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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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

 

 

 

Mind Your Own Bump

It happens to all of us at some point either in our pregnancy or parenting journeys. People stick their nose in where it does not belong, tell you how to birth, how to parent, they share their horrible experiences with their own births or breastfeeding journeys. It either freaks us out, scares us, or is just plain annoying. Even though most people mean well, it still stings.

I’ll share a little tidbit of information with you. Sometimes you have to put yourself in a little bubble and let these comments, opinions, stories, and views bounce off of you. This is your journey and your story that is unfolding and you are going to experience it in your own special way. If your cousin Lisa tells you all about her absolutely horrible experience during her induction using Pitocin, listen to her – but don’t let that frighten you and form your own opinion of Pitocin based on someone else’s experience with it.

Fill your eyes and ears with positive birth stories, learn and absorb all that you can about the physiology of the birth process, comfort measures, pain relief options and situations that can arise that would require interventions.

If you reach out to your peers wanting to know their experiences or advice on a certain topic, be prepared to hear everything – good and bad. Especially when asking in a Facebook group. Then take your questions and concerns to your OB or Midwife, trust them. They absolutely have your best interests in mind. This is another great reason to have a birth & postpartum doula.

One of the many perks of hiring a doula is that she will give you a safe, nonbiased place, listening ears and a plethora of knowledge to go at any time for help finding answers to things that are worrisome to you and for reputable resources for you to learn, research and make decisions for yourself during your journey. A best friend for everything pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

Interested in learning more about how a doula can help you navigate birth, postpartum and parenting? Contact us today!

-Heather

10 Ways to Soothe a Fussy Baby

Let’s face it – all babies have their moments of fussiness. As a doula, having worked an abundance of families and helping them get to know their babies, learning their cues and what works and what doesn’t in regards to soothing the fussiness or getting them to sleep is a big part of the first few months of parenting. Sometimes the most simple movement, step or sound is just what you need. Other times, you need to add a few more tricks to what you are doing. Sometimes babies fuss the loudest right before they fall asleep like they are fighting it. As long as you know your baby is fed and has a clean diaper, you can go to your arsenal of tricks to help soothe your baby. I have compiled a list of my favorite 10 ways to soothe a fussy baby:


1. SWADDLE: This is the very first soothing technique I go to every time. The first 3 months of life should be treated like the fourth trimester, trying to recreate the womb as Dr. Harvey Karp says. It really works for me every time. Your baby may fuss during the swaddling, or right after (it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like being swaddled). Once they realize they are safe and secure just like they were in the womb, they calm down. See my favorite swaddle blanket here. Dr. Karp is known for the techniques he developed for calming infants – The 5 S’s: swaddling, side/stomach, shushing, swinging/swaying, & sucking.

 

2. YOGA BALL: Besides a big muslin swaddle blanket, this is my second go-to and must-have for pregnancy and parenting. This $10.00 ball will likely be the greatest investment during this time. Gentle bouncing on the ball while holding your baby is all you have to do. Sometimes depending on the degree of fussiness, you may have to incorporate some of the techniques listed above. If you are expecting, I recommend getting one to have in the living room while you are watching TV, it’s great to do figure 8’s on to loosen your pelvis, or gentle bouncing closer to your due date to possibly help encourage baby to engage into the pelvis. This video gives you some other ways to use your yoga ball during pregnancy and labor.

 


3. BABYWEARING: Keeping your baby close to you while you work around the house or out walking or at the store helps to keep them happy, plus there are so many benefits of babywearing. Some of the best naps for my own babies have been while being worn. There are lots of options out there in regards to what kind of carrier – check out this gorgeous Tula Ergonomic Carrier at locally owned Baby Sweet Pea’s Boutique or wrap will work for you and your needs. Luckily, we have Babywearing International of Cleveland to help us figure all this out! Monthly meetings, experienced educators helping you learn to wear safely and fit you with the carriers, lending library and more. I highly recommend attending a meeting near you if you think babywearing is for you.

 


4. GET OUTDOORS: Sometimes just getting out of the house for some fresh air and to listen to the sounds of nature for a bit are just enough to entertain baby for a bit. Whether you use a stroller (I really enjoy this one: City Select Jogger ) or baby carrier. Soak in a bit of vitamin D and go for a walk, or just sit outside for a bit.
5. WHITE NOISE: White noise is great, whether coming from a vacuum, water faucet, an app on your phone, or a sound machine – the Marpac Hushh is awesome since it’s portable and nice and loud. It not only drowns out other noises that could disrupt sleep, but it is soothing and relaxing to listen to.
6. SWING: The constant motion from a swing or Momaroo is helpful for soothing and napping (under supervision, of course). I like the Graco Duet Oasis because it can be turned and swing side to side instead of front to back and it vibrates. The Momaroo has lots of different motions, even one that mimics bouncing (remember #2) and white noise choices!

 


7. PLAYMAT: Occasionally, your baby may just want a moment to stretch out. Playmats and activity gyms are great for letting baby stretch, kick, look at toys and do a little tummy time. Eventually, baby will start to play with (bat at) the little toys that are hanging from it. How adorable is the Emily & Meritt Activity Gym?
8. OLDER SIBLINGS: Older children, toddlers, even fur-brothers and sisters make good distractions for baby. Babies love watching other kids – whether they are talking to them, singing, or playing with a toy in front of them. The older your baby gets, you will notice them become more and more interested in other kids.

 


9. ROCKING CHAIR: Going back to the good old-fashioned rocking chair is a soothing motion, plus baby will have the comfort of being held. Whether you have a nice wooden rocking chair like the Bakersfield Rocking Chair or a comfy glider, try it out! It’s a great place to read a book too!

 


10. SNOO: The Snoo is pretty much the Cadillac of bassinettes. Completely recreating the sounds and motions of the womb that baby loved so much. The Snoo sack has safety clips that keep baby on their back all night long. The Snoo chooses the best motions like low swaying for sleep and faster jiggling for upsets, and the best white noise like rain for sleep or womb sounds for crying.

 

For more information on how your doula can guide you and support you and your soothing techniques Contact us today!

Happy Soothing!  -Heather

Pack your bags!

What do I bring to the hospital?

This is a question we hear all of the time and one that we are completely prepared to answer. Whether you are a light packer, or a slightly over packer, we have put together a  list for you!

This printable list will come in handy for packing some items ahead of time and some last-minute items as you’re headed out the door.

Happy packing!

– Heather