Helping with the baby

I hear it time and time again…

“My partner thinks that the only way to help with the baby is the feedings. It’s like since he can’t feed the baby, he can’t help at all”

 

Every new mother thinks this is just her partner. I promise you, it is not. Partners often feel helpless which makes them seem purposely un-helpful. I think what is really happening is that the partner kind of “checks out” because they don’t know how to work through this feeling and don’t know how to ask for direction. To compound this, I find that many new mothers don’t want to ask for help. They feel insecure and don’t want to need help. Together, this creates a recipe for discontentment on both sides.

I want need to tell you each somethings:

Partner first- I know you want to help with the baby, and feel like you can’t because the baby is so dependent on mom right now. It probably feels like the only thing you can do is change diapers. But here’s a bit of perspective that I hope you will find helpful: The baby is extremely dependent on mom right now. Like, really, really, REALLY dependent which is really demanding and tiring for your partner who is still recovering from the birth. The best way for you to help with the baby is to help your partner conserve her energy in every other possible way. Here is a short list of things you can do to assist your partner and show her how much you love her:

  • WHEN YOU ARE HOME DURING THE DAY (weekends too!)
    • Each morning, take the baby as soon as nursing is completed and send mom off for a worry-free shower
    • At least once a day, take the baby as soon as nursing is completed and send mom off for a worry-free nap
    • Do one load of laundry and one other household chore each day (clean toilets, do the dishes, take out trash, vaccuum)
    • Make meals for the family and clean up afterward
    • If you all have somewhere to be, remember that there is another to person to be ready now, so after you are done getting ready, start getting the baby ready. Gather items needed for the diaper bag, get baby dressed, put baby in car seat, etc. If you have other children, work on helping them along. Often times, the ready partner sits in wait, getting frusterated at the stragglers for taking too long while the other one feels abandoned to “do everything myself”
  • WHEN YOU ARE HOME IN THE EVENINGS
    • Make or bring home dinner and clean up after
    • Take out the trash
    • Tidy the house
    • Help other children with homework/ bath/ bedtime
    • Take the baby after nursing and sed mom off for a worry-free shower
    • During the night, WAKE UP WITH THE BABY. This is a very lonely time for the exhausted new mother. It will make a huge difference in your relationship if you get the baby, change the diaper and bring the clean, dry baby to mom for nursing. You can go back sleep now knowing that you are part of a partnership and doing your part to support the loves of your life through this transisiton.

Now for Mother-  The best time to talk to your partner about this is before the baby comes, but if you have found yourself in the throws of this scenario, know that it is not too late to turn things around. You MUST have a talk with your partner that includes addressing your needs and clearly stating what your partner can do to help. YOUR PARTNER WANTS TO HELP, and YOU NEED HELP. After the talk, you will need to actually start asking for help; if you don’t start asking, then things might not change. Don’t wait until you’re upset to have this talk and don’t ask angrily. A simple “Man, this place needs some love. Do you want to tackle the toilets or the dishes?” | “Dinner was great, I’m stuffed. Before we veg out, [older child] needs a bath and the kitchen won’t clean itself; do you want kitchen duty or bath duty?” | “I could really use a shower, will you take the baby after nursing so I can clean myself up?” | “Since you’re already ready to go, will you get the baby dressed / gather some items for the diaper bag / help [other child] get ready?”

You are partners in marriage, life, and now parenthood. Rely on each other and help each other and make it a wonderful life!

Newborn Photography

With my last two clients, I thought I’d try my hand at a little newborn photography during the postpartum visit. I leaned a whole lot just between the two of them and the second set still required a good amount of editing, but I’m going to keep learning and trying.

Drum roll, please……

I’m On Instagram, yo!

Follow me on Instagram for updated photos of my work. You’ll see everything from the photography services included in my package: maternity, labor & birth, as well as additional services and fun stuff I find on the interwebs. You can always find me on Facebook too!

 

The Holidays, Depression, and You

Happy Fall!

Are you excited? I’m excited. Today marks the beginning of all the fun Holidays. First things first: My favorite Holiday is Halloween because you get to dress crazy, act crazy, and eat candy.

Fun fact: did you know that candy has no calories on Halloween? It’s true [in my head].

The holidays can be such a bright, exciting, happy time of year full of giving, family time and laughter.  Anxiety, sadness, and just plain being overwhelmed can plague anybody at this time of year, but if you’ve recently become a new parent (congratulations!) you are at risk of getting hit a little harder.

TIPS FOR KEEPING THE HOLIDAYS LOW- STRESS

  • Just say “No”. You can’t be everywhere. You can’t do everything. You just can’t. So don’t try. You have a beautiful bouncing bundle of Perfect Excuse! You are allowed to save time and energy for yourselves without feeling guilty. Further, go easy on the booze and the food. Fluctuating blood sugars play havoc on your system and mood.
  • Organize. Make lists of tasks and events. There are tons of apps for just this kind of thing. Use the ones that allow you to share with each other/family.  Or keep a large desk calendar in a centralized location for you to all add to; work hours, parties, and lists, chores are just a few examples
  • Share the load. Don’t take it all on yourself, either of you!
    • Share the baby duties (diapers, meals, baths, dressing, packing the needed items for leaving the house. If one of you is done getting ready [for bed or going somewhere] before the other, start getting the baby or items readied, don’t leave the other to finish it all).
    • Share the Holiday duties (decorating, gift wrapping, shopping).
    • Share the household duties (dishes, cooking, laundry, sweeping, mopping, toilets, yard work), maybe you decide that the gift of a maid service would be perfect for you both, instead of more things (dang, I just gave myself a great idea).
  • Be real. Are you going to create the perfect holiday? Are you Martha Stewart? Her kids are grown by the way, was she so crafty when they were toddlers? Doubtful. Pick your top three favorite things to see/do/make and run with those VS trying to do everything and burning out. Also, remember that family problems don’t go away just because it’s the most wonderful time of the year. If you tend to have a hard time being around your relatives, then plan ahead for shortened visits.
  • Make “me” time. This is a free gift you can give to each other. Simple but easily forgotten. It’s so easy to go, go, go but you need to stop, stop, stop too.
  • Stick to a schedule. Not for the baby. I mean you. Everybody does just a little better with a schedule to follow.
  • Know your budget. Money is a huge stressor year-round, and during the holiday season, can be pretty painful. Set a budget, and stick with it. It’s ok to say that a wish list item costs too much.  Creating Holiday debt adds to financial stress for the rest of the year. There is still time to save for Shopping.

20% of mothers and 10% of partners experience postpartum depression.

This is nothing to be ashamed about and definitely something to speak to your healthcare provider about. Below are some self-screening tools from The Postpartum Stress Center :

Mothers :

  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Find you’re exhausted most of the time
  • Notice a decrease in your appetite
  • Worry about little things that never used to bother you
  • Wonder if you’ll ever have time to yourself again
  • Think your children would be better off without you
  • Worry that your husband will get tired of you feeling this way
  • Snap at your husband and children over everything
  • Think everyone else is a better mother than you are
  • Cry over the slightest thing
  • No longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy
  • Isolate yourself from your friends and neighbors
  • Fear leaving the house or being alone
  • Have anxiety attacks
  • Have unexplained anger
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Think something else is wrong with you or your marriage
  • Feel like you will always feel this way and never get better

Partners:

  • Irritable
  • Unable to sleep
  • Anxious
  • Disinterested in pleasurable activities
  • Distractible
  • Frustrated or short-tempered
  • Reckless or impulsive
  • Alone or cut off from others
  • Tempted to spend time away from home
  • Disillusioned
  • Excessively worried about finances
  • Displeased with your job
  • Dissatisfied with your marriage
  • Rejected by your wife
  • Critical of yourself or others
  • Angry or overly reactive
  • Restless and/or exhausted

 

CD(DONA)

I have FINALLY completed my work and waited patiently to hear from the certifying board of DONA International…

I am now officially certified as a labor and birth Doula! I am proud of this accomplishment and proud to add CD(DONA) to my professional credentials.

In 2016, I added Acupressure for pregnancy & labor to my education and have incorporated it at numerous births. I have been amazed at how much it works. This year, I plan to add TENS Unit training for pain control to my resume and a TENS Unit to my bag of tricks for your labor and delivery.

I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings, and I hope to see you!

Acupressure for Pregnancy, Labor & Postpartum

Acupressure to relieve discomforts of pregnancy.

Acupressure to relieve discomforts AND malposition of baby during labor.

Acupressure to relieve discomforts of postpartum healing and nursing discomforts.

I learned all of these techniques at an amazing workshop last weekend. I have been putting them into practice all week with friends at work and the results have been surprising to everyone- including ME.

The first time I tried, it was on a coworker who had been digging a trench in her garden over the weekend. Her whole upper back was a tight, painful mess. After just about four minutes of applying the technique, she was stunned to feel her pain go from an 8 to a 2. She later admitted that she had been thinking “Ok, I’ll let her try it, but how will I break it to her when it doesn’t work?”  Instead, she ended up telling anyone who would listen how happy she was with the result.

The next trick I tried was for a headache. Her headache was so bad that she was about to take FOUR Advil. Let me tell you about my friend; she works at the front desk of a very busy family practice. She has the most chipper personality and it is always contagious. But this headache was bringing her down so I asked if I could give acupressure a shot. After applying the technique for two minutes on each side, she had the same result: pain that went from an 8 or 9 to a 1 “practically gone!” I could hear her, the rest of the afternoon, greeting patients with her usual, chipper demeanor.

Since that worked so well, I gave it a shot on another coworker complaining of a headache after a particularly grueling Monday. Her self-proclaimed plan was to go home and drink heavily. I did the exact same thing I did with my other friend above and while her results weren’t as pronounced, she was intrigued that it had worked at all.

After witnessing this effect, our office manager asked if I could do anything for upper back and neck pain/tension. I told her the first story and she was immediately in! She wasn’t experiencing pain but was very tense and tight. I did the technique for this and she was also pleased that she could actually feel a difference, even though she didn’t have pain, she felt the tension melt away.

I’m excited to offer this to my clients and to teach partners these techniques too!!

My One Year Anniversary

I attended the birth of one heck of a rock star mom today, exactly one year to the day that I attended [what I consider] my very first birth acting as a “professional doula”. Coincidentally, I just finished everything I needed to complete for my Certification yesterday!

I have seen and learned so much in just this one year! I am thankful for the opportunity to do this work and I hope to continue learning and educating for many years to come!

Staying Loose in Labor Reduces Pain!

Have you ever slammed your finger in a door?

What was your first reaction?

Let me see if I can guess: You immediately yanked your hand up to your face, your shoulders shot straight up to your ears and your face contorted as you sucked air in through your teeth. Am I right?

Tensing up like that is our body’s natural reaction to pain. The last thing on your mind is to relax but staying limp and loose during labor, not only helps your contractions to be more effective but reducing all-over tension helps to reduce pain! Not just the pain experienced from contractions, but also helps you to avoid the “just got my butt kicked in the gym”,  full-body muscle soreness that will follow the next day if you don’t!

Below is a guide to help you stay relaxed and loose when those contractions start to get “real”

  • Use low vocal tones when moaning; higher pitched tones= tensed body (Think: high tones/high baby, low tones/low baby)
  • Relax your eyebrows! Don’t furrow your brow- keep your face nice and smooth
  • Open your mouth and let your lower jaw hang- do not clench your teeth!
  • Blow horse lips when it’s getting tough to stay loose at the peak of the contractions
  • Shake out your arms and hands after every contraction and take a deep, cleansing breath
  • When sitting or lying down, rest hands with palms facing upward between contractions & for as long as you can during them
  • Move shoulders up and down to decrease tension in the shoulders and neck
  • Check in with your butt- No clenching those cheeks!
  • Wiggle it! If any areas seem tight, try to give them a wiggle to release the muscles

Arizona doula phoenix

Birth Plans

BIRTH “PLANS”

I once heard this saying: Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.

It’s true that the best laid plans have a way of not going as expected. It goes for all things from the first date to the wedding to birth of your baby; the only thing you can really plan on- is that something won’t go exactly the way you planned. It happened to me on all of those occasions, in fact! First date: I didn’t plan to laugh when he kissed me, but I did. A lot. Wedding: Certainly didn’t plan for rain, but it did. A lot. Birth of our child: Didn’t plan to feel anything after the epidural, but I did. A lot.

At the time I was having my children, I didn’t know about Doulas or Birth Plans or that there was another way to do any of it besides just going along with whatever the Doctor and nurses said to do. In the hospital, birth is still treated like a medical procedure instead of the natural process that it is. If only I could go back in time! I would definitely show myself the options that were available to me. Even if I chose not to utilize any of the information, at least I HAD the information. And that is the point of a birth plan. Not to try to control the process, but to be informed of all the different options that you may not have known even existed. Did you know, for instance, that you don’t have to wear the gown they give you in the hospital? They just hand it over and say “put this on” so most people do. But you don’t have to. It’s not a policy. You can wear whatever you want, your own cozy nightgown or one of these cool birthing gowns. Totally your choice. Something so small and simple, that could make a big difference in how feel at your birth. Or that just because the Doctor wants to start Pitocin as soon as you walk in, doesn’t mean it is necessary and that you can say “no thanks”? Or that you can ask to birth in a different position than on your back?!

I ask that all of my clients fill out my birth plan form so that we can start a discussion about things they don’t understand, didn’t know was a choice or maybe didn’t even know that something existed! Even if we don’t end up working together, I encourage you to look up birth plans and get an idea of what is available to you as a choice. So that you don’t end up at someone else’s mercy or on someone else’s time clock!

Baby Led Weaning

BABY LED WEANING

OR

Letting Your Baby Feed Their Damn Self

I was recently asked a question about “Baby Led Weaning” and I have to be honest, I thought they meant letting the baby choose when they are done nursing because, really… that’s what the name implies. SO after answering with what I thought made sense, I looked into it and realized- no, that did not make sense.

Turns out, Baby Led Weaning just means not giving your baby baby food and not spoon feeding them. It is at this point where I will defer to the good folks over at babyledweaning.com. There is a page dedicated to getting started, discussion forums, and recipes.

If you want to talk about how and when to wean your baby from nursing or bottle feeding, stay tuned, I’ll see what I can come up with 🙂

something else I learned today? Control Y will re-do an action you just undid with Control Z. That is all
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