I Hate ‘Natural’ Birth: A Doula’s Appeal for Physiologic Birth

Many of my clients and perspective clients will inquire of my services in the hopes of having a ‘Natural’ Birth. Usually from their words I can glean what that term means to them: unmedicated, low-intervention, peaceful, vaginal. And while I understand what they are asking for in terms of support, I always ask for clarification: “In terms of your birth, what does ‘Natural’ mean to you?”

My concerns with the term ‘natural birth’ go deep. I see it as an outdated phrase that might have once been empowering, but is now power stripping, guilt tripping, and creating division in the birth world and in those who choose to have their babies, their way.

A fetus growing and being born is a natural event, whether the method of conception, pain management, provider, or birth location varies. When we use the term ‘natural’ for a certain kind of birthing, it can muddy those waters and easily make birthing families feel overly attached to an ideal, or guilty when that ideal does not become their reality.

There have been times when I meet with my birthing clients whose research, friends, and family have guided them to decide on having ‘as natural a birth as possible’. But in the private space of our meetings, they express that they would like an epidural but feel that they would be shamed, or less of a mother for choosing that route. On the other hand, I have clients who don’t want any pain medications and get bullied by family, friends, partners, and providers into thinking that their ability to have effective pain management that is non-pharmacological is IMPOSSIBLE; that people choosing to have ‘natural’ births are hippy dippy crunchy granola or just masochistic.

This creates such a large division and just on one topic of birth!

There are other complications with the premise of natural birth that can be shaming, especially when a birth veers far off track.

My Birth

I remember my own birth when we phased out of being able to have a safe home birth and arrived at the hospital to be induced. There was so much judgment around us having come from a home birth. There was an underlying tone from the staff of, “Well what did you expect? With the dangers of HOME BIRTH?” When I made the choice to receive an epidural for pain management, I remember my nurse coming in and saying,

“I am so proud of you.”

As a doula I knew exactly where she was coming from. Often, I am in awe of my clients making difficult decisions during their births, especially when they might have gone off of their initial birth wishes. But the way she said it left such an awful taste in my mouth. It felt like she was saying that she had been watching and waiting for me to ask for an epidural. I didn’t hear ‘pride’; I heard “I told you so”.

The next day, when I made the call to give birth to my baby via cesarean, I felt the most empowered I had been the whole birthing process. There were no family members or partners telling me I had to go ‘Natural’ and there were no medical providers who were pressuring me to take all of the interventions. I remember when I stated my preferences for ‘In the Event of a Cesarean’ to the obstetrician and this calm washed over me. I remember having my hands free, wearing my own nightgown into the OR. I remember my husband and my mother by my side, keeping me present. I remember smelling lavender essential oils and hear John Denver singing ‘Annie’s Song’ in the background under the bright lights. And I remember the deep breath I was reminded to take right as I pushed my little babe Julian out into the world and heard his cry for the first time. How magical it was when he was tucked in deep to my nightgown as I heard:

You fill up my senses, like a night in the forest
Like a mountain in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses, come fill me again

I heard those words. I hear that cry. He was snapped against my skin under the elastic of my nightgown and I held him close. The whole world melted.

That was the most natural feeling moment of my whole birth.

After my birth I was told on repeat, “At Least” or “You did the best with the circumstances”. I was told to mourn my birth. All of the messages I received about natural birth growing up didn’t make it seem any better. I didn’t feel like my cesarean was a birth to be celebrated. That magical moment I had wasn’t nourished. It wasn’t ‘Natural’ enough to be incredible. But it was! I was empowered, I was bonded with my baby, and all of the choices surrounding my birth were mine. Would it have been better if I hadn’t felt empowered or in charge of my birth but delivered vaginally, unmedicated, and at home? Is that really what is natural?

———————————————————————————————————

I once commented on a post in an online doula support group sharing my view of the outdated ‘Natural Birth’.

I was immediately shut down.

Oh, well natural birth means unmedicated and vaginal. So that is what most people take it to mean.” Thank you, Miriam Webster of the Doula Dictionary for completely closing the book on the emotionally damaging implications that this phrase has caused.

Thank you for making me even more emboldened to say:

I am here to call BS on Natural Birth.

I now introduce a different term that can be all encompassing and also supportive to every birthing person:

Physiologic Birth.

This is a term I use with clients and birth workers to reference birth that is as birthing person and baby centered as possible, allowing for instinctual movement, limited interventions, and ample room for hormones to flow of their own accord. This is term is evidence-based, empowering, and allows the birthing person to create a birth that meets their needs while using physiologic birth as a baseline.

There is this widespread belief that hiring a midwife and birthing at home is as natural as it gets when it comes to birth. But in reality, when we see animals in the wild birthing their babies, they are alone, in the dark, and unsupported by a medical professional. They act on instinct and continue to birth babies with few complications.

In a way, you could consider even having a home birth or hiring a midwife as an intervention. So why is it that we only term interventions as being in hospitals with obstetricians and pain meds? Because in order to make someone feel safe, we have to invite them into an environment where they can feel safest in the best way for them. Whether that is alone, with a midwife, or with an obstetrician, in the hospital, the home, birth center, or the woods.

Using the term physiologic birth allows for people to find a baseline for birth. It’s not some magical reach that only folks with a high pain tolerance and lots of money can achieve. It is, for all intents and purposes, a birth with the least amount of UNECESSARY interventions so that the body can work in its own physiologic way. It leaves room for any needed medical interventions based on the physiologic and biologic messages that the body is sharing. It allows for the complete communication of provider and birthing person. It allows for adaptation, change, and positivity.

Even more than anything else, it allows for empowerment. It is so hard to see a birthing person achieve their goals of having an unmedicated and vaginal birth, to have done it ‘naturally’ and to be disappointed in their experience. I shudder to think that this is what people mean by Natural Birth. Feeling powerless and disappointed is, in my opinion, the opposite of what birth should naturally feel like. So why do we spread the message that it is the ultimate when it comes to birth? Birth should be empowering and positive, no matter the preferences, location, or changes to the plan.

So how can someone have an epidural or other medical interventions and still experience a physiologic birth?

When I have a client who says that they are planning to have an epidural (usually the main socialized indication that you are no longer having a natural birth) I think about a great term called ‘hormonal gaps’.

Anything that interrupts the physiologic flow of birth is called a hormonal gap:

Turning lights on

Getting into the car to go the hospital

Asking too many questions of the birthing person

The list goes on!

All of these have the potential to interrupt the flow of hormones that keep labor progressing. An epidural can be a great labor tool for pharmacological pain relief, but it does create a hormonal gap. The lack of sensation inhibits the flow of oxytocin, which can snowball into a host of other interventions. Because of that, we have to find ways to FILL that gap.

Let’s bring that birth back to a baseline while still empowering the birthing person for their choices. I like to do some meditations with music, essential oils, dim lights, upper body massage, and positional support to keep my client focused and aware that they are still birthing. They still need to trust their instincts and allow the pain relief of the epidural to help them hone in on their needs. In that way, we are bringing that birth back to baseline, back to as physiologic a birth as possible. Not unattainable, not lesser than and always natural.

Let’s form a society that lifts all births up. That doesn’t push down birth OR put it on a pedestal. That sees it for the natural experience that it is, in the hospital, at home, in the OR, at a birth center, or otherwise. We all deserve that, and we are all deserving of experiencing a birth that is true to our core. A birth that is supported by our community, providers, and by the billions of ancestors who birthed empowered before us.

Partners and Doulas: What You Need to Know

Partners!

(This includes: Husbands, Wives, S/Os, Parents, Siblings who plan on being a support person to beautiful birthing person…..)

This one’s for you.

Ever wondered why a doula might be a benefit to YOU?

In the past, it has been my experience that the idea of hiring a doula has left partners feeling a number of ways:

  • Yes! Someone to take the stress off of me when you are in labor!
  • A doula is someone for you and not a support person for me, too.
  • A doula is going to replace me and you won’t want me with you. I will be left out. Are you saying I am not doing a good enough job/didn’t do a good job last time?
  • What’s the point? Birth never goes to plan and we will have just wasted our money.
  • I have already gone through childbirth and I know what it’s like. I didn’t need a doula. (A very common feeling for mothers or siblings of the birthing person.)

As a partner, you might be experiencing any one of these feelings and let me tell you, THEY ARE ALL VALID. Pregnancy and Birth are exciting times for your family and that is something that doesn’t just affect the person giving birth. It affects everyone involved.

Having these feelings and thoughts is one of the big reasons why doulas can be so beneficial to you and your partner:

You are emotionally invested in this birth, the birthing person, and it’s outcome: THE BABY.

This is your birth, too. All of the nerves, prayers, reading, and wishes are a part of a deep connection to your family and partner. When your partner is in labor you should be able to let go and have all of those feelings: be present, connected, and ready to support your partner as well as welcome new life into the world. I call this stepping out of your thinking brain and stepping into your instinct brain. This is an act that both the support people and the birthing person reach during labor to allow the body to do the physiologic task of bringing forth life.

But man, it is hard to do sometimes as a partner. You may feel responsible for a number of things during labor. If you have previously attended a birth, you may have also felt unprepared or, as many partners have said to me, like all the information went out the window once labor started and when baby was born.

I know it may be weird for me to say, but that is a GOOD thing! During Labor, Birth, and the Postpartum Period we talk a lot about the hormones that are being produced by the laboring person to help birth continue, stimulate lactation, and be a more connected mother. Partners actually experience similar hormones! They produce that feel-good hormone, Oxytocin, as well as Prolactin, a hormone that triggers that parental response to pick up your child when they cry. It’s your Spidey Sense, if you will.

Just as a mother does her best hormonal work in labor by being left alone to react instinctively, a partner does the same. They react in a way that allows them to be the most responsive to their partners and babies, making them a better parent and partner in the moment and in the long run. When your brain gets caught up in all of the things you have to remember or say or do, you may lose that responsiveness to your partner, and many partners feel they don’t connect as much to their babies, partners, or the birth itself.

What if I told you a doula could help YOU as a partner be your best as the primary support person for your laboring love?

Here are the top ways a doula can help you as a partner during pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and beyond:

A Sounding Board

Pregnancy is an emotional time for everyone. As a partner you might be faced with a difficult time hearing out your partner. You might even feel frustration over trying to get your partner to understand where you are coming from. A doula is great support to talk to that can help to diffuse tension and foster communication between partners for the best understanding.

A Walking, Talking, Birth Encyclopedia

Have a question? Send me a text. Want some more info on a comfort measure or book that may be best for you? Let me know at our meetings. In the labor room and blanking on your birth plan? I got you. You can allow yourself to be fully present for your partner and I can handle the mental labor. In pregnancy and beyond.

Physical Support for You and a Member of the Tag Team

Labor is long and exhaustive process, especially for the birthing person, but definitely for you, too. Not to mention that once baby is born, your job doesn’t end. Having another person to trade with you on the physical support can be such a relief for you and your partner. Doulas offer continuous labor support, so if you need a break to get some water or take a rest, I got you. If you are holding your partner close, I can do those hip squeezes. I also make sure that you are resting, hydrating, and eating.  Doulas meet the partner’s needs as well as the laboring person.

Fostering That Partner Connection

The number one thing I hear from clients is that they want to feel close to their partners in labor. A person giving birth wants to feel confident, empowered, heard, and cared for. Especially by their partners. That connection starts during pregnancy. As a doula I guide you through communication exercises, verbal and physical, and help you to create a daily bonding activity that you can carry with you through labor to make it a more enjoyable and memorable experience for you and your partner.

A Doula is an Unbiased Support Person

I cannot stress this enough. As a doula, I am in support of YOU: my clients. My wishes, personal opinions, and choices do not and should not, in any way, affect how I provide support for you and your partner. Your birth is yours to choose and make decisions on, and I uphold that autonomy in the highest degree. So if you have a preference or wish, you can feel comfortable to talk openly about it and I can help you formulate a game plan, offer resources, and figure out what might work best for you on your birthing day.

FOR MOTHERS OR SISTERS WHO ARE ACTING AS A SUPPORT PERSON

For Mothers, Sisters, Siblings of the laboring person it can be a great blessing and gift to be supporting them through their pregnancy and childbirth journey. With all of the natural knowledge gained from your previous birth experience and your strong connection to the laboring person, it can be hard to separate your own feelings and experiences of birth from the person you are supporting. I get it! I myself sometimes have to check in with myself when talking to pregnant friends or family members just to question if what I am saying is coming from a place of love and support or from my own bias.

It may be a difficult thing to understand if you have no experiences with doulas and your daughter/sister/family member has hired one or is contemplating bringing a doula onto their support team. You may feel left out or that your specific support or expertise is not needed or respected.

I promise you, in my heart of hearts, that is not the case.

The wisdom and care given from one family member to another, specifically from a mother to child on their own birthing journey is SO POWERFUL and so meaningful in the birthing process. You are a gift to the birthing process.

I want to share a personal anecdote from my birth journey:

When I was pregnant and planning my birth journey I planned for my husband, my doula, and my mother to be my support people. I had (and have) so much respect for my mother and her birth wisdom. She had birthed 7 children vaginally, unmedicated, and most of them at home. The energy of that connection was exactly what I wanted to bring into my home birth space. I wanted to be surrounded by powerful women who had birthed before me. I wanted to feel that connection and know it could be done, it had been done, it would happen for me. My husband was there for that connection a lover and partner could bring. He knew the most intimate details about me. He and I were in a relationship of conscious and active trust. But my mother was the person who shaped that being into fruition.

When I discussed my birth team arrangements with my mother, I felt almost guilty for suggesting a doula to her. It was such a natural emotion that I expressed to her that I didn’t want her to feel like she couldn’t support me fully. She was so understanding and beautifully said,

“When I was in labor with all of you there was a point where I absolutely, without a doubt needed my mom to be there with me. And there was also a point where I absolutely did not want her there at all. I understand needing different support people and that there will be a time and place for me to be there for you.”

Those words are something I wish for every laboring person to hear from the ancestral birthers in their lives: “You are respected, Your needs are heard, and I am here for YOUR birth, not for mine.” You are given such a great gift and privilege to support your loved one in this journey, they are allowing you into their space because they respect and trust you to uphold their wishes above all else.

Having a doula helps to foster that family connection, not interrupt it. I am here to make sure that your loved one has the most positive birth experience for THEM. So that when they look back on their births, as I hope you have, they feel confident, respected, and have a joy to look back on:

A joy of being surrounded by the people they love and who love them, while they bring the next generation of love into the world.

The Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapering

I always give the option to my clients of talking about cloth diapering and for those that have never cloth diapered before, one of the first responses I get is:

 

‘You mean I have to touch poop?’

 

I grew up in a family of 7 that used cloth diapers along with disposables on occasion, so the thought of cloth diapering and ‘touching poop’ doesn’t seem to phase me much. When you factor in that being a parent means you end up touching and attempting to clean a lot more than just poop from a diaper (you might find yourself cleaning it from walls, cars, your baby’s siblings, etc) it doesn’t seem so tough in the end.

 

I tend to forget that not everyone has knowledge or experience in cloth diapers and won’t consider them as an option for various reasons:

  • Touching Poop

  • Washing Diapers In Your Washer

  • Too Busy/On The GO Parents

  • Too Expensive

  • Childcare Doesn’t Know How to Use Cloth Diapers

ETC…

 

I would like to state for the record that I am a full-time working mama, my husband is also full-time, we travel often to see family, and we are on the go most days. We cloth diaper our baby and we love it for many reasons. But there are days where we definitely whip out the disposables, because life happens.

My babe sporting a stylish GroVia Diaper

For those of you weighing your options or on the fence about cloth diapers, here is my Pros and Cons List for those fluffy poop pants. 

 

THE GROSS FACTOR

 

PRO:

 

You won’t have a stinky diaper pail of dirty diapers you walk past every day begging to be destroyed. There are even Diaper Washing Services (kind of like the milkman, but instead they supply your diapers for the week, pick up and wash the dirty ones at the end of the week, and replace them with very clean new ones). It doesn’t stop the poop disposal that is needed, but it does take out the wash time. There are also flushable poop liners that you can lay on top of your diaper to completely eliminate the need to scrub poop out of a diaper, as well as toilet sprayers to keep you from getting your hands all up in there.

 

CON:

Yes you will touch poop. Sometimes, you will fold a diaper in half and scrub poop away into the toilet before you can even begin to wash your diaper in some high-powered detergent. When your kid poops on the go you have to keep your dirty diapers in a bag and carry them with you until you get home, which can stink. Fortunately, you may get the pleasure of gradually increasing your poop tolerance with that buttered popcorn scent of newborn baby poo before they move to solids. And once they do get to solids… Hey, at least it’s solid.

 

 

THE CONVENIENCE

 

PRO:

 

Once, when our babe was a newborn and had a hard time fitting into his cloth diapers, we used the mass amount of newborn disposable diapers that had been gifted to us. We were out of them in a week. So we went to the store to buy some, filled up our closet, and then we were out a week later and also out of storage space.

 

I use this story to emphasize the stress of having to travel to a store with a newborn human (and even now with an older human). It is difficult to pack up and go while you are still wearing a pad the size of your arm and waddling like a penguin. It is difficult to calculate how many diapers you need to get down to before you have to rush to the store to buy more. It is much easier for us to say, “Oh, we are on our last cloth diaper of the day. I better throw them in the laundry and have some fresh ones in an hour.” We don’t have to pack up for a diaper run. I don’t have to put on pants. And we don’t have a huge closet filled to the brim with diaper boxes.

In addition to the time spent not shopping for cloth diapers, most brands are adjustable so they fit all sizes of baby. Your babe has moved up to 9mo clothes? Great! Same diaper. 18mo? Cool! SAME. DIAPER. Cloth diapers are also super cute and can really double as another outfit. Especially in the hot months when all a baby wants to wear is a whole lot of nothing.

 

CON:

 

Travel is tough with cloth diapers, not gonna lie, so that brings down the convenience a little bit. I tried to make a weeklong trip work once. It was fine, except for the fact that I had to pack up all of my diapers, detergent, and laundry bag. Not to mention that if we stayed somewhere that didn’t have a laundry accessible in the space, we were driving to a Laundromat and spending the next couple of hours glued to the washer and dryer. It wasn’t the best choice for a short trip and now we bring disposables. The bonus of the disposables also being that you only need to pack for your day of travel and you can pick up more disposable diapers when you arrive.

 

Another note on convenience is that if your baby is in daycare, it might also be difficult to find a daycare that will take cloth-diapered babies. It isn’t always a RULE, per se. But you might have to take the time explain how to prepare a cloth diaper or have fully assembled cloth diapers or all-in-ones ready to go.

Exploring the outdoors in his GroVia Velcro diaper.

THE COST

 

PRO:

 

The average cost of disposable diapers (the cheapest brands) is around $750 per year, per child. This would be closer to $1,080 per year, per child for a higher quality brand like Honest Diapers or Seventh Generation. The average cost for cloth diapers, including detergent fees and energy costs, is around $150 per year, per child. The major bonus being when one child is done with them, you have them all ready for the next child. Pretty much ALL of the cloth diapers I use come as hand-me-downs from my mother who used cloth diapers for the last 4 of her 7 children. YES, I DID NOT SLIP UP; MY BABY IS WEARING CLOTH DIAPERS THAT ARE ALMOST 16 YEARS OLD. They have been stripped and sterilized every time, so don’t gross out. Instead look at that bulging wallet that you can now use for your kid’s college education………

……or your next vacation when that kid finally leaves your home.

 

CON:

 

Unless you have been gifted some cloth diapers, you do have to purchase yours upfront. This cost can range from $300 to $1000 depending on the brand you buy, which is a pricey cost when you are considering all of the other necessities of child rearing. In the long run, though, you are looking at some serious cash savings.

 

THE ENVIRONMENT

 

PRO:

 

There are a lot of chemicals that go into disposable diaper production. Not to mention that around 92% end up in landfills (4% of our solid waste) and contributing around 60x more solid waste than cloth diapers. And that they take HUNDREDS of years to decompose. When it comes to the environment and waste, there is no doubt that cloth diapers kick all of the booty.

 

CON:

 

I have no cons. (SEE ABOVE FOR THE BOOTY KICKING)

 

And speaking of the baby booties..

Comfortable enough to work out in!

THE BABY BENEFIT

 

PRO:

 

Babies tend to have a more tolerant reaction to a cloth diaper than to a disposable one. The reasons being that the cloth diaper materials are simpler (cotton, bamboo, etc) so less risk of a chemical skin reaction. They are also changed more frequently which helps with the prevention of diaper rash. Studies show that there isn’t a difference with the amount of diaper rash that occurs between cloth diapers and disposables, but personally I have noticed a major difference on my babe’s booty with redness. There have also been great results with early potty training when it comes to cloth diaper wearing. The biggest reason being that babies can feel when they are wet, get uncomfortable, and want their diapers off. From experience, I think another reasoning for that is that since you have to change cloth diapers more frequently, it encourages children to enjoy having a dry diaper.

 

CON:

 

YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THEM MORE FREQUENTLY. This might be more of a con for you than for baby, honestly. But on particularly neglectful days (when you are in and out of the car, on that one last errand before you go home, ANYONE? ANYONE?) I have gone, at maximum, maybe 4 hours with a disposable (pee) diaper on and not had an awful diaper change experience. But cloth diapers do have to be changed usually every 2 hours (pee) before you start to feel that they need to be changed as they have soaked through. This can be a challenge with night sleeping. I know some folks will double layer their diapers before putting their little one down for the night, but I have a particularly relaxed child who tends to release all of his urine in the middle of the night and the double-layer has not helped. We use disposables in the evening because mama needs her sleep and baby needs to pee.

 

 

So there you have it, folks: my pros and cons of cloth diapering. In all honesty, I love cloth diapers. They are cute and stylish, double as swim diapers, I don’t have to spend money on new diapers constantly, and I don’t feel like I am contributing to the end of civilization living in a landfill of dirty diapers. That being said, I am not every person. And it’s good to know what you are getting into before you shell out the cash and buy a lifetime use item that you might not use.

 

 

Resources:

Why Cloth Diapered Babies Potty Train Faster and Earlier – Lil Bums Cloth Diapers

Diaper Facts – Real Diaper Association

What A Doula Wishes You Knew About Inductions

There is quite a bit of information on labor inductions out there. With many people opting for elective inductions or medically indicated inductions, I think this is a great time to talk about what I have seen as a doula at labor inductions and what I wish everyone knew going into one to help have the most successful outcomes.

 

NOTE: This is not a post about shaming anyone for choosing an elective induction or for being induced AT ALL! As a birthing person, you are preparing yourself by making the best decisions possible for you, your baby, and your family.

 

To give an overview, here are some quick statistics on inductions:

 

  • As of 2014, around 30% of labors in the United States are medically induced, which is close to 1 in 3 labors that are medically induced.

 

  • According to ACOG in 2005, 23.4% of medically indicated inductions and 23.8% of elective inductions end in cesarean sections for First-Time Birthing People.

 

  • For a reference point, the cesarean section rate in the U.S. is close to 32% which is also 1 in 3 labors that result in a belly birth.

 

 

 

Around 75% of my clients will tell me that one of their birth goals is to avoid a C-Section. To work through that goal, we discuss the process of a cesarean, how they can take steps to preventing an unnecessary one, and create a portion of their birth plan that touches on wishes they might have in the event of a cesarean.

 

Very few of my clients tell me that a birth goal of theirs is to avoid a medical induction of labor unless absolutely necessary. But when I read statistics like the one above and accompany my clients to their induced labors, I wonder why that isn’t a topic of discussion. Based on the above information, it is about as common as a cesarean birth, yet there isn’t much knowledge about the process of inducing or augmenting labor. So when my clients are assessing their options and speaking with their providers about an induction of labor, they can be somewhat caught unawares of their options.

 

One of my jobs as a birth doula is to facilitate communication between medical providers and my clients. Another job is to provide evidence-based information to my clients to help them make the most informed decisions.

 

Here is my best NON-MEDICAL advice on labor inductions:

 

 

You may have time!

The average first-time birther goes into spontaneous labor around 41 weeks and couple days gestation. Your Estimated Due Date is just that: an estimate. So if you are beginning to feel pressured (by yourself, your family/friends, random strangers, and provider) and anxious about moving beyond that 40-week mark just remember: You most like have time!

 

There is no one-size-fits-all.

 

Medically induced labor is different for everyone, including the methods and medications that are used to augment your labor. Because of this, it is extremely important that you speak to your provider about their preferred method of induction and come up with a game plan TOGETHER that will best suit your needs and safety during your birth.

 

Inductions are not always fast.

A large misconception of induced labor is that it will be a similar length to spontaneous labor. The average length of labor for a first-time birthing person is 12-24 hours. Inductions can take around 24-48 hours. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS A NEGATIVE THING. Your body is not ready to have a baby when you are being induced, so it takes time to safely move through the stages of labor without exhausting your body and your baby. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely had a few clients with inductions whose babies were born within a couple hours (especially with subsequent births), but more often than not, inductions take some time. Yes, your baby’s birthday may be earlier, but it is not always faster.

 

A shower can do wonders.

 

Many inductions begin with an overnight hospital stay of cervical ripeners to prepare your cervix for the day ahead. If you are someone who is not comfortable sleeping in a hospital, it is important to make your space as comfortable and comparable to home as possible. You may be anxious for the day ahead and sleep is not coming easily. I always suggest following your normal bedtime routine when you arrive. That way you are moving with your schedule and keeping things as normal as possible. In the morning, take a shower and eat something or even take a walk outside (if you can) before your next steps. This will reset your brain and help you start the day anew so it doesn’t feel like you have been in a hospital all night and are about to labor in one all day.

 

Your birth plan is NOT ‘out the window’ or obsolete!

 

It always breaks my heart when I hear my clients say that they want to chuck their birth wishes now that they are in the hospital to be induced. Depending on your hospital many of your birth wishes are still very possible to achieve! Saline Lock? Mobility? Wireless Monitors? These are all possibilities that can be discussed with your providers before and when you have arrived at the hospital on your induction date. This is still your birth. YOU ALWAYS HAVE OPTIONS.

 

Treat yourself before you arrive.

 

I love this one. This definitely relates back to the length of your hospital stay. Take the time before your birthing date to enjoy this little bit of pregnancy joy with your baby and partner. Go for a walk outdoors, have a nice filling dinner, maybe throw in a little sex if that’s an appealing option. Do all of the things a couple without babies does because soon your only responsibility will be to healing and caring for that little love. As someone once told me during pregnancy, “They (your baby) are the most portable now than they will ever be”.

 

Know your Bishop Score!

 

A Bishop Score is a great tool for assessing the success of a vaginal delivery with labor augmentation. It takes into consideration your cervical position, effacement (how flat), dilation (how open), Consistency (how soft) fetal station (how low the baby is in your pelvis). The results give you a good understanding of the vaginal birth success rates of inductions with your current cervical state. This is especially helpful for those wishing to do an elective induction but also for those with inductions that are medically indicated. It gives you an idea of the possible timeline of your labor to discuss with your provider.

 

Mind Over Matter.

 

Finally, with inductions more so than any other type of labor I have supported, it is all about mind over matter. Yes, it may take a long time. Yes, you can feel overwhelmed about being in the hospital and any changes of plans or medical interventions. But REMEMBER: YOU are still in charge. YOU are still in control of what happens to your body and your baby. Birth, no matter how it begins, always brings the unexpected. How you move with those changes drastically impacts your emotional and physical outcomes.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. This information comes from personal experience, the experiences of my clients, evidence-based research, and anecdotal evidence. If, at any point during your pregnancy or postpartum period you have a question or concern, please contact your care provider for medical support.

 

Resources

 

Bishop Scores

Induction and Labor – NHS

Parents.com – Inducing Labor 101

National Partnership – Facts About Labor Induction

Consumer Health Pregnancy Information

First Trimester Talk: Partner Support and Communication

The first trimester of pregnancy is TOUGH. Those able to carry a baby might be experiencing any number of the following:

 

  • Morning (AKA ALL DAY) Sickness

  • Appetite Changes

  • Sluggishness

  • Emotional and Hormonal Fluctuations

  • Fear of Miscarriage

  • Fear of the Future

Not everyone feels an immediate connection to the baby they are carrying. I equate it to the feeling of being ‘pregnant’ and not quite yet ‘with child’. This is a totally normal feeling and one that most pregnant people go through during this first trimester.

If you are a partner of an expectant person, you might be feeling a little helpless in terms of supporting them. You might also be feeling disconnected to this pregnancy. As time goes on and your baby grows, this will definitely begin to shift and change. Until then, here are four steps you can practice that will help you to connect and communicate with your pregnant partner and your pregnancy journey:

 

1: Listen

 

Ask a pregnant person and a majority of the time you might hear them say that all they want their partner to do when they share their pregnancy concerns is to LISTEN. As a partner who wants to show their loved one that they care, you might want to jump in and still their fears by telling them that the number of concerns that they have ‘will not happen’, ‘everything has a purpose’, or one of the many responses that intend to inspire confidence and quell anxiety. But don’t be surprised if it may not. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just focus in and listen with your ears and your heart instead of your mouth.

 

Example:

 

Pregnant Person: “I’m really nervous about having this baby? I don’t want to, but what if it’s breech and I have to have a C-Section”?

DON’T:

Cut them off in the middle of the sentence. Share your personal opinions of your partner’s feelings. Do some other activity while they are sharing.

DO:

Tune in, make eye contact, connect heart-to-heart and hear your partner.

 

2: Acknowledge

 

This is a very simple next step if you did well during #1. What did you hear from your partner when they shared their feelings? Acknowledging has to do with honestly repeating back what you heard to your partner and asking for confirmation. This provides space for healthy and unbiased conversation. More importantly, it tells your partner that they were being heard and they have a chance to hear what they said for themselves. The bonus is if you misheard something or if your partner said something that they didn’t quite mean, they have a chance to reword their statement with more clarity.

Example:

DON’T:

Partner: “Don’t worry about that. That’s a long ways away to be stressing you out now. Besides, what will be will be.”

DO:

Partner: “I’m HEARing that you’re nervous about having this baby. You’re nervous about the baby being breech and having a C-Section and you don’t want a C-Section. Is that correct”?

If your partner needs to reword their statement of concern then repeat steps #1 and #2 again until they feel confident about what they mean.

 

3: Respond From Your Heart

 

Use this mindful opportunity to take a listen into your heart and think about how you might feel about their statement. Maybe you might also be concerned about birthing outcomes or maybe you are completely confident that everything will go to plan. Either way, you are entitled to your feelings and it’s important to know where you stand and that your partner hears you, too. Responding from your heart allows your partner to know what you feel about their worries and how you feel about your partner. It also allows your partner to see and feel that you are a team.

Example:

DON’T:

Tell your partner how they are feeling (You can only know your heart and acknowledge their words).

DO:

Partner: “In my HEART, I’m FEELing very confident that every part of the birth will go to plan. I love you and I want to support you in this.”

 

4: Do Your Research

 

One of the best things you can do after discussing your feelings about an unresolved situation is to Do Your Research. Your partner is worried about a breech baby or a C-Section? Maybe work together to look up statistics on breech babies, literature on vaginal breech deliveries, finding out what your provider’s stance is on breech births, or ask your DOULA about info on the subject. This can really put your thoughts and concerns into perspective and help you to feel in can help you to feel prepared and in control of your thoughts.

Example:

DON’T:

Put off to tomorrow what you could do today.

DO:

Partner: “How about we talk to our provider at the next visit and I can text our doula for more information today?”

 

 

Practicing at least one meaningful and present conversation a day can be so beneficial to your relationship development with your partner as you grow on the journey of parenthood. By showing your partner that you want to listen, support, and share you are showing them that you are invested in this pregnancy and birth. The bonus is that you will then have a strong foundation for healthy communication for years to come.

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. This information comes from personal experience, the experiences of my clients, evidence-based research, and anecdotal evidence. If, at any point during your pregnancy or postpartum period you have a question or concern, please contact your care provider for medical support.

Why I Offer FREE Consultations

 

 

‘If a doula is meant to provide you with information, why offer a FREE consultation?’

I believe a doula is so much more than a walking, talking, Google. They are your support, your best friend during pregnancy, the glue that holds your birth team together and keeps your head in the game.

But not every doula is right for every person. As your potential doula, I already want you to get the support you and your partner need for your birth experience. We have to VIBE.

 

That is why I offer initial consultations for FREE.

 

What do these consultations look like?

 

Usually we will meet at a public location (for both of our safety) – a coffee shop, park, library, etc. I like to get an understanding of your birth wishes and what you might be expecting from doula support. I answer any questions you might have about doula support and about me. Some common ones include:

  • Are you trained? What did that entail?

  • Are you certified?

  • How many births have you attended?

  • Are you experienced in High Risk Birth, Multiples, Cesareans, Home Birth, Hospital Birth, etc

  • What if I go into labor in the middle of the night, can I still call you?

  • How will you help support my partner? They want to be involved and don’t want you to replace them.

  • How do you work alongside Nurses and Providers?

  • What is your fee?

  • Do you have back-ups?

Then I will have some questions for you:

  • How has this pregnancy been?

  • What are your hopes and concerns for this birth?

  • What role does your partner want to play in your birth?

  • How do you see me supporting you?

We talk about next steps, exchange contact information, and I give you a folder with more information and contracts should you choose to peruse and sign.

NO HASSLE, NO FUSS, and you get to decide if I am the right doula for your birth team without any pressure.

So let’s schedule a consultation today!

A Day In The Life: How A Doula Supports You During Labor

At least once a day new friends and strangers ask me,

 

“So what does a doula do anyway?”

 

I do my best to answer with the most concise elevator speech I can manage.

 

“A doula provides continuous physical and emotional support to a laboring person and their partner. They facilitate communication between the care provider and client, promote evidence-based resources and choices, and create a safe and loving pregnancy and birth environment for their clients. I like to think of it as your best friend who also happens to know a whole lot about childbirth and will always respect and support your choices.”

 

While the above statement is completely true, I think of my work as so much more than that. Sometimes when I give my elevator speech to people I actually want to shout,

 

“BUT IT’S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT!!!!”

 

This is also a big reason why I offer free consultations. Everyone is different and a doula molds and shifts to your needs and wishes to help you have the most positive birth outcome. I am here to help you figure out what that might mean for you and your partner.

 

I thought that a great way to describe what a doula does is to go through a typical ‘Labor Day’ as a doula. This, of course, is a fictional description of someone’s labor day. It is comprised of my extensive birth support experience of what is common of a typical full-term, unmedicated, vaginal delivery at a hospital. This is not the support case for everyone and definitely not how every birth I attend goes but it is a great insight into what doula support might look like in this case.

 

Doula Diaries: Nadia and Jim

 

So we will call this Birthing Person Nadia and her Partner’s name is Jim. They have expressed wishes for an unmedicated vaginal birth in the hospital. This is their second baby. Their first was born vaginally 3 years ago and is named Poppy. During our prenatal appointments we have discussed their birth wishes and preferences, practiced comfort measures, and done evidence based research to support choices or answer any questions they might have as pregnancy goes on.

 

EARLY LABOR

2:00PM

Nadia has reached her 41st week and is beginning to feel some contractions every 15 minutes or so. She calls me and tells me of the sensation. I talk to her on the phone and listen through a contraction, using guided imagery to slow her breath and help her to relax. I encourage her to go about her day-to-day activities as much as she can. She loves walking around the mall with her mom so she makes that a plan and promises to keep me updated, drink water, and eat fulfilling meals. I begin to prepare my doula bag, eat something healthy, and update my childcare and back-up doulas so that they are prepared for the upcoming birth.

 

 

5:00PM

Nadia calls me with an update that her contractions are getting closer together – every 7-8 minutes – and they are feeling more intense but definitely manageable and that she does not need me there yet. Labor feels REAL. Now that Jim is home, I encourage him to work on the comfort measures we talked about. I remind them both that this is a great time to bond with one another, to be intimate (in whatever form that takes) and foster that love connection while it is just the two of them. Nadia’s mother takes Poppy to her house for a play date so that Nadia and Jim can be alone.

 

7:00PM

Jim calls and says that Nadia’s contractions are 5-6 minutes apart and she is starting to work hard through each of them. Nadia and Jim are ready for me to come over. I encourage Nadia to try to go potty while Jim refills her water and then get into the bathtub and get comfortable while I head over.

 

ACTIVE LABOR

7:30PM

Once I arrive, I find Nadia in the tub relaxing in the warmth. I find her playlist she created on Spotify and turn it on so she can relax to the music. I set up some LED Candles and turn off the lights. I put a big towel over her exposed skin and begin pouring water over her to keep her warm and relaxed. I know that she wants Poppy to come see her during labor so I suggest to Jim that he call the Midwife to update her on the contraction patterns while I call Nadia’s mom to ask them if they can come over now that she relaxed into labor. Nadia’s Midwife suggests, since they are close to the hospital, that she labor until 2-3 minutes apart before heading in. After every contraction I offer her some water.

 

8:30PM

Contractions are now 3-4 minutes apart and I have been squeezing Nadia’s hips in the tub while Jim strokes her hair and repeats the words of encouragement they have written together. Nadia is focused and calm through each contraction. Poppy has come in to give her kisses and has left to go get ready for bed with Nadia’s mom. I encourage her to relax her jaw and make whatever sounds are comfortable for her, I even chime in to help her feel more comfortable. I gently help her to sway her hips to the music from her playlist. She expresses that she is ready to go to the hospital and I help her to get out of the tub and change into her laboring nightgown, slippers and a sweater while Jim gets the car ready to go. Nadia’s mom comes to kiss her and says she will come to the hospital as soon as she can with Poppy. On the way to the hospital, I call ahead to labor and delivery and inform them that we are on our way in active labor and to alert Nadia’s midwife. They know to expect us and have a room ready so that Nadia can skip over being stuck in triage for another hour without a room.

 

9:00PM

While Nadia is answering questions in Labor and Delivery, I am putting away her things, spraying her room with a Lavender Spray she likes, covering the clocks, putting the LED Candles up, dimming the lights and screens, turning down the monitor volume, upping her music, giving the nurse her birth plan and introducing myself, and getting her water and comfy pillows close to her. Her contractions during this time are met with hip squeezes from me and loving caresses from Jim. Her Midwife arrives and she gets a cervical check – 7cm, 0 station.

 

9:30PM

During the excitement of the hospital trip, Nadia’s contractions have spaced out to 5 minutes apart and is having a hard time getting back into the labor zone. I suggest moving to the shower, but she does not want to move because she is in pain (her words). We get her onto her birthing ball so she can be upright and I wrap a Rebozo around her head, covering her eyes and ears. Jim places his hands on her hips and assists her in rocking side to side. I guide her through imagery of facing the ocean with the waves rushing over her feet and rocking her side to side. We stay like this through a couple of contractions. Everything gets very quiet in the room.

 

10:00PM

Nadia begins grunting and quietly says, “I have to poop. The baby is coming.” I call the nurse and let her know that she is feeling the urge to push. The nurse comes in and we both get Nadia up so that she can do a cervical exam. Nadia is fully dilated and ready to push the baby out. I remind the nurse that Nadia’s preference is to push unassisted in a quiet space so that we can all be respectful of that. The nurse is excited for Nadia and goes to get the Midwife and delivery team ready for the birth.

 

BIRTH

10:15PM

There is excitement all around as the L&D Team fills the room. Lights come on, there is a lot of movement, and the energy has shifted away from the peaceful anticipation. My focus is on Nadia and I help her get into her most comfortable position for pushing. I cannot control the room, but I can be there for her. I remind Jim to focus on her and be her support, and I lean in to Nadia and whisper in her ear, “Just stay focused on your baby and Jim’s voice. Nothing else here matters. You are incredible, let’s breathe slowly together.” We start breathing through the pushes all together. Within a few minutes, the baby is born and is immediately placed on Nadia’s chest.

 

POSTPARTUM

10:30PM

As per my client’s request, I take as many photos on my phone as I can to capture the moment. I also ask Jim and Nadia if Delayed Cord Clamping was something that they still wanted to do and, if so, to remind their midwife. I congratulate my client and help to facilitate their post-birth wishes.

 

11:00PM

Once everything has calmed down in the room, I dim the lights again and make sure they are comfortable. I encourage them to rest and bond in this first hour. I plan to leave for a bit to give them space and ask if there is anything they would like to eat. I take their food orders and begin moving all of their things to their new postpartum room, setting it up so it is ready for them when they transfer. I pick up food and upon my arrival back in the room, I help Nadia to facilitate a good breastfeeding latch.

 

12:00AM

Once everyone is comfortable and in their new postpartum room, I congratulate my clients, pack my bag, and thank the nurses on my way out. We will have a phone call in the next day, a gift drop off of herbal baths and lactation cookies when they arrive home, and a postnatal visit to walk through their birth and provide any resources they might need.

 

But it never has to end there. My clients and I usually remain friends. We connect through social media and text with check-ins and questions. I stay a support for this postpartum period, making sure they don’t feel that they are alone.

 

IT IS SO MUCH MORE.

The Mirrored Impact of Letting Go: The Parent as an Artist, The Child as a Muse

I am sitting at the base of my stairs; my newly 9 month old is on the 3rd step and climbing higher. Every couple of steps his foot slides backwards and every bone in my body lurches towards him in hopes of saving him from a devastating fall. I want to prevent his tears, but I know that to be his teacher, I must be a present and supporting figure on HIS journey. And so, I once again bite my tongue and let him climb, waiting and watching in silent praise. By the last few steps, he has achieved an easy and smooth pace with very little slips. He is already so different from the baby I knew at the first step. He is brave, confident, fluid. He trusts his body. He trusts the learning process.

He is incredible. I am amazed.

I think back on the times of my youth when I was ‘saved’ from a possibly negative experience, or pushed into an activity where I was told I would thrive, even though I expressed my disinterest. I wonder: did I know myself better when I was a baby than I do now? What anxieties do I have now that I learned from someone trying to protect or save me?

I am learning from my baby, Julian, how autonomy really manifests itself. I am an artist, inspired by my 9-month-old muse in his natural state. I am learning to be a listener from his communication skills. He is learning to listen from mine. We are two people learning to coexist, with a muted sense of verbal skills and our intuition and hearts as guides. This is parenting.

Previously, I felt that raising a child would be him adhering to my rules. I would be responsible now for the health and happiness of another human. He NEEDS me. And yet, every day is another lesson in how much he does not need me. Very few years of his life will be spent in my care, under my roof, following my rules. Then he will be on his own, and I will have to trust that I did everything ‘right’: That he is a functioning adult, capable of making his own decisions, saying ‘no’ when his gut tells him so, taking calculated risks, and learning how to take comfort in a community that loves him.

So, I hold back, I wait and watch. I learn who he is, what is limits are, and I graciously (and sometimes sternly) offer my input when he asks with his sweet eyes,

Mom, can I put my finger in this electrical socket?

F, no. But thanks for checking in.

And I go find the outlet cover so we can have the electrical safety conversation when he shows me that he has a better scientific grasp on the concept of electricity. He is still a baby, after all.

The muse may inspire, but the artist paints the picture. We are that for each other. Artists and Muses. Children and Parents. Connected, coexisting humans.

12 Common Postpartum Experiences That We’re NOT Talking About

The postpartum period comes with many emotions, challenges, and experiences for the new mother. For many post-birth individuals, they can feel a little overwhelmed with the life-long responsibility of their beautiful human. Don't get me wrong, it IS amazing, but it is also weird and a little terrifying. So while you are trying to keep it together with your new bundle of joy and poop (lots of poop), remember that you are not alone.

 

We are blessed with so much information on the prenatal experience: How to treat our growing bodies, keep ourselves in shape, and what to expect when the little human makes their entrance by way of your body. However, the postpartum education we receive can be less in-depth and focus mainly on how to care for your new baby. For some, this can leave them with a sense of confusion and ‘Am I the only one?’ syndrome. So to combat those feelings and stand with you in long-distance solidarity, I have compiled a list of 12 common things you MIGHT expect during the immediate postpartum period.

PP Hair Loss:

Your hair normally grows and sheds in cycles, but during pregnancy your hormones stops that shedding from happening, which can create long, luscious locks where you never expected. When your postpartum body begins regulating those hormones, it catches up and you begin to shed again. This can lead to some dramatic hair loss around postpartum month 3. It isn’t forever, though. Your hair will start to grow back around month 6 as your cycle balances out. Until then, take it easy on your scalp. Moisturize and help that new hair come in smooth and silky.

That Milk Smell:

Have you ever noticed that your breast milk smells sweet and delicious like honey, maple syrup, even a whole bakery? It is a little technique that your body uses to attract your baby to the breast and help you to enjoy breastfeeding a little more. But it might just be you and your baby that think you smell delicious, so don’t feel bad if no one else wants to nuzzle up to the boob. It isn’t theirs anyway.

Night Sweats:

These are especially common in the first few nights after having baby, particularly if you received IV fluids during labor. Wear some light clothing and blankets to regulate that temperature. This too shall pass.

Contractions When You Pee:

“I thought the contractions were done!” I know. But your uterus is still shrinking back to its normal size and relieving that bladder can cause some unwelcome cramping. Take some deep breaths and pee often to alleviate some of that discomfort.

Constipation:

Oh, Wombyn. When that first poop comes around Day 3-4, you might feel like you are having another baby. Rest assured it's just all of that backed up poop. Some people experience constipation from pain meds during and after birth, sometimes it just comes from the fear of pushing and popping stitches (if you received any). Dip into those comfort measures: Turn off the lights, turn on some warm water, and breathe deep. Some people can benefit from stool softeners (NOT laxatives), but talk to your care provider before making that trip to the drug store.

Bleeding:

The more you move, the more you bleed. Light postpartum bleeding is very common; although most providers will tell you that if you soak a pad in less than 2 hours to let them know ASAP. Take it easy on your body.

Diastasis Recti:

Thinking you are ready to go back to the gym, but you feel that funky separation down the center of your abs? That is called Diastasis Recti and it doesn’t get better by doing crunches. Some people consider belly binding after baby helpful in pulling those abdominal muscles back together. If you do go back to working out make sure that you consult a personal trainer and your provider to help you modify your exercises so that they support your core and allow your body to get stronger the right way.

Baby Blues:

YES, it is normal to cry for no understandable reason, even late into the postpartum period. The change of having a baby is hard. Your body is different, your heart is different, and your hormones are WAY different. It gets better, but if it doesn’t…

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety:

Please don’t feel shy or embarrassed about reaching out to your care provider, your partner, friend, mom, doula, therapist if you feel like you might be experiencing emotions and feelings out of the ordinary. You are not alone. PPD affects 1 in 9 women and even though it is common, seeking out your care provider and a counselor is imperative to your health and it is NOT something you should try to handle alone.

Weight Fluctuation:

Sometimes, especially with breastfeeding, you can experience dramatic weight loss after birth OR you can hold onto that weight even after regulating your diet and exercise. This is one of those times where your hormones can dictate what your body does and as baby grows and everything regulates back to normal, you can experience a better balance of your weight management.

Being Super Horny:

You just had a baby and you want to make MORE? RIGHT THIS MINUTE?! Yeah, that happens. Biology is weird like that. That rush of oxytocin after baby can get those sexy feelings going faster than a back massage and dark chocolate. But let your body HEAL before having sex again, please. As my midwife, Susan Taylor, LM, CPM said to me, “Anytime you think about having sex again before you get the all-clear, just remember: UTERINE INFECTION.” Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

Never Wanting to Have Sex Again. EVER. AS LONG AS YOU LIVE:

So maybe you aren’t riding the love boat like above. You don’t feel like yourself, let alone your sexy self. Maybe you are exhausted, or you are finding it a delicate balance being a mom and being a "super bangin' beautiful goddess" (My personal definition, but please substitute with whatever works for you). That is alright, too. Finding time to be centered and intimate with yourself or your partner in very basic ways before you get to intercourse is just fine and perfectly normal. Get back to the basics and the rest will follow. If you ever feel like you are “letting your partner down”, it is a great lesson in communication to let them know how you are feeling. Maybe they are feeling the same way and want to better support you. If you are a partner reading this make sure you are going above and beyond to be honest about how you feel so that everyone is on the same page. It makes you a better couple and it makes you better parents.

 

If you are feeling like you are experiencing any of these things, normal or not, please consult with your provider for the best tips on how to care for yourself. And please, take it easy! You spent 9 months getting to this point, you need at least 9 months to get back to 'normal'.

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. This information comes from personal experience, the experiences of my clients, evidence-based research, and anecdotal evidence. If, at any point during your pregnancy or postpartum period you have a question or concern, please contact your care provider for medical support.

5 Ways Your Partner Can Support Your Breastfeeding

What does a partner have to do with breastfeeding, anyways?! As a breastfeeding person, you might be feeling exhausted, emotional, and stinky. On top of that, you are responsible for feeding a growing human. It is an amazing gift our bodies are given, but it takes hard work and dedication.

For you non-lactating partners, you may be wondering how to be your best cheerleader in this journey. Maybe you see how hard your partners are working and want to do your best to support you. Maybe (if you are anything like my partner), you are feeling a little left out in the feeding game. After all, this might be the first time you get to feel really active in the parent role.

So this one is for YOU, Partners!

Here are some great ways to support your lactating love through the journey that is breastfeeding.

 

1 – Water

It is so important to stay hydrated when breastfeeding. Ounces of liquid are literally being produced and drained out of a human at a wild rate. It can leave a life giver with some serious dry mouth. Like stuck in the dessert, panic is setting in, seeing mirages kind of dry mouth. When your partner sits down to nurse, make sure that you bring some ice-cold water in a no-spill container. If it’s empty, refill. Even at night. No. ESPECIALLY at night. I personally remember going through a 32oz cup of water every nursing session, every 2hrs, ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Yup, please do the math on that. Then call my husband to confirm.

 

2 – Food

A mama’s gotta eat! Amidst the diaper changes and naps, it’s hard to get a healthy meal in. The only downtime in the first couple of months is while nursing. So put together a plate of a delicious snack of healthy fats, proteins, and greens. Preferable one that can be eaten with one hand. If you are having a hard time putting together a healthy meal for your partner because you spent 9 months on midnight runs for cravings, just remember: What goes in to her, goes into your babe. They need healthy nutrients to support their immune systems and growing bodies. It’s also a great way to feel a part of the feeding process as you diversify your baby’s palate. Maybe Salmon is on the menu for baby’s nursing meal?

 

3 – Make Them Comfortable

Not enough support? Grab a pillow. See her going to sit down? Grab that My Brest Friend or Boppy. A little chilly? A light blanket goes a long way. Turn on that Netflix show your partner wants to binge watch. MAKE. THEM. COMFORTABLE. Breastfeeding is reliant on how relaxed a body is so that it can produce a letdown to feed baby. Not to mention in the beginning a breastfeeding session can last 45min-1hr, sometimes longer if they are cluster feeding. Nobody wants a stiff neck, arms, and back from nurturing their human. Make ‘Comfort Master’ your new title.

 

4 – Support Safe Co-sleeping

This one comes with a lot of disagreements and confusion if you are hesitant about co-sleeping or bed-sharing. I am not a medical professional and every family situation is different. Are you a heavy sleeper, smoker, drinker, or have pets that sleep in the bed? Maybe bed-sharing is not for you. But for many breastfeeding families, this is one of the best ways to get rest AND feed baby on-demand. If you have assessed your home situation and have decided co-sleeping is not for you, then make it your priority to go get baby from their room when they wake and bring them to and from your partner for nursing. Yes, with a diaper change in there, too.

 

5 – Keep Baby Awake

One of the hardest things in the beginning with breastfeeding is how long a baby should nurse for. Many times, baby gets ‘milk drunk’ and falls asleep faster than they can get a full nursing session in. This can lead to baby not gaining enough weight and milk supply not keeping up with baby’s demand due to a breast that hasn’t been fully emptied. Take an active role in your baby’s nursing session by keeping your sweet babe awake. It can be tickling feet or smiling at baby over your partner’s shoulder. If you have a heavy sleeper that is harder to keep awake you can hold on to baby’s arm and pump it back and forth or take a wet rag (room temp) and wipe their back to keep them awake. In dire times I have even taken my glass of water and held it to my baby’s feet just to keep those eyeballs open. You gotta do what you gotta do.

 

Of course, it is important to remember that communication with your partner is key. Maybe they don’t need help with one thing but they might need support in another area. These are some basic ways to help make that nursing experience even better so that your partner can do it for even longer. You are making a big change in your baby’s growth by supporting the amazing person who is feeding them.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. This information comes from personal experience, the experiences of my clients, evidence-based research, and anecdotal evidence. If, at any point during your pregnancy or postpartum period you have a question or concern, please contact your care provider for medical support.