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:)
I bet you thought the F word in this post was going to be formula, nope, it's feeding. Believe me that alone is enough of a trigger word. There is nothing that I have personally encountered this is a more polarizing subject for mothers than how you feed your baby.
There is not enough space to launch into breast-feeding's science, too small trials, non-sibling variables, not accounting for socioeconomic status, discounting crucial variables such as maternal IQ, maternal prenatal and postnatal care etc. Or enough space to discuss how breastfeeding has evolved as a moral imperative. Or conversely to discuss the past shady practices of formula companies that gave them their demonized status.
What I want to say is, let's call a truce! Let's recognize that mom's are doing their best. If you choose to breastfeed, awesome, anywhere, anytime ladies, feed your babies. As a Postpartum Doula, I am trained and excited to help assist and support you. If you are bottle feeding out of need or choice, cool, whip your bottles out without shame. As a Postpartum Doula, I have lots of great information on safe practices when formula feeding.
Making a specific feeding choice doesn't make you a better mother, it just means a particular method has been successful for you and your baby. Be kind, we always have far more in common than not. The following are two great feeding resources.
When we think of maternal mental health, we automatically think Postpartum Depression, and yes it is the most common type of postpartum mental health disorders. But would it surprise you to know there is a whole spectrum of disorders. They include the Baby Blues and Postpartum Stress Syndrome. Both tend to pass quickly and don't require intervention. The rest of the spectrum includes; Anxiety and Panic Disorder, Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Postpartum Depression and the least common Postpartum Psychosis. All of the later aspects of the spectrum tend to respond well to a combination of medication and talk therapy. Postpartum Psychosis will require serious swift intervention.
It is important to know if you are at risk. Talk with your partner and family members before giving birth, know the warning signs, make sure the people around you can identify the signs if you are displaying them, as you may not be thinking your clearest. Approximately 15-20% of women will find themselves on this spectrum in the weeks and months after giving birth. I was part of the 15%. I am not embarrassed, I did not cause my Postpartum Depression, it was not my choice to cry more than my baby. NO WOMAN causes a Postpartum Mental Health Disorder, it happens to you. The causes are complex. You don't have to figure out the why, you do have to be honest with the people around you and to yourself. Be brave, get help, it is not your fault. With treatment you can and will get better. You and your family can THRIVE:)
Sunday is the designated day to celebrate mothers....and boy do we need to be to be celebrated!!! Lets take a moment from our curated social media pages for a moment and discuss just how hard being a mother is. Granted being a parent is hard, being a mother is really hard.
Does your partner know your kid(s) shoes size? When was the last dentist appointment or eye exam that they scheduled. Who calls the teacher? Bakes the gluten-free, peanut-free cupcakes for daycare? If your lucky, you are partnered ( or are doing it all without one) with someone who participates in these tasks, but most women are not. Equality has come a long way, but realistically, we have not come far enough yet. Working mothers today spend more time with their children than a 1960's stay at home mom. That's a mountain of expectation. I was tired just reading that statistic.
So I hope on this Mothers Day we can all be kind to each other, in the knowledge that we are doing our best, doing more than ever before. We do it because our children are our hearts. So I hope you get all the love you deserve this Sunday, relax and enjoy!
Let's talk self care....why not everyone else is. Those are two words that come up on every feed, in many current articles and on television shows. But what does that really mean and translate to for new parents, particularly primary caregivers? Lots of people associate self care with a massage or spa day, but I think we very much need to widen the lens and see the larger picture.
New parents (actually all parents) need to take care of themselves, because unfortunately the cliche is true, you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you are doing the lions share of the childcare, it is essential to put yourself on the list, I know the list is LONG, so terribly long!
Self care does not have to be expensive. You can participate with or without a partner, or without the resources/childcare for a massage or spa day. Take a hot bath when your child goes to bed, or read a book that you have been wanting to read, a glass of wine and mini binge-watch or perhaps chat on the phone with a friend. Whatever you find relaxing that you can build into your day. Do it with intention and regularity (my fix is a hot bath from the far bathroom because you can almost hear nothing when the fan is on :) that way you are pouring from a partially filled cup at least.
April is c-section awareness month. This was my daughter's birth on June 7, 2011. It was to say the least, NOT what I had in mind!
Cesarean rates are on the rise in Canada, despite the declining birth rate. In 1995 the birth rate of all births by cesarean was 17%, in 2010 that rate was 27%. There are truly legitimate, life-saving reasons to require a cesarean. But we tend as a society to forget that it is major abdominal surgery, cutting through seven, yes seven layers to get to the uterus and your baby.
Recovery is often longer, more restrictive and frequently more complicated than a vaginal delivery.
I guess my point in this post is to be informed, my cesarean might have been avoided by knowing more about my options and knowing that I could advocate for myself, but maybe I would have ended up on that table regardless. If you truly need a cesarean, then we are blessed to have the option to have safe, healthy deliveries of our babies. Having the photos as proof is just gravy.
So who knew there was such a thing. With the impending birth of Meghan Markle's royal bundle (don't pretend you haven't heard, living on planet earth means we all have), this term is making it's mark!
Wanting to give birth surrounded by women in a supportive, comfortable environment does not make you a brat, it makes real statistical sense. Women supported by doula's , even without the proven benefits of midwives statistically have lower intervention rates, lower cesarean rates, shorter labours and more satisfaction with their births.
We have profoundly medicalized giving birth, resulting in women being less empowered and less satisfied with their experiences and often with little control over what happens with our own bodies. I only wish I had been more informed and ready to advocate for my own birth experience.
So go ahead, be a birth brat, you will thank yourself for it!
Check out the link https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/ for some great information on being informed about all your birth options.
I have been asked so many times since kicking off my certification process, "Why do you want to be a doula?" "Wait, isn't doula Greek for servant?" "Isn't that like being a housekeeper." "A babysitter?" So, no and no! After I had a baby and a nightmarish experience birthing and recovering, I asked myself, 'there must be a better way....right?"
So that kicked off the desire to doula. Settling into the new normal of being a parent is a road that is filled with joy, fear and overwhelming moments of questions and concern.
A Postpartum Doula is there to help you heal, listen, care, and take care of your whole family. How I wished I had known more about what services a Doula can provide such as; education, guidance, physical support and resources.
I have always worked in a support role throughout my work life, so being a doula is an extension of that role. Providing the support that I could have seriously used when I was a new parent. So why Doula????? Why NOT?