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

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Hiring A Doula; Where To Begin And My Favorite Interview Questions

 

Are you thinking of hiring a doula? Where do you start? What questions do you ask them when you meet or talk on the phone?

Googling doulas in your area is a great place to start. If you Google surrounding cities to see who’s out there, you will have a lot more to choose from and chances are very high that they support clients birthing in your area or at your hospital.

Asking your friends and family for a referral is another possible way to get some names to start looking. Keep in mind, that doulas are never responsible for birth outcomes, and each person is going to have different expectations that are individually important to them. Each person will be drawn more closely to someone who’s personality meshes with theirs. It’s important that you would feel completely and totally at ease having this person be by your side during this super-personal, intimate, and life changing event. There would be nothing worse than feeling completely awkward and uncomfortable with your doula during your birth, or during your postpartum, just by hiring the one your friend recommended, or that was the most affordable.

When you make arrangements to meet a potential doula face-to-face, have a phone consultation, or a Skype meeting, the first thing that is important to ask is what their services include. Usually, if the doula is well versed in what her services would include – they will most likely answer a bunch of questions you may have, and then you can ask other important questions that were not answered after, such as – some of my favorite interview questions:

1. Can you tell me about your training and certifications? Hiring a trained and/or certified doula may be important to you. This is not a regulated industry as of yet, so a trained doula is important. Your doula taking the extra steps of certifying (or being in the process of certifying) shows that they are serious about their career and have put in the time and effort of testing/reading/researching/writing. Once you are certified, you must submit for recertification every few years, so that keeps your doula fresh and up to date on current recommendations.

2. Do you hire a backup for each of your clients, or do you work in pairs? It’s very important for your doula to hire a backup doula that you can meet if you request. If the day of your birth comes and your doula is ill, in an emergency situation, or supporting another client, you will be assured nurturing, professional support with your backup doula. At Flora & Finn Birth Services, we take this very seriously and only hire trusted backup doulas that would take care of our clients in the exact same manner we would. We also have the option to our clients to work in pairs, that way you have two doulas assigned to you, coming to your prenatal meetings and building a professional, personal relationship with you.

3. If I change my birth preferences, will you still be there to support me? Sometimes, during the course of your pregnancy or labor, you may want to change your mind, or certain situations call for necessary interventions. You need to be 100% sure that your doula will hold no judgment or leave you hanging on your big day. Here at Flora & Finn Birth Services, we provide unbiased and non-judgemental support for ALL types of birth experiences. We believe in the birth process, but also believe that there is more than one way to birth your baby. We will be there supporting you through any challenges, concerns or course changes along the way!

Your doula will help you navigate birth and postpartum YOUR way!

Would you like to ask us some additional questions? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Us

– Heather

 

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Oh baby! Now what?

You’re a new parent!  Welcome to the club!

You’ve read every baby book, parenting blog, article, and research you could get your hands on while waiting for your baby to come.  The day has come, and she’s finally here!  Now what?!  All of the sudden every detail of information you had etched in your mind is a distant memory with the arrival of this sweet baby. How do I hold her?  How do I change her?  What if she cries?

Please know that all these questions are completely normal and millions of new parents feel the same way.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  As a postpartum doula and a mother of three children, I will tell you that there will times of trial and error, times of go with the flow, and sometimes things may fall into place on accident and fit perfectly for your family!

If you have a postpartum doula, they can help you to build your confidence in taking care of your newborn.  They are your personal newborn care and parenting coach, always cheering you on and they are there to confide in when parenting feels hard.  They won’t tell you how to take care of your baby, or how to parent your baby, but instead, go over your options of different ways of taking care of your baby so you can decide what works best for you and your family.

Local parenting groups are a really great place not only to make new friends that are in the same season of life that you are but to learn from them in talking about any parenting wins or any obstacles they’ve overcome.  It’s a great way to hear about different techniques, products, and resources for parents.

Let’s face it, there’s so much information out there for parents. It can get extremely overwhelming!  Go with your gut, don’t worry about what others are or aren’t doing and don’t feel afraid to reach out for help at any time!

YOU’VE GOT THIS!

I’d love to have you join our local parenting group here in the Cleveland area!  Forest City Pregnancy & Postpartum Chat

-Heather

 

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Nourishing Yourself Postpartum – Part 1

I do a lot of cooking for my postpartum clients. I feel very comfortable in the kitchen, I can whip up any type of meal you’re craving or give you suggestions on dishes you may have never tried. I personally know as a mother myself, that taking the time to prepare a nourishing meal for yourself and family can be difficult and it takes time, especially when you have a new baby in the home.

Nourishment and hydration are such an important part of your recovery postpartum. It’s a great idea as part of your postpartum plan, to have some meals prepared in the freezer and to stock your pantry with staples, making trips to the grocery store easier by just having to go for fresh produce, meats, and dairy items. Today, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite dishes that I make for my clients, focusing mostly on breakfast and brunch. I’ll start with my favorite – Breakfast Cookies!
These cookies are perfect for breakfast and as grab and go snacks. Plus, they freeze really well! Kids love them and they are full of nutrition without any processed sugar.

Nourishing Breakfast Cookie

Nourishing Breakfast Cookies

Blend together by hand:

1 cup Mashed ripe banana (approx. 2-3 bananas)
2 tbsp. Honey
½ cup Peanut butter
1 tsp. Vanilla

Mix together, then add to wet ingredients:

½ tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Cinnamon (or a bit more if you’d like)
½ tsp. Salt

Add:

2 cups oatmeal (you can add a little more if the mixture is still really wet. It should not spread out on baking sheet before baking)

Optional:
¼ cup dark chocolate chips, raisins, dates, dried cranberries or cherries
½ cup chopped nuts or seeds (walnuts, pecans, pepitas, sunflower seeds…)

Drop by rounded tablespoons on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

This next grab and go breakfast is so versatile, and a great source of protein to give you energy throughout the day. Obviously, it’s great for breakfast but also as lunch with a nice green salad. I love to throw this together when I’m looking for something to use up extra veggies and meats from other dishes I’ve made. My favorite combinations have been: onions, peppers, tomatoes, spinach and feta or broccoli, onion, tomato, turkey, and cheddar. While sauteeing the veggies, I add different seasonings like basil, oregano, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper. Add any seasonings you like! I’ve used this with a round cake pan, 9×13” pan, pie plate and muffin tins.

Unbelievable Egg Bake

Unbelievable Egg Bake

1 ½ – 2 cups sauteed veggies (if using spinach, throw a big handful in right before you are done sauteeing and toss until just limp.)
8 large eggs
¼ cup milk (cow, goat or nut milk – not vanilla flavored!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Seasonings

Optional:
¾ cup shredded cheese
1 cup shredded or diced meat (turkey breast, ham, sausage….)

Saute veggies with any seasonings you like.  Set aside.  Whisk together eggs and milk.  Add veggies and any cheese or meat you’d like to add.  Pour into greased or oiled pan. If you are using muffin cups, portion out veggies then pour egg mixture on top in the muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until eggs are set in the middle. Cool completely before covering and storing in the fridge or freezer.

 

This next recipe is one of those dishes where you feel like you’re really indulging in a special dessert but it’s actually full of nutrients and naturally sweet, without any processed sugar. Honey Walnut Bananas! I serve these over pancakes or greek yogurt for breakfast, and as a decadent dessert over vanilla ice cream. This dish is so easy to make and works best with firm, and not too ripe bananas. Look for the yellow bananas that still have a bit of green on them.

 

Honey Walnut Bananas

Honey Walnut Bananas

2 Bananas cut into ¼” circles
EVOO or coconut oil
Honey
Warm water
Walnuts
Cinnamon

Heat oil in a pan over the stove.  Add banana circles and saute until browned, flip over bananas (a fork works best) and brown the other side.  Meanwhile, take 2 Tbsp.  Honey and mix in 1-2 Tbsp hot water.  Once the second side of banana is browned, drizzle honey mixture over bananas and watch it caramelize around bananas.  Remove from heat and pour over your pancake, yogurt or ice cream.  Top with a handful of crushed walnuts (I crush them in my hand), a drizzle of honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Enjoy!

If you have a postpartum doula, they can make your life so much easier by putting together meals for you and your family.  We are sure to discover your likes and dislikes, your sensitivities or allergies, and any cultural food practices. Just another way to enjoy the individualized support of your doula!

Be sure to follow for further articles and recipes!

-Heather

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Too Close For Comfort

When well-meaning family and friends make you feel overwhelmed and bombarded as a new parent.

It’s hard.  It’s awkward.  You feel guilty.  I get it.

I see this a lot as a doula.  Many times it is a worry for my clients throughout their pregnancy, leading up to the day they deliver.  They are concerned that they will not get quality alone time with their partner and new baby.  They appreciate the help around the house with family members cooking dinner, doing laundry, and running to the grocery store.  BUT what they really want is some alone time to hold and stare at the baby.  To sit in comfortable silence, and not feel like they have to hold a conversation with someone all day long. They don’t want to feel like they have to entertain guests.  They want to figure out parenting on their own and not have to listen to other’s recommendations, opinions or parenting philosophies.

Each family is different, each new parent’s worries are different and obviously, no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings.  As my client’s sounding board and navigator I suggest different ways of dealing with these types of situations.

  • Have a plan to set “open house-style” visiting hours once you return home with your new baby.  This way you can let the important people in your life meet your little one AND know that you’ll be able to have your alone time to bond as a family.  Once you announce the arrival of your baby you can add, for example:  “We would love for you to stop over and meet the baby on Tuesdays & Thursdays between 11:00 – 2:00 p.m.”  This way you can make sure the baby is fed, you’re dressed (if you want), and if you’re comfortable with visitors holding your baby, you can eat lunch with both hands!  Obviously, if your baby gets fussy or hungry, do not hesitate to take him back to soothe or feed.
  • Some of my clients have family that is coming in from out of town to stay with (or nearby) the new family.  This is wonderful for the extra help around the house but sometimes can get too overwhelming and claustrophobic for a new parent.  One way to gently suggest some alone time is to have a few day trips in mind to suggest to visiting family members.  This is helpful for when the family members are staying in the home with you.  Think of some of your favorite, fun and local things for them to visit or see while they are in town, that way they get out of the house and you get some alone time to bond with your new baby.
  • If they are staying at a hotel nearby, you can fall back on the “open house-style” visiting hours, but maybe make them a little less rigid.  It all depends on how much alone time you’re looking for and what you need on any particular day. All of this can be worked out ahead of time, then adjusted as needed.  For example, They come over at 7:00 a.m. help fix breakfast and snuggle baby so you can eat and shower, they stay until noon, then come back around 5:00 to help with dinner and visit until bedtime.  It allows you some pampering, then some alone time.

It helps to have some sort of plan in place for visitors and family members.  I’ve seen some new parents pretty exhausted from the rush of visitors coming in and out all day long, and a new mother upset because she is just wanting to hold her baby.

If you have a birth or postpartum doula, do not hesitate to reach out to them for advice on how to handle these types of situations.  It’s part of our job as doulas, to make sure you are feeling relaxed and comfortable with all aspects of your journey into parenthood.  

-Heather

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Why Did You Hire A Doula?

Recently, I asked a few mothers in my area why they hired a doula. I always ask this question during my consultations so that I get a better sense of what clients hope to accomplish by bringing me on as a member of their birth team. I was happy to hear the feedback that these local moms shared.

“I had a doula for both of my births to have a more experienced and supportive birth team. Someone who knew our preferences and supported us to achieve them. I love our doulas!” -Kristin

When you hire a doula, you get a personalized, supportive team member. We have gotten to know you and your partner throughout your pregnancy and during your prenatal meetings. We know your preferences and how to help you navigate any possible changes to those preferences along the way. Since we have taken the time to get to know you, we are able to sense when you are feeling frightened, nervous or losing focus and we can bring you back to a place of calmness, control and confidence.

“I hired a doula because the statistics are fantastic! (At least that’s what got me thinking about it-shorter births, less interventions, etc.) Second reason was this was our first child and my husband and I didn’t know what we were doing. Third reason was my husband has trouble with blood/needles/hospital stuff. Fourth reason was that I’m adopted and since my mom never had a biological child, I knew I needed some kind of coach in the room that knew about it! Best decision I ever made was to have a doula and take the Bradley Method class. My birth wasn’t exactly what I envisioned but I avoided surgery due to our knowledge, doula and husband.” -Andria

We are trained to know (and spend a lot of our free time researching) how our bodies work and understand the birthing process. We help you to feel comfortable and confident in birth. We work alongside your partner to support you and make you feel relaxed and focused. We never take the place of your partner. However, if your partner is feeling woozy and needs to sit down for a minute, you will not be left alone or unsupported because we will be there for you. We give your family the peace of mind that you are being taken care of and never isolated, which is important. For example, if your mother lives out of state and can’t make it to the birth, she can have be assured that someone who knows you and what you want, who is knowledgeable, and who has your best interests at heart is there for you.

“We decided to hire a doula so that my husband could enjoy the birth of our children rather than being on point as a coach. And to keep the hospital people away from me.” -Michelle

A professional doula will never speak to your care provider or nursing staff for you or on your behalf. A professional doula will help you to navigate the process and build questions for you or your partner to ask or bring up yourselves. We know your desired birth plan. If a procedure or other intervention that is not preferred by you is brought up, we can gently remind you that you may be able to take a minute to discuss it between yourselves or remind you that you can ask your provider about the benefits/risks of such procedure.

We do help your partner focus completely on you and your emotional well-being. They may be asked to help hold you up or massage you here and there. We can suggest different positions and think ahead to what may help next, so that your partner can solely be tuned in to you. A doula and your partner work as a team to support and comfort you, and they can be as involved as they would like to be.

“Our family decided to hire a postpartum doula for peace of mind with caring for our newborn. I was worried about being successful with breastfeeding and nervous about caring for both our baby and 6 year old once my husband went back to work. I was honestly concerned about how I could manage all of it. Our doula swooped in and made my postpartum period stress-free and I’ve never felt so rested!” -Natalie

Our main priorities as postpartum doulas are for you and your family to feel nourished, rested, confident and bonded with your newborn baby. We are professional, knowledgeable and nonjudgmental. We’re proficient in newborn care, can assist with breast or bottle feeding and have an arsenal of references and contacts for you if needed. We keep the momentum of your household flowing by helping with meal preparations, laundry, newborn and sibling care and light housekeeping. Your emotional well-being and your physical state are so important, especially during this intimate time of getting to know your new family member. We help to make this transition smooth and stress free by our listening, professionalism and knowledgeable and nurturing support.

We want you to feel happy and satisfied with your experience. These moments of your life are moments that you will remember for the rest of your life. It’s important to us that you have wonderful memories to look back on.

-Heather Sudduth
Birth & Postpartum Doula
Supporting families in the greater Cleveland/Akron area

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