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

 

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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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

 

 

 

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