1. Find a great midwife, family physician or OB. The type of provider you choose will make a huge impact on the type of birth you have. For most low risk women a midwife is your best option. Many women still think using a midwife means you cannot have any pain relief and you have to have a home birth, this is not true. Midwives who work in the hospital can do everything an OB does except surgical births. If a surgical birth is needed they work closely with the OBs in the hospital in case surgical help is needed. A big difference between a midwife and OB is, midwives look at birth as a normal event and help you have the birth you desire and are with you or nearby for your entire labor. OBs have been taught all the things that go wrong and look at birth as a surgeon and tend to be quicker to interfere if they think there is a problem. OBs do not come to the hospital until the mom is at a 10 relying on the nurses to update them on the mom's condition. Some OBs are amazing and work very well with women to help them have their ideal birth, but they are better suited to deal with high risk pregnancies than low risk. Family physicians are a great middle ground and usually look at birth similar to midwives and can be a good alternative if you can find one. Do not hesitate to find a new doctor if you feel the one you are seeing is not listening to you and your concerns and does not respect you.
2. Hire a Doula! No matter how great your provider is they may not be available at all times to help you during labor. They also have many tasks they need to do and may not be able to just focus on the mom's needs and comforts. A doula is there just for the mom's and partner's needs, she is hired by them and has no other agenda but to help them have the best birth possible. A doula provides physical comfort measures, emotional support, gives non-medical advice, helps the couple/mom make decisions by weighing the pros and cons, and is usually available for the entire labor and stays with the mom. No matter what kind of birth you have from an all natural home birth to a c-section a doula is one of the most important needs you have.
3. Take a good childbirth education class. When I say a good class I mean something that is not just an afternoon, a good class should be 6 hours minimum 8-12 hours or longer is better. The class should include everything from pain management options with non medical options and pro and cons for medical options, what to expect during labor, hospital policies and pros and cons for each, variations in labor, stages of labor, newborn procedure and pros and cons for each, basic breastfeeding information, postpartum information and first days with baby. Some places split the breastfeeding and newborn classes into separate classes. There are many types of classes with independent teachers that teach all the above and many other things, Informed Beginnings, Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, Birthing from Within, Sacred Pregnancy, and many more. There are many hospital based classes that tend to be cheaper but it usually comes down to you get what you pay for. Occasionally there are great full childbirth classes that hospitals offer, but usually they are quick and extremely basic, "here is one way to breathe, here are the hospital policies and here is what an epidural is." Any class is better than none and even a basic hospital class can give you more information than trying to figure it out on your own.
4. Find a lactation consultant or breastfeeding support person. Most women can breastfeed, it should be simple, easy and natural, unfortunately it is not always as simple and easy and as it should be. Finding a good breastfeeding support structure before you have the baby is ideal. La Leche League and Breastfeeding USA are great free mother to mother support structures to help with breastfeeding questions and problems. You can go the meetings before you even have the baby and get to know the leaders and ask any questions you many have. For more advanced problems a lactation consultant may be needed, many hospitals have LCs available that can help you get started, some are better than others. For difficult breastfeeding issues or struggles an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is your best friend. They have the most training of any other breastfeeding consultants, they are the PhD of lactation support.
5. Find a good for you family physician or pediatrician. You want to find a doctor that is OK with what you as a parent decide even if it not what they would do. A good for you doctor looks at the baby as a whole and not just a number on a chart, and will explain things to you and listen to your concerns. So many parents stress out about finding a good pediatrician, do you know unless your baby is sick or has a congenital condition you do not need a pediatrician? Just like OBs they are for the babies and children who are sick and/or need the extra care. Most babies can be seen by your family practice doctor, that way the doctor knows everyone in the family and sees what is normal for your family. Pediatricians, like OBs, are trained to look for what's wrong and heal sick babies, not healthy ones. Also like OBs there are wonderful ones and others who are not so great. If you feel the doctor you are seeing is not listening to you and your concerns, and does not respect you as the parent then do not hesitate to find a new doctor.
Bonus. A word about postpartum doulas. Not everyone will need a postpartum doula. If you have a good support structure and have family and friends who can and are willing to help out after the baby is born you may not need one. If you do not have a good support network, or cannot get any help until a later date, consider hiring a postpartum doula. They are a great resource to the new mom, they can allow her to get some much needed "me" time with a shower or a nap, they can help with laundry or other light chores around the house, they can help with other children, and help with basic baby care information and breastfeeding information. I wish they had postpartum doulas when I had my first baby, the week I had him I had no support, my hubby had to go back to work the day we came home, and my mom could not come out until the end of the week. That was a long hard week and a postpartum doula would have made a world of difference.
I recently certified as a StillBirthday Doula, this certification focuses on how to help families cope with tragic outcomes for their babies. The certification required me to read books focused on prenatal loss. One of the books I read was, I will carry you by Angie Smith. In the book Angie found herself in a dark place knowing her baby would not survive her birth. She was struggling to go about her daily tasks and take care of her other children. At one point she knew she needed help, she a had support system in place to help her, but did not want to utilize it because she wanted to be able to take care of her family herself. As I read that I felt so sad that she did not feel she wanted to use the support she had around. I understand the desire to do everything yourself but there is also a time and place for self sufficiency. Giving and receiving service are equally important. When we get offers of service and do not use them it is a loss for both us and those who are trying to serve. I had the impression last week in church to offer some self-care to a friend who has been struggling. I tend to second guess myself when I get these impressions, afraid they may not be welcome and shy away from them. I have been working on taking opportunities to grow my service love language, this does not come naturally to me. So, I sent her a message thinking she may not respond to it but she was very excited to get a chance to get a massage. I was so glad she accepted and after her massage I felt just as good as her. To be able to do something for her that was tangible and hopefully helpful in bringing her some peace. It gave me a chance to grow in my empathy and care that will be so important as a StillBirthday Doula.
I haven't done an ecofriendly tip in a while, but I have one I love for Christmas. Reusable wrapping bags!! Cloth bags that can be any size or material that you put the present in, cinch it up, and your gifts are wrapped. Easy to make, just pillow case with drawstrings. No paper to cut, tape, or throw away and they can be used year after year. They make great gifts as well we received a reusable bag with a Christmas present one year and I used it for a few more years until it split out but it was so handy.
Eco/Frugal idea for today! Today is laundry day at my house so I thought I would share laundry soap ideas. Most laundry soap have phosphates that go into our water sheds and cause aggressive algae blooms that choke and pollute our streams and rivers. When buying laundry soap look for ones that are eco friendly I primarily use BioKleen a tiny amount is all I need and 1 bottle last me months. If you want to make your own look in the comments below.
Eco/Frugal idea for today! All purpose cleaner 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup
water in a spray bottle. Cleans most household surfaces the vinegar smell goes
away after about an hour. I add about 5 drop lavender essential oil, and 5 drop
tea tree or lemon essential oil. This makes the house smell nice and has extra
antibacterial properties as well.
Eco/Frugal idea for today! Shampoo, just baking soda 1 tbs in a cup of
water (use more water for long hair). It will get your hair just as clean
without all the chemicals that are hard on our bodies and watersheds. If you
want it to smell nice to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
Eco/Frugal idea for today Baby wash! Did you know babies do not even need baby wash. Water just plain water is all they need to stay clean at least until they get mobile and start getting into stuff:D After that using a gentle cleansing agent works great. I like Earth Mama Angel Baby baby wash it smells like an orange creamsicle yummy!
Eco/Frugal idea for today! Facial scrub, 1 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup oil (jojoba, almond, olive, etc.). Mix together in a glass jar until they reach desired consistency. You can add essential oils and vitamin E as well. Sugar scrubs can go rancid so only make as much as you will use in a few weeks time.
I have seen many posts recently from women who expressed how much pain they have been having. Their shoulders hurt from nursing/increased breast size, pain and soreness in their back and hips, they are having sciatic pain, their feet are hurting and swollen, and they are unable to sleep. Many of them are not posting until they are getting induced and they feel the hurting will finally stop because they had the baby. You don't have to be in pain and just suffer through your pregnancy, there are options besides just medications and a bath. Regular massage and chiropractic care can help immensely with these issues. Many women who come into my office are in pain and barely able to get on the table. After 1 or 2 sessions the pain levels have dropped in half and they tell me they have finally been able to sleep. Just having the option to lie face down on the support cushions starts the muscles relaxing before I even start the massage. Going to a therapist who has taken extra training in prenatal massage is also key to truly getting relief. You want to go to someone who is not afraid of working on you, knows proper positioning either face down with the right support system or side-lying and is able to help address your specific pregnancy needs. Here is the top 10 signs you are about to get a bad pregnancy massage. So please do not think that being in pain when your pregnant is just part of the process. While some pain and discomforts are unavoidable there are many problems that can be addressed with massage, chiropractic care, prenatal yoga, swimming, and physical therapy to just name a few.
Feet! I have clients ask if it is sometimes gross to massage other people's feet. NO! I love working on feet. Every client gets a nice hot towel wrapped around their feet which works great to clean them off and get them nice and relaxed. Then I do a mini reflexology treatment, where I work on the foot in different ways to help restore balance to the whole body. Add on a foot scrub and Marine Pedi-balm and your feet will feel soft and smooth.
Recently I was in a room with 2 new moms and as is always the case if you get new moms and a birth worker in the same room the talk always turns to birth. They were expressing their various feeling about their births and the sadness about parts that did not quite go as planned. Not that they were not happy they had good births and their babies are healthy and doing well. Just that they were both disappointed in various aspects of their birth. They were both still trying to process their births and felt bad that they were not just happy that they had a healthy, happy baby.
Women are often told when they did not get the birth they expected that all that matters is a healthy baby, healthy mother and they should be glad that happened. That they need to just get over it and deal with any disappointment they may have. I think it is perfectly ok to mourn for lost aspects of the birth you envisioned. Even perfect births may have aspects that the mother wanted and did not get. Birth is unpredictable, but many of us have visions of how we want our births to go, and when that does not happen we may feel sadness about the loss of that perfect birth. Perhaps it is a little thing like planning a water birth but at the last minute the tub did not get filled in time. Wanting the birth filmed or photographed and baby coming so fast that there was no time to film it. Maybe you wanted the dad to catch the baby but he was too afraid to do that himself for fear he would drop the baby. These are little things that would not have adversely impacted your perfect birth but perhaps you feel a slight bit of sadness for missing those opportunities. Many births are more distanced from that perfect birth like planning a natural unmedicated birth and having a long hard labor that necessitates an epidural in order for you to get the relief you need to birth the baby. Wanting an epidural and laboring too fast or it does not work, and ending up with no medication when that was not your plan. Needing medication to get labor started and not having the gentle start to labor you envisioned. So many other scenarios that may happen that were not a part of your ideal birth. Some births are so far from the mothers’ ideal they are traumatic events that need to be work through with others in order to process them and move on (www.birthtraumaassociation.org).
From the little things to the traumatic any feelings you have toward your birth are valid. You have the right to feel anyway you want about your birth. It's OK to feel that way and process it however you need to, in order to enjoy your baby to their fullest.
Last night Q, my 10 year old, came down shortly after he had gone to
bed and told me his room did not feel right. I did not understand what he meant
and went up to his room to talk to him and put him back to bed. He told me it
He has only had his own room for about 5 months, he was very excited to
get his own room and his older brother C had his own room about 10 years old as well and
loves it. But Q has always been very sensitive, first hint of us being
displeased and he would burst into tears. He had only been in a room alone for
about 2 months when I was at my wits and sleep trained him at 1 yr old. As soon
as he was sleeping well he went into a room with C. Later their little brother A
joined them and when we moved and had a bigger house then he shared with his
little brother A. Now in the new house there are enough rooms for him to have
his own. But last night his loneliness came out and he missed not having someone
there with him. We talked, snuggled, and I rubbed his back and we decided maybe
we could do sleepovers where the boys could go sleep downstairs in the
living room once in a while and that seemed to help. I did think about seeing if
he wanted to go back into the room with A but now that little sister K is in the
room with A and makes it too small to add another bed.
The whole time I was talking to Q I could not help but ponder the belief
that babies and young children need to learn to sleep on their own at such
tender early ages. I do not like to sleep alone I miss my DH when he is not
there, why should my children also have to feel alone? Our disconnect with what
is a biological norm makes it seem weird or improper to sleep with your
children, or to have siblings sleep together, when this used to be normal.
Before hotels when you had a guest come and they needed a place to stay often
they would bunk in the bed with you, your husband, and even your children. Bed
sharing was normal, especially for children and parents. Many people never slept
in a bed alone, they went from a family/sibling shared bed to a marriage bed.
Perhaps sleeping alone is not a normal part of our biological nature, when you
sleep with someone else your breathing alters to match theirs. This is
especially important with babies and your children who may have breathing issues,
their breathing will match yours and will keep them naturally synced. We push
our children so hard to be independent and many people grow up their entire
lives never having shared a bed or even slept in a room with someone else. Yet
they are supposed to be completely comfortable with sharing not only a bedroom
but a bed with someone for the rest of their lives when they get married. Could
this be one of the reasons that it is so hard to keep relationships together,
because we have no idea how to share our space with another person? Could that
be why there is such a rise in sexual activity at younger and younger ages,
these children are lonely and need that sense of having someone there for them?
We were taught from birth that we have to have our own space and cannot be
dependent on others suddenly as adults we have to share everything including
this singular space we have been forced to keep for so long.
Maybe we need to pop the bubble and learn to share that space with our
children and teach them how to share it so that as they get older and find
someone they want to keep in their bubble with them they are able to let them in
and be happy with them there.