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  • 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.

  • 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
  • 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.

  • 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.

     

     

     

  • 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
  • Keep The Love Going: 6 Tips For Strengthening Your Connection After Baby

    Bringing home a newborn baby can really shake up your world. Your growing family means growing pains and that includes the relationship between yourself and your partner.

    Your priorities are shifting and you are adjusting to your new role as a parent. And this goes for your partner too.

    The birth a child tends to have an overall negative impact on new parents satisfaction with their relationship with their partner or spouse.

    And its no surprise, between recovering from pregnancy and labor and figuring out breastfeeding and newborn care between everyday life, it can be so easy to put intimacy and connection on the back burner when you just want to take a shower and a nap.

    Talk openly about expectations and goals.

    Its fun to imagine what life will be lie when your baby arrives. Spend some time imagining how your normal routine will flow now with your new baby.  Talk about challenges you think you may face and how your partner can most effectively support you. Do the same for challenges your partner feels may arise. Discuss roles and who will be responsible for each aspect of newborn baby and mom care.

    Stay flexible and let it go.

    Encourage and remind each other to stay flexible and adaptable.  Be prepared for things to change from minute to minute and day to day. Recognize that your baby and postpartum time will most likely not meet your expectations and that this is not a bad or good thing. Your postpartum time will be. And you can just survive it or you can plan ahead and thrive.

    Keep the lines of communication open and clear and say what you need.

    Now is not the time to wait for someone to read your mind, assume what you need or “just know.” Say what you need and say it explicitly. Find strength in using your voice to get your needs met. If someone is offering help or support that does not align with your goals as a parent it is ok to say “no.”

    Remember that you are on the same team with the same goal.

    Its easy to feel alone on this journey but remember you have team mate right by your side. If you are feeling discouraged talk to your partner and let them know how you feel. If you have to, schedule time to reconnect, take a walk or do something special at home that puts the focus on your relationship.

    Get a hobby or explore new interest together.

    Get bonding hormone flowing for both of you by taking on a new endeavor together. Whether its something physical like hiking or something as simple as exploring new music, books or movies together. Introducing fresh, new interest together will help strengthen your connection.

    Get professional, unbiased support.

    And if you are still feeling alone, or like your partner just isn’t getting it you can try getting the help of an unbiased professional. Professionals like a mediator, therapist, or professional counselor to help you sort through issues while someone like a postpartum doula or housekeeper can help you get more practical, everyday support in your home.

    Postpartum is a time of transformation. You are becoming a newer, better, parenting, version of yourself and it takes some time for EVERYONE to get used to.

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  • 9 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Postpartum Doula

    Now that you have asked around and done your internet sleuthing to find a postpartum doula near you, its time to narrow down your search. Depending on where you live there might be 15 potential postpartum doulas or their could be just 1. Either way, its important to make sure that you and the doula are a good match and that you feel a connection with her.

    Though this person will be acting in a professional role for your family, her duties and objectives will require a deep level of trust and understanding.

    She will see you and support you during one of the most vulnerable times. She will see you go through struggles and triumphs.

    She will listen to your fears and worries and hear your birth story many, many times.

    She will help smooth the rough spots and deepen your connect you to your village.

    Because of this it is crucial that you find a postpartum doula that you feel supports you in the ways that are most important to you.

     

    Your first opportunity to get a feel for your prospective postpartum doula comes when you initially contact them. How attentive are they to your request for more information? Does their style of communication work for you?

    The second major opportunity comes at your consultation when you get to meet the postpartum doula face to face. This meeting will have a large effect on how you choose to move forward. Make the most of your no obligation consultation by asking any and all of your pertinent questions.

     

    A great question to start out with is:
    1. WHAT LEAD YOU TO THIS WORK?

    Get a feel for why and how she came to this work. Her motivating forces should resonate with you.

    Next, you can ask about her professional experience as a postpartum doula:
    2. WHAT TYPE OF TRAINING DO YOU HAVE?

    3. WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE?

    In the United States, doula work does not require any sort of training or certification. Nor is there a national certifying body for all doulas. Private companies provide training and certifications, but they are not required for one to work as a postpartum doula. One can simply decide to be a postpartum doula.

    Because of this it is up to you, the consumer, to decide if a prospective doulas education and/or experience are satisfactory for your needs. It may important to you that your postpartum doula be a mother herself  or that she have some formal training even though she is not certified. It might be important for you to have a postpartum doula that has trained and become certified through a specific organization. Or perhaps you would like to hire a doula that also provides certain services like placenta encapsulation.

    Its ok to ask the postpartum doula if she has experience with a particular situation, condition or service.

    After learning about the postpartum doulas experience and educations, you can now learn more about her schedule and how your care will be provided by asking:
    4. HOW MANY FAMILIES DO YOU WORK WITH AT ONE TIME?

    5. IS YOUR SCHEDULE FLEXIBLE? DO YOU HAVE A BACK-UP, AND IF NOT, CAN YOU REFER ME TO ANOTHER DOULA, IF NEEDED?

    6. WHAT HAPPENS IF THE MOTHER GIVES BIRTH EARLIER (OR LATER) THAN EXPECTED?

    Each doula has her own way of scheduling clients. Some doulas schedule multiple families at one and work with a back up doula to ensure. Others may work with only on to two families at a time. Most doulas schedule family strategically based on the baby’s due date, so its important to know when you care will start if your baby comes earlier or later than anticipated. This is the time to learn about how your prospective doula does things.
    Get a feel for the types of resources the prospective doula can connect you to by asking:
    7. HOW DO YOU SUPPORT A PARENT AT RISK FOR A POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDER?

     

    Your prospective postpartum doula should have a list of a variety of community resources to connect you will after giving birth. One of the main goals of a postpartum doula is to help a new parent find and build their village. This network of support can include family, friends and professionals, like a postpartum doula.

    This one is self-explanatory. You need to know if you can afford to hire this prospective doula:
    8. WHAT IS THE FEE FOR YOUR SERVICES?

    9. DO YOU OFFER A PAYMENT PLAN, SLIDING SCALE OR BARTER FOR SERVICES?

    If your prospective postpartum doula’s fee is more than you anticipated or can afford, its worthwhile to ask about  a payment plan, sliding scare or bartering. Many postpartum doulas are willing to work  with you.

    Lastly, see what other moms like you are saying about your prospective postpartum doula:
    10. CAN YOU PROVIDE REFERENCES FROM OTHER FAMILIES YOU’VE WORKED FOR?

    Ask for references, client reviews and/or testimonials so that you can read/ hear the real experiences of families who have worked with this postpartum doula. If you like the postpartum doula but find that a reference or review raises more questions or concerns, do not hesitated to reach out to the postpartum doula to address them.

    The postpartum doula interview is a chance for you to get to know the postpartum doula before you invite her into your family’s home. Write down your questions in advance, to ensure that you get the best idea of how the postpartum doula will fit into your life.

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    What other questions should new moms asks a prospective postpartum doula?

  • 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.

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    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.