Year: 2019

  • How to thrive through the holidays as a pregnant and or new parent

    As we gear up for the 2019 holiday season, I know a lot of you are wondering how to survive the holidays as a pregnant person or someone who just had a baby.

    You may be wondering if you can do it all. If you WANT to do it all this year. Or if its fair that you want to just stay home and cuddle up with your partner and new baby and enjoy a peacefully, sweet holiday.

    Here’s how to having a rocking holiday when your rocking a bump or a new baby

    Be realistic

    Take stock about what you can and really want to do. listen to your body and if you feel like you need to rest do so. if you feel like large family gatherings might be overwhelming that’s ok. if you feel like you need to attend large family gatherings for your first holiday season as an expectant parent or your baby’s first holiday season, that’s ok too. Deciding what activities or traditions are must dos and which can be put on the maybe list is totally up to you

    Set boundaries

    Be clear with your families and friends about your plans. Especially if they have expectations or hopes about how you will spend time together for the holidays. While you definitely want to commemorate this time and season of the year and your life, you also want to make sure that you are not overwhelming yourself.

    It’s fine to say you want to spend your first christmas morning as a new family at home. Maybe you visit extended family later on in the day or week.

    Whatever you decide, it’s so important that you and your partner are on the same page. That way there are no arguments or hurt feelings when its time to visit family etc.

    Simplify

    Keeping it simple can save your santity during the holidays. You can chose to go as big or as small as you’d like. And that goes for every aspect of the holidays. Gift shopping and giving, cooking and baking, home decor, activities and traditions. You don’t have to do ALL of the things, and buy gifts for EVERY single person you know or bake each and every recipe passed down from your grandmother this year.

    Simplify you holiday and simplify your life. Decide what 2 or 3 things are most important to you this holiday and let them be your guide. For example you might say, celebrating our first holiday as a new family and spending time with extended family. With those two themes you can prioritize your time and budget and do the things that really matter to you. So you might prioritize taking a holiday family portrait and scheduling a brunch or dinner outing with family.

    Plan it out

    Write out what your ideal holiday season looks like for you this year and as a new family. This is a great time to start setting some new traditions or to reinforce family traditions that are important to you.

    Think about 2-4 traditions or activities that are important to you and let that guide you holiday plans. For example, decorating for the holidays, baking family recipes, taking holiday portraits and brunch with Santa are all great traditions to establish for your new family. Then for each tradition, write down the key elements and what tools you need to make it happen.

    Schedule out each activity or tradition in a way that works for your schedule and so that you can gather any necessary decorations, ingredients, tools etc. well ahead of time.

    Keep track of gifts, budgets, menus, and important details in one place, like a binder or dedicated pinterest board.

    Self-care. self-care. self-care.

    The holidays are all about giving, that’s one thing that is clear. However you must first give yourself love, grace and gratitude before you are able to spread it to the most important people in your life. Be sure to give yourself time and space this holiday season to show and feel gratitude. to relish in simply “be” ing with family and friends. and in the sweet experience that is life.

    And after all of the rushing around make sure to put your feet up at the end of the day with a nice mug of warmed cider and a cinnamon stick stirrer. The holidays are a whirlwind but that doesn’t mean you can’t find peace and joy.

  • 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: For The New Parent Who Just Gave Birth or Will Give Birth Soon

    If you are wondering what kind things to put on your holiday wishlist this year you are in the right place!

    I’ve curated this 2019 Holiday Gift Guide specifically for the pregnant or new parent. This gift guide is for the mom-to-be who loves self-care, who loves unique but intentional gifts and who wants to truly prepare their mind and body for #momlife.

    As always, I recommend you:

    BUY SMALL.

    BUY LOCAL.

    BUY BLACK

    Why does buying locally or shopping with small business matter? When you shop with small business you are supporting actual individuals, parents and families that make up your community. You help to stimulate the growth of local and small business. And you also get even more connected with your local community aka your circle of support.

    OK, LET’S GET INTO THE GIFT IDEAS!

    Here are some of my favorite creators, shops and small business for holiday gifts this year. All of these business are small business run by people just like you and me. Many are local to the Maryland/ DC metro area and many are black owned business.

    One thing I know for sure is that these businesses and their owners are passionate about what they do and you can give the joy of that passion to all of the new parents you know this holiday season.

    CARDS, PRINTS, STICKERS BY RENTHEDOULA

    Lauren Turner aka Ren The Doula is Baltimore’s birth artist and when I say her work is gorgeous. Her work is gorgeous. She creates beautiful art with black birth, mothers and babies as the focus. You can buy her original canvases, prints, cards, stickers and more in her shop here.

    50 THINGS TO DO IN BABY’S FIRST YEAR

    Another Maryland based creative. @TheDudeMom has written her first book for new moms. She’s put together a list of must-dos for new parents.

    “It’s a great book for expecting and new moms that goes beyond the basic baby book filled with tips for how to change a diaper and deal with colic. Sure, it has all that stuff too, but it’s kicked up a notch to include things you maybe don’t even know you need to know—like how to change a diaper while also eating a taco and dealing with colic without turning to booze.”

    If this sounds like your cup of tea you can pre-order your copy here.

    DWELL TEA CO

    “Dwell Tea Co. is a modern, eco-friendly tea and lifestyle brand based in the Washington, DC area, created to merge our passions for tea, community, and holistic living.” If you are a tea lover like me this will be a great addition to your wishlist With flavors like Pretty Young Thing, Sweater Weather and Me Time you are sure to find a blend that warms you. They have some really lovely holiday gift sets as well. Check out what Dwell Tea Co. has to offer here.

    PRETTY LIT CANDLES AND SAGE

    If you are into tattoos and body art, be sure to add Pretty In Ink to your list of favorite shops. With a feminine flair, Pretty In Ink Tattoos, is the DC areas premier tattoo boutique. While a tattoo may have to wait until after you give birth and/ or wean, you can take advantage of some of the other services and products offered like henna art, handmade candles and sage bundles. Check out Pretty In Ink here.

    AFFIRMATION CARDS

    I absolutely love affirmation cards and motivational decks. You may or may not be quite so woo-woo but affirmation cards and decks can really help you find guidance and focus on your journey through pregnancy and parenting. They can serve as a reminder to yourself to have grace and help you work through challenges. Some of my favorite decks are Renegade Mama’s Postpartum Affirmation Deck, Pregnancy Affirmation Deck and The Fourth Trimester Cards by Kimberly Ann Johnson.

    REAL ACTUAL HELP AFTER BIRTH

    Want to put the BEST. GIFT. EVER. on your wishlist? think about adding a session of postpartum doula care, a postnatal massage, or a postpartum glow session to your holiday wishlist. This is a great way for family and friends to help you try out doula services or get some much needed self care time after giving birth.

    Now that you’ve got your wishlist down you can focus on the best part of the holidays. Giving and spending time with family.

    If you like this Gift Guide For New Parents, stay tuned. Next time, I’ll be talking about how to happily thrive through the holidays when you’re pregnant or newly postpartum.

  • How To Take Maternity Leave When You Are An Entrepreneur| A Postpartum Doula’s Perspective

    If you are an executive, entrepreneur, business owner or any other version of a boss babe, AND you are a mom to be…this is for you. You have been planning for months to welcome your first baby and now sh*t is about to get real. You’ve got all of the things, but emotionally, you’re a wreck.  You can’t avoid it any longer. It’s time to start really mentally preparing yourself to be a mom. You’ve done everything the books and blogs say you need to do and you feel ready, but you don’t feel prepared.

    And if you’re the type that’s used to planning your days and sticking to a tight schedule, the thought of taking maternity leave might be a completely foreign concept.  Especially, if you are a soloprenuer or manage a small team. The idea of taking a chunk of time away and/or leaving others in charge might worry you or seem impossible. You might be afraid that your business will suffer if you take maternity leave.

    But I’m here to let you know that taking maternity leave as an entrepreneur is totally doable and you and your business can thrive as a result.

    Here are some tips to help set you and business up for success as your embark on the journey to becoming a parent.

    ADD SOME STRUCTURE

    First things first ADD SOME STRUCTURE to your maternity leave.

    Define your maternity leave with a clear start date and end date. Some new parents feel just fine working right up until they give birth. Others may want to have some time off before baby arrives. For example, you can decide to take 4 full weeks off from work starting after you give birth. Or you could choose to take time off starting before your due date. Either way, schedule time off and take it seriously.

    Can you take 4, 6, or 8 weeks off from your business to give yourself the time to recover and care for your newborn?

    How will you return to your work? Many new moms find that they like to ease themselves back into working. If possible, making your first couple of days back, half days, can help you get back into the swing of things without being overwhelming.

    Be ready when its actually time for your maternity leave to start. The structure of your business will play a huge role here.

    If you are a solopreneur, think about the systems that you have in place to keep your business running smoothly.

    If you have a team, think about who your point person will be, what are the crucial tasks that must get done on a day to day basis, and the situations that you should be notified about. Make sure each member of your team is clear about their roles and your expectations while you are on your leave.

    Either way, you should also think about how you will communicate important details about your leave with your clients or customers. They will appreciate you being up front about what is going on with you and your business. 

    READY YOUR HOME

    Next it’s time to READY YOUR HOME, not just your body.

    In addition to getting your body ready for pregnancy and birth, it’s also very important that you get your home ready. Prepare you home for baby but also for lounging, resting and nursing/feeding your baby.  You may have also begun to prepare a nursery or sleep space for your baby. Don’t forget to create a cozy space for nursing your baby and for you to lounge and rest. This should be outside of your bedroom, if possible.

    When preparing your registry, add items with readying your whole home in mind. You might be surprised at which typically registry items actually go unused. Talk to real moms to find out what are the absolute necessities after giving birth.

    HONOR YOUR BODY

    HONOR YOUR BODY and your experiences in pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

    Many entrepreneurs learn the value of self care and investing in your physical and mental wellness as a part of their entrepreneurship journey.  Pay special attention to your body after birth and prioritize your physical recovery. Your physical recovery and how satisfied you are can impact your overall postpartum and how your bond with your baby.

    Take the time to document and track important details of your birth and physical recovery.  Allow your self the space and time to process your birth so that you can let go of any pain or trauma from your experience. There are lots of different ways to work through the hard feelings that can come with birth and postpartum. You deserve to find the method that works for you.

    FOCUS ON POSTPARTUM

    Get real and FOCUS ON POSTPARTUM. This is not a time to take lightly.

    Many business owners and first time parents look at the time as a vacation. They plan on outings and trips with their new baby. And I get it. You probably haven’t had a non-work vacation in who knows how long. But this is not that. Your maternity leave aka the early part of you postpartum, is not a get out and explore vacation.

    It’s more of a stay off of your feet and let others take care of you kind of vacation. And I see that when I put it like that, it sounds pretty effing awesome.  But don’t forget that during this time you will recovering from pregnancy and birth in addition to caring for a brand new human being that cannot meet any of their own needs.

    Postpartum and maternity leave is really a time to focusing on resting, recovering, and learning your baby. Things like housework and workwork kind of fall to the way side temporarily. This is when you lean heavy on your circle of support to maintain those things, so that you can focus on getting motherhood of to a great start.

    Give yourself time and grace to rest and recover. And when you feel ready, start connecting with your local mom community. Being an entrepreneur can have its lonely moments, especially if you are a solo boss. The time after birth can also be similarly isolating. With the intersection of those two lifestyles, the sooner your find your mom gang or mom bestie, the better.

    So there you have it. A postpartum doula’s take on how to rock maternity leave as an entrepreneur. Some thing that taking maternity leave will hurt their business but its actually the opposite. When you chose to focus on your self and your new family after birth, you allow yourself the space and clarity to step away from your business and return eagerly and confidently.

    how to take maternity leve when your an entreprenuer< a small business owner, CEO or the boss
  • “I still feel a little postpartum…”

    “You know. I had my babies over 20 years ago and somedays I still feel a little postpartum.”

    These are the words a middle aged woman spoke to me in a confident but hushed tone as we waited in line at Carters. She was shopping for her first grandbaby and I was shopping for my own son who was 6 months old at the time.

    I was wearing him on my back in a woven wrap and he was sleeping soundly as I quickly bopped through the racks, making my selection and hopping in line before it got too long.  She got in line behind me 1 minutes later and commented on how cute my baby was and how much she loved my wrap. She had worn her own sons but they didn’t have such pretty wraps when she had her babies. I explained to her that I am a baby wearing and cloth diaper nerd and a postpartum doula so my love runs deep

    She asked the typical questions, “so what exactly does a postpartum doula do?” and had the typical response “I wish I had known about postpartum doulas after I gave birth.” Then she says “How long does postpartum last?”

    I explained to her that the medical definition defines postpartum as the 6-8 weeks after birth. But I also told her that a lot of women still have physical issues related to pregnancy and birth at 3, 6 and even 12 months after giving birth. Some moms equate the postpartum feeling with breastfeeding. So once they have weaned, they say that they feel they are out of the “baby stage.”

    I felt like I was doing too much. After all we were shopping for onsies and I was a complete stranger. But she was listening and nodding intently as I spoke. So I continued…  

    Postpartum is more than just your physical recovery from pregnancy and birth. It is more than the baby blues or postpartum depression. Postpartum has many layers that are all interdependent. Success or satisfaction of one area of postpartum, like physical healing, can have an impact on your overall experience and effect other areas like, mastering newborn care.

    I could tell that my words were resonating with this woman.

    She leaned in close and said in a hushed but confident voice “you know, some days I still feel postpartum. And I had my babies over 25 years ago.”

    I was surprised and not surprised at the same time. Not surprised because I had become used to mothers sharing with me how they felt postpartum for 2, 3 and 4 years. How they never felt closure from their birth or had issues postpartum that lingered as time went on.

    But I WAS surprised when she said 25 years ago. Surprised and saddened that the way we do birth and postpartum in the United States is leaving women scarred and affecting them for life. Women are walking around holding onto birth trauma. And without that tangible sense of community surrounding their journey to motherhood, they are not able to safely process their experiences.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to dread postpartum, or hope to just survive. With the right planning, preparations and circle of support you can enjoy your time after birth and have a thriving postpartum. And I’m here and ready to help you get started on that journey.

  • How do I find my breastfeeding bestie?

    It’s no secret. Life as a new mom can be lonely. And that loneliness is terrible for new moms and can impact their postpartum experience.

    It really helps in the early days to find at least one or two moms you connect with that “get it.” Its great if you have family or friends who also have young children. But it’s even better if you their child is close in age to your child, you have a similar feeding goal, you live in close proximity, you share a religious background or even a cultural background. Sometimes having someone “like you,”- in which ever way empowers you- in your corner can make a huge difference.

    Especially when it comes to your feeding goals. Whether you choose to breastfeed, formula feed, pump and bottle feed or your own unique combo, support is critical to your success.

    But life as a new mom is lonely. Especially in the first days and weeks when your life is mostly baby care, feeding, mom care and resting at home and the occasional appointment or outing.

    And if you’ve chosen to breastfeed, it can definitely get boring (yes. i said it. pumping too). Especially in the newborn stage when nursing sessions can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes (or longer! I’m looking at you clusterfeeding).

    Day to day challenges may arise that may have you questioning your choices, no matter how strong your will. Having a friend/cheerleader in your corner who really gets what you’re going will help you keep your goals in the focus. They can also affirm things that are normal or not and also suggest solutions, tools or resources you maybe hadn’t thought of. They can also keep you flexible in your expectations and help bring light and laughter when things start to get rough.

    Once you feel up for it, getting out of the house and into your community is a great way to build your mom skills and find that breastfeeding bestie you need to get you through the toughest times.

    Storytime/ Playgroups

    Your local library or bookstore may have a storytime or playgroup for young children. In Prince George’s County, MD, the public library system hosts story time based on your child’s age. This can be a great place to meet moms of babies the same age as your baby and to get some much needed adult socialization.

    Local Lactation Resources

    Check with your local birth center and lactation resources for classes, support groups and events in your community.

    In Maryland, Special Beginnings Womens and Birth Center is a great start. In addition to on staff Lactation Consultants, they also have a breastfeeding boutique, teach a Breastfeeding Basics Class and host a Mamas Group for new moms on the first Friday of each month.

    Lactation Consultants and Counselors

    Some private lactation consultants host their own support groups for the breastfeeding moms they are working with. Crowned and Cradled hosts a monthly support group in the Bowie, MD area.

    Awareness Events

    Events during awareness weeks like World Breastfeeding Week and Black Breastfeeding Week are a great place to find like-minded parents when it comes to your feeding goals. You can also practice feeding your baby in public with the support of other moms who know how it feels right by your side.

    So I encourage you to get out in your community and connect with the new moms you are meeting. I know it’s hard making friends as an adult but I also know that you are going to be a mom and through that process you will find so much strength.

  • Thriving Through Summer Break

    You’ve seen the memes. Schools out, parents are stocking up on snacks, guzzling wine and counting down the days until back to school. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I love when my older son is home for summer break. The mornings are slower, the days are filled with adventures and we make lots of memories. I’m so lucky that my doula business allows me the flexibility to set my schedule but even if your home on maternity leave, you can have peaceful, exciting and fun summer with your newborn AND your school-agers home for break.

    If your school aged kids are in camp while you’re home with your newborn baby:

    1. Have a plan. Get a game plan together for drop offs and pickups. If your partner, family or friend can help with this great! Pack bags, lunches and outfits the night before so that the mornings move smoothly. What’s for breakfast? Something quick and healthy like blueberry muffins and fresh fruit simplify your routine. Make sure you eat too!
    2. Maximize your time. Know what times your newborn tend to wake for their morning feedings and work around those times for your morning routine.  If your newborn doesn’t go back to sleep after your morning nursing session, baby wearing can free up your hands to help get your older kids ready and into the car.
    3. Take it easy. After drop of reward yourself with a snack and a big glass of water and relax. You have the rest of the day to focus on yourself and your newborn. But be mindful of your baby’s afternoon awake/ nursing times and pick – up times so you can be strategic with your timing.
    4. Get some help. If you’re doing things solo, enlist the help of postpartum doula or mother’s helper to help you with drop offs and pick ups. You can even have them stay through the day to help you make the most of your time with your newborn.

    If your school-aged kids are home with you and your newborn baby:

    1. Have a plan. Set a loose schedule for the day. Think of some low key outdoor activities and some engaging indoor events that will keep your older kids interest. You want to think things like water play outside, splash pads, age appropriate playgrounds, storytimes, gymnastics open play, music classes, robotics classes, art activities etc. you want to be able to sit and rest when needed and keep an eye on your older children from a safe distance that works for you. Again, wearing your newborn can help make things easy, especially if you have to nurse while out and about. Remember to schedule some quiet down time with your children too.
    2. Maximize your time. Schedule outings and activities around nursing times as you see fit. If you are uncomfortable nursing away from home you can focus on shorter activities and staying closer to home. If you find things to do that are popular for moms with newborns you can take that as a chance to practice nursing while out and about with your baby.
    3. Take it easy. Don’t try to do everything in one day.  I like to focus on getting out of the house or doing our highest energy activity in the morning after breakfast and taking it easy after lunch. Let your older kids embrace their older sibling roles and model positive parenting.
    4. Get some help. If your doing things solo this summer and your older kids are staying home for the summer you could seriously benefit from the help of a postpartum doula. Or even a mother’s helper or nanny. Having an extra set of hands, eyes and ears can really save your sanity through the summer months. Plus, you’ll have another adult (who can answer all of your breastfeeding, postpartum and newborn questions) to talk too. Yes!

    So what do you have going on this summer? Are you home with your newborn baby? And older kids? Is everyone going to daycare and school? Got any summer parenting questions?

  • What They Don’t Tell You When You’re Pregnant…

    I don’t know who needs to hear this but…

    You deserve to thrive postpartum.

    Yup, I said it. And I wholeheartedly believe it. And you should too.

    I really mean it though. You should believe this deep down at the core of your being. Let me elaborate.

    You have spent so much time preparing your body and mind for pregnancy and birth.

    Changing your diet and excersizing more

    Reading all of the books and blogs and creating a birth plan

    Curating a registry and preparing baby’s nursery

    Celebrating with friends and family at your gender reveal and baby shower…

    All so that your baby gets the very best from the start.

    But I have to remind you of one thing. I have to let you in on something that many pregnant women overlook.

    I’m sure your birthing books and pregnancy classes have mentioned it.

    And other mothers speak about it in hushed tones with looks of pity or shame in their eyes.

    I have to tell you about this one huge thing that many new moms just like you say they feel unprepared for.

    They wonder “why didnt anyone tell me?”

    They wish they had done things differently earlier on. That they had done more to prepare.

    But I dont want you to think like them.

    I want you to know the whole truth BEFORE you give birth. So that you can truly prepare your mind.

    The truth that exsists no matter how you birth your baby. Whether you have a vaginal birth or a cesarean birth. Whether you have a birth with little or lots of complications. Whether this is your first or fifth birth. Whether you are planning a home, birth center or hospital birth. Whether you chose to hire an OB, midwife or choose to birth unassited.

    No matter how your birth story unfolds. There is one truth that exsists after you cross the threshold from maiden to mother.

    That one basic truth is that you deserve to thrive postpartum.

    Pregnancy and birth are just the beginning of the journey. Postpartum is when the real work of motherhood begins.

    You deserve a thriving postpartum.

    You deserve to rest and recovery after you give birth.

    You deserve judgement free support that allows you the time and space to recover from pregnancy and birth. You also deserve this time and space as you learn to care for and bond with your baby.

    Despite what some might say or think, it is possible to do more than just survive postpartum. Take the time to prepare for this time while you are pregnant and take the fear out of postpartum. Embrace a thriving postpartum mindset and take charge of your journey to motherhood. There will be so many unknowns, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t stay ready.

    With a thriving postpartum mindset you will:

    Get a strong start towards your infant feeding goals

    Learn and bond with your baby with ease

    Maximize the growth and changes in your brain

    Strengthen your momfidence (mom confidence)

    Discover the new version of yourself and level up with ease

    Discover and embrace your new identity as a mother

    Stay connected with your partner

    Strengthen communication and intimacy

    Find and embrace your village of support

    Process your birth story and let go of birth trauma

    Reduce complications as you recover from pregnancy and birth

    Make time for self care

    Get as much restorative sleep as possible

    Let go of fears of postpartum depression

    With a thriving postpartum mindset your baby will get the very best YOU from the start.

    I know its a lot to take in but I know you can handle it. If you start planning now while you are pregnant, you will feel ready and confident with a toolbelt of resources at your fingertips.

    Don’t be that mom that vows to do things differently next time around. Do what you feel you need to do THIS time so that you have the best postpartum possible.

    And if you’re not sure where to start, contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

    Plan Ahead For A Thriving Postpartum
  • Try Focusing on Postpartum|Black Maternal Health Week 2019

    If you are a black woman like me, you might be scared as hell to have a baby in the United States. If you haven’t read the statistics, yet, let these paint a picture for you:

    Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women (Creanga, Syverson, Seek, Callaghan,2017).

    Black women are more likely to experience preventable maternal death compared with white women.

    Black women’s heightened risk of pregnancy-related death spans income and education levels.

    Yeah. Not looking so great for black women, regardless of how wealthy or educated we might be.

    These stats are definitely scary, but I also want to assure you that while the statistics surrounding black maternal deaths are very real, they are not the norm.

    But something has to change. And fast. We cannot risk losing one more mother. We can not risk one more black mother dying during or after childbirth. #notonmywatch

    The Black Mamas Matter Alliance created Black Maternal Health Week to bring together those working to raise awareness and change to the current situation of birthing for black women in the United States.

    This year they are calling for us to decolonize the research and data and push for policies that are meaningful to Black maternal health. They are making space for deeper conversations on how to make actual change on a higher level. And pushing for more support of black voices in research surrounding maternal health.

    But what can you do as a black mother in the thick of your pregnancy or postpartum. Here are three ways you an hold space for yourself (and any others mothers you know and love) today and everyday.

    RESPECT THE ENTIRE JOURNEY

    We’ve seen an increased focus on prenatal care and improving birth outcomes. But maternal health does not start or end with birth. Maternal related health issues can start during pregnancy and last well into the first year postpartum (and even beyond!)

    You had a gender reveal, pregnancy photography and a lovely baby shower. Keep that same energy after baby is born. Rally your family and friends for support after giving birth. Be intentional and prioritize your physical recovery, emotional adjustments and caring for yourself and baby. And also celebrate this transformative journey you are on!

    HOLD YOUR CARE PROVIDER ACCOUNTABLE

    As I said before there is a lot of focus on improving prenatal care and birth experiences. But what about after your baby is born? Is one check-up, 6 or 8 weeks later going to be enough for you?

    The current state of medical postpartum care is pretty minimal. But changes are coming. The ACOG recently put out new guidelines redefining postpartum care, however many are slow to embrace and implement the changes. Know what kind of postpartum care that you deserve and demand it.

    Listen to your intuition and get a second opinion if you feel unsatisfied with the first. You are not at the mercy of your care provider, they are here to serve you.

    KNOW THAT YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE STRONG

    Black women are revered for their strength, perseverance and ability to somehow get it all done, even when we’re doing it on our own. I want you take that “strong black woman” cape off for a moment and really understand these three things:

    It is ok to be scared or feel vulnerable with all of the new things you are experiencing

    it is ok to take the time you need to rest and recover after birth. You deserve it.

    it is ok to ask for and accept help from family, friends, professionals and your community…

    …especially during pregnancy and postpartum when you are literally pushed to your limits.

    You have the strength of your ancestors who endured so much behind you. They lived through hell in hopes of changing the future for future generations. They suffered so that you wouldn’t have to.

    Honor their journey and your own journey but doing things they couldn’t do while pregnant or postpartum.

    Rest.

    Be vulnerable.

    Be selective with your care provider.

    Call on community.

    Because the truth is, even though we did not create this system or situation, we cannot afford to wait for someone to come save us. We must save our selves.

    Reference

    Creanga, A.A., Syverson, C., Seek, K., & Callaghan, W.M. (2017). Pregnancy-Related Mortality in the United States, 2011-2013. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 130(2), 366-373. Retrieved 4 April 2018

  • Sh*t Just Got Real: You’re Going To Be a Dad

    Congratulations!

    You are about to embark on one of the greatest journeys of the human experiences.

    You are going to be faced with the momentous task of raising and nurturing a tiny version of yourself.

    You. Are going to be..A father.

    That a big deal!

    So why are you stressing? This is supposed to be a happy time of celebration. Yet your mind is swirly with emotions and feelings you can quite place.

    You may be wondering if you’re ready. Or if you will be a good dad. Or if you can even afford a baby and all of the expenses that come with it.

    Between setting up a birth plan, choosing a car seat, taking classes and preparing your home for your newest family member, you certainly have a lot of planning and preparing to do.

    Don’t forget to prepare yourself emotionally, as well. The journey of parenthood is one of growth and transformation. And you very possibly will be facing a challenge that looks and/ or acts just like you.

    And this is nothing to take lightly because new dads can experience postpartum depression and other mood disorders just like new moms.

    Learning that you will become a parent can stir up emotions and thoughts within you that you never knew existed. Most people turn to their own parents for support. Or start re-examining their upbringing and if their own parents lived up to the “good parent” standard.

    You might be feeling anxious over how you will be live up to the awesome examples set by the people that raised you. Or trying to find peace with things you disliked or vowed you would never do when you had your own children one day.

    You might be struggling with not having a parent present and active in your life.

    Or maybe you will have to make decisions for your child or your lifestyle that may be difficult to make.

    Whether good or bad, your first instinct may be to suppress the thoughts and questions that you don’t know how to process.

    Face those deep, uncomfortable thoughts now, to help you start building your confidence as a parent today.

    Take some time to think on these questions:

    What does being a good parent look like to you?

    Who do you look to as a parenting role model and why? Be specific.

    What is my parenting style? What are things I must do to feel like I am doing a good job as a parent?

    Sit with the insight and emotions that come up. Talk with your partner, parents or a close friend or journal your way through issues that take more time to process. There isn’t always a right or wrong answer when it comes to parenthood.

    By doing this heavier mental and emotional work now, you can spend those crucial first days and weeks of your baby’s life cuddling and resting, instead of stressing. And if you do happen to need an extra send of hands, I am always here to help.

    There are lots of things you can do before and after the baby is born and beyond the immediate postpartum to help make both you AND your partners experience a little better. And by a little better, I mean enjoying your postpartum time rather than just “barely surviving.”

    Check out more tips the NEW DAD series.

  • Take This New Mom’s Advice: Make Room For You After Birth

    “The next mom I meet I will recommend that she prepares a nice space for herself…”

    These words jumped out at me as I read through a client review I’d recently received.

    Although there was not really a question on the form asking for advice for other parents my client felt it was very important to note this realization she had about her own time on maternity leave.

    “I had this weird image that maternity leave would be this amazing time when I would be able to explore the city with my baby! I quickly realized that maternity leave meant catching up with sleep and staying home a lot. I think I needed a reality check in that area.”

    Here is a brand new first time mother taking a step back and reflecting on her expectations and how they changed with time and experience.

    She initially imagined her maternity leave of 6 to 8 weeks would be filled with lots of down time to get out and about with her baby.

    When she was pregnant and imagining a world with her new baby, she did not know that she would be postpartum. She did not realize all of the new routines and experiences that come with the transition from a maiden to a mother.

    In my work with her, we focused primarily on nighttime parenting in the form of overnight visits. But our nights were filled with long conversations about becoming a mother and a parent and realizing how momentous that shift is.

    How we, generally, focus so much on baby baby baby and not enough on mother.

    So when I saw those words as I read through her review of our time together something really stuck out to me.

    “The next mom I meet I will recommend that she prepares a nice space for herself.

    “…for herself.”

    The number one thing that this brand new mother recommends that all new moms should do to prepare for her postpartum time is to create a comfy and cozy space for herself.

    And this is especially true for first time moms and parents who may have a hard time seeing realistically, what their maternity leave will look like.

    why does this matter?

    Typically, during pregnancy, the focus is on preparing a nursery or a separate room for baby and all of their things. But the reality is that you will be spending A LOT of time all over your home.

    Your baby will not be confined to the nursery and you will want to be in your comfy spaces while doing a lot of the new parent things.

    You may even discover that you prefer to have your baby cosleep or room share. You may find that it’s easier to change a diaper on the bed or floor. You may have to do everything in one space due to a difficult birth. The point is your whole home will be affected.

    It’s important to do this before baby is born or as soon as possible. You want to come home to a warm little nest (and meal!) so that your postpartum recovery can get off to a smooth start without worrying about chores and cleaning.

    Lastly, clutter and chaos at home can make us feel overwhelmed and expose us to a lot of unimportant stimuli. This can make it hard to fully relax mentally and physically and in turn take our focus away from the really important things like getting lots of rest and taking care of yourself and your new baby.

    how to create a cozy space just for mom:

    Think about your top two chill spots. Usually your bed and your couch.

    How can you make them and the areas around them even more cozy and welcoming for you? The perfect timing is now. You may feel that urge to “nest” or prepare your home for your baby. Don’t forget to prepare for your postpartum recovery as well. What things bring your mind peace or make your smile? Include lots of those things.

    clear away clutter

    Think about your vision of yourself as a new mother. Do you have items in your chill spots that don’t align with your vision for yourself? What things make you anxious? Remove those items, place them where they belong or donate them. Clear out items that don’t aid your journey to motherhood.

    think about function

    What are the primary uses of this space? For example your bedroom is your number one spot for sleeping. After baby is born this may become family nap central or baby’s room too.

    Your living room couch may be your primary chill destination. After baby is born this will become a breastfeeding spot, diaper changing station or tummy time play place.

    decide what you need

    What do you need to make the space as functional as possible? For sleeping, you might want to keep a sleep mask, white noise machine, and water bottle at your bedside in addition to bringing in an infant cosleeper or sidecar crib. Don’t forget a cozy blanket FOR MOM and maybe even some fuzzy slippers for a touch of luxury. MOMTIP: red light bulbs can help give you a soft light at night without the brightness of a typical light

    be realistic

    You don’t need to go all out in these spaces. Think about the items that are essential to the spaces main and new purpose and find a balance.

    Create a cozy breastfeeding space with a simple basket filled with all of your breastfeeding necessities next to a comfy chair.

    Challenging birth? Keep postpartum essentials at your bedside for quick use. Keep your postpartum pads, witch hazel wipes, your peri bottle, cooling spray and sitz herbs in a bin in the bathroom for ease of use.

    leave room

    As always with motherhood, stay flexible and reach out for support. There is no predicting how your birth or postpartum recovery will go. But if you plan ahead, stay flexible and tap into your support network when challenges arise you can navigate this messy, wonderful time with ease, grace and peace.

    How have you prepared you home for your new baby and new life? Need help getting started? Let’s work together to create a cozy and warm welcome home for your new family.