during your recovery process, there are ways you can cope. Studies have shown that people typically lose touch with their bodies after gaining a certain amount of weight, so losing significant mass so quickly may elicit a reaction similar to shock. With that shock may come those feelings of being overwhelmed.
Not only do your doctors want you to succeed physically post-surgery, but they also want you to be mentally healthy as well. If you are feeling particularly anxious or low, reach out. Whether you are in contact with your doctor, a counselor, or your loved ones, it is important not to isolate yourself during this period of transition. Overthinking can be just as detrimental to your progress as, let’s say, not following a meal plan or watching what you eat.
This is something you can overcome. It may not be easy, and it will inevitably take some work, but it is possible. You won’t have to feel this way forever. Much like any other side effect associated with a procedure, there is also a chance you won’t experience a mood shift.
We encourage you to not let this deter you from bariatric surgery as it may be necessary for your overall health and well-being. If you would like to learn more about our processes and procedures, contact us here!
To make an appointment with our bariatric therapist, Bridget Baechtel, LISW, who specializes in treating pre- and post-bariatric clients for issues related to coping, mental health, stress, etc. Please feel free to contact her toll-free at 866-613-4323 if you have questions or concerns.
With the summer season comes BBQ’s and gatherings full of tasty, but not always healthy, foods. If you’ve recently undergone bariatric surgery, you know you’ve got to be aware of the food choices you make, but it can feel alienating to attend parties and grill outs when you have to avoid certain foods and beverages. You don’t have to suffer though! Here are some tips to help you stay the path so you don’t cause delays to your recovery progress.
Tip: Choose Skewers over Burgers
While it may be tempting to build your own burger, bread is one of the main foods you should avoid post-bariatric surgery. But have no fear! There are other protein-based alternatives to this BBQ classic. Instead, get creative and experiment with a variety of grilled meat and/or veggie skewers!
Depending on your recovery timeline, you may want to stick to a meatless variety with a vegetable medley. If you are far enough along in your process, you may be able to try adding lean meats such as chicken, beef cuts, or even lamb!
Tip: Have a Healthy Snack Before You Go
This one is like the “don’t go to the grocery store hungry” rule. If you go hungry, you’re more likely to overeat and/or choose foods that could compromise your progress. Additional tip: survey the foods on the menu before you start filling up your plate, create a game plan, and stick to it! This will be much easier to focus on if you don’t have that little hangry growl disturbing your stomach.
Tip: Avoid Alcohol Completely
At any point in the recovery process, your body is not prepared to handle the carbohydrates and/or sugars in most alcoholic beverages…especially beer. The alcohol will pass directly into your intestines due to your body’s inability to metabolize it. Because of this, you will feel the influence of the alcohol much sooner than you would have prior to your surgery. We recommend that you use extreme caution if you do decide to consume alcohol. Under no circumstance should you drink and drive, during your recovery, you are subject to DUI-level intoxication after just one drink.
Tip: Have Fun and Do What Is Best for You
If you don’t think the menu at the barbecue is going to fit into your weight loss goals or health and dietary restrictions, simply plan to eat around the BBQ. That way, you won’t be miserably hungry and envious of all the other BBQ-goers, and you can focus on having a lovely time with your friends and family! Your discomfort and progress are not worth the risk of a plate of food at a social event.
Tip: You Can Still Have Dessert…
…you just must be selective as to what you decide to treat yourself with! Going back to the food-on-a-stick route, fruit kebabs are a great option. We can even suggest a yogurt-based fruit dip for an added sweetness! Click here for a recipe that will fit right into your diet.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to enjoy BBQ season without too much stress or worry. We want you to stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy yourself!