Today's advice is brought to you by my beautiful client, Carley. She is mama to Callan, wife to Aaron & dog-trainer extraordinaire
! She has an amazing sense of humor & an incredible ability to take things in stride. Carley & I met when she was interviewing Doulas & we both knew instantly that we wanted to work together. She had a powerful & amazing un-medicated birth last March. I've loved watching Carley's journey into motherhood & am excited to share her practical guidance with you today. Enjoy!
Take pictures...but don't forget to also get in the picture! Start when you are pregnant. You may not feel beautiful, but YOU ARE and before you know it your preggers belly is gone and you have your little person to photograph.
Spend at least the first few days home in bed with your baby and partner. Seriously! Everything else can and will wait. This is a perfect time for the three of you to just be. If you can only eke out one day of this (other kids/jobs/in-laws/laundry, I understand reality often creeps back in quicker then we want)...trust me, it is worth it. The ability to just snuggle, bond and breastfeed is priceless!
Ask for help! Some in-laws don't want to overstep their bounds, but do want to help, and unless your mother-in-law (and/or friends) has been brushing up on her mind reading skills, you will need to speak up...or ask your hubby to ask :) This goes for asking professionals as well. The Internet is a large and awesome place...but not for sleep deprived moms. Lactation consultants, post-partum doulas, friends, fellow moms, etc.
Cloth wipes in homemade wipe solution and a wipe warmer can be used for more then just dirty bottoms.
Cloth diapers are awesome AFTER the meconium has passed. (note from Lauren: you can always place disposable liners in your cloth diapers those first few days if you don't want to use disposable diapers.)
Time gets warped after you have kids! Some times it flies, sometimes it goes at a snails pace. Try taking everything in stride and don't forget to breath and smile!
Snack bars and water bottles can and should be stored everywhere. (From Lauren: I tell my clients this ALL the time. You never know when you're going to get hungry/thirsty... it could be while you're trying to get baby to sleep or stuck under a nursing child. Having a basket of non-perishable snacks within arms reach is a life-saver!!)
If your gut says it isn't right, then it's not! Find a different pediatrician/ lactation consultant/ friend to talk to...
Smile and say thank you! Everyone will have advice/comments, etc., just smile and move on. Save your energy for late night feedings and picture taking!
What advice do you have for new moms? I'd love to share it... please email me a firstname.lastname@example.org to submit a guest post.
My sister is here visiting with her 2 month old baby, Owen. As she's here from out of state & many of her friends and family haven't met him yet, you can imagine how busy she's been. Almost every waking hour of every day of her trip has been spent introducing baby Owen to everyone & catching up on life. I'm not even the mama of this sweet baby & I'm exhausted. As I've been observing these interactions over the past few days, I've begun to think more about "Tribes" and postpartum care. To me a tribe is any group of people (family or friends) who surround you in support & love. My own tribe is amazing, as is my sister's.
The tribe's role in supporting a postpartum mother is a big one and can vary greatly from family to family. Each person in that tribe contributes something special & unique which can help the new mama as she transitions from pregnancy to having a newborn. However, even though our tribe's have the best of intentions, often times I see that they are so eager to meet the new baby that they overstep boundaries or make the meeting all about them when it should be about nurturing the growth of the new family.The one thing I cannot stress enough when I discuss postpartum care with my doula clients is setting boundaries early. My biggest tip is to send a mass email letting your tribe know what to expect once the baby arrives. Some clients set visiting hours, others simply request that people call to make an "appointment". Some clients
don't have visitors for weeks, others mere days. I'm always an advocate for doing what is best for your family, but it is helpful for your tribe to have a heads up. Communicating your boundaries clearly is the best way to go about this. Here are some things to consider when setting boundaries:-Will you be having visitors in the hospital? If so, will you be limiting it to family or will friends be welcome?
-Keep in mind that many hospitals have strict visiting hours & some don't allow children under a certain
age.-Will you be allowing people to hold your baby when they come to visit?
-Will this depend on baby's mood, baby's sleep & feeding patterns, etc.?-Will there be a time limit to the visitations?
-30 minutes is a good limit so you & baby don't get overtired, overstressed or overstimulated. I'd
recommend no more then an hour at a time. -Do you feel comfortable asking close friends & family to help you around the house when they come to visit?-When your tribe comes to visit, always put baby first. If baby needs to feed or be changed or needs to sleep, then let your tribe know
. If that means that your visit comes to an end early, that's OK. You may have more considerations & I'd encourage you to examine them fully before starting your process of communication. Clarity is incredibly necessary & sometimes you may have to be blunt. I guarantee you that some people will not understand your desires & will try to test your boundaries. DO NOT LET THEM. Keep it simple, yet firm... but loving too. We don't want to alienate those who support us, but in the end your health & the health of your growing family come first.
For more tips on how to set healthy boundaries, check out this article from Psychology Today.When you are ready for visitors, for help, or for anything else, communicate that as well. And always make sure to extend your appreciation and love to your entire tribe. Most people know that new mamas don't have time to send "Thank You" cards, but even a simple text or email saying "thanks" will be well received. What else do you think would be appropriate to communicate to your tribe? Do you have any tips to share with new moms on setting & sticking to boundaries?
As part of my personal passion to help normalize birth, I have decided to post birth videos on a monthly basis. These videos are a testament to the strength of all women & the beauty of God's divine creation.
To be warned, some of these videos will undoubtedly be somewhat graphic... I mean it's the birth of a baby for gosh sakes! If you're offended by blood, nudity, babies emerging from uteri/vaginas or anything of the like, I wouldn't recommend watching.
Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, but please be respectful of birthing women everywhere (especially the one's depicted in the videos!)... any rude, derogatory or damaging comments will be deleted.
She was lying in the hospital bed, snuggling her baby and clearly on a beautiful birth high. She has just experienced her second un-medicated birth and even though she was tired, the smile on her face and glow in her eyes spoke volumes.
Her husband was taking a few moments to update family when she turned to me and asked a question. I could tell by the tone in her voice and the change in her demeanor that this topic was causing her some anxiety even moments after her euphoric birth experience.
"How do I tell my friends about my birth? How do I explain to them why I chose to give birth without drugs? None of them understand & some even put me down because of it."
Silence filled the room for a few minutes as I contemplated my answer.
"Tell them the truth," I finally said.
"Explain to them that giving birth has been a very positive and empowering experience for you. Tell them everything you're feeling in this moment. Don't do it in a judgmental or condescending way as if choosing to have an epidural is a bad decision, but tell them exactly how you feel about it. And if they have questions, answer them honestly and with compassion. Understand that they may not have not done their research or maybe their birth experiences have been quite different from yours. Just love them and express that your birthing choices are yours and yours alone."
"OK, yeah. I can do that."
A week ago I had another client ask a similar question at our postpartum visit.
"How do I talk to my pregnant friends about childbirth? I don't want to scare them, but I don't want to lie to them either."
This mama had every intention of giving birth without medication, but when labor became too intense she opted for an epidural. As her doula I supported her through it and helped her realize that there should be no regrets. When processing her birth she has very positive feelings about it all, but also recalls that it was much more painful and intense than she expected.
Again, my response was to tell the truth. "Emphasize the positive and be real about your experience. When talking about the pain in childbirth, don't talk about it in a scary way, but instead in a realistic way. Offer advice on how to handle the contractions and the many things that helped you cope. Explain that every person's experience is different and that it's best to approach childbirth with an open mind and heart."
As a doula and a woman who desires to have children one day, I find it troubling that women are judging each others birthing choices and scaring each other with their birth stories. I don't think we need to romanticize childbirth, but I also don't think we need to be telling others to "get the epidural ASAP!" These types of attitudes toward childbirth can be extremely damaging.
It is my belief that we need to be real, but real in a positive way. In a way that encourages women to do their research and learn to advocate for themselves. In a way that helps a woman trust in her body and believe in her ability to birth her baby as she chooses. In a way that expresses love and acceptance.
But how do we do that while still honoring ourselves and without passing judgements? Well, I think it's a work in progress. I think the perception regarding childbirth in this country is shifting exponentially. Women are beginning to take charge of their births which is so encouraging. This generation of women has the ability to truly change how American women birth their babies. I believe a combination of knowledge and love is the key to taking the first steps toward expressing the reality of childbirth in America & to supporting women in their birthing choices.
What are your thoughts on birth stories? What was your experience when telling others about your birth(s)? I'd love to hear the responses from those around you & how you dealt with any judgements or if your story helped educate or empower someone.
Postpartum Wellness... that's a topic that has been popping up in a lot of conversations lately and an area that many of my clients are expressing the desire for a more significant amount of support from their families & friends.
As a doula, I stress the importance of postpartum wellness and try my hardest to educate my clients on the reality of the situation as well as the gentle transition that is required. However, I'm finding that many of my clients are getting a decent amount of push-back from their own parents or friends.
Somewhere in the history of our evolving species, we've lost the art of supporting a postpartum mother, baby, & family. Gone are the days of nurturing the mom with home-cooked meals, encouraging words, and hands-on help... incoming are the days of telling a mom to get back into her exercise routine ASAP, telling her to just give her baby a bottle, and sharing horror stories of parenting.
I know I'm not alone in my frustration!
The past few clients I've served have needed additional support in the postpartum period and because of this I have begun doing more research on the topic. I'm currently reading Aviva Jill Romm's book Natural Health After Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness and I HIGHLY recommend it. It has some amazing tips on how to prepare during pregnancy, ways families can help, and even a section on how to nurture the father.
There are MANY components to Wholistic Postpartum Wellness taken from many different cultural traditions and beliefs. Over the next few weeks I'll be writing about the many different components and how doulas, families, friends, or even the mamas themselves can contribute to a more peaceful, gentle, and healthy journey through the 4th trimester.
Women today, trying to compose lives that will honor all their commitments
and still express all their potential with a certain unitary grace, do not have an easy task.
- Mary Catherine Bateson
Goodness it's been a LONG time since I've blogged here. Lately a lot of my attention has been on my own personal blog, instead of this birthy one, but I've gotten a lot of requests from followers & clients who are looking for insightful, educated information on birth preparation, prenatal yoga, intuitive parenting, etc. So here I am.
Ready to dive back in? Not so much.
But I know that part of being a doula is supporting my client's needs which always take different forms. And I believe that the requests mean something.
Despite the lack of gusto behind the return to this blog, I'm saying "YES" to the experience because I know much can come of it.
With that said, what would YOU like to read more about? What topics are you looking for more information on? I'm open!! And if you're ever interested in guest blogging, please let me know!!
Not many of you are aware of how my journey into birth work began. I don't talk about it much and I'm not entirely sure why. Some people have a really significant story... perhaps you had a traumatic birth experience which catapulted you into advocating for safer birth. Some of you had a healing experience which encouraged you to assist others during the birth process. There are many stories out there and they are unique to each person involved, even if the circumstances are similar.
My story, however, does not begin with a birth experience... as I have yet to give birth. Actually the seed was planted LONG before God made it clear that this was to be my life's work. In 2005 I was involved at the college group at my old church. Through that college group I became good friends with 2 of the leaders, Samantha & Mike. Sam & Mike are an awesome married couple who have huge amounts of vivacity, enthusiasm and love. In 2005, Sam was pregnant with their first child together and she was (thankfully) very vocal about her choices during pregnancy! From her I first heard about the Bradley Method of Childbirth. With her I went on my first hospital tour. She was the first to help me realize that birth didn't have to be painful. I remember being in awe of the fact that she didn't plan on getting an epidural! WHAT?!?! Keep in mind that up until this point my only exposure to childbirth was my mother (who had 3 cesareans as my older sister was breech) and the movies. If you aren't already aware, childbirth in the movies is bogus... that's not really how it all goes down. Needless to say this new type of exposure to childbirth was mind boggling.
Well, it looks like a New Years special was just the "jump start" Emerging Birth needed to get 2010 up and running! Since advertising my special earlier this week I have had 10 inquiries and signed 6 new clients. What an amazing start to the new year!!
I am currently waiting on a last minute client to tell me she's in active labor. The contractions have started and are gradually becoming more intense. She's updating me pretty regularly now and I have a feeling a baby is going to be born tomorrow!! The first one of 2010 for Emerging Birth! What a great feeling!!
Thanks to all of those who have been referring their friends to me whether for Doula services or yoga! I truly appreciate all of your help and support!!
I'm off to catch some zzzzzs before this baby arrives!
It's been a while since I've blogged...almost a year and a half actually. My previous blog was on my journey to become a yoga instructor. That was the journey that started it all. By becoming a prenatal yoga instructor I was introduced into the "birth junkie" world. Soon after receiving my yoga teacher certification, I began the process to become a doula. Less than 6 months of being a doula and now I'm in school to become a midwife. Clearly I couldn't get enough!
WHAT A WHIRLWIND!!
I have had a wonderful time learning and growing over the past year and a half. I am so incredibly excited about the possibilities in 2010 and beyond.
In honor of the new year (and in hopes of easing some financial strain and worry for parents-to-be) I have decided to offer a New Years Special on Birth Doula Services...For anyone that signs a contract with me during the month January 2010, they will receive $150 off Birth Doula Services. A 50% retainer is required at contract signing in order to "lock" your estimated due date into my calendar, however, the following 2 payments can be made throughout the remaining months of your pregnancy. (A payment schedule can also be created for your family's specific needs.) In addition, if you pay in full at the contract signing, I'll take another $50 off the fee! That is a potential savings of $200!!! Even if your estimated due date is a ways down the road, this deal is too good to pass up.
I've already had 2 new clients benefit from this amazing deal! My calendar fills up fast, so don't delay in contacting me!!
As an additional attempt to begin the new year on a positive note, I am now offering a few special packages: Last Minute Special and Repeat Client & Active Military Special.
If you qualify for these specials, contact me today to set up a consultation!
If you're still wondering what I can do as your doula to enhance your birth experience, browse my website a bit and call me if you have any questions!! I believe that the birth of your baby is life-changing and possibly the most important day of your life. You won't regret making an investment towards a beautiful birth experience. After all, don't you deserve the most professional and supportive care possible? I thought so!!
To bring this first blog entry to an end I'd like to thank everyone who has supported and encouraged me on this beautiful and unpredictable journey. To each of my clients in 2009, your births have all changed me in a profound way that I will always cherish. It has been an honor and a blessing to be there during such a special moment. I could not ask for a better or more rewarding job. I hope you all have a fantastic start to the new year!! 2010 is going to rock my socks off...I can just tell!!