Postpartum Bliss

  • Postpartum Care Is Getting A Makeover – and its about time!

    If you don’t already know, a complete overhaul of what postpartum care looks like is long overdue.

    In May, the American College of Gynecologist, will officially release its new stance on what postpartum care should look like. And thankfully, YOU are the focus of this new plan.

    The current standard, referred to as the 6 Week Visit,  includes one comprehensive postpartum visit at 6 to 8 weeks postpartum that is tailored to the individual woman’s needs.

    And that’s it. Yes the 6 Week Visit model is as basic as it’s name.

    And that is one of the main reasons that I became a postpartum doula.

    I always noticed the imbalance between pregnancy and postpartum. Or baby and postpartum. Or birth and postpartum. How many times have you heard the phrase, “at least the baby is healthy” in response to a mother sharing her birth trauma?

    This is a direct manifestation of that imbalance.

    The imbalance that tells you that you are not as important at her baby, that she comes second.

    The imbalance that tells you that you are only worthy of protection when you are carrying a baby in your womb.

    That imbalance, that forces you to suffer and/or survive in silence during one of the most vulnerable times in your life.

    Fortunately there is a shift happening. In how we define postpartum and how we care for postpartum women.

    The postpartum woman is incredible vulnerable in many ways. Physically, emotionally, socially.

    The 6 Week Visit model allows far to many mothers, like you, to slip through the cracks into low self esteem, poor physical health, broken relationships, postpartum mood disorders and even death.

     

    So Why The Change?

    With recent awareness being brought to the state of the postpartum black woman in America, many are looking to the medical community to make the changes needed to stop women from developing serious complications or dying from birth related causes.

    When we support and uplift the most vulnerable of us, in this case black women, we support and lift us all.

    Both research and anecdotal evidence shows us that postpartum complications do not discriminate. Regardless of race, economic status, religion or family support, maternal health can be compromised. Take Serena Williams’ story or Shalon Irving’s story or this article about preventable maternal deaths in New York  for just a few examples.

    A Thriving Postpartum Starts Prenatally

    The ACOG, is taking steps by introducing its Postpartum Process model of care.And this new idea about what postpartum care should look like starts during pregnancy.

    Maternal care providers, like your OB/GYN, midwife or family practitioner, should help you create a postpartum care plan that addresses the transition to parenthood and well-woman care.

    Important discussions about infant feeding, baby blues, postpartum emotional health, the challenges of parenting and postpartum recovery from childbirth should also take place prenatally.

    This postpartum care plan should also list contact information for members of your maternal care team and instructions on when your postpartum follow up care should take place.

    by 3 Weeks

    After you give birth and take your baby home, your first postpartum check-up or “initial assessment” should take place no later than 3 weeks postpartum. This assessment can be done in person or by phone and addresses immediate postpartum issues. This is the time to ask unanswered or new questions you may have about your labor, delivery and immediate postpartum.

    If you had any pregnancy complications or have an ongoing chronic condition, the first visit should take place between 1 and 3 weeks postpartum and your maternal care provide should be in contact with your primary care provider.

    between 3  and 12 Weeks

    Ongoing follow- ups are encouraged as needed based on issues brought up in the first assessment. Complications from pregnancy and chronic conditions are managed by your primary maternal care provider during this time.

    by 12 Weeks

    By 12 weeks you should have a comprehensive postpartum visit. This visit should include a full assessment of your physical  emotional and psychological well-being. This visits also signals your transition from postpartum care to well woman care. In some cases the primary maternal care provider will change and in this case your initial provider will make sure that there is continued care.

    The timing of this visit should be individualized to each woman’s needs.

    Pregnancy and Heart Health

    If you dealt with preterm birth, gestational diabetes or pregnancy related blood pressure issues then you will counseled about being at a higher lifetime risk of maternal cardiometabolic disease. Pregnancy acts a “natural stress test” by identifying at -risk women.

    Ongoing Health Conditions

    If you have a chronic medical condition like diabetes, renal disease, thyroid disorder, mood disorder or substance abuse disorders, you will be counseled on how it is crucial for your to go to your follow up visits so that there is continued care of your condition and so that any prescriptions you are taking can be re- evaluated to account for the postpartum changes your body is going through and breastfeeding.

    Pregnancy Loss

    If you have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss, it is very important that you receive follow up care too. Follow up care will be focused on providing emotional and bereavement support as well as reviewing lab results or studies related to your loss, future pregnancy planning and any risks moving forward

    Policy and Insurance

    To accommodate the ACOG’s new recommendations for postpartum care, insurance groups will need to broaden the scope of postpartum care from one postpartum visit at 6 weeks to an ongoing process lasting the first 12 weeks after birth and adjust their reimbursement policies accordingly.

    Paid parental leave including full benefits and 100% of pay for at least 6 weeks are essential to improving maternal and infant health and well-being. And anything else, is a grave injustice leaving the most vulnerable of us to bear the burden.

    OB/GYNs should be on the front lines of all policy efforts that allow you to recover from birth and nurture your baby.

    Its About Time

    I mean this in many ways. This change and new focus on the postpartum woman as an individual has been long overdue. Women need A LOT more face time with their care providers after birth and the Postpartum Process encourages that.

    The 6 Week Visit model communicated that in the medical community, the postpartum woman has no or little value. That the health and safety of her baby is far more important than her own health and well being.

    When the reality is that you need just as much support as your baby does after birth.

    You need nurturing and support so that you can focus on recovering from birth, get a good start to breastfeeding and build a strong bond with your baby.

    As your postpartum doula, my services already include many of the changes proposed by the ACOG. I work with you to create a postpartum plan that addresses much more than just your physical recovery and how to care for your baby. I am constantly adding premier providers to my referral network so that when you need a little more support, you don’t have to go searching far, and so much more

    I am hopeful that care providers will eagerly adopt the Postpartum Process so that you can get the REAL support and care you need after giving birth.

    References:
    Optimizing postpartum care. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 736. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2018;131:e140–50.

     

     

     

  • 4 Life Changing Skills Every Postpartum Woman Should Have

    Oftentimes in the birth world, much of the focus is on the life changing experience that is pregnancy and childbirth and the new baby. And when we talk about the postpartum period, we tend to talk about postpartum depression or breastfeeding.

    But what about your transition from pregnant to parenting, from maiden to mother? What about your recovery from the 9 months of pregnancy and on average 19 hour labor and delivery?

    Medically, your postpartum recovery begins in the hour after your baby’s birth and last 6- 8 weeks as your uterus contracts back down into the pelvis and most of your body systems return to their non pregnant state.

    However, there are many other important events occurring the months after childbirth. You will be navigating your role as a new parent and what that means in your larger family and social networks. You will also be adjusting to physical and mental changes as your body recovers from pregnancy.

    Professionals and parents will agree that these changes can take much longer than 6-8 weeks to be resolved and that the healing time is closer to 12 months.

    The transitions and recovery that characterize your postpartum period will leave you in a vulnerable state which without the right preparation and support system can lead to serious physical and mental issues, including postpartum depression.

    And while there is certainly strength and beauty in vulnerability and asking for the support of those around you, it is normal to fear the unknowns of postpartum.

    You may have heard well-meaning horror stories from family and strangers alike. You might feel discouraged about your parenting, breastfeeding or recovery goals.  You might be hoping to just survive the postpartum period.

    This is totally normal. And the good news is that there are things you can do now to set your self up for a thriving postpartum.

    Becoming a mother will present new challenges in your life, making it is easy for you to your care and needs behind all of the other things you have to focus on.

    With the right tools, you can reach your goals and take hold off your new normal.

    You can do more than just survive postpartum, you can thrive.

    It sounds easy but you may be wondering how exactly you can do this. There are 4 skills that are constantly popping up in maternal health research as necessary to taking charge of your postpartum health, and your baby and family’s health.

    This also has long term effects on your life. More positive energy and confidence as a new mom means a deeper strong bond early on with your baby. And a strong bond with your baby early on has a positive effect on your life and help your child learn to form healthy relationships.

    By focusing on becoming stronger in these 4 areas you will be able to combat the stressors and challenges you may face in the months and years after you give birth.

    1|The ability to mobilize social support

    This is how you give and receive support from others. Support from close friends and professionals have been show to have positive effects on physical, social and mental health of new moms. A combination of emotional support, instrumental support and informational support will help soften how you view the challenging times.

    Get comfortable with asking for help and saying yes to help from others. But also be ready to be really specific about what your needs are and the type of help that you need. You are not a bad parent for needing and asking for help. You are not a burden. You will not hurt someones feelings by saying exactly what you need from others. And you are not alone.

    2|Self-efficacy

    Self efficacy is your belief in your ability to perform a behavior or task successfully. Essentially, it is your self confidence in yourself as a mother. Higher self- efficacy, or confidence in your abilities as mother, means the better you are going to be able to care for your baby, yourself and your family. Higher maternal self -efficacy is also linked to child development.

    Start building up that mom confidence –  momfidence? Is that a word? as early as possible. Practice the skills necessary to care for an infant, spend time with family and friends with infants and ask questions.  Use positive affirmations to keep the positive thoughts flowing. Celebrate the successes and learn from the challenges without becoming discouraged. You will find your self-efficacy or momfidence growing each day.

    momfidence

    3|Positive coping strategies

    Coping is how you react and deal with a challenging situation or demand. Coping can happen as a reaction to or in anticipation to these demands or problems. Each mother copes differently depending on the situation and her unique personality but there is a connection between positive coping strategies and addressing any issue that arise head on.

    There are three types of coping strategies you can add to your skill set. You can change how you view or think about a problem, redefining or accepting the problem as is.  You can take action to lessen of get rid of the problem completely.  And you can change how your react to the problem, using meditation, relaxation or prayer.

    4|Realistic expectations

    We develop expectations as way to quickly and easily navigate our world. However, when our expectations are out of touch with the reality of a challenge, it can disrupt our lives and those around us. If your expectations are not met, this can have an affect on how you adjust to motherhood. Unmet expectations can also affect your ability to use the above skills when needed.

    Don’t be blindsided by postpartum. Get hands on experiences soothing a fussy baby. Talk to other moms about their experiences. Really listen but don’t let their experiences scare or discourage you. Know that each woman, each pregnancy, each labor, each delivery, each postpartum is unique and special. Use the experiences they share to form realistic ideas about how you see yourself as a mother.

    Start now

    Don’t wait until the postpartum period to start working on these skills. As soon as you learn that you are expecting you can start identifying the family, friends and professionals that make up your support network. By asking for help and learning from their experiences you will begin forming your expectations for your own mothering experience. You can start practicing using affirmations and positive self talk as your progress throughout your pregnancy. You can also plan ahead and identify not only potential challenge but also how you will cope.

    By working on these skills early on, you can set yourself up for postpartum success. I love helping new parents refine these skills in my postpartum planning sessions, where together we pinpoint your goals and create a custom action plan.

    4skills4postpartum

    Reference:

    Fahey, J. O. and Shenassa, E. (2013), Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Women in the Postpartum Period: The Perinatal Maternal Health Promotion Model. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 58: 613–621. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12139

  • The Benefits of Hiring a Postpartum Doula

    Postpartum doulas are an invaluable,  lesser known birth professional. As a new mother or father, you can benefit from inviting a professional postpartum doula into your home after giving birth.

    Whether this is your first or fifth child. or if you gave birth vaginally or by C-section, a postpartum doula can help make your time after giving birth a blissful, enjoyable time.

    New parents who have enough practical and emotional support adjust to parenting better than those who do not. A postpartum doula helps take care of the home so that you can focus on bonding, breastfeeding, resting and recovering.

    A postpartum doula is right there to encourage and support you when you need it most.

    New mothers who have a support network including their partner, family members, care providers, doulas, counselors and peer groups have greater breastfeeding success, greater self-confidence and feel less overwhelmed.

    Hiring a postpartum doula can benefit not only you and your baby but also your partner, family and extended family as well. A postpartum doula can teach you and anyone who will be caring for the baby about the newest methods and philosophies in parenting as well as reaffirm methods tried and true.

    The postpartum doula fills in the gaps when you do not have enough support available. This could be because you are separated from loved ones by great distances, work demands or many other circumstances. This could mean that you are ill- prepared or feeling overwhelmed or isolated.

    By hiring a postpartum doula, you will benefit from the wealth of information and experience on what to expect in the days, weeks and months after giving birth.

    The doula does this by educating and supporting the parents hands on with breastfeeding support, newborn care and what a healthy newborn looks like, bonding and attachment, and coping skills.

    The postpartum doula  can also connect you with community resources and local care providers as needed. The doula will also help you access, expand or even create a circle of support within your community.

    Parents who have  the type of support that a postpartum doula can provide, enjoy the following benefits during their postpartum period:

    • Increased chance of breastfeeding success
    • Reduced chance of infant dehydration and hospitalization with health complications due to informed care
    • Less chance of maternal postpartum depression and shorter duration and easier for mother to cope with it if it occurs
    • Less maternal exhaustion, frustration, and apprehension during early weeks.
    • Reduction in unnecessary calls to pediatricians
    • Dad back to work sooner with less anxiety
    • Greater understanding of newborn emotional and physical needs and behavior
    • More independent control of baby’s care in the face of overbearing relatives and advice givers due to education and early positive experience.
    • Earlier bonding due to more confidence
    • Paying for a doula gives relatives a way to give constructive help
  • I Love My Self, I’m Worth A Lot

    … Don’t say I’m not, you can’t see inside of me!

    Did you ever sing that song at school or camp? I remember singing that song everyday at Vacation Bible School as a kid. I can only remember that one line from the song but after a quick search on google, I learned that the song is called the Self Worth Song.


    The Self-Worth Song

    I’m proud, I’m strong, I’m ready for whatever comes along.

    I’ve got good friends, we’ll stick together till the end.

    I like myself! I’m worth a lot! I like myself! I’m worth a lot!

    And don’t you tell me that I’m not ‘cause you can’t see inside of me.


     

    The song is geared towards kids and apparently popular at summer camps across the United States. It’s great way to get them singing and chanting affirmations to build them up.

    I think as a new parent this song can be so empowering. Becoming a new mom and parenting a newborn baby can lead you to question every shred of self confidence you have within yourself. You will question if having a baby was the right choice, if you will ever sleep for more than 2 hours at a time again, if you are truly capable of being this baby’s parent, are you a bad parent for doing or not doing something. You will feel alone and isolated at times.

    When you start to feel really low like you can’t go on another second, sing or chant these words to yourself or loud and proud*.

    Internalize it. Know that the words are true and meaningful.

    You are strong, you are a good parent. You CAN handle whatever life and your new baby throw your way.

    You have a strong support network. You have people who love you and are ready to support you in whatever way you ask.  And just like they are there for you now, you will do the same for them when they are having a baby.

    You are worthy. You are worthy of love. From other but most importantly from yourself.

    And you don’t hear the words of anyone or anything making you question if you are worthy because they don’t know your story or your journey.

    *Of course there are some silly hand gestures to go along with the words but that’s totally up to you if you want to add that on.

    .Sources

    Shrooti, S., Mangala, S., Nirmala, P., Devkumari, S., & Dharanidhar, B. (2016). Perceived Maternal Role Competence among the Mothers Attending Immunization Clinics of Dharan, Nepal. International Journal of Community Based Nursing and Midwifery4(2), 100–106.

  • How to Find a Postpartum Doula Near You

    As a mother and a postpartum doula, I firmly believe that you and any woman giving birth deserves unbiased, practical postpartum support in the comfort of you home. And I’d be willing to bet that you and any birthing woman would agree.

    Unfortunately, it’s not so simple to just believe that every family should have access to a postpartum doula. You need to know what exactly a postpartum doula does and how to find them near you.

    Where does one even start when looking for a postpartum doula?

    Google Search:

    First you are going to do a google search for postpartum doulas in your city. My favorite search term is “postpartum doula in Bowie Maryland.” Just switch out my city and state for yours. Check the first 3 pages for doulas near your city and write down the information for any doulas that interest you.

    Ask Around:

    Now its time to get some personal referrals.

    Ask family or friends if they have worked with a doula or know anyone else who has.  This is a great way to get uncensored, real-talk, experiences about working with a postpartum doula.

    Ask your OB/GYN if they can recommend professional support for you based on your needs. Your OB/GYN may have more knowledge working with birth doulas who provide labor support but they should be able to point you in the right direction.

    Ask other providers who lead parenting classes, play groups, and provide breastfeeding support. Leaders of national groups like La Leche League and Moms of Multiples might also be able to help. These professionals usually have a large network or family related resources.

    Doula Directories:

    Now, that you’ve asked around and gotten ideas from friends, family and local professionals its time to take our search back to the internet. Online directories are a great way to find local doulas who are available around your due date or who have specializations like experience working with multiples or being LGBTQ friendly.

    Two of my favorite websites for finding local birth and postpartum professionals are:

    • SistaMidwife Productions, LLC.  – search for black midwives, doulas and other birth professionals by State
    • DoulaMatch.net – search for birth doulas, postpartum doulas and childbirth education by due date and zip code. You can also narrow down the search by specialization and other services offered.
    • There are also several other website that list doulas. Check them out here.

    Birth Networks:

    Another great place to find caring birth professionals are area birth networks like the Maryland Birth Network and the DC- based Birth Options Alliance.

    Social Media:

    Last but not least, we take our search to social media. Social media is a great way to find postpartum doulas that are active and to see how they interact with moms like you. Social media is also a great place to find reviews and feedback on a particular postpartum doula. To search for a postpartum doula near you, can try searching hashtags like #marylanddoula or #marylandpostpartumdoula but with your state  (or city) in place of mine

    • Facebook– Hit the search bar and try searching for phrases like “Maryland postpartum doula.” Narrow your search by selecting Pages or Places. There may be a lot to sift through but you can also read reviews to help weed out the doulas who may not be a good fit.
    • Instagram– Search Places and enter your city. Or try searching a hashtag like #marylandpostpartumdoula  but with your state in place of mine. When you find a postpartum doula you think you might connect with scroll through their feed to get a better feel for their style. Check to see if they are on any other social media platforms to get a broader sense of their service offerings.

    HOWTOFINDAPPD.png

    Finding a postpartum doula can be a confusing process. Keep your search focused by including your city and/ or state in your search terms. If you aren’t having much luck, try searching neighboring cities, your county or you closest metropolitan area.

    And if ALL else fails reach out to a postpartum doula like me and ask if they can help you find someone who works in your area.

  • 25 Things a Postpartum Doula Does

    By now, you may have heard about birth doulas and why you absolutely must have one at your birth. But do you know what a postpartum doula is? Some might argue that a postpartum doula is even more essential than a birth doula.

    But what exactly does a postpartum doula do?

    Really, it depends on your unique needs after giving birth. A first time mom bringing home her baby will have a very different set of needs than a mom bring home her 3rd or 4th baby.

    Your pregnancy and delivery will also determine what kind of help you need after giving birth. Moms who have preeclampsia or gestational diabetes may need closer monitoring following labor and delivery. Moms who had a cesarean or tearing may need extra help with cooking and chores so that they can stay off of their feet.

    Regardless of your needs a postpartum doula can help you in the following ways:

    1. Listen to and help you process your birth story.

    2. Talk through and help you process fears you might have surrounding your postpartum recovery.

    3. Recognize risks and signs of postpartum depression and make referrals for mental health support.

    4. Coach you on how to ask for and accept help. Help you find your voice to say “no” to support that is not aligned with your goals.

    5. Recognize normal physical recovery. Make referrals when necessary.

    6. Go with you to your postpartum check-up and hold your baby so you can get the most out of your visit.

    7. Go with you on your first outing with your baby so that you don’t feel overwhelmed or alone.

    8. Hold your baby so you can take a nap, a shower, a walk, read a book, journal or whatever self-care you need.

    9. Bring you food and drink so you can stay in bed with your baby.

    10. Help organize all of the baby stuff you have.

    11. Help set up a safe sleep space in your or your baby’s room.

    12. Help set up a breastfeeding space so you have all of your nursing essentials at your fingertips.

    13. Provide hands on breastfeeding help and education.

    14. Support your breastfeeding goals without judgment.

    15. Provide evidenced based education on other feeding methods like feeding your baby pumped milk or even using formula, if that is your choice.

    16.  Model how to hold, bathe, dress, swaddle and calm your baby so you can feel confident in your new skills.

    17. Help navigate through all of the baby gear to help you find what works for you and your family without the hassle.

    18. Show you how to wear your baby for even closer snuggles and skin to skin bonding.

    19. Process your placenta for alternative healing, at your request.

    20. Help with some household chores so you can focus on your recovery, breastfeeding and bonding.

    21. Run errands for you so that you can rest and recover.

    22. Pick up groceries so you can focus on your baby.

    23. Prepare freezer meals or prep veggies and fruits for nourishing meals and snacks that support postpartum recovery.

    24. Show you how to wrap your postpartum belly for extra support as your body adjusts to not being pregnant.

    25. Work with dad, grandparents and other caregivers to strengthen your baby’s village.

    Now, don’t you agree that everyone becoming a new parent deserves THAT level of care and support after bring their new baby home?

    Postpartum doulas are an amazing addition to a new mom’s support network.Now that you know just some of the things a postpartum doula can do its time to think about how a postpartum doula can benefit you specifically.

    A great place to start is to think about 2 or 3 of the biggest struggles you anticipate facing after birth. Jot down your answers on this free worksheet. You can use it later on to start a postpartum plan or as a guide when interviewing postpartum doulas.

    Next, think about 2 or 3 (or more!) people in your current village that you can count on to support you through each struggle.

    Third, write how they can specifically help you face this challenge.

    Do you have enough coverage? You may or may not. But the reality is postpartum is more than 2 or 3 issues that arise and then go away. You are constantly experimenting and adapting to your baby.

    The early days after your baby is born might seem great but you will also be vulnerable, raw and evolving.

    Think about somethings you feel you might need help with but not feel so comfortable asking a family member or friend to do.

    If you are not so sure about who you can rely on, it may be time to consider broadening your postpartum support network. Luckily, there are lots of caring professionals ready to help you out in real, practical ways after giving birth. You deserve it!

    25thingsappddoes

  • The January Tea | Newsletter

    January 2018

    Hey, 2018, hey!

    I hope you are having the best new year yet! If you are like me you are low key VERY excited for 2018. I just have a feeling that  this year is going to be a stellar one.

    .WHAT’S NEW WITH THE PRIMA DOULA

    As the holiday season winds down and we say hello to 2018, this is the perfect time to set new intentions and make changes in our lives. I have many goals myself, both professionally and personally and one of them is to stay connected.

    I want to stay connected with you so that I can better serve you and other families like yours.

    Let’s stay in touch!

    Let me know what you need from me as a postpartum doula

    • Tell me about your new goals as a mom or dad

    • Follow me on social media @theprimadoula. I’ll follow you back!

    • Share your moment of #postpartumrealness

    Leave review of your experience working with me

    .NEW SERVICES

    This year, I will be adding several new services to support you after you give birth. I will still be providing in home postpartum care but now I will also offer the following services:

    Mother Blessing Ceremony Planning and Facilitation

    Postpartum Belly Wrapping

    Prenatal Belly Casting

    You might also notice that I have streamlined my services by creating Postpartum Care Packages. These packages combine doula care with Planning and Pampering services to provide wrap around care that meets all of your needs.

    Check them out below:

    .JANUARY AVAILABILITY

    janavail

     

    .FREE CLASSES

    janclassschedule

    REGISTER HERE

    .LEAVE SOME LOVE

    Have you worked with Prima Postpartum Services in the past?

    Did you love it or not so much?

    Either way, I want to hear about it!

    Share your experience and give feedback so that I can better serve families like yours.

    CLICK HERE TO SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

    .ONE MORE THING

    Do you know any Maryland or Washington DC area families expecting a new baby in 2018?

    Will you do me and them a favor and forward this email along to them?

    I want to provide 5 hours of doula care FREE and I know you can help connect me to families and new moms who need some extra support.

    Thank you so much for your support and I hope this year is your best one yet!

    emailsignature

  • Reclaim Your Time, Postpartum

    “I’m just so tired of feeling tired” is something I hear many new mothers say in between chats about breastfeeding  and loads of baby laundry.

    It’s no secret that moms are tired. I remember how exhausted I was after giving birth to my first son. I had spent a day and a half in labor facing pitocin contractions and welcomed my little man earth-side around 6 am. I feel like I’ve been trying to shake that I-just-need-two-more-hours-of-sleep feeling ever since. That was 6 years ago.

    Nowadays, its very easy  (and NORMAL) to become overwhelmed with everything related to pregnancy, birth and baby. You want the best for your baby and everyone has their own opinions about what that means. But what does that mean for you and your family?

    I know you absolutely adore your little one. But you also need to reclaim your time.

    As children grow and get older their needs grow and change. Don’t wait to reclaim your time. Don’t wait until the baby is sleeping through the night (what does that even mean really?) Don’t wait until you’ve weaned (that could take forever). Don’t wait until your maternity leave is over.

    Start now.

    Start today.

    As a postpartum doula, I am constantly amazed at all of the products, books and parenting methods directed at new moms and dads. Its no wonder many of you will quickly feel burnt out.

    You want to be the best parent possible, but you are constantly being told that you need to do, say or buy certain things in order to be the best parent you can be.

    You are being told that the key to your parenting success lies outside of you. That you need to buy it or find it in someone else’s words. You are focusing all of your time and energy on other people’s ideas.

    Trust your gut.

    You DO have to power and tools within you to be an amazing parent. I want to help you access the tools. To take control. To reclaim your time.

    I will be realistic here. Of course there are many things that are out of your control. You cannot control your baby’s temperament or how the flow of breastfeeding will progress. You cannot control the speed or ease of your recovery from labor and delivery. But you can control your perception and expectations and doing so can help you find confidence and peace with your journey.

    Try the strategies below help you reclaim your time and control after going through the wild unknown that is childbirth. (or reclaim your time and control over your postpartum recovery?)

    GIVE YOURSELF TIME | This is a big one. It would be great if we could get exactly what we want at the snap of a finger, but the reality is that time is the biggest factor.

    The postpartum period is medically defined as the 6-8 weeks after childbirth that it takes for the body to return to its non-pregnant state.

    This definition is VERY lacking. It only accounts for physical recovery of the reproductive organs. Mental and emotional health are not mentioned at all. Newer research is showing that the postpartum actually has three stages that flow together but their duration varies from parent to parent.

    It will take time for your body to recovery from childbirth and adjust to breastfeeding. It will take time for you process and settle into your new role as a parent. It will take time to build a bond with your baby. It will time to find your new normal. Lots of new parents say it takes much longer than 8 weeks to feel truly out of the postpartum stage. For some its 6 months for other its 12 months or more. There is no definitive time because so many different things can affect your postpartum recovery.

    Allow yourself the time and space to heal, learn and grow. For some this can look like staying in bed with baby for an extended time to promote rest, recovery and breastfeeding. For others, it can be staying in the home and not having visitors or going outside for a specific period of time. It can even look like getting out of the house with baby as long as you feel ready.

    TRY THIS It’s hard to know, beforehand, how much time you will need. If you plan on taking maternity leave you can use this as a starting point. For example, you have 6 weeks of leave. You might decide to stay confined to your home for the first 2 weeks in order to get a good start to breastfeeding. Or perhaps you decide to spend most of the time at home resting and recovering. Whatever feels right for you is the best choice.

    BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF | Its easy to look in the mirror and pinpoint all of the things you are unhappy with. You really don’t need that type of negative talk in your life right now. The postpartum time is a deep period of personal growth. Your body is changing, your brain is rewiring, you are experiencing a momentous shift in your life.

    This is the time to baby yourself, to allow yourself to be care for and pampered. This is the time to ask for and accept help without guilt

    Use kind words with yourself. Don’t compare your recovery to next person’s.

    Thank your body. It is carrying a life. Your body will nourish your baby. Your body protect’s your baby. Show it some love and appreciation. Schedule some some time for self-care daily, even if its only 5-10 minutes. You need that time to yourself.

    TRY THIS Encourage yourself. Tell yourself that you are doing a good job, that you are the perfect parent for your child. Accept compliments and kind words from others. Allow those words to fill your cup with love so that you can then pour that love into your baby and family.

    ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS | If you are like every other parent out there, you have envisioned what your life after your new baby is born would be like. You have daydreamed about how your perfect little angel will fit seamlessly into the life you have now. Maybe you have had visions of your baby rocking contentedly as you carry on your normal routines. Or have played out scenarios in your mind where you partner just knows when you need help and effortlessly steps in without complaint.

    Then you give birth and reality sets in. Your baby doesn’t care that you vacuum on Tuesdays or that you like to work out every morning at 6 am. Your baby just wants to be close to you and suck all of the milk from your body. Your partner isn’t a mind reader or a servant. They are human and trying to figure out this whole thing too.

    Be realistic, accept that A LOT will change. Accept that there is no “back to normal.” Realize that you will now have a new normal for your life. One that includes a little baby with lots of needs.

    Go with the flow. Your baby needs help learning the rhythms of our world. You can help your baby adjust by creating a flexible routine that guides you throughout the day.

    For example, the first few weeks of newborn life might be a rotation of something like this:

    FEED – DIAPER CHANGE – PLAY – SLEEP – REPEAT

    There may not be room for much else at first, but as you and your baby learn each other and get more efficient, you can start to add activities like outings to your schedule (but stay flexible!).

    Be ready to ask for help and say it explicitly. I can promise you one thing, if you don’t ask for exactly what you need postpartum, you will be very frustrated and that can create unnecessary problems.

    Don’t waste time waiting for your partner to figure out what you mean when you say you need support. They don’t know. Tell them exactly what you need.

    TRY THIS “I need you to help keep the kitchen together so that I can focus on breastfeeding”. Or, “I would really feel supported and safe if you took this child birth class with me.” Or, “It would really be helpful if you encouraged my breastfeeding. Please don’t ask me if I just want to give up or tell me to just give the baby formula.”

    RECLAIMING MY TIME

    WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO RECLAIM YOUR TIME, POSTPARTUM?

  • Postpartum Fears

    Today we are talking about fears surrounding the postpartum period. Fears you may have after giving birth and fears you may have now that you are responsible for this actual tiny person.

    The pressure can be overwhelming.

    Pregnancy and childbirth come with their own sets of fears and anxieties. But you will face a lot of expectations and challenges as you step into your new role as parent.

    Adjusting to your new life

    One of the biggest fears new parents face is if they can handle everything that comes along with parenting a new baby and maintain their previous life.

    Taking on this new role seems impossible at first but as the days go on you learn, heal and grow and you step confidently in your new role.

    A good way to combat this fear is to reach out to your village or network of family, friends and community resources. Talk to parents who have been through it before, listen to their stories.

    Do not be turned off by things they say that may scare you. Instead, anticipate how you might handle a similar situation yourself and gather information that will help you feel prepared to face that obstacle.

    Recovering from Pregnancy and Childbirth

    Many birthing parents have fears surrounding their physical recovery from pregnancy and childbirth. Parents who have a particularly challenging labor or delivery or give birth via cesarean face a slightly different set of fears.

    You may be worried about your postpartum bleeding or how an incision is healing or whether a medication will affect breastfeeding. Many birthing parents wonder “is this normal?” and “When should I call my doctor?”

    A trained birth profession like a postpartum doula knows normal recovery and when you should definitely call your care provider. A postpartum doula will also encourage you to follow your intuition and can also provide tips and tricks to help your recovery go smoother.

    The Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

    You may have heard of the baby blues or know someone who has experienced the weepy moments that many new parents have. This is common and usually dissipates after a few days or weeks.

    A huge fear that you might have is fear that you could get postpartum depression. Or that you will be seen as a bad parent if you ask for help. You may have fears about having to see a therapist or take medication or that people might treat you differently if you show symptoms. You may even be afraid that you might hurt your baby.

    Many new parents do experience the baby blues and they usually dissipate shortly. For others the possibility of developing a postpartum mood disorder is very real.

    11-20% of birthing Americans deal with symptoms of postpartum mood disorders. And that’s only those that have reported their symptoms and does not include parents who experienced miscarriage or stillbirth. There are many more struggling in silence.

    The good news is that a postpartum doula is trained in caring specifically for the postpartum parent and is very familiar with normal postpartum healing and recovery.

    This professional care provider is trained to recognize symptoms of postpartum mood disorders and can provide you with resources and support to get the help you need.

    You are not alone

    As a new parent you will experience different fears as you transition into your new role. But you are not alone on this journey.

    Reach out to your partner, doctor, midwife or The Prima Doula for support if you find your attention focused on those fears.

    Getting the real help you need and increased confidence are just some of the benefits of postpartum doula support. Inviting a postpartum doula into your home can be a huge source of comfort and reassurance.

    Knowing you have evidence based, non-judgmental support from your doula will allow you to feel relaxed and confident during your postpartum period.

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  • Eating Well Postpartum: The Basics

    eatwellpostpartumfeaturedIf your like most new mothers, your preparation for motherhood starts as soon as you get that first confirmation of pregnancy. Between, doctors visits, child birthing classes and baby registries there is more than enough prep work to be done.

    But most parents, especially after the first week or so, will make it clear. No matter how much you try to prepare, its almost impossible to truly know what to expect until baby is actually born and you are actively parenting.

    That said, taking care to eat well after giving birth can help ease postpartum recovery and transition from pregnant to parenting. By getting plenty of rest, water and good food, you will give your body the fuel it needs to recover from pregnancy and childbirth and support lactation.

    Experts strongly recommend against dieting while breastfeeding because the postpartum woman needs an additional 300-500 calories to support healthy lactation. The source of these calories is also very important and most dietitians agree that a wholesome meal plan of nutrient dense foods is optimal for the breastfeeding duo.

     Ali Segersten of nourishingmeals.com shares her guidelines for healthy lactation and postpartum nourishment:
    Good foods to nourish a postpartum mom:

    Plenty of purified water
    Wild salmon
    Organic chicken and vegetable soup with plenty of fresh herbs
    Greens!! Fresh salad greens, dark leafy greens, and green smoothies
    Sweet vegetables (yams, squash, carrots, beets)
    Raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
    Raw almond butter
    Whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, oats, sweet brown rice, millet, teff)
    Organic berries
    Sea vegetables
    Lentils
    Carminative herbs and spices (cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, mint, fennel seeds)
    Raspberry leaf tea (raspberry leaf along with fennel help to contract the uterus)
    Nettle tea enriches and increases milk production
    Healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, fresh flax or fish oil)
    Foods to avoid during the postpartum period (may cause upset in newborn baby):

    Dairy products
    Citrus fruit, especially juices
    Peanuts
    Heavily spiced foods
    Beef
    Raw garlic and onions
    Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
    Wheat / Gluten
    Refined soy products
    Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda)
    Chocolate
    Prenatal vitamins (the iron may be irritating to baby)
    As a postpartum doula, I use Ali’s list as a general guide when preparing meal plans for my clients. I also take into account any allergies or dietary restrictions the family may have.
    What do you think of  this list? I’d love to hear your tips or recipes for healthy postpartum eating!