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

 

 

 

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

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

 

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