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What Is This?! Odd Things That Can Happen In Pregnancy

If you are expecting, you probably have heard about the typical things that happen to you during pregnancy such as; great hair, glowing skin, constantly tired and ready to nap within an hour of waking. Did you know there are more things can happen during pregnancy that is less talked about?

Let’s talk about some of them today so you’re prepared if they happen to you!

Why on earth is my vagina blue?

Most likely this is due to Chadwick’s Sign. Around 6 to 8 weeks gestation you may notice that your vagina has a blueish color to it. It is due to increased blood flow and the substantial hormonal changes that come with pregnancy.

My breasts look like a road-map!

Your veins, especially in your breasts, are proliferating due to the increased blood volume carrying nutrients to your growing baby. Veins are darker than normal and much more noticeable under the skin.

Beware of crop dusting!

With your digestive system running slower than normal due to more progesterone in your body which relaxes your muscles including your intestines, you may experience the worst gas of your life. Bloating, burping and tooting are not glamorous at all, but you get a pass to let it all out!

Why is there hair there?!

These rogue hairs may appear on your nipples of all areas. You may look down one day and see a dark, wiry hair. The fluctuation of hormones, especially during pregnancy is often to blame. Your hormones are significantly changing and often rouge hairs appear because of it. You can leave them be or choose to wax, pluck or shave them, just be careful since this area is really sensitive!

Hobbit in the house!

Yes, your feet might get bigger. They may even stay that way after you deliver your baby. Due to the hormone, relaxin being produced by your body to loosen pelvic ligaments. Relaxin also loosens other ligaments in your body including the feet, allowing the bones to spread. That, accompanied by weight gain and swelling puts extra pressure on the arches and causes them to fall, which widens the foot.

Of course, your doula can help you navigate things that may be going on, but we’ll always refer you to speak with your Midwife or OB. If you’d like to learn more about the value of doula support, contact us today!

Heather

 

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Easy Ways To Initiate A Bedtime Routine

Maybe it’s time to initiate a bedtime routine. Whether you have a strict schedule or a more relaxed approach to scheduling, there are some simple things that you can do daily to help your baby learn over time that it’s time for sleep.

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Do you feel as though your evenings are full of chaos?

Maybe it’s time to initiate a bedtime routine. Whether you have a strict schedule or a more relaxed approach to scheduling, there are some simple things that you can do daily to help your baby learn over time that it’s time for sleep.

You can easily implement some or all of the following things to make your evenings and bedtime a little more predictable and relaxing for all involved.

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1. Bath:

Bath time doesn’t have to be a huge production. As simple as a quick warm bath when needed or a quick sponge bath. Work quickly and keep them as warm as you can, especially if they do not particularly like baths.

Calm is the feeling we are searching for here…. If they enjoy a bath, go slow and let them enjoy the warm water.

 

2. Dim Lights & Quiet Voices:

This is a time to turn off bright lights and go for a more dim and cozy feeling. Your voice can soften and become quieter as you are trying to promote quiet and soothing sounds. The more hustle going on around them the more stimulated they will become and you want to promote a zen-like atmosphere.

3. Massage: 

You may want to consider adding a quick massage to your nightly routine. You can do this every night as you get them in their pajamas with or without a bath. Nothing fancy has to happen here…just you and your baby, a little lotion, cream or oil for slip and connection. Use slow and moderate pressure to gently massage your baby’s arms, tummy, legs and feet/hands. Keep an eye out for a separate blog and video for baby massage in the future.

Massage is something that babies usually love, or grow to love and look forward to.

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4. Swaddle:

I am a huge fan of swaddling and keeping baby feeling that comfort and security he felt in the womb. Swaddles are a great tool in soothing your baby if fussy, and keeping them sleeping longer than without. Your baby may fuss while being swaddled, that doesn’t mean that they don’t like it. I’ve never met an infant that did not love to be swaddled. If they are fussing, they quickly quiet down once picked back up and realize that they are safe and cozy.

5. Soft Music & Sounds:

Along with all of these, adding some soft music (think of spa-like music), nature sounds or white/brown noise is very helpful in promoting a sleepy atmosphere for your baby. This is a great time to quietly read to your baby as you rock or feed your baby before putting them to bed. There are so many apps for your phone, or sound machines out there on the market. We love the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine & Night Light because it grows with your child and works with your phone!

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Here’s to happy, smooth and sleepy nights! We are always here to help if you need us day, or night, for a day or two or more!

-Heather

 

 

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Birth Affirmations For All

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I searched for some birth affirmations today and noticed that most of them are geared toward unmedicated childbirth, getting through the pain of contractions, trusting your body, pain is power, etc., etc…… But, what about the families who are planning on an epidural, or having a Cesarean birth? They may want affirmations too!

It inspired me to put together 6 of my favorite affirmations that will resonate with ALL types of birth preferences.

 

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Click here to see and print all of the beautiful birth affirmations! Enjoy!

-Heather

 

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First Day Home

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.

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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.
  • Clean baby clothes: Sleepers, onesies, swaddles and swaddle blankets, & burp cloths
  • 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.

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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!

-Heather

 

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How Will I Know I’m In Labor?

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!

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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

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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!

-Heather

 

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To Sweep or Not To Sweep? Membrane Sweeping Basics

Facing an induction? You may want to consider a membrane sweep. Here are the basics…

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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.

The Benefits:

  • 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

The Risks:

  • It’s uncomfortable
  • 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.

-Heather

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Easy Breakfast Stratta

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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!

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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!

-Heather

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Sleep Tips From a Baby Whisperer

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:

  1. Avoid over-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.
  2. Sleep environment. Being consistent in keeping the sleep environment will help in creating sleep routines and also help with deeper, longer stretches of sleep.
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Sweet Dreams,

Heather

Photo credits: @jessiedphoto

 

 

 

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Bust A Move! The Importance Of Movement In Labor.

 

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?

Happy Laboring! -Heather

 

 

 

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I Soothe Fussy Babies! Learn How!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

-Heather

 

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