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.

Fussy Baby

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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I Soothe Fussy Babies! Learn How!

Hands up if you are trying to soothe a fussy baby! Parents all over the world are finding the best ways to calm their crying newborns. I’m here to give you my go-to’s in soothing those babies!

 

Are you knee deep in “The Witching Hour”?You’ve come to the right place!

I’m going to give you all my go-to steps for calming fussy babies. Once you know that they are not crying from hunger, a dirty/wet diaper, or a burp that needs to come out I always do the exact same things in this order:

  1. Swaddle: I reach for the largest and stretchiest swaddle blanket I can find and wrap your baby snugly. I always swaddle with baby’s arms in. I’ve never met a newborn who did not like an arms-in swaddle. Click here for my favorite swaddle blankets.
  2. Movement: I lovingly scoop your baby up and get moving. Whether it’s a sway, walking, swinging, or bouncing (Keep that birth ball accessible, babies love it). Even if you are exhausted, sitting on the edge of the couch you can still sway and rock. You may have to change the way you’re holding them here and there too. Up over your shoulder, cradled, or laying on your forearm. Switch it up if needed.
  3. Sucking: Babies have a sucking need even if they are not hungry. If you are against a pacifier or aren’t ready to introduce one yet, you can always use a clean finger for baby to suck on.
  4. Patting or Tapping: Gentle, rhythmic patting or tapping with fingers on baby’s back or bottom sends them into a zone that will not only help curb crying, but induces sleep.

Now you have my favorite fail-proof soothing techniques. Have you had luck with any of my fail-proof tools? Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas are here to save the day or night!

-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!

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

Top 5 Brunch Spots in Cleveland

On Sundays, we brunch!

Is there a better way to spend a Sunday? I don’t think so! I have compiled a list of 5 hot brunch spots here in Cleveland. Some I have been to, and some I am planning on going to very soon! Spring is here and the weather is starting to be beautiful, some of the patios are starting to open up. It’s the perfect way to spend time with your family & friends on a leisurely Sunday afternoon.

Whether you take the whole family or keep it date-like, you will be sure to find yourself relaxed & rejuvenated, with a satisfied palette! Do you have an infant or young child in tow? Bring your Postpartum Doula to help keep the experience calm & peaceful. Doula’s love brunch too! (Just saying!)

 

1. Town Hall, Ohio City

www.townhallohiocity.com


You will find yourself having trouble deciding what to order off the brunch menu when you visit! My favorites are the Spicy Curry Chicken Noodles, Sweet Potato Hotcakes & the Food Truck Tacos. They also have an awesome Grass-Fed Cheeseburger and a make-your-own Crepe Bar. Tons of choices for vegan, gluten-free & paleo diets, along with a fantastic Bean Bar, Beer list & Bloody Mary! The entire menu is free from GMO’s, something that they are very passionate about.

 

2. Alley Cat Oyster Bar, Flats East Bank Entertainment District

www.alleycatoysterbar.com

Great shot by @nikkee11

Along with offering great views of the Cuyahoga River, The Blue Bridge & boaters on their waterfront dining and patio, The Alley Cat Oyster Bar is one of my favorites! We start with the Baked Oysters, then always get the Lobster Omelet, and my favorite – the Brown Rice Bowl with kimchi, avocado, mushroom, cilantro, and topped with a fried egg. Their brunch menu is so delicious! (P.S. – They have a stellar Bloody Mary Bar!)

 

3. Trentina, University Circle

www.restauranttrentina.com

A view of the gorgeous dining room at Trentina

This very posh & eclectic gem of Cleveland offers rustic Italian cuisine. They shop local farmers and purveyors to reduce food miles and offer sustainability. There is a food lab on premise that they use to ferment sauces, cure meats, grow herbs & make cheese & yogurt. The brunch menu is unbelievable! Semolina Waffle with preserved lemon, bourbon fig ricotta, Ohio maple syrup & walnuts sounds fantastic!  I can’t wait to get up there and brunch! The very special Menu Bianco features a seasonal 12-course tasting menu and looks wonderful too!

 

4. Luxe, Gordon Square

www.luxecleveland.com

Patio at Luxe

Looking for a luxurious vibe, Mediterranean-Italian bistro, with a mission to reduce-reuse-recycle? Luxe is the perfect hip spot to go for a relaxing brunch! Their brunch menu will make your mouth water with their Short Rib Hash, omelets like the Market Chicken Sausage with crumbled goat cheese, roasted red skin potatoes & spinach. Their Luxe Burger comes with fontina, honey cured bacon & roasted onions on challah.  Handcrafted cocktails, and a great beer and wine list too!

 

5. Fat Cats, Tremont

www.coolplacestoeat.com

My daughter and I love to come to Fat Cats! The Crispy Brussel Sprouts are so delicious with the roasted Ohio apples and curry dressing. Tofu Tacos with scrambled eggs, tabbouleh quinoa, crispy olives and roasted beets are AMAZING! This cool, funky old house turned into an amazing restaurant and brunch spot will impress you and satisfy your cravings! Check out the brunch menu!

 

I hope this list gives you some ideas for quality time this weekend! To learn more about what a postpartum doula does, check out our Blog!

Brunch on,

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

 

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