Easy Ways To Initiate A Bedtime Routine

Maybe it’s time to initiate a bedtime routine. Whether you have a strict schedule or a more relaxed approach to scheduling, there are some simple things that you can do daily to help your baby learn over time that it’s time for sleep.

Do you feel as though your evenings are full of chaos?

Maybe it’s time to initiate a bedtime routine. Whether you have a strict schedule or a more relaxed approach to scheduling, there are some simple things that you can do daily to help your baby learn over time that it’s time for sleep.

You can easily implement some or all of the following things to make your evenings and bedtime a little more predictable and relaxing for all involved.

anita-austvika-iWVN7jVH02E-unsplash

1. Bath:

Bath time doesn’t have to be a huge production. As simple as a quick warm bath when needed or a quick sponge bath. Work quickly and keep them as warm as you can, especially if they do not particularly like baths.

Calm is the feeling we are searching for here…. If they enjoy a bath, go slow and let them enjoy the warm water.

 

2. Dim Lights & Quiet Voices:

This is a time to turn off bright lights and go for a more dim and cozy feeling. Your voice can soften and become quieter as you are trying to promote quiet and soothing sounds. The more hustle going on around them the more stimulated they will become and you want to promote a zen-like atmosphere.

3. Massage: 

You may want to consider adding a quick massage to your nightly routine. You can do this every night as you get them in their pajamas with or without a bath. Nothing fancy has to happen here…just you and your baby, a little lotion, cream or oil for slip and connection. Use slow and moderate pressure to gently massage your baby’s arms, tummy, legs and feet/hands. Keep an eye out for a separate blog and video for baby massage in the future.

Massage is something that babies usually love, or grow to love and look forward to.

kelly-sikkema-B7-_bkpgcD4-unsplash

4. Swaddle:

I am a huge fan of swaddling and keeping baby feeling that comfort and security he felt in the womb. Swaddles are a great tool in soothing your baby if fussy, and keeping them sleeping longer than without. Your baby may fuss while being swaddled, that doesn’t mean that they don’t like it. I’ve never met an infant that did not love to be swaddled. If they are fussing, they quickly quiet down once picked back up and realize that they are safe and cozy.

5. Soft Music & Sounds:

Along with all of these, adding some soft music (think of spa-like music), nature sounds or white/brown noise is very helpful in promoting a sleepy atmosphere for your baby. This is a great time to quietly read to your baby as you rock or feed your baby before putting them to bed. There are so many apps for your phone, or sound machines out there on the market. We love the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine & Night Light because it grows with your child and works with your phone!

Nighttime Routine (1)

Here’s to happy, smooth and sleepy nights! We are always here to help if you need us day, or night, for a day or two or more!

-Heather

 

 

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

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.

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

 

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