Being a new parent is HARD, what's even more challenging...being a new mother! New mom's feel isolated, alone and out of sorts. Nothing shakes your identity to the core more, than the transition to motherhood. It's amazing, exciting, joyous, but often also, lonely and sad.
Remember the saying, "it takes a village?????" Not sure about you, but when I had a baby, my village was nowhere to be seen. Not that I don't have great family and friends, I am sure you do too. But no one knows the rollercoaster that you are experiencing like another new parent! Being able to share your common experiences, triumphs and challenges with someone who knows exactly where you are, is invaluable.
So what if you are like me, your friends weren't having babies at the same time as you? Or they live far away. Where can you meet your people? Let me help put a small dent in helping you find your village! Here is a list of some places you can search for your village:
So this one is about me and all the other parents who share the same affliction that I do. I am NOT festive! Yep, it's true, I'm no Grinch, but I hate Christmas music, I hate shopping (mass consumerism in general, but that's a different rant). I have no interest in ruining anyone's good cheer or good time, but in earnest, I simply don't share the festive feeling. Maybe it's genetic, my mother wasn't festive, she threw out our tree onto the lawn a week before Christmas when it kept falling over! Don't worry, we got a new, granted, much smaller one. I know that I can't be alone in lacking that festive feeling. But when you add kids into the mix, it's no longer just about you!, Often you feel you must fake it until you make it, or at least do a really believable job at faking it for their sake. Take for example, the wreath, photographed above. My daughter and I made on the weekend, I was getting over the flu and was in no mood to craft, but that stunning work of art (joke) is more than a wreath, it's a happy memory for the memory bank, and even though it was a bit painstaking to make, I don't regret it.
Because here's what I do love, I love making memories with my child. She has amazing memories of Christmas and other holiday traditions that we have created. She even remembers tens of spaces where ornaments that are special to her "should" be placed on our tree. She takes pride in every ornament she has made for our tree and delights in placing them on the tree each season. She loves the specific books we read and cookies we bake.
But it's okay in private moments to be overwhelmed at the work load and pressure this adds to your already hectic life. Particularly if you do not naturally find joy in the festivities.
Anyone who knows me knows, I am honest! The truth matters to me, but when my child remembers holidays with warmth and love, faking the festive for me is worth it. Because the joy and love is pure and is most definitely, truth! So my fellow festive fakers (no matters your cultural celebrations are), I see you, I feel you, I am you. Remember, you might be faking your festive for your kids, but the love is so very real..... Also Irish Cream in Eggnog helps too if that's your thing;)
I made an Instagram Reel today, feel free to check it out www.instagram.com/thrivedoula/?hl=en
The theme was, it's okay to say no to your Health Care Provider! I wanted to elaborate a bit on that topic here. I trust words more than algorithms.
There reaches a time in late pregnancy when a lot will be headed your way.....you want me to put that swab where exactly???? You be asked to do things that you may not want to do and the truth is, most of these things have nothing to do with the health of your baby. So what am I referring to?
The moral of the story and the bottom line is, if you and your baby are doing well, it is absolutely okay to assert your autonomy. Know the risks and benefits for you and baby so you can make an informed decision. You may get some push back from asserting your wishes to your Provider, this isn't always easy. But you have the right to supportive care and to have your wishes respected.
Ah grandparents.........we need them, we love them, we cannot wait for them to be a big part our children's lives. But it doesn't mean that the baby-parent-grandparent dynamic will be one without challenges! Be prepared to hear 8 trillion times, "when you were little, I just......" etc. Let's explore some reasons for these challenges:
As a Birth Doula, I want everyone to have the very best support possible. So I want to share with you my top 5 tips for labour.....I know they will help!
1. Movement - is crucial for getting baby engaged in the pelvis, get under the pubic bone and find it's way out of the pelvic outlet. The good news is, you can still move with an epidural. Your Doula is highly trained in this area. But if you don't have a Doula, make sure you know what movements are helpful to get baby locked in and rotating through the pelvis. Ask your nurse and any birth support you have to help you move and change positions regularly.
2. Sitting backward on the toilet - yep, please do this, even in early labour and before you get an epidural. They don't call it the dilation station for no reason!
3. Keep your space calm - if you want to keep the Oxytocin flowing, it is important to keep lights low, and the room calm and quiet. You are not required to allow students to attend your birth. Your birth support should protect that space. Stay connected to your partner and/or other people supporting your birth. Listen to music in earphones, record meditations, affirmations or anything that elicits a calming response.
4. Make your wishes known - have a birth plan that outlines you're preferences. Know that sometimes things change. But include that too. Write down what your idea birth looks like and also what you will need to process and make informed decisions if plans change.
5. Know your options - birth is not an experience that you want to wing. Educate yourself! If you don't have a Doula, take a prenatal class, there are inexpensive online courses that can help you have a more informed birth. Borrow books from the library, watch a million YouTube videos.
Hiring a Doula means you have an educated birth companion to provide you with information and support, someone who will help you will all the things. But you don't require a Doula to have an informed, empowering birth! But you will have to know what you want, be flexible and listen to your intuition.
I have been following the formula shortage story. Today I saw a news segment that inspired my desire to write this post.
The formula recall and scary shortages that are happening in the United States and to a lesser extend in Canada has brought forward lots of formula shamming and inevitably mommy wars. But....... more prominently and most importantly, it's galvanized many mothers to work together to try and ensure babies get fed! Which is of course what ultimately matters, and is beautiful to see!
Mothers with a freezers full of frozen breastmilk are meeting mother's who can't find formula in retail parking lots, sharing their stock piles of breastmilk to ensure babies get fed! Breastfeeding parents are sharing locations of stores that have formula in stock. They are giving any formula they may have been given by companies or purchased that is safe.
It's bringing out a level of unity that all mothers need and we are long overdue for! We need to support one another in a crisis , and let's be clear, babies left without adequate nutrition is a crisis. But maybe the greater lesson is, that we need to support each other in times of crisis and in times of calm.
While of course, the some toxic threads will continue to exist, let's celebrate and focus on this moment, where Mother's are coming together to make sure our babies are fed.
Our children are the world to each of us, despite feeding by breast, bottle, or both.
Breastfeeding, chestfeeding, body feeding, whichever term speaks to you, is HARD! Let's not pull punches or mince works, it is hard work. Not only is it hard work, nursing your new baby is pretty much your new job. I tell my clients, find a super comfortable place to nurse, "you live here now!"
I say none of this to discourage anyone about breastfeeding, it is a beautiful process, it is the ideal food source for your baby and it is perfectly calibrated for your baby's changing needs. But that does not negate the difficulty of it. For most, there will be worries and challenges to face. Not being honest about the potential struggles does a disservice to people and it makes them feel unheard.
There are not enough resources for nursing families, sometimes you are coming home from the hospital before your milk supply even arrives. Families can be left scrambling and feeling extremely overwhelmed.
So how can you set yourself up for a smoother ride, or at least have resources available if you are struggling or confused.
* Start when you are pregnant, read breastfeeding books, take a breastfeeding class, if you have a Doula, make sure you spend some real time practicing techniques.
* Know what challenges exist and be prepared, (buy silverettes, have Epsom salts ready for your Haakaa incase of a plugged duct).
* Try your pump out in advance (after 37 wks.) Sterilize any bottles and have them ready for use.
* Watch MANY videos. We live in a culture where we do not witness breastfeeding, watch lots.
* Have a list of resources ready to go, think Lactation Counselor's and/or Consultants. Find your local La Leche League group, drop in groups and Public Health phone numbers.
Breastfeeding is amazing. You can do it! You may just need some extra support.
This post is in no way intended to alienate any formula, or combo feeding parents, it is intended for the breastfeeding reader. This Doula is very much in support of all types of feeding, what works for you, works for me!
Okay, so this woman is clearly really jazzed about her breathing. You might not think at all about how you will breathe during labour.......but let me tell you why you should!
First let's be clear, I am talking about patterned, intentional breathing, paying close attention to your breath, not the automatic kind that we are doing right now. There are soooooo many patterned breathing techniques that you can Google and practice. Here are just a few examples:
-inhale 3, exhale 6
The great news is, the best technique is the one that works best for you! They all help, no one method is superior to the other. So how does patterned breathing help in labour exactly?
The key is practice, explore different techniques and choose the one that feels the most natural to you. Your Doula can help with this. Then practice! Practice alone, practice with your support persons, practice during stressful pregnancy moments, so when you are in labour, you have already mastered the technique that helps calm and focus you. You won't regret it.
Ever wonder how a photographer captures people, in the right light, at the right moment, freezing that moment time? Me too. I was excited to chat with maternity, newborn and family photographer Brogan Bentley to find out.
Tell us about your business and how you found photography?
That's a bit of a long story haha! Both of my grandmothers were always carrying those old school film or disposable cameras around and documenting everything. So I come by it honestly. I was always passionate about it and when digital cameras came out my mom bought one. I don't think she ever really used the thing but I would take it to elementary school and photograph my friends. They used a lot of them for this little yearbook when we were graduating from elementary school to middle school and I was so proud of them! I was just always that "girl with the camera", buying and trying different ones until I could afford a DSLR in 2011. I rode and owned horses, so I started bringing it with me to horse shows and capturing the riders. No one was really doing it at the time for western events. I travelled around to the MBRA (barrel racing) shows and selling the photos. Then just researched and learned all I could to start offering portrait sessions with horses and dogs. A few years later (2014ish - 2017) that moved to a lot of models and worked with local brands (I was also photographing couples and families). After that in 2017, I had my first daughter and I became more interested in documenting families, maternity and newborns. I realized how quickly time truly goes. You blink and they've grown into this whole new person. I wanted to be able to capture those moments for families to look back on and to pass down through the generations.
What is the best part of photographing newborns and children?
Seeing the connections. For sure. I love how unique each family is and being able to document their connections to each other in whatever season of life they're in is so special. Newborns especially change SO fast and that whole transition from pregnancy to being a parent is amazing to watch unfold.
How do you get the babies to be so still? What kind of environment do you create?
I don't! I am very much baby-led or child-led. We go at their pace, I don't want us to feel rushed. I don't make them do anything that's uncomfortable. Babies are sometimes asleep and we do snuggle shots and details or they're alert and we get those. If they're crying or fussy, I document that. The parents comforting them, nursing, whatever that looks like. I'm there to capture the real moments. Those are what parents are going to want to remember the most when their children are older.
Without naming names, what is your funniest moment photographing a baby?
Funniest. Hm. I guess I've been pretty lucky but so far I haven't had a baby pee or poop on anyone haha. I'm sure since I've just said that it's now going to happen at my next newborn session!
What is your favorite location to photograph families?
Oh, that's a tough one! I don't have one favorite. I photograph families both outdoors and in-home. For outdoors, I do love a good beach session probably because my own family spends a lot of time travelling around to different beaches. Anywhere that the kids have space to play and interact with nature. It makes them more comfortable with the whole situation and with me when they have something to do.
Do your own children like getting their picture taken?
Sometimes. For my oldest, it's about 10 minutes or so before she's over it. My middle (almost 2) is tough. You can't tell her to do something, she's very wild haha. So for her I just follow and hope to capture what I'm looking for. The baby is the easiest!
How should a family prepare for a photo session?
That's a great question! I'm very hands-on with the session prep. I have a client closet that I'm constantly adding to and that helps alleviate some of the pressure if they don't want to go out and purchase something new. I also have links to online shops that I recommend. Bring snacks and water, extra layers or a change of clothes for the young ones in case of spills or accidents. Try to not let young ones nap in the car if you can help it. Most of them wake up very cranky but if it happens then we go with the flow and work with it. This is when those sweet snuggle shots happen as we wait for them to wake up a bit.
If a family wanted to book you, how would they get in touch with you? What is the process of booking a session?
I have Instagram and Facebook but the best way is to reach out to my email (firstname.lastname@example.org). There's also a contact form on my website. The first step is to get in touch, tell me about your family and what you're hoping to get out of a session. Then if we are a good fit we sign the contract, the client pays a retainer that secures your session date on my schedule. After that, we finalize the wardrobe and location.
I also run a FB group called Motherhood in the Annapolis Valley where we have created a very supportive and fun community of parents. It's a totally judgement-free space to ask for advice or to just unload your struggles. I started to have professionals come in and chat with me over FB live to the group. We ask questions and discuss different topics. That's been super fun!