As a mother, Doula and Childbirth Educator, I know one thing with certainty when it comes to birthing your baby.....KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and ignorance is definitely not bliss. Many people think, "humans have been having babies forever, it will be fine." Approaching birth with that myopic lens is highly problematic, too many people walk away from their birth experience feeling unheard, disrespected and what's worse, up to 34% of people who give birth experience feelings of trauma. Why am I telling you this, to scare you, absolutely not, I want to tell you how to have a better birth!
Hire a Doula, studies consistently show that Doulas improve birth outcomes and your overall satisfaction with your birth. While Doulas don't guarantee that you won't need a Cesarean for example, they will guarantee that you have all of the information, education, emotional and physical support that you need to birth from a place of confidence and not fear whatever the exit route your baby requires. A Doula is not in everyone's budget, but there are volunteer Birth Doulas if it is a financial stretch.
Take a prenatal education class. Let me repeat...take a class. Here you will learn crucial information about labour, birth, infant care and early parenting. Birth, is generally considered and managed (by the medical system) like an illness rather than a normal life event and a rite of passage. A good Childbirth Educator will teach you all of the insider tips that you need to know to have an informed birth, one where you are clear about your options, preferences and wishes.
Birth is not the time to wing it! Get informed and prepared so when your labour starts you are ready to face the awesomeness of birth from an informed place of clear confidence. That is a path to a better birth!
Let's chat plus sized pregnancy. By BMI standards, having a body mass index greater than 25 is overweight, having a body mass index greater than 30 is obese. More birthing people than you imagine fall into that BMI greater than 25 and above category. So the reality is, A LOT of babies are being born to people in larger bodies. Dr. Google would have you believe that being overweight or even obese means you are destined to have an unhealthy pregnancy and are on the fast track to a cesarean, that is not an accurate picture.
It is true that you if you are diabetic or have have high blood pressure pre-pregnancy that these conditions are likely to complicate your pregnancy, but being overweight without previous metabolic conditions doesn't make your pregnancy high risk. Many pregnant people who are not overweight develop high blood pressure, preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. Your relative vs. your absolute risk of developing these conditions during pregnancy are not as high as you might think.
So if you are living in a larger body and are pregnant, or are pregnant living in smaller body, your focus should be the same, taking good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fibre, fruits and vegetables. Take your prenatal vitamins, exercise (always check with your care provider) and try to relax and get good rest.
Yes being larger increases some risks during pregnancy and birth, even if that happens, you do not deserve to be treated poorly or to feel ashamed of your body. Seek evidence-based care and arm yourself with facts. Look for a size-friendly provider. Hire a size friendly Doula! Studies have proven there is inherent bias in the medical community against people of size. Try and surround yourself with supportive people who will help you work toward the birth that you deserve too. A positive pregnancy and birth experience is not solely reserved for thinner people!
I want to debunk the notion that Birth Doulas only attend, or push (no pun intended) for a natural birth! A Doula is trained to support you.....the birthing person, no matter choices you make during your labour process. We will be there to answer questions and be flexible to any plan changes. And help you navigate those changes you may not have anticipated.
So you might then be thinking, " if I know I want an epidural or other pain medications, I don't need a Doula." Not true, there is so much that we can do to support and enhance your labour, with or without medication. Movement and positioning matters, more than ever with an epidural. We will work with your nurse to ensure you are moving in your bed, changing positions frequently so baby will be in the most favourable position for the delivery. If a Cesarean birth is planned or becomes necessary Doulas are a calm presence, supporting you and your support person with information and help facilitate bonding with baby after the birth. The benefits and stats on Doulas don't change because of medications or complications. Doulas help you make the best informed decisions for you and provide continuous support to help make your birth experience an empowered one!
We are living in strange times indeed. If someone had told us six months ago that we would be living through a global pandemic.......total disbelief. Covid 19 has changed everything, for everyone. Being pregnant and giving birth during this time means, more stress and less birth options. During this time and really anytime it's important to make sure your getting as much information as you can, so you can use sound judgment when making important decisions for yourself and your baby. Informed consent means that you have been fully informed of the risks and benefits of any given measure, and your consent has been sought. Luckily we all have a super useful tool at our disposal, our brain!
B- benefits- what are the benefits?
R- risks- what are the risks involved? Do they outweigh the benefits?
A- alternatives- What could you do instead? What would that look like?
I- intuition- What is your intuition tell you? How do you feel about what is being suggested?
N- nothing- What happens if you do nothing? * It is important to member that doing nothing can have real risks.....see how this works.
Use your voice, partners use your voice. You are allowed to ask questions and ask for the things that are important to you to make your birth a positive experience. Make sure you understand and agree to the actions of the provider. It is your birth! Times are strange, but you can still have a empowering experience. Use your brain to make informed choices.
Hiring a Birth or Postpartum Doula (or both) might seem like a luxury for a lot of expectant parents. And realistically for some it is!
But there are so many important reasons to hire a Doula.
- reduce cesarean rates
- less need for pain medication
- less use of Pitocin/Oxytocin
- more likely to rate their birth experience as positive
- helps reduce postpartum mood disorders
- improves breastfeeding success
So you might be thinking, these are all great reasons, but how do I swing it financially. Some suggestions are:
- ask your Doula about payment plans, most have a set up of an initial down payment and subsequent payments.
- scale back on unnecessary baby items, you'll be surprised at how few of the "must have" items that you don't really or ever use.
- ask friends and family for money towards a Doula fund, it will be money you will never regret spending.
Stats on doula benefits courtesy of:
These are two topics that are so often confused. So let's define the difference, secure attachment is the process of babies and children emotionally attaching themselves to the consistent caregivers and adults in their lives. This is a crucial element of human development. And as parents and caregivers it is crucial for us to get it Right (babies and children will attach to adults regardless if the adult is worthy or not). This means responding to our babies and children's needs, providing them with loving reassurance. This allows children to grow and explore the world as nature intended, knowing that the adults in their lives are trustworthy and ready to meet their emotional needs when they have setbacks. This is why we know you can't hold your baby too much, a newborn baby cannot be spoiled and as exhausting as it may be, we need to lovingly respond to their cries.
Attachment Parenting takes the notion of secure attachment and doubles down. The main difference being, attachment parenting is a specific style of parenting, commonly known for baby wearing, exclusively breastfeeding, and often bed-sharing so breastfed babies have easy access to feeding at any time.
Most modern parents use some, sometimes all aspects of attachment style parenting. The goal being, developing secure attachment with your baby. However, secure attachment does not require attachment parenting. You can ensure you and your child are securely attached with or without a sling (although slings are amazing!) Love your baby, respond to their needs and choose the parenting style that works best for your family, secure attachment sets your child up for success and is a parenting win.
It's summer, and with it warm days. Infants are learning to regulate their body temperatures, but we need to be very careful when exposing babies to heat. Baby-wearing is a great option and babies love the close contact with their parents. There are some important guidelines to follow to ensure safe use. An easy acronym for baby-wearing is SAFE.
S- Secure, ensure that baby is securely attached to the wearers torso, they should not be bouncing excessively.
A- Airways, ensure baby's face to is not facing in, to the side as the photo demonstrates will prevent breathing difficulty.
F- Firm, the baby and carrier should firmly hold the baby in place snugly against the wearers torso.
E- Eye-line, ensure that you have direct eye-line to your baby so you can see their face and check often!
Another important thing to know is, if you cover your babies head, stroller, or car seat with a blanket, you risk them becoming overheated. Hot weather has been shown to raise the temperature underneath those blankets (even with breathable fibres). So get out and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts, just be safe and take extra precautions with baby!
Speaking with a new mother I am always reminded of the intensity of how being a new parent feels. It is intense, there are so many mixed emotions and thoughts. Such as, "I think they made a mistake letting us bring her home!" It is easy when your child or children are a little older and you look back on those early days with nostalgia and perhaps a bit of rose coloured glasses.
While babies have plenty of hand books, reading about caring for your baby and actually being responsible for this tiny human 24/7 is quite different. Hindsight truly is 20/20, you are unfortunately unable to tell your past self to take a breath, you will figure it all out. But you will, we all do. And at some point in the not too distant future, you will also look back on those intense days and they will seem less intense. You will be able to pass on what you have learned about parenting from a place of confidence.
Let me set the scene, you are bringing your newborn to a gathering of family/friends, or maybe you are hosting the gathering. At any rate, most of the people in attendance have not met your baby. But they are all here, waiting....probably not very patiently to see and hold your new little one. Dying to deeply inhale the scent of new baby :) For some new parents this a nightmare situation, for others not as much.
If you are the mother, or parent who finds this situation stressful, you have the right to say no!!! I know it's difficult, especially with family, they are so excited and want to be a part of your baby's life. But even the most well intended family member or friend can stress mama and/or baby out. Even newborns, sleepy as they are get over-stimulated. Their sleep cycles are short and being passed around like a hot potato can easy disrupt that cycle, making one touched-out, irritated and over tired infant.
If you feel that you or your infant cannot tolerate being handled by several people, you can politely decline this receiving line. Welcome everyone to approach and meet the baby while in your arms. Or invite people over in small groups. It's also okay to ask loved ones to wash their hands, babies are very vulnerable to germs as their immune systems are adjusting to life on the outside. Your only job is to be polite when advocating your or your baby's needs. If people are briefly offended, don't worry, they will most likely write your requests off as postpartum hormones!!!
The question I am often asked is, what is a Postpartum Doula? What do you do? Doula has become a more known word in the mainstream. But most often, Birth Doulas are what people are most familiar with. The benefits of Birth Doulas are becoming more recognized and rightfully so. Postpartum Doulas are as beneficial to new parents as a Birth Doula is to your birth outcome and experience.
Part of the lack of understanding is that sometimes what we do is difficult to define, the vague terms of physical, emotional and informational supports. But distilled, what does this mean exactly??? It means knowledge of birth recovery (both vaginal & cesarean) and being able to help you recover. Assisting you with comfort measures and making sure you have the things you need to aid in that recovery, i.e. nutrition, rest and help with household tasks so you have time to bond with your baby. We have knowledge to help you care for your baby, warning signs, knowledge of maternal/paternal mental health concerns and are ready to help direct you to services in the community. We are able to help with infant care and are armed with lots of tips, tricks and are wanting to help you gain confidence and skills in your new role.
We do not do enough to support new families, we live further away from families than ever before, we have less support systems than ever before. Postpartum Doulas aren't family, but they can bridge the support gap, helping new parents gain skills and confidence as they transition into their new roles! Postpartum Doulas I believe will become as mainstream as Birth Doulas, both support roles are so beneficial to the families we support, help spread the word:)