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

 

 

 

5 Ways To Keep Your Bump Cool This Summer

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.

Cheers to staying cool! -Heather

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire a Postpartum Doula

Wondering if a Postpartum and Infant Care doula is right for your family? You may want to take the following into consideration while making your decision.

1. You Live in a Village. One question I get asked quite often when someone finds out I’m a Postpartum and Infant Care doula, is: “Why would I need a postpartum doula when I have my mom?”  It’s a very honest and legitimate question. Here is my answer. If you are blessed enough to have a mother (or other close relative or friend) willing to help you out after having a baby, great! That’s wonderful, and I am so happy for you. But family isn’t always close by. Families are now spread out, not only across the country, but across the world! Gone are the days of having relatives down the block, able to pitch in at a moment’s notice. We are separated by distance now. Furthermore, even if a relative could make the trip and be with you after giving birth (or if they happen to live nearby) many have responsibilities of their own to take care of. They have jobs and families of their own to get back to. They may be able to offer you a few days, maybe a week’s worth of help, but that may be it. A nice respite, sure, but hardly sustainable. A postpartum doula steps in to fill this need for as long as the family needs. 

2. You Never Need Help. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, meal preparation, older child care, pet care…plus getting to know and caring for a new baby all while healing from labor and delivery? “No big deal”…said no mother ever. The fact of the matter is, we all need help sometimes. A postpartum doula is there so that you can spend more time healing and bonding with your baby and family, and less time worrying about the laundry. Each visit from a postpartum doula will be tailored to fit your family’s unique needs that day. Need someone to care for baby while you take a much-deserved shower and nap? We do that. Need someone to fold laundry, wash dishes, or meal prep while you tend to baby? We do that. Need help handling older children and a new baby? We do that. Need a non-judgmental, supportive ear and a shoulder to cry on? We do that. Our goal is to see the family experience a smooth and joyful transition during this time.

3. You Never Have Any Questions or Doubts. If you never have any questions concerning postpartum recovery, breastfeeding positions, latch, bottle-feeding, reflux, bathing, co-sleeping, or a myriad of other questions that come up during the postpartum stage, then you may not need a postpartum doula. However, if like most of us you do have questions, a Postpartum and Infant Care doula offers a wealth of information and non-judgmental support during this confusing and overwhelming time.

4. You Never Need To Sleep. Let’s face it: Most of us need adequate sleep in order to feel our best mentally and physically. Unfortunately, the time when you need rest the most-a time when your body and mind need to take time to recover-is when most families experience the least amount of sleep they’ve had in years. A postpartum doula is here to guarantee that you get the rest and sleep that you deserve and need. Whether it’s a cat-nap in the afternoon, or a few hours sleep at night (yes, postpartum doulas offer night-time care as well! Sleep well knowing your baby is being lovingly cared for.), a postpartum doula will make sure you get adequate rest.

5. You are Wonder Woman. Actually, scratch that. I’m sure even Wonder Woman could use unbiased support and a chance to ask questions and voice frustrations without fear of judgment. Everyone needs someone in their corner cheering them on.

Stacie Loughrin, Birth and Postpartum & Infant Care Doula

Today’s blog is by our own, Stacie Loughrin, Birth and Postpartum & Infant Care Doula. For more information about Stacie and our Postpartum & Infant Care Doula services, Contact Us today!

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

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?

You can Google doulas in your area is 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. You can also search ProDoula and DoulaMatch for your your area.

qtq80-W2Jt1B

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 speak to a potential doula, the first important question to ask is what their services include. If the doula is well versed in what her services include, they will most likely answer a bunch of questions you may have while explaining their packages. Then, you can ask other important questions that were not answered afterwards.

Here are 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. A doula that has taken the extra steps of certifying (or being in the process of certifying) shows that they are serious about their career and serious about bringing professionalism to their clients and care providers. They have put in the time and effort of testing/reading/researching/writing. Once you are certified, you must submit for re-certification every few years, so that keeps your doula fresh and up to date on current recommendations.

katy-belcher-674803-unsplash

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. You also get to speak to them prior to the big day, just in case, so there are no surprises.

We also offer the option to  hire a team of 2 doulas. Working as a team approach, you would have 2 doulas at your service, two doulas to answer your questions, encourage you and your partner, and support you throughout your pregnancy and early labor. When you are ready to have your doula join you for the face-to-face support, whoever is on-call that day would be the one to join you for the remainder of your labor and birth.

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-judgmental 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 and we are experienced in all of those ways. We will be there supporting you through any challenges, concerns or changes in the course of your journey!

graphic
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