Heather is a birth and postpartum doula and owner of Flora & Finn Birth Services LLC. She is committed to providing her community with professional, unbiased, and individualized support for your journey into parenthood.
This is it…….you’ve taken the first steps to your car from the hospital doors. Feeling a little nervous, tired, forever changed, forever blessed and excited to start your new adventure as a parent!
What the heck do we do now?!
This is a feeling that is all too common! Feeling lost and a little uncertain about how on earth you are allowed to be the one in charge of keeping this little human alive. You leave the hospital with the safety net of having the nurses and doctors at your bedside with the push of a button, to having to figure things out on your own.
YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Don’t panic! Take a deep breath and take it all in. You are home. You are in the best environment to raise that little bundle that YOU made! He trusts you. He knows that you know what is best for him and your family. And you do! You may not always feel like you do, but trust your gut instinct.
What’s your game plan?
It’s a great idea to have in mind some sort of game plan prior to giving birth. Not sure where to start? Here are a few simple things that you are definitely going to need no matter what:
Diaper changing stations. One up, one down and this can be as simple as a basket with a changing pad, diapers, wipes and diaper cream in it. It’s a good idea to always have an extra change of clothes in the basket also so you’re not scrambling when you find a poop explosion. *Pro Tip*- Puppy pads are a great way to keep diaper changing areas clean and dry as you learn to change diapers quickly.
Bassinet or crib: Keep it simple and safe by insuring that it has no bumper pads, loose blankets or toys in it. Mattress pad with tight fitted sheet is all you need. Your baby will stay warm in the swaddle blanket.
Food! You need to be sure to be eating healthy. Take family and friends up on their offers to bring over a meal! While they’re at it, can they grab a few items for you from the store? Grab and go snacks such as: String cheese, nuts, granola, fruits & veggies, hummus……
Let the adventure begin!
Living through the first days home with a newborn can be so exhausting, but so full of love. SO MUCH LOVE!!! There’s no way to describe the amount of love that is in that home when you bring your baby home and start your new life as parents. It’s literally an adventure. One that never ends and is always changing and there is never a dull moment in life when you have a child.
Go get ’em!
Again, you’ve got this! You’re going to find your groove in this parenting game and you are going to rock it so hard! I believe in you and so does your baby!
Is this really it? Am I finally in labor? I think I am, but it isn’t what I had pictured it to be like! Early labor can be irregular, somewhat sporadic and a little confusing also!
As a doula, I have lots of experience in supporting my clients through this time of uncertainty and helping them navigate the process!
Signs of Early Labor:
Mild to moderate contractions that last anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute long from beginning to end. They will feel like cramps, low backache, and can even radiate down the tops of the thighs. These may be regular or irregular in frequency. If you are consistently having them and they don’t go away regardless of your position or what you are doing, then it’s a good sign that you are in early labor
Your cervix is effacing (softening/thinning/ripening), dilating to 5-6 cm, and moving from the posterior position into the anterior position. Those fairly consistent contractions are causing this cervical change
You may notice brown or blood-stained mucus. This is normal as the cervix dilates and you will notice this on and off throughout the remainder of your labor
Loose stools and soft bowel movements are often experienced
You may or may not experience the spontaneous rupture of membranes. Sometimes this happens before contractions start. If you are negative for Group B Strep and fluid is clear, your care provider may give you time to stay at home until contractions start. You may want to consider staying active after resting in order to try to bring on contractions
What can I do while in early labor?
Here are a few things to do while in early labor (which can last hours or days!):
Most importantly, REST! Nap when you can, even just slowing down and shutting your eyes counts. Conserve energy for when you’re really going to need it
Keep yourself hydrated and nourished. It’s so important to eat while you can, but don’t overdo it. Chances are that it may come back up at some point during labor so I always suggest eating foods that stick to your ribs but aren’t spicy or heavy. Fruits, cheese, yogurt, oatmeal, eggs, toast….
Distract yourself. Go to lunch with a friend, go see a movie. You’ll never forget that movie you watched while in early labor! With my first baby it was Notting Hill – I’m showing my age here! Haha! Hitting the grocery store and preparing freezer meals…..
After you’ve rested, you can do more active things like walking, sidestepping the stairs, hands and knees, hopefully bringing on stronger and more frequent contractions and keeping your pelvis nice and open and loose. For other tips and info on the importance of movement in labor, click here
Practice your deep breathing techniques and relaxation methods while contractions are still manageable. That way you can go into the next phase of labor relaxed, confident and in control of your breathing and keeping your body loose. Remember that a relaxed mind and body = relaxed and open cervix. Tight body and nervous mind = tight cervix, whether you eventually opt for an epidural or not. So important!
Keep an eye out for our next post on the next stage of labor – Active Labor!
If you are ever so slowly creeping to 40 weeks and beyond, your midwife or OB may offer a ‘stretch and sweep’ or a ‘membrane sweep’. For most normal, low-risk pregnancies this is a safe and relatively gentle way to try to induce labor without the use of chemicals or AROM (artificial rupture of membranes).
What the heck are they sweeping?
The end result of this procedure is to encourage the release of prostaglandins, which are hormones that soften or efface the cervix and initiate labor. They do this by gently “sweeping”, or separating the membranes from the amniotic sac from the cervix.
How do they do a stretch and sweep?
If you aren’t yet dilated, they will massage the opening of your cervix with their finger to get that stretch and hopefully your body will release the prostaglandins to efface the cervix and bring about labor. If you are dilated, they will insert their finger inside the opening of the cervix and use circular massage motions to gently separate the membranes from the cervix. This procedure can be uncomfortable, so don’t be shy about asking them to give you a break if you need it.
A stretch and sweep 40 weeks and beyond can greatly reduce the chances of delivering beyond term
A safe choice for most healthy, low-risk term pregnancies vs. induction methods with medication or AROM
There’s a chance of accidental AROM which can lead to infection and potentially further interventions if labor doesn’t begin
You may notice after a stretch and sweep some discomfort, mild to occasionally strong pain, cramping, and slight bleeding. Hopefully, labor will begin within 24 hours after a sweep. Be sure to contact your midwife or OB if your water breaks or seems to be leaking, or if you experience any bright red bleeding.
If you know me, you know that I love pampering my clients by cooking for them during postpartum shifts. Nourishing your body is so important for healing after birth, plus it’s so nice when you aren’t the one doing the cooking! After I had my babies, if someone made me a PBJ, it was the BEST PBJ ever – probably because it was made just for me and made with love. That’s the best feeling ever!
There’s nothing better than waking up from a night full of restful sleep to the smell of breakfast cooking in the kitchen!
I typically prepare a vast array of egg bakes, quiches, and frittatas when i want to make a protein-packed breakfast dish. One particular family I’ve worked with recently loves Strattas! I typically prepare these in a 9×9″ glass baking dish. Today, I added 6 muffin cups and packed them up individually for on-the-go eating. I go through the fridge and see what veggies, cheeses and meats are available and then, get to creating!
It’s REALLY hard to mess this up!
The base of any type of stratta you’d like to make is:
8 eggs, 3 cups of milk (nutmilks will work, just use unsweetened!), salt & pepper, and one round loaf of bread, cubed or torn apart in small chunks (I used Trader Joe’s Boule bread)
Then, you choose your fillings! Today I sauteed 1/4 C. onion, 1 cup broccoli florets and a big handful of chopped ham. Then, mixed that into the egg mixture along with a cup of cheddar cheese. Poured over the cubed bread and stirred. I then added dollops of ricotta on top.
Bake at 350 for about 15-20 min for the muffins and 45-50 minutes for the 9×9 dish, until the eggs firm up. You may need to tent with tin foil toward the end.
There you have it! Just about the easiest recipe for a really nice breakfast, brunch or lunch! If you’d like more information on our postpartum support or separate meal prepping service, give me a call!
Sleepy and frazzled new parents all over the world are all wondering the exact same thing: When will my baby sleep longer at night?
Don’t fret! As a certified Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, I am here to talk to you about ways I help shape healthy sleep habits for my clients’ newborns.
The circadian rhythm of a newborn baby doesn’t mature until about 16 weeks, which is why sleep experts advise against any type of sleep “training” until after 3-4 months of age. But, the good news is that you absolutely CAN form healthy sleep habits for your baby before resorting to “sleep training” or hiring expensive “sleep coaches” by following a few simple, healthy practices and daily routines as your newborn gets older. Here are ways that I personally set my clients up for success while working in their home:
Avoidover-tiredness. Babies do not have much melatonin until about 3-4 months of age. Melatonin is the calming hormone that helps to facilitate sleep. It’s important for babies to nap often and take advantage of the melatonin that they do have in order to keep cortisol at bay. Cortisol, the stress hormone, rises when a baby is tired and can’t sleep, thus increasing crankiness and restless sleep. Sleep begets sleep. So, keep naps consistent and put the baby down to sleep before the over-tiredness creeps in. Have a fussy baby? Click here for tips on soothing them.
Sleep environment. Being consistent in keeping the sleep environment will help in creating sleep routines and also help with deeper, longer stretches of sleep.
A nice, dark and cozy room to sleep in will help to increase melatonin and promote a deep and restful sleep. Black-out shades help with this, even for napping.
Keep the temperature comfortable. You don’t want it too cool so baby has to work hard to warm up, but not too warm either because being too warm is not promoting deep sleep and is also a SIDS risk factor. Keeping temps in the room between 68-72 degrees works well.
White noise. The noise-muffling sound of rushing water, waves or loud static (yes, LOUD) will help keep baby sleeping soundly even with noise in the background.
Arms-in, nice and snug swaddle. I’ve never in my experience as a doula and caring for hundreds of babies came across a baby who didn’t love to be snuggled safely and securely in their swaddle blankets. You may think that your baby hates the swaddle, but just give them a minute after you pick them up and bounce a little. They will calm down and realize that they are safe and secure and feeling that nice warm snugness of what they had while in the womb. They love it!
Lay baby down sleepy. At about 6-8 weeks of age, you can start to put the baby down while sleepy but somewhat awake. If your baby gets upset, go ahead and pick him up and put to sleep like normal. Just getting in the practice of putting them down while not fully asleep is helping to shape sleep. You are giving them the chance to show you that they can do it on their own. If they fall asleep before you can put them down, you can put them down in a way that wakes them up a little then after a few seconds they’ll start to fall asleep again.
Dream Feeds. When your baby gets to that 3-month mark you can try doing some dream feedings. So, right before YOU go to bed for the night you would feed your baby a little amount. If you’re nursing, just nurse for 5 minutes or so and if you are bottle feeding, just feed them a couple ounces. It’s important to note that this feeding is not in response to crying, you are feeding them before they are awake and crying. You are only giving them some extra calories to eliminate a night feeding or delay it and get a longer stretch of sleep. If your baby still consistently wakes again, try setting an alarm clock prior to that usual wake time and dream feed again.
So there you have it! My top tips and advice for helping to shape those healthy sleep habits. This is a huge bonus of having a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula. We help the families we work with pave the way to happy, healthy sleep routines.
Yes! You can and should move your body during labor. Whether you are laboring unmedicated or with an epidural, movement in labor is key!
Why is movement in my labor so important?
Here are a few reasons why you should move your body during labor:
1. Movement helps facilitate fetal descent. Keeping your body moving assists the baby in the Cardinal Movements of labor. Picture a little mouse wriggling, turning and twisting its head to fit through a tiny opening. How can we get our body moving during labor and assist with fetal descent?
Standing – Even the act of moving positions in bed, getting out of the bed, a chair or in and out out of the tub helps to move and loosen the pelvis.
Walking – The rhythmic sway of your hips as you walk along with gravity help to keep baby’s head pressing on your cervix and coax descent. Add a little extra pop in the hip to really get more motion.
Rock, Sway, Dance – Rocking and swaying can be done whether you are standing or kneeling.
Squat – Holding on to the bed, hall rail, squat bar, or partner during a contraction. Your doula can show you how to utilize the squat bar, peanut ball and labor bed for supported squats if you are confined to the bed for any reason or utilizing an epidural. You can also ask your nurse if they have a birthing stool you can use.
Kneeling – Asymmetrical kneeling and lunging not only provides openness in the pelvic outlet, but it also allows freedom to move unlike the static position of squatting. Picture swaying your hips while kneeling or rocking toward your bent knee while lunging during a contraction. Your doula can also show you how to do this in bed with the peanut ball. Asymmetrical kneeling is a perfect position toward the end of labor when we may not have a lot of strength, stamina or flexibility.
2. Movement can help to shorten labor by producing stronger, more effective contractions. Nice strong and consistent contractions are what’s needed to bring the baby down and dilate the cervix.
3. Movement is also a comfort measure during labor. The repetitive motion and rhythm will help as a form of pain relief during contractions.
So, now you have some ideas for how to move, when to move and why to move! Which movements do you think will resonate with you during your labor?
Hands up if you are trying to soothe a fussy baby! Parents all over the world are finding the best ways to calm their crying newborns. I’m here to give you my go-to’s in soothing those babies!
Are you knee deep in “The Witching Hour”?You’ve come to the right place!
I’m going to give you all my go-to steps for calming fussy babies. Once you know that they are not crying from hunger, a dirty/wet diaper, or a burp that needs to come out I always do the exact same things in this order:
Swaddle: I reach for the largest and stretchiest swaddle blanket I can find and wrap your baby snugly. I always swaddle with baby’s arms in. I’ve never met a newborn who did not like an arms-in swaddle. Click here for my favorite swaddle blankets.
Movement: I lovingly scoop your baby up and get moving. Whether it’s a sway, walking, swinging, or bouncing (Keep that birth ball accessible, babies love it). Even if you are exhausted, sitting on the edge of the couch you can still sway and rock. You may have to change the way you’re holding them here and there too. Up over your shoulder, cradled, or laying on your forearm. Switch it up if needed.
Sucking: Babies have a sucking need even if they are not hungry. If you are against a pacifier or aren’t ready to introduce one yet, you can always use a clean finger for baby to suck on.
Patting or Tapping: Gentle, rhythmic patting or tapping with fingers on baby’s back or bottom sends them into a zone that will not only help curb crying, but induces sleep.
Now you have my favorite fail-proof soothing techniques. Have you had luck with any of my fail-proof tools? Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas are here to save the day or night!
We all know the risks of sleep deprivation, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and strokes. If you are a new parent, sleep is even more affected by taking care of a new human being, adjusting to a new routine, and getting to know your baby. You know that old saying, “sleep when the baby sleeps”? Well, sometimes that is easier said than done, especially when you have more than one child, or you just can’t stop staring at your baby during the day.
Sleep is going to be a huge part of your physical recovery from birth along with many other things, such as helping to keep postpartum depression at bay, allowing you to be sharp and focused while doing important tasks (caring for your baby, driving, working, etc), and helping to keep your metabolisim in check.
One of the many reasons that I love being a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula is that I get to help new parents receive that precious sleep they are so desperately in need of.
When I am working an overnight shift my clients love that they know that they will be getting a very good nights rest. Whether they are formula feeding, combination feeding or exclusively breastfeeding, their quality of sleep will be at its best with my professional, experienced and nurturing support. They wake up feeling ready to take on the world!
During day shifts with my clients, they will be assured time to rest and focus on themselves and the baby instead of having to worry about whats for dinner, the laundry that needs to be done or keeping older siblings occupied. Showers, quiet time to bond with baby and NAPS will be abundant and they feel rejuvenated by the pampering that goes along with all the other benefits of having a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula.
Another perk to having a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula is that you will have complete peace of mind that while you are getting all that uninterrupted sleep, your baby will be taken care of EXACTLY they way YOU would take care of them. Non-judgemental and unbiased support is of the utmost importance for us.
For more information on hiring a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula contact us today! (330)-635-6615 | email@example.com | www.floraandfinn.com
After the extremely humid day we had here yesterday and today in NE Ohio, I had to throw some ideas out there for keeping cool and surviving the summer heat. Take a look and get some ideas for keeping your cool!
1. Wear lightweight breathable fabrics
While linen has been used for centuries to keep us cool in the summer heat, cotton and chambray are great too! Cotton knits are light and breezy and chambray is a finely woven cotton which will also help you to keep your cool. Side note: It’s very important to keep using your SPF since your skin is more prone to burning while pregnant. So, SPF and covering with lightweight fabrics will be a great team for the summer.
2. Make a smoothie
Cool off with a refreshing, nutrient-rich, healthy smoothie for breakfast, or with lunch. This Ultimate Superfood Pregnancy Smoothie would be awesome paired with tuna salad on multi-grain bread, or a bed of greens. Adding some freshly grated ginger to your smoothie will help ease any morning sickness you may have.
3. Take a dip
Swimming is one of the best means of exercise* for pregnancy. Not only will it cool you off, but it will help prevent or reduce swelling by reducing the impact of gravity on the extra fluids (50% more during pregnancy) in your body. So, hang out and relax in the pool, or take an exercise class to keep active. Some swim exercise classes incorporate Pilates and yoga to help keep you stretched out. (*Make sure to check with your care provider before adding any exercise to your routine while pregnant.)
4. Take a nap
Head indoors, crank up the AC, aim a fan at your bed and indulge in a glorious nap! Now is the time to take advantage of your right to nap. As your pregnancy progresses, you will find that you lose sleep at night either from having to use the bathroom frequently or by not being able to get comfortable. So, take time for cooling off indoors by napping while you’re at it.
5. Take a luke-warm bath
End your day by chilling out in a nice, quiet bath. Luke-warm water will help cool your body down and get you ready for a nice nights sleep. Put your feet up on the edge of the tub to help with swelling from all the extra fluids in your body and water retention. Keeping your favorite body lotion in the fridge is a nice way to moisturize your skin and keep cool after your bath.
“Don’t judge your insides against other people’s outsides.” We all do it from time to time, subconsciously. Whether looking at other people’s seemingly blissful life, romantic adventures with their significant other, the perfect kids in the best clothes in their immaculate backyard…..the list goes on and on. Why do THEY have it so good? IT NEEDS TO STOP! Take a step back, appreciate what you have in your life, and make the most of this very moment.
Just know that the people who you sometimes compare yourself to have struggles and issues of their own in their lives that may not show up on the outside. We see this all the time on social media. Follow someone on Instagram and you are bound to see all the most wonderful, fun, awesome times in their life. Who’s going to post on Instagram about how their wife or boyfriend cheated on them or a picture of their overdrawn bank statement? No, they are going to make it seem as though everything is peach pie and ice cream.
Take a moment to look at yourself and your life. You are wonderful! You have a great sense of humor & style, you are loyal and responsible. Friends know they can count on you being a safe place to fall. Your generosity and kind spirit have made its way into your children, who are always the ones to include others in their play or befriending someone who seems lonely. Sometimes you may look at someone and how they raise their kids and pings of guilt will come to you because you don’t do things their way, or you don’t have time to be the room mom each week because of work. It’s OK! You are being the best you can be.
Maybe your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t perfect. Who is? Maybe you argue a bit more than you would like to, maybe you feel unappreciated with all that you do around the house and with the kids. Relationships are a lot of work. It’s not always lollipops and sunbeams. Just like the couple in the picture above, looks like they are so happy and in love, right? Who knows, maybe she is planning on leaving him over the weekend, or he slept with her boss the night before, or they fight like cats and dogs every day. You just never know other people’s troubles. If your relationship is important to you and worth working on and there’s love there – f#@king fix it. Smile at them, accept them for who they are and where they are in life. Acknowledge them and their accomplishments and they will do the same for you. Build each other up! Have each other’s backs. Life is too short to stay unhappy, that’s not good for anyone involved.
Be the best YOU can be. You are awesome! This is your story that is unfolding in front of you. Enjoy it!