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

 

 

 

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!

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

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.

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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.

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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!

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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