Things can seem quite overwhelming when you begin your pregnancy journey and
start to realize there are so many choices to make.
Everything from nursery room color,
where baby will sleep,
epidurals and pain medications,
who will be at your birth,
what bottles to use,
what breast pump to get,
where should baby sleep,
how can you connect with local parents...
There's lots of choices to be made
and even more options to sort through!
You options are really quite endless!
As long as you know what they are.
Sure, you can crowd source on FB and get a lot of advice
(and sometimes WAY more than you bargained for with just a simple question),
but wouldn't it be great if there was some sort of expert you could ask about what options you have and the tried and true best ones that will meet your goals?!
In come our doulas...
Whether it be birth or postpartum, we really do know our stuff!
We've researched, stay up to date on the newest trends,
have worked with many families,
and take your personality and unique family in to account!
Although we will never give you any medical advice, we can help you navigate and sort through all the options, to help you feel confident in your decision making process!
And because we are truly nonjudgmental,
we can present every option without bias
and without our personal goals in mind.
There's no right or wrong for any new baby or any family,
but when looking for options that can make a huge difference
it is always a good idea to talk to the professionals!
Is *this* normal?
Is *THIS* normal?
It is amazing that when we really know there's no real "normal",
we ask this type of question so often, especially in pregnancy and with a new baby.
There is a spectrum of normal when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum
and our doulas are trained to know what it looks like.
Our birth doulas know what normal can look like during pregnancy and while you give birth
(and if it is a question at all will refer you to your care provider).
Our postpartum doulas know what normal can look like with your newborn
and with you after having a baby
(and if it is a question at all will refer you to your care provider).
Sometimes, just asking if something is normal and getting the reassurance that it is okay to call your care provider can be huge!
(It is always okay if you have concerns, by the way)
Is it normal for my baby to cry all the time?
Is it normal for me to be spotting?
Is it normal for me to have such a range of emotions?
Is it normal for me to be worried about the birth?
Is not having a sex drive normal?
Is it normal that my baby wants to eat all the time?
Is this latch normal?
Is it normal to not want to eat?
While we certainly won't be diagnosing these issues,
we do know what the "textbook range of normal" can look like.
We know how to ask questions and help you come to the conclusions yourself.
Our doulas know to tell you it is okay to call your care provider,
even if it seems pretty normal because that peace of mind is valuable.
There's really no such thing as normal,
but your doula can walk with you while you figure out your normal!
Where do I start?
While I am very aware many struggle immensely trying to get to this point
(and you my friends, are ROCK STARS)...
I can't help but be honest:
Motherhood kinda sucks.
I mean, yeah the kids are cute and sometimes their smiles light up a room,
but when it really comes down to it,
Motherhood isn't fun for most of us or most of the time!
The world wants to tell us that if we say this we are bad people,
that we don't love our kids.
But that just isn't the case!
I love my kids with all my heart,
I'd jump in front of a bus for them in a heartbeat,
but motherhood just isn't my jam!
I don't like wiping butts and cleaning up pee.
I don't like feeling like someone needs me 24/7.
I don't like the constant touching.
I don't like feeding people at least 3 times a day.
(Like, who eats this much!?)
I don't like not being able to pee alone.
I don't like having to pay someone, just so I can walk out of my front door alone.
I don't like not sleeping.
I don't like the can't even get in the car without it being a production.
I don't like picking poop out of the bathtub...
POOP, out of the bathtub!
Some say, "You knew what you were getting into"
Does anyone REALLY know until it happens?!
Saying I'll be fine not sleeping for a couple months (or years)
is completely different than LIVING with no sleep!
Saying I love babies and can't wait for all the cute cuddles
is completely different than holding a crying baby for hours and walls covered in poop
(because yes, poop just keeps happening)!
Saying I LOVE my children
is completely different than loving motherhood.
There are some amazing and beautiful moments, don't get me wrong.
But it is OK to not love motherhood.
It is okay to not like the day to day and the loneliness that can come with it.
It is okay to feel those feelings!
I hear you.
I love my children too,
but I don't love motherhood.
(And before y'all go on about LOVING motherhood,
I know some people do... and that's cool too!)
The original blog that spawned my feelings of being able to write this one can be found HERE
It feels different.
Everything about it feels different.
You relax a little more,
you think a little less,
and enjoy a little more.
When you make the decision to have your last baby it just isn't the same.
Maybe your on number 6 and still aren't sure, but they are telling you this needs to be the last.
Maybe it is baby number three and your family feels complete.
There's something special about it.
Your body will never again carry another human in the safety and beautiful way it is again.
You rest a little more and enjoy those little flutter kicks more than ever.
You look at your belly and think time after time how it will never again look like this.
You take pictures and kind of don't want it to be over... until you do!
There's moments of sadness and moments of thankfulness.
And then baby comes...
And everything feels like whirlwind.
You want it to slow down, but golly you want to hurry up and sleep.
You cuddle a little more.
You take in that perfectly sweet smell, just a little bit longer than you used to.
You slowly begin to realize that growing out of that outfit means it is really gone forever.
With each milestone you can't help but think, I'm never going to see one of my babies do this again.
You hold on a little tighter in those hugs and cuddle a little longer before bed.
You laugh and you cry just a tad more over the falls
and the amazing potty training triumphs, as diapers are now a thing of your past as well.
You have a campaign toast with your partner as they climb onto the bus for that first day of school,
right behind your other babes because, by golly, you made it...
and then start the tears.
The last one feels different.
It feels final.
It can feel scary and hard and sometimes like you just might not want it.
But the last one is important.
They teach you that all those moments you may have thought were silly or insignificant, were not.
They are important.
The last one teaches you to take just a little longer
and hold on just a little tighter.
The last one is different.
Or as many call it, Kangaroo care.
While it is becoming more of a regular in many birthing facilities, there are still many reasons why it is important and why putting it into your birth plan is a good thing to do!
What is kangaroo care?
Just as it sounds, it is holding baby against your bare chest. Typically with a blanket over baby's body to help keep them warm.
It was first introduced regularly in the NICU (it is even considered safe and beneficial in most instances to do while attached to most machines), but now is a pretty regular practice during a birth.
Some people are even able to do it before leaving the OR during a cesarean.
Why kangaroo care?
Body temperature control.
Heart rate and breathing regulation.
Encourages breast milk production.
Why wouldn't you?
Medical issues with birthing person or baby.
Want or need to decrease or eliminate breast milk supply.
You don't want to.
You are planning to sleep, under the influence, or drowsy.
Kangaroo care is an amazing choice and option for most families.
In many instances, even if the birthing person isn't able to do it immediately,
a partner or family member can also help and fill in any time!
It is an excellent way for
new parents to bond with their baby,
even if they aren't the parent doing the feeding.
If you haven't heard by now, mommy wars are a real thing.
Everything from your son's penis to choosing a cesarean or an epidural.
Shaming and persecution.
Isolation and judgement.
It seems everything about being pregnant and being a parent brings on judgement.
You can't turn your head without someone commenting
"You're huge! You have twins in there?"
"Why are you giving them a bottle?"
While we search for our connections with other parents in the isolating early days of motherhood, we enter the forums online: looking to connect, to find answers, and to maybe validate our feelings.
Some, sadly most, are faced with a hard truth...
Judgement comes without warning there too.
A simple post of "why isn't my baby sleeping through the night yet?" can make sparks fly with judgement ranging from sleeping arrangements, sleep training methods, and every personal parenting choice you've made up to this point.
(I mean "it is all your fault you let them come into your bed that one time, so now you've screwed them for life!")
Judgement doesn't stop online, even in public...
"Why aren't you baby wearing?"
"You haven't lost any weight since you had the baby?"
"You should cover up!"
It never seems to end.
We all have our opinions, sadly they typically come out in the form of judgement.
This is why we go above and beyond to ensure we our nonjudgemental!
Our birth doulas won't try to talk you into or out of anything.
Our postpartum doulas aren't going to talk you into or out of anything.
We support you.
You are an adult.
You know your family, yourself, and your child the best!
While we are the experts in normal, we won't try telling you what to do.
The evidence sometimes isn't what you want or what you need to do for you and your family and we know that.
We answer questions and support your thoughts ,feelings, and choices on what you feel is the best.
We can help you by asking questions to get to those conclusions,
but this isn't our life.
We support you, without judgement.
Have a baby.
It'll be fun, they say...
It is all fun and games until you are peeing every time you sneeze
or every time someone says something too funny!
Not to mention jumping on a trampoline is a thing of the past...
Pregnancy and postpartum incontinence is the butt of many jokes and facebook memes,
but it is really frustrating and can be super embarrassing.
So, why exactly does it happen?
The main reason is because your pelvic floor muscles have taken a beating. Even if you have a cesarean, your muscles have stretched and held up quite a lot of extra weight and pressure for a long 9 months. Those muscles that typically help you start and stop the urine flow are just not what and where and how they used to be.
Hormones and your uterus shrinking back down, putting direct pressure onto your bladder can play a big factor as well.
So, what in the world can you do?
We've probably all heard of kegals by this point, but if not it is the exercising/ tensing of your pelvic floor muscles. Like stated above, incontinence is caused by loss of pelvic floor control and strength, these directly target those muscles to help get them into shape.
We probably all know what squats are as well. They help work the pelvic floor muscles in a different way than kegals do and are a perfect compliment. Just ensure you google some good form videos and are doing them properly!
Drink more water.
While it sounds counter intuitive, drinking less only makes you vulnerable to dehydration and UTIs, it doesn't help.
Panty liners and pads.
A lot of the time a small panty liner will be enough to take care of the little bit of a leak you may have, but if not some thin pads are a good option as well. There are so many super trim options out there at this point, no one will ever know and they are super fast absorbing.
Cross you legs.
While this isn't a long term fix, it does help in the moment.
Don't wait until you feel you really have to urinate. Set a timer on your phone and try going every 30-45 minutes and start spreading it out further and further each day. Sometimes we just have to retrain our bodies to help the physical connection.
Talk to your doctor.
They are your best starting off place for what may work more long term if it is an ongoing issue and also may have some treatments, ideas, and options for you.
Seek out a pelvic floor specialist.
Pelvic floor specialists used to only be used for serious issues, but more and more we are realizing what an amazing asset they are to every person post birth! If you don't know one ask your doctor for a referral, they can give you some of the best advice and tips and help you out with targeted exercises.
There's no quick fix for it.
There are medications out there that can help as well,
but once again, your best first line of defense is talking with your care provider about options and ideas.
It happens to nearly every person postpartum and while it may happen at the most inconvenient times,
it isn't just you and you're not alone in the struggle to cough without needing to be on the toilet every time!
"It means the baby will have lots of hair!"
That's all well and good, but some relief would be better, right!?
Heartburn during pregnancy can be horrible.
The hormone progesterone causes the value between the stomach and the esophagus to relax and allows stomach acid to pass back up, YUCK!
It can be pretty chronic and extremely uncomfortable,
especially in those last few months.
So, what can you do to relieve
heartburn while pregnant?
#1- Talk to your care provider
They will have the best insight and they are the ones you should be taking advice from on what medicines are the best and safest.
#2- Eat smaller meals
Eating smaller meals more often can help reduce some of the pressure and in turn reduce the acid being pushed back up.
#3- Wait to lie down
I know being hungry all the time doesn't help, but if you can, try to wait at least an hour before lying down to rest or sleep.
#4- Sleep / Rest on an incline
An extra pillow or a few to help keep your head further up while your sleeping can help gravity work to keep that acid down.
#5- Avoid foods
Typically spicy, greasy, and very fatty foods trigger the heartburn. Try eating them in smaller amounts (we know they are good) and spacing it out through your day and week.
While this doesn't work for everyone and certainly not when it becomes a bit more severe, but a cup of milk can help equal out that acid and work the acid back down.
(a tablespoon of honey mixed into it while warm helps even more)
Whether it started in your first trimester or third,
heartburn is no fun...
Hopefully with these tips you can keep it down to a minimum
and your baby will have a lot of hair either way!
Whatever you call yourself, be respectful.
We know you've waited a long time to see your brand new
But the thing is, having a baby is hard work!
Not just the birthing process, but actually keeping a baby alive.
New parents have a lot on their plates and while the word "guest" kind of implies they should be catering to you, this isn't that time.
Want to be an amazing guest after someone has a baby?
Don't expect to sit and hold the baby.
(Although this may happen, don't expect it)
Wash some dishes.
Wipe down the counters.
Bring a meal or three.
Clean the toilet.
Do a load of laundry.
Talk about things other than the baby.
Don't push coming over, be patient.
Offer to watch older kids for a bit.
Gift a movie.
Change the bed sheets.
Don't over stay.
Gift postpartum doula support.
While there are so many variables involved in being a guest after someone has a baby, the biggest thing to remember is to be respectful, think about how the new parents might need or want support.
You are loved and welcomed
and your support is greatly appreciated!
There's one thing for certain...
Being tired and sore sucks!
Fatigue during pregnancy is a very typical complaint.
Whether it is the first trimester or the third, we hear it all the time:
Do you have any ideas on how to
not be so tired all the time?
Here's a few of our favorite tips:
This one seems a bit obvious, but make sure you're getting plenty of rest.
You need more than you used to, you're growing a human (or two, or three) for goodness sakes; don't skimp on the sleep and the naps! Having trouble sleeping? More pillows and one of those eye covers work wonders!
Drink plenty of water.
Being dehydrated can be a huge cause of fatigue (as well as a slew of other things). Check with your care provider to see how much they'd ideally like you to be drinking and see where you're at.
Change your plans.
I know, I know... baby is already changing things, but the truth is filling your schedule and being as busy as you used to be may just not work anymore! Try making sure you can be home and in bed at about the same time and remember it is okay to say "NO" to doing things.
This is another one of those obvious ones, but no one really craves carrots during pregnancy... Do your best. The vitamins and minerals your body needs are best from fresh fruits and veggies! (We wont judge your midnight ice cream though)
Yes, we just told you to take it easy, but moderate exercise (as long as you're cleared by your care provider) can boost your energy like crazy! You may also be thinking "how can I possibly work out when I'm already this tired!?" but thankfully even just a walk can help boost your energy.
Have your care provider check your iron, Vit B, and Vit D.
All these things can play a huge role in feeling down, so if you're really struggling ask if they thing you might have some levels off and see about getting tested and what you can do to help.
Fatigue caused by pregnancy can be a huge bummer,
but hopefully with some of these tips
and the support of your
care provider, family, and doula you can get through to the other side without falling asleep too many weird places!
Jessica Anne Dill
Mom of 5, Wife, Student, Professional Birth and Postpartum Doula, Placenta Specialist, and best friend of coffee and long naps!